In 2013, we saw a lot of fantastic games as well as a new generation of consoles launch. Here, I'll take a look back at our top games of the year and why these should be a part of your current library. I'll be focusing solely on the Sony and Microsoft consoles. Enjoy!
10. Splinter Cell: Blacklist (PS3, Xbox 360)Coming off a revamping of the series and the critically acclaimed Conviction game released a few years back, Ubisoft set the bar high for the newest iteration of the Sam Fisher series. Fortunately, they pulled it off with flying colors. Featuring great visuals, a superb audio, a solid, believable storyline, and solid gameplay make this one of the best Splinter Cell games going back to Chaos Theory.
9. NBA2k14 (PS4, Xbox One)2k has owned the hardcourt genre for the entire generation of the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. It's easy to relax and not push the envelope without having much competition over the years with the NBA Live series being dormant until this year. But the team at Visual Concepts didn't rest with NBA2k. The game has had excellent gameplay and controls over the years, but the immersion and presentation put it on top of the majority of sports titles out there. You truly feel like you are watching a live NBA broadcast. With it's variety of game modes, you were kept busy for hours with a plethora of options to satisfy your basketball needs. Now if only they could revamp the Virtual Currency issue!
8. Assassin's Creed IV (PS4, Xbox One)Assassins, Pirates, and Pirate Ships. What more could you ask for in the newest installment in the Assassin's Creed series?! The story itself is setup a little bit differently than past AC games. The history itself is set prior to the events of AC-III, but the modern story is set up as a direct sequel to it. You play the role of Edward, the great-grandfather of Ratonhnhaké:ton, the protagonist of AC-III, during the Golden Age of Piracy in 18th Century Caribbean. The basic AC game elements are here, with one huge exception. Instead of traversing an open world by horse or foot, you are using your ship instead. The great thing about that, is the ability to have ship battles, a brand new element that was introduced on a small scale in AC-III. The graphics for AC-IV are fantastic, like most would expect, while the gameplay still keeps it's familiarity of the AC series, yet polished and refined. The story has it's hits and misses, but for the most part, gives gamers a fun mix of storyline quests, as well as side quests that are enjoyable to complete. AC-IV may not be the best of the series, but it still changes things up keeping it fresh and fun throughout the entire journey.
7. Dead Rising 3 (Xbox One)Serving as a launch title, Dead Rising 3 raised the bar and some. Utilizing some of the new horsepower accompanied with the Xbox One, gamers were treated to an upgrade in visuals as well as having massive amounts of zombies interacting on screen all in real time. The story isn't the greatest, but the gameplay far exceeds anything the previous installments had to offer. With loads of new weapons, weapon combos, and vehicle combos, Dead Rising 3 pushes the boundaries not only from a gameplay perspective but from also on the technical side as well. For any new adopter of the Xbox One, Dead Rising 3 is a must have.
6. Forza Motorsport 5 (Xbox One)Turn 10 has come off of some excellent releases with Forza 3 and 4. It's no doubt that gamers were excited when they announced Forza 5 would be an Xbox One launch title. There was some backlash due to the amount, or lack thereof, of real life racing courses that were in previous installments. Due to essentially building the game from the ground up, the development team had to start from scratch. Besides the lack of courses in comparison to past iterations, F5 is a visually stunning game with even better gameplay. Featuring the new Xbox One trigger rumble, the new Drivatar technology, and again, possibly the best graphics in a game today, Forza 5 was an impressive feat by Turn 10 and really shows what we are in for with the new consoles.
5. MLB: The Show 13 (PS3)Sony San Diego has, over the past 5 years or so, churned out possibly the best sports game of the current generation. They started from the ground up and built a phenomenal game in MLB The Show, which is built on fantastic gameplay, game modes galore, great presentation, and the best graphics in a sports game on current gen consoles. Featuring one of the best My Player modes and an even deeper Franchise mode, you will be busy for months as you chase each and every milestone to seal your place in Cooperstown.
4. The Walking Dead: Season 2 (PS3, Xbox 360)TellTale set the bar with their Walking Dead Season 1. With fantastic and emotional story telling, each decision you made was crucial and pulled at you. The graphics were solid for an Arcade game, but that's not the point. The point of the game is the human, emotional element that Robert Kirkman goes after in the actual graphic novel. The feeling of hope, desperation, and the parental instinct of keeping Clementine alive is where TellTale really makes their mark. Season 1 was fantastic, and now that Season 2: Episode 1 has hit the XBL Marketplace and PSN Store, I feel they are only getting started.
3. Grand Theft Auto V (PS3, Xbox 360)Rockstar has upped the ante with every GTA release they have pushed out, and GTA V is no different. Featuring an expansive open world, larger than GTA IV, San Andreas, and Rockstars's Red Dead Redemption COMBINED, you have one of the best detailed and thorough landscapes ever created on current gen consoles. On top of that, Rockstar went even further by weaving together the story line of 3 different characters, removing the monotonous actions of past games. Each character played and acted different in the game because of their varying skill sets, which allowed gamers to not get as bored as easily. On top of that, the addition of GTA Online was a welcomed addition, even with the bumpy launch. Finally, gamers can now go online and shoot it out, rob, and destroy their way through Los Santos.
2. Bioshock: Infinite (PS3, Xbox 360)Ken Levine and his team at Irrational Games finally gave us a sequel to the acclaimed Bioshock series. The first installment, was a groundbreaking adventure like no other at the time on the current gen consoles. Many felt the second was a step back and wasn't as polished as we all hoped. With Infinite, Levine and Co. delivered and delivered big! Set in a floating metropolis called Columbia, we are taken through an alternate history of our country through the eyes of Booker DeWitt and his AI companion Elizabeth. The story is fantastically written, eventually weaving portions of the original Bioshock into the narrative of Infinite. The story itself has many twists and turns, leaving you to want to continue the push and figure out the mystery that is Columbia and the rebellion that you are thrust into the middle of. This is definitely a can't miss title and is a must in every gamers library.
1. The Last of Us (PS3)Here we are, the #1 game of 2013 on my list. Where do I start?! The Last of Us was a game changer when it comes to video game storytelling. No game has pushed the boundaries of what we expect a game's story to be, than The Last of Us. Developed by Naughty Dog, the game tells a story of characters Joel and Ellie and their epic struggle to survive in a zombie-like United States. You trek from Texas to Boston, then across the country making your way to Colorado, all in hopes of finding a safe haven where a cure has been developed. The emotional push and pull you get when playing the game has such an impact on you, that it's hard to realize that this is a video game and not a fantastic Hollywood movie. The graphics are a phenomenal and push the PS3 to new bounds, the gameplay is easy to master, but yet still fun as you have options on how you tackle every scenario presented to you. Do you go about it stealthily? Or do you charge them, taking your enemy by surprise? These decisions are the beauty of playing The Last of Us. There's a replay factor here that some may not realize at first. There are so many positives in this game that, in my opinion, has set the bar even higher as we head into the next-gen of home consoles. This will be the game we all judge others on when it comes to story, graphics, and overall enjoyment. The Last of Us is my 2013 Game of the Year.