For me personally, 2013 will be remembered as one of the best years in gaming. With various titles featuring a stronger emphasis on story and characterization as well as good gameplay and the launch of not one, but two new consoles in the space of a week – which allowed for much improved upon graphical capabilities – 2013 is a key year in gaming. So here we are to end the year that bought the PS3 and 360 to a close and kickstarted their successors, here are my personal Top 10 Games of the Year:
1. The Last Of Us
When The Last of Us was initially announced I wasn’t as enthusiastic as many others were; Naughty Dog’s Uncharted series had never really excited me as much as I wanted them too and even though I’d considered Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy my favourite game of all time I couldn’t help thinking this would be another game that was vastly over-rated. And then I played it. And I played it. And I played it. And I did not stop until it was over. The Last of Us is the single most gripping video game story I have ever played and features what I’m sure will be some of the most memorable moments in video games for quite some time. The game does not waste time with introducing you to its atmospheric post-apocalyptic styled world and after (in my opinion) the best prologue of any game, you’re swiftly plunged into fighting off hostiles and clickers and sneaking around trying to conserve supplies. The best thing about The Last of Us however, is the tale of Joel and Ellie, Joel in particular proves to be ones of gaming’s most well realized characters towards the end game and Ellie is so well acted that its incredibly hard not to care about keeping this character safe. Add to this some outstanding graphics on the PS3, great sound (or lack thereof) to emphasize the atmosphere and finally. an online mode that is one of the most unique online shooters I’ve played in a long time that requires actual stratergy. The Last of Us truly is a masterpiece of gaming.
2. Bioshock Infinite
Closely rivaling The Last of Us in the story and character departments is Bioshock Infinite. This game featured quite possibly the best ending to any game this year purely for its “wtfffffff” factor. In fact, going back and replaying the story to see how the story ends up where it does is an equally rewarding experience as playing through for the first time. I’ve heard Bioshock get a fair bit of criticism for bland shooting mechanics but in my opinion, the gameplay is great fun and the Vigors (Infinite’s answer to Plasmids) only added to the variety. Walking along a veryyyyy similar path to Joel and Ellie are Booker and Elizabeth who are – like Joel and Ellie – perfectly realized characters. Elizabeth is the real star of the show here and really helps to draw the player in and make them care about the city of Columbia. As well as the two protagonists, Bioshock Infinite features a great gallery of enemies, most noticeably, the Motorized Patriot, the Handyman and last but not least, the Songbird which will all be remembered for years to come. At the end of the day though,the plot twists seen in the last 2 hours of Bioshock Infinite are what will stick out in my mind when I think about this game and have helped elevate it above most other games this year.
3. Tomb Raider
The Tomb Raider franchise had found itself in a bit of a slump in recent times falling into the shadow of Naughty Dog’s Uncharted but all that changed this year with the Tomb Raider reboot which gave us a glimpse into gaming’s most iconic heroines origins. Here, Lara Croft is very much an innocent, inexperienced young girl and the player gets to see the journey unfold that transforms that young, adventurous girl into one of the most recognizable action women of the gaming industry. While its easy to make comparisons with Nathan Drake’s aforementioned series, Tomb Raider also plays similarly to Far Cry 3 amongst others and where as Uncharted is very much a linear game it was refreshing to see Tomb Raider open up over time. Add to this an intriguing plot, many collectibles and online modes and you have a great action game that not only kicked off 2013, but will also see 2014 start with a bang on PS4 and Xbox One.
4. Pokemon X and Y
Just when I was beginning to get Pokemon fatigue, Gamefreak goes and redefines the series with the latest entries, Pokemon X and Pokemon Y. Featuring vastly improved graphics (complete in 3D – only during battles annoyingly), great new gameplay additions such as sky battles as well as 70+ new Pokemons (some of which are superb and others of which are….admittedly not-so-well designed – when you’re opponent is essentially a set of keys you know GameFreak are starting to struggle coming up with designs) this entry is a welcome new addition and quite easily the best entries since Heart Gold and Soul Silver. But then there’s the online capabilities which lift this game far beyond any of its predecessors with the likes of Wonder Trade, which gives you the ability to trade with people on the fly, never knowing what pokemon you may receive, and an enhanced GTS as well as my personal favourite new feature, the Friend Safari which assigns 2-3 pokemon to each individual Friend Code, allowing you to get more Pokemon the more friends you have. Collecting Pokemon has never been so easy with the much improved multiplayer capabilities of the latest Pokemon games.
