Compiled, revised and formatted by Gabe Carey
Images added and resized by each section's respective authors
Bram's Game of the Year Picks
By Bram Berg
Thinking back at the games I played this year names like Uncharted, Fallout and Bioshock flock my mind. But sadly they were released in 2011 and 2012, not 2013. Damn.
I have all the games that were released this year (and I own) in front of me. Grand Theft Auto V, Ratchet and Clank: Into the Nexus, Zelda: A Link Between Worlds and Pokemon X. A really small amount, especially for a videogame journalist. But, I spent most of this year catching up with games I missed.
Looking through them I really want to put something like Borderlands 2 or Far Cry 3 here. But sadly, my experience with them is limited to what I played when visiting friends of mine (and that's not much). Therefore I don't deem myself in a position to put them here. Instead it's a competition between GTA V and well… nothing else really. I guess Ratchet and Clank could compete but it just belongs to a different class (so does GTA V really) so I guess I'll have to leave this one blank. But from what I experienced, Borderlands 2 offered a solid memorable multiplayer experience and Far Cry 3 and Bioshock Infinite were the single player champs.
Best Role-Playing Game (RPG)
Pokemon X & Y and The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
Ah, this is a more interesting competition. You see, there are two titles (both from Nintendo) that stand out. Sure there are others, but Nintendo's RPG's tend to be my favourites. They are Zelda: A Link Between Worlds and Pokemon X/Y.
If I would let my emotions decide this one then Pokemon would win by miles. You see, Pokemon has a special place in my heart and this one won its own room. When I was in Primary school I was bullied a lot and I didn't have any friends. Back then, Pokemon was my life. I spent all my time playing Pokemon, watching Pokemon and building decks. Then eventually (a bit after I'd gone to Secondary school) I lost interest. Pokemon X was my entry back in to the series and it didn't let me down. It gave me the same experience I loved as a kid, with everything I dreamed of having in a Pokemon game.
But, it also had it's downsides, it was a bit easy and didn't give me that sense of adventure that I crave (and that Zelda was all to generous about). I simply walked along the path that was pointed out for me reading text I was shown and battling the monsters I faced.
Zelda on the other hand gave me a true sense of adventure. This is probably the best Zelda experience I've had yet (note: I'm not finished with Zelda yet, but I'm far enough to have the feeling that I can give a solid opinion on the game). Yes, the game was easy, but despite that I could (can) still have fun. This game was the polar opposite of Pokemon in terms of story and linearity. In Zelda you were simply told to do a bunch of things, given a few map markers and left to do what you wish. It was up to you to decide how you wanted to do things and I love that in a game.
But, I feel the two are too different to put them up against each other. So you know what, I'm putting this in a different category.
Best Adventure Game
The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
Pokemon and Zelda are both RPG's. But they're still worlds apart. Zelda is more of an Adventure game while Pokemon is more of a JRPG. I just can't pick one out and say it's better than the other. Zelda wins the best Adventure title and Pokemon wins the RPG title.
Best Action Game
Grand Theft Auto V
Grand Theft Auto V wins this spot without a doubt (okay, I may have interpreted "Action game" a bit wrong, but hey, this game has lots of action). GTA V is one of the few games ever that captured me and dragged me through it without losing my attention. I literally played this game non stop until long after I completed it. Every bit of it was perfect, the graphics, the story, the freedom, everything. But that did bring it's own "first world problem": it goes by too quickly. After you finish the game you're left with the feeling that it should have been longer. You want more, you need more.
Grand Theft Auto V
Again, Grand Theft Auto V wins the spotlight. I want to put The Last Of Us here, but I haven't played enough of it to feel good about doing that. Grand Theft Auto V still gives a solid story with solid acting that won't let you down. Staying in the typical GTA mood, it sets itself aside by focusing on three different people from complete different backgrounds and guides you from how they meet to there road to success.
Ratchet, Ratchet & Clank: Into the Nexus
I give this one to Ratchet. Ratchet and Clank was the first game I played on the ps2 and I've loved Ratchet ever since I first put that first game in my system. I've played nearly every Ratchet and Clank game and I must say, I love what they did with this game. Not only with the whole setting and story, but also the connections (in character developement) whith previous games. This game really shows how much Ratchet has grown up since the previous games and I just love that.
[Minor Ratchet and Clank: Into the Nexus and A Crack in Time spoilers]
In A Crack In Time Ratchet wouldn't stop at anything to bring back the Lombax race, now he sees his mistakes and wants to prevent Vendra from making the same mistake he almost made. When Clank asks Ratchet if he would bring back the Lombaxes if he could, he says no. Because he has found his place here.
