The biggest thing in gaming in 2013 was no doubt the release of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One and all the events leading up to launch. But before PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 handed off the torch, the consoles realized their full potential. Well before new consoles released, some of the best games of 2013 had already left their mark. With all the great games released in 2013, which one stood out as the best of the best?
The Last of Us – The Last of Us is a culmination of everything Naughty Dog and Sony have been trying to accomplish across an entire console generation. It is a once in a lifetime experience that cements the PS3 as the home for the best exclusive titles. Joel and Ellie’s tale of survival turned the post-apocalyptic/zombie genre on its head. Moments of heartbreak, triumph, terror and more stick with players well after the breathtaking final act. Unparalleled visuals, a fresh take on stealth gameplay and a superb voice cast rounded out the game which received a perfect score of 100% in our review from June, making it a tough act to follow for what was to come.
GTA V – GTA V feels like years of hard work and the best elements from past games were all leading up to one brilliant ode to the console generation. Rockstar created the studio’s largest open world, and every detail from the wilderness of the mountains to the bright lights of Los Santos is gorgeous. GTA V turned the idea of a main character on its head by centering the story on three playable characters, each with different personalities and interests. However, Franklin, Michael and Trevor all have a single focus – earning money through heists. GTA V earned a perfect review score of 100% on Gaming Illustrated when it released in September.
Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag – Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag took the franchise to new heights (where it then synchronized). The game leaves Desmond’s story behind and, for the most part, ditches the modern world tie-ins for a pirate adventure. While Captain Edward Kenway is the game’s main character, the true star of Assassin’s Creed 4 is the high seas. The huge, gorgeous ocean gives new meaning to the term “open world” and truly feels like it has a mind of its own. With side missions that finally matter in an Assassin’s Creed game, players will want to explore every inch of deserted island for buried treasure.
Beyond: Two Souls – Beyond: Two Souls was one of the PS3’s several swan songs before the advent of the PlayStation 4. David Cage has somewhat infamously pushed the industry’s concept of what makes a video game and this was no different. Unlike the murder mystery of Heavy Rain, Beyond followed young Jodie Holmes throughout her life as she came to grips with having a ghostly being tethered to her. Though its “QTE”-reliant gameplay came under fire, Cage’s direction presented a touching story of life and death, carried by the stellar performances of Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe. Beyond received a 91% score in our review for the way it defined how stories could be told in gaming.
The Winner – The Last of Us
The story of Joel and Ellie fighting to survive in a post-apocalyptic world evokes feelings rarely experienced in a video game. The Last of Us is not only the best game of 2013, it could very well be the best game of the console generation.