Game Front Staff’s 2013 Game of the Year

Mike Sharkey – Associate Editor, News
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  1. The Last of Us
  2. Tomb Raider
  3. Payday 2
  4. Bioshock Infinite
  5. Dead Rising 3

I’ve heard many of my gaming journo friends and colleagues describe 2013 as a year without a clear cut GOTY. I couldn’t disagree more. For me, The Last of Us is as deserving as any other GOTY in recent memory and rightly takes its place among some of the finest interactive adventures ever created. The overall narrative has been told many times, there’s an odd, nearly unforgivable plot hole, and some of the core gameplay mechanics, namely the third-person shooting, are obtuse. None of those things could pull me out of my complete immersion in The Last of Us’ horrifyingly beautiful, character-driven world.

When Crystal Dynamics unveiled the rebooted Lara Croft – one without boobs big enough to be legally classified as flotation devices – and I immediately took notice. I’m glad I did, because CD not only resuscitated the moribund character, they made a fantastic adventure game in the process. I’m still not sure what the hell is going on in Yamatai, the fantastical fictional island where Lara’s origin story unfolds. Thankfully, CD put the gameplay focus on finding tools and putting them to use to figure out the many “get from point A to point B waaay over there” puzzles. Doing so is immensely rewarding, and by the end of my adventure, I marveled at the number of skills Lara had learned. I felt like a bonafide Tomb Raider.

The idea Overkill introduced with 2011’s Payday: The Heist — horde mode blended into a bank robbery — is fully fleshed out in this fantastic sequel. You’re no longer simply taking a few jobs, you’re setting out on a full-blown career in crime. Playing with an AI crew is futile and numerous launch bugs added a ton of frustration, but when a friend and I use our particular skills and abilities to bust in, survive the swarming SWAT, and get away with the loot, there is no finer co-op shooter experience. Payday 2 is a horde-heist dream.

When I think of BioShock Infinite, I go back to a rowboat ride with Robert and Rosalind Lutece and their promise: “Bring us the girl and wipe away the debt.” Those who have played through the entire time-bending adventure know that phrase carries infinite weight. In some ways, BioShock Infinite is a floating city of dreams not fully realized, particularly in what should have been its biggest gameplay addition, your AI partner Elizabeth. We were promised an AI revolution, instead we got a pretty damsel in distress adept at tossing you coins and ammo. But for all of its problems, BioShock Infinite delivers a thought-provoking experience that gamers will be talking about (string theory, classism, segregation) for years to come.

The storyline is so over the top I didn’t blink when I was forced to fight a morbidly obese woman whose main weapons were her rascal scooter and her vomit, and it all looks great on Microsoft’s new console. But it’s the scope of Dead Rising 3 that sets it apart from its predecessors and kept me coming back for more. When I climbed atop an overturned bus at the outset of Dead Rising 3, I saw a highway stretch into the distance – a four-lane road absolutely jam-packed with the undead. Hundreds, maybe even thousands of the buggers. That’s how big Dead Rising 3 is. It’s huge and ridiculous, and it’s not only the best thing you can play on the Xbox One right now, it’s one of my favorite games on any platform this year.

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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.