Game of the Year
Grand Theft Auto V
I don't think this needs much explanation, GTA V was a great ending for the ps3′s life. It truly shows what the ps3 was capable of and shows what games in general are capable of. After seeing the success of GTA V, it's massive sales, great graphics and gripping story, I just can't help but feel excited for the future of videogames.
Micah's Game of the Year Picks
Spoiler Alert: He really likes Shadow Warrior.
By Micah Dettweiler
Bioshock Infinite may have a compelling story, but you get down to pure, visceral combat, Shadow Warrior takes the day. Dodges and combos keep you on the move as you shoot, slice and ignite your enemies, voicing cheesy one-liners at regular intervals. Over-the-top weapons complete the mood, among them a four-barreled shotgun, a Van Helsing type rotating crossbow, and the laser-spewing heads of recently decapitated enemies.
Best Action Game
All the same reasons as listed above.
If, by acting, you mean cramming as many clever one-liners as possible into each cutscene.
Game of the Year
You may be wondering if Shadow Warrior is the only game I've played this year. In fact, most of the games I play were not released in 2013 (Skyrim, Crusader Kings II, Half-Life 2, Mass Effect, Minecraft). Shadow Warrior is not the only game I've played that was released this year, but it is in, in my opinion, the only good one I've played.
Contrast fails to take advantage of its one big concept: switching dimensions. The story also made me dislike every single NPC, even the ones that I was supposed to be rooting for.
Nathaniel Liles' Game of the Year Picks
By Nathaniel Liles
In this age of made-to-order built-for-profit games being build off of the Call of Duty series, it's extremely refreshing to see a shooter take a step outside of the brown color palette that's become so overused. Crysis 3 spices up the usual formulaic shooter by carrying over the jungle environments from the previous Crysis games, adding a splash of color and a new style of play to go with the new environment. Top that off with intuitive weapon customization and the powers granted to you by your suit, Crysis 3 was an engaging experience that I'll revisit again and again.
Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch
I've always been a sucker for Studio Ghibli's art style, incredible eye for details, and wholesome, meaningful storytelling, and every bit of that transfers over to Ni No Kuni. It doesn't try to reinvent the wheel. Instead, it takes the wheel, makes it a shiny, beautiful wheel, and uses that wheel to move you through an emotional tale characteristic of the studio at the helm while taking proven-to-work mechanics from the best RPGs of the past to bring us a solid, balanced experience.
Super Mario 3D World
Now, I can't be the only one who was scared for the Wii U. With people ganging up against it, it was hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. The Wii U needed that one killer app to make it relevant in the now current gen, and Super Mario 3D World is that killer app and more. The game is absolutely gorgeous, smooth as butter, inventive, and a welcome change from Nintendo's recent flood of New Super Somebody Bros. games. Seeing the 3D freedom of Super Mario 64 blended with the linear, challenging pace of classic 2D Mario classics was a breath of fresh air, and one that may have single-handedly saved the Wii U.
Best Action Game
Saints Row 4
This game is silly. You put a dress on and eat pancakes. You run around naked. You fight aliens and steal their cybernetic war tanks after sliding under them to punch them in their alien grifflemayors, and one of the most damaging weapons in the game fires dubstep. Combine that with one of the most all-inclusive and creativity-encouraging character builders I've ever seen, a ludicrous plot, and the story-mandated God-mode that you're quickly granted, and you're got a recipe for one of the most fun and memorable gaming experiences of all time. Now, as you're running at mach two as a transgender clown covered in metallic blue paint, just try and tell me you're not having the time of your life.
Best Indie Game
The Stanley Parable
Completely brilliant writing carries this game through, no doubt, and many would debate whether or not this is a "game" as much as an interactive "experience", but as far as I'm concerned, this distinction has little to do with the goal that The Stanley Parable so completely accomplished: I had a complete and total blast playing this game, and you did too. Completely unpredictable and inventive beyond belief, The Stanley Parable pushes you to try new and odd things in a constantly looping sequence of events, but it does so in a way that makes you want to keep playing forever and ever. Knowing the gamer well enough to reward us for breaking the game and doing things in an unconventional way displays an amount of care and attention to detail that not only deserves investigation, but encourages thinking outside the box in a way more deep and rewarding than raising your Gamerscore.
