Game Front Staff’s 2013 Game of the Year

Phil Owen – Contributor
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  1. Rain
  2. Strike Suit Zero
  3. Killzone Shadowfall
  4. Lost Planet 3
  5. The Bureau: XCOM Declassified

A new year is always a seemingly exciting prospect for a game critic because it follows the December lull. It doesn’t take too long, however, to realize once again that we are being treated to the same two or three games over and over.
My top 5 games defy that trend, and on the best of days they outright confuse players. Even the most typical of of my picks, Killzone: Shadow Fall, was met with cries of “I DON’T KNOW WHO TO ROOT FOR HERE.” That’s a great endorsement. Lost Planet 3, too, at a glance doesn’t look like much, but its traditional storytelling structure — a rare thing in games — and ingenious key mappings make it hugely memorable. Strike Suit Zero deserves credit for bringing back space combat with a bang and twist, along with legit production values, and The Bureau more or less invented a new shooter/strategy subgenre that I found endlessly engaging.

But Sony’s Rain takes the top prize, and it’s because it carries a touching tale about life with mental health issues within an engaging and accessible stealth/platformer package. It’s as complete a game as I played in 2013, and it’s also a tremendously meaningful experience.


Scott Nichols – Contributor
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  1. Gone Home
  2. Fire Emblem: Awakening
  3. Volgarr the Viking
  4. Super Mario 3D World
  5. Call of Juarez: Gunslinger

For me, Game of the Year discussions have been all about the race for second place, since no other game in 2013 can stand toe to toe with Gone Home. Even without Sam’s coming out story, which admittedly hit home with me on a personal level, Gone Home’s attention to detail and environmental storytelling is unparalleled in gaming. I learned more about each of the Greenbriars after 3 hours of Gone Home than I learned about any other game characters this year, and that’s without any of the Greenbriar family actually showing up. It’s a powerful story expertly told through self-directed exploration as only videogames can do, and easily my pick for 2013′s Game of the Year.

2013 was a great year in general for gaming though. It also brought us Fire Emblem: Awakening, which to me is the best tactical RPG to come out of Japan since Shining Force 2. Volgarr the Viking was beautifully designed with its balance of brutal difficulty and a deliberate moveset. Super Mario 3D World’s cat suits and inventive level design made it impossible to play without a huge smile on my face the entire time, and Call of Juarez: Gunslinger might just be the most “true” videogame Western by embracing the tall tales and tradition of oral storytelling that gave the Wild West its wild reputation in the first place.

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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.