Wrapping up December – And 2013

Well we’ve reached the end of our journey through 2013, and I cannot wait to get through this week and hit 2014 in stride. Gaming-wise, I felt that 2013 was a bit of a slower year than the last two had been, but I think that’s mainly because so much time and effort was put into the console launches, which we will see the main payoff really start next year. Of course, that’s not to say that there weren’t stand-out games this year. I’ll hit my picks for this year’s best, but first I want to quickly talk about some crappy maps to round out my December project.

I’ll begin with the first map that jumps to my mind – Chiron TL-34 from Halo: Combat Evolved. Even now, over 10 years after I first played the game, I really don’t know the layout of the map. The fact that the main way to move about the level is through teleporters or grenade jumping results in confusing gameplay.

Chiron TL-34 Map

Next I want to hit pretty much the biggest shooter in the last ten years – Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. In general most of the maps work pretty well, but there are a few spots here and there, that, coupled with the way some of the perks function, turn the game into a nightmare. For me, that’s really evident on Derail – even in Domination, people are able to camp in the middle building. Combine that with One Man Army, Danger Close or Commando, pushing teams out of there can be a really tough course of action.

One more map I’m not really high on – Operation Metro from Battlefield 3. In and of itself, it’s not a terrible map, my big issue with it, is that it goes against the Battlefield format – no vehicles, close quarters, limited paths to take and doesn’t really work with the huge player number. That’s really why I think it’s not a great map – it’s fighting against the identity of the game it’s in. And with that, that wraps up my thoughts on Multiplayer maps in the most popular shooters today – it was a fun little project that I think fits with the season, since lots of people probably got one of these games for the Holidays.

Operation Metro Map

One last little bit of business for 2013 still though – the best of the year. This year was a lot easier for me to pick a winner out of the pack than last year was. Last year I was torn between Dishonored, Mass Effect 3 and Borderlands 2. This year, it’s a bit more cut and dry which games I am looking at – Grand Theft Auto V and BioShock Infinite. Personally it wasn’t that difficult though – for me, GTA just didn’t hold my attention as long as I would hope – the story is totally fine, the game itself looks amazing and plays great; GTA Online has a ton of potential to really elongate the lifespan, but still has some growing issues. Now, Infinite is a smaller scale game – no multiplayer, nothing really outside of the main campaign (Outside of DLC) – but that campaign is amazing. Easily the best story experience I had all year, in a setting that feels unique and alive and has tons of little details that breath life into the world and characters; and a story that had twists and turns a plenty. For me, it was going to be Infinite’s award to lose, and GTA just didn’t really do it for me this year.

BioShock Infinite

So there’s 2013 – a little bit of a pause after the craziness that 2011 and 2012 were, and a great table setter for a huge year next year. 2014 will be the first true “Next-Gen” year, where we’ll get to see games like Destiny, Titanfall, Elder Scrolls Online, Watch Dogs, and Dying Light push the boundaries of what we know games can be and do. I’m pumped to see what the industry has for us, and can’t wait to see what surprises lie in store. Here’s to 2014.