The best (and worst) of the year – Mark Craven

Posted December 31, 2012 by Mark Craven in Editorial
Citizen Game - Journey pic 2

It may come as a surprise, but we absolutely love games here at Citizen Game. Old games, bad games, big games, whatever. We love to play them and we love to talk about them. Right now everyone else is trying to sort out and definitively list the “best” games of the year, to compile them into Top Ten’s and Best Of’s. We don’t do that because we don’t really care which game was best this year. We only remember the games we love and the ones that have broken our hearts. So, to that end, Citizen Game will be presenting its Best Loved Games and biggest disappointment of 2012 in a series in the run up to Christmas, with staffers taking a moment to reflect on what made their favourite games of the year so special to them. We encourage you to do the same in the comments.


Best Loved Games
I belong to David Ball – Football Manager 2013

Citizen Game - Football Manager 2013 - David Ball

I know I have serious football manager issues and one massive addiction. But don’t let that tarnish what i’m about to say. Football Manager 2013 is the best Football management game of all time.

It’s not for its wealth of data, improved match engine nor its refinements in user interface. It’s all down to one mode. Classic Mode.  Each year the game improves upon the previous version, this fact alone is staggering, and it is a testament to the efforts at Sports Interactive where they strive to push boundaries and never stand still.

Classic mode for the most part is a throwback to a simpler time. Where a game season can be completed in a day.  Somehow in Classic Mode SI have managed to strip-back the game features to its core necessities while retaining all of the complexity and micro-management intricacies. It’s this evolution of simplicity that makes football manager a refreshing experience while still embracing the physiological hooks that have seen the series cited in numerous divorces cases.

Journey – it’s not the destination it’s the journey

Citizen Game - Journey pic 2

It is staggering that a game that says nothing at all can say so much. Emotionally I can’t remember another experience so raw and yet so open to personal interpretation. Birth, death, the afterlife and resurrection are all implied but never specifically expressed.

The whole game has a magical mysticism. From the simplistic puzzles to the anonymous multi player integration. The game has a pure innocence rarely seen in an industry renowned for blood, guts and gore.

An emotionally moving experience that I’d never experienced before and one I feel I’m unlikely to have again. Truly special.


XCOM enemy unknown – Cyberdiscs from hell

Citizen Game - Xcom EU Cyberdisc

I’ve always had a love hate relationship with the XCOM series. I love the game but the game has always vehemently despised me and taken great pleasure grinding my face in the dirt.

Then it is remarkable that XCOM enemy unknown is at it’s core the basic concepts that made the XCOM series so beloved. But what Firaxis have done with the basic concepts is simply craft, refine and polish them. Things that didn’t work originally have been discarded to allow XCOM’s pedigree shine through.

Base-building, research and it’s chess like turn base strategy. All gaming concepts as old as warfare itself. But here they feel fresh, modern and most importantly of all approachable.

And for the record in still terrible at the original games.


Most Disappointing
Borderlands 2

Now let me get this out of the way right away. Borderlands 2 isn’t a bad game – Far from it. The problem I have is that it wasn’t what I wanted in a borderland sequel. It was just more of the same but with added snarky, puerile, and downright objectionable comic decisions. Characters that had outstayed their welcome in the first game returned. While mute characters from Borderlands had been turned into generic, run of the mill, first person shooter characters. The sequel just wasn’t as fresh and original.

Mechanically the game improved and refined upon the foundations of the first game. But I loved the first game. I become obsessed by it

Borderlands 2 felt like a half step. Maybe my apathetic feelings towards borderlands 2 has as much to do with me having spent the best part of 150 hours playing the first game but then maybe Borderlands 2 wasn’t the evolution I wanted. I wanted bigger. Not just 4 player co-operative missions. I wanted, what essentially is, a borderline FPS MMO. Imagine 16/32 player raids with the Borderlands esthetic. The nature of the randomised loot and “bazillions” of guns practically lends itself to a grander scale.

Not bad. Just to much of the same.

About the Author

Mark Craven
Mark Craven

Senior editor at Full time Jaffa Cake Dunker.