Best of 2013

List items

  • Gamers like to complain about how the large game studios never mix up their tired franchises. Sequel after sequel, studios stick to what has worked for them in the past, rarely daring to innovate lest they ruin their formula. 2011's Assassin's Creed: Revelations and 2012's Assassin's Creed 3 bored audiences, and I wrote off the franchise. Assassin's Creed 2 was my 2009 Game of the Year (my list is here on Giant Bomb), but it seemed that Ubisoft had simply started phoning it in.

    I approached Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag with a heavy amount of skepticism. Assassin's Creed 3 is notoriously bad. For Ubisoft to so quickly ditch Connor and jump to the next numbered sequel seemed odd (Ezio had his own trilogy!). Regardless, I had a brand new PlayStation 4 and wanted to pick up a couple launch games for the system, so I went out on a limb for Black Flag.

    Assassin's Creed 4 simply serves as a shining example that sometimes studios CAN breathe new life into their yearly franchises. Black Flag has a brilliantly creative setting that is rarely ever seen in video games. The mechanics of sailing and fighting naval battles feel great. It's a unique experience that was a blast to play through.

    How many games this year are being celebrated that are a part of tired video game tropes, or simply lack creativity? I'm tired of playing zombie games. When was the last time you swung your starboard broadside cannons towards a Spanish Man o' War and sent them to Davy Jones' locker? AC4: Black Flag unquestionably floats my boat for Game of the Year.

    Also: sea shanties.

  • Lara Croft is a lucky, lucky girl. Sonic the Hedgehog would MURDER PEOPLE to have a chance to get a reboot the quality which Eidos gave her. Eidos reimagined Lara as a mildly believable and sympathetic character. Tomb Raider oozes with quality typically only seen in Uncharted-caliber action adventure games.

    How many reboots fail spectacularly? EA's SimCity reboot was nightmare incarnate. Eidos aimed high with this reboot and nailed the landing. The game is fantastic.

  • Gunpoint's fun gameplay is expertly matched with witty, funny dialogue. I couldn't put it down after I purchased it and loved every morsel I could get.

    I might have punched a guard in the face over 1,000 times.

  • I had my doubts if I'd ever enjoy a Fire Emblem game as much as I enjoyed The Sacred Stones. I'm happy I was wrong.

  • A Blizzard RTS campaign? Sign me up. I can play these all day, every day. When I get bored, I enjoy sometimes just booting this up and skirmishing against the AI. My Zerg skills aren't half bad.

  • Starbreeze made one hell of a polished, tightly tuned, novel, beautiful, gem of a game with Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons. I picked it up on Christmas and played it straight through.

  • A superbly written story, a fantastic setting, and passable FPS gameplay. There are fair criticisms of this game, and it's not my GotY, but there's no way it doesn't make it on the list. The setting alone was worth the $60.

  • Every time Firaxis adds content to Civ, I'm always left asking, "Why wasn't this in the game to begin with? I can never go back!" Another expansion pack, another 100 hours lost. I love playing as Venice.

  • I love sneaking around and shooting people in the face with silenced pistols. This Splinter Cell let me strike that balance between playing as a ghost and going in guns blazing with their "panther" style approach. I played the way I wanted to, didn't feel like the game was punishing me for it, and had a lot of fun.

  • Want to know what's cool about playing Dead Space 3 on PC? You can use memory editing tools to hack the game and give yourself the crap EA tries to sell you as microtransactions. As a result, I thought this game was a lot of fun! Too bad EA had to give me this game for free as an apology for how awful SimCity turned out.

  • It wasn't bad.

  • Sure, it's simple, and kind of a grind, but I enjoyed it a lot.

  • "Firaxis here. We heard you stopped playing XCOM? That's ridiculous. Here's some fresh content to pull you back in. There's mechs!"