2013 has come and gone. It was a year full of awesome gaming releases and major innovation in the industry. We saw the introduction of PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. We saw Nintendo 3DS solidify itself as one of the greatest handhelds of all time. We also saw PS Vita and Wii U struggle to maintain a foothold with consumers…
2013 was full of monumental, landmark releases for all major systems, both eighth and seventh gen alike. The 10 games outlined below represent the absolute best of the best that gaming offered in the year 2013, across a variety of genres and handhelds and home consoles. Some of the best games that I’ve ever played were released this year, and I highly recommend that you, as a gamer, seek out each of these 10 games and play them to completion in 2013. You won’t be disappointed.
But first, let’s go through some Honorable Mentions. Some of these games were very close to making the cut. Others received widespread critical acclaim, but I wasn’t able to play them to completion before creating this list. Perhaps if I had the time to play through every single major release that I wanted, then they would’ve made the list and knocked off other games into the Honorable Mention category, but at any rate, these games also deserve a look before you start jumping into the awesome games that are coming out in 2014.
Time now for the Honorable Mentions. These games didn’t make the cut into the actual top 10 list, but they easily could have if a variety of different factors played out somewhat differently this year. These games still deserve your attention, even if I haven’t had the chance to play through all of them personally by the end of the year.
Dead Rising 3 (Xbox One) – Despite the fact that it was clearly rushed to meet the launch day of Xbox One, Dead Rising 3 is still a hell of a lot of fun. The game features over-the-top zombie action, a story full of fan service for Dead Rising nuts, and engaging gameplay complete with an interesting city to explore. Dead Rising 3 met most of my expectations and it was one of the best Xbox One games out there. I think it’d be just silly to own an Xbox One and not own Capcom’s latest free-roaming zombie adventure.
Fire Emblem: Awakening (Nintendo 3DS) – I have played about half of Fire Emblem: Awakening, and that is all I have needed so far to know that the game is incredible. It is the most accessible entry in the series to date, providing addicting strategy action, soul-crushing insta-death gameplay mechanics, and a healthy challenge combined with sharp writing and gorgeous cut-scenes. This is honestly one of the best games I’ve played on 3DS, period. I can’t wait to finish it up in 2014.
Killzone: Mercenary (PlayStation Vita) – Killzone: Mercenary was one of the few PS Vita exclusives that actually came out in 2013. Sony hasn’t been supporting their handheld like they should be, but that hasn’t stopped Killzone: Mercenary from being great. The game is the best FPS that I’ve ever played on a handheld system, controlling like a dream, and featuring a fun, fast online component to boot. The game also just happens to be one of the best in the Killzone franchise that I’ve played so far, trumping Killzone 3 and the PS4′s Killzone: Shadow Fall, while just falling short of reaching the greatness showcased in the monumental Killzone 2 for PlayStation 3.
Knack (PlayStation 4) – I also included Knack in my Top 10 Most Underrated Games of 2013 list (link at the bottom of this article for those interested), and for good reason. Knack harkens back to the glory of days of old school platformers like Crash Bandicoot on the original PlayStation system. It is a fun, extremely challenging brawler that is just oozing with charm and its callbacks to the platformers of old are packed with a heavy dose of nostalgia. I couldn’t think of a better game to play first on your shiny new PlayStation 4 console.
NES Remix (Wii U) – Announced quietly in a Nintendo Direct at the very end of the year, NES Remix for Wii U takes classic NES games and changes them up to feature new gameplay mechanics and content in order to provide an addicting game all about getting the high score, just like the good old days in the arcades. NES Remix is a blast for anyone that grew up with the original Nintendo Entertainment System, and it is also a good way for younger gamers to experience some of the classics without having to dig out the NES and cartridges.
Tearaway (PlayStation Vita) – I deeply regret not being able to play Tearaway in 2013. Ever since it was revealed, I have been extremely impressed with the game. From the brilliant minds behind games such as the incredibly popular LittleBigPlanet series, Tearaway uses the PS Vita’s unique capabilities for truly brilliant platforming and puzzle solving segments. I am extremely excited to play the game and will purchase it any day now. It will give me a good reason to dust off my Vita, that’s for sure.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds (Nintendo 3DS) – A Link Between Worlds is now one of the highest rated 3DS games of all time, having a little over 90% average on GameRankings. I have no doubts that A Link Between Worlds is going to be an absolutely incredible experience. I received it as Christmas present, and I fully plan on playing through it start to finish and enjoying myself every minute. Unfortunately, I haven’t had the opportunity to do that yet…but I will soon! In the meantime, you can’t go wrong with Zelda, and I am sure that if I actually had the chance to play this, it would’ve been near the top of the list.
