Jesse’s Top 5 Videogames of 2013

2013: Another year almost finished and another year full of fantastic games. As I look back on my year in gaming, it became clear that I did a lot of catching up this year with many games released from 2009-2012. However, the games I did play from 2013 thrilled me, humored me and left me with a sense of awe at how imaginative a story could be told through an interactive medium. These are my top five videogames of 2013 in no given order except for the number one spot.

5. Puzzle & Dragons (iOS | Android)

Puzzle and Dragons

This mobile title from GungHo Entertainment hooked me from the start after reading about it on Destructoid. The puzzle-like aspects of Bejeweled mixed with the leveling up process similar to Pokemon had me logging in every single day since I’ve owned it. For not spending a dime on this game, I’ve gotten more than my fair share of entertainment from it and while it’s not deep in storytelling (in fact, I haven’t seen any actual story in it), it has an entertaining formula that can keep you logging in 50 days straight. Note: Technically this game was released in North America in Nov. 2012, but I gave it some leeway due to its platform.

4. Gone Home (Windows | Mac | Linux)

Gone Home

I heard how good this game was from multiple game writers and critics who, unfortunately, slightly spoiled the premise of the game for me. Regardless, the story told in this game isn’t often found in videogames, especially in 2013 — a year with an unusual amount of games filled with violence. Gone Home’s storytelling worked because of how you’d unlock each room set inside an eery house replete with nostalgic items from the ‘90s. This was one of the most memorable games I played during Extra Life and the end of the game left me with goosebumps.

3. Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon (Xbox 360 | PS3)

far cry 3 blood dragon

Part of catching up from 2012 was getting to play and finish Far Cry 3, which was a phenomenal game in itself. The Blood Dragon DLC took the fundamental gameplay elements of Far Cry 3 and turned it into a neon tinted world filled with cybernetics, dragons, and cheesy 16-bit interludes full of macho behavior you’d see in a movie like Predator. Sure, the leveling up process may have been simplified for this title, but the humor and the music made this game a top contender for 2013. I’m listening to the soundtrack as I write this and recommend “Blood Dragon Theme” and “Power Core” (Spotify) for some rad early ‘80s synth and power drums. Play this game.

2. Grand Theft Auto 5 (Xbox 360 | PS3)

grand-theft-auto-v

The prolonged console cycle of the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 brought about the annualization of more games than I’m used to, many of which could’ve benefitted from a break between years. When I think back to Grand Theft Auto 4, it kinda’ blows me away that it was released back in 2008. So, it wasn’t much of a surprise to me that Grand Theft Auto 5 broke entertainment sales records with its expansive open world, unique soundtrack and introduction of three playable characters, each with his own quirks, strengths and weaknesses. This game isn’t perfect — there doesn’t seem to be one strong female lead in the whole game — but what Rockstar did was polish everything that was rough about Grand Theft Auto 4 and they took you deep into a world you could explore for weeks on end.

1. Bioshock Infinite (Xbox 360 | PS3 | Steam)

Bioshock-Infinite

The first Bioshock is still one of my favorite games on Xbox 360. Bioshock 2 didn’t live up to the same feeling of vulnerability that I had in the previous game, but seeing through the eyes of a Little Sister fascinated me and it’s still a moment I remember vividly. Bioshock Infinite took me to the colorful and saturated world of Columbia only to realize that everything isn’t as quaint as it seems. The shooting mechanics and the vigors weren’t as balanced as I remember them being in Bioshock, but the introduction of the sky hook made zipping through the areas invigorating, while the story left me dumbfounded and awestruck.

So there you go! I admit that I missed out on some great games from 2013. From what I’ve been told, The Last of Us is quite a remarkable game, but I don’t own a PS3. Papers, Please slipped through the cracks for me, but one I’ll have to play soon. Tomb Raider was a lot of fun and almost made the list. Rayman Legends is a beautiful platformer that I still want to play at some point. Got any other game recommendations? What were your favorites?

What’s Fresh for October 13, 2013

Freshfully Rad What's Fresh

BTBAM in 2013 is still a fun show to see live

In an effort to write even more than I do already, I’ve started a new piece called What’s Fresh. Part of my job is to read news — a lot of news — and over the years, it’s become an obsession. I was one of the Google Reader users who were pretty upset when they were disabling the service, but Feedly has been great to me as a tool to read news on my computer as well as on my mobile. What’s Fresh features news I’ve found interesting over the past week or so.

Benefit For Brewpublic’s Angelo De Ieso

Brewpublic Benefit for Angelo

Photo via BREWPUBLIC

Brewpublic has been one of my favorite Oregon-area beer blogs for years now. I met Angelo for the first time this year at the Organic Brew Festival and he was a super nice guy that was totally willing to chat for a few minutes. So, it shocked me to hear that he recently that he had to have brain surgery and now has a huge bill to pay. Because the craft beer community in Oregon is so awesome, The Commons Brewery is having a fundraiser to help pay his medical bills on October 17. Drink beer and help a cool dude? I’m in!

Why Confidence Is So Important (And How To Improve Yours)

This Lifehacker article offers great insight into how confidence can improve how you’re perceived by others and lists some different ways to improve your confidence. This can take you from knowing confidence to believing in confidence. Great inspirational material.

Grand Theft Auto V Mythbusters

Every once in a while, I see these awesome Mythbusters YouTube videos featuring games like GTA 5 and Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 where they try different tricks in a videogame to see if they work or not. I’m always surprised with what they confirm and bust. If you dig these, you might want to subscribe to their channel.

Respawn’s Trial And Error Of Creating Titanfall Modes

One of my most anticipated games of the next console generation is Titanfall. Though I haven’t played it yet, from what I’ve seen, this game is going to revolutionize the console shooter. I’m pretty sure it’ll be the next Halo and Call of Duty for the console generation. If you have a spare 20 minutes, check out the video above featuring their tireless community manager, Abbie Heppe.

Kuma’s Corner Makes Statement About Ghost Burger

Photo via Metal Insider

I went to Kuma’s Corner in Northern Chicago for the first time back in 2010 and had one of the best burgers ever — the Plague Bringer. If you don’t know about this place, it’s a metal-themed restaurant that specializes in serving burgers. Recently, the restaurant made a burger inspired by the band, Ghost B.C., which contains goat shoulder, ghost chili aioli, a red wine reduction and is topped off with a communion wafer. Of course, some Catholics weren’t amused by this in the least. So, Kuma’s Corner has done something very nice in return. I wish Portland had a Kuma’s Corner.

Bacon Weave Taco Recipe

Do you like tacos? How about bacon? Then why not make bacon tacos? Tasted is a channel on YouTube that I’ve grown to appreciate the more I watch it for it’s very cynical humor and funny food news. If you like this, there’s a taste review that they do for some bacon flavored pop rocks and it’s pretty interesting to hear all of their descriptors which is almost everything but bacon.

Thanks for reading and leave some links to things you’ve found interesting in the comments. Cheers!