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Published on December 27th, 2013 | by Staff

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Game of the Year 2013

It is the end of the year, which means that it is time to look back and reflect on the best games of the past 365 days. We checked our weapons at the door, got Jeff and Fozzy all liquored up, and came up with the 10 games we, as a collective whole, felt were the best of the year. Enjoy.

GotY10

10. Saints Row IV

Saints Row the Third took genre expectations and flipped them on their head. By the end of that game, the Saints Row franchise had lost any sense of seriousness and it proved a better game than its predecessors because of it. But how does one follow up ridiculousness turned up to 11 already? Why, by turning it up to 12 of course. Saints Row IV takes everything from its predecessor and ups the crazy quotient. It is a game that starts out with you literally riding an Armageddon bomb while Aerosmith’s “Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing” plays and then you become the President, get super powers and smoke dope out of a light bulb. In short, the game is fun, in the most crassly absurd way possible. ~Chris Scott

GotY09

9. Bioshock Infinite

Bioshock is one of the most beloved games of this fading generation, placing at number 2 on our list. So it was no surprise when the follow-up project by its creator Irrational Games quickly became one of the most anticipated games of 2013. But so much anticipation often leads to let-down. Thankfully, Bioshock Infinite mostly avoided that, delivering another uniquely weird Bioshock adventure. Like Rapture before it, entering Columbia is a magical moment and like Rapture, the floating city is as much a character in the story as anyone else. It is a place with wonder, both joyous and deadly, around every corner, making Columbia a place one wants to explore fully even if the mechanics still leave a bit to be desired. ~Chris Scott

GotY08

8. Rogue Legacy

Rogue Legacy is one of the most ingenious games I have ever played. It harkens back to an era where games determined your skills at the controller. Platforming and 2D combat with weapons and skills take some finesse, all of which made me feel like I was in the 90s again. But what Rogue Legacy does masterfully is blend that nostalgic gameplay with whimsical visuals, and most importantly, a character development system. Oh, you die each time you head into the castle. When you come out, however, you spend that hard earned money on upgrades before treking back in for more. I simply couldn’t put the controller down when I played Rogue Legacy, it was always “just one more haul.” ~ Don Parsons

GotY07

7. Super Mario 3D World

For all the criticism we levy at Nintendo’s often head scratching business practices, they do one thing outstandingly well, and that is create fun games. Super Mario 3D World is fun in a box. It is more colorful, more creative and more whimsical than just about anything else to come out this year. If you didn’t enjoy this Mario game, you either didn’t open the box or you just hate fun. ~Chris Scott

GotY06

6. Europa Unviersalis IV

Paradox Interactive has long been known for making complex strategy games with funny names, games that required hours of investment and lacked a certain visual appeal. Then, two years ago, Paradox released Crusader Kings 2, an accessible, entertaining game with a beautiful map. The game was far and away a strategy gaming homerun. But the studio’s first love was always its Europa Universalis series, and in EU IV, the lessons learned from CK2’s triumph were put to good use. An extensive tutorial, game systems that are easy to understand while still including the depth hardcore players craved, historical narrative, an epically beautiful map and of course that magical sensation of creating your own world all combine to form what is simply the best nation-simulator ever made. This game is a true must own for any strategy fan. ~Tony Odett

GotY05

5. The Last of Us

In recent generations, video games have striven to become a legitimate medium for powerful narratives, and there have been a few successes, such as Rockstar’s L.A. Noire and Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead, both of which felt like seasons of great television. The Last of Us is the first game I’ve played that delivers the whole package. It realizes the potential of narrative in games without sacrificing gameplay. Its story is certainly a big highlight and the main reason The Last of Us can’t be missed, but there is still a lengthy campaign filled with smart, unbearably-intense stealth combat and the top-notch production values we have come to expect from Naughty Dog. Topping off what would have been an already complete package is a surprisingly fun multiplayer mode that retains the tools and stealth tactics of the single player campaign. Ultimately, though, it’s the story that continues to linger in my mind, particularly that perfect final scene between Joel and Ellie. The story never compromises its bleak vision to reach a wider audience. It builds to an ending that is–although a small moment between our two main characters–the most complex, challenging, and mature in gaming to date. ~ Jeff Derrickson

GotY04

4. Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag

After Assassin’s Creed 3, I was worried. While decent, AC3 lacked a sense of developmental cohesion, combining far too many extraneous game components together with a host of odd bugs to provide an experience that seemed to fall short of its predecessors. When the pirate theme was announced for Assassin’s Creed 4, I grew even more suspicious, wondering if they were now going to cater to gamers thematically without improving the unwieldy gameplay. Thankfully, every worry I had about the game was extinguished the moment I set foot on the deck of my very own ship. This was a world crafted around allowing the player to be a pirate. You can attack and capture (or destroy) opposing vessels, take down fortresses and elite warships, seeks out plunder from a multitude of different sources, and upgrade your vessel to become a true terror of the Caribbean. All this is without diving into the game’s compelling storyline. Despite my concerns, Ubisoft shrugged off its jitters from last year and delivered what is simply the best Assassin’s Creed game to date. ~Tony Odett

GotY03

3. Grand Theft Auto V

Rockstar is one of the biggest names in the industry, and for good reason. Time and time again, they prove that can create compelling games that are both fun and addicting. Designing sandboxes is just what they do. With Grand Theft Auto V, they certainly raised the bar for their competitors. Save for a few unncessary plot points that drew fire from critics, the latest Grand Theft Auto freshened up their usual design scheme by allowing the player to switch between three characters at any given time. Rockstar Games also dropped an improved multiplayer component into the game that took Red Dead Redemptions multiplayer and expanded it exponentially. Grand Theft Auto Online became the go-to place to hang out with my friends across the nation. ~Don Parsons

