The Top 10 Video Games of 2013
The past year of video games saw some amazing things. We saw the next gen consoles line up to do battle, and we saw the release of some franchise titles. It was also the year of the indie game developers. Small David-like independent games stood toe to toe with some Goliath-esque companies. If 2013 was any indication for what is to come in the new year, we are all in for a treat.
We here at G33kpron put our heads together to figure what the best was for 2013. We put our collective heads together, and the resounding coconut clonk that followed, produced a list we feel represents the best of the past year. With the help of Veteran Fox, Alicia, Manda and myself, we present to you what we feel was the best of 2013.
Our criteria was simple, we looked at overall game play and fun factor. Was the game worth the time and dollars we put into it, regardless of who made them or how much was spent to develop them. Each rank was written by one of us, it was a conclusion by consensus.
I really like this Legend of Zelda game because it’s familiar and different, all at the same time. The game is different enough to warrant purchasing the title, but not different enough to lose that classic Legend of Zelda feel. The story is incredibly fun to experience, with the ability to unlock a “hero mode” upon completion of your first play through. To make the story experience more fluid there was the addition of equipment rental, a feature that allows you to slowly unlock items to rent (until you unlock all the items) allowing you to inexpensively get the most out of the gameplay until you are able to purchase items for yourself. Another awesome component to this game is that you can do the dungeons in any order, which can be quite freeing from the linear dungeon crawler.
Another part of this game that really brings it up a level is the addition of mass collectible items and multiple minigames allowing you to really sink your time into this. The collectible items scattered throughout the game offer item upgrades and benefits to the player, really allowing you to lose yourself and solidifying a spot on this list for the Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds.
I wanted to love this game from the very start, and with all the server issues and graphic rumors surrounding this game’s launch I lost hope, until I played it on the Xbox One. The single player was short and sweet and to the point, but the multiplayer was the driving force behind this game. In fact, the multiplayer is an epic experience; 32 on 32 with 2 commanders (hopefully) doing their job to keep their team on task. The massive amount of players in one game was handled excellently through a squad system, where each team of 32 is broken down into multiple groups of 5 players or less. While online, you can only communicate with the members in your squad (which is more amazing than you may realize).
There are tons and tons of unlockables in this game as well, in the form of “Bonus Packs” that players receive every few levels. These unlock additional scopes, barrels, weapon skins and even XP boosts that effectively eliminate the monotonous grind of leveling up in an online FPS. The commander mode is another great addition, granting one ‘Commander’ the ability to balance spawn points and keep players from congregating in one area for a long period of time ignoring specific game tasks – more commonly known as camping. I could seriously go on for days about how exhilarating Battlefield 4 is, thus landing it a spot on this list- a very well deserved spot.
I was waiting to hate this game. I really was. I loved the first Bioshock. I was okay with the second, and when I saw ads for the third I had absolutely no faith that it could be pulled off. What more could be said of the story? We’d explored the ruined world of Rapture enough. Now it was in the sky? Why? What was the connection? Why did I care?
I swallowed my words pretty quickly. Not only does Bioshock Infinite add to the Bioshock cannon, it holds its own as a singular gaming experience. The design is jaw dropping, the combat is massive amounts of destructive fun, the voice acting incredibly impressive, and most importantly the story is gripping and mind bending.
Elisabeth and Booker Dewitt will go down as one of the best video game duos around. Booker is hard, sarcastic and haunted by his past (aka hot). Elisabeth, the young girl he is tasked to rescue from a prison in the clouds, is even more compelling, going from naive young woman to ass kicking heroine. Every time you think you have a handle on the themes and plot twists, another one comes along to make you speechless. The end twist is one that no one is likely to forget or ever to stop debating about for years to come, and its earned Bioshock Infinite a spot amongst the best of 2013.
The Stanley Parable
This game was not chosen because it plays with your mind like a cat plays with yarn (and it does). Nor was it chosen because it is helping to pave new waves in the way we game (it is). It was chosen mostly because of its ability to make me laugh loud enough for my neighbours to wonder if I was insane.
