The 411 Games Year-End Awards 1.13.14: The Top 10 Games of 2013
Posted by Sean Garmer on 01.13.2014
From Grand Theft Auto V and Tomb Raider to Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, The Last of Us, Injustice: Gods Among Us and more, the 411 staff presents their year-end awards by counting down the top 10 games of 2013!
Gaming in 2013 was certainly a landmark year for the industry. Microsoft and Sony introduced all of us to the true meaning of next generation with the Xbox One and the PS4. Nintendo continued its dominance of the handheld market with the 3DS XL and 2DS and we even saw Valve show us their plans for a PC console system as well. There were certainly many ups and downs this year, I could spend this whole column just detailing Microsoft's rollercoaster ride with the Xbox One announcement. However, I'll spare you that nonsense for another time. As with every year in gaming, none of these "landmarks" matter if we don't have great games to play, and 2013 was a tremendous year for games.
Rather than make our audience read a plethora of awards just so that you can get to the one or two that you care about, as a Games Zone we decided just to do something much simpler and get together to make a Top 10 list of the Best Video Games of 2013. Unlike other forms of media, Video Games have to be enjoyed fully by someone to get a total understanding about the game. Video Games are also the most expensive form of media available and for the most part cannot be played unless someone purchases or rents said game. Even then, only a certain amount of games can be rented.
I wrote that last paragraph as a preface to be transparent about not only our selection process, but also about the reality of 411mania.com. Everything we contribute to 411 is done without monetary compensation. About 80% of the games reviewed in the Games Zone are done so by staff members that purchased the game. We don't have a central office where the staff congregates to play AAA titles and discuss the news of the day. We are just privileged to be hired by the wonderful bosses at 411 and have a platform to write or talk about what we love. Therefore, before reading our list or anyone's individual Top 10 lists be aware that we don't get to play every game that comes out, many of us only have one gaming system, and we can only put games on lists that we actually played.
The lists were compiled using a point system on a descending scale. With anyone's number one game receiving 10 points all the way down to their number 10 game receiving one point. I'm sure you can figure out how the rest of it goes. But just in case it is still confusing to some.
There is one formality I have left to do before arriving at the reason you all are here, I need to give thanks and present to you the 411 Games Zone Staff. Without the combination of everybody on staff, this column would not be possible and I just want to take the time to thank each one of them. With a special thank you to Stephen Randle who helped me keep track of everyone's votes and blurbs. Now, let's get to what you've all been waiting for… The 411 Staff Introductions…
* After each staff member's name and his or her main job on the 411 Games Zone will be their individual Top 10 list. After all of the staff have been introduced the official "411mania Top 10 Games of 2013" will be listed individually starting with number 10. *
Stephen Randle- Games Zone Reviewer, Quizmaster for Four Player Co-op, Regular Contributor to Games Fact or Fiction, and host of "Cooperative Multiplayer" The Official 411 Games Podcast
1. The Last of Us (PS3)
2. BioShock Infinite (Multi)
3. Gone Home (PC)
4. Tomb Raider (Multi)
5. Fire Emblem: Awakening (3DS)
6. Assassin's Creed IV (Multi)
7. The Stanley Parable (PC)
8. Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch (PS3)
9. Call of Juarez: Gunslinger (Multi)
10. Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon (Multi)
Marc Morisson- Games Zone Reviewer, Writer of Games Zone 8 Ball
1. Saints Row 4 (Multi)
2. Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag (Multi)
