Festive Features #1 - Top Five Modes of Transport 2013
Written Thursday, December 19, 2013 By XBA Staff
It’s that time again. As Christmas nears and the year draws to an end, we’re taking a look at the last twelve months and picking out some of the aspects we’ve enjoyed most in 2013. Our Festive Features are back!
Today we’re kicking everything off with our Top Five Modes of Transport award. Okay, it’s worded a little clunkily, but once you see what’s included you’ll hopefully understand why. There’s some kinda left-field choices in here, covering air, land, sea and zoological parks. Wanna know who won? Have a look below and find out!
They’re not the fastest, they don’t have the best handling, they don’t have any special abilities (unless you count coming in various creature colours and shapes) and to be honest, they’re a bit rubbish. But few vehicles this year put a smile on our face like the buggies in Frontier’s Xbox One launch title, Zoo Tycoon.
Maybe it’s the way they come crashing into frame when your avatar whistles, like they’ve been chucked at you by an invisible gorilla. Perhaps it’s the way they pootle along, clipping amusingly through your zoo’s ghostly visitors. Or maybe it’s the way you can place sloping, swooping ornaments into the environment and drive up and down and jump off them like a particularly crap skate park. Whatever it is, Zoo Tycoon’s buggies are utterly crap in the most hilariously enjoyable way.
Owning a ship can be a deeply emotional thing. It's impossible to not become attached in some way, especially if you've spent hard-earned currency on upgrading and customising the thing. Throughout the Mass Effect series, the Normandy in its various guises became like home, and even Sam Fisher's Paladin in Splinter Cell: Blacklist is a safe place to retreat to.
That’s the feeling you get with Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag’s Jackdaw, Edward Kenway's ship, the hub to which he retires after a hard day's killing and plundering. You can upgrade its hull to make it stronger, bolster its firepower with more cannons and define its identity on the high seas with your own choice of sails, wheel and figurehead. It makes sending a huge galleon down into the briny drink in a flaming mass of charred and splintered wood all the more satisfying. Black Flag's Jackdaw is your ship and no one can take it away from you.
One of the greatest omissions in GTA IV was the lack of planes. You could pick up choppers, sure, but planes were out of the question and fighter jets were well off the table. It was a shame. Thank God then for GTA V, which not only re-introduced planes but also let us fly the best of them all; the P-996 Lazer.
The fact that the Lazer wasn’t used in the any of the story missions only added to its mystique. As a result, players engaged in a kind of meta-game, attempting to liberate one of these cannon and missile-spitting birds from the heavily guarded Fort Zancudo. The rewards were high. And in GTA Online the Lazer was at the heart of one of the game’s most entertaining multiplayer modes, Top Fun. We’ve already highlighted Los Santos as one of the best worlds of the generation. There’s no better way to view it than from the cockpit of a Lazer.
Sky-Lines & Sky-Hook
Notice the slightly awkwardly-worded name of this category? It’s basically so we can talk about Sky-Lines. BioShock Infinite is a notable game for a whole bunch of reasons, but combat isn’t really one of them. It’s good, it’s fun, and the Vigors are pretty cool, but when you’re zipping around above the streets of Columbia with a Sky-hook, suddenly it gets a whole lot more interesting.
Part of what makes it great is the illusion of freedom. In most cases there’s a limit on where you can ride Columbia’s Sky-Lines, but it doesn't really matter because they wind around in such a pleasing manner - soaring up into the sky and then swooping down through buildings. And you can leap from section to section too, changing direction and positioning at will, it’s just brilliant. Performing a Sky-line Strike after a particularly acrobatic bit of rail-swapping constitutes one of this year’s most satisfying gaming moments.
Whoever designed the combos in Dead Rising 3 needs mental help. Drink carts and ham? Sledgehammers and grenades? A street cleaner and a party van? What kind of loony comes up with that? We’ll tell you; a deranged genius, that’s who. Dead Rising 3’s combos are brilliant. And the RollerHawg is the best of the lot.
Jumping behind the wheel of this motorbike and steamroller combo is outrageously satisfying, as scores of zombies are squished beneath you, a tide of blood washes over you, and fire plumes roast everything in sight. Level up enough and you can even invest in invincibility for the Rollerhawg, making it even more impossibly badass. It’s just fantastically fun.
So we’re gonna change our opening statement. Whoever designed the combos in Dead Rising 3 doesn’t need mental help, they need an award. And now they’ve got one! The RollerHawg is hands-down, inarguably 2013’s best mode of transport. We love it and so should you.