Being strapped for cash is one of the hardest things to endure during 2013, a year which saw two new console launches and impressive, quality game support on the Wii U, 360 and PS3. Plenty of stellar titles came out this year, including a game that is quite possibly one of the best of the 360/PS3/WII generation and an overflow of handheld support from both Nintendo and Sony. I have never been an avid handheld gamer, but 2013 saw me tip my hat off to some of the best gaming on a handheld in a very long time.
Still, arriving at a list for my Top 10 Games was not easy, despite the fact my gaming hours seemed to drop significantly this year with my lack of a steady monetary flow. I still managed to get my hands on a wide assortment of titles ranging from the high-budget shooters to the lesser known Indie titles.
Although my list might lack some of the next-gen games that arrived, the current crop of systems that are still hanging around are proving to be harder to get rid of as the games that are still being released are some of the best gaming has to offer.
10. Metro: Last Light – PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Metro 2033 was one of my favorite games of 2010 and I am a huge sucker for post-apocalyptic settings. So naturally I was looking forward to this game for a few years now. A great story, chilling vibe and interesting Karma system that rewards you based on the decisions you make throughout add to the overall suspense of the world. Although a little rough around the edges in a few areas and not quite as heart-pumping as the first game, Last Light still managed to keep me hooked from start to finish, a rare feat in today’s market of over saturated shooters.
9. Sly Cooper: Thieves In Time – PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita
My interest in gaming really took off a little more than a decade ago when I got into the platformer craze of the PS2, with the Sly Cooper games dominating alongside fellow Sony brands Jak & Daxter and Ratchet and Clank. Thieves in Time follows in the footsteps of the PS2 trilogy with a fun story that centers around Sly and friends time-traveling across the globe to recapture the Cooper family legacy.
It is a fun adventure that only true diehard fans will enjoy, as the game is really easy and seems to be catered to a younger audience, but with the brilliant cel-shading artistic style and multiple character control, Thieves in Time remains as one of the best titles of 2013 and a valuable Sony brand for years to come.
8. BioShock Infinite – Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC
If you checked out our Best Games of the Gen feature, you might have noticed that BioShock stands at the top of my list as the best. The atmosphere, story and combat delivered one of the best experiences in gaming of the past decade. To say BioShock Infinite was one of my most anticipated games could be considered an understatement, as it brought me back to the fantasy setting I have talked about for years.
Although the game falls short in terms of a gripping plot and setting that the original brought, Infinite still had plenty of great firefights atop Columbia and the ending left many people talking months after the credits rolled, a testament to the true power of the BioShock name.
7. Pokemon X/Y – Nintendo 3DS
The first Pokemon game on the 3DS also saw the biggest update to the series in years. Players could now explore completely three-dimensional worlds, compete in four-on-four battles and embrace the completely overhauled online modes which lets players house Pokemon in the Bank or trade and battle random players.
With 69 new Pokemon (bringing the total up to 718!), Mega Evolutions, new battle mechanics and a truly impressive anime art style, it is no wonder that Pokemon X/Y became the fastest-selling game on the 3DS. A must-own in any 3DS owner’s collection.
6. Battlefield 4 – PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
The true heavyweight of the online shooter wars, EA’s series saw refined changes to the multiplayer to help propel it as one of the best games on the market. Visually stunning levels add to the effect as buildings crumble effortlessly as teams battle in vehicle or on foot. The sheer size of every match is what holds Battlefield 4 head and shoulders above the rest, and up to 64 players can go head-to-head on the PC and next-gen consoles.
That topped together with the balanced soldier classes and progressive leveling up system helps make Battlefield a steady, enjoyable shooter that fans will surely still be playing years down the line.
5. Super Mario 3D World – Wii U
This game truly brought me back to the days when I used to sit inside on the weekend and roam around the world of Mario 64, admiring the originality and beauty of every designed level. Super Mario 3D World brings back that sense of creativity but completely flips it on its head in one of the most enjoyable and charming games of the year.
Playing a side-scrolling, 3D game in the vein of the original Mario games never felt so natural and the ability to control multiple characters and use different abilities only adds to the amount of time I will be going back to try out every single little secret this game has to offer. Nintendo truly knows how to reinvent its best franchises, and Super Mario 3D World is hands-down the titular must-own game on the Wii U.
4. Grand Theft Auto V – PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
As far as high-budget games come, GTAV tops them all in 2013. As one of the most popular brands in gaming, Grand Theft Auto V had a lot of shoes to fill in order to maintain the quality that gamers everywhere are accustomed to by the popular series. Never one to disappoint, Rockstar beautifully recreated a stunning likeness of Southern California with one of the most massively open-ended worlds ever.
The ability to control three players during the story and switch between them on a whim was brilliant and it allowed players to freely move around the world at their own leisure and tackle the game’s endless hours of missions any way they please. The online mode, although ambitious, falls slightly short of expectations due to the overwhelming allotment of “poor sport” players who can ruin the fun for everyone else. But that small knock is just a minor blip in what is not only a contender for Game of the Year, but the best entry to the Grand Theft Auto series yet.
3. Tomb Raider – Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
The full-fledged reboot saw the origins of Lara Croft and her journey to becoming a Tomb Raider. I whole-heartedly admit that I never expected to like this game, as I am not a huge fan of prequels. How quickly my mind changed when I started playing as Tomb Raider soon became one of my favorite titles of the year.
The wide range of weapons and tools at your disposal make exploration and combat fun to alternate between and the intensity of the game’s realism (it is downright brutal and unforgiving in what it shows you) make the story and characters come alive. Hopefully this is the start of a great new awakening for the Tomb Raider series, as it can easily reclaim the adventure status back from Uncharted.
2. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds – Nintendo 3DS
You got to hand it to Nintendo, when it comes to their staple franchises, they know how to redefine the games while staying true to their origins. A Link Between Worlds is true to that testament, with a beautiful world fully come to life thanks to the 3DS’s amazing capabilities.
A sequel to my all-time favorite Zelda game, A Link Between Worlds might be a bit on the easy side but it still offers up that Zelda flair, complete with a great cast of characters and a great new ability that lets Link turn into a painting to slide along walls. Fans will be hard-pressed to find a better game to own on the 3DS than this one.
1. The Last of Us – PlayStation 3
Naughty Dog. I feel like that name and the number one spot are synonymous with one another. The Last of Us continues that trend as it delivered the best experience in gaming for 2013. Top notch visuals, a terrific setting and Hollywood caliber acting lend to one of the most horrifying and emotional games of the last decade.
The Last of Us also was no stranger to tugging on the heart-strings, and the devastation of a world torn apart by nature was expertly portrayed in the vicious enemies you encounter, whether human or not, and the heartbreaking scenarios for which Joel and Ellie often found themselves in. Naughty Dog deserves immense credit for delivering quality title after quality title, and The Last of Us shines as being not only the top game of 2013, but one of the best of this generation as well.
While I didn’t get my hands on any of the new hardware 2013 brought, there were still plenty of great games to keep my attention (and wallet) diverted. I found myself coming back into the handheld market fold, playing great games that further implemented my new 3DS purchase. I also got to play sequels to some of my favorite franchises and witness some of the best storytelling of any year in recent memory.
By the end of 2014 I expect to own all three of the new systems, but hopefully there will still be enough support for every system out there for one more year. Until than, happy gaming to everyone in 2014!
[…] Josh Schwartzman, Staff Writer […]