Game Informer Best Of 2013 Awards
In a year of transitions, gamers were still treated to a wealth of impressive interactive experiences. Square Enix successfully rebooted Tomb Raider, Irrational Games expanded the boundaries of the BioShock universe with Infinite, Rockstar Games created perhaps its best open world yet with Grand Theft Auto V, and Naughty Dog's The Last of Us pushed the boundaries of video game narratives. The indie scene was equally impressive, with titles like The Stanley Parable, The Swapper, and Papers, Please winning over the Game Informer staff. With so many praiseworthy games, narrowing a list down to the best of the best wasn't easy.
After much deliberation, we hammered out choices. Here are the award-winning games of 2013:
Best PS3 Exclusive: The Last Of Us
The PlayStation 3 went out with a bang thanks to another stellar effort from Naughty Dog. Pushing the aging console to its limits, The Last of Us won us over with its atmospheric world, tense gameplay, and one of the best stories of the generation.
Best PS4 Exclusive: Resogun
Sure, it basically apes the core concept of Defender, but this stylish shooter from Housemarque delivers a perfect cocktail of nostalgia and addictive gameplay. Recalling the classic arcade gameplay loop, Resogun challenges you to constantly strive for the top score.
Best Xbox 360 Exclusive: Battleblock Theater
The Xbox 360's exclusive titles sputtered out in 2013, but looking past Behemoth's platformer would be a mistake. This puzzle-heavy platforming game from the makers of Castle Crashers offers a fun and diverse cooperative experience, complete with a level editor for more creative endeavors.
Best Xbox One Exclusive: Dead Rising 3
Erasing some of the major gripes with previous installments and drastically upping the zombie count, Dead Rising 3 is the blood-soaked standout of the Xbox One launch. Expanding the scale of both the open world and your weapon-making abilities, Capcom Vancouver's frenzied zombie slaughter party is a must-play for Xbox One owners.
Best Wii U Exclusive: Super Mario 3D World
With every iteration of the Super Mario series, Nintendo amazingly finds new ways to freshen up its classic platforming formula. Super Mario 3D World shines with HD graphics, addictive cooperative gameplay, and a new 3D world to traverse.
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Best PC Exclusive: Dota 2
Finally emerging from its long-running beta in 2013, Dota 2 was a destination for legions of PC gamers, raising the profile of the Valve title right up to the ranks of MOBA rival League of Legends. It may be somewhat hostile to new players, but millions of passionate fans who survived the noob gauntlet have spent countless hours mastering its nuances.
Best Vita Exclusive: Tearaway
Taking full advantage of the Vita's capabilities, Media Molecule's latest platformer won us over with its charming art style, gorgeous soundtrack, and imaginative papercraft world. If you own a Vita and don't pick this game up, you're robbing yourself of a magical experience.
Best 3DS Exclusive: The Legend Of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
The successor to arguably the best Zelda game ever created (A Link to the Past), A Link Between Worlds takes the foundation of that SNES classic and breathes new life into it with an inventive approach to inventory, brand new dungeons, and some of the best boss battles Link has ever encountered. For many Zelda fans, this is exactly what they wanted from a 3DS title.
Best Mobile Exclusive: Device 6
A bold step forward in interactive fiction, Device 6 beat out an impressive catalog of mobile games like Plants vs. Zombies 2 and The Room Two to become our favorite phone/tablet title of the year. Using a collage of sound clips, still images, and text, Simogo Games weaves an inventive point-and-click adventure unlike anything else we've ever experienced.
Best Action: The Last Of Us
Naughty Dog's grim masterpiece wasn't just a great story – many of us enjoyed the tense stealth action it presented players as well. Deciding whether to waste your precious limited ammo to shoot enemies, approach them for a stealth takedown, or circumvent them altogether was a heart-pounding experience. When Naughty Dog then introduced the clickers, our palms got even sweatier.
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Best Adventure: The Stanley Parable
A mod turned HD release, The Stanley Parable finally gets the praise it deserves for its clever narrative that humorously explores the relationship between game designer and player. We highly recommend you find as many of the different endings as you can.
Best Cooperative Multiplayer: Super Mario 3D World
The 2D perspective made it easy for Nintendo to introduce cooperative gameplay to the New Super Mario games. Super Mario 3D World attempts the more daunting task of injecting four-player madness into a 3D platformer, and largely succeeds. Things can get hairy with four players trying to do different things at the same time, but when players coordinate to reach hard to get collectibles, this is the best cooperative experience of the year.
Best Competitive Multiplayer: Dota 2
With millions of players battling each other daily and a steady stream of professional tournaments boasting large purses, Dota 2 is one of the premiere competitive multiplayer games in the world. Its deep roster, emphasis on team play, and depth of strategy make Dota 2 our choice for 2013.
