Game Front Staff’s 2013 Game of the Year

CJ Miozzi – Associate Editor
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  1. The Last of Us
  2. Grand Theft Auto V
  3. Tomb Raider
  4. XCOM: Enemy Within
  5. StarCraft 2: Heart of the Swarm

XCOM: Enemy Within and StarCraft 2: Heart of the Swarm both took great games and made them better. While it is debatable whether an expansion pack should be eligible for Game of the Year, in the case of both of these titles, they fundamentally alter the experience of playing the game. Both expansions not only add new story content, but also new game systems and components that force players to rethink their tactics entirely.

I was never a fan of Lara Croft, but the new Tomb Raider has sold me by taking an antiquated relic and making her relevant again. Lara is no longer polygonal eye candy meant to attract male consumers; she’s a real character, and Tomb Raider makes us feel her plight and care for her as a person.

I wasn’t a huge fan of GTA4, but with GTA5, Rockstar has improved on mechanics, gameplay, and storytelling with tighter driving, more tactical choice on how to approach missions, and three viewpoint characters that allow for a more cinematic approach.

Quite simply, The Last of Us’ success is a testament to the art of storytelling in gaming, specifically thanks to the characterization of the leads and the depiction of their relationship.


Ben Richardson – Associate Editor
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  1. Europa Universalis IV
  2. The Last of Us
  3. Company of Heroes 2
  4. Grand Theft Auto V
  5. Tomb Raider

Video games can operate at any scope, a fact that informs my Game of the Year picks for 2013. In the epic mold, you have games like 7 Grand Steps or Europa Universalis IV, which span generations or even centuries. Grand Theft Auto V established a new precedent with the size and detail of its open world. Company of Heroes 2 captured the blood-soaked grandiosity of the Eastern Front.

But for every title with massive scope, there was another stellar game that kept a tighter focus. The Last of Us, Raven: Legacy of a Master Thief, and The Wolf Among Us are character-driven tales defined by their sharp writing and attention to human detail. Atum is barely an hour long, but will have you thinking for hours after.

The Swapper is similarly thought-provoking, though its Metroid-like open world falls in the middle of the scope scale. So too Tomb Raider, which offers a large open world but also a taut, character-driven narrative. As the year draws to a close, you can’t help but marvel at the diversity of experience; whether you like things small, medium, or large (or all three), games can and do deliver something great.

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12 Comments on Game Front Staff’s 2013 Game of the Year

Chirpy

On January 4, 2014 at 4:06 am

I’m a bit surprised Bioshock Infinite didn’t receive more love. At least nobody went for the ridiculous Beyond: Two Souls.

GazH

On January 4, 2014 at 4:38 am

Was it a requirement to vote in Tomb Raider? Did someone get paid at all? I’m just spotting it everywhere, even in places where it doesn’t belong, such as Mitchell Saltzman’s choices. He’s talking about his number 5 choice of Rogue Legacy and yet Tomb Raider is on the list in its place. Hmm…

Mitchell Saltzman

On January 4, 2014 at 9:56 am

@GazH: Miscommunication. When we first drafted these lists, we had a top 5 AAA and top 5 indies. Then we realized that they shouldn’t be separated and I included Rogue Legacy instead of Tomb Raider, but the first list was what got posted. Fixing it now.

SupremeAllah

On January 4, 2014 at 10:01 am

It isn’t my place to tell other people what their top five should be.

Though I am saddened that Wonderful 101 and on a lesser note, Metal Gear Rising: Revengance weren’t on anyone’s lists.

Phil Hornshaw

On January 4, 2014 at 10:05 am

@GazH

Should also note that, at least for me, the order of my list isn’t a ranking. I actually struggled to nail down my Top 5 for this year quite a bit, and I’m pretty sure a lot of other people did as well.

Also, because I guess I have to say it (SIGH): No, no one was paid. We just enjoyed Tomb Raider (in a year of many not-very-good triple-A titles).

Ed

On January 4, 2014 at 11:26 am

Nobody at Gamefront played Rayman Legends then?

Deadspace

On January 4, 2014 at 4:30 pm

@Chirpy Bio Shock had some great story telling and voice acting but the core gameplay was extremely average and generic that’s probably why it didn’t get more love.

Ron Whitaker

On January 4, 2014 at 4:52 pm

@Chirpy – If you’re wondering why we didn’t give more love to Bioshock Infinite, I’d suggest listening to our podcast where we discussed the lack of a clear-cut GOTY for 2013.

http://www.gamefront.com/game-front-podcast-11-does-2013-even-have-a-goty/

Personally, I felt like Infinite got a lot more love than it deserved.

As to the Tomb Raider error, that one is on me. Sorry, Mitch!

SweetPea

On January 5, 2014 at 6:13 am

It’s surprising that so many people think Tomb Raider was one of the best games this year. For me, it was a disappointment.

People constantly say how Lara was humanized. Well, not really. She’s supposed to be a young, inexperienced girl, still at the beginning of her career. But the gameplay doesn’t support that at all. Halfway through the game I found myself doing nothing but constantly blasting thousands of these islanders to pieces with a shotgun and an explosive bow. When I think of Tomb Raider, I want platforming and puzzles, with a little action, not 90%. That’s what Lara’s good at. She’s not a one-man-army.

And I’m surprised that Phil Hornshaw doesn’t seem to mind this, even though he likes to complain about The Last Of Us’ enormous body count, and how it turned the game “from a series of tense sneak-sessions into a slog through yet another group of idiot “hunters.”” (which I agree with, btw.)

Red Menace

On January 5, 2014 at 8:08 pm

I like the way you guys did this. A good read.

Sir Hawk

On January 6, 2014 at 4:29 am

@Gazh and Phil Hornshaw

completely agree that Tomb Raider was simple fantastic and fun to play all the way through… surprising it didnt feature in other game sites GOTY lists. Fantastic to see Gamefronts honest opinions.

Michael

On January 6, 2014 at 10:13 pm

WOW did everyone forget about Dead space 3 and the puppeteer.