|The Last of Us is a story-driven game that rates as one of the best games of 2013.|
Then, in November, we saw the changing of the guard as both Sony and Microsoft introduced gamers to the next generation.
But when we look back at 2013, it was the Sony's PlayStation 4 nor Microsoft's Xbox One that garnered the majority of the critical acclaim. Sure, the new systems were impressive, but for the most part, the first-party titles offered by both felt more like tech demos than fully flushed out experiences.
Let's take a look at some of the hits and misses of 2013.
- Grand Theft Auto V dropped on both PS3 and XB360 in September to massive hype and some of the highest reviews this generation had seen to date. This was in part due to the intersecting story lines of three playable characters (a first for the series), and the largest map ever to be featured.
The missions were complex, highlighted by epic heists that challenged players, while progressing the experience in a way that felt fresh. Rounded off by an incredible multiplayer element, this title has quickly become an instant classic - the new benchmark for the open-world sandbox game.
- The return of Bioshock Infinite was a breath of fresh air to a franchise that had previously seen an abysmal sequel to the beloved 2007 original. Also, in a climate dominated by first-person shooters like Call of Duty and Battlefield, the gameplay was also refreshing. Released for both consoles, as well as PC earlier in 2013.
You take the part of Mr. Booker, the main protagonist thrust into a world best described as an evil Norman Rockwell painting, trusted in retrieving a missing girl.
Not only was the story incredible in its scope, Bioshock Infinite also dealt with social issues such as immigration, homophobia and racism.
- The Last of Us was released as a PS3 exclusive to high critical acclaim. This story-driven title begins moments after your small town is infected by a zombie outbreak. The gameplay of this third-person perspective action game stresses stealth over brute force. A true survival horror in every sense, ammo and health are scarce, as you are constantly in a state of fight or flight. Truly terrifying, The Last of Us had me in tears in the first 10 minutes of the tutorialâ€¦ Or maybe I just had something in my eye.
- I would not be able to sleep if I didn't mention Gran Turismo 6. Another PS3 exclusive that was released December 6th, this sequel felt like an improvement over its predecessors in every single way. More cars, more tracks, more fun - everything you could possibly want in a realistic driving simulator. Not only were there more cars and tracks, but those cars and tracks were rendered so beautifully, it gave Forza Motorsport 5 (released on the new Xbox One), a run for its money. If you like racing games, this is the definitive vision of what they are supposed to be - a master craft.
- Back in the early '80s, Nintendo was single handedly responsible for bringing console gaming to the mainstream. I was a Nintendo kid, played all the games, had all the systems.
Today, I don't know what the heck is going on with this company. Maybe I'm too old? Maybe I'm out of touch? I don't think so.
First the Wii U was released to little to no fanfare or marketing to speak of - no one knew what it was.
In case you don't know, it is a totally new console that you play better looking versions of Mario Bros. on. We're nearly a year in to this system's release, and there was nearly nothing to play on it in 2013. Nintendo, you need to back up your new system with some games, it's that simple. You release a console with launch titles, showing off the capabilities of said system, and tease us with what's to come.Hopefully, 2014 brings us something from the once-mighty Japanese developer and publisher.
- Aliens Colonial Marines gets my award for the worst game of 2013. Developed by who cares, and published by not in business anymore, I have never been so upset by a single video game. We were shown months in advance video depicting the title. Beautiful graphics and lush environments inspired by the movie franchise. Aliens that were smart and terrifying, I became more and more excited. Finally, a wicked Alien game! That morning I woke up and checked the reviews - my jaw hit the floor. Brutal, was the general consensus. - I had to play it for myself. It was all true, horrible graphics, choppy animation, lame story, even worse gameplay, full of bugs. I mean, the list just goes on and on.
- The PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One were released in November. As far as console launches go, it wasn't all bad (Nintendo, I'm looking at you). However, it wasn't that good either. Both publishers had a couple of first-party titles to offer, nothing that really pushed the envelope.
Their ported titles from the previous generation were just OK, and arguably ran smoother on the older of the systems. The silver lining here is that Xbox One's Kinect camera and home theatre integration are really fantastic, and both publishers are vowing a plethora of games in the upcoming year.
-Â Matt Gunn is a video game enthusiast.