This has to be the funniest game I’ve played in a long time. Not just funny, but also clever. Again, it’s a game that people might argue isn’t really a game. It’s merely a series of choices you make to guide Stanley, a confused office worker, through his empty office building as a narrator chronicles your story. Those choices though are far more numerous than you can imagine and there are a ton of both laugh out loud moments and subtle hidden humour within the game environment. Is it for everyone? Probably not, but it’s definitely worthy of being the best of 2013.
Even though there were only a few fighting games released in 2013, Injustice deserves a spot on this list (and in your heart). This game has a moderately large cast of DC favourites (and some you just love to hate), with easy to learn move lists containing some flashy special moves. What is great about this game is that it is not as difficult as Street Fighter to learn, but it is more difficult than your average button-masher title (giving those new to the fighting genre some wins and encouragement, but still rewarding those who put the time in to learn characters and combos.) On top of falling directly on the difficulty level “sweet spot,” players are able to interact with the stage to their advantage (or demise.) This really fleshed out the rivalries in the game, because not only were you beating on Joker, but you were beating on Joker in his asylum ruining all his stuff.
Netherealm Studios kept with their theme of doing things differently, and made a deal with EVO this past year; Injustice was going to be featured on the main stage the same year it was released. It has become commonplace for studios to set aside a year for players to learn the characters of a new release game before heading to EVO, but Netherealm decided to spice things up and buff/nerf characters based on performances throughout the tournament. This bypassed the whole community feedback aspect as Netherealm came to their own conclusions about each character, because when you listen to one community member cry, you have to listen to them all.
Here’s another little title that took me by surprise. This is one of those, “is this really a game?” type games that I don’t think anyone expected to catch on as much as it did. It’s a quick little romp, in which you simply explore a large house from which your family seems to have disappeared. Through reading journals, letters, listening to cassette tapes left behind, and even glancing at receipts you get to know the story of the family that live in the house.
Gone Home, along with a couple of other titles on this list, is starting to redefine just what a game is and further explores what they can do for storytelling. There are no cinematics or motion capture, there are no puzzles to solve or enemies lurking, but I’ll be darned if this wasn’t one of the more emotionally satisfying game experiences I had this year.
You wouldn’t think that a game in which you play a border agent, whose only job is to stamp passports, would be one of the most engaging, unique and gripping experiences this year; however, Papers Please was a big surprise to all who played. Playing as a border guard in a dystopian fascist society, your goal is to process passports of hopeful travelers looking to leave the country. That’s it. The more passports you approve, the more money you make. Stamp anyone who is lying, and you get docked pay and you can’t pay the bills to support your family. Boring, right? Surprisingly, wrong.
It’s a seemingly simple concept, but the more you progress the more difficult the decisions become. Did you check their expiry date? Cross reference photos? Do their stories check out? Do you stick to the book and deny access even to the saddest of sob stories, such as the woman hoping to be reunited with her long lost son? Or do you bend the rules and risk your family suffering the consequences? It’s downright compelling, rivaling some of the Triple A titles that came out this year despite its simple graphics. It more than earned its spot on the list this year.
Rockstar has produced their Iliad. They have taken the best parts of the current generation console and managed to squeeze one last ounce of gold from them. Grand Theft Auto V took its franchise and turned it to 11. It also took some brave new steps in gaming. The story for GTA V was out of this world. It took the story of three characters and merged them together into a cinematic experience. The new mode to switch between characters was brilliant. Michael, Trevor and Franklin lived their lives, even when the story wasn’t focused on them. It was a world to be immersed in. It was a world we also could have a great impact on.
The idea that gamers can affect their gaming world has been around for a while, but it was Rockstar’s GTA V that let us choose how we played out our adventure, how we plotted our next heist, and how we decided which protagonist would live and die, that we weren’t just gaming, we were in the game. The multiplayer had great ambition, it still needs to work through some kinks, but they are cutting a path for future MMO experiences. That being said, the story more than makes up for. The Shakespearean saga of all three characters took us off the rails of scripted cut scenes and let us tell our own story. This is why GTA V earns this spot on the list.
There was some caution to be had when Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag was announced. A lot of the gaming community was still feeling the sting from AC 3. How would Ubisoft handle the latest chapter in the Assassin’s Creed franchise? It seems they learned from their past mistakes and made the best of the series so far. If you’re a fan of the game, then you got to see how sleek and sexy they made it. View points were now also quick travel points. The tedious crafting from AC 3 was stream lined and simplified, find two items or pirate the things you needed, hit a button and done. What about the story? Was it going to be improved?
