2013 was a pretty exciting year for PC news. With Steam announcing their new OS and the upcoming Steam Machines that hope to steal market share away from the “Big Two” of Microsoft and Sony, the future looks brighter than ever for this classic platform. Naturally they’ll always be the supremacy debate among the PC vs. console crowd (a war we’ve stoked the fires of on more than one occasion), but there are certainly some great stand out titles in desktop gaming that deserve recognition. Here are the best in 2013 that kept our mouse’s clicking and our CPUs overclocking.
Football Manager 2014
In the good ole’ US of A, when you say football you think Madden . Well, here we’re talkin’ the European version son, and it’s called Soccer! Football Manager 2014 actually takes you off the field and puts you behind the scenes in a decision making capacity, far more involved than just blazing down the field trying to score your next GOOOOOOAAAAL!!! Sorry, I can’t get that announcer out of my head. Granted, there aren’t’ many franchises to choose from if your into this level of micromanagement of the sport, but the 2014 edition has done a great job of really optimizing things in order to make it more accessible to new comers (but kept it familiar enough for vets).
There’s no doubt that the point and click style exploration genre is a staple of PC gaming. Gone Home does a great job of telling an immersive story using this gameplay mechanic, but presents it in a way that doesn’t get repetitive. There are no headshots or platforms to jump, just you at your computer in the dark. I can only describe Gone Home as the Pringles chip of 2013 PC gaming. Once you start you’ll find it damn near impossible to stop. As the journey into the family’s history unfolds, you’ll feel strangely melancholy, even though it’s a completely new experience.
Mortal Kombat Komplete
I can’t say enough about the latest iteration of Mortal Kombat . There are only a few franchises that I’ve followed religiously since their inception, and this is one of them. Using time travel elements to allow players to go back and relive the events of the first three games (while pulling a Back to the Future curve ball in order to change the course of events), this game perfectly captures the spirit of the 90s franchise. I recommend the “ Komplete ” PC version the most, as you’ll get every single piece of DLC available for the game to date. FLAWLESS VICTORY!!!
DmC: Devil May Cry
Action, action and more action is the name of the game in Devil May Cry . I’m not entirely sure which is more fun: pulling off the pulse-pounding (and oh-so-satisfying) combos or just how pretty it looks to watch the carnage that results. Its atmospheric Japanese influence gives the game a feel all its own, not to mention Dante himself getting a bit of a face lift. Although this is one of those PC games best suited for a USB controller rather than mouse and keyboard, it’s fun all the way around no matter how you slice it.
Lost Planet 3
Prequels can be tricky to pull off, especially if they lead up to an already successful game. Lost Planet 3 attempts to set up the events of the first game in the series, and I’d say pulls it off pretty well. The game is intended for those interested in a darker, story driven narrative, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing in this case. It’s much more in line with the original, which is kind of the point. Unfortunately, this has led to the game getting a mixed reception from fans, but Lost Planet 3 is worth your time if you enjoyed the first game.
StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm
In the realm of PC gaming (and I’ll even throw Mac in there), you can’t get much more iconic than Starcraft . With its roots dating back to the late 90’s, Blizzard brings us the Heart of the Swarm expansion that continues the storyline centered on the Zerg, Terran and Protoss. Now, I realize it’s easy for an RTS to get lost in the shuffle of today’s climate, but with its community maps and improved multiplayer, fans of the series should be fairly pleased with the new content. This is a solid add-on.
State Of Decay
How do you make a zombie game interesting in an already oversaturated marketplace? Three words: open world sandbox. This game mixes Grand Theft Auto style elements with traditional survival horror, and then some. It doesn’t just force you to face the hazards of the undead, but also makes you deal with practical problems of an apocalypse (like where you’ll live and how to garner supplies). If you’re a fan of those scenes from The Walking Dead that don’t revolve around shooting a zombie in the head, this game no doubt has elements you’ll enjoy.
If you’re going to dust off an old franchise and try to breathe new life into it, you’ve really got to come to the table with something new. The new Tomb Raider is actually a perfect storm of mixing old school elements with modern conventions in order to create something unique. Even if you’ve never played a Tomb Raider game before, you’ll be engaged with it’s extremely well crafted level designs and Indiana Jones style exploration. Then again, if you don’t know who Lara Croft is, you probably don’t know how Indy is either. So just trust me, play this game.
Battlefield has become such a huge franchise on the consoles these days, it now rivals the colossal Call of Duty series as a legitimate alternative. However, Battlefield on the PC will always hold a special place in my heart, as I’ve lost many a night’s sleep to their multiplayer servers. Combining stealer visuals and a real sense of control that only a mouse and keyboard can bring, Battlefield 4 is a must have for anyone who owns a PC with decent system specs. Even if you never play the campaign, the online play is good for at least a years’ worth of entertainment, at minimum.
Saints Row IV
OK, let’s address the elephant in the room right off the bat: Saints Row IV wanted your GTA dollars. It always intended to get the rub from the launch of Grand Theft Auto 5 , and frankly, pulled it off pretty well. I mean, a bad game would have just been buried under the weight of such a huge competitor but with it’s over the top, tongue-n-cheek style, Saints Row IV became a fun alternative. It doesn’t take itself seriously and is completely ridiculous in most aspects, but hey, that’s the charm. Don’t expect a complex narrative like GTA , but what you can expect is for those five minutes you meant to spend with the game to quickly balloon to five hours. You won’t know where the time went.
Putting together this top ten of the best PC games of 2013 reminds me of one thing: I’m still a PC fan. Not in the way you might think, as I believe consoles are far superior to PC in some regards. I do, however, see the charm that PC gaming has to offer. There is a certain level of freedom that only the unique experience of a sitting at a desk in front of a monitor can bring. Hopefully one day we’ll all realize this back and forth debate is pointless and that there’s room at the dinner table for everyone.