Feature

2013 Shooter Of The Year Awards

by Matt Bertz on Jan 13, 2014 at 09:30 AM

For the vocal base of first-person shooter fans who have criticized publishers for pushing out short single-player campaigns in favor of focusing on multiplayer, 2013 offered a respite. With longer campaigns in BioShock Infinite, Metro: Light, and Dead Space 3, players had several options to explore. The multiplayer front had a rougher year, with fewer options to choose from and server issues preventing players from joining the fray. That said, we still had a lot to celebrate. Here are our picks for the 2013 shooter genre awards.

Best Campaign: BioShock Infinite

When disgraced former Pinkerton agent Booker DeWitt accepts a job to rescue a woman from the floating city of Columbia, he has no idea how completely his life is about to be altered. BioShock Infinite's mind-bending plot kept us keenly engaged with the action through the campaign. As the secrets of this floating city and a woman with the ability to tear the fabric of reality with her mind are revealed, we start to realize there is a lot more going on between these two lead characters than we originally thought. 

Best Character: Sgt. Rex "Power" Colt – Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon

Rex "Power" Colt is part man, part machine, and all badass. Delivering a steady stream of bullets and one-liners toward anyone who stands between him and getting revenge on his former superior officer, this Mark IV Commando is a callback to the glory days of '80s action heroes. He's at his best on the field of battle, so if you waste his time by exploring the open world for collectibles, he's not afraid to tell you how stupid you are for doing so.

Best Setting: Columbia – BioShock Infinite

We visited a lot of visually stimulating settings in 2013, but none matched the allure of Irrational's floating city in the sky. From the moment we were baptized in the Welcome Center and gained entrance to Columbia, we had a hard time concentrating on the gunfights given the impressive sights of this fictional city from a bygone era. Exploring the Columbian culture in Soldier's Field, the inner workings of Fink Manufacturing, and the impoverished abodes in Shantytown was just as enriching as the excellent narrative.

Click the next page to find out which games had the best graphics, audio, and weaponry. 

Best Graphics: Metro: Last Light

With Battlefield 4, Killzone: Shadow Fall, and Dead Space 3 in the running, this award was hotly contested in 2013. But no game used technology to strike a mood better than the PC version of Metro: Last Light. This is one of the most atmospheric games we've ever played. Ukrainian studio 4A Games' excellent use of light and shadow created an foreboding atmosphere both in the derelict Russian subway system and in the barren wasteland above ground. 

Best Audio: Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon

The Blood Dragon score sounds like a soundtrack that was cryogenically frozen in the 1980s and thawed out in 2013 to re-state the case for synthesizers and electronic drum kits. Australian duo Power Glove brought its A-game to the project, and the gun sound effects fit in perfectly with the nostalgic aesthetic. 

Best Weaponry: Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon

So many games stick with the tried-and-true effectiveness of modern military weaponry that it's easy to never give a second thought to the arsenals at your disposal. Blood Dragon's inspired ordnance conjures memories of the early FPS era where guns like the BFG 9000 ruled the day. Quadruple barrel shotguns, sniper rifles with explosive rounds, and gatling guns all excel at turning cyborg enemies into scrap metal. But the best weapon of all is the Killstar (pictured above), an arm-mounted laser cannon that eviscerates anything that comes into contact with its overpowered beam.

Best Gunplay: Call of Duty: Ghosts

A majority of first-person shooters have above-average gunplay these days, but few can match the smoothness of Call of Duty. With fluid weapon handling, quick reloads, varied weapon performance, and deep customization options, Activision's world-beating shooter is still the cream of the crop when it comes to the basic act of firing.

Best Cooperative Multiplayer: Payday 2

Pulling off a frictionless heist in Payday 2 isn't easy, but when a competent team of four players coordinates carefully and moves with purpose, no one gets hurt and it can result in a huge payday. For the rest of us, we take the safeties off our guns before we even enter the bank and spend the majority of the afternoon fending off waves of law enforcement. Either way you try to play, Payday 2 is a great cooperative experience that stresses teamwork and rewards skill.

Read on to find out which games claimed our best competitive multiplayer, best map, and shooter of the year awards. 

Best Competitive Multiplayer: Battlefield 4

We know what some of you are thinking – "All I do is read about this game being broken, so how could it even be in the running for best competitive shooter?" The reality is with Call of Duty playing it safe and scarce other options, the competitive multiplayer landscape was seriously devoid of innovation in 2013. Despite its technical difficulties and some balancing issues Battlefield 4 rose to the top of this disappointing category for bringing 64-player battles to consoles and introducing a fun new game mode, Obliteration. When it works (and several of us have experienced gaming sessions uninterrupted by crashes) no game that released in 2013 offers a better suite of options for shooter fans.

Best Multiplayer Map: Guilin Peaks – Battlefield 4

Recalling the map design of Bad Company 2's Vietnam expansion (arguably the some best maps of this console generation), this map from the China Rising pack features varied elevations and pockets of jungle foliage that can protect infantry from camping snipers. A network of caves runs through mountain in the center of the map, and players can either hop on a chopper or grab a dirt bike to cruise between capture points in the foothills. As a bonus to skilled chopper pilots, this is the only map that gives players a new twist on the Air Superiority mode, pitting choppers against one another instead of jets.  

Shooter Of The Year: 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 intriguing 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.