Best Strategy Game
Fire Emblem: Awakening
I hadn't played a Fire Emblem game since Sacred Stones for the GBA, and that was just a punishing experience for young me, so when I sat down to give Awakening a try, I was uneasy about the oncoming slaughter that would soon be enacted on my face parts. Luckily, the series has grown with me, boasting the same depth and difficulty that kicked my ass in my younger days, only this time around, it's done even better. This is, for all intents and purposes, a perfect strategy game, and an extremely tense experience, especially for someone as bad as I am at planning ahead. This is a deeply rewarding and challenging experience with some of the most gorgeous visuals the 3DS has ever produced all wrapped up nicely in an involving and emotional story that will not disappoint any fan of the series new or old.
I cannot believe the perfect level of balance this game accomplished. I truly can't. The art style was a perfect blend of realistic and exaggerated, the characters were compelling and the story was fresh, but all of that would've meant so much less if it wasn't for the flawless delivery of every line of dialogue in Bioshock Infinite. The characters shine and their interactions feel heavily meaningful thanks to the masterful writing and execution of the dialogue adding up to one of the most immersive and encompassing games of our time.
Yep, two entries in a row, and it's here for the exact same reason that it was in the last category, and I'm not going to mince words here: I played this game twice through within the span of a weekend, completing my first playthrough in a single night, and then going back to revisit all the little continuity nods that were present from the very beginning. This game is a masterpiece of interwoven themes and ideas, all culminating in an exciting and deeply satisfying return to Rapture. Now, while it all may not make sense as soon as you finish your first playthrough, doing the small bit of research I had to do to understand the story made me excited to play through the game again in a way that I haven't been in a long, long time.
Elizabeth, Bioshock Infinite
Again, here for a reason. When you originally meet Elizabeth, she falls into the tired video game trope of video game damsel in distress. "Oh, look, the princess is locked in the evil man's tower, better go rescue her" I originally thought to myself. Of course, after that, she spends the rest of the game being the entire driving force for the story and saving your asscheeks from terrible doom, not because she fits so neatly into the damsel in distress cliché, but because she deviates so well from that in a way that's compelling and deep. When her true origins are finally revealed, her role takes on a huge new level of depth and importance, and getting to see her reinvented in Burial at Sea was a treat. Having her in the main game was one of the dominating factors making Bioshock Infinite one of the greatest games of our time, serving both as a platform for a fantastic story and an interesting reinvention of the dynamic a female character can play in a video game.
Game of the Year
Super Mario 3D World
Super Mario 3D World may not have had the 2 billion super-dollar budget of many of the other games released this year, and it may not have been an important step forward in the "video games are art" argument, but when deciding on a singular Game of the Year, things start to get a little complicated. I ask myself, "How do I weigh the option? How do I choose just one? Do I base it on how compelling the story was, or how many hours I willingly spent in this world?" and debate and become deeply confused and just lost. Many fully outstanding games were released this year, no doubt, and while the tired formula of Mario games continues to be followed in Super Mario 3D World, it succeeds on a level that few other games ever had, and I've chosen it because of this fact. This is one of the most fun games I've ever played, and that has always been the purpose of gaming for me, specifically, and seeing a game like this arrive in all of its gorgeous, high resolution glory was a reminder of why I ever started playing games to begin with. This game filled me with childlike wonder and fun in a way that few other games have, and scratched an itch that was in dire need of scratching.
Final Fantasy: All The Bravest
*primal screams that echo in the night and fill the most adamant souls with the fear and loneliness of ONE THOUSAND WINTERS OF STRIFE AND EXILE* This… Game… This game represents every single thing that is going wrong in the gaming industry, and is a horrible statement about Square Enix, who haven't exactly been gaming's saving grace in the last generation. FFATB is a shameless cash grab, designed solely to suck the life and cash out of the only people who would ever buy this game in the first place: Final Fantasy's existing die-hard fanbase. If you can think of something more evil than preying on the people who've facilitated your rise to glory, I'm sure Square has something similar in the works. Maybe next they'll release a line of pay-as-you-go toe stubbers, but until then, we're left with All The Bravest, a self-playing travesty of an addition to Square's already price-gouging and soulless mobile lineup.
Patrick's Game of the Year Picks
By Patrick Lacey
While Payday 2 was not one of the big 2 FPS that came out this year, it did, in my opinion, bring a lot more to the table. Don't get me wrong I like Call of Duty and Battlefield, they don't bring anything that drastically different each year. However, Payday 2 hands down improved the original which was already an amazing game. The mechanics are good, the design is good and it had me playing for hours at a time. It also cost a fraction of the price that the big titles cost. All in all a great game.
