Daniel weighs in on the best games of the year

WWE 2K14, Sac City GamerEarlier this week, Michael weighed in on his top picks of 2013. Now, I’m taking my stab at making a list.

It’s a tough thing to do in a year that saw amazing indie games hit the scene, the releases of huge titles that were in development for years and the debuts of two brand new consoles.

Like Michael, this past year has been tough for me as well. Living on unemployment benefits for both incomes in my household has held me back from being able to play nearly as many games as I would have liked.

However, services like Gamefly are wonderful for those of us with expensive hobbies and empty wallets. Friends who can afford the newest consoles also come in handy.

Then there’s school. It’s a sort of catch-22 because I’m working toward my educational goals in journalism so that I can one day make money for tapping at these keys, but at the same time it keeps me from doing what I love: spending time with my wife, my cat and my game controllers.

Nonetheless, I narrowed it down from a list of the few games I was able to play. Agree or disagree, this is my list.

Have a different top 3? Let us know in the comments!

3. Knack

Knack, Sac City GamerKnack received a lot of critical disregard, probably because it’s a launch title for a new system and is coming from a legend in gaming by the name of Mark Cerny.

This put a lot of pressure on the game, and to some degree, it didn’t live up to that hype. But was it as bad as most reviewers made it out to be? For me, no.

I feel the critiques of Knack were overly harsh and that with the massive amounts of work and stress on the plates of the various gaming journalists who were busy reviewing a pile of 20-plus games along with a new system, Knack just wasn’t given the time it deserved.

On its surface, Knack is a 10-hour action-adventure game with a lot of familiar elements and nothing really new. And despite its debut on the super-powerful new PS4, it doesn’t bring the level of beauty and technical amazement that a game like Uncharted did for the PS3.

But for a launch title, the game does a lot right. For one thing, it’s fun. It’s easy on the easy difficulty setting, which keeps it approachable to younger and casual audiences, but it’s challenging on normal and hard (I believe it even has a very hard setting), which makes it fun for gaming veterans as well.

Where the game shines is with multiple runs from start to finish and I think this is where reviewers missed the boat. It especially shines when you have a group of friends who play because the game features a collectibles system that requires going back and playing the game more than once. Collectibles are discovered at random, but players can choose the collectible they’ve found or one a friend has found. It’s an interesting take on the idea of online interaction.

Overall, Knack may feel a lot like the Lego games, have a story similar to Uncharted and look a lot like a Disney movie mixed with Ratchet and Clank, but it also feels a lot like the console experiences of my childhood with games like Crash Bandicoot, and it even has a little bit of Mario mixed in at times.

Bottom line, despite its many gameplay shortcomings and hiccups, this game is a great addition to the PlayStation 4’s launch lineup. There’s a lot to improve on for the next installment, but that doesn’t leave me disappointed in the first game, it leaves me excited for the sequel.

2. Grand Theft Auto V

gta 5 cover art, officialThis is not only one of the best games of 2013, but it’s easily one of the best games I’ve ever played.

I still say Sleeping Dogs is my favorite game in this genre, but then again GTA and Sleeping Dogs are really in two different realms when it comes to these types of games.

After the abysmal mess that was GTA IV, I had high hopes for GTA V, but at the same time I had my reservations.

In fact, it wasn’t until I saw this trailer that I was ever truly excited about the game. From the moment I hit the gas in the first car the game allows the player to drive, I was hooked.

As many people probably know by now, Grand Theft Auto V is an experience like no other. It’s fun, content-packed, has a great story that is just the right length, and it encompasses all of the things that made past GTA titles so awesome. In short, GTA V is a masterpiece and it truly is the experience that GTA IV was supposed to be.

1. The Last of Us

Sac City Gamer, The Last of Us, Joel and EllieIf you read my review of Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us, you already know I loved the game.

This was a title I was hyped for, which is not something I usually do, and it delivered on every last bit of that hype.

From start to finish, The Last of Us is a beautiful, fun and memorable experience with one of the best stories in a video game that I’ve ever had the pleasure of surviving through.

If you still haven’t played The Last of Us, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Please, go out and pick up a copy of this amazing game. For more on The Last of Us, read my review here.

Honorable Mentions:

WWE 2K14, Disney Infinity, Tomb Raider, Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time, Lego Marvel Super Heroes, Grid 2, Deadpool and Resogun.

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