As 2013 draws to a close I’ve decided to look back on what my favourite games of the past twelve months were. It’s been an absolutely fantastic year for gaming, with a whole heap of great games across all platforms. There are a ton of games that I would’ve loved to put on the list (Tomb Raider and Bioshock Infinite being two of them), but I finally managed to whittle it down to a Top 5. So, in no particular order as I’m incredibly indecisive, here are my favourite games of 2013.
Persona 4: Golden
While the US and Japanese markets managed to get Persona 4: Golden in 2012, us Europeans had to wait till February 2013 before getting our hands on the Vita’s greatest game. Now I’m not a huge JRPG guy, having tried a number of Final Fantasy’s and their like, but there’s something about the Persona series (mainly 3 and 4) that bring in those who aren’t fans of the genre.
Everything about Persona 4 Golden is masterful in its design. From the deep, yet simple combat, to the insane and gripping story. The original PS2 version of Persona 4 was great, yet with Golden they’ve took what criticisms the original had and the ironed them out to perfection. New characters with their own sub-plots that play into the overall tale, new special features (our favourite being songs played at Persona Live concerts in Japan) and even new locations to explore. This is the reason you need a Vita.
Grand Theft Auto V
I was a little late to the party with GTAV, having only completed it a couple of weeks ago, and I’m glad I eventually went to it before the years end. The world of Los Santos is just so wonderfully realised that it’s an absolute joy to cruise along the streets to each mission. It’s probably the best open world sandbox ever created. The only downside came from the dialogue between Lamarr and Franklin. Maybe I’I’m just getting old, but the constant swearing became stale after the second cut scene.
Rockstar clearly getting the last bit of power out of the current consoles, it’s going to be interesting to see what they manage on PS4 and Xbox One.
Saints Row IV
While GTA V is the semi-serious sandbox world, Saints Row has gone in the complete opposite direction. From its initial beginning as a straight up GTA clone it’s morphed into something entirely different, with the latest release Saints Row IV being the craziest game yet. The end of the world is just the beginning as your character (The President of the United States) is thrust into a virtual reality world once Earth gets blown to bits in order to stop a bunch of evil aliens.
Comedy is a subjective thing; I feel Saints Row IV certainly hit more times than it missed, with some of the best use of licensed music you’ll find this year. And we should probably mention that while you are the President, the Vice President is none other than Keith David playing himself. It’s a weird game that feels like it was made by a bunch of crazy people in some sort of drug induced haze.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
The third open world game to make my list is from an unusual source. Even with the PS4 and Xbox One released around the same time, this was the game I was most interested in.
Essentially giving the player the ability to buy or rent all the items needed near the beginning of the game is a genius move. Allowing you to tackle the dungeons in whichever order you wish. This unfamiliar structure matched with the familiar world of Hyrule from A Link to the Past makes this one of the best handheld Zelda’s you can buy.
The Last of Us
One of the most anticipated games of the year did the unthinkable and actually lived up to that expectation. A post-apocalyptic world where a fungal disease has infected the majority of the human race turning them into zombie-like creatures, your job as Joel is to take Ellie on a journey across the country to hopefully a find a cure.
The relationship between the main characters Joel and Ellie is really the driving force behind the game. Acted superbly by Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson, never before has there been such a lifelike, human interaction between two game characters. It’s a journey that I was thinking about well after the credits rolled. A sign of a great game if ever there was one.