In what was one of the most exciting years for gaming in recent history, 2013 saw the release of two new consoles while developers pushed current-gen consoles to their limits. Microsoft and Sony launched the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 respectively in November, introducing advanced hardware that took games like FIFA 14 and Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag to new heights. Before that however, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 saw the best titles the generation has produced thus far. After a huge year in gaming, it’s time to take a look back with the Gaming Illustrated nominees for Game of the Year.
FIFA 14 – Review Score: 88% (PS4) – FIFA 14 on PlayStation 4 delivers the goods and satisfies the incredible expectations set upon it by the gaming public.
MLB 13: The Show – Review Score: 88% (PS3) – MLB 13: The Show continues a tradition of greatness that is now expected from each game in the franchise. This year’s game does not disappoint.
NCAA 14 – Review Score: 90% (Xbox 360) – NCAA Football 14 is one of the best football titles of the current generation of consoles. The introduction of realistic player physics advances the franchise to a level normally reserved for Madden.
Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag – The Assassin’s Creed franchise returned in force during 2013 with the release of AC4: Black Flag. Released on both new and old generation platforms, the high seas adventure turned out to be one of the best in the franchise.
GTA V – Review Score: 100% (PS3) – Grand Theft Auto V is a marvelous achievement in creating an open-world action game full of depth and complexity. Editor’s Choice Award Winner
The Last of Us – Review Score: 100% (PS3) – The Last of Us is a masterpiece. It is a game that never fails to remind the player that the stakes they have to contend with are high and that survival has its toil. Editor’s Choice Award Winner
Tomb Raider – Review Score: 90% (PC) – While Tomb Raider may lack in innovating the action-adventure genre, what it manages to do is deliver a satisfying, refined and exciting take on the current formula with some nice additions.
First-Person Shooter (FPS)
Bioshock Infinite – Review Score: 95% (Xbox 360) - A city can fly and a game can defy expectations. Bioshock Infinite has some of the best storytelling not just in games, but in any form of entertainment. Editor’s Choice Award Winner
Call of Duty: Ghosts – Review Score: 91% (PS4) - The fast and frantic shooter is more refined and has more options than ever. The next-gen version of the game may be the best offer ever from the Call of Duty franchise.
Battlefield 4 – Review Score: 88% (PS4) - Battlefield 4 is visually and audibly stunning. It is a war-torn feast for the FPS senses and well worth the money despite its issues.
Killer Instinct – Killer Instinct was one of the best Xbox One-exclusive launch titles, providing a pick-up-and-play experience worthy of the classic fighter franchise.
Divekick – What started as a joke based on the fighting genre, Divekick turned out to be a solid fighter. Its simplicity makes it easy to play but it also has depth that needs to be experienced.
Injustice: Gods Among Us – Injustice: Gods Among Us finally gave some fighting game respect to the world of DC Comics. Gamers can’t ask for much more than some of the most famous comic book characters facing off in epic battles.
Role-Playing Game (RPG)
Dragon’s Crown – Review Score: 90% (PS3) - The blood of old-school beat ‘em ups pumps through the veins of Dragon’s Crown. A dash of the complexity of traditional fighters along with a great loot system only add to the experience.
Ni no Kuni – Review Score: 93% (PS3) - Ni no Kuni is a magical experience full of wonder. It is adorable and brimming with charm, making the RPG a spectacular experience. Editor’s Choice Award Winner
Fire Emblem: Awakening – Review Score: 91% (3DS) - Fire Emblem: Awakening is has an intriguing story with complex and nuanced systems. There is tons of content to tackle and it will suck gamers in with its charm, difficulty and characters.
Rogue Legacy – Review Score: 86% (PC) – Rogue Legacy provides a perfect balance between upgrading and getting better. Gameplay is constantly fresh, keeping the game constantly fun.
Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons – Review Score: 86% (PS3) – Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons tells an emotional story while emphasizing exploration. Solving puzzles while the story of two brothers plays out makes for one of the year’s best games.
