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Published on December 31st, 2013 | by Chris Scott

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Question of the Week: How would you grade the 2013 Gaming Year?

Welcome to Critically Sane’s Question of the Week, where we do our best to answer an inquiry posed to us by the community. Have your own question? Tweet it to us @criticallysane or put it in the comments below!

I’m still chewing on how I would rate 2013 as a year for gaming. Obviously we are at the end of a generation, but did Gen-7 go out with a bang or a whimper? I feel like Gen-6 had some great late entry stuff, but then again, the generation didn’t have a clean cut break as the 360 and the PS3 had different launch years. My gut is a B+ kind of year. Noting truly awful, but not outstanding. Too much hype and expectation for what is to come, but getting in a couple late greats leveled out the score. Thoughts? ~ submitted by Wolf

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2013 gets a C- from me. For the first time in a long while, the games industry failed to provide me a single title that I would call an A+. Even games I thought were outstanding (Europa Universalis 4, Assassin’s Creed 4) failed to worm their way into my heart in that obsessive way that titles like X-COM, Skyrim, and Mass Effect 2 did. There wasn’t that singular game that provided me experiences that I’ll hold dear forever. We lacked those singular, monumental unmissable games- GTA 5 was really the only unequivocably must-buy title, and even that proved to be lacking, with the supposed game-changing online component having a late, buggy and unfortunate launch. I think 2013 may have been defined more by its failures than its successes. SimCity’s horrific launch, the failure of the WiiU to launch a single must-own title until November, Microsoft’s series of PR catastrophes, the weak launch of Total War: Rome 2 and its large number of bugs (the sequel to one of my favorite games ever), two distinctly mediocre launch lineups for the two new consoles, the first real stumble of a Call of Duty game, and the ongoing saga that is Battlefield 4’s existence: 2013 was a mess. It wasn’t without its successes, but I find myself eager to move on to 2014 and the promise of some true next-gen titles than look back at 2013. The biggest positive of the year is that AAA gaming’s gaffes let indie titles like Papers, Please, Rogue Legacy and Gone Home get exposure they would not have gotten otherwise. So, I will proclaim 2013 the year of the indie. And, that done, I will move on to 2014, and hope that Titanfall, Destiny, The Witcher 3, Dragon Age: Inquisition, and Thief can wash the bitter taste that much of 2013’s AAA gaming has left in my mouth. ~Tony Odett

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Thinking back on the games of 2013, I would have to give this year a solid A. By June, there were so many great titles released that I could have easily come up with a top 10 list. Many of the games released were huge, generation-capping sequels that we had waited years for and finally got to play. Remember seeing the first footage of Bioshock Infinite years ago and salivating at the prospect of playing it? We got to do that by March, and there was still plenty to look forward to. How could it be anything but a great year for games when Rockstar released a fantastic new GTA title, and it still wasn’t a clear cut winner for Game of the Year? In most years, Rockstar dropping a GTA on the market would eliminate any competition, but this wasn’t most other years. We even got a direct sequel to Link to the Past, and it was one of the best Zelda games I have ever played. I would be surprised if 2014 even came close in terms of quantity of quality titles. Some years are just special like that, and 2013 was one of them. ~Jeff Derrickson

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Looking back on 2013, I see a year that no matter what one’s chosen system was, there were great games to play. But I also see a year that brought us some nasty trends that could speak to a grim future for the industry. Not only has Early Access taken over every corner of Steam’s storefront, EA decided to bring the trend to AAA titles with their retail releases of SimCity and Battlefield 4, both of which launched unfinished. Compound that with the continued proliferation of micro-transactions in games like Dead Space 3, Ryse, Forza 5 and Gran Turismo 6, things are heading in a potentially very dangerous direction. Still at the end of the day, it all comes down to the games and titles like Tomb Raider, Super Mario 3D World, The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds and Peggle 2 showcasing that gameplay is still king, while The Last of Us, Bioshock: Infinite and Gone Home continued to push the boundaries for narratives in games (even if their gameplay was incredibly lacking). The high points of the year mostly outshine the lows, and so I have to give the year a strong B. ~Chris Scott

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Personally, I’d rate 2013 with a B+. Some fantastic games came out this year, there’s no doubt about that. Battlefield 4 was leaps and bounds better than Battlefield 3, even if I was the only person who didn’t have problems during the dozens of hours I spent playing it online. Rockstar delivered another impressive Grand Theft Auto game. Two new consoles launched, though I didn’t get to personally enjoy either of them, it was still exciting enough for me to get some enjoyment out of it. Tomb Raider dazzled and sat towards the top of my Top 10 list all year. But when it came time to make a Top 10 list, I had trouble coming up with as many as 10 games. I didn’t have that problem in 2012, when I had a problem whittling it down to ten games. Don’t get me wrong: some of this year’s games have just been absolutely amazing, a few of which I would place over some 2012 titles. But certain games that should have been great simply weren’t, Need for Speed: Rivals and Batman: Arkham Origins to name a few. 2013 was a better year for hardware than it was for games, but in general, a very solid year no matter how you look at it. ~Don Parsons

Those are our thoughts on the year, what are yours?

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  • Wolf

    I almost can’t comment, I started this thread 😛

    Tony: I think your point about memorable/immersive moment in gaming is a good one. I wanted to love GTA, but it didn’t live up to what I wanted. That said, I think I will remember the sea-combat of AC4 for a long time yet. I do hope Ubisoft makes an sequel pirates game to follow, and not another AC-pirates game.

    Jeff, as I stated about GTA, it just didn’t win me over. it wowed me, even with all the hype around it, but when I finished the story (not all missions mind), I put it on my shelf and was done. And that still upsets me, I played GTA4, which is not as good a game, for a long time. That point alone takes 2013 down a grade for me.

    Chris, I completely agree with being concerned for the industry. One reason I got the PS3 over Xbox was I didn’t want to pay a subscription to have multiplayer in my games. I get why, but I invested in the system and games, I don’t want to keep shelling out for it. Thats just one aspect of how the industry is changing, and I am not a fan.

    Don: Your comment reminded me that I played some of my older titles in my library this year instead of getting new games all the time. I bought new games, sure, but 2013 wasn’t enough by itself.

    Looking forward to Critically Sane’s 2014 commentary!

    • Napoleon1066

      Classic Jeff response. Gets the games he really wanted in November, and then completely forgets about the rest of the year.

      • Wolf

        Doesn’t that count as the memorable experience then? ;P

  • Wolf

    Bending the question in a slightly different direction, how would you rate / compare Generation 6 and 7 of the video game industry? Are there lessons to take into Gen 8, things to do or not?

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