Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition
No, it doesn’t have all the mods that the original version currently has, but it sure is a smooth throwback to the days PC gaming really stood above the experiences you could have anywhere else. Unfortunately, if you’re under the age of thirty you’ll probably find this game to be pretty lame.
I know, I know: fuck EA, right? I came late to the party so a lot of the launch bullshit was fixed. Plus, I didn’t have to spend $50 for a broken piece of junk (I think I picked it up on sale for around $20). I was surprised by how much fun I had, at least until I reached the pathetic limit on city size. I won’t ever play it again as SC4 is still the better game, but there wasn’t any buyer’s remorse.
For me, this is the single-player experience of the year. The writing is superb, the characters are likable, and the ending was out of this world. To this day, I’m chasing the first-person awe I originally felt with DOOM and Half-Life and this is one of the few that does all that and more.
XCOM: Enemy Within
Honestly, I couldn’t tell you exactly what Enemy Within adds to Enemy Unknown, but it was fun to play through it again. Look, my memory’s bad, but I love this game to death.
Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon
This game is a dream come true. You play as Micheal Beihn in the future… as imagined by B movies of the 80s. The game is a lot more precious when you realize that this was Ubisoft taking a bit of a risk on something that typically only appears to weirdos.
Animal Crossing: New Leaf (3DS)
I’m not sure why a game like this is an absolute delight no matter what age you are, but it is.
Civilization 5: Brave New World
Again, I couldn’t tell you everything this expansion adds to the base game, but hell, I’ve got a chance to put Civilization on my list so I’m going to take it.
The lack of freedom was disappointing, but otherwise, this game does a lot more to get Shadowrun back to its roots than the 360 version did (not that I didn’t like that one, too). You can only like it if you’re a Shadowrun fan and I barely qualify as I don’t think cyberpunk and fantasy mix well.
Rise of the Triad
Duke Nukem Forever, take note: this is what you should have been. I’ve noticed a lot of fans of Duke—and I very much was one—are claiming the long awaited sequel wasn’t as bad as everyone says it is, but that’s bullshit. Rise of the Triad proves you don’t have to go modern to be fun.
The minimal graphics and the droning soundtrack may sound like detriments, but they’re elevated to greatness by one hell of a unique experience. Your morality plays a big part in this 1984-inspired masterpiece.
When I was a kid, all I wanted was a game that let you do whatever you want in a big mansion with secrets (Maniac Mansion, I’m sure, was the inspiration for this dream). Gone Home does it in a very down-to-earth kind of way. I knew nothing about this game going in so I was always expecting a monster or ghost to pop out. That only added to the fun as I got further into it.
Diablo III (Consoles)
So I think the PC version of Diablo III was on my list last year, but the console version is superior. Be sure to play this one with your friends in the same room.
Grand Theft Auto V (Consoles)
Like I’ve said before: I like GTA more than most people and this one did not disappoint at all.
Forza Motorsport 5 (Xbox One)
I never gave a shit about leader boards until this game came out. If you need a reason to check out the Xbox One, this is it.
Peggle 2 (Xbox One)
I used to love puzzle games (Tetris and that one with the jewels on Sega Genesis kicked ass), but ever since the handheld market was flooded by them, I kind of lost interest. Peggle 2 changed that for me. It initially seems to be a game of luck until you start attempting the many challenges. Then it seems less like luck and more like billiards on steroids. The graphics, sound, and music are charming as hell.