Slender the sequel.
Slender was undoubtedly one of the biggest viral games in history, and it wasn’t a surprise when a commercial sequel was announced. However, while the first game traded on grainy graphics and mystery, Slender: The Arrival had polished graphics, more of a story and more locations. All of this added up to… less success. In the same way that mobile game phenomenons have trouble repeating success (hello Draw Something 2), by the time Slender: The Arrival arrived, the world had moved on from lo-fi horror games.
One of the most anticipated games of the year, SimCity was released to glowing reviews and huge sales. However, the game can only be played with an internet connection. Apart from ‘always online’ being controversial in itself, it appeared that on top of EAs servers failing to meet demand, the game’s ‘Glass Box’ engine wasn’t really a justification for an internet connection at all. Players proved the game could indeed run without being connected to EA’s servers, and it also seemed that the Glass Box engine wasn’t quite as smart as advertised at all, with hilariously stupid traffic AI, and trees that made siren and car noises.
I love horses!
Minecraft 1.6 was released in May, with various fixes and improvements, including horses. It’s fair to say this was a popular addition to the creative survival sandbox game. We were inundated with excited comments about the addition of horses to Minecraft:
- “YES! HORSES!”
- “Horses! the new pig!”
- “Horses are AWESOME and don’t forget the new carpets. I LOVE the horses”
- “I AM GONNA NAME MY HORSES RALF AND PETE”
Minecraft 1.7, dubbed ‘the update that changed the world’, didn’t cause anywhere near the same level of enthusiasm.
A great year for Simulators
It’s been a long time coming, but 2013 was the year we finally had to admit the massive popularity of apparently mundane Simulators. The stars were undoubtedly Euro Truck Simulator 2 and Train Simulator and the silly Surgeon Simulator 2013. Euro Truck Simulator 2 goes from strength to strength, with an almost constant feed of updates, and the launch of its very own social network World of Trucks.
GTA V.. on PC?
No mention of 2013 can avoid Grand Theft Auto V. Rockstar’s sprawling sandbox sequel was the most hyped game of the year, and it arguably deserved it. Beautiful to look at, with tons of innovations, and best of all the huge Los Santos environment to explore. The elephant in the room is of course the so far unannounced PC version. We expect it six to eight months after the console release, but with no word from Rockstar, PC gamers could be getting nervous. We’re still convinced it will happen, and there’s no reason for Rockstar to rush in to making an announcement.
The Sims are back. WooHoo?
The Sims 4 was confirmed at this year-s Gamescom in Cologne, and a few week-s later EA told us it would arrive in Fall 2014 on PC and Mac. The new sims are going to be more emotional than ever before, and they’ll affect the game in new ways. Negative emotions won’t necessarily be a bad thing – a sad sim might be better at writing emotional books than a content one, for example. Our commenters were more excited about the return of ‘WooHoo’!
LucasArts closes: the end of an era.
In April, Disney closed the iconic LucasArts studio, which made the point and click adventure genre huge in the 90s. Despite it’s catalog of great titles like Monkey Island, Sam & Max and Indiana Jones and The Fate of Atlantis, in recent years it had been focused on exploiting the Star Wars franchise with much less success. Former LucasArts employees, let go after Sam & Max was cancelled, moved to TellTale games which has made the point and click genre great again.
More Plants, more Zombies.
One of our favorite casual games got a sequel this year. Plants vs Zombies 2: It’s About Time was released in the summer, with a great campaign of time traveling zombie defence. The biggest change wasn’t the gameplay or story, but making Plants vs Zombies 2: It’s About Time freemium. If you want to speed your progress, you can pay to unlock levels, rather than playing to get all the necesary stars. While there are lots of opportunities to pay, it doesn’t actually spoil the game, which is refreshing.
EA puts an end to the ‘Online Pass’
EA surprised everyone by canceling its ‘online pass’ system for games. Introduced as a way to combat perceived losses in the second-hand market, online passes meant that if you did buy a second hand game, you’d have to pay again if you wanted to play online. It was never popular, and removing it was a good PR move.
PES 2013 doesn’t make it rain
The soccer wars were as hot as ever in 2013, and with a new game engine to show off, it seemed as if Pro Evo might turn the tables on its more popular rival FIFA. But it didn’t work out that way. We first learned that game would not have rain, as Konami hadn’t had time to work with the new engine long enough, and to make matters worse it lost the right to show most European stadiums. FIFA 14 also had its fair share of bugs, but was still a huge success.
Better luck next year, PES.