Looking back on what I tried to do a year ago while recapitulating the best games of 2012, I realize the idea of picking nominees and winner in a dozen different categories, while ambitious, was a tad unrealistic. I liked it at the time and I'm glad I tried it, but for this year I shall go in a completely opposite direction : short, sweet, simple. I'll simply pick out what I think are the five best games of 2013 and why they deserve to be there. While I'm here I will also point out a few honorable mentions and some other games I didn't have the time or money to try in 2013 but I plan to later on.
Best Games of 2013
5. Rayman Legends (PS4)
Now I'm cheating a bit here because the PS4 version actually came out in 2014, but it's basically a 2013 game since it was first released in early september of last year (NA). Anyway, I had to include it because it's in the running for "Best 2D platformer of All-Time". The gameplay is exquisite. It's a very beautiful game and it has astounding replay value in daily and weekly challenges. You can't ask for more.
4. Tomb Raider (PS3)
I first played a Tomb Raider game only 2 or 3 years ago when I tried the Tomb Raider collection. I liked the game, but couldn't truly appreciate what I was playing since it was more than a decade later. My guess is that if I had played that game when it was first released in 1996, I would have fallen in love with it. I could finally see why people were calling Nathan Drake "Dude Raider" when the first Uncharted was unveiled.
Anyway, this series reboot is almost on par with what Naughty Dog has done for last-generation gaming. Gameplay is very solid, the story holds up pretty well despite a few weaker spots and it looks fantastic. It lacks the charm of Uncharted (can't help but compare the two franchises now...) and its flair for Hollywood-worthy moments - although it had some - but it's a superb game in its own right.
3. Bioshock : Infinite (PS3)
Being deeply in love with the first Bioshock game - until very recently my "best game of the seventh generation" - and completely sold on that world-class reveal trailer a few years ago, I had HUMONGOUS expectations for Bioshock : Infinite. It was almost unfair to Irrational. I would've bet 100$ that it would run away with the 2013 GoTY award. It nearly did, as my top 3 games in 2013 are very, very close to each other.
Infinite almost impossibly delivered on the enormous hype they've gained before release. It's one of the most compelling and well-thought plot I've ever seen in a video game, practically on par with the first Bioshock and The Walking Dead (Telltale). It produced memorable characters (see picture above), varied gameplay and a otherwordly (literally) setting. It's not perfect though, but that's me being very picky. It's a great, great game. Being only third on this list speaks of the quality of the next two titles.
2. The Legend of Zelda : A Link Between Worlds (3DS)
It really does feel like I have to include a LoZ game every time one comes out. One could think it's because I'm unequivocally biased and so in love with the franchise that they could release a bag of poop and I'd still rate it a 9.2 out of 10. While it's true I have a bias, the games themselves are definitely almost always worth a sky-high rating. This one isn't different. It's very special. It's the successor to perhaps the best LoZ game ever (not by my LoZ standings, but I know it's atop many fans' lists). It had to be good.
And boy it is. Nintendo has mastered the art of merging old-school nostalgia with innovation. For example, at first I thought "Wait, so you have to pay to use items like the bow or bombs? And you have arrows/bombs, but an automatically-refilling magic meter?" But the process works magnificiently in both cases. Yes, it's fun to discover the boss-beating item in dungeons, but this does the neat trick of letting you decide which way - read : weapon - is more suited to defeat the boss. The game is a bit on the easy side, even with a couple of truly bamboozling dungeons, but you'll be having so much fun you won't really care.
1. The Last of Us (PS3)
Yes, you could see this coming from a hundred miles away. Yes, it has won numerous GoTY awards from magazines, websites and the likes. And you have heard all about it. The grim atmosphere, that clickers noise, the heavy storyline, the opening sequence, Ellie hunting, everything about Ellie, in fact, the beautiful, desolate world, throwing bottles to distract enemies, the characters you encounter, the list goes on and on.
Look, I don't need to sell you on The Last of Us, it's been praised countless times and will be praised even more when the PS4 version comes out. It's a masterpiece of a game. As the magazine EDGE pointed out, it truly is the culmination of everything (good) this generation has been about.
Ni No Kuni : Wrath of the White Witch (PS3)
Gran Turismo 6 (PS3)
DmC : Devil May Cry (PS3)
Metro : Last Light (PS3)
Battlefield 4 (PS4)
Brothers : A Tale of Two Sons (PS3)
Games I couldn't play for some reason but that I'll definitely try later which could have ended in the running for GotY 2013
Pokemon X/Y (3DS)
Super Mario 3D World (WiiU)
Assassin's Creed IV : Black Flag (PS4)