3. Tomb Raider (Multi)
4. Splinter Cell: Blacklist (Multi)
5. Grand Theft Auto 5 (Multi)
6. Space Rangers HD (PC)
7. Rayman Legends (Multi)
8. Euro Truck Simulator 2 (PC)
9. GRID 2 (Multi)
10. Divekick (Multi)
Liana Kerzner- Co-Author of Games Zone 8-Ball
10. Battlefield 4 (Multi)
9. Saints Row 4 (Multi)
8. Disney Infinity (Multi)
7. God of War Ascension (PS3)
6. Outlast (PC)
5. Guacamelee (Multi)
4. Splinter Cell Blacklist (Multi)
3. Papo & Yo (PC)
2. Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag (Multi)
1. Last of Us (PS3)
Sean Garmer- Games Zone Reviewer, 411 Games Top 5 Organizer, 411 Games Awards Top Ten Organizer, Regular Contributor to "Cooperative Multiplayer" The Official 411 Games Podcast
1. Last of Us (PS3)
2. Bioshock Infinite (Multi)
3. Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag (Multi)
4. Super Mario 3D World
5. Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds (3DS)
6. Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch (PS3)
7. Grand Theft Auto V (Multi)
8. NBA 2K14
9. Tomb Raider (Multi)
10. Skylanders Swapforce (Multi)
John Cash- Frequent Contributor to Four Player Co-op and Games Top 5
1. Super Mario 3D World (Wii U)
2. Project X Zone (3DS)
3. The Last of Us (PS3)
4. Animal Crossing: New Leaf (3DS)
5. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds (3DS)
6. Tomb Raider (Multi)
7. Shin Megami Tensei IV (3DS)
8. Grand Theft Auto V (Multi)
9. Pokemon X/Y (3DS)
10. Hotline Miami (PSN Release)
Stewart Lange- Games Zone Reviewer, Writer of Ask 411 Games
1- Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
2- Saints Row 4
3- Bioshock: Infinite
4- GTA V
5- Payday 2
6- Tomb Raider
8- Pokemon X
9- Batman: Arkham Origins
10- Call of Duty: Ghosts
Jeremy Thomas- 411mania.com Editor
1. Grand Theft Auto V (Multi)
2. Tomb Raider (Multi)
3. Dead Rising 3 (Xbox One)
4. DmC: Devil May Cry (Multi)
5. Injustice: Gods Among Us (Multi)
6. Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag (Multi)
7. Bioshock Infinite (Multi)
8. State of Decay (Xbox 360)
9. Gone Home (PC)
10. LEGO Marvel Super Heroes (Multi)
Daniel Anderson- Games Zone Reviewer, Games Fact or Fiction Organizer, Regular Contributor to "Cooperative Multiplayer" The Official Podcast of 411 Games
1. Assassin's Creed Black Flag
2. Bioshock Infinite
3. The Last of Us
4. Fire Emblem: Awakening
5. Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
6. Tomb Raider
7. Super Mario 3D World
9. Pokemon X/Y
10. Deadpool (Big Deadpool fan and probably the closest to a movie Deadpool fans will get)
Adam Larck- 411mania.com Games Zone Editor
1. Rayman Legends (Multi)
2. The Last of Us (PS3)
3. BioShock Infinite (Multi)
4. Saints Row 4 (Multi)
5. Super Mario 3D World (Wii U)
6. Grand Theft Auto V (Multi)
7. The Stanley Parable (PC)
8. Tomb Raider (Multi)
9. Pokemon X/Y (3DS)
10. Payday 2 (Multi)
Mark Salmela- Games Zone Reviewer
1.) Last of Us (PS3)
2.) GTA5 (Multi)
3.) Super Mario 3D World (Wii U)
4.) Tomb Raider (Multi)
5.) Bioshock Infinite (Multi)
6.) Pokemon X/Y (3DS)
7.) DMC (Multi)
8.) Saints Row 4 (Multi)
9.) Battlefield 4 (Multi)
10.) Dragon's Crown (PS VITA)
Todd Vote- Games Zone Reviewer
1. Grand Theft Auto V (Multi)
2. Tomb Raider (Multi)
3. Injustice: Gods Among Us (Multi)
4. Saints Row IV (Multi)
5. State of Decay (Xbox 360)
6. Diablo III (Xbox 360)
Wow... that is the only new shit I played this year that is worth mentioning. So I guess I can't do a top ten... Maybe I need to get out less.
Dan Watson- Games Zone Reviewer, Writer of Average Gamer
1. Grand Theft Auto V (Multi)
2. Tomb Raider (Multi)
3. Bioshock Infinite (Multi)
4. FarCry 3 (Multi)
5. Injustice: Gods Among Us (Multi)
6. Batman: Arkham Orgins (Multi)
7. Payday 2 (Multi)
8. Need For Speed Rivals (Multi)
9. FIFA 14 (Multi)
10. LEGO Marvel Super Heroes (Multi)
The 411 Games Zone Top 10 Games of 2013
Editors Note: I don't have Photoshop. So I had to use a free online photo editor to make the banners. I apologize in advance if they aren't all professional looking, but I think they give a nice retro look to the whole thing.