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD (Wii U) - Like I mentioned in my Top 10 Wii U Games So Far list, I am reluctant to include Wind Waker HD on these lists because it is an enhanced remake and not its own standalone game. That being said, that doesn’t keep the game from still being one of the most fantastic Zelda adventures ever crafted, and Wind Waker HD provides a brand new way to experience one of the best games ever made. Those with Wii U systems should definitely have Wind Waker HD and those that are Zelda fans should definitely have a Wii U so that they can experience this amazing game all over again.
And now on to the main event…here are the 10 best games of 2013.
10. Super Mario 3D World (Wii U)
Wii U’s library has been steadily improving to feature some truly fantastic games. The crown jewel in its lineup is Super Mario 3D World. A spiritual successor to the majorly successful Super Mario 3D Land for 3DS, 3D World features 4-player co-op in a 3D Mario for the first time in history, as well as a suite of new powerups to keep the game fresh and exciting. The level design is fantastic, the game is one of the best-looking games I’ve ever played across any platform, and the music is just as wonderful as ever. Those that were disappointed by the iconic plumber in New Super Mario Bros. U will find plenty to love in Super Mario 3D World, which is another landmark entry in the 3D Mario game series.
09. Metro: Last Light (360/PC/PS3)
I will admit that I was not a big fan of Metro 2033. However, Metro: Last Light made me change my tune about the series, featuring tighter gunplay, more intense and scary moments, a better story, and overall, just a lot more polish than the original game. Last Light is gorgeous and easily one of my favorite games of 2013. It blends survival-horror and FPS better than anything else that came out this year, that’s for sure.
08. Injustice: Gods Among Us (360/PC/PS3/PS4/PS Vita/Wii U)
Fighting games and superhero licenses obviously go together very well. A crossover between DC Comics and Mortal Kombat was the original attempt at this, but it was then realized that giving the DC characters their own fighting game, developed by industry veterans NetherRealm Studios, was the better idea. Hence, Injustice: Gods Among Us was born. With a story inspired by the fantastic Justice League cartoon, an unparalleled level of awesome superhero on superhero action, great stages based on iconic locations from the DC comic books, and a whole lot more, Injustice: Gods Among Us was my favorite fighting game to release in 2013.
07. Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Blacklist (360/PC/PS3/Wii U)
Sam Fisher has been through a lot. Now he’s even played by a different dude! Fan outrage over Blacklist because of this minor change aside, the game is actually quite good for those that bother giving it a chance. It is far more of a pure stealth game that more recent entries in the series, but it also uses some of the new mechanics that were introduced in those games to provide a smoother and overall simply better experience than ever before. Blacklist is easily one of the best games in the franchise and it makes sure that the Splinter Cell name continues to be the name everyone associates with the stealth genre.
06. Animal Crossing: New Leaf (Nintendo 3DS)
Can you really go wrong with Animal Crossing? In the summer of 2013, Nintendo 3DS owners were all patiently waiting the latest entry in the impossibly addicting Animal Crossing series. New Leaf bring a number of improvements to the franchise while retaining the charm and wonder that the series has always brought to the table. The game is one of the best games available for the system, and it provides endless hours of entertainment for anyone that picks it up. There’s always something new to see in Animal Crossing: New Leaf.
05. DmC: Devil May Cry (360/PC/PS3)
Like Splinter Cell: Blacklist, there were some hardcore Devil May Cry fans that were pretty ticked off about the newest entry in the series, DmC: Devil May Cry. Mainly, they were irritated at the fact that Dante has black hair and instead of white hair. Those that went into DmC with an open mind discovered one of the strongest entries in the series to date, with a refined and excellent combat system coupled with one of the better stories that the series has told. DmC is a roller coaster ride of badass moments and boss battles from start to finish, and it also provides quite the healthy challenge for those hardcore DmC fans that complained about this excellent game for no real good reason.
04. BioShock Infinite (360/PC/PS3)
The original BioShock game is one of my favorite games of the entire seventh generation. BioShock 2 disappointed me, but that shouldn’t have been any surprise to me considering that Ken Levine and his team, the masterminds behind the original BioShock, were not at the helm of BioShock 2, only providing minor aid to 2K Marin during the development of BioShock 2. BioShock Infinite is a return to form for the franchise, featuring vastly improved gunplay, an beautiful new world to explore, and one of the most jaw-dropping, epic stories ever told in the history of gaming. BioShock Infinite, much like the first BioShock, is a game that needs to be played to fully understand what makes it so awesome.