This is hardly a surprise to anyone who has played this game. Not only did this swap the underwater lands of Rapture for an interesting new design of a floating Columbia, but it brought in one of the best stories I've seen. It has some of the better combat mechanics, great graphics, hilarious glitches and short bursts of pure brilliance, it hands down beats other RPGs such as AC4.
Best Action Game
Grand Theft Auto V
The game everyone had been waiting for, and it turned out good. GTA V povided players with an impressive story, classic GTA online and actually gave players a benefit for their mistake.The only thing I can really fault on this game would be the lack of PC which from what I heard was not down to Rockstar. I've not played many action games this year, so this probably isn't everyone's idea of the best action game but it is mine.
Best Indie Game
The game no-one has heard of. I wrote a review on this game fairly early in my blogging career and I was blown away by what I found. A mix between Minecraft and Binding of Isaac is the perfect combination for a little indie game that can blow your socks off. Hours of pixel exploding fun.
Best Strategy Game
A late bloomer in the video game industry this year was Civilisation V, taking a more grown up approach to historical strategy. Civilisation provides the most fun, skilled and challenging experience of the development of humanity on the market. Well worth the hours it takes to win a game.
Beyond: Two Souls
Ah, everyone else thinks that The Last of Us has some amazing acting for a PS3 exclusive, but the other story based exclusive of the year is what had me hooked. The emotion portrayed by the actors behind this game made me feel like I was watching a highly interactive movie rather than playing a game. It even had me close to tears at one point. I was considering Last of Us but I guess this just took the biscuit for me.
Anyone who has played this game understands why it needs no explanation. The plot twists, the character development, all of it just leads to the best story experience of 2013. I mean, Last of US story was pretty good but the ending just made me think "What? Why?" whereas Bioshock it was like "Holy mother of Jesus that was fantastic!". an obvious choice. Best Character Elizabeth (Bioshock Infinite)
Maybe it's because of how incredibly useful she was in game (fetching ammo, money and health) or the fact she was one of the best developed characters I've seen. Either way I loved Elizabeth. The fact she comes back in DLC's as different forms of herself just adds to her character. She is also a key aspect to the story and the crazy inception that comes at the end. Great character in a great game.
Game of the Year
Whether it's due to the fact it won 3 of my choices or just how insanely awesome the game is, this is my personal Game of the Year of 2013. A great story, good acting, good mechanics, good characters, and good DLC, this game is the package.
A really bad Angry Birds Space clone that costs a lot more. Blew my money on it as it looked promising but regret everything. My latest review pretty much explains this decision.
Anthony's Game of the Year Picks
By Anthony Dennis
Bioshock Infinite I would have to say, would be my most favourite game of 2013. With an absolutely gripping story, memorable characters and a fascinating new world, Infinite has strayed away from previous titles in the Bioshock series and has ended up on the wacky new world of Columbia. You are tasked with rescuing a strange girl and along the way you discover fascinating new powers that give you an edge over all of the other foes. Infinite is a great game and a highly recommended title for anyone.
Ni No Kuni Wrath of the White Witch.
Ni No Kuni is a fantastic little RPG that is cute whilst also being a challenge at the same time. The whole game is set in a beautiful cartoon style world where everything is not as it seems. As you explore this world you begin to see just how detailed and beautiful everything is. The gameplay is a Pokémon style of play that sees little monsters fighting by your side. This game goes for about 50 hours and is one of the best and fun RPG Games I have ever played.
Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D
DKCR is a fantastic 3DS title that is based of the original game made 2 to 3 years ago on the WII. DKCR sees players smash, swing, and climb their way along a side scrolling sort of level system until they reach the end of the level. All of the bad guys in this game are the same as the WII game but the experience is completely different on the 3DS. This is a fun and enjoyable game for anyone who likes platformers.
Best Action Game
Assassin's Creed Black Flag
The first time I booted up AC Black Flag I was astonished at just the menus. Having come from AC 3 I was expecting the same sort of gameplay and the same sort of repetitive missions as the other AC games. I was so wrong! AC Black Flag is a fantastic action game that sees players sailing the high seas in in search of booty (literally) This is by far the best AC game out there and one of the best action games on any console or PC.
Best Indie Game
Limbo is what happens when art direction and gameplay become one. The game's simple, with only the most basic controls and interactions, but its striking look and mysterious tone make it instantly compelling. As a little boy who awakens in a gloomy, monochromatic forest, your goals are simply to find your sister and escape the woods. Along the way, you'll die many gruesome deaths, in a system of puzzle solving the developers aptly named "trial and death.
