Weekend Confirmed 197 - 2013's Best Games of the Year

By Ozzie Mejia, Dec 24, 2013 11:00am PST

Merry Christmas to everyone from the Weekend Confirmed family! It's time to march into the end of 2013 and hosts Garnett Lee and Jeff Cannata welcome in a slew of guests to discuss all of this year's best games, as well as many of our favorites. The show kicks off with Naughty Dog's Jason Paul, Christian Spicer, and "Indie" Jeff Mattas talking about BioShock Infinite, The Last of Us, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, Tearaway, and Call of Juarez: Gunslinger. That's followed by Shacknews' Andrew Yoon, Shane Satterfield, and Marcus Beer coming aboard to discuss Injustice: Gods Among Us, Metro Last Light, LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, DMC: Devil May Cry, Saints Row IV, Super Mario 3D World, and Fire Emblem: Awakening, among many others. The third segment continues the Super Mario 3D World love with Shacknews' Ozzie Mejia, Insomniac's James Stevenson, and The Escapist's Andrea Rene, before they jump into Grand Theft Auto 5, Tomb Raider, Rogue Legacy, and The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds. The next segment picks up with Andrew, "Indie" Jeff, Christian, and James summing up the year in indies, before the entire crew comes into the studio to reveal the Weekend Confirmed Game of the Year! We also have holiday greetings from developers and listeners alike, all wishing our wonderful audience the happiest of holidays!

Weekend Confirmed Ep. 197: 12/24/2013

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Weekend Confirmed comes in four segments to make it easy to listen to in segments or all at once. Here's the timing for this week's episode:

    Show Breakdown:

    Round 1 - 00:00:40 - 00:27:05

    Round 2 - 00:30:55 - 01:04:30

    Round 3 - 01:06:04 - 01:38:30

    Round 4/Game of the Year - 01:42:09 - 02:21:27

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The Press Row Podcast is the official podcast of Operation Sports, your home for sports video games. The best sports game writers in the business from Kotaku, Polygon, GamesRadar, Joystiq, PastaPadre and Operation Sports join host Rich Grisham to analyze the victories, struggles, challenges, and solutions that creators and consumers face in modern sports game design.

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Weekend Confirmed @WeekendConfirmd

Garnett Lee @GarnettLee

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Andrew Yoon @scxzor

Christian Spicer @Spicer

Jeff Mattas @JeffMattas

Jason Paul @JMPaul

Ozzie Mejia @Ozz_Mejia

Marcus Beer @AnnoyedGamer

Shane Satterfield @Dinfire

Andrea Rene @AndreaRene

James Stevenson @JamesStevenson

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Original music in the show by Del Rio. Check out his latest music video, I Brought It Here, featuring cameos from Jeff Cannata and Christian Spicer on YouTube. Get his latest Album, Club Tipsy on iTunes. Check out more, including the Super Mega Worm mix and other mash-ups on his ReverbNation page or Facebook page, and follow him on twitter @delriomusic.

Click here to comment...


  • OK. So I am having trouble getting excited over Playstation Now. Anyone else? We are told that console manufacturers aren't putting backwards compatibility in because the demand isn't shown in their data, however they will dump truckloads of money to develop a paid system to sell to people that does just that. Beginning to think that the both consoles have the same business plan (As stated on the show I'm sure MS is working on the same type of system). Step one, pull features out of the box so they can charge less for the box and sell more of them and then, step two, charge to put the functionality back in them. Personally, I am fine with this since it allows me to chose what features I want and to vote with my wallet on those features. Curious what everyone else thinks though.

  • You gotta love this industry and how it generates such great discussions with no definitive 'right' answer. How can you compare / quantify The Last of Us to Mario 3D World for example?

    One thing I have trouble ignoring is raw play time. If you enjoy two games at an approximately equal level and one is twice as long, does that make it twice as good? If you put 100 hours into COD Ghost Multiplayer, does this give the game more merit than a 12 hour detailed story in God of War: Ascension?

    With the current candidates for GotY (understanding these are among the most popular withing the industry as a guideline) a lot can be seen as similar from a direct narrative perspective (TLoU, Bioshock Infinite, Tomb Raider) and then outliers in GTA, Mario 3D World, and Zelda: ALBW.

    Which do you think garners the most acclaim / respect? Direct narrative, sandbox, or multiplayer-heavy? Which do you prefer the most? For me it's JRPG's 'till the cows come home (ideally a hybrid of DN and Sandbox)!

  • I found Remember Me for super cheap on the weekend, so I decided to bite and grab it.

    Not only crashed but hard locked my PS3 within the first 20 minutes.

    I wish people would stop using Syd Mead as the template for the future.

    I like Blade Runner as much as anyone, but it's getting a bit old.

    Also, the premise is ridiculous. The main character barely does any critical thinking and just says "Duh, okay" every time she's told she's a super hero and someone's best friend. And the dialogue is super cheesy.

    The soundtrack is at least good and I like the way they implement it into the battles.
    The memory hack was also cool.

    So far though....meh


    I Have Only 2 OMISSIONS To Speak Of...

