2013 was an interesting year for gaming. Not only did Sony and Microsoft’s next generation consoles come out in most regions, there where also some surprisingly good games released on the old systems. Additionally, though Nintendo kept struggling convincing people to buy a Wii U, some great games did arrive on their first HD console. Here are my 10 favorite games released in 2013.
The Last of Us
The Last of Us is Naughty Dog’s last PlayStation 3 game. After three successful Uncharted games, the laurelled studio had one more trick up its sleeve. For this title they shifted from the lighthearted adventure blockbuster to a depressing and dark world where only the strongest survive. Players followed the bitter Joel and young Ellie on their journey across an apocalyptic America, and watched a story unfold where the morality of society doesn’t apply anymore. The game featured gameplay focused on survival, giving players the ability to sneak past enemies, collect materials and forge their own weapons. A beautiful soundtrack, stunning graphics. impressive AI and an emotional story made this a game people won’t soon forget.
Animal Crossing New Leaf
A new Animal Crossing game is sure to mean one thing: hours upon hours of gameplay. In this installment the player gets to be the mayor of the village, deciding where to put objects like street lanterns and benches, but also when the shops open and close. As if there wasn’t enough to collect, fish and find in the previous games, this title adds even more by means of abilities such as swimming and diving underwater to find objects and animals on the sea floor. Keeping the core of the series while finetuning other things may very well mean this is the best Animal Crossing yet.
Super Mario 3D World
Even after several decades of sequels, a new Mario game is still a big deal. Super Mario 3D World features diverse and interesting levels, crisp visuals, tight controls and some cool new upgrades, such as the cat suit. You can play cooperatively on the same screen, or go at it alone. The game has a simple and straightforward overworld and clean interface that lets you quickly and instantly travel between worlds and see where you have yet to collect extras. There are plenty of those, such as optional stars (though they are also needed for story progression) and stamps. It doesn’t re-invent the genre but it does still belong to the top with great control and creative, well thought out levels, making for addictive and balanced gameplay. Most importantly, the game offers what you have come to expect from a Mario game: lots of fun.
Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag
PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Wii U, PC
Another year, another new Assassin’s Creed game, but luckily Ubisoft does try to keep things interesting. This time, the game takes people back to the golden age of pirates, baed on the highly popular ship missions from Assassin’s Creed III. With this concept, the game builds on the well received naval combat that was introduced in Assassin’s Creed III. Of course, playing as a pirate, sailing the high seas (which are beautifully made, by the way), exploring tropical islands and drinking rum is something that will appeal to a lot of people. And Edward Kenway is a far more likeable character than the always angry, tantrum throwing Connor from the previous installment. This is also one of the first cross generation games, and playing it on PS4 means some improvements such as 1080p resolution, better foliage and a higher frame rate.
Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC
A new BioShock game is sure to garner attention. This time, instead of the deep ocean city of Rapture, players get to explore the skies as they travel through the floating city of Columbia, where once again a maniac is carrying out his dictatorial regime. Most notable addition is the fact that you are accompanied by a female character called Elizabeth, who is being held prisoner in a tower. The game once again succeeds in delivering the specific atmosphere of the time period (with a twist), while giving the player an interesting story. One of the most memorable parts is when Elizabeth sings ‘Will the Circle be Unbroken’, accompanied by protagonist Booker on the guitar, both actually being sung and player by the voice actors of the characters.
We have had to wait a long time to play a sequel to Pikmin 2, which was released for the Gamecube in 2004. Pikmin 3 was eventually going to be a Wii game, but Nintendo moved it to the Wii U to take advantage of the new controller and HD capabilities of the console. And indeed, the game does benefit the HD graphics and increased power to create a realistic looking microcosmos on your screen, allowing for the finer details of this new world to be shown. Pikmin 3 lets the player control three different (new) characters, collect fruit and travel through diverse locations such as woodlands, snow covered fields and deserts. It also introduces some new Pikmin types: a heavy and sturdy rock Pikmin and a handy flying species. A beautiful and very entertaining, and at times challenging game.
Gears of War Judgment
This entry in the popular Gears of War saga may have slipped people’s radar, but actually it’s very much worth playing. Serving as a prequel to the story of the Gears of War trilogy, Judgement has players switch between four different characters, among them familiar faces of Baird and Cole. The game adds an extra challenge by implementing a scoring system, ranking your performance based on different factors such as how many head shots you make, how many enemies you kill with one blow, and for completing optional goals. Another notable thing were the graphics, they looked amazingly good for such an aging platform. It may not be the best Gears of War game, but it’s still one of the best third person shooters of 2013.
Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch
Ni No Kuni is the result of a collaboration between Level 5 and famous Japanese animation studio Ghibli. The results speak for themselves, as this title looks very charming and immediately recognizable as coming from this studio. The game provides an interesting story of young boy Oliver coping with the death of his mother, as his stuffed animal comes to live and takes him through a portal to a magical world, which he has to save from the evil White Witch. Oliver can travel the lands freely to proceed through the story, take on side quests or catch new creatures to use in his battles.
Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC
With this game Cristal Dynamics reinvents the series with a more dark and serious tone. The title goes back in time and tells an origin story about a young and inexperienced Lara Croft who gets shipwrecked and stuck on an island filled with mystery and mad men. She has no choice but to adapt and use her newfound abilities to explore dungeons, hunt for food and supplies and take on her enemies. One of the highlights of the game: climbing the hundreds of meters high radio tower.
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance had a rocky road of development. The original build of the game, made at Kojima Productions, was cancelled because they couldn’t get the stealth and action sides of the game fit together to create a coherent whole. The decision was then made to move the development to Platinum Games, king of the action genre. In collaboration with Kojima Productions they practically recreated the game from the ground up, focusing on Raiden as a stylish blades man as he made his way through a crazy and over the top adventure as we’ve come to know from this studio. The result is something that is very different from the other Metal Gear games, but a great game in its own right.
It’s clear that 2013 was a great year for gaming, so much so that we couldn’t even play every great release (see the list below for reference). Now 2014 has begun, and looking at the releases that have been revealed so far it looks very promising as well, to say the least.
Mario & Luigi Dream Team, Killzone Shadow Fall, Dead Space 3, Rayman Legends
These games, despite being great, we left off the list for essentially being older games from earlier years
Metal Gear Solid: The Legacy Collection, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD, Journey Collector’s Edition
And these are the 2013 games we have not played yet, but intend to
Beyond Two Souls, Grand Theft Auto V, The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, Fire Emblem Awakening, Luigi’s Mansion 2, God of War Ascension, Devil May Cry DmC, Pokemon X/Y, Castlevania Mirror of Fate, New Super Luigi U