My Top 5 games of 2013

It’s the last day of the year so you know what means: Yes, lists! I’ll have a film and book list coming shortly (I have a few I must watch and read before hand) but for now, let’s jump into gaming.
2013 was a spectacular year for gaming. From indie titles to blockbuster releases, there was so much great material on offer this year.
So without further ado, let’s jump straight into the titles that made an impression on me this year.

5 – TOMB RAIDER

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Who better to get the reboot treatment than Lara Craft? I don’t know about anybody else but that original series was starting to get to a point where she became some sort of inhuman superhero that could traverse cliffs and ancient structures with ease.
In this retelling of her story, she’s much different. She’s vulnerable, she’s not confident of her abilities. She’s got the love to explore but she’s not quite at the stage where she gracefully jumps from beam to beam. She’s not the hardened explorer – she stumbles and bleeds.

On top of this striking new presentation of the character, you’ve got a cracking thriller that chugs along nicely.
Something I like about adventure stories – be they Uncharted, Indiana Jones, Tomb Raider or anything else, is that a supernatural angle comes into question. Is it just a good old fashioned adventure or is there something more to it? Tomb Raider flirts with this.

The story is most satisfying – It doesn’t outstay it’s welcome, it goes for just the right amount of time and it’s quite thrilling and effective when it comes to portraying Lara’s evolution from naive explorer to hardened warrior.

Throw in a sensation soundtrack, gorgeous visuals, exciting gameplay and you’ve got a great adventure game on your hands.

4 – The Wolf Among Us

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Okay, so it’s only part 1 of a five part story but as a gaming experience, it’s deserving of a spot in my list.
The Wolf Among Us uses the same wonderful art style of Telltale’s The Walking Dead and uses the same excellent choice-based gameplay that makes that series so effective and engaging.

It’s also quite original and as someone who was brought up on a lot of fairy tales and what not, seeing the characters appear in a film noir light was seriously cool.
It’s only the one episode but I was sucked into this imaginative world and captivated by the characters, thanks to some stellar voice acting and writing.

Bring on the second episode!

3 – Grand Theft Auto V

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GTA V feels like not only the evolution of the series but also of what it makes it spectacular – the world, the mechanics, the soundtrack – it’s all massive and refined  here.
R* feels like they have learned from their experiences with Red Dead Redemption and Max Payne 3 and they’ve melded aspects of that gameplay into this effort to deliver something stunning and fantastic.

The world of Los Santos is alive. Head out to the country and hear the sounds of bikes hooning in the distance. Hear the mosquitoes buzzing around your ear.
Walk down the streets and see police give chase to criminals, hear the traffic in the distance, the conversation of people that pass by you by.
Never has a world in GTA feel like so much like it’s a living and breathing entity. And this is all on years-old hardware! Incredible!

Not only that but it’s generous. There’s 69 missions, all different and exciting, spread out across the three main characters – a pretty nifty idea!. This will take you a good 40+ hours to get through.
The story itself is a ripper of a crime saga. It’s exciting and a lot of fun to play through but unfortunately it does sag in it’s middle section.

Nevertheless, one of the gems this year and I can’t wait to see where GTA  VI goes next.

2 – Bioshock Infinite

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From it’s opening to the ending, Bioshock Infinite is an original and riveting fantasy that twists and turns and constantly surprised me.
I just absolutely loved exploring this world – all the elements you’ll find within this story just appeal to me greatly and so when Booker shoots up into the sky to rescue Elizabeth, my eyes are wide and my mouth is left hanging open.

Not only that, I’m STILL thinking about it. All these months later and the story still creeps into my life and blows my mind all over again.
That’s some masterful writing right there.

1 – The Last Of Us

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Yup, it’s my favourite game of 2013. I just love what Naughty Dog are doing – they’re out there doing some of the best story telling, the best visuals, the best gameplay and THE LAST OF US is Naughty Dog at their finest, firing on all cylinders.
There’s moments of sheer beauty that is juxtaposed with the violence and ugliness of humanity that is quite effective.
I mean, bloody hell – the violence! Slash someone’s throat and hear the person choke on their own blood. Hear that terrible wet sound as you smash someone’s head in with a brick. Never in my gaming experience have I found that violence and death is used in this haunting, effective way – and never before has there been a sound design that captures this so well.

Most of all, it’s the story that I loved. How Joel becomes a sort of surrogate father to Ellie over time – their relationship grows over the course of the game and it’s just wonderful to watch as it unfolds.

As a horror fan, the concept of this cordyceps fungus is just terrifying – but it’s also fresh and  it allows for the game designers to craft some truly terrible and original beasties. I mean, the clickers are just haunting, especially coming across them in the dark.

Honourable Mentions

Dead Space 3
Rayman Legends
Pokemon X and Y
DmC: Devil May Cry

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