Today is the first day of July. That means we’re halfway through 2013! Wow, that’s a scary thought, huh?
It’s the halfway mark and already we’ve seen quite a strong lineup of games released this year, some of which are no doubt bound to become serious Game of the Year contenders. But it’s only halfway, and while the release schedule has dried up for the time being it’s going to pick up again, and soon we’ll be in the October/November release madness where our wallets say ‘no, stop’ as we keep piling the games up. There are so many new games coming – and new consoles as well! – leaving a lot to think about. We’re nowhere near deciding on a Game of the Year!
But it’s also true that the busy October/November release period tends to steal all of the focus when we make our GOTY considerations. They’re much fresher in our minds, so it’s easier to argue for them than, say, a great game we played back in April. Last year managed to buck the trend a little when early releases like Journey and Trials Evolution – downloadable titles, at that – made a few lists, but there’s no denying that sometimes we forget about the games we played only a few months ago.
In comes Game of the Half-Year, a probably-not-original idea where we look at the best games from the first six months of 2013. I rounded up my bearded colleagues and forced them to write me a paragraph explaining their favourite games at the moment.
The Pantaloons Game of the Half Year Award
I’ve played a lot of really fun games over the past half year but I think I have to give this award to The Last of Us for one simple reason: it’s the only one of those games that I’ve gone back to start a replay of. I got texts from Doc as he played it over the past weekend and it made me think about the game again, until eventually I decided I needed to have another go at it. I was ready to get punched in the feels all over again.
The Last of Us tells a wonderful story but while the core of that lies in Joel and Ellie there are so many other brilliantly written and acted characters that give life to the world. Marlene, or Tess, or Bill, everyone has their own stories as a survivor and seeing their paths intersect with each other feels natural. There were characters that I hated, but not because of bad writing, I was meant to hate them. It’s an engaging and incredibly tense game and I love it for being that. The game somehow manages to make scavenging for resources fun – I spent ages just looking for spare supplies and managing my inventory. Combat can be a bit harsh, but when done right it’s stressful in all the right ways.
My runner-up for the half year would have to be Luigi’s Mansion 2, which was fun from beginning to end with only a few mild slip-ups here and there. It even managed to make backtracking seem like fun! More games need to star Luigi over Mario, really. His personality is part of what made the game so charming.
The What?! Game of the Half Year Award
Games? Everyone knows I don’t play games! Wait… what? Apparently I HAVE been playing games! Call a doc! Doc is sick!
But in all seriousness, Animal Crossing is amazing! Insanely addictive and relaxing. With no real purpose you are free to do what you want, when you want and however you like it. You may play as competitively as possible, or you may just be rather silly and pretend you’re an axe murderer or something. Animal Crossing would be my GOTHY without a doubt. Except The Last of Us happened…
From the prologue the game creates deep and interesting characters and stories that are genuinely engaging and the game only expands upon that. Just like real life, when we think we have a handle on something, we’re thrown a curve ball. The drama is intense and the characterisation is like nothing I’ve ever experienced in games so far. The large scale enemy hordes aside, the game is spectacular and achieves not only an amazing level of intimacy with the two protagonists but is highly enjoyable to play. The Last of Us is not only my GOTHY but one I would highly recommend to both gamers and to fans of good entertainment in general. Honourable mention goes to Tomb Raider, which is the only other game released this year that I’ve played to completion.
The Shiggy of Ninty Game of the Half Year Award
My game would have to be Animal Crossing: New Leaf for sure. There’s something about it that keeps bringing me back. I think it’s more the relaxation factor more than anything for me. After a hard day I like to kick back and unwind with it and just go fishing, catch bugs, harvest fruit or rearrange my house. What other game just allows you to take things so slow and easy, but allowing you to have fun no matter what you’re doing? I’m loving that each and every day something is unlocked and I can continue further with it.
There are some real close front runners though and surprisingly…all of them are 3DS titles. Fire Emblem: Awakening is amazing, I don’t know what else to say about it, but it was such a fulfilling and enjoyable gaming experience from beginning to end. Luigi’s Mansion 2 was just as fantastic. Changing the style of game from one long running mission like the Gamecube one, to a game that had short 20 minute missions to play on the go was great. It made it the perfect portable game.
I have to give props to Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance too for being a blast to play. But this is only the half year! My choices might change, we still have Pikmin 3, Wind Waker HD, GTAV and more to look forward to! It’s still early days my friends.
Thanks for wrapping up the article for me there, Shiggy!
How about everyone else?