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The Hidden Gems of 2013


2013 was a banner year for big-name games. The blockbusters like Call of Duty, Battlefield, Assassin's Creed, Mario and Grand Theft Auto all returned in force. Breakaway hits like The Last of Us truly wowed us. And, of course, we had the arrival of Xbox One and PlayStation 4.

But hidden among the headline-grabbers were some great games that didn't get the attention they deserved. So we've gone back through the year and made our pick of the best games of 2013 that you may have missed. Don't let them get away this time!

Fire Emblem Awakening for Nintendo 3DS at GAME

Fire Emblem Awakening

3DS

3DS saw a lot of Nintendo stalwarts take their place on the console in 2013, and one of the first was this classic strategy series - and it's been considered one of the best Fire Emblem games to date. In a fantasy world threatened by dark forces, you'll need to lead your soldiers to victory not only by using traditional turn-based controls, but by getting to know their personalities and how they work together. Yes, Fire Emblem: Awakening is a game where you will learn to care about your supporting characters, and keeping them alive is as important a tactic as overall victory in battle.

Blending elements from previous chapters and the unique gameplay features of the 3DS, Fire Emblem: Awakening offers up great-looking battles, spectacularly rendered in 3D, complete with fierce combat and movie-style quips and cutaways. The campaign is clear, but littered with fun distractions, and addictively replayable with so many different characters to choose from. The only thing missing is multiplayer.

Remember Me for PC, Xbox 360 and PS3 at GAME

Remember Me

Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC

It's with a certain amount of irony that a game about memory wiping is one of our picks of the forgotten games of the year. A third-person action thriller set in the futuristic Neo-Paris, Remember Me told the tale of Nilin, a former memory hunter whose own memory was wiped by the very authorities she used to work for. You've got to recover your lost memories and find out just why you're so dangerous to the bad guys, and you'll mostly do that by kicking and punching your way through a series of stunningly-designed locations.

There was a lot to enjoy about Remember Me. The plot was refreshingly different. The combat was overseen by Street Fighter legend Yoshinori Ono, giving it the trademark "Capcom crunch", and Nilin's fighting combos (or "Pressens") and memory powers offered some fun new ways to take down enemies and spruce up the story-telling. Admittedly, it's a bit short, but it's still a lot of fun to play, and really nice to look at, too!

Killer Is Dead for Xbox 360 and PS3 at GAME

Killer Is Dead

Xbox 360, PlayStation 3

The unpredictable mind of Suda51 brought us another unpredictable game this year, the suitably barmy Killer Is Dead. The lead character is Mondo Zappa, an assassin wielding both a katana and a cybernetic arm that can be converted into all manner of weapons, and whose trademark move is decapitation, followed by quoting the game's title as a just-won-the-fight catchphrase.

The game takes place in an anime-style near-future, complete with cel-shaded graphics and a supporting cast of over-the-top characters like a cigar-smoking cyborg called Bryan and David, the king of the moon who happens to dress like Lady Gaga. Oh, and on top of assassination missions, Mondo has to take on Gigolo missions too, wooing ladies into bed and further cementing the "Dark Bond" flavours that Suda51 wanted for the character. It's a mixed bag strung together with a sliver of a plot that reviewed really well in Japan, and less so over here. We agree with the Japanese critics - it's a lot of fun.

The Wonderful 101 for Nintendo Wii U at GAME

The Wonderful 101

Wii U

Imagine Pikmin with super-powers and a really short attention span, and you're somewhere close to the mayhem that is The Wonderful 101. When alien invaders, er, invade, you'll need to suit up and raise a super-powered army to take them down. The more fellow heroes you enlist, the greater your combined powers will be, with the chance to Morph your hero horde into all kinds of shapes, from guns, swords and whips to attack, jelly to defend, and even bridges and ladders to traverse the landscape.

Each Morph is controlled by a precise shape being drawn with your controller - and drawn correctly. Often a mis-drawing will unleash a new power you didn't expect, or result in your horde being smashed apart by the enemy. Despite the manic action on-screen, the controls will require a steady hand. But such mishaps are hard to avoid and end up adding to the fun - and fun is what this game is really about. Whether playing alone or with online or local co-op, The Wonderful 101 is just that - wonderful.

rain for PlayStation 3 on PSN at GAME

rain

PlayStation 3

Coming toward the end of the year when most eyes were on the marquee titles and next-gen consoles, this PlayStation Network title arrived with little fanfare - fitting, for a game with such a melancholy tone. You'll play as a young boy lost in the rain who, following the silhouette of a girl, becomes invisible like her, and you'll need to save her from the ghostly creatures that hunt her.

As you make your way through the streets, you and the other invisible inhabitants can only be seen when the rain falls on you, or through interactions with the bottles, newspapers and more littering the streets, creating an eerie visual style and challenging gameplay not like anything else seen this year. Hide from enemies by getting out of the rain, solve intricate puzzles and just immerse yourself in the overall mood of the piece. Bleak, chilly and with a childlike sense of anxiety, rain is not a fun game, but it is an experience you won't soon forget.

Published: 08/01/2014

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