I'll be honest, the Rayman series has no cache with me. Origins was fine enough but the slightly loose controls and the monotony of the level progression kind of bugged me. Rayman Legends corrected these issues by tightening up the controls and letting you pick what levels you wanted to tackle in (mostly) any order. Running around, jumping and punching enemies all just "felt" good, like what it was meant to be. The game looks gorgeous and has a great soundtrack. If anything, there should be way more musical levels since they are the best part of the game, by far. -Marc Morrison
Even with Super Mario releasing this year, I still think Legends is the go-to platformer to release this year. The levels are varied and great, but the highlight of the game has to be the music levels. They`re great to run through to hear the variations of songs and time the jumps to the rhythm. I kept catching myself bobbing my head to the music as I ran along. In addition, the boss battles are great, and multiplayer is a joy as well, whether you`re playing as two different characters or as Murphy.- Adam Larck
The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds is a great sequel for the SNES title. The gameplay is solid and the switching between light and dark worlds is enjoyable. The best feature for on the go gaming, though, is the ability to rent items out to use in dungeons, opening up most of the dungeons early on. Definitely a great title for 3DS owners to have.- Adam Larck
Ask the people who made Bioshock 2 how hard it is to make a sequel to a widely praised game. That is a huge amount of bias to overcome. It seems, in those situations, that no matter what you do people will be pissed off. The team that made Link Between Worlds managed to make an excellent game that not only stands up well to the first game, but also made use of the 3DS's 3D screen.- Daniel Anderson
Those of you who regularly read my stuff here on 411 will know fine well that I am a self-confessed fighting game loser. I don't nail combos. I get battered silly online. I can't finish the arcade mode. It's always been like that, but I do find them fun. I love the bright lights, the flashing stuff and all that, so recent fighting games like MvC3 and Street Fighter X Tekken have been right up my street, as they've made it easier to do cool, flashy stuff for losers like me. Injustice bucks the trend by actually being the first game that doesn't patronise me. They have the balance dead on to the point where I don't need it one easy to be able to feel like I'm really kicking ass, but the computer also fights back enough to make me really feel like I've achieved something by beating it. The flashy stuff is earned, not pulled off or spammed which is a nice trend and it's all wrapped up in a fantastic DC Comics skin with an awesome story mode keeping the action going. Well recommended for all levels of player and easily my favourite fighting game of the 360/PS3 generation. - Stewart Lange
For me to call this my favorite fighting game of the year was no easy task. Keep in mind this is a year that also saw the return of my absolute favorite fighting game franchise of all time in Killer Instinct on Xbox One. But here we are. Injustice took what worked from Netherrealms rebooted Mortal Kombat game, and custom built it around the DC Universe and it's wide array of characters. Like many, I had a lot of doubts upon the announcement of this game. Slowly but surely, the trailers and information started to make a believer out of me. That was solidified when I actually played the game. It's fantastic! It makes great use of the DC characters, and offers plenty of Easter eggs for comic fans, and a whole heaping mess of play modes including the S.T.A.R lab missions. If you haven't checked this game out yet, what are you waiting for? - Todd Vote
The fighting game genre is one that has lived on a game-to-game basis for quite a while. While the game style has seen renewed interest over the last few years, it has remained largely lagging behind other genres as story becomes more and more important within gaming. Still, there are some companies leading the charge into a new era of fighting games. Foremost among them is Netherrealm thanks to the Mortal Kombat reboot and now Injustice: Gods Among Us. Injustice takes the fighting game and adds in another topic that has traditionally had a troubled time in gaming: comic books. The result is one of the best in both worlds. This was accomplished via the introduction of a very well-done story from NetherRealm, with supervision by DC's Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti. This original story (which received its own comic book series) helps the game rise above other games within the genre. Netherrealm went out of their way to make this an engaging experience, with top-caliber voice acting and a dedication to character which you wouldn't expect out of your standard fighting game.