5. Grand Theft Auto V (And GTA Online)
Whats there to say that hasn’t been said a million times before? GTA rocks. When you’ve got several sites reporting week in, week out on new screenshots of the game you know its highly anticipated. Not to mention it made $1billion in just 3 days… GTA really goes to show that the gaming industry can really appeal to a vast array of people all over the world. Anyways, needless to say the game itself was incredible, packing a huuuuuuge almost endless amount of activities to do and a giant, sprawling open world to explore and wreck havoc on, GTA really is what you make of it, want to go on a killing spree and become the most wanted man in Los Santos? Go ahead. Want to play Tennis and then visit your therapist? That’s available to you too. The options are endless. And sure GTAV was dragged down a bit by GTA Online’s dreadful launch but nowadays GTA Online just goes to show multiplayer can bring a lot of fun to the already hugely entertaining open world games.
6. Super Mario 3D World
Super Mario 3D World is by far the best local multiplayer game I have played in a looooong time. The game is at its very best when it has all 4 players blistering through the courses and manages to balance co-operative and competitive gameplay perfectly. When a level ends, the player with the highest score is rewarded with a crown, which is effectively meaningless, but in reality the crown may as well be a sign to the rest of the players that reads “Hey, come and **** up this guy’s day”. The number of times I got killed by one my friends or my brother is far, far more than I was ever killed during the actual game, and that’s not a knock on the difficulty of Super Mario 3D World, because it is rather challenging, particularly towards the final stages, but this game will turn your friends into enemies like nothing before.
7. Ratchet and Clank: Into the Nexus
Offering a breath of fresh air into a series that looked liked it had past its prime, Ratchet and Clank were back with a vengeance in their latest entry “Into The Nexus” featuring some of the best artwork and graphical style of any game this year, bigger guns, a bright and varied color palette, great voice work and a short but sweet campaign that offered some great replayability, this was a return to form for Sony’s PS2 mascots.
8. Injustice: Gods Among Us
As a huge fan of the recent Mortal Kombat, I was intrigued to see what would become of Injustice and whilst admittedly when it comes to superheroes I’m much more familiar with Marvel’s characters, Injustice turned out to be one of the best fighting games I had played in a long time. Each character had their own unique moves which felt authentic to that character, some of which were particularly cool to see, such as Flash’s super move which involved him running around the Earth at top speed before delivering a finishing blow to the opponent. On top of that, there are interactive maps and the clash system which not only makes Injustice unique among fighting games but makes each individual match unique too. Not only did Injustice have great gameplay but it featured a surprisingly interesting story which saw Superman as the villain after the Joker kills Lois Lane, this leads to seeing various characters in reverse roles, for example, Wonder Woman is among the villains with Superman while characters like Deathstroke are among Batman’s rebel alliance. Add to this mingame challenges and a great online community and you’ve got one of the best additions to the fighting game genre in a long time.
9. Lego Marvel Superheroes
Now before you go and facepalm yourself to death hear me out; Lego Marvel is a fantastic game that caters to a wide audience of comic book fans and children alike. It features an incredibly long list of characters from Marvel’s back-catalog (over 100) and features an incredible amount to do. And just like in every single Marvel film, Stan Lee makes a cameo in every single level of this game, and 35 times in open world Manhattan, and as a playable character (who has almost every ability in the game) and its things like this that make this game hilariously entertaining at times. A button that turns Mr. Fantastic into a tea pot that is completely pointless in terms of gameplay? Why the hell not? And then there’s traversing the open city of Manhattan, this game does an amazing job of making it feel like you’re flying through the streets at high speeds whether it be with Silver Surfer, Iron Man or The Human Torch. This game will be the best game many of these characters are ever going to get.
10. Batman Arkham Origins
Those of you have read my reviews would know that I gave Assassins Creed IV a higher rating than Batman Arkham Origins. So what gives? Why did Batman make it on here while Assassins Creed didn’t? Well it’s simple. Over time, Assassins Creed’s naval gameplay waned on me to the point where I’m just not overly rushing to revisit the Caribbean seas. Meanwhile, I’ve found myself coming back to the dark alleys of Gotham a fair bit since October. This replayability and just the sheer fact that this is still a game that really does make you feel like Batman is reason enough for it to make the list.
So there you have it ladies and gentleman, my personal choices for Top 10 Best Games of The Year. I apologise in advance for not including A Link Between Worlds and Wind Waker HD as I have yet to play them but leave a comment below, do you agree with any of these choices? Feel I’ve left some out? Have your say on what your personal best games of 2013 were below. But for now, have an awesome christmas and roll on 2014.