Each year gamers are bombarded with a wide variety of games to enjoy and 2013 was no exception. There are always many to choose from with a handful of truly exceptional must play games that we enjoyed in 2013. Plus we witnessed the launch of the next generation of consoles that is going to fill the next decade with a plethora of games.
Games developers continue get better at story telling, making games more immersive, and expanding the scale of games. My choices here are based solely on the single player campaign. While I enjoy some good multiplayer action, I tend to get a lot more out of games from the single player campaigns. I did struggle on narrowing the list down, I ended up with 11 games here instead of 10, I almost put 12 games here but I left them for the Honorable Mentions below.
My Top 10 Games of 2013
- Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag
- Bioshock Infinite
- Dead Rising 3
- Dead Space 3
- Grand Theft Auto V
- Killzone: Shadow Fall
- Metro: Last Light
- Ryse: Son of Rome
- Splinter Cell: Blacklist
- The Last of Us
- Tome Raider
- Honorable Mentions
Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag
Yet another Assassin’s Creed game? As with Assassin’s Creed III, my thoughts on another game in the series a year later were met with skepticism. While I enjoyed the previous game a lot more than many gamers, I wasn’t sure I was ready to handle more.
However Black Flag took the new naval element from ACIII and fully exploited it to build a game around it. Then add in a pirate story line and drop it into the Caribbean islands and you’ve got a great combination that provided a fresh approach to the series. It worked out well.
While the story this time around isn’t as strong as the previous games in the series, the gameplay was solid and very enjoyable. Plus having it be stellar looking next-generation launch title helped enhance the experience even more.
They nailed the feeling sailing a boat out on the open ocean. The game features the best ocean water effects I’ve seen to date in games. Plus they added ocean diving exploration levels to the game which made for a surprisingly fun and new experience.
Overall I enjoyed Black Flag more than I thought I would. It feels like a good evolution from the series. My only gripe was that they removed a lot of the rock and cliff climbing abilities which were done so well in ACIII, often I’d try to run up a cliff wall to climb up it only to realize I’d have to go around to get up. Other than that it’s a great game and I’d recommend anyone to play it, especially if your a pirate fan… Arrr, this be pleasin’ to me eye!
Video: Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag Launch Trailer
- Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag on Amazon
- Official Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag site
- IGN review (8.5)
- Game Trailers review (9.2)
- Game Informer review (8.25)
The original 2007 Bioshock is one of my favorite gaming experiences, so creative and original. Needless to say, Bioshock Infinite was one of my most anticipated games for the year. Except this time instead of being in a city under the ocean, it’s a floating city in the clouds.
Still in the same universe as the original, Infinite feels like the opposite, light and bright instead of dark, broody, and gothic, but as you progress deeper into Infinite the darkness begins to surface. I love the creative art style and vision in these games, it is so well done and polished.
Featuring a strong twisting story line lead by a great set of characters that pull you in and provide an engaging experience that keeps you playing to find out what happens. Then you got a fantastic gameplay mechanic using a blend of guns, vigor powers, and tears combined with a new rails mechanic that allows you to move around quickly and from above. It creates for a fun cat and mouse battles against several different types of enemies and heavy hitters.
While Infinite didn’t resonate as strongly as the original Bioshock, it still is one of the best games I played for the year and definitely a favorite. I’ve already played through it twice and I’m looking forward to playing it again once all the DLC is released.
Video: Bioshock Infinite Launch Trailer
- Bioshock Infinite on Amazon
- Official Bioshock Infinite site
- Irrational Games
- IGN review (9.4)
- Game Trailers review (9.4)
- Game Informer review (10)
Dead Rising 3
I was a big fan of the original Dead Rising game at the XBOX 360 launch. Surviving in a massive shopping mall filled with zombies. The terror of it was classic, feeling like the old zombie movies I grew up on, but loaded with humor thanks to the plethora of costumes and having every object usable as weapons at your disposal. For some reason I could not get into Dead Rising 2 as much, but Dead Rising 3 took everything great about these games and made it 10 times bigger, crazier, and more fun!
Showcasing the power of the XBOX One console, Dead Rising 3 is massive and filled to the brim with zombies. At any time you can be surrounded by hundreds and hundreds of zombies coming after your living flesh. It’s an impressive sight, even more impressive when your driving through and killing them by the dozens every second. I think the key thing that set this game apart from the previous titles is the wild combo and super weapons and combo vehicles. The combo weapons are ridiculously fun and powerful, plus you can build them on the spot as long as you have the parts. There are so many different types of combo weapons that your constantly exploring to find new blueprints so you can experiment with the weapons. Also as you progress, some of the combo weapons can be upgrade into super combo weapons making them even more over the top at slaughtering zombies into a bloody pulp.