The key to a successful fighting game isn't all story though; it has to actually play well and Netherrealm didn't disappoint. The gameplay for Injustice uses Netherrealm's successful Mortal Kombat system with revamps and improvements. This is the epitome of "easy to learn, harder to master" and while you still have a bit of button-mashing, the game relies on strategy as well thanks to the interactive environment and the Clash feature. Characters are balanced without seeming unrealistic, which is a huge added bonus. Hands down, Injustice is the best fighting game to come along in a long, long time. - Jeremy Thomas
"There are so many things to say about this game, and yet you don't really need many words to explain it. It's amazing. If you've ever loved a Mario game, you will love this game. That's really all there is to it. Everything is there; the gameplay, the return of the SMB2 cast as playable characters (with a very welcome secret character), the superb soundtrack borrowing from just about every Mario game, new power-ups, old power-ups, and of course the amazingly solid gameplay. There has been a big crybaby fit thrown on the internet (surprise!) about the white tanuki suit, which is available after losing five lives in a row on the same stage, and how removing the challenge that way makes the game pointless. But the immediate response to that is that if you don't want to use it, don't use it; it's literally an optional power-up that you have to walk over and get, they don't make you have it. It's there for people who just aren't good at video games, or would rather relax while playing than getting frustrated at such a cute game. I know, I know, Mario games are for babies and casuals. I will take both of those labels if it means I can play more games like SM3DW." - John Cash
I expected very little from Saint's Row 4, with the past two instalments in the series being little more than time fillers as I waited for bigger releases. Within 10 minutes of IV though, I had tears rolling down my cheeks (Armageddon homage, anyone?) and I was hooked. A phenomenal supporting cast, exciting, fun missions, crazy variety and an extremely cool, albeit cheesy as hell soundtrack made it the most fun sandbox game of 2013, despite lacking the detail and gloss of the other big releases. GTA was an incredible achievement, but Saint's Row 4 was incredibly fun. Which would you prefer in a game? - Stewart Lange
Saints Row IV did one thing for me while I waited for GTA V. It managed to make me forget about GTA V. For all the crap people have flung at Saints Row, everything from a GTA ripoff, to just being a crap game, there is one thing Saints Row has always excelled at. Being a blast to play, and even better with a friend. Saints Row IV was no exception. They managed to take an idea that was completely over the top, and for most, a bad idea, and they made it work. From the leader of the Saints as POTUS, to the Matrix style simulation, to the invasion of the alien horde. There is nothing about Saints Row IV that screams realism. For me, that is okay. I will take a fun story with fun gameplay over realism every day. Running around Steelport with super powers was a fun way to kill eight to ten hours. - Todd Vote
Saints Row The Third is damn near a perfect game. But Saints Row IV improves upon it in subtle & overt ways. The obvious inclusion of super powers is the draw for the game, giving you the freedom to tackle different combat scenarios at your discretion. Bringing back old characters (both good and bad) was a great choice for the homie system. Being able to fight with Keith David and Julius Little is one of the great in-jokes. Really though the best part about the game is the entire romance system. The game is worth owning just to see your character make love to Kinzie or CID. - Marc Morisson
I will admit that I went into this game not expecting much. I was disappointed with AC III and, knowing IV was originally going to be an expansion, expected more of the same. Damn, was I glad I was wrong. I was drawn into the story from the first bit and like Bioshock, kept wanting more. Also, I get a guilty pleasure from doing things that piss PETA off. Just because I enjoy hunting whales (and sharks) in the game does not mean I am going to go out and do it in real life. Assassin's Creed IV is one of the most fun, and entertaining, Assassin's Creed games that I have played. - Daniel Anderson
The only title this year to truly embrace every gaming format in the universe without creating gimmicky extras for the next gen versions, AC IV contains a lot of really smart stuff that most people don't notice: they're too busy playing pirate, meeting larger than life characters in gorgeous environments, and enjoying the title's multi-faceted gameplay. There's so much in AC IV that it's impossible to mention it all here, since it meshes history, myth, and video game philosophy nearly seamlessly and finds the perfect middle ground between art and fun. Black Flag explores the heaviest themes yet in the AC franchise, but there's still plenty of stuff to stab and blow up, and certain gameplay mechanics are much improved from its predecessor. There's truly something for everyone in Assassin's Creed Black Flag, but the game still manages to maintain the spirit of the franchise, even as it becomes more and more ambitious. - Liana Kerzner
