10: Fire Emblem Awakening (3DS)
FE would probably be much higher on my list if I had finished it, but to be honest I recently got my 3DS and just have not had enough time to play it. What I have played from it is incredible though. What FE does so spectacularly from other strategy games is the relationships your characters form with each other and how that impacts your battles with the forces of evil as the game progresses. A full on trait system per character (which is on full display when coupling and having offspring to add to your party), nice visual design, permadeath to spice things up and an impactful score all come together very well in, what should be, a higher placed game on this list.
9: Devil May Cry (360)
I lost interest in this franchise basically after the first game. I really enjoyed my time with it, but just didn’t really care when the subsequent sequels came out. I couldn’t help but roll my eyes when I heard a reboot was being done, but to my surprise it reviewed very well. Aside from the reviews I was really intrigued to see what Ninja Theory did with the franchise and took the plunge. What a splash this over the top game made. The story is still exactly what you would expect from a DMC game, nothing to write home about, BUT the gameplay is where it all shines. Plain and simple: the combat is intensely fun and just works. The seamless switching between normal, angel and devil attacks felt right, combos were just so fun to pull off. The outrageous enemy and level designs were also a huge plus. On board for a sequel.
8: Dishonored DLC- The Knife of Dunwall & The Brigmore Witches (360)
Wait, what? Why is DLC on this list? Because it was awesome. Now, I know a lot of people were down on Dishonored last year, but those people are monsters. No, seriously though Dishonored was one of my favorite games of last year, so naturally I couldn’t wait to play the DLC and let me tell you it did not disappoint. In my humble opinion the DLC was better than the actual game. The blink ability was modified in a game changing way, the main character, Daud (voiced by none other than Michael Madsen), is infinitely more interesting than the mute Korvo was, the story was much more fascinating than Dishonored‘s unimaginative revenge plot and all the little extras were a welcome addition like the “favors” and additional abilities. All in all I felt like The Knife of Duwall and The Brigmore Witches really showcased what Dishonored could be which says a lot considering it was already a really good game.
7: Tomb Raider (360)
I have a confession: I have never played a Tomb Raider game. Although, I am not counting the demo of it I played on those old demo discs that came in video game magazines…those were the best, but I digress. I don’t really know why, but I just never have. Well, this one was a hell of a one to start on. I really enjoyed actually being a female protagonist in this male protagonist dominated world minus the horrible ways Crystal Dynamics made her death scenes. Horrific. Aside that I had a great time with the game. It certainly wasn’t perfect; their were some minor things I would have liked to see changed, but the combat was fun, I enjoyed the puzzle aspects of it (even if they should have added more) and the Uncharted-esque scaling went well with the flow of the game. I am officially waiting on a sequel for this rebooted franchise.
6: Grand Theft Auto V (360)
We all knew this game would be amazing, but wow! Rockstar knows exactly how to raise the bar and GTA V is no exception. I suppose I should start with the likeness to Los Angeles and the visual fidelity at which it shows it because it’s an impressive showcase. The amount of detail is stunning and lest us not forget it is running on “old gen” consoles. Visuals aside though I was also very impressed with the three main characters. At first it sounded like an odd way to play GTA, but in classic Rockstar fashion it worked, both on the gameplay and story side of things. A revamped cover and weapon select system was also a welcome addition. Trevor.
5: Assassins Creed 4: Black Flag (PS4)
I could never quite put my finger on it, but I never truly like the AC franchise. I thought it had some promise gameplay wise and the story was mildly entertaining, but it just never panned out for me. Yet, every year I always managed to get psyched for the next installment. AC3 finally pushed me over the edge with the full force of all it’s mediocrity and I thought I was done with the franchise. Then pirates were introduced. Damn it. Black Flag is everything the other games in the franchise are not: fun. Ridiculously fun. It would be higher on this list, but the parts that keep this game down are basically everything related to the AC franchise. This game has loads to do and would take some time to get 100% “sync”, but it’s mostly all fun. To boot it looks very nice and oh did I mention pirate shanties?? Yes, please.
4: The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds (3DS)
Who better than Nintendo to make a game that taps into your nostalgic senses while also adding an incredible new twist? A Link Between Worlds does this magnificently and is also a fitting title. Why you ask? Well, ALBW takes the best of A Link to the Past and merges it with this very unique playing Zelda game unlike any before it. Nintendo basically completely changed the formula of how Zelda games work and masqueraded it in this nostalgic inducing package. See why the title fits now? This game is just amazing. The renting of your gear, the unlimited rupee wallet and insanely simple yet extremely effective merging with walls mechanic are all outstanding new features to this franchise. The 3D works great, especially on the puzzle sequences and all the classic music is remixed in an impressive way considering how iconic those songs are. I mean how can you not love a game with a track like this?
3: Splinter Cell: Blacklist (360)
Who would’ve thought that I would be having heated debates for ALBW and Blacklist for the number three spot? Trust me it was a very close call. Very. In the end I would still possibly switch them up, but for the sake of not having a 3A and 3B I put Blacklist at three. Stealth games are one of my favorite genres and Blacklist was hugely underrated. This game took everything that made SC: Conviction so good and made it even better. The insane amount of customization on your character was awesome and the controls, although quirky at times, for the most part made you feel like a bad ass. The level designs were expansive to say the least which really fit with the versatility of that game. I mostly used stealth, but all out chaos was also a viable option. All the extra stuff was really fun too such as the side missions and the puzzle like Gone Dark missions which were like a scavenger hunt of information of Google.
2: Bioshock Infinite (360)
After I finished Infinite I was in a daze. That fantastical ending is one of my favorite of all time (almost as good as my number one game) and I just knew no matter what came out for the rest of the year, Infinite would be in my top two even though it came out in March. This was a game where some people were down on the combat, but I found it highly entertaining. The mix of powers and guns was very Bioshock-y, but the addition of the skylines was enough to freshen things up for me. Plus it looked cool. The visuals were nice, but the story…well the story was nothing short of incredible. I couldn’t sleep that night and the next day I scoured forums for hours discussing the ending to take in every single point of view. It’s one I won’t soon forget. Lastly, the animation and sound of getting money from Elizabeth is just so damn satisfying!
1: The Last of Us (PS3)
Let me start off by saying one thing: this game is miles ahead of anything on this list. The closest game that comes to perfection and I don’t throw that around lightly. The Last of Us transcends gaming in general due to how extraordinary it is. Other game have had great visuals or an outstanding story or maybe even all of it, but the package that is The Last of Us is just so tight and perfect that it just blows everything away. Anything you could rate a game on The Last of Us does it exceptionally. The visuals are sublime, the original score is endearing, the gameplay is very fun whether it’s crafting supplies or the combat against the infected and humans which are both very different. Even the multiplayer is good!
If only one thing could shine from this total package though that one thing would be the story. The most gut wrenching story I have ever experienced in a game with an amazing ending to top it off. All done with top of the line voice acting which is supremely impactful on the overall performance of the characters. The way everything is depicted in The Last of Us from characters to the world is simply phenomenal. The Last of Us I salute you.