Ubisoft has knocked it out of the park. The character of Edward Kenway and his surrounding cast, makes you fall in love with him. He’s a terrible person, that you want to cheer for. His whole story, from start to finish, takes on the Hero’s Journey. It makes you feel for and sympathize with Edward, Ubisoft knows exactly when to pull the heart strings. With stunning graphics for the next gen systems, a sleek style and epic story, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag earns a high spot on our list.
When the idea of a Top 10 came up, the first (and only) game to come to mind was The Last of Us. The story started off a little slow, but that’s about the only flaw I can think of for this game. Featuring some of the best story telling in a game ever, the narration was touching and the characters looked, felt and sounded like real people. The facial gestures were seamless and didn’t look clunky, and the overall graphic aesthetic of the game was fantastic. It was funny, it was dark, it was heart warming and gut wrenching and made you feel things you forgot you could feel from just a game.
The best part about this game was that anyone, with any skill level and experience with gaming could enjoy this game. There were no frantic shooter moments and the combat style was very flexible. This is one of the few games that cater to both the run-and-gun type of players as well as the tactical stealth type. The multiplayer was alright, but similar to games like Far Cry 3, the bulk of the resources were obviously put towards the single player campaign (the story will suck you in to the point where you have little interest in playing the multiplayer. I forgot it was even included). The Last of Us is definitely a game you are going to want to play sober, and potentially alone (unless you don’t have the type of friends who make fun of you for smiling/crying/yelling/etc at the TV like a goon).
Telltale Games is a leader producing serial games. The only reason why these two great titles aren’t on the list is because they aren’t finished. What we’ve seen from these two titles so far promises to be monumental in 2014. The only bad things to say are, we have to wait for the other episodes to come out, before we can finish the series.
Brothers is an amazing indie game, which takes the power of story telling to the next level. With simple controls and the basics of dialogue, the devs at Starbreeze Studios tell a powerful and heart wrenching story. This game is the little engine that could. Its strength is the minimalist attitude to game play, while delivering a story that you will remember.
Editor’s Choice – Best DLC: Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep (Borderlands 2)
Hey readers! Rob here with special Editor’s Choice addition to the list. The writers all collaborated on the top 10, but when it came time to publish the list G33KB0T and myself couldn’t let it go live without one little addition.
When the writers first started putting together this year’s list, G33KB0T chimed in with “Why not Borderlands 2?!” After reminding G33KB0T that BL2 was released in 2012, we couldn’t overlook what was arguably the single greatest DLC we’ve ever seen. If I’m being hyperbolic, well, I have good reason. For those who aren’t familiar with the world of Borderlands, try to picture an FPS game, with Diablo-like random loot and RPG inspired skill trees. Mix in a healthy dose of pop culture and copious amounts of twisted violence and you can easily see why us at G33K HQ love the game. So when Gearbox announced that Tiny Tina (a pint sized demolitions expert) would be the star of the 4th and final major DLC for BL2, we got excited.
However nothing could prepare us for the utter brilliance that is Assault on Dragon Keep. Gearbox delivered a world where high fantasy is lovingly mated with uber sci-fi violence. A world where not only is playing tabletop RPGs the “cool” thing to do, but if you’re a jock and want to play you’ve got to prove yourself to the cool nerds (oh and did I mention that in this world the coolest nerds all happen to be women?). What really pushes this DLC above the rest is the writing. Throughout the pop-culture in-joke laden script (seriously, they added a Downton Abbey reference!!) is a blend of humor and tragedy that will leave you simultaneously laughing at the absurdity of a gun that shoots swords while bawling over the one of the most brilliantly handled character driven moments you’ll see. Gearbox could have easily phoned in their fourth DLC to an already bestselling game, but instead they managed to create a brand new world that somehow managed to surpass everybody’s expectations, giving it a place of honor in our 2013 recap.
So that’s it for 2013! Do you agree with what is up there? What would you put up there? Which games do you think were worthy of a top 10 for 2013?
Everyone at G33kpron hopes you had an awesome year, and we hope you will have an even better new year. From all of us, to all of you, have a happy 2014 and play more games.