    *For me the biggest OMISSION has to be "Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon". Easily one of the top contender's for 2013 3DS Game Of The Year. Since it was the biggest "Year Of Luigi" title to come out this past year (IMO) it certainly deserves to be in the discussion for GOTY Honors. Like Zelda: ALBW, Dark Moon was a much pined for sequel that definitely did not disappoint. The gameplay, art style, and 3D implementation were highlights of my expierence and I would recommend this game to anyone no matter their age or gender. Please give this title the respect it deserves in the next podcast. Thanks Ozzie!

    *The other OMISSION for me has to be "MLB 13: The Show". I know, I know. It's a sports game you say, but when it's the Best Sports Game of 2013 somebody should throw its name around a little. The Show has it all. The In-Game Menu is perfect. The Game Modes are plentiful and have a ton of depth. The commentating is second to none and the players mannerisms are so on par with real life that they are mind boggling. Again, I know it's a sports title but when a game can deliver on its promise to fans of the series (and fans in general) and keep a customer playing their game for the entire year than it needs to at least be in the discussion for GOTY.

  • Just finished listening. I find it interesting that all the people praising Last of Us and Bioshock Infinite are primarily using the stories as their justification.

    The only truly moving games I've played had very non-convetional stories. Namely Journey and Shadow of the Colossus. Basically every other game has had to have some sort of compelling gameplay system, otherwise it loses any impact the story could have.

    I suppose there is one heavily story-driven game that I enjoyed thoroughly, and that would be Half-Life 2. But that had some incredible scenarios that made the rather straight-forward shooter gameplay really fun. Since I've played neither BI or TLOU, would anyone compare either one to HL2? Or are they different beasts entirely? Would anyone actually rank either of them above HL2?

  • Man I was really hoping I wouldn't be the only one here to say this, but neither Last of Us nor BioShock Infinite is on my GOTY list at all. I don't dislike the games. I just think they were okay, but in no way exceptional.

    Well, maybe in the case of TLOU I'm comparing it to the pedigree of Naughty Dog's other work, but it just didn't blow me away. I found nothing wrong with it: the story and characters are well-done, the combat is an interesting mix of action and survival, etc. TLOU is solid, but forme it just didn't reach that upper echelon, kind of like what Garnett said about Metal Gear Rising.

    Actually you can go ahead say we have the reverse opinions of those two games, because Rising is absolutely on my GOTY list: excellently-crafted action gameplay and my favorite soundtrack of the year. It's crazy Japanese action gaming at its best. I thought the boss fights in that game were extremely well-designed and Platinum did a really good job of intuitively teaching players how to use the Zandatsu mechanic. Maybe I just miss seeing Japanese console games that are this good.

    BioShock Infinite I see as merely a pretty good first person shooter. In my opinion not only did the earlier themes of the story get chucked aside, what happened with those themes later in the story is downright offensive in some ways. I just don't like how the Vox Populi ended up with far, far less development than The Founders which made their portrayal just lazy. The story that the game does end up telling I feel is a lot less interesting despite its examinations on the nature of games. And once again, I thought the gameplay was solid but nothing to write home about.

    The one game you guys gave a lot of lip service that I actively dislike is Tomb Raider. I didn't even play the classic Tomb Raider games (before Legend), so I won't talk about how it's unfaithful to the series or whatever. My problem with Tomb Raider 2013 is that it's derivative. It didn't do anything for me that other action games didn't do better. Its shooting gameplay feels like a retreat of every other third person shooter, its scripted events are far less exciting and well-executed than Uncharted's, and its exploration is a huge missed opportunity. What feels especially offensive to me about Tomb Raider is how it grabs just about every popular mechanic of AAA games: loot, crafting, XP, challenges, highlight vision modes, etc. What you guys said about Dead Space 3 is pretty much how I feel about Tomb Raider. It's fine if a game chucks its old soul in favor of a new one, but in my opinion TR2013 threw away the soul of the old games in exchange for having no soul of its own at all.

  • Is the story in Infinite really that new or surprising? I mean maybe people haven't been introduced to the same science fiction as I have but the stuff in that game is hardly anything new, noteworthy or not talked about in fiction or even in games. It does make an interesting backdrop for a first person shooter but there isn't really anything that difficult or deep in there.

    And what made TLoU stand out was that you didn't solve the problem or get away cleanly or even necessarily have a happy ending and in a big budget game from this industry to stop a game that definitively with that stance is almost unheard of.

  • First cast I've ever listened to. I liked how a lot of games I thought were great, but maybe no one really talked about was great, like Last Light were mentioned. I guess I can understand you picking apart Bioshock as you were trying to place it on a scale with other games. I would just like to say Bioshock surprised me, I expected a piece of garbage after all the media on how the studio seem to be having issues. The game floored me, and it deserves to be a highly rated game, I loved it. TLOU was my game of the year, due to everything the game coughed up, worked for me, and a lot of that comes from them making 3 of my other favorite games, Uncharted. If you haven't played the Uncharted series, do so. On another note, I do kinda hate GTA V. It just seems to always be on peoples list because it's a sandbox where you can do a lot of stuff. I didn't play V because of IV. I was bored in IV. I agree Vice was great, and I even played quite a bit of San Andreas, but IV did nothing for me. TLOU was a new IP and one amazing game. I think it deserved to be Game of the Year for sure, GTA seems to get it just because it's GTA now.

