Xbox 360, PS3, PC
Haters wanna hate. Lovers wanna love. I don?t even want none of the above. I just want to keep playing DmC: Devil May Cry, the only game in 2013 that managed to capture my attention enough to warrant four?count ?em, four?separate playthroughs. You can shout at me all you like about how much ?Donte” sucks, how a Western dev ruined your beloved franchise, and how garbage the framerate is, but I?ll be too busy enjoying myself as I juggle demon babies into quad-weapon SSSensational combos to hear you.
Sony Computer Entertainment
There are a few things that really bother me about The Last of Us, namely the rough ally AI and the fact that one really videogame-y enemy type spoils the grounded tone for me at every appearance, but I know the primary reason those flaws get under my skin so much is because the rest of the game operates on such a high level. Naughty Dog managed to craft a moody, uncompromising portrait of a world collapsed with tense gameplay beats that put anything wheeled out with a ?survival-horror? label in the last five years to shame.
Xbox 360, PS3
As a Southern California native, I was giddy to hear that Rockstar would finally be giving Los Angeles the same loving send-up they gave NYC in Grand Theft Auto IV. When the day finally arrived, my journey to San Andreas in GTAV did not disappoint. On every corner, I witnessed details so insignificant they?d only stand out to a SoCal intimate, yet here they were in all their hyperreality. Sure, I could wax fanatical about the character swapping or the heist gameplay for hours, but, to me, the world-building was what elevated GTAV from fun romp to masterpiece.
Xbox 360, PS3, PC
Over the last nine months, I?ve warmed to the idea that BioShock Infinite is, like the period America it channels, an imperfect union. Perhaps its ideas would feel more timelessly coherent were they not wed to the gameplay baggage of an established franchise. Perhaps its impact is lessened by contrivedly slotting Infinite?s square peg into the original BioShock?s round hole. But if I accept that sequels are inevitable?and the pragmatist in me must?then this is the sort of sequel I want to see: unsafe, imaginative, and wholly engrossing. No game this year sparked a greater initial impact, nor such lingering fascination long after the credits had rolled.
Close But No Cigar Award
The Bureau: XCOM Declassified
The Bureau had the potential to be one of the most remarkable games of the generation. (In fact, I might still even argue that it was, at least in some aspects.) But due to a troubled development cycle that took too long to find its footing, the finished product was a handful of great ideas and phenomenally fresh real-time tactical gameplay buttressed by more rough edges than the sandpaper aisle at Home Depot. I?ll still always love TBXD for what it is, but I won?t deny that it?ll stand as an enormous wasted opportunity, one that sadly dragged 2K Marin down with it.
Best Game from 2012 That I Didn?t Play until 2013
I know, I know. This is totally cheating. But once I finally got into the widely praised indie space roguelike FTL, I was gutted that I didn?t get a chance to champion the game while it was fresh in the public consciousness. It?s just as brutally addictive as many of my all-time favorites, a quality that?s made it my go-to title for airplane trips, quiet nights, and EGM meetings where I should probably be paying attention but am instead trying to put out a fire in my engine room because f*** the rebels. If, like me, you missed out the first time around, trust me when I say FTL is still completely worth your time.
Quickest Trip from Addiction to Hatred
When GTA Online first launched, I was smitten. I did every mission I could get my hands on, dominated races, murdered hapless newcomers, the whole lot. Unfortunately, I soon realized that the economy was completely busted, which forced me to grind for hours just to purchase a decent vehicle and apartment. I?m not definitively claiming Rockstar made it so difficult to force people to shell out real-world cash for in-game money, but I will say that the slow pace of the game, regardless of the reasoning, quickly made everything feel like a chore. If I want to work painfully hard for money and status symbols, I?ll live my real life, thank you very much.