Best Fighting: Injustice: Gods Among Us
The Mortal Kombat vets at NetherRealm specialize in pitting super powerful fighters against one another, which is why it made so much sense to let the studio tackle the DC Comics license. From Superman knocking Batman into orbit to Doomsday driving Green Lantern into the Earth's core, Injustice nails the spectacle of the superhero brawl. This ultraviolent fighter shouldn't be missed by comic or fighting game fans.
Best Racing: Need For Speed: Rivals
As it streaks past its competition, this high-octane racer from Ghost Games deftly blurs the lines between single- and multiplayer experiences. With up to six players racing in the same open world, crossing paths for an impromptu race is only a matter of time. The strong track designs and a clever upgrade system offer a worthy suspension to the manic racing at the core of our 2013 racing game of the year.
Click the next page to see our best platforming, puzzle, and role-playing game awards.
Best Platforming: Super Mario 3D World
Several good platforming games released in 2013, but we could only reward one of them our 2013 platforming game of the year award. Super Mario 3D World narrowly edged out Rayman Legends thanks to its ambitious attempt to integrate cooperative play into a 3D platforming world. The results were magnificent, once again confirming Mario's status as a legendary gaming icon.
Best Puzzle: The Swapper
Facepalm Games melds the sci-fi exploration of Metroid with a clever, clone-based puzzle mechanic. This highly atmospheric journey through a derelict space station is challenging enough to stump you from time to time, but as you learn new tricks eventually the answers reveal themselves. A game that continually surprises, The Swapper is a must-play.
Best Role-Playing: Pokémon X & Y
A perfect jumping on point for those who have been away from Pokémon for years, X & Y brings several improved changes to the stalwart RPG franchise. The 3D world, fully-modeled monsters, and Nintendo's best use of online in its history helped push this game to the top of the RPG heap in 2013.
Best MMO: Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn
Given its disastrous launch, it would be easy to dismiss Square's Final Fantasy XIV reboot altogether. But for some Game Informer editors, A Realm Reborn is the best Final Fantasy experience of this generation, period. The improved structure, addictive job system, more compelling content, and several nods to the series history not only redeem FFXIV, but make it the best MMO of the year.
Best Rhythm/Music: Rocksmith 2014
Learning how to play guitar by yourself isn't easy. For those who can't afford an instructor, Rocksmith is a great alternative. Working out the kinks of the previous iteration, the 2014 edition is your best option on the market.
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Best Shooter: BioShock Infinite
Irrational Games's soaring BioShock sequel claims our 2013 shooter of the year award thanks to its gorgeously realized world, compelling characters, and mind-bending narrative. Exploring the floating city of Columbia is a reward in itself, and watching the drama unfold between Booker DeWitt and Elizabeth is an unforgettable experience that will live with us for several years.
Best Simulation: Papers, Please
Working a border checkpoint for a totalitarian regime sounds like a terrible game idea, but Lucas Pope took this simple concept and turned it into an entertaining and harrowing experience unlike any other. Checking passports for inconsistencies under the scrutiny of your superiors is intense knowing that every mistake will hurt your ability to provide for you family, and the colorful cast of characters you meeting on the job kept us coming back.
Best Sports: FIFA 14
Game Informer's best sports game for the third year running, FIFA 14 defends its title with strong gameplay that improves shot taking, expanded career options, and stable online play. Given the impressive run this dynasty is making, other sports titles (including EA's own Madden and NHL) have a long ways to go to unseat it as the best of the best.
Best Strategy: Dota 2
Another shoo-in award for Valve's impressive MOBA. Daunting at first, Dota 2 rewards players for patience as they discover the intricacies its workings. As you learn the ropes of the most popular game on Steam, you come to appreciate the flexibility and strategic depth this game offers.
Best Downloadable Content: Mass Effect 3: Citadel
Offering players one last hurrah as Commander Shepard, Citadel gave us a chance reconnect with the cast we became so attached to over the course of the sci-fi trilogy. Being surrounded by your crew and offering them a bittersweet farewell was an offer too good to refuse.
Click the last page to see our 2013 game of the year.
Game of the Year: The Last Of Us
When it came down to it, no game moved the editors at Game Informer nearly as much as the harrowing tale of Joel and Ellie in The Last of Us. From its tragic opening sequence to the open-ended finale, The Last of Us was an emotional roller coaster that moved the bar for narratives in interactive entertainment. We applaud Naughty Dog for its achievement, and can't wait to see what Sony's premiere studio delivers next.
To see the rest of our 24-page Top 50 games of 2013 feature, pick up a copy of the latest issue of Game Informer.If you subscribe digitally, your February issue is already available on PC/Mac, iPad, Android, and Google Play. You can also get the latest issue through third-party apps on Nook, Kindle, and Zinio starting tomorrow. To switch your print subscription to digital, click here, or to create a new subscription to the digital edition, click here.