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2013 Action Game Of The Year Awards

by Dan Ryckert on Jan 14, 2014 at 08:00 AM

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For all intents and purposes, 2013 was the final big year for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. These consoles went out with a bang rather than a whimper, and you'll see that reflected in the excellent action games we call attention to in this article. Here are the award-winning games in the action genre for 2013.

Best Story: The Last of Us

Naughty Dog managed to best even Rockstar’s excellent writers this year with one of the best stories the industry has ever produced. The team managed to smoothly transition from the flippant Nathan Drake from the Uncharted series to the believable performances and natural dialogue of Joel and Ellie. In the end, The Last of Us left us with an event and a conversation that gamers won’t soon forget.

Best Setting: Los Santos – Grand Theft Auto V

We’ve technically visited Los Santos before, but never on the level that Rockstar presents in Grand Theft Auto V. Featuring a massive, living city and miles upon miles of seedy countryside, there’s a seemingly endless amount of things to do in this new take on San Andreas. If you want a distraction from the story missions, you can always have a blast skydiving, taking to the waves on a jet ski, riding a bike down a mountain, or bumming a ride on a train and seeing the sights. It’s not the largest game world that’s ever been made, but it certainly feels the most alive.

Best Handheld: The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds

Nintendo has a long history of treating its biggest franchises well, but many gamers expected a simple nostalgia trip with A Link Between Worlds. Little did they know that one of gaming’s most prolific series would receive one of its best entries in 2013. With a new item system, an interesting mechanic that allows Link to stick to walls, and more freedom when it comes to dungeon order, this entry shakes up the series’ traditions more than any of its recent 3D installments.

Check out the next page to see our picks for the best co-op, graphics, most replayable, and most ridiculous games of the year.

Most Ridiculous: Saints Row IV

Topping the insanity of Saints Row: The Third is no easy task, but Volition managed to do just that with the addition of presidential superpowers. Putting you in the role of the badass President of the United States, this fourth entry allows gamers to leap across skyscrapers, encase vehicles in ice, create black holes, and even cause the game’s NPCs to glitch out in hilarious fashion. This series' bread and butter is over the top silliness, and Saints Row IV has no shortage of it.

Best Graphics: The Last Of Us

The graphical wizards at Naughty Dog have always excelled at using every bit of Sony’s hardware power, and The Last of Us looks even better than most PlayStation 4 and Xbox One games. Joel and Ellie’s facial expressions are spot-on, and the various environments do a fantastic job of making the player feel like they’re in a grim, apocalyptic future. As good as the team is at creating beautiful visuals, they’re equally skilled in creating grotesque, terrifying enemies.

Best Replayability: Devil May Cry

Gamers may have cried foul at Capcom's shift of the series' control to a western developer and Ninja Theory's dramatic change to Dante's appearance, but most complaints washed away when people got their hands on the finished product. This is classic Devil May Cry action, and its numerous difficulty settings ensure that there are dozens of hours of gameplay to be found here. Dante Must Die mode may be a major challenge, but Ninja Theory ups the ante even more with the Hell and Hell mode in which Dante dies in one hit.

Best Cooperative Multiplayer: Dead Rising 3

Capcom Vancouver injected cooperative chaos into Dead Rising 2, but this next-gen sequel ratchets up the lunacy to a fever pitch. Roaming across the huge open city bustling with huge crowds of zombies is even better with a friend, especially when you both hop in a custom-made vehicle. Splattering droves of undead with a steamroller/motorcycle hybrid is a blast, but having a buddy toss dynamite from the back makes it even better. Add in Dead Rising 3's reduced time constraints and mobile weapon crafting system, and cruising through Los Perdidos with a friend becomes one of the zaniest and most enjoyable co-op experiences of 2013. (submitted by Tim Turi)

Check out the final page to see the best multiplayer game, best downloadable game, and best overall action game of 2013

Best Multiplayer: Grand Theft Auto V

For years players wondered what it would be like to wreak indiscriminate havoc with friends across a Grand Theft Auto world. In 2013, they found out. Once it got past the bumpy launch, GTA Online captured the imaginations of players across the world, stealing the top spot on the Xbox charts away from Call of Duty. Given the diversity of activities available, that's not surprising. You can cruise the world griefing players, team up with friends to complete jobs, take part in the myriad competitions, or even just go shopping or hang out in your apartment. With the recent addition of player-created content and the promise of heists, we expect this deep mode to get even better in 2014. (submitted by Matt Bertz)

Best Downloadable: Brothers: A Tale Of Two Sons

With this downloadable title, Starbreeze Studios essentially made a playable fairy tale. Despite not speaking a word of English, the titular brothers took gamers on a sometimes lighthearted and sometimes moving journey as they attempt to save their ailing father. Its “two characters, one controller” concept may sound limiting at first, but Starbreeze continuously introduces interesting and fun new ways to use it. 

Action Game of the Year: The Last Of Us

It comes as no surprise that Game Informer’s overall Game of the Year is also our favorite action game of 2013. The Last of Us grabbed our attention by excelling in virtually every category, and the staff’s love of the game is reflected in our individual top 10 lists that you can see in the February 2014 issue featuring Evolve on the cover. It’s a self-contained masterpiece with a remarkable ending, and it serves as a fitting swan song for the last generation of consoles.