The story is garbage--convoluted and meandering all the way through--but "Dark Souls II" is a brutal, brooding, and downright punishing dungeon-crawler with a style all its own. I somehow believe in this world. Every dark corner invites death. It'll have you in awe and screaming in frustration at the same time. This game explains nothing, and drops you into hell with no map. It's the hardest game I've ever played, but it's maybe the most compositionally muted and quietly beautiful. And there's no map? This is a game that would have never been possible without the internet. Communities of people have created detailed wikis to help players find their way through miles of cavernous castles and murk. I only recommend this game for the most experienced players. It's the black metal of video games. Death awaits.
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A fast-paced first-person shooter where you can summon massive mech suits from the sky. Running across a battle field to climb into a five-story-tall robot suit, watching the hatch close you in, and firing rockets from your shoulder is a marvel. You stomp around like a seven-ton gorilla. I love the slightly Boba Fett-inspired character design, and the variety of mechs are designed with care and a tedious attention to detail. The weapon load-outs vary like most of these types of games and leveling up is fun. I quickly found that my lifespan was pretty short if I stayed on the ground. Actually, my life span was always short because online players are way better than me. I'll admit, I played this longer than I planned and kids half my age murdered me in seconds and laughed in my face.
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This was a weird year for games and that's entirely separate from the shameful debacle of Gamergate. With the next-generation consoles debuting in 2013, this "transition year" saw few noteworthy titles and a couple disappointing, big-budget ones. Many of the games on my top 10 list are first-person shooters, a genre I gleefully enjoy, but I try to stray from them as much as I can. I also tried to play games that people suggested to me, but I am currently limited to Xbox360, XboxOne, and my Mac. No PC right now. (Justin Sirois)