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EGM’s Best of 2013: Editor’s Awards: Eric L. Patterson

Posted on December 18, 2013 AT 12:00pm


The problem with looking back at the year in gaming that was 2013 can be summed up in two names: the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One. As much happened over the course of the year, as many fabulous games came out, as many news stories broke, 2013 is the year that Sony and Microsoft not only unveiled their next-gen consoles, but also released them.
Because of that, my personal top five (and bonus categories) were especially tough this year. I feel like I’m missing something. Forgetting something big, something that I know I’ll regret later. In my brain, all I can remember from 2013 were those two shiny new pieces of highly anticipated hardware.
And remember: This is simply a list of the five games that had the biggest effect on me this year in one way or another. This is not my attempt to make any sort of definite list of what the absolute five best games of the year were. And, in case you’re just meeting me for the first time—hello, by the way!—my tastes tend to skew more toward the nichier side of things. I gave this warning in my list last year, and people still bitched at me for not including Call of Duty or Battlefield or Batman or whatever else. So, I’m trying to make that warning very clear again. If you choose to listen to it or not, that’s on you.

Eric’s Top Five Games for 2013

#05: Gone Home

Publisher: The Fullbright Company 
Developer: The Fullbright Company
Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux

Eric’s Take

When a few people I know tell me that there’s a game I absolutely have to play, I get curious. When it’s countless people saying that, I get worried. With how hyped up Gone Home had become in gaming circles both online and off, I went in ready to be let down by the experience. I wasn’t. If Saints Row IV proved that games can still be games, Gone Home proved that games as experiences are just as valuable and needed. In an industry where it’s hard to write worthwhile characters, I came to deeply care about the members of “my” family—even without ever once actually meeting them. Gone Home won’t resonate with everyone—but when it does, boy, does it ever.

#04: Resident Evil Revelations

Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom
Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3,Wii U, PC

Eric’s Take

For our picks for the top 25 games of the year, one of the rules we put upon ourselves is that we can’t vote for anything that’s a remake or a re-release. So, games like Resident Evil Revelations aren’t even considered as part of the voting process. This is my list, however, so damn those rules! While I enjoyed what I played of Revelations on the 3DS, I found a whole new appreciation for the game when it hit consoles. It had an old-school Resident Evil flair mixed with some of the newer-era ideas, I loved the way the game played out almost as a serialized TV show, and it gave me my favorite zombie hunter—Miss Jill Valentine—before Resident Evil 5 took her down a path of ruination.

#03: Saints Row IV

Publisher: Deep Silver 
Developer: DS Volition
Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3

Eric’s Take

I’ve enjoyed what I played of previous Saints Row games, but—fair or unfair—there was always that “it’s the game that’s not Grand Theft Auto” thought rattling around in my brain. Saints Row IV was the moment that changed all of that. This was where I finally appreciated the effort Volition has put into this series, and into making us players feel empowered. Even if it wasn’t the most visually impressive or technologically polished title of 2013, Saints Row IV was probably the most concentrated form of fun I played this year—and it reminded me that it’s OK for games to want to be games (and not “cinematic interactive experiences”).

#02: Tearaway

Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment 
Developer: Media Molecule
Platforms: PS Vita

Eric’s Take

Nothing could have prepared me for Tearaway. In hands-on sessions or brief previews of work-in-progress builds of the game, it seemed cute and charming, but also more than a little gimmicky. You can’t put all of the Vita’s hardware features to use and make a fantastic game, I was certain. And yet, that’s exactly what Media Molecule did. Tearaway touched me on an emotional level in a way no other game this year was able to, and I loved the world and its characters so much that I was heartbroken when my time with them came to an end. If Sony is smart, Tearaway will become a Vita pack-in at some point next year.

#01: The Last of Us

Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Developer: Naughty Dog
Platforms: PS3

Eric’s Take

OK, so my burning desire that The Last of Us would be a game that deemphasized combat and instead emphasized simply trying to survive the fallout of a modern-day apocalypse—something like, say, I Am Alive, only much better developed—wasn’t satisfied. What was left feeling happy and fulfilled, however, was my love for videogames. Much as I adore the Uncharted franchise, it was wonderful to see Naughty Dog not only tackle something much different, but also something so close to my heart (I’m one of those weird people obsessed with “the fall of man” stories). While it was a joy to play, technologically impressive, and visually stunning, the true strength of The Last of Us came down to two simple things: Joel and Ellie. It was nearly impossible to not fall in love with both of them—or want to see their story out to its bitter conclusion.

Eric’s Off-Topic Awards for 2013

The Best Example of a Game Sabotaging Itself
Anarchy Reigns
Games that don’t have the player populations of Call of Duty or Battlefield need to have focused, concentrated online modes to help avoid splintering the players that do find their way to that title’s online modes. Platinum’s Anarchy Reigns was already hampered by being released way later in North America than initially planned, and when it did come, its online interface was nothing short of terrible. Eleven different online modes were offered up—doubled to 22 when duplicated between Ranked and Player matches. Even when enough players did find their way into the same mode, a full game about to launch could be stopped cold if one person dropped out. When you could find a full game, Anarchy Reigns was amazing fun—but with how much it took to be in that position, it wasn’t long before its online modes became a ghost town.
The “I Love You, I Hate You” Award
Tomb Raider

Last year, I gave this award to Silent Hill Downpour, a game that both upset me in its terribleness and endeared me to its wonderfulness. This year, no experience made me feel as conflicted as Tomb Raider did. I deeply enjoyed Crystal Dynamics’ reboot of Lara Croft’s origins as a game, but at the same time, was crushed at how it wasted the chance to really give depth to a major gaming heroine coming into her own. Instead of a young, inexperienced girl desperately struggling to survive, I got a Lara who was popping caps in foes like a pro in quick order. Tomb Raider, I loved you as a third-person action shooter—but wish you had aspired to reach your true potential.
The Best Trend of 2013
Advancements in Character Customization
While 2013 was in no way the year that character customization came into its own in gaming, it was a year that saw incredible strides in the idea of letting players have a choice in how they’re represented in their favorite games. I’ve already mentioned the fantastic lengths that Volition went to in Saints Row above, but how about the Call of Duty series finally providing the option for female soldiers? Or Nintendo and Game Freak doing the unthinkable and offering character customization in Pokémon? There was one tragedy (for me) in terms of personalized in-game personifications this year, however: Microsoft’s move away from Xbox Avatars for the Xbox One. While I know many aren’t, I’m sad to see their role become so diminished.

EGMNOW’s Best of 2013 Awards Schedule

Eric L. Patterson, Executive Editor
Eric L. Patterson got his start via self-publishing game-related fanzines in junior high, and now has one goal in life: making sure EGM has as much coverage of niche Japanese games as he can convince them to fit in. Eric’s also active in the gaming community on a personal level, being an outspoken voice on topics such as equality in gaming and consumer rights. Stalk him on Twitter: @pikoeri. Meet the rest of the crew.

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