GotY02

2. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds

Face it: when you heard that Nintendo was making a sequel to The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, you thought Nintendo had finally run out of ideas and was going to completely destroy the legacy of one of the most beloved games of all time. It is OK that you doubted Nintendo; we all did. I mean, unlocking everything from the get-go, allowing Link to merge into walls as a painting, playing with 2D/3D perspectives, and revisiting the Hyrule of the best Zelda game ever made: it all sounded like the worst ideas possible. As it turns out, Nintendo knows a thing or two about what makes a good game and not only did all of those things turn out to be fantastic, but it all helped shape what is one of the best games of this year and may very well be the best Zelda game in nearly two decades. ~Chris Scott

GotY01

1. Tomb Raider

Over the years we’ve had knock-down, drag-out fights over what we would crown as our game of the year. This year was different, as the new Tomb Raider game just felt right as our selection to represent our collective tastes. Maybe it was the cinematic style, or the brutal and raw combat. Maybe it was the realistic character development that Lara experiences over the course of the campaign, or the freedom to explore the environment in a way that other games of its ilk fail to deliver. Or maybe it is simply that the game is incredibly fun to play. Whatever the reason, it resonated with all of us and stuck with us through the entirety of 2013.~Chris Scott

Those are our games of the year, what are your’s?

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  • Wolf

    There are a sadly large number of games here that I haven’t played, so commenting on them doesn’t do anyone any service. That said, i still would put AC4 at the top of my list, I certainly enjoyed it more than GTA, and I’d say they both were pretty heavily hyped.

    I guess I have to go borrow TR now….

    • Don Parsons

      I have to play more AC4, I only played a bit. But you should definitely play Tomb Raider.

      • Wolf

        DO! AC4 starts a wee bit slow, but I think the universal commentary is that once you are out on your boat (and more so later as the boat gets stronger) is when the game really shines!
        ((Yes yes, I know its a “ship” for those who’ve played to the end and watch the credits :P ))

      • Wolf

        If you get into it more, do you think you could change your mind about the standings for GOTY?
        (I still need to listen to the pod cast myself!)

  • Wolf

    I’m still chewing on how I would rate 2013 as a year for gaming.
    Obviously we are at the end of a generation, but did Gen-7 go out with a bang or a whimper? I feel like Gen-6 had some great late entry stuff, but then again, the generation didn’t have a clean cut break as the 360 and the PS3 had different launch years.
    As for the games themselves, the list above is a interesting mix of AAA and smaller time games, which I would say is a good thing. And there are a couple ‘must have’ titles up there as well.
    My gut is a B+ kind of year. Noting truly awful, but not outstanding. Too much hype and expectation for what is to come, but getting in a couple late greats leveled out the score.
    Thoughts?

    • Don Parsons

      I would agree that this was a “B” year. The great games were, but there were a lot of let downs from games that should have been a lot better. There is actually a nice handful of games up there I haven’t gotten to play myself, either. Time – there’s never enough.

      • Wolf

        The first world problems of video game critics…. :)
        Time to do whatever is probably the greatest thing about not being an adult.

      • Wolf

        What would be the top 3 disappointments of 2013?

        (You haven’t done that as a post yet have you?)

        • Chris Scott

          We haven’t although we had an individual category award for something similar on the 12/20 podcast.

          Most Disappointing AAA Franchise Release
          Winner: Sim City
          Runners Up:Batman: Arkham Origins and Need for Speed: Rivals.

          • Wolf

            While I haven’t played any of those three, that seems to be completely in line with what I’ve been hearing.
            I almost got sim city, but even after the DRM and always on stuff got fixed, it just… seemed like it would get boring fast.

          • Chris Scott

            Oh, that stuff never got “fixed”, it just got stable. I think why it made it to the top of our list though was because a bunch of us were actually really looking forward to it and even when it did work, it was such a stark departure from what SimCity was that it didn’t mesh with us. Co-op is cool to have but at the end of the day SimCity has its roots as a solo game and designing around making it a social experience was the wrong way to do things.

          • Wolf

            Has the industry gone too social? Or is that the production side, forcing it to go social? I know I don’t use any social features that come in most games.
            (At least with the AC4 stuff I didn’t need to actually be social)

          • Wolf

            Yay DRM :P
            I think the ‘simulation’ part of sim city is actually pretty cool sounding. But the limits placed on said simulation sounded like you’d run out of things to do very quickly.

            As a gamer, if I don’t think the game will last a while, I don’t want to buy in.

          • Wolf

            Any tech disappointments? or just focused on games?

          • Chris Scott

            We didn’t really touch on tech disappointments but I think that those of us that got them, are happy with our next gen purchases, even if I do think I could have waited quite a bit on purchasing the PS4.

          • Wolf

            While I haven’t played either system, and I am a long time Sony fan, it sounds like the Xbox is actually a better purchase right now. Is that what you mean?

          • Chris Scott

            Yeah, as a game system, there just isn’t much worth playing on the PS4 at this point in time.

          • Wolf

            How would you rate it from a technical stand point? What about potential? DO syou see more coming from the PS or Xb? It sounds like the Xbx is ahead right now, and not by a small margin.

    • Chris Scott

      I’m going to pose this as the Question of the Week to end 2013 on. Look for it tomorrow.

      • Wolf

        Haha! SO you do listen to the comments I fling at you! :D

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  • Wolf

    By the by, where is Starcraft on this list? :P

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