2013 was a banner year for video games. From January to December, gamers enjoyed a steady stream of quality titles the likes of which hasn’t been seen in a long, long time — in fact, some people go as far as to say that 2013 was the best gaming year. Ever.
Regardless of your stance, it’s hard to argue that there wasn’t something for every type of gamer, ranging from indie to AAA. With that in mind, the 2D-X staff shares with you its favorite games of the year. Some are obvious picks; others not so much.
Let us know what you think of the selections and, of course, leave your picks in the comments section.
Anarchy Reigns has all the trappings of a title that will be spoken about for years to come in hardcore gamer circles — especially among Platinum Games devotees. Like God Hand, Bayonetta, and Mad World, Anarchy Reigns mixes combat and crazy with a flair that few titles can match. It’s a shame that multiplayer is regulated to the online world — two player co-op or vs. would’ve truly made Anarchy Reigns the Power Stone of this console generation. Still, Anarchy Reigns is a thrilling ride full of insane moments that brawler fans will love.
Animal Crossing: New Leaf
If you want to talk about a game that captivates the community and completely consumes your life, Animal Crossing: New Leaf did it, and did it very, very, well. We exchanged more friend codes than ever, played multiplayer on 3DS actively, and were motivated to upkeep our towns and constantly make them better than the next. Fun for all ages, it’s the world’s stupidest game, really — but my god, is it hard to put down.
BioShock Infinite sees a man named Booker DeWitt taking on a mission to save a girl in a city in the sky to wash away his debts. The plot may sound ho-hum, but Bioshock Infinite is a piece of entertainment that supersedes gaming to a degree that it’ll leave some folks wondering if they’re playing a video game or controlling a piece of cinema.
Dragon’s Crown is the best beat-em-up this generation — maybe ever. The large 2D graphics, typical of Vanillaware’s exaggerated illustrations, flex, morph and stretch with an anime-meets-Renaissance style that must be seen in motion to truly appreciate. Each new animation, whether an explosive flame spell or a giant enemy’s death wail, is an impressive display of digital artistry. None of that, however, would matter without a solid foundation underneath. Responsive combat, intuitive controls and interlocking systems enhance what could have been an aesthetically pleasing if simple and derivative experience. Dragon’s Crown is an instant classic.
Grand Theft Auto V
What sort of accolades can you give something that’s become the fastest selling piece of entertainment in the history of the world? Grand Theft Auto V is a game that refines the classic GTA formula with a top-notch immersive environment, superb, authentic voice acting, and the best character ever to grace his presence in a GTA game: the incredible Trevor Phillips.
The Last of Us
This should come as no surprise to anyone that has played through The Last of Us, a game both haunting and inspiring with a gripping narrative that not many games can match. In short, this game is an emotional rollercoaster that will have you yelling in anger one moment, covered in your own tears for another second, to trembling in fear the next. Naughty Dog really outdid itself and showed gamers that it could do something more than Uncharted (another great game) sequels. If you have yet to pick this one up, go ahead and do so you won’t be disappointed. Just try not to play it with the lights off if you value your sanity.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
A Link Between Worlds shakes up the formula by minimizing the importance of items and focusing instead on devious dungeon puzzles and interesting overworld(s) remixed from the best Zelda game, A Link to The Past. While it doesn’t surpass that “perfect game,” it revitalizes a franchise bogged by condescending handholding and predictable linear progression. Speedy, intelligent and nostalgic without feeling desperate, A Link Between Worlds shows that traditional 2D Zeldas are still a good idea.
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
Arguably the best action game released this year, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance steps away from the heavier government intrigue that the Metal Gear games have become known for, and instead gives players a zany hack-and-slash game driven by a campier, tongue-in-cheek story. Protagonist Raiden uses his enhanced cyborg-ninja body and high-frequency blade to — quite literally — hack his enemies into crackling mechanical chunks, and the unique parry mechanic keeps players engaged and on their toes during hectic fights. Throw in a killer electronic rock soundtrack, and you have a game well-worth playing (and replaying).
Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate
The best, most addictive game on 3DS this year may have ruined all other games. As rewarding as it is challenging, you won’t find a grand story or next-gen graphics, but a ton of charm and gameplay deeper than the Mariana Trench. A sandbox game without going open-world, Monster Hunter is about skill, patience and slicing the ever-living hell out of enormous dinosaur creatures with gigantic swords made out of monster remains — a hardcore classic.
Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch
Ni No Kuni was something magical. This PlayStation 3 game made dreams come true as it let us play through a Hayao Miyazaki film come to life.The soundtrack, cartoon-like animation, and gameplay all fit together in a way that few titles can match. Ni No Kuni helped us relive our childhoods, and created memories and fantasy for the future.
To think, Pokemon was once brushed away as a fad. Like Monster Hunter’s sandbox, Pokemon X/Y keeps you entrenched in sticky, interlocking systems (grow berries! breed! fight! train! trade!), this time surrounded by a fresh, candy-colored 3D coating 15 years in the making. There is so much to do in this not-an-MMO-but-really-kind-of-an-MMO it will keep us busy for years, or at least hundreds upon hundreds of hours. Meowth, that’s right.
Many people were ready to label the new Tomb Raider as an Uncharted-inspired game when Uncharted wouldn’t even exist if it weren’t for this IP’s original roots. This reboot delivers excitement, solid storytelling, and enough tree hopping and bow shooting action to leave Jennifer Lawrence jealous. Except, don’t play the multiplayer. Ever.