Monaco: What’s Yours is Mine - Review Score: 91%(PC) - Monaco is one of the best co-op games in quite some time. The game redefines co-op multiplayer by engaging players in experiences rather than competitions.
Gone Home – Gone Home takes a new approach to a first-person title with a realistic, story-driven experience. After playing Gone Home, there should be question that games are a true form of art.
Handheld Game (Vita/3DS)
The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds – Zelda fans had high hopes after Nintendo announced a handheld sequel to A Link to the Past. In the spirit of the franchise, Nintendo delivered another high quality product.
Tearaway – Review Score: 93% (Vita) – The world of Tearaway is one of the most beautiful and creative environments created on a handheld console. The real joy comes from creating objects and placing them in that environment. Editor’s Choice Award Winner
Guacamelee! - Review Score: 91% (Vita) – Guacamelee! inevitably draws comparisons to Metroid but the game is unique. Set in Mexico, Guacamelee! is full of charm and personality.
Mobile Game (Android/iOS)
Gemini Rue – Review Score: 78% (iOS) – Gemini Rue for iOS is quirky, nostalgic port from the PC with an aesthetic reminiscent of Blade Runner.
Real Racing 3 – Review Score: 82% (Android) – Real Racing 3 for iOS and Android devices provides a beautiful and technically pleasing racing experience, with multiple game modes diversifying from the straightforward typical mobile racing game. All this for free.
Darklings – Review Score: 92% (iOS) – Darklings takes what might be looked over as a simply controlled arcade style title and gives it depth, intensity, and challenge, with a dash of mystery.
Super Mario 3D World - How much fun can another Mario platformer possibly be? It turns out Nintendo pumped out enough innovation and challenge to make Super Mario 3D World great.
Rayman Legends – Review Score: 93% (Wii U) – Rayman Legends is packed with content and variety. Combined with brilliant graphics and sound, Rayman Legends could be the pinnacle of platforming.
Puppeteer – Review Score: 87% (PS3) – Puppeteer shines brightly in what was a great year for Sony exclusives. Gamers keep coming back for the unique art design and plenty of options.
Gran Turismo 6 – Despite Gran Turismo 6 launching on PS3 rather than PS4, graphics remain gorgeous. Gran Turismo 6 may be the most realistic driving simulation ever.
Need for Speed: Rivals – Review Score: 88% (PS4) – Need for Speed: Rivals races right out of the gates of next-gen consoles and sets the bar high for all future racing titles. Rivals will have players feeling the need for speed.
Forza Motorsport 5 – Forza 5 takes full advantage of next-gen hardware. The racing sim is one of the best looking games ever and blurs the line between real and virtual.
Real-Time Strategy (RTS)
StarCraft 2: Heart of the Swarm – Review Score: 91% (PC) – The StarCraft 2 expansion improved upon an already amazing game. A wonderful plot and new elements set the standard for real-time strategy games.
Total War: Rome II – Review Score: 60% (PC) – Then actual real-time strategy elements of Total War: Rome II provide players with constant satisfaction. Rome II has tons of content for gamers to explore.
Company of Heroes 2 – Review Score: 83% (PC) – With a plethora of enjoyable content, gamers will want to play Company of Heroes 2 for hours on end. The game is a solid offering in a great year for RTS titles.
Game of the Year
GTA V – Rockstar created a crowning achievement in GTA V, developing a gorgeous open world free to explore.
The Last of Us – The Last of Us is an emotional roller coaster that tells the gritty side of surviving.
Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag – The lush environment of Assassin’s Creed 4 is the best the franchise has yet to offer.
Beyond: Two Souls – Review Score: 91% – Beyond: Two Souls is the epitome of storytelling in video games. The game blends art forms, wonderfully displaying an example of interactive art.
Stay tuned to Gaming Illustrated to see our picks for Game of the Year.