It’s been a genuinely exciting year for gaming, with the next-gen consoles roaring into action – but established platforms continuing to be very well served.
From inspired indie creations to barnstorming blockbusters, Mark Butler counts down the Top Ten games of 2013.
10. Metro: Last Light
4A’s impressive follow-up to the excellent and underrated Metro 2033 served-up the same sense of moody atmosphere as its predecessor, while also beefing up the combat stakes considerably.
Veering between suspenseful moments of survival-horror, tense sequences of stealth and intense outbursts of action as you explored the subways and ruins of a nuclear-shattered Moscow, its most admirable achievement was the manner in which it challenged and surpassed the tropes and gung-ho murder-thrills of more generic FPSs.
Undoubtedly one of the strongest Vita and PSN titles to date, Drinkbox Studios’ heady, colourful mix of metroidvania mayhem, comedy platforming and Mexican Luchadores was a thing of delirious, entertaining beauty.
The visuals were amazing, the levels challenging and superbly-designed, and the game’s innovative box of gameplay tricks breathed fresh life into the action-platforming genre.
8. Need For Speed Rivals
Offering a full-on, exuberant and no-holds barred driving experience, the new Need For Speed proved just the ticket for virtual petrol heads.
An open-world thrill-ride that saw you slide into the hotseat of either a cop or a racer, it was packed full of spectacular scenery, hi-octane chases and knuckle-whitening challenges galore. Online multiplayer turned out to be seamlessly integrated too, allowing for sweaty palmed head-to-heads at the drop of a hat.
7. Resident Evil: Revelations
Just when the long-standing Resident Evil series seemed to be collapsing into a tiresome, self-parodying mess, the console port of Capcom’s acclaimed 3DS title arrived to renew hope in the future direction of the famous franchise.
Harking back to the golden heyday of survival-horror, at least to some extent, Revelations made a virtue of its stunning environments and fearsome foes. It may have drawn heavy inspiration from Dead Space, but the important thing was that Resident Evil felt once more like a genuine fright-fest: atmospheric, tense, ammo-shy – and packed full of bona fide scares.
6. Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon
This bizarre but brilliant standalone title had pretty much nothing to do with main game Far Cry 3 in terms of theme, story or the overall experience. It was very much its own beast, and a joyously fun one at that.
An ’80s sci-fi spoof crammed with great gags, awesome visuals and bag-fulls of entertaining action, Blood Dragon was a triumph of tongue-in-cheek excess. The fact that it also starred the one and only Michael Biehn was simply the icing on a ludicrous, neon-pink cake.
5. State Of Decay
Just when we were all getting sick to the back teeth of zombie games, several terrific games dragged us right back into the undead fold. Last year saw us dazzled by DayZ and wowed by The Walking Dead – and then State Of Decay landed.
A superb open-world adventure that saw you build a base, contend with zombies and gather finite sources in a dangerous and deadly landscape, it had surprising depth and complexity for an experience of its type. It proved brilliantly immersive, and its phenomenal sales success on Xbox Live was well-deserved.
4. Grand Theft Auto V
In our glowing review we described it as “vast, exciting, and often overwhelming – in a good way”, and it’s fair to say that Rockstar’s latest action-crime blockbuster well and truly lived up to the hype.
Offering a trio of protagonists, seemingly limitless things to do, and a colossal playground of possibilities to explore, this was anarchic open-world gaming at its finest: making up for the odd story mishap or satirical mis-fire with sheer bloody-minded exuberance.
3. Rayman Legends
An experience so fun, inventive and colourful that it really did bring back the twinkly-eyed wonder absent from so many modern gaming experiences, Ubisoft’s sugar-rush gem arguably staked a claim as the finest 2D platformer in decades.
Overflowing with nifty tricks, obstacles and surprises among its eye-catching and entertaining worlds, the magnificent music levels elevated this sublime romp into an even higher level of class.
2. BioShock Infinite
Hopes were high for Ken Levine’s latest voyage of dystopian intrigue, and it’s fair to say that this triumph of substance and spectacle more than met those lofty expectations.
Boasting a compelling, captivating and awe-inspiring gameworld, its rich narrative and powerful ending nestled in the mind long after the credits rolled – while the fast-paced, skyline-bolstered action proved consistently thrilling.
1. The Last Of Us
Naughty Dog’s terrific post-apocalyptic survival thriller may have had echoes of I Am Legend and The Road about its person, but the gripping and sophisticated experience it offered – not to mention the slow-burning characterisation that emerged – helped it stand out as a truly memorable saga in its own right.
The impressive enemy AI and limited availability of resources resulted in an almost unbearable level of tension at times, while you found yourself becoming mightily attached to protagonists Joel and Ellie. It’s a truly great game, and one that has already made a substantial mark on the modern gaming landscape.
Do you agree with our list? What was your favourite game of 2013?
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