Then you got combo vehicles which take your regular car or motorcycle and turns it into a crazy zombie death machine. My favorite is the roller hog, take a chopper and steam roller to create the perfect ride for flattening zombies. Then throw in flame throwers on the side and now your torching zombies while running them over, turning your screen into a fire and blood filled mess. It’s an impressive sight and tons of fun that never gets old.
Throughout the game you’ll encounter various psychos, these are people who have lost it and pretty much gone crazy in the zombie outbreak. Each one of these psychos are wild and totally over the top making for some fun battles while ensuring you keep laughing in the middle of the zombie outbreak. A nice addition is seamless online co-op, people can jump into your game and join you in the chaos. The best part is just seeing the silly outfits and weapons people are using while fighting off zombies. Capcom really nailed it with Dead Rising 3, all the improvements made here excel and make the game a ton of fun. It’s a great next-generation launch title that all XBOX One owners must experience.
Video: Dead Rising 3 Launch Trailer
- Dead Rising 3 on Amazon
- Official Dead Rising 3 site
- IGN review (8.3)
- Game Trailers review (8.0)
- Game Informer review (8.75)
Dead Space 3
The Dead Space series has breathed new life into the survival horror genre with two terrifying games, so I was a little hesitant about Dead Space 3, especially adding a co-op option for a game that works best as a solo experience. I wasn’t sure if they could keep the series on its edge and captivate us all over again.
Needless to say I enjoyed Dead Space 3, it definitely wasn’t as scary as the first two, this time it was more about the survival than the horrifying scares. Could be that I was already too comfortable with the series and knew what to expect which makes it harder to scare me. Still the atmosphere in the game level designs were fantastic, the precision gameplay was excellent, and the story wasn’t too bad, it all worked well and pulled me right back in for a hell of a fun ride.
Video: Dead Space 3 Launch Trailer
- Dead Space 3 on Amazon
- Official Dead Space 3 site
- IGN review (7.8)
- Game Trailers review (7.7)
- Game Informer review (9.75)
Grand Theft Auto V
Hands down one of the biggest and most impressive games of the year. The sheer scale and detail of Grand Theft Auto V is mind blowing. Unlike GTA IV‘s multiple islands representing New York, this time it’s one massive landmass made up of my home town of Los Angeles and the greater Southern California region.
Filled to the brim with landmark locals from Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, Downtown, Hollywood and more. Obviously they didn’t map out LA exactly, so at first it felt a little weird driving around Los Santos because I’d recognize locations that were matched up so well such as Santa Monica, but then when going down certain streets expecting to see known real areas it would change to something else like all of a sudden your in Beverly Hills. As a local native it took some time to get used to. It is impressive how they melded everything together. Then you’ve got the massive sprawl outside of the city limits which is easily 3 to 4 times larger than the city itself.
Rockstar broke new ground by introducing three very distinct playable characters that you can switch between anytime while playing. This added a whole new sense of discovery and opportunities to experience the GTA world from a different perspective. It worked out really well and made the story all the more intriguing and fun. My only gripe is that the big heist missions and story seemed to end too soon. Just as it was hitting a high note it was all over. While there is plenty to do in the game, I wish the story missions would have continued at lot longer. There’s plenty of material from each of the characters that they could easily do tons of new story missions released in DLC.
Everything in GTA V was improved from the previous versions, better car and driving physics, better gun play, better flying, plus adding new features such as deep-sea diving, everything feels better. In classic Rockstar tradition they raised the bar so much from the previous game. Even though I’ve pretty much completed everything in the game, I still go back to mess around and play online. Just like GTA IV and the previous GTA games, Grand Theft Auto V is an impressive must play game that defines the new standard for open world sandbox games, one that all gamers need to experience.
Video: Grand Theft Auto V Trailer
- Grand Theft Auto V on Amazon
- Official Grand Theft Auto V site
- IGN review (9.2)
- Game Trailers review (9.8)
- Game Informer review (9.75)
Killzone: Shadow Fall
I’ve been playing the Killzone games ever since the first one back on the Playstation 2. The series has always been pegged to be the signature FPS on the Playstation platform, but its never been had a strong reception by the gaming community who’s occupied with Call of Duty and Battlefield. Each game has been great, but not having the staying power like it’s competition does. Still each game has evolved and continues to get better and better and I think Shadow Fall does a fine job at elevating the series.
A new generation, new characters and a new story plot, this is the best thing Guerrilla Games did, to leave the previous games in the past and jump ahead 30-years into Killzone’s future to create an all new gaming experience for us to enjoy. While the story is decent and entertaining, the gameplay here is tighter and more fluid. A new component is the addition of your owl, a small drone that you can command to shield you or attack the enemies. This helped mix things up making for a solid gaming experience.
