While the whole editorial staff contributed to our 2013 awards, we wanted to allow everybody the opportunity to publicly name their personal top 10 games of the year. While many did play the majority of releases in 2013, please remember that unlike our main awards, the editors are not naming the *best* games, but their personal favorites out of the selection they played.
10. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
(PS3 / Xbox 360, Konami / Platinum Games)
Alright, so it’s not much of a secret that I had my fair share of frustrations with Metal Gear Rising; mainly that it took three hours for me to beat the final boss. That’s not an exaggeration; it literally took me half of the game’s overall length had I beaten the boss on the first try to finally beat him. It turned out to be my fault for not knowing there was a different way to go about it, but upon hearing stories from people who had the same exact experience, I stuck with my guns and blamed poor game design in that portion. So why is this game in my top ten? Because it’s just that awesome. It’s one of the most fluid and exciting action games ever created, is a blast through and through, challenging in (almost) all the right places and, oh yeah, features a hilarious story mostly told through some expertly-written codec conversations.
9. Pikmin 3
(Wii U, Nintendo)
And the award for the most adorable game goes to… Although it doesn’t exactly reinvent the series, Pikmin 3 didn’t have to. This series is just so utterly charming that they could continue do to the same thing for ten games and it would still be as loveable as ever. It’s quite simply a beautiful game thanks to some of the Wii U’s finest graphics and overwhelmingly artistic level design. The new additions to the Pikmin family are outstanding, the enemies are creative and it’s just a blast to play.
8. Need for Speed Rivals
(PS3 / Xbox 360 / Xbox One / PS4, EA / Ghost Games)
Need for Speed Rivals is easily the most adrenaline-pumping game of 2013. This is Dark Souls on wheels. You can’t pause, you can lose an hour of progress at the drop of a dime and there’s always danger looming ahead. The racing mechanics are some of the best seen in the series, owing a lot to the fabulous arcade styling of Burnout Revenge. It’s a gorgeous game on next-gen consoles and simply a blast. When I want to play a racing game, it’s to have fun — realism be damned. Need for Speed Rivals delivers on this promise and then some.
7. Call of Duty: Ghosts
(PS3 / PS4 / Xbox 360 / Xbox One / PC / Wii U, Activision / Infinity Ward)
Call of Duty: Ghosts is one of the best shooters of the year. While the series has long been a yearly occurrence that didn’t change too much from the last, gamers for some reason felt like this was the year to attack it for that. Perhaps it’s the fact that it’s a new sub-series, but whatever the reason, it was misguided. The fact of the matter is that in terms of the multiplayer experience, Call of Duty: Ghosts is an expertly designed game in almost every aspect. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but it’s all the better for it. Controls and combat are tight, game modes are easy to understand but wholly addictive an the bonus addition of Extinction can easily monopolize fifty hours of your life. Sure, eventually Call of Duty will need to grow as a series to remain relevant, but for now it’s the best game in town for shooting things.
(Xbox 360 / PS3 / PC , Capcom / Ninja Theory)
DmC came out so long ago that part of me wanted to include it in last year’s top ten list. Because of this, it’s likely that it will be forgotten in many award ceremonies this year. This is an absolute crime, however, as it’s one of the tightest action games to come around in a long time. It’s incredibly varied in level design, never overstays its welcome, features refined combat and some truly hilarious scenes. Balk all you want at reinventing the classic series — DmC is better than it’s ever been.
5. Tomb Raider
(PS3 / Xbox 360 / PC, Square Enix / Crystal Dynamics)
Who would have though Tomb Raider would prove to be one of the best games of 2013? After all, this is a series that first debuted almost twenty years ago and became sort of the poster child for the female game design of yesteryear. While Tomb Raider Legend attempted to bring the series into cultural relevancy again, Tomb Raider (2013) did it in innovative ways that will likely reverberate throughout the game industry in the years to come. This was the story of a tough woman who, although could likely make it out of the toughest situations in normal life, was here visibly afraid and emotionally compromised. You empathized with her plight and wanted to get through the game if only to see her get out alive. The grittiness and sheer rawness of the title is unrivaled and made it one of the most enthralling adventures of the year.
4. BioShock Infinite
(PS3 / Xbox 360, 2K Games / Irrational Games)
I absolutely adore deep, multilevel stories. Case in point: Southland Tales, containing perhaps one of the most confusing plots ever made, is one of my favorite films of all time. By the time the credits rolled in BioShock Infinite, however, I was baffled. Not because I didn’t understand the story, but because it was incredibly convoluted and didn’t make a lot of sense when you broke it down. It’s for that reason and the fact that the gunplay is uninspired that the game didn’t top this list, because the story remains one of the most thought-provoking ones in the medium. It’s emotional, epic in scope and even devastating at times. It’s simply beautiful to see it all unfold, and even if it doesn’t quite come together at the end, it’s something that must be experienced by any gamer in search of a worthwhile narrative.
3. Beyond: Two Souls
(PS3, SCEA / Quantic Dream)
Of course one can’t talk about deep narratives without mentioning Beyond: Two Souls. This is another game that has been unfairly maligned by many when in reality they don’t like it because stuff doesn’t blow up enough or they didn’t grasp the deep meaning of the story. Beyond: Two Souls improves on Heavy Rain in nearly every conceivable aspect offering a beautiful story that will make you completely emphasize with the struggles of protagonist Jodie. Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe delivered two incredible performances that are arguably the best ever seen in a video game. Emotional, daring and at the very least always interesting, Beyond: Two Souls is one of the most cinematic experiences ever in the medium and the game that’s most fresh in my mind after a jam-packed year.
2. The Last of Us
(PS3, SCEA / Naughty Dog)
Curse you, clickers! The reason why this game didn’t get a 5/5 upon my initial review and why it’s not number one on this list (besides how awesome the next game is)? The damn clickers. Why hate a game for a single enemy type? Because of how horribly annoying they are. It’s not even the stealth scenes with them that bother me all that much then it is the action scenes that they destroy. One hit kills are not fun and force you to play in ways you wouldn’t to simply progress past the scene. But, alas, this game is so gosh darn beautiful that it doesn’t really matter much at the end of the day. The best pacing ever in a video game, incredible visuals and voicework plus a tight story lead to an experience that should be had by everybody — gamer or not. It will certainly prove to be the most important game of the year in terms of influence and is an undisputed masterpiece.
1. Grand Theft Auto V
(Xbox 360 / PS3, Rockstar)
The sequel to the best reviewed game of last generation? Even better. Grand Theft Auto V took everything that made GTAIV so impactful and put it in a world more similar to San Andreas than the sometimes confining Liberty City. Three protagonists, hundreds of missions and an absolutely bonkers plot add up to an experience that epitomizes what’s so enjoyable about this franchise. The incredible thing is that the game would remain great if it didn’t even have a main mission structure — there’s simply that much to do. Whether it’s stealing fighter jets, making ridiculous jumps, submarining or playing tennis, this is a world to get lost in. Grand Theft Auto V was worth the five year wait and is the most stupendous game of the year.