2013 Games of my year

2013

I don’t play all the games that come out every year.  I don’t even play all the AAA releases.  I do however play a lot of games.  In 2013 I played a total of 49 video games and consider 32 of them finished.  I get a little nerdy when it comes to tracking video games I play and games that I want to play and if you’d like, you can view my spreadsheet to see everything that I did play in 2013.  You may notice that quite a few of the games on the list are games that didn’t come out in 2013.  That’s ok.

The year started off with me on a huge Nintendo Wii kick.  At the end of 2012, I decided to not  pick up my pre-ordered WiiU and instead get a bunch of games and stuff for my neglected Wii.  I started off strong with the Wii, playing 6 games and finishing 4 of them – which is more games that I’ve played on the Wii since I got it (on it’s launch day).  Something else interesting is the fact that I picked up a Playstation Vita in November and started playing the hell out of it.  I ended up playing 3 PSVita games and finishing 2 of them.  The 3rd, I’m 2/3 the way through it and it will probably be finished before the end of the year.  I also snagged a Nintendo 3DS XL on the cheap around the holidays so next year will probably have a large representation from the portable gaming space as I attempt to catch up with all the games I missed.

Without further ado, here is the top 10 games of my year starting at number 10 and finishing up with a few honorable mentions:

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A five year old’s take on Bastion

I love the game Bastion. It’s one of my top games from last year.  I’ve played through it multiple times, listen to the soundtrack (at least part of it) every day while working.  It’s just an amazing game.  Everything about it.  When I had to spend some time working on a basement remodel, I sat my five year old in front of the computer so he would stay out of my way while I was working.  I fired up Bastion, turned on no-sweat mode (the mode where you can’t really die), put the controller in his hand and left the room.

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… had some fun with Star Trek Online last night …

Ok. So I still haven’t played that much Star Trek Online… but I was able to login last night with my buddy (and GEEX podcast co-host) Kurt Beckstrom to mess around for a bit.  I had just finished the noob area and had docked with a starbase in orbit around Earth…

After figuring out how the zone instancing works in Star Trek Online, I invited Kurt to my away team and hunted him down.  I found him in the admirals office, admiring the view of the planet below.  It really is pretty impressive the way they have created the atmosphere.  It really reminds me and feels mostly like what being in Star Trek should feel like except for all the random player characters jumping around.  Highlight of the night… we found the emotes and proceeded to follow other players around and dance with them.  For all you dance fiends out there, there are several different dances that you can perform including… the Robot!

After playing around, we beamed back to our ships to fly around for a while.  Let me say again that the flying is painfully slow, but a lot more fun when you are with someone.  We decided to fly straight towards Los Angeles and see how close we could get.  As you get closer and closer to Earth, the lights from the cities start to show up.  You start to get detail from the mountains and lakes and it’s actually pretty cool and probably not something they needed to put in there because there really was no reason to fly over there.  The limit comes when you reach the Earth’s atmosphere… your screen starts to shake and then everything goes white until you turn around and fly out.  Either way… pretty cool.  I wonder if it’s possible to take an away team and beam down.

Instead of flying all the way back to the starbase, I decided to “warp to sector space”.  Let me just say that warping in Star Trek Online is ALWAYS satisfying.  It just feels cool.  When you reach sector space, the world really opens up.  You are now flying at warp speed through space and you can see several systems that you can travel to.  You fly to them and warp in.  Each space sector has several systems you can travel to and if you fly to the edge of the sector, you can travel to the adjacent sector.

I traveled over to a system next to Sol (where Earth lives) and found a graveyard of federation ships next to a federation out post.  It was pretty impressive.  I didn’t know what to do there so after looking around for a while I warped out and traveled back to Earth and logged out.

Just being able to travel around and explore space is something that might hook me into picking up Star Trek Online.  I really wanted to play more last night but it was getting late.  Tonight I plan on jumping in and seeing where some of the quests take me and how they play out.  People who are talking negative about Star Trek Online, from what I’ve read and have seen for myself, are probably comparing it too much to other MMOs and not taking it for the awesome qualities that it does have.  Check back later for more of my impressions of Star Trek Online.

Say hello to my new friend.

The Stone Prisoner is a piece of DLC that came included with your “new” purchase of Dragon Age: Origins (as opposed to buying it used at GameStop or whatever).  The regular purchase price for the DLC is $15.  Basically you run into a guy who offers you a control rod that can be used to activate a stone golem in a nearby town.  Well, the town is also overrun by darkspawn that you have to clear out in order to finish the quest line and gain access to the golem named Shale.  It also involves a cat, a little girl, and a desire demon (YES!).

Shale is a warrior tank type of character that has a variety of abilities including buffs.  He currently has replaced Allistair on my team for tanking duties.  He doesn’t wear standard armor or use standard weapons (he’s made of rock!) but you can equip crystals to him to give him certain buffs to his defense and attacks.  If you look at my screenshot above, the yellow and blue crystals change in size and color based on the quality of of crystal equipped and what it does.  I was wondering what I was supposed to do with all those crystals I’ve been carrying around in my bag since the beginning of the game.

