By MICHAEL EMERSON
10. Rayman: Legends
There’s no surprise, this game is a testament to staying true to your-self. Michel Ancel keeps the colorful, cartoony spirit that was present in the first Rayman game from 1995 alive. A current example of how the 2D Platformer genre is alive and is able to thrive and innovate in new ways. The main game is enough to warrant a purchase but the game is packed to the brim with musical levels that are some kind of magic and it even features a pseudo HD re-release of the first game. Here’s to more Rayman in the future.
9. Pokémon X/Y
Finally the Pokémon game fans have been waiting for since the old days of color. A slew of new Pokémon and a beautiful presentation come from developer, Game Freak’s, latest title. The one thing that’s been missing from Pokémon has finally returned i.e. effort. Interesting, fun, collecting and strategy gameplay with a traditional story will put older fans’ hearts at ease for the new generation of children entering into the Pokémon fandom.
8. The Stanley Parable
Don’t call it a copout but this game is one that can’t readily be explained. The epitome of non-games, The Stanley Parable satirizes current gen games while keeping with its own unique feel. Explore the office building where Stanley works as you try to find out where your fellow employees have gone all while the narrator keeps pushing you in the right direction, if you want to of course. The narrator alone is something magical, but coupled with a game that always keeps you guessing this one is an immediate recommendation.
7. Papers, Please
There are games that are made by hundreds of people and still attain panning from critics and end up feeling like a waste of time. But the indie hit Papers, Please, which was made by one person, stands as one of the most unique experiences ever birthed from the mind of a creator. Experiencing a world through the eyes of a checkpoint guard puts things in perspective. Simple gameplay and a rustic presentation keep Papers, Please above the rung and in our heads as a source of intrigue.
6. Bioshock Infinite
After Bioshock 2, the lackluster sequel to one of the best games of all time, everyone was spinning in anticipation before the release of the latest foray into Philosophy: The videogame. Infinite presented a new look into the world crafted by the folks at Irrational Games which saw the player in the preverbal opposite of Bioshock’s Rapture. The opulent Columbia, a floating city in the sky filled with a living breathing society that the player gets to explore. Even though the gameplay may seem generic the experience as a whole will stand tall in the halls of gaming history.
5. Tomb Raider
Reboot the dying franchise by taking notes from more successful games in the genre, an amazing amount polish and keep its own “girl power” flavor and you have the best Tomb Raider game to date. Shrugging off the years of meme worthy campiness that the older games and Angelina Jolie put on the game comes out like a butterfly from the cocoon of mediocrity. Square Enix and the developers seem to love the series and while the game takes a more serious tone it’s all for the setup of a strong character so that future adventures can have that added, relatable layer in the newest addition in the action genre.
4. Injustice: Gods Among Us
What do you get when you marry the tight intuitive controls of Street Fighter with the colorful and diverse nature of the DC comics universe? One of the greatest fighting games in recent history Gods Among Us is an example of a company pouring its time and resources in what’s really important, the game, or more or less everything you see for the most part. The cut scenes are stiff and the story is old but the game is new and fun which is why it outsold.
3. Ratchet and Clank: Into the Nexus
Ending the year in a surprising little treat the good folks at Insomniac Games delivered a short but sweet addition to the Ratchet and Clank Franchise. Into the Nexus is packaged as a sort of epilogue to the PS3’s “Future” series and stays true to the run and gun platform gameplay. Complete with ridiculously fun weapons like a gun that turns enemies into snowmen while playing Jingle Bells and a new jetpack mechanic that made the game 10 times as fun as you live out your Looney Tunes/Rocketeer fantasy. A welcome return to form and a sign of goodwill that the franchise is still alive and will most likely thrive in the coming generation.
2. Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch
A lot can be said about this game but one factor remains clear: this game is the shot of juice that JRPGs needed. Not adrenaline but “juice,” the juice of heart, effort, and a story that can stand among the greats. Ni No Kuni captures that same magic that made the old Final Fantasy games great. Able to balance pathos and levity and create a world filled with endearing characters brought to life by the beautiful artwork done by Studio Ghibli. The gameplay may be frustrating at times but it never gets old and here’s hoping that a franchise was born.
1. Grand Theft Auto 5
The latest in the sandbox series takes the best of the genre and makes the most of its bloated budget by turning a profit at least five times the investment—and for good reason. The worlds of Los Santos and Pike County offer mirror images of California’s deserts, mountains and a beautifully realized city, which makes for a gigantic playground for madness and mayhem. With three different characters to play with, the game never gets old. A game that is a non-stop thrill ride that left its mark as this year’s greatest.