A reader offers his own run down of the year’s most important news stories, from Aliens: Colonial Marines to the problems of Battlefield 4.
2013 has been an eventful and memorable year, and has seen the unveiling and release of two next gen consoles from both Sony and Microsoft, as well as some cracking games that bring the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 eras to a close with quite a bang, and Nintendo fighting back by releasing the superlative Super Mario 3D World on the Wii U.
The year kicked off with the unveiling of the PlayStation 4 in February in New York. Sony made a good impression with their philosophy behind the console explained well by the mesmerising Mark Cerny. The focus on the social features of the PlayStation 4, with the new Share button being able to record your gaming highlights and post them on social networks, has enormous potential.
Sony also announced that Remote Play would be compatible with the majority of PlayStation 4 games and would bring your PlayStation 4 library to your PS Vita, which should help breathe new life into Sony’s latest handheld. With the PlayStation 4 also downloading patches and games in the background this solved one of my bugbears with the PlayStation 3, which is the amount of time spent watching a download bar, rather than playing games. The only thing that disappointed was the lack of any big hitting titles.
The following months after the unveiling showed us that the current gen has plenty life left in it yet, with BioShock Infinite, Luigi’s Mansion 2, and the Tomb Raider reboot being particularly noteworthy. There was also disappointment though, with Aliens: Colonial Marines failing to live up to the hype, after it’s many years in development hell.
May saw Microsoft unveiling the Xbox One, which quite frankly was a disaster. The ‘TV, TV, TV’ announcement left more questions than answers, with the online DRM restrictions, and having to pay Microsoft a fee if you buy a second-hand game, rightly causing a ferocious backlash from gamers worldwide.
E3 in June was another memorable moment, with Sony and Microsoft duking it out with both their new consoles on show for the first time. Microsoft showed off some quite impressive games for the One, but the negative press around the console showed no sign of abating, with Microsoft execs skirting around questions and contradicting one another.
Sony then blew them away with their announcement that you can swap and trade games with friends on the PlayStation 4, and the console didn’t need to be online to play games. This drew a huge response from the crowds at the conference, and it was there that Sony won the battle for gamers hearts and minds almost effortlessly.
After the backlash of E3, Microsoft made an embarrassing, but predictable U-turn and backtracked on many of the unpopular policies that had caused a meltdown with gamers, which saw amusing YouTube rants from popular bloggers Angry Joe and Francis.
The end of E3 also saw the release of The Last of Us, which is one of the finest games on the PlayStation 3. Naughty Dog have really grown into one of my favourite developers during this generation of consoles, and the tale of Ellie and Joel was brilliantly written with great characters, and a tense narrative that reinvigorated the survival horror genre.
September brought the wonderful side-scrolling platformer Rayman Legends, which was a shot in the arm for the Wii U after the disappointment when it got delayed to accommodate a multiplatform release. Ubisoft beat Mario at his own game with a game full of innovative and fun levels, with the music levels being particularly well done.
Also released in September was Rockstar’s crime opus Grand Theft Auto V, which smashed sales records and expectations. The open world was a joy to explore with plenty to see and do, and some stunning scenery to take in, that put many of the next gen titles to shame. The missions were more diverse and the addition of online play was the cream on top of a very satisfying cake.
With the Christmas rush kicking off in October and December, the old favourites got their yearly releases with FIFA, Need For Speed, Call of Duty, and Assassin’s Creed all having new entries of the series on shop shelves. EA also released Battlefield 4, but with the game straddling so many different formats there have been plenty of problems, with investors even suing the company for the games unfinished, and buggy state.
The release of Sony and Microsoft’s next gen consoles in November gave the gaming industry a much needed boost. I got my PlayStation 4 on release day, and have been really impressed by it so far. The user interface is slick, and being able to download games and patches in the background is a godsend. Remote Play is a useful feature, which will get used a lot while the missus watches the soaps. I really enjoyed Killzone Shadow Fall, which impressed with more varied levels than previous entries in the series. Battlefield 4 can be amazing with 64 player battles, but it has crashed a few times on me, which can get quite irritating.
Nintendo finally rolled out the big guns for the Wii U with Super Mario 3D World, which I’ve yet to play, but shall hopefully pick up after Christmas. It certainly looks packed with ideas and innovation, much like my favourite game of the previous gen Super Mario Galaxy 2.
2013 for me was one of the most memorable years in all my time as a gamer. There were plenty of fantastic games to play, controversial news to get angry about, and shiny new consoles to get excited for. With games like The Division, Watch Dogs, and Mario Kart 8, along with new hardware like Valve’s Steam Machine and Oculus Rift to look forward to next year, and plenty more yet to be announced, here’s hoping 2014 lives up to, or exceeds this year.
I have high hopes the new consoles hit their stride quickly, and the next gen’s extra power enriches the experiences that come our way. A very merry Christmas to GC and all my fellow readers. I hope you get all the games and new consoles you hope for.
By reader Cubes (PSN ID)/Cubes73 (NN ID/Steam ID/Raptr ID)/Cubes1 (Twitter)/Kevin M
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