When I reviewed Black Flag for 411, I gave it an 8/10. I decided to get a review in as early as I possibly could so hadn't fully explore the game yet, instead trying to batter through as much of it as I could to give a fair review. Approximately 2 days after posting my review, I had a day off work and played the game for the whole day. I was hooked from that point, feeling nothing but satisfaction every time I boarded and took another ship. I can play Kenway's Fleet on my phone while I'm at work, so I can get more money to buy loot so I can have even more fun when I get back to exploring. As an Assassin's Creed game, AC4 is the best instalment since AC2, but it's also the single best pirate simulator that has ever been made and that's why it topped my personal game of the year list. It's swashbucklingly good fun. - Stewart Lange
I have to admit, I was very skeptical about the prospect of a fourth Assassin's Creed. I've quite enjoyed the franchise to date; when you're looking for a stealth action game no one does it at the level of this series. But it felt like the series had reached a logical conclusion in terms of storyline. I also felt like the pirate aspect was silly and would be more of a gimmick than a natural integration into the AC universe. An ancient assassin's order sailing under the Jolly Roger? How in the hell does that make sense?
Of course, I should have trusted Ubisoft Montreal to find a way to put it all together on in a logical and interesting way. There's a lot that you can say about Black Flag, almost all of it very good. The gameplay is the same that we've come to know and love, with new elements added in. The story of Edward Kenway fits better within the Assassin's Creed universe than I ever expected and the move to a more open game environment than AC III had was a wise move, making the game feel much less like you're being led around by the nose. Naval combat was improved, as was the hunting system and the recruit feature. Basically, Black Flag was an improvement on just about every aspect of the previous games, which is a high order indeed. There's still a hell of a lot of life left in this franchise as it turns out, and I'm excited to see where it goes next. - Jeremy Thomas
This game was one of the few games that I did not want to stop playing. The story was very compelling and I always wanted to see what was going to happen next. I think it also showed that shooters do not have to have a multiplayer to be good. From the atmosphere to the story, this game was amazing and kept you drawn in until you finished it. Then you were left wanting more. That is how a game should be. Finish the game and want more, but be happy with the ending. I wish more games would end like this. - Daniel Anderson
In March, I was pretty sure only GTA had a chance of knocking this off the top spot in my year end awards. While it slid further than second, Infinite is still one of the most atmospheric, exciting, interesting and beautiful FPS games I've ever played in my life. The last time I was so excited by a "linear" shooter was easily the original Bioshock game, but with the addition of the "tears" and your assistant Elizabeth, Infinite is easily on the same level as that first trip to Rapture. The DLC was excellent, albeit short, but that's not over yet, so there's still more to learn about Booker and Elizabeth's story and how Comstock ties everything together. I can't wait. - Stewart Lange
"Are you afraid of God, Booker?"
"No, but I'm afraid of you."
And with those words you begin the story of Booker DeWitt, a man with a troubled past, sent to the flying city of Columbia in order to retrieve one thing: a girl named Elizabeth, who is being held there by Comstock, the city's founder-slash-Prophet of Almighty God. But of course, there's much more going on than meets the eye, and soon your journey to the little utopia spirals out of control, taking you across dimensions, worlds, and possibilities, while also examining the constants that survive across time and space. Sure, you can poke holes in the theories, but you know what? It's time travel, if it made sense, we'd be able to do it ourselves. Instead, sit back and enjoy the ride, for an ending that will leave you absolutely…breathless.
Bioshock Infinite features an amazing environment for you to explore, memorable characters in Booker, Elizabeth, and the mysterious Luteces, and a soundtrack that features some of the most creative arrangements of licensed music that I've ever heard. It is an amazing game, one that when the credits faded to black, I immediately restarted, and one of only two games that I gave a perfect review score to in 2013.
