Game of the Year 2013: Part 1
Looking back on the year of 2013, it’s staggering to think of how many great games were released. Considering this will be the last year we can consider the Xbox 360 and PS3 “current-gen,” it’s fitting how many entries were from some of this generation’s most beloved franchises. We’re on the edge of a new era; with Steam Early Access and transparent Kickstarter development updates becoming commonplace and the new consoles’ focus on livestreaming, the lines are blurred between developing, playing and watching video games. Many of the titles we choose for awards this week will be shaping the path of the new generation, and we feel so honored to be able to highlight the best accomplishments of this year. Welcome to Part 1 of Press Play’s Game of the Year Awards for 2013!
We will be releasing five lists over the course of this week, each covering genres or facets of gaming that we think are important to our industry, culminating with the final “Game of the Year” decision. In the interest of full disclosure, we at Press Play have made the conscious choice to abstain from any “Best of Console” awards, as we would prefer not to encourage discussions we believe to be detrimental to the gaming community. With each ultimate choice, you can also see the individual choices of our three judges: Senior Producer Nick Hawryluk, and guest judges Chris Nagy and Peter Kendall from How Do I Jump. We have tried to be as impartial as possible, and in the interest of transparency, you can listen to our entire deliberations process in the embedded podcast as well.Jump to another part of our Game of the Year 2013 series: GOTY 2013 HQ • Part 1 • Part 2 • Part 3 • Part 4 • Part 5
If you’re looking for action, it’s hard to go wrong with the Devil May Cry series. Reinventing the stylish combat in their modernized reboot, developer Ninja Theory didn’t disappoint in creating an immensely fresh and exciting experience with DmC: DEVIL MAY CRY. The usage of streamlined weapon-switching in the series’ signature fast-paced setting turned combat into a unique sort of puzzle, and an emphasis on fluid combo creation over rote memorization made combat more accessible without losing its flair. The levels also became interesting characters in themselves, consciously trying to undermine players with shifting geometry to make platforming just as interesting as fighting. Ninja Theory is no stranger to making cinematic games, and in true Hollywood blockbuster fashion, DmC never let up until the closing credits roll. For that, it deserves our award for the Best Action Game of 2013!EDITORS’ PICKS: Nick: Saints Row IV Chris: Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance Pete: DmC: Devil May Cry
Though last year’s Best Adventure Game category stuck pretty faithfully to the more traditional “point-and-click” genre, we decided to broaden its possibilities for 2013. As far as using items to artfully block progression, driving players down a linear story and, you know, going on an adventure, Crystal Dynamics’ TOMB RAIDER fit the bill nicely. Essentially bait-and-switching players after its first quicktime event-laden hour, TOMB RAIDER opened up to reveal a METROID-esque series of cleverly designed arenas. Every nook and cranny in this game was filled with something interesting to do or find, and the constant incentive to return to previous areas with new items and abilities only added to the fun. As icing on the cake, this open-ended gameplay was surrounded by a linear story that was both well-executed and an exciting new path for Lara Croft. TOMB RAIDER brought the sort of swashbuckling, item-lusting attitude that we love in any classic adventure tale, and that’s why it’s our Best Adventure Game of 2013!EDITORS’ PICKS: Nick: The Walking Dead: 400 Days Chris: The Last of Us Pete: Tomb Raider
It’s difficult to take an established franchise and reinvent it from scratch, especially one that was as well-known, yet seemingly obsolete as Tomb Raider. By making some very smart decisions, Crystal Dynamics has managed to both make Lara Croft interesting again and reinvigorate the series’ gameplay in one sure-handed motion. By dropping Lara a few cup sizes and allowing players to grow with her on her first outing as an explorer, the character has become compelling in her own right and not just a cardboard cutout. At the same time, the series’ trademark puzzle-heavy gameplay shifted focus from climbing and moving blocks to exploring large, open environments. Not only did this feel more like what an explorer would actually do, but it was damned engaging gameplay as well. We’re extremely excited to see where this series goes next, and that’s why TOMB RAIDER is our Best Reboot of 2013!EDITORS’ PICKS: Nick: Tomb Raider Chris: DmC: Devil May Cry Pete: Tomb Raider
In the role playing space, you can’t get much more traditional than the Dungeons & Dragons roots of NEVERWINTER. Based on the 4th edition ruleset and having a healthy focus on D&D lore, there was a whole lot of content for min-maxers to enjoy. For fans of traditional RPGs, the free-to-play tactics never really got in the way, allowing players to enjoy the game however they wanted. For aspiring dungeon masters, “The Foundry” provided tools for creating customized dungeons, all wrapped in a robust community rating system. Whether you wanted to play as a hero or challenge one, NEVERWINTER had you covered, and it’s our Best RPG of 2013!EDITORS’ PICKS: Nick: Dead Rising 3 Chris: Neverwinter Pete: Rogue Legacy
We like games that can make us feel like badasses. In SAINTS ROW IV, we could run faster than cars and jump higher than buildings. We could kill aliens with dubstep music. We disarmed an atomic bomb mid-flight with our bare hands. We fought an alien invasion as the super-powered President of the United States. If this doesn’t explain why SAINTS ROW IV is our Best Badass-Enabler of 2013, we don’t know what does.EDITORS’ PICKS: Nick: Saints Row IV Chris: Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
Pete: Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag
The Borderlands series is no stranger to great downloadable content. In fact, BORDERLANDS 2 was up for this very same award last year with the beginning of its Season 1 DLC offering, and it’s fitting that the season’s final episode should win in 2013. “Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep” was a game-within-a-game, as players acted out the events of the Borderlands series’ D&D equivalent, “Bunkers and Badasses.” It was filled to the brim with goofy pop culture references, and because of the subject matter, almost impossible not to love. It was also nice slap around the Borderlands version of Prince Joffrey from Game of Thrones. Just putting that out there. Assault on Dragon Keep was as hilarious and dumb as a Borderlands fan could ever want, and that’s why it’s our Best DLC of 2013!EDITORS’ PICKS: Nick: The Walking Dead: 400 Days Chris: Assault on Dragon Keep (Borderlands 2) Pete: Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon
We at Press Play are only human, and therefore can’t play every single game that comes out each year. For that reason, we would like to honor a game from the previous year that didn’t get any attention, with the award for 2013’s Best Overlooked Game from 2012. At the time of Press Play’s previous awards ceremony, the excellent FAR CRY 3 had not yet been released, and therefore didn’t go home with even an honorable mention. With open-world gameplay hooks that dug deep and insane emergent gameplay, this game definitely left an impression on us. The story was the perfect sort of straight-faced camp to accompany the wacky antics players could engage in, and it didn’t hurt that the graphics were absolutely gorgeous either. FAR CRY 3 made us sorry that we didn’t hold our 2012 awards ceremony a few weeks later, and for that it is 2013’s Best Overlooked Game from 2012!EDITORS’ PICKS: Nick: Far Cry 3 Chris: Far Cry 3 Pete: Far Cry 3
The Game of the Year 2013 Awards were judged by Press Play Senior Producer Nick Hawryluk and guests Peter Kendall and Chris Nagy from How Do I Jump. Don’t think we made the right choices in a category? Let us know what you think should have won in the comments below!
Trophy from The Noun Project