The halfway point to 2013 has already come and gone. The summer has been jam packed full of next-gen console news and titles, and as always the tour of trade shows and expos have provided many things to discuss and bitch about.
While the industry as a whole takes a look towards the future I figured it’d be a great time to do some reflection on the past. Namely, a look back at ten of the best games that have come out in 2013. This list is obviously opinion based, and is only made up of games I’ve personally played (Duh), so please don’t take offense if your favorite obscure indie title doesn’t show up. I’m predominantly a console gamer who eats up triple-A titles, but a few mobile games have definitely left a positive impression on my big budget loving tendencies.
Without further adieu here’s my picks for the best games of the first 6 months of 2013 in no particular order:
10. Dead Space 3
The Dead Space franchise has been one of the best this generation, and the third entry is a solid bookend to the previous two. The core gameplay slightly changed to reflect the inclusion of co-op, but overall Visceral still provided an experience that felt natural within the universe they created. It’s a shame that this sequel didn’t do too well on the sales chart, because this franchise deserves praise. Hopefully some new life will be given to it on the next-gen platforms. (Full review)
9. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
Going into this spin-off of the Metal Gear franchise I didn’t have any preconceived thoughts on what to expect. I had never played a Metal Gear game outside of the NES version, so the whole world was new and fresh to me. Raiden and his cybernetic powers are a blast to play with. The focus on precision swordplay made every battle feel like a commercial for Ginsu knives, as I sliced and diced my way through legions of organic based cyborgs. The over-the-top action is straight out of a super charged anime film, and the gameplay is challenging, but not punishing (except for the final boss, that guy sucks.) (Full review)
8. Tomb Raider
The rebooted Tomb Raider game was the first title of 2013 to really leave a mark on my gaming career. I had played the originals on the PS1, but since then I’ve abandoned Lara’s over-sized chest torpedoes.
The new, less busty Lara is hands down one of the, if not the strongest female lead character in all of gaming. Her rebooted debut is a thing of beauty, and the open world jungle setting with mysterious powers is a perfect place to explore her budding talents. Unfortunately, just like Dead Space 3, Tomb Raider didn’t do so well in the sales department, which is a shame. Luckily, a new game has already been announced, so it seems as if the new Lara will indeed get a second chance to win over fans. (Full review)
7. BioShock Infinite
It’s safe to say that I’m not the only game-journo who will be putting this game on these types of lists throughout 2013. Ken Levine and his team at Irrational crafted one of the greatest, thought provoking video game narratives of all-time. The world of Columbia is a strange, yet intriguing locale that will constantly have you wondering what exactly is going on. The true power of this game comes in its last 20 minutes during the ending and epilogue scenes. There aren’t many games that can get me to stew on their plots for days after they’re completed, but Infinite kept my neurons engaged just like a great sci-fi film. It’s clear that this game is special, and it will easily be a strong contender for game of the year. (Full review)
6. Injustice: Gods Among Us
If it weren’t clear before, it is now. NetherRealm makes the best story driven fighting games on the planet. The single player campaign in Injustice features one of the greatest, and darkest DC Comic tales I’ve ever witnessed. The whole parallel universe trick worked perfectly in this fighter, and allowed Ed Boon and his team to play with the large stable of DC characters like they were their own. The actual fighting action is also top-notch, and each villain and superhero is a blast to learn to master. The content keeps coming for this title, so it’s now packed full of more fighters and skins than ever before. Fans of DC and fighting games can’t miss out on this superb beat ‘em up. (Full review)
This selection will surely cause some controversy, but that’s the great thing about opinion-based lists like this. It’s just one gamer’s opinion, you don’t have to agree ;)
Fuse’s simplistic gameplay and repetitive cover-based gun fights just spoke to my inner gamer. The team dynamic and special weapons made each battle feel like an alien infused Fourth of July spectacular. The look and sound of the world may have not been unique, but both were executed with a high level of detail. Playing solo isn’t as fun as playing with three other humans, but the AI can hold its own for nearly the entire game (still not sure why they all go dumb during the final boss.) The fact that each character can be leveled up between the campaign and multiplayer is a bonus, so there is a fair amount of replay value to Fuse. It’s not a reinvention of the third person cover-based shooter, but Fuse still provides many hours of mindless fun with your friends.
4. Contra: Evolution
This mobile remaster of the NES Contra game is hands down one of the best editions of this side-scrolling classic. Its HD visuals and surprisingly responsive virtual controls make it a great pick up and play time waster for those dull moments in life. The developers decided to add an auto-fire to make the virtual controls less sucky, and while I appreciated them, they do make this rather challenging game much simpler. Regardless, this is a title that will still test your patience and skill, and it looks better than it ever has before. Best of all, it only costs $.99. A dollar is definitely worth investing in some video game nostalgia! (Full review)
3. XCOM: Enemy Unknown for iOS
For all intents and purposes this is the exact same game that came out for consoles last year, but now it sports touch-based controls and mobile gameplay. The formula from the console version isn’t compromised in the slightest outside of noticeable graphical differences due to the lack of horsepower on the iOS devices it was ported to. The whole turn-based RTS genre is a natural choice for touch controls and mobile gameplay, and XCOM: EU is a perfect example of how this experiment can work, and work well. If you played the console version the mobile game may feel a little stale, but it’s still a worthy title to add to your collection if you can justify the high $19.99 price tag. (Full review)
2. Animal Crossing: New Leaf
There was a point in time where I honestly considered using my 3DS as a glorified paper weight. The mobile game machine just never resonated with me, and there were no games that truly interested me to the point of wanting to play them.
That was until Animal Crossing: New Leaf. Since picking up this infinitely replayable title I haven’t been able to put my 3DS down. In fact, it made me upgrade to a 3DS XL just to get a better view of my burgeoning town full of furries! The gameplay consists of manual labor and digging yourself out of debt, but something about it is charming, and quite addictive. I look forward to spending time in my town each and every day, and as of right now I don’t see that passion fading for quite some time. Animal Crossing: New Leaf made the 3DS relevant again to me, and more importantly it raised Nintendo’s stock, so there’s a great chance that this isn’t the last entry in the franchise. (Opinion piece)
1. The Last of Us
BioShock Infinite was the clear front runner for 2013′s game of the year award until Naughty Dog released The Last of Us. This post-pandemic drama is a thing of beauty in both its design and narrative. Just like BI, The Last of Us features an impactful tale with memorable characters that could actually make you feel something for them. It didn’t need to blow your mind with parallel dimensions and multiverse theory either.
The characters of Joel and Ellie are now one of the best gaming duos of all-time. Ellie is nearly as strong as Lara Croft as far as female video game characters go, and Joel is a grim reminder of what humans will do to protect the ones they love. This game puts most post-apocalyptic franchises across any medium to shame, and if it weren’t a video game there’s no doubt that it’d be on a best sellers list somewhere. (Full review)
There you have it folks, the definitive best games of 2013 list (I kid.) In all seriousness, this year has been full of surprises and a solid lineup of big budget games. With just over four months to go it’ll be interesting to see if this list grows, or even adds a next-gen title or two. Feel free to weigh-in with your own opinions after the break. Just try to leaving the trolling at home, because after all, opinions are just one person’s feelings. It’s OK to not agree, and it’s OK to agree. Have at it!
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