Shadow Fall is visually stunning, some levels more than others, offering vivid details and scenery loaded with weather and particles to showcase the Playstation 4’s graphic powerhouse abilities. Overall the campaign was a great ride with some killer gun play action. It definitely shows that the series has a new life and can bring us more in the future. I have not dived into the multiplayer yet, which I’ve heard it is actually pretty good, I’ve always felt Killzone is really about the campaign and less about the multiplayer. If you’ve got a new Playstation 4, then this is a no brainer, pick it up and enjoy the ride.
Video: Killzone Shadow Fall Launch Trailer
- Killzone: Shadow Fall on Amazon
- Official Killzone: Shadow Fall site
- IGN review (8.0)
- Game Trailers review (8.8)
- Game Informer review (8.0)
Metro: Last Light
Dark, dire, desolate, hopeless, these are how you feel in the world of Metro Last Light. The follow-up to the critically acclaimed Metro 2033 game. Metro excels at making you feel immersed in the dark world with an impressive level of detail and atmosphere. Groups of Russian survivors making home and living in the underground subway system after nuclear bombs destroy the surface of their world and creates mutated monsters of those that didn’t get underground.
When playing on hard, your playing style needs to be stealthy and played with caution or you’ll die a lot. Stick to the shadows and pick off your enemies one by one. While other areas force you to battles to survive. Using make-shift weapons with old guns and scraps while carefully making sure your bullets are not wasted. This creates a great survival tension in the game as you progress through a solid story to help save your community.
Going to the surface can be even more tense as you now have to wear a gas mask with limited time before you run out of air. You need to stock up or find filters to give you more time, all while fighting off mutated monsters that want to have you as their next meal. While your inclined to run through to the end of the level, at the same time since bullets and supplies are limited your forced to scavenge the area to find items that will help keep you alive and progressing on your journey. All of this combined makes for a great survival shooter that uniquely original and captivating. Plus it is visually one of the best looking games on the current generation of consoles. I highly recommend playing this in the dark with a good surround sound system.
Video: Metro Last Light Launch Trailer
- Metro: Last Light on Amazon
- Official Metro: Last Light site
- IGN review (7.2)
- Game Trailers review (9.1)
- Game Informer review (8.5)
Ryse: Son of Rome
A lot of gamers didn’t really like Ryse: Son of Rome, one for being too repetitive with its quicktime events, and two for being on the short side. However I went into the game with low expectations and just to enjoy it for what it had to offer. It was one of the few new original games that wasn’t a sequel, which provided a fresh new gaming experience. I figured I’d play through it on the hard setting to help stretch out the enjoyment.
As a next-generation launch title it was really more about showcasing the graphics for the XBOX One. There’s no doubt that Ryse looks beautiful with great attention to detail in the characters and scenery. While the gameplay is simple, the kill animations were gruesome which added to the overall experience. The story was actually quite enjoyable and well put together as your progressed through the campaign. There are quite a few parallels to the Gladiator film throughout the game.
I enjoyed it so much that I went back and played through it a second time already and will probably play it at least once more. It seems like the development was a bit rushed to ensure it made the launch of the XBOX One, but I think Crytek has a good new game on their hands and if they take their time developing a sequel and adjust the gameplay to make it more robust and engaging then they could have a real winner. I just hope they get the green light to make a sequel.
Video: Ryse: Son of Rome Launch Trailer
- Ryse: Son of Rome on Amazon
- Official Ryse: Son of Rome site
- IGN review (6.8)
- Game Trailers review (7.0)
- Game Informer review (6.0)
Splinter Cell: Blacklist
The Splinter Cell games have been been through some ups and downs as the series has evolved over the last three generations of consoles, while all games have been good, a few have really stood out to be fantastic, such as Chaos Theory. I’ve played all the past Splinter Cell games and I think that Blacklist has returned the series back to that higher level, creating an exceptional gaming experience.
The series has always been focused heavily on stealth and staying out of sight in the shadows, but over time its added tension by forcing players to change their tactics and play some levels in broad daylight, making it even more challenging to be stealthy. This time game mixes it up with both daylight and night levels and giving players the option of tackling each level in a Ghost, Panther, Assault, or any hybrid combination of play styles. Allowing you to mix it up and experiment, plus making it more accessible for those trigger happy players.
I’ve always preferred going the Ghost route of staying hidden and taking out enemies one by one, preferably by knocking them out instead of killing them. Something about sneaking into an area filled with enemies and slowly taking them out one-by-one provides good amount of entertainment. Blacklist provides a lot of variety in the levels and missions with strong story and character development supported with some excellent voice acting. While many gamers were upset that the classic Michael Ironside was no longer voicing the lead Sam Fisher character, I thought that it turned out just fine and in the end I didn’t really notice any difference. The gameplay is what shines here, it pulled me in and made for an excellent journey into their world of espionage.
