XXL’s Top 15 Video Games of 2013
2013 has been one of the more exciting highlight years for gamers and the video game industry alike. Back in March, a Lara Croft reboot resulted in the best Tomb Raider game in years, and Grand Theft Auto 5 managed to exceed the high expectations of gamers everywhere proving that although this year marked the end of this current generation of consoles, they still had plenty of quality to offer. Didn’t make the plunge for an Xbox One or PS4 yet? Don’t fret as XXL counts down the top 15 games that will keep you busy well into 2014.—written and compiled by DJRhude (@DJRhude)
15. Madden NFL 25
It took the entire life of the 360/PS3, but we finally got a comprehensive game of football when EA Sports dropped Madden 25. Continuing to build off the foundation laid via the Infinity Engine and Connected Careers mode that debuted in Madden 13, the rough edges were smoothed out in M25. Heading into the next generation, Madden heads finally have good reason to believe that EA can get their flagship title on par with the NBA 2Ks of the world.
14. Injustice: Gods Among Us
Injustice is one of the those rare fighting games that managed to appeal to hardcore fighter fans, diehard comic readers, and the average gamer alike. Probably the biggest surprise was its great single-player story which is atypical for most brawlers as it didn’t come across as a lame added on mode. Superheroes (and supervillains) punching each other in the grill never was executed better.
13. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
If you’ve never owned a Nintendo 3DS, The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds would be a great reason as you’ll ever get to cop one. Taking the familiar world of A Link to the Past and remixing it with some great stereoscopic 3D visuals made this one of the best titles we've ever seen on Nintendo's handheld. The incredibly entertaining puzzle-solving mechanics, and a revised item-collection system, was the icing on the greatness.
12. Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Blacklist
Splinter Cell: Blacklist hit the sweet spot between the Panther-like action of Conviction and the Ghost-like stealth of Chaos Theory. The result of this was some of the most spectacular and natural stealth gameplay you’re ever going to see. If you pick this game up you’ll also owe it to yourself to check out the beefy co-op modes as well.
11. Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
AC IV: Black Flag was the golden age of piracy. Swashbuckling across the high seas as pirate Edward Kenway was an exhilarating adventure as you stole ships and plundered islands of their riches. The game’s emphasis on freedom and great side quests also helped make it one of the greatest pirate game ever made.
10. Saint’s Row IV
There wasn’t a more over the top game this year than Saint’s Row IV, but that attribute is what gives it its charm. As President of the United States you’re not asked to make any life altering decisions other than fighting off aliens with your super powers. Throw in some hilarious writing coupled with the purposely cheesy voice acting and SR IV is a pure video game to its core, moral actions be damned.
9. Battlefield 4
Battlefield 4 is one of the best shooters on the market. Terrific level design is responsible for a lot of what makes BF4 work so well and the combination of its graphical might and a powerful physics system will bring you some crazy experiences in this latest iteration. The single-player campaign is a waste of disc space though and you’ll want to stick to the multi-layer mode.
8. Grand Turismo 6
GT6 takes everything that was good in GT5, polishes it up, and delivers the most exhaustive, feature-rich racer available on modern consoles. When you’re whipping around on one of GT6’s absolutely gorgeous tracks, it’s not hard to see why the title receives all the accolades it does. If it wasn’t for the non-aggressive A.I. that plagues the game, it would’ve been higher on our list.
7. Papers, Please (PC)
Thankfully game development is a much more open field these days thanks to inexpensive tools and digital distribution because without that we wouldn’t get innovative games like Papers, Please. The concept is simple but dope: You're a border agent for an impoverished totalitarian of a country and must examine the documents of everyone who wishes to enter. The heart-breaking stories of the people you meet in the line and the decisions you make that will ultimately decide their fates makes this game unlike any other.
6. NBA 2K14
Like a Ray Allen behind the stripe, 2K Sports always comes through in the clutch with their NBA series and NBA 2K14 is no different. The revamped Shot Stick, uncanny signature animations and improved passing mechanic helped 2K14 maintain its standard of excellence. Even scarier for the competition: the next-gen version adds amazing player likenesses and animations to the party improving on an already dope game.
5. Super Mario 3D World
Amongst the new console launches, Nintendo managed to shake up the virtual world with the release of their brilliant Super Mario 3D World. The vast amount of texture detail stitched into the worlds, along with subtle lighting and effects make Super Mario 3D one of the best looking games you’ll ever see. The skillful platforming and extremely fun and addictive co-op multiplayer put this title near the top of the must-have games this year.
4. Tomb Raider
Tomb Raider was a new dawn for Lara Craft as her reboot presented a different, more vulnerable, less robotic character and she’s thrust into a gripping tale from the very start. The improved combat mechanics and excellent puzzles that presented a nice challenge made this one of the more surprising titles this year
3. Bioshock: Infinite
BioShock: Infinite is a brilliant shooter that will push the entire genre forward with innovations in both storytelling and gameplay. Infinite boasted a rich satisfying story, beautiful art direction, coupled with a myriad of combat options inside Columbia, a world that has to be one of the most memorable interactive spaces ever conceived.
2. Grand Theft Auto V
We waited quite a while for this one and boy did Rockstar deliver a mind blowing experience that exceeded even the most jaded of expectations. Los Santos is a world soaked in so much incredible depth that even months after its release the most dedicated gamer is still uncovering secrets which speaks volumes to GTAV’s incredible detail. However it’s the way the stories of Michael, Trevor and Frankin flawlessly intertwine that makes GTAV grand in every sense.
1. The Last of Us
No game told a more deeply moving story than Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us as Ellie was a compelling, multi-faceted character we’ve never seen the likes of before in a video game. Last of Us was more like a major motion picture where you had a director’s hand in how everything would play out. The tension created by the fight-for-your-life gameplay worked hand in hand with the edge-of-your-seat story, putting Last of Us in rarified air.