Best of 2013

A countdown of last year’s greatest hits – Part 2.

By Stephen Shore.

Power Nerd continues to cover the games that left the biggest mark in 2013. Here are five more heavy hitters listed in no particular order, followed by our overall game of 2013. Enjoy!

Grand Theft Auto 5

Rockstar Games continues to mark its dominance of the open world genre, remaining one of the elite developers of our time. With breath-taking visuals and seamless transitions from cutscene to gameplay, GTA 5 is nothing less than a technical masterpiece. With the biggest reported budget of any game ever made ($250 million), it’s easy to see where the money went. The game sports impeccable attention to detail, with Rockstar having spared no expense in giving the player a living, breathing world the likes of which has never been seen before.

The story was far more entertaining than in previous instalments, focusing on three ‘protagonists’ with their own set of morals and personal goals. Trevor was a literal psychopath, whose love of carnage allowed the player to indulge in criminal activities without loss of narrative and a sense of disconnect as seen in GTA4.

This is a highly polished adventure that earned its place among the gaming greats, and would have normally been a shoe-in for the top spot of ‘Game of the Year.’

Assassins Creed 4: Black Flag

A divisive title amongst the Power Nerd staff, Black Flag was definitely a ‘love it or hate it’ title. There were aspects of the game which were joyous and addictive and others which were a reminder that the series desperately needs to consider its next move and evolve to stay relevant. There was more than a glimmer of hope in Assassin’s Creed 4 however.

The pirate setting was inspired and original, allowing you to explore Caribbean islands, upgrading the ship whilst battling others for raw materials. With fun side activities and a fascinating backstory twinned with the wonderful world of pirating, Black Flag is often considered one of the premier Assassins’ Creed games to date.

Tearaway

Easily the best example of a game using the full functionality of the PlayStation Vita, Tearaway wasn’t just a good novelty, but a wonderfully creative and original game with a charming world. It’s the duty of Atoi or Iota to deliver the message to “you”, taking the player through different worlds using the Vita’s camera, back and front touch screens to full use. It’s a simple platformer and an accessible one too, though it’s a shame that too few people will get to play it until sales of the Vita begin to pick up more steam.

Killzone: Mercenary

If Sony has proved anything with Killzone and Tearaway, it’s that they can produce excellent games for a device they clearly want to support. Killzone: Mercenary is the best FPS on the Vita (you had the chance Call of Duty!), sporting excellent gunplay and a pretty strong story. Taking the role of a mercenary (hence the name!), you take on numerous missions whilst earning money for everything you do. Kill someone, that’s money, perform a headshot and it’s more. Cash can then be invested in better weapons and upgrades.

With great graphics (the game itself is running on the Killzone 3 engine), satisfying gameplay and a decent story, Killzone Mercenary deserves to be on the list.

Beyond: Two Souls

One of the most divisive games in recent memory, Beyond: Two Souls is not for everyone. Taking on the role of Jodie Holmes, played by Ellen Page, you’re taken on an emotional journey alongside her tethered spirit Aiden. Considering that Quantic Dream’s previous game was Heavy Rain with its numerous endings and complex, intertwining characters, people weren’t entirely sure what to make of this latest effort.

The characters are engaging and the voice acting superb… much better than its predecessor. Yes, the gameplay is almost non-existent, but that’s what you get from a Quantic Dream title. You’re simply playing through an interactive movie. Those yet to check it out can probably find it at a budget price and are advised to do so without a second thought, as long as they can appreciate a game for its storytelling chops.

And the winner is … The Last of Us!

Power Nerd’s game of the year (and possibly everyone else’s), Naughty Dog created a masterpiece with The Last of Us. The player is thrust into a terrible world where things can seemingly only ever go from bad to worse. The game is designed to make you feel terrible too, to make you feel for these characters and relate to them as they fight for their very survival. Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson put on superb performances as Joel and Ellie, with incredible support acting from the likes of Uncharted’s Nolan North.

In a world of endless sequels and in some cases, yearly iterations, the Last of Us thrives in every aspect. Possibly the best looking game on the PS3 and easily one of the greatest games of the modern age, Naughty Dog have cemented themselves as one of the very best in the industry. Characters behaved as human beings really would, creatures were terrifying and one late section felt isolating and vicious.

By the end of the game the player will have experienced an array of emotions. Ellie’s sense of humour is superbly delivered in number of touching scenes, bringing levity in a way that felt genuine and necessary. Certain sections represent survival horror at its best, moving away from the dark action/adventure genre and into something far more threatening. It takes a special something from a developer to pull it all off so convincingly.

From graphics to gameplay, to story, to environment, to atmosphere, to tension and more, The Last of Us is a fantastic experience and our top pick for 2013’s game of the year!