    It took me 2 days to beat The Last of US and BioShock Infinite. I ate them up. Metro Last Light took me about 1 week, and it was even better than the first, it's like they improved on everything.

    Enjoyed the show.

  • I wanted to respond to the slightly lukewarm sentiments you held about Bioshock Infinite. Obviously your criticisms and reasons to pass it over for other games as your respective favourites for the year are perfectly valid. I have no intention to troll. However I wanted to write to you not only about why it's my favourite game of the year, but also why I think it is amongst the most important video games of all time.

    Bioshock Infinite is not about racism, Columbia's revolution, Bookers 'self discovery' or even his relationship with Elizabeth. Bioshock Infinite is ultimately about the medium of videogames and the people who make and play them. That sort of achievement is usually seen in things like historical documentaries which convey information while simultaneously trying to analyse its own process. This makes Bioshock Infinite relatively unique in the world of videogames.

    While we normally praise videogame narratives which serve game play or vice versa, Bioshock Infinite's narrative serves the thoughts and discussions people have about the game. The narrative is self aware of the almost endless directions it could have gone in. The dimension that the majority of the second half of the game is set in is a world in which the narrative focused more on Columbia's politics. In that dimension, Elizabeth is harder to get to. To reach her, Booker unites the Vox Populi and the soldiers from the hall of heroes, leading a glorious uprising and ends up dying a martyr after sidelining his original mission to find Elizabeth. Something similar was foreshadowed to happen in the first dimension we play in, but the vox populi hunter, or the woman who becomes disillusioned with the army and joins Finks security team are characters forshadowed but never met, as that dimensions is cut short when the gunsmith is found dead.

    Bioshock Infinite had done an amazing job exploring failstates. With the gunsmith dead, the mission 'get the guns for the Vox' is unwinnable. There is nothing else we can do to solve it: almost a quarter of the game we play was a waste of time, we were essentially in a roguelike that generated a world that we simply could not win. The only solution is to be magically transported to a different dimension and try to win there. In most games, we play as the successful hero. The obstacles and changing directions in the plot are only temporary; There is always another way to continue on. Bioshock Infinite acknowledges that each time our hero beats the odds, it is by sheer luck that he had the opportunity to defeat his foes or save the world.

    Infinite also explores fail states by having us play in a slightly different dimension each time we die. In most video games the Hero got everything right: completing escort missions and defeating bosses all in the first attempt. The times that the hero died simply did not happen. When I play Halo, the Master Chief is given way too much credit as a badass. The narrative ignores the fact that I had an unlimited number of attempts to escape the library and then pretends I managed it in the first go. In Infinite, each time Booker walks through the door in his dream, we are seeing a new Booker of an ever so slightly different dimension who made a slightly different decision to the one who died.

    I could keep writing but It's not really necessary, I just wanted to demonstrate the way Infinites narrative is vehicle for exploring videogames as a whole. Thanks for a great show and I look forward to listening to the next one!

  • The Last of Us and BioShock Infinite are tied for me. I really liked the story in BioShock Infinite. It blew me away. It was mind blowing. It screamed for a second run and when I did I was amazed by how the early and mid-game all hinted towards the ending and I just didn't see it the first time through; as many didn't. I do think that the way the story is told isn't always that great though. It needed more of the beginning and ending sequences throughout the entire game instead of filling that with audio recordings.

    For The Last of Us it's the other way around. That story was extremely predictable unlike Infinite. I had a good idea what was going to happen the second I met Ellie in that game, which is relatively early on. It's a much told story I've heard countless times before. However, unlike Infinite, the way they tell the story they have is extremely well done at all times. Throughout the entire game. I thought it was really good as well.

    So one of them has an interesting story, but doesn't always do a good job of telling it well while the other has a familiar story but tells it really well. The two cancel each other out for me. I really think they are both great stories in their own right.

  • A month or so ago, The Last of Us would have won my GOTY going away.

    Now... I find myself wavering between TLOU and GTAV.

    The Last of Us had a better story, characters, a more interesting world, amazing atmosphere and a much deeper emotional impact.... but I found myself looking at the actual gameplay as a chore to get through just to get to the next area and/or story beat. Naughty Dog's shooting mechanics are still floaty and unsatisfying, the melee combat is still quick-time heavy, etc.

    If The Last of Us were a movie, it would be my favorite movie of the year. But as a game, I'm a little tentative to say the best game of the year is the one where everything is great except the parts you actually play.

    Grand Theft Auto V is almost the opposite. While the world and characters are have great moments, and the game explores some interesting (and dark and cynical) themes about the nature of our culture, the nature of masculinity, the twisted status of the American dream... the actual storyline connecting all those themes was... ok. But the gameplay.... so good. So much variety, so much fun, you could have just given me the heist jobs and I would have loved it. But of course, it's a GTA, and you can play 100 hours and still find new, amazing moments around every corner, all fueled by emergent GAMEPLAY rather than scripted story-beats.

    Tough choice.