2014 Calvin Awards: Best Videogame
By David Mumpower and Kim Hollis
February 10, 2014
Either Elizabeth or the sky world of Columbia would be reason enough to consider Bioshock: Infinite a serious candidate for Videogame of the year. It is the story, however, that differentiates this game from so many before it. Bioshock: Infinite explores heady themes such as the notion of heritage worship, American self-satisfaction and the nature of redemption, all while delivering a kickass early 20th century shoot-em-up experience. And I have not even mentioned the soundtrack yet. Due to a sublime implementation of character development, several classic songs of the 20th century are reinvented as the greatest hits of 1912. You will never hear God Only Knows the same way again after listening to the Bioshock: Infinite version. Simply stated, this game is a hallmark achievement in videogames. It is the runaway choice for Best Videogame of the year as well as a serious contender for greatest of all time.
Our runner up is the absolutely delightful Animal Crossing: New Leaf, a life simulation game like no other. A follow up to the previous games that appeared on earlier Nintendo platforms, New Leaf for the 3DS is an immersive experience that has the primary character become mayor of the town, living amongst adorable anthropomorphic animals. There is a ridiculous amount of stuff to do, and as time moves on in the game, goals can change. Whereas early on a player might have a focus on catching all the bugs and fish and filling the museum with them, later on the goal might be to create the perfect house. Some people search for their ideal villagers, while others focus on growing trees, or developing the town, or obtaining all the badges, or… truly, the possibilities are endless. It’s a welcome relief from the same ol’ same ol’ in the grinding RPGs and sims available on smartphones and tablets.
Not only does The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds evoke nostalgia for the past games in the series, it provides new experiences as well. The game looks great in 3D, and uses such innovative tactics as allowing Link to transform himself into a painting on a wall and requiring the player to move through the dungeons using both the 2D and the 3D feature in order to find all items and paths. And the puzzles placed throughout the story are challenging in the best possible way. It’s a welcome return to Hyrule.
First person shooters stage a comeback in rounding out the top five. The Last of Us, arguably the best Playstation 3 exclusive in the history of the console, is our selection for fourth Best Videogame of the year. Honestly, it probably would have placed even higher if more of us played the PS3. We are largely an Xbox crowd. Those who do power up their PS3s more than semi-monthly discovered the joy of attempting to survive in a dystopian future. Portraying Joel, gamers attempt to save an infected woman named Ellie who is somehow exceeding her life expectancy by a factor of weeks already. Her blood ostensibly holds a cure for the plague that has destroyed civilization. The player is tasked with taking Ellie to a health facility that can mine the cure from her. As was the case with Bioshock: Infinite above, the player inevitably bonds with Ellie over time, which is problematic because she may need to sacrifice her own life in order to save millions of others.