Video: Splinter Cell: Blacklist Launch Trailer
- Splinter Cell: Blacklist on Amazon
- Official Splinter Cell: Blacklist site
- IGN review (9.2)
- Game Trailers review (8.7)
- Game Informer review (9.0)
The Last of Us
Hands down the Game of the Year for me and probably 90% of the gaming community. Naughty Dog has raised the bar with The Last of Us on all levels, be it story telling, character development, gameplay, music, sound and level design, everything that makes a game is elevated to create a richly detailed and immersive gaming experience that will stick with us for a long time. It is a prime example from which other game developers will learn from and apply to their future games.
No other game has stayed in my thoughts after completing it as long as The Last of Us, the story grabs you and pulls you in hard and the ending hits you like a bag of bricks. A remarkable achievement in video games. Read my full The Last of Us review.
Video: The Last of Us Launch Trailer
- The Last of Us on Amazon
- Read my full The Last of Us review
- Official The Last of Us site
- Naughty Dog
- IGN review (10)
- Game Trailers review (9.8)
- Game Informer review (9.5)
Ever since Crystal Dynamics took over the Tomb Raider series, each of their games have breathed new life into the series. However it is 2013’s Tomb Raider that truly reboots the series and gives us one of the best Lara Croft games to date. This time as an origin story of how Lara is forced to survive as she tries to save her friends and through the process she finds her calling in the world and becomes the Tomb Raider.
It is a gorgeous game, easily one of the best looking on current generation consoles. All set on a mysterious Bermuda triangle type of island filled a variety of dangerous inhabitants that Lara must fight through to save her friends and figure out how to escape the island. The island is filled with detailed areas and levels that provide a wide variety scenery while keeping the game feeling fresh. Gameplay is well-balanced providing a great mix of exploration, platforming, puzzle solving, stealth, and full on combat. Pretty much everything is done really well in the campaign making for a fantastic gaming experience to enjoy!
Video: Tomb Raider Launch Trailer
- Tomb Raider on Amazon
- Official Tomb Raider site
- IGN review (9.1)
- Game Trailers review (8.5)
- Game Informer review (9.25)
There were a few other great games that I enjoyed in 2013, they didn’t make the top 10 list, but are worthy of mentioning here. The one that I contemplated on listing above was Battlefield 4, I have to say I really enjoyed the campaign and have been enjoying the multiplayer quite a bit. However it has been plagued with problems such as my campaign save file being lost repeatedly, so I decided to leave it here in the honorable mentions list. I will say that the campaign looks stunning, one of the best looking games I’ve played on the Playstation 4 so far, it really showcases the power of next-generation consoles. On the flip side, Call of Duty: Ghosts was fun but didn’t really stick with me like Battlefield 4.
The real stars of this list is the small arcade games including Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, State of Decay, and FarCry 3: Blood Dragon. The later, Blood Dragon, basically a FarCry game filled to the brim with tacky 80’s neon nostalgia. At first you would think it is a joke, but the humor and tackiness works in the games favor making it a blast to play. The rest of the games here are all worth checking out to play.
- Battlefield 4
- Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons
- Call of Duty: Ghosts
- Crysis 3
- Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon
- Gears of War Judgement
- God of War: Ascension
- Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time
- State of Decay
As with each year, there are always more games to be played than there is time to actually play them. I did catch up and play some older games including XCOM: Enemy Unknown which was pretty fun, but didn’t hold my attention to the finish. Then looking forward there are some potentially outstanding games coming in 2014. A few I’ve already touched on from my 2013 E3 report back in June. Some of these games look to raise the bar and set a new standard for gaming experiences. Most notably Destiny, The Witcher 3, Titanfall, Infamous, and if released this year The Division. Each of those titles are introducing something new that will set the benchmark for future games to follow.
Anticipated Games for 2014
- The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
- Infamous: Second Son
- Watch Dogs
- Plants vs Zombies Garden Warfare
- The Order: 1886
- Dying Light
- The Evil Within
- The Crew
- Mad Max
- Sunset Overdrive
- South Park: The Stick of Truth
- The Elder Scrolls Online
- Wolfenstein: The New Order
- Metal Gear Solid V
- The Division (not yet confirm for 2014)
So there you have it, my top games of 2013. I know this is a little late as I should have posted this several weeks ago after the new year, but I’ve been busy with other stuff. This year was filled with a ton of sequels. Not a lot of new original games other than The Last of Us and Ryse: Son of Rome, however with the new generation of consoles I think we’ll be seeing several new games breaking onto the scene, most notably I’m looking forward to Destiny, The Order: 1886, Titanfall, and The Division to bring something new.
I hope you enjoyed reading my top 10 games of 2013. Were these games in your top games for 2013? Do you agree with mine? Please feel free to share your thoughts or feedback in the comments below. I love getting feedback and thanks again for reading.