Another cool thing about Shale is his integration into the story lines in the game.  Shale has his own snarky commentary during story sequences and when running around, he interacts with the group and is actually pretty entertaining.  I’ll probably play with him for a while if not until the end of the game.

Overall I don’t think that the DLC is worth the $15 asking price, but since it’s free for those who buy new games (and I only buy new games) I think it’s pretty awesome.  As with all the DLC, I think that it is probably best to play through it earlier in the game so that you can enjoy the rewards for longer.  It seems that Bioware has pledged continuing DLC for the next 2 years on top of all the stuff the community will be creating with the toolkit.  As long as the DLC is reasonably priced, I see myself playing this game for a very long time… plus, I’m not even close to finishing the main storyline.  There’s also all the other classes to tinker with, the origin stories and all the different ways to approach the game.  See you in 2012.

edit: it’s been brought to my attention that Shale is actually a she golem (thanks Matukai).  That means if  I put Leliana in my party in place of Zevran, I’d have a party full of females.  I wonder if that would create any unique dialogue options…

More Dragon Age in your face

So I’ve really been digging Dragon Age: Origins.  Of all the games I got for Christmas and during the Steam holiday sale, I’ve been putting the most time into it… well, except for Braid.  There are a lot of things that really make this game special.

I first started the game and rolled a mage.  Looking back, I seriously wish that I would have first rolled a mage in World of Warcraft so it seems that every RPG game that I’ve played since that has a mage type class… I roll that.

After playing for about 8 -10 hours with my mage I decided that my skill/talent build wasn’t exactly what I wanted… so I rolled another mage from scratch to attempt to get things right.  With Dragon Age, there is no such thing as respec… so make your choices wisely.  My second mage, I focused on making a support/healer class and it has turned out to be really fun.  Throughout the game, you roll around with 3 other characters, each of which you have total control over.

I currently am rolling with a fighter tank class, a rogue and another mage that is focused on blowing stuff up.  At any time during a battle, you can pause the game, assess the situation and send your characters out to do whatever you want them to do.  Usually at the start of a fight, I will pause the game and send all my characters out to different targets and use their CC ability on them.  I then usually will let the fight play itself out, healing and buffing where necessary.  Of course, I can always pause when things get a little hairy.  The combat in Dragon Age is incredibly satisfying.

Another thing that is very cool is the way the storyline can change based on choices you make.  I got to a point in the game where I had to make a choice: either I could use blood magic (forbidden), sacrificing an innocent woman to save a young boy who had been possessed by a powerful demon… or I could head off in another direction in source of another solution.  The first time I played through, I chose the blood magic route and continued on my way after killing the demon.  With my second mage I chose the less evil way.  This has completely changed what I’m doing, where I’m headed and what could happen next.  Seriously with this mechanic that is thrown in throughout the game, you could play through several times and never have the exact same experience twice.  Very cool.

I’m going to continue to post cool things and screenshots as I get them along with the stories that accompany them… I don’t really want to give away any spoilers because everyone should play this game.  I see myself dumping hours and hours more into this game over the next several weeks (months?) … that is until Mass Effect 2 comes out in a couple weeks… we’ll see how that game pans out.  To me right now, Bioware is doing everything right and I have more faith and hope that they will be able to make The Old Republic the seriously deep MMORPG that we have all been waiting for.

Braid.

Here’s another one of those posts with me talking about a game that I should have talked about a long time ago.  To my credit though, Braid was released on the PC in April 2009 and PS3 in November 2009.  So for those that ONLY have a PS3, this might be relevant.  However I played the PC version that I picked up on the Steam post Christmas sale for $2.49… so what do I think of Braid?

Braid currently sells for $9.99 on Steam and $15 on xbox live.  I feel that I could have payed that much and been satisfied.  However, I got a hella deal at $2.49.  I cannot tell you enough how much I love the Steam sales.  As of this writing, I have beaten Braid 3 times completely playing about 8 hours of it (it’s not a long game).  At my fastest I could probably play through the game in about an hour.  If I need something to do for an hour and I happen to have my laptop with me… Braid is perfect

So for those who don’t know… what is Braid?  Braid is a side scrolling puzzle game with amazing hand drawn water color like graphics.  I believe it was created by a single (brilliant) dude.  The puzzle part of the game consists of your ability to control time in various ways.  You can rewind time as much as you like.  In fact, you can rewind back to the beginning of a level if you’d like.  So you make your way through 6 challenging levels of awesome manipulating time in a different way per level on your way to save a princess that seems to always be in another castle.  Sound familiar?  That’s because it borrows from Mario bros in some of it’s elements.  Everyone always talks about how awesome the ending is… and what they say is true.  It’s great.  The first time through took me about 4 hours to figure everything out.

I don’t know what else to say about Braid except buy it.  At $9.99 on Steam, you really can’t go wrong and it’ll probably run on any PC.  Not convinced, check out the demo.

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