God only knows how we had it so good.

2013 in games

One of the best years in gaming history – and certainly the best of my generation anyways – is coming to an end. It has been a truly, truly incredible year. We’ve seen the release of four landmark pinnacle titles (in my eyes), all on current/last-gen platforms (even if it’s all but confirmed at this point one of them is about to release on PS4/Xbox One soon).

Not to mention, the release of two brand new HD systems from Sony and Microsoft in PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. We’ve had it insanely good this year. Actually, fantastic would be a better word to use than just ‘good’. 2013, you’ve been an incredible year for gaming and we hope to see another year similar to it next year.

So now that we are at the dying embers of 2013, it’s time to put some ribbons onto a few games, not just for this year, but for the past generation also now PS4 and Xbone are now out in the open for all to consume. But that will come soon. For now, lets focus on this year’s stuff.

Note: Note how amazing current-gen was this past year. All ten games on this list have appeared solely on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC, PlayStation Vita and Nintendo 3DS; no next-generation games make an appearance at all (though that will likely change come Saturday) with the closest appearance being in the Honorable Mentions.

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spelunky10 – Spelunky

Having passed off the XBLA version last year besides a single play of the trial, Spelunky on PC (and subsequently the PSN version) was the third game to ever make me break my ‘I FUCKING WON’T PLAY ANY GAMES WITH A SPIDER IN IT’ metric (the others being Uncharted 3 and Alan Wake’s American Nightmare). That in itself deserves a placing on this list (that and it’s actually brilliant with the added inclusion of Daily Challenge).

sriv9 – Saints Row IV

It’s not the best looking game ever (in fact, compared to even some of its current-gen brethren alone, it looks ugly) and was at times buggy. But yet, Saints Row IV is just fun. Fun to play, fun to laugh at. It slaps fun in your face. It parodies some of the best of games and movies (“That lightbulb had a family!”) in one of the most humourous games I’ve ever played. It’s fun. And I like fun.

acnl8 – Animal Crossing: New Leaf

There’s a line from a Animal Crossing: New Leaf review that sticks out to me then. “The first Animal Crossing you play is always the best…,” Donlan wrote back in June for Eurogamer. New Leaf was my first foray into the series. And I expected to play it for no more than, say, two or three hours as a way to pass some novel time. By the time I did wean myself off New Leaf, I had spent 20 hours without realising it. It’s not a amount comparable to even the hardcore AC players, but New Leaf charmed the pants off me a lot more than I thought. I’m at this point waiting on Nintendo to announce AC for Wii U, but New Leaf was a lovely entry point into the series.

dmc7 – DmC: Devil May Cry

For all the hate DmC and Ninja Theory got before the series’s reboot was finally released back in January, it turned out the game was – *SHOCK!* – actually brilliant. Shock: Dante wasn’t white-haired. Shock: 60FPS was dropped for 30. SHOCK: DmC had a bit more flair and style to it than any Devil May Cry game before it. It’s a shame we’re not going to see a DmC sequel anytime soon due to less-than-performing sales of the first, but if this is as good as it gets, so be it. One of the best action games this year.

tearaway6 – Tearaway

Tearaway is near-enough a last-minute addition to this list (not the first time I’ve done this – right, Rock Band 3?), but that still doesn’t deny Media Molecule’s passion and charm a place on this list. The creativity on display in Tearaway is just wonderfully baffling to behold. It’s also the best usage of Vita’s capabilities – like the camera, touchpad and touchscreen – so far to date in any game for the platform. They’ll now focus on their first big thing for PS4, but if the opportunity arose again, I’d like more Tearaway in my life again. It’s bafflingly lovely and is one of three massive reasons to own a Vita.

p4g5 – Persona 4: The Golden

This is the second reason of three to own a Vita (Gravity Rush being the other). Persona 4’s original release on PlayStation 2 in 2009 was one of the best RPGs of modern times: fantastically written characters, gripping story, brilliant anime art style. Fast forward four years, P4: The Golden still maintains what made the original so great in making the jump to a portable as well as additions like new story character Marie and thensome. Persona 5 is now set to arrive next year, but Persona 4 will continue to live long in the memory – and not just for the upcoming batch of spin-offs it has set to come out.

tr24 – Tomb Raider

Lady Croft’s return to gaming’s spotlight was one of intrigue. This wasn’t the Lara of old returning. Crystal Dynamics finally told the origins backdrop it wanted to tell with the help of a fantastically written story by Rhianna Pratchett. And though it took its cues from Uncharted – somewhat ironic considering some were comparing the first Uncharted to TR – it was still one of the most satisfying games to play all year round (I’ve still yet to touch multiplayer, by the way).  Crystal Dynamics will be hoping the success of Tomb Raider will carry them forward onto the next TR coming for next-gen.

bioshock infinite3 – BioShock Infinite

I’m going to be controversial: I loved BioShock Infinite a lot more than BioShock 1 or 2. Columbia is one of the most beautifully designed worlds to ever be in a game, more so than Rapture. Nothing against Rapture, but I just loved Columbia a lot more. Also factor in the incredible performances of  Troy Baker and Courtnee Draper as Booker DeWitt and Elizabeth Comstock, a fantastic pairing throughout. There was some criticism of the game’s combat, but I actually didn’t have anything to complain about. And while once or twice in the game the story did feel like it was scrambling your brains a bit, for the most part, I enjoyed it. Including that ending twist.

gta v 42 – Grand Theft Auto V

Grand Theft Auto V is the realisation of Rockstar’s fifteen year history, its best work to date. Los Santos is one of the best open-worlds to ever grace a game, its parody of the world financial crisis is typical Rockstar GTA, its three leads in need of the big score are fantastically written and from a gameplay standpoint, combat is finally not shit or flimsy anymore! Not to mention, despite its early teething problems, GTA Online is the best-realised alternative we’re ever going to get to an actual Grand Theft Auto MMO. There’s so many amazing things still yet to mention, but for its entirety, Grand Theft Auto V is just outstanding.

tlou1 – The Last of Us

Right, so what more do I say about The Last of Us at this point without being a gushing idiot? I’ve gone on and on about TLOU since June whenever the opportunity has come up on Twitter, Facebook, etc. Before the game was released, my anticipation levels were through the roof, but even I didn’t expect them to be surpassed in such a massive way. To keep such thoughts to a minimum at this point for reasons that’ll become clear soon, The Last of Us is just utterly bafflingly incredible. Baker and Johnson as Joel and Ellie respectively are brilliant in their performances, the game meshes together the best of action & horror and Santaolalla’s soundtrack is stupendous.

And that’s before having touched upon some of the story’s incredible emotional moments, from the epilogue to the very last scene. This is The Last of Us: gaming’s landmark moment in storytelling.

Honorable mentions:  Metal Gear Rising, Resogun, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, FIFA 14, Remember Me, The Walking Dead: 400 Days, GRID 2, Hotline Miami (PlayStation), Diablo III (Console), Pokemon X, Rayman Legends, Splinter Cell: Blacklist, Pikmin 3, Papers, Please and Ni No Kuni.

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