Best Strategy Game
Total War Rome 2
Total War :Rome II integrates in itself one of the best-known periods in World History combining cinematic and large real-time battles and wars in a campaign style mode. You will get to become the first superpower of the world and get to command the vastest and incredible war machine ever to be built in the ancient world. You can dominate your enemies by using all political, economic and military means.
The Last of Us
The Last of Us has one of the most fascinating and touching stories that I have ever seen in a videogame. The massive amount of emotion involved in the story of The Last of Us is unrivalled. The characters (Joel and Ellie) are amongst my favourites for the year.
Booker is my favourite Character for 2013 because he is a torn and emotional person who can't remember who his daughter is. He is struggling in his mission and he does not know why he really is doing what he is doing. Where as at the same time he is a strong and unforgiving person with a grudge that can't be shaken.
Game Of The Year
Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
Assassin's Creed Black Flag is what gaming is about. it has a strong story, fantastic gameplay, and memorable characters whilst at the same time it is a joy to play. This game makes the top of my list because I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of this game and I would re play it any day of the week.
As I was waiting in line to purchase this game I was thinking to myself ; gee this looks fun and I can't wait to play it. never have I been so wrong in all of my life. The gameplay is repetitive and extremely boring and there is never any real change in scenery in this game either. One of the worst games I have brought in 2013 unfortunately.
Thomas's Game of the Year Picks
By Thomas Rolls
Best Shooter Bioshock Infinite I really enjoyed this game, especially the story and the characters. The dystopiaofColumbia coughs up some great enemies, such as the Handyman which required more than just pointing and shooting to bring down. The skyline provided a fast paced feel to combat and made it feel much more open, like a city in the sky should feel. The ending really really made me think, and the ending to the first DLC Burial at Sea Episode 1 has left me buzzing for episode 2.
Best Action Game Assassins Creed: Black Flag Action in this game is almost always fluent, exciting and looks amazing (on PS4
) The pirates of the Caribbean setting is done really well, from the various island locations to singing the pirate shanties to sailing your very own ship the Jackdaw. The ship battles are fast paced and intense, leaving little to no room to catch a breath. The assassins are there, but take a while to get really involved. However this may have been because I kept getting distracted on my way to story missions. This isn't a bad thing in my books. The fact I would stop my progress through the story of the game for side missions alone shows how much I enjoyed catching ships and exploring the locations.
Best Strategy Game Total War: Rome 2 Total War:Rome 2 is the most recent installment to the Total War series, and with Rome: Total War as a predecessor it had a lot to live up to. And it did to a certain extent. However, with a truck load of mods, it is the absolutely the best strategy game out this year. The range of factions is one of the things I like the most, each with its own starting position and traits. The battles have so much detail, each individual unit looks beautiful and you can't beat a head to head charge of Romans versus barbarians.
Best Acting The Last of Us
It has to be the Last of Us; no other game has such individuality and emotion portrayed in its characters. Hero, villain or bystander, all characters have a story, a way of coping, and attitude to life. It makes it seem so real, or at the very least believable. Every action, reaction and emotion is justified, and we experience all of these with Joel and Ellie on their epic adventure. Best Story The Last of Us This game… It took effort just to put down the controller. I was gripped in by the two characters and their journey against the world. The way the story went was perfect all the way through, and seeing the alternatives the creators could have chosen i don't think it could have been better. Alongside the main story there are many others, which you can follow through character dialogue, diary entries and the writing on the walls which very much set a feeling for the locations you are playing through.
Best Character Trevor Phillips, GTA V This guy breaks all stereotypes we have for Canadians in the UK. This guy is a bad ass who couldn't give a single fuck about the people he's out to hurt. The first thing you do as Trevor is kill a guy whose Girlfriend Trevor just fooled around with, then massacre a whole trailer park of bikers. When switching to Trevor you may find him getting out of a bed where a man in a pink onesie is sobbing or hitting a man tied to a support under the pier in only his underwear, black van close to hand. Stephen Fry tweeted this about Trevor: I have to say that Trevor in GTA V is not a very nice man at all… dear me. However, what distinguishes Trevor from all the other violent nut jobs (The Joker, Deadpool…) is that he cares for his friends, no matter what. Michael faked his death, took all the money and didn't contact Trevor at all. Nine years on when Trevor finds Micheal and moves to confront him, he instead jumps straight to Micheal's side to rescue his daughter from televised embarrassment. A truly, truly awesome character.
[Original article: b-ten.com]
So that was our GOTY nomination over at B-Ten (I'm proud to be all at the top), there's another one coming up for the editors but apparently I'm not an editor…. ah well. Oh and we now have a subreddit (suck on that Kotaku!): /r/bten.