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GameCritics.com Podcast Episode 103: Game of the Year 2013

Expectations are always high for our year-end festivities, and we aim to please for 2013. We run down the most notable games from 2013, our own personal highlights, and as always, the spine-tingling GOTY vote. Featuring Sinan Kubba, Brad Gallaway, Mike Bracken, Richard Naik, Daniel Weissenberger, and special guest James Carter of Cane and Rinse fame. Also, apologies for the low quality of the audio!

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Wow. Didn't think this was

Wow. Didn't think this was happening since we're already into mid-January. Better late than never though! ;p

It was actually recorded a

It was actually recorded a few weeks ago -- just had technical difficulties in getting it posted.

Glad you dug it, though. We really just wanted to let everyone else go first. :p

Great show as usual, gents.

Great show as usual, gents. I love queuing up the 'cast for my weekend walks, but I have to be careful where I listen, lest I laugh, scoff, or voice disagreement where people might turn and stare.

I know few people at the moment who share my interest in games, so this podcast whets my appetite for engaged and passionate discussion of games. Keep up the good work.

Podcast

Thanks for another year of great content, folks. Great to have Mike back on the pod and always a pleasure to hear Dan's yearly appearance. It was a pleasant surprise to see James Carter as special guest, you should take him on as regular Podcaster in Charge of Indie Games. Bientot l'Ete sounds absolutely terrible but James had the gravitas to carry it off. ;) I'm still (nominally) following his SL1 Dark Souls guide which I highly recommend.

Good to hear everyone else too!

Disagree with your GoTY (again) and was surprised it was near-unanimous. It's a good game, but essentially is some very good characterisation built into a competent genre piece with a B-movie story and bog-standard gameplay. Much like last year's choice... *rimshot*

Hope 2014 is good for all you folks, and keep up the good work.

No to Last of Us as game of year.

Agree with pedros summation of Last of Us as a game.

It's no surprise that Naught dog could pull of the best characterisation in gaming. You could see the potential in the Uncharted games. Of course Drake and the rest of the cast is shallow, but the step up in their next games was always, for myself in sight. Also the world was the best I've seen in a while. The detail and variety in this believable fictional future was superb.

Last of Us gameplay is really boring. And gameplay is the vast majority of that game. That is something Naughty Dog shows no potential in. Stealth frequently required the yawn-fest of physical takedowns, Mostly due to lack of ammo for weapons. That was less of a problem later in the game. Stealth takedowns still require the complete suspension of disbelief against bad A.I in this game.

Repetitive enemy types and then shooting engagement with those enemies was poor - Human or Infected. Only a few combat set pieces, like with Ellie and the bad guy in the snow level, in the shack were the player has to survive a siege, showed well balanced design.

Tension through difficulty is not the same as good combat design. Bad combat will always be frustrating instead of tense. Why is ' tension ' always talked about as though it always good tension ? It like A.I, balance, difficulty progression, diversity of enemies and their attack styles and patterns, As well as weapon strategy and it's feel of shooting and Impact animation on enemies doesn't matter as much because, TENSION. Im also looking at you Dark and Demon Souls.

btw, my favourite game this year was Tomb Raider. I also scored it 6.4 out of 10. I played 53 games.

Concur with both points made

Concur with both points made above me: podcast was great, but The Last of Us is a sad reflection on gaming for it to be named GotY.

Again, to echo what has already been said: The Last of Us is a good game, but it is not superb. The narrative is one of the strongest in gaming, in terms of pacing, characterization, and impact. However, the gameplay is at times extremely poor. The 'Uncharted syndrome' (as Richard has already alluded to) of killing hundreds upon hundreds of thugs greatly dilutes the tension of survival. I would have personally reduced the human enemy count in the game by at least half, and upped their combat effectiveness to compensate, thereby adding more realism and a true sense of tension.

Another massive blow to the game is the overuse of mundane gameplay elements. As Tom Chick has outlined in his review, what the heck is up with those ladders and wooden floats? That is immersion breaking at it's finest (or worst, however you wanna look at it).

On other note, I also found it interesting how the new guest (I've forgotten his name already, sorry! It was either Adam or James?) cited BioShock: Infinite as his most disappointing game of 2013, despite acknowledging the original BioShock as one of his best ever games. Surely the flaws that apply to Infinite are the same for the original? Sh*t combat, awful gameplay, and a hugely overrated narrative?

Anyway, thanks again chaps.

I voted for The Last of Us

I voted for The Last of Us as GOTY in part because I hadn't yet played Gone Home or Papers, Please, but also in recognition of its significant contribution to game storytelling. Like you, like Tom Chick, I found the gameplay to be mediocre at best, and I concede that for many that disqualifies it as a GOTY contender. My estimation of the experience ticked up considerably, however, following the closing moments, which present players with story qualities rarely encountered in games, namely ambiguity and moral complexity. Couple the richly drawn and well-acted characters and you've got a problematic game that nonetheless advanced the medium in a small but important way.

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