03. Tomb Raider (360/PC/PS3)
Crystal Dynamics did the best job possible with the Tomb Raider reboot. This new Tomb Raider feels fresh and exciting while still being very obviously a Tomb Raider game. The Tomb Raider reboot features some of the best graphics I’ve seen all generation long, brilliant voice acting work, a heart-pounding score, and a thrilling survival adventure complete with expertly designed platforming, exploration, and combat. Lara Croft has never been better. And hell, even the multiplayer that seems tacked on is competent and fun. This new Tomb Raider is a big step in the right direction for the franchise and is likely going to be remembered as one of the best Tomb Raider games ever made, if it isn’t already THE best Tomb Raider game ever made.
02. Grand Theft Auto V (360/PS3)
Those that have been keeping up with my end of the year lists may be surprised to see Grand Theft Auto V as the game I am hailing as the second best of the entire year. This is because I also included the game as #1 in my list of Top 10 Most Disappointing Games of 2013 (scroll to the bottom of this article for a link). And that is because of a couple of different reasons.
For one, the online component was a complete and utter mess. Peoples’ progress was constantly being deleted. The servers crashed frequently. GTA Online simply did not work like it should have, and this was even after a two week delay of the online component of the game. I was also disappointed that the end-game of GTA V was way too repetitive, mainly consisting of boring collect-a-thons instead of continuing to provide fun, engaging content to experience.
But that’s just a testament to how freaking good GTA V is. Grand Theft Auto V is so good that it can be the game that disappointed me the most in 2013, yet it’s also one of the best games I’ve ever played. Ignoring the initially lackluster online (which is pretty great now) and the boring end-game issues, GTA V still provides well over 30 hours of pure, non-stop enjoyment from start to finish.
Switching between the three main protagonists works like a dream. The level of detail that Rockstar put into this game is exhausting, and overall it’s one of the best gaming experiences out there. Grand Theft Auto V is incredible. It’s awe-inspiring. And it’s one of the best games of 2013, by far. Anyone with a PS3 or an Xbox 360 owes it to themselves to play this game. They will get their money’s worth.
01. The Last of Us (PS3)
The Last of Us is the best game that I played in 2013, and it’s not even really all that close. There is just so much to say about this game, which succeeds as both a piece of art and as a fun, engaging game. The Last of Us is a survival-horror game at heart, while also utilizing stealth and third-person shooter gameplay for great effect and to build scares. However, the game is a lot more than what can be described in simple genre terms.
After the best opening sequence in the history of gaming, The Last of Us continues at full speed all the way to the end credits. The game uses a combination of terrifying and incredibly deadly monsters and the threat of humans to provide a nice balance in gameplay. Environmental puzzles and deep exploration elements also keep the game enthralling from start to finish. There is never a dull moment in The Last of Us. It is incredible every step of the way.
I loved the gameplay, and the amazing story, voice acting, graphics, and all of that are just icing on the cake. The two main protagonists of the game, Ellie and Joel, are my favorite characters in any game ever made. They are the most believable, best-acted characters I’ve ever encountered in my history of playing games. I really hope to experience more adventures through their eyes, as their story is one of the most spellbinding and heartbreaking that I’ve ever seen. No one is going to be able to predict how The Last of Us turns out, and that’s also part of the charm of the whole experience.
The Last of Us also features a great multiplayer mode that demands strategy and is very challenging. In stark contrast to games like Call of Duty, the multiplayer in The Last of Us demands that players actively work together in order to be successful. It plays on elements from the single player story mode in cool ways, but it also feels like its own extremely polished experience.
Rarely would I ever suggest that someone should go out and buy a new console only for one game, but I would do that for The Last of Us. Of course, if you don’t have a PS3 yet, there are plenty of other PS3 exclusives that you missed out on, but The Last of Us is an absolute must-play for anyone even remotely interested in gaming. It will blow you away and you’ll never forget your time spent with Joel and Ellie.
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Yes, 2013 was a great year for gaming. Which games of 2013 did you enjoy the best? What game is your own Game of the Year? Have your own top 10 list to share? Sound off in the comments below!
For more of the year’s best (and worst), check out these lists:
This editorial series will continue with one final entry coming this week, detailing the 10 games we’re most excited to play in 2014! So stay tuned to Cheat Masters in the coming days!