And now for the big one – game of the year 2013. 2013 was a tough year, as there were a plethora of fantastic games released, many of which were pinnacles of their genres and generations. However, there were a few that distanced themselves clearly from the pack, and a small contingent which made each of our respective shortlists for game of the year, with one title in particular standing out. Below, you’ll find our writers’ final opinions on 2013 – the finest game that released in the last calendar year.
Darryl: The Last of Us
2013 was filled with some rather epic releases; however, only one can take the prestigious prize of Game of the Year. That game for me was The Last of Us. To be honest, Naughty Dog did what most developers have only dreamed of doing, which is create a title that is rock solid and consistent throughout its campaign, multiplayer, visuals, musical score, voice acting and bonus content.
While The Last of Us gains my vote for Game of the Year 2013, there were a few close contenders, which included: BioShock Infinite, Grand Theft Auto V, Tomb Raider and Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag. All I can say is well done to my winner for 2013, and a big congratulations to my runners up. Let’s hope 2014 brings us all some amazing video games, no matter what platform they are on.
Brady: The Last of Us
Out of all the games released during 2013, there were really only 3 that were in the running for Game of the Year. Those titles were BioShock Infinite, The Last of Us and Grand Theft Auto V. As much as I love Rockstar Games and the GTA series, the latest instalment fell flat here and there where the narrative was concerned. So my vote in this category would go to The Last of Us. I never really had any issues throughout my playthrough of this magnificent title. The story always had me wanting more and waiting to see what happened next. This was complemented by top notch voice acting from start to finish and definitely helped with immersion every time I sat down to play. It never failed to evoke an emotional reaction when the narrative started pulling on my heartstrings.
Gameplay was very smooth and was always a pleasure to return to when starting a session. It’s also a little hard to put into a genre as The Last of Us makes use of elements from stealth, survival horror and action games. A lot more strategy would be required as rushing into encounters was the easiest way to become overwhelmed. As mentioned in some of our earlier entries, the game also excels where the visuals and audio are concerned; it’s possibly one of the best looking games on the PlayStation 3. Funny enough, Naughty Dog actually managed to make the gameplay work well in a multiplayer environment and the component never felt tacked on. The Last of Us truly is an amazing game that will immerse nearly any player that gets their hands on it. It definitely one of the greatest games of the current generation.
Bracken: The Last of Us
There were 4 major contenders for game of the year from my side – BioShock Infinite, GTA V, The Last of Us, and Tomb Raider. However, my choice became much simpler when I looked back and realised that only one of these games truly excelled in all areas. It wasn’t BioShock Infinite, as the gameplay in the title felt like filler content, and the blockbuster ending hid many of the title’s other plot issues, nor was it Tomb Raider – as despite its excellence, it just couldn’t keep up with the other 3. GTA V came close, but bouts of poor writing, questionable online policies and numerous glitches meant that the Game of the Year, from my side, fell comfortably to Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us.
The Last of Us was excellent in everything it attempted. The story, while based off of an oft-used formula, handled mature issues originally and carefully, never trivialising the several questionable concepts which it handled – additionally it gave the excellent protagonist pairing of Joel and Ellie, both of whom were very diverse and complete characters. The gameplay was heavily stealth based and equally as nerve-wracking, mixing survival horror and third-person shooting near perfectly, as well as balancing resources and difficulty within the game very well. Onto more technical elements, the title was graphically superb, and audibly unrivalled – with world-class voice acting and a soundtrack which fit the game’s atmosphere perfectly. Lastly, the multiplayer was a pleasant surprise, which was equally as stealth and resource-based as the single-player, but managed to make this work excellently in a PvP setting. Truly deserving of all of its praise, The Last of Us is currently at the summit of the gaming pile, and especially so in 2013.
Michael: The Last of Us
As we at ITF Gaming have mentioned repeatedly, The Last of Us is a superb title. It excels in every aspect, from visuals through to gameplay mechanics and everything in between. With breathtaking visuals thanks to the Havok engine, even something as ordinary as rain seemed surreal in The Last of Us. I remember going extremely slowly through areas of the game, simply to admire the sheer beauty.
The gameplay in The Last of Us was phenomenal and far exceeded my expectations on this title. Utilising stealth and wits, the game challenged you to get around or through areas unscathed and undetected. That being said, the combat in The Last of Us was also brilliant and I found myself attacking secluded enemies simply to experience the title’s combat system over and over again. It was fluid and gave you the feeling that you were controlling a human being, and not a skin-clad robot. Climbing off of a ledge or wall requires your character to actually bend and absorb the fall, and running and aiming both have a sway that adds to its authenticity.
In terms of sound, this title is unrivalled. The voice acting, especially that of Joel and Ellie, is mindblowing. The quality of the ambient sounds around you, and even the sound of the wind outside are all clear and high-quality. Special mention needs to be made to the clickers, which sent shivers down my spine and forced me to play even more carefully. There is nothing that slows you down quite like the fear of having several of these demons charging at you.
Where The Last of Us excelled most in my opinion was the story, and while it had familiar aspects such as a worldwide pandemic, it had a fresh take on it and made it more personal than any other game I have played. Witnessing Joel lose his daughter in the first 5 or 10 minutes of gameplay set the tone for a heart-felt emotional title that will stay with me for years to come. It isn’t often that a game manages to tell a story so vivid and interesting that you find yourself thinking about it months after the title has been released.
For all these qualities and many others, I nominate The Last of Us as the game of the year.