This week, Zero Punctuation takes a look at the top 5 best and worst games of 2013.
Life is an exercise in duality; one can only appreciate the pleasure if there has been pain to put it into context. The delightful taste of a knickerbocker glory is nothing if you've never stapled your bollocks over a worktop and set about them with a toffee hammer. Anyway, that's why I'm not allowed in the ice cream parlour anymore, but my point is that it's time for my top five and bottom five games of 2013, restricted as always to games I did reviews for, and not discounting the possibilty that one of the PS4 launch titles belongs in the top five... Oh sorry, I read that wrong; I am totally discounting the possibility that one of the PS4 launch titles belongs in the top five.
Well then, let's get it on!
Fifth Best: Earning the respect of a competent middle manager
My top five was difficult this year. 4 through 1 were fairly straight forward, but I just couldn't think of a fifth game that really stood out. In the end, I gathered before me three games that were basically good but I was kind of "meh" about at the time, namely Last of Us, Tomb Raider and Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. Then I asked myself, "if I was Scott of the Antarctic waiting for Oates to come back and had one of these to pass the time with, which one would I play first as I digested another plate of curried husky?"
No contest! Cyborg ninja flipouts beat dirty, depressing people getting their shit ruined.
[Sound of flames burning]
Fifth worst: Earning the respect of a large horny dog
On the other hand, populating my bottom five was piss-easy. I barely have room for everything I have to slag off, but let's keep things uncontroversial for my number five: Star Trek. A truly miserable experience, both it and the film it was intended to market represent everything that's wrong with the entertainment industry. There is no beloved franchise it won't stab with forks and then force to dance on the forks like they're little Charlie Chaplin legs. A just plain badly-designed mess worthy only of the title "Least Bad Science Fiction Movie Tie-in On This List."
Fourth Best: Shaking hands with Kofi Annan
"What the hell are you doing putting another fucking one out? I'd have thought after 3 was like watching A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving special intercut with scenes from a very boring documentary about knives, you'd have the sense to consider winding this shit up!"
"Sorry," replied Assassin's Creed. "Would an exciting pirate adventure on the high seas help you stomach our distasteful attitude?"
"Yes... You fucking pricks."
Fourth worst: Realising your flies were unzipped the whole time you were shaking hands with Kofi Annan
Sometimes a game belongs in the top five less for its inherent dribbling awfulness and more for what it represents, and after all the unnecessary anti-consumer bullshit lately, the SimCity debacle almost seemed like the least of it. Nevertheless, behold my excellent impression of EA:
"Duh, let's take a game that's traditionally unavoidably a single-player only, crowbar in useless multiplayer elements and force players to play online on servers with the reliability of a gingerbread space station. Duh, we have all the self-awareness of a sackful of frog spawn."
Third Best: It wasn't Kofi Annan at all, it was Nelson Mandela
In an entertainment medium where the default state of existence is being really angry and murderous while talking like you were grooming your dog and accidentally inhaled the brush, what a rare treat it is for a game to remember that we're supposed to be having fun. Saints Row 4 is how all video games should conclude: a big, bouncy, anarchic, irreverent roast of itself and of video games in general. Salute it with the biggest and floppiest knob you have to hand.
Third Worst: Hang on, Nelson Mandela's dead, and you've just committed a faux pas at an open casket funeral
Well, let's get the really obvious one out of the way before we go any further: Aliens: Colonial Marines. What more need be said about this trough of walrus cankers. One couldn't find a more fitting use for the word "Alien". It alienated players by being drab and awful; it alienated fans of the franchise by fucking up the canon; it alienated its own Aliens, ironically, by buggering up their own AI; and, for an encore, it alienated whoever was left over by lying in its gameplay trailers. Should have just saved time and alienated all their money into a big fire.
Second Best: Drifting away to sleep while surrounded by kittens and money
Hype-mongers will tell you that if you can't release a game trailer in which something explodes every 0.3 seconds, then you might as well throw yourself under a bus now. But how pointless their little lives must seem when a game is as simultaneously engaging and unmarketable as Papers, Please by Lucas Pope. It's a real lesson in what a bit of context can add; it's amazing how nail-biting paperwork sorting in a shed can be when you're not sure if you'll be able to buy imaginary turnips to feed your imaginary wife.
Second Worst: Rolling onto a kitten while you sleep and getting the money all dirty
Getting back to the subject of dirty depressing people getting their shit ruined, Beyond: Two Souls. David Cage somehow does it every time; smashes his own previous record of storytelling that's both laughably bad and a little bit creepy. Who wants to see Ellen Page alternate between crying, beating up sneering toughs, and being awkward around hunky boys while schizophrenically dawdling between multiple unconnected themes in turns of interactive story, except one of which isn't understood on what the word "interactive" means!
Best of 2013: Finding a winning lottery ticket stuck on the sole of a shoe being worn by your long lost father
I agonized a bit on whether to give Game of the Year to this game or Papers, Please. I asked myself which of the two would make me seem less pretentious, but that debate went fucking nowhere. So fuck it! For all its occasional flabbiness, there's a depth and a complexity to the world of characters that makes the colourful swashbuckling excitement of Bioshock Infinite a clear standout in all the year's flappery. It still occupies my thoughts after most of the year, putting it in a distinct category alongside my quarterly tax returns and the feasability of suicide.
Worst of 2013: Finding an eviction notice stuck on the sole of a shoe being worn by an axe murderer
I thought modern military shooters were bad a year ago but it turns out we were still merely poising on the diving board above the frozen shit. Even Black Ops 2 now seems comparatively self-aware alongside something like Call of Duty: Ghosts, an experience coldly designed to appeal to the worst instincts of a sad majority of unpleasant fucks. I'm not sure the genre could get any lower, but I've been wrong before. Maybe next year we can look forward to a game in which we stop all terrorism in the world by releasing a deadly virus that targets people that aren't 3/4 white and 1/4 bald eagle.
Now I know what you're thinking: "What about that game, Yahtzee? You know, that one." Well, I was hesitant to place it even on a worst games list, 'cos it's not a game, it's congealed failure. I speak no hyperbole when I say that releasing every box with no disc inside would have been less of a mistake. So for one time only, I grant the Zero Punctuation Lifetime Achievement Award for Total Abhorrence to Ride to Hell: Retribution which it will hold indefinitely until a worse game comes along. That should roughly be around the time apes have retaken the Earth!
Can't wait til the new millenium is of legal age: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw
Still I'll say one thing for Ride to Hell: At least it takes a modern view on gender relations
I suspect next year will just be a bottom 10 followed by a gunshot