Oh, and in the DLC you get to go to Rapture! - Stephen Randle
"Despite my gripes about the multiplayer complications, I thoroughly enjoyed the single player campaign for GTAV. As a film fanatic, it was amazing to not only see all the references, but also to notice many of the cinematographic choices made in different scenes, and how the camera is moved like it would be in real life filming a movie, despite it being all digital so it wouldn't have the gravitational limitations like real life does. It's that kind of thing, along with the overall tone and design of the game world, that definitely puts it head and shoulders above every other GTA game since GTA III. Also, it gave us Trevor, and for that we will be forever in Rockstar's debt." - John Cash
GTA gets my vote for game of the year. For me, there wasn't a better game for my $60. I had a blast with the single player from start to finish. It is such a gigantic world to play around in. There is so much to do. One of the big complaints I had about GTA IV was how little there appeared to be do compared to games that came before it in the franchise. GTA V fixed this in a big way.
Another thing I really dug about GTA V was the use of three separate protagonists. Not only did each of the three have a distinct personality, they all fit into the story really well, and I found myself playing with each character trying to match what they brought to the table. If I decided I wanted to go on a 5 star rampage, Trevor was my guy. Franklin was the character I would use for racing, and Michael was somewhere in the middle. GTA V was a hugely ambitious title, and a great way to close out the current generation of consoles. - Todd Vote
If I'm being honest, I have not traditionally loved the Grand Theft Auto franchise. Don't get me wrong; there are a lot of enjoyable elements to be had, but the storyline for previous games have not been enough to keep me invested for the duration and at some point I would just start the traditional "see how many cops I can get chasing me around the city." And that's only fun for so long. So while I was intrigued by Grand Theft Auto V, I wasn't extraordinarily hyped about it the way others might have been. I honestly expected to play it for a few hours and then leave it be like past entries.
So yeah, that didn't happen. Rockstar lured me in with what was easily the best game of the series to date. Michael, Franklin and Trevor made for a fantastic three-character combo and the open world of Los Santos gives you more to do than you could possibly imagine. The story missions are engaging and difficult without being impossible; driving is massively improved upon the previous games and there's just a ton more for you to do. While a lot of games present multiple offerings in a way that makes you lose track of the storyline, GTA V's story is enjoyable enough that you don't ever forget where you are. And that's not to say that you can't go on rampages like in the old games or use the game as a way to get some aggression out; there are plenty of opportunities to do that. It's just not the main attraction (at least for me) anymore. And the addition of GTA Online, while buggy at the start, gives you an entirely new experience once you're done with the single-player mode that will keep you going for a long time. GTA V was my choice for game of the year and I'm happy to have seen it hit the top three overall for 411. - Jeremy Thomas
When new characters take the gaming world by storm, it's magical, and Joel and Ellie – as well as their ill-fated supporting cast -- certainly captured the hearts of those who entered their quarantined, cordyceps-infested alternate-near-future American landscape. But The Last of Us did so much more than create great characters. It made environmental exploration a visceral part of the play experience through some of the best graphics and sound created for any game in history. It also redeemed a flagging survival action/horror genre by weaving the survival instinct into its narrative, injected much-needed flickers of optimism and originality into an oversaturated zombie landscape, and showed that Nolan North actually has range as a digital actor! Of course, there's also the visceral melee combat, frequent 'splosions, and varied weapon assortment to appeal to hardcores who don't care about story, character, or anything but killing their friends in multiplayer. The Last of Us is a game that is clearly about something very defined, but lets players access it on their own terms. - Liana Kerzner
The first 2 or 3 hours of the game wasn't for me. You feel too overwhelmed by enemies and some of the mechanics they throw at you don't make a ton of sense. After you get the bow and arrow though, everything clicks (pardon the pun) into place. The stealth is never quite "fun", but because manageable and tense. The action beats are always varied and interesting though. More than that is the story which, while rote, is good for games. Most of all, top to down, the game looks beautiful and is well designed. - Marc Morrison
I think this game was robbed of the top spot by the lack of PS3 owners on staff. Maybe that is its own fault for being a console exclusive, but for those of us who were able to play it, The Last of Us is probably the pinnacle of the previous generation of console gaming. Set against the end of the world, Naughty Dog's magnum opus follows Joel, a man destroyed by the loss of his daughter on the day of the apocalypse, and Ellie, a young girl who might just be the best hope for humanity's survival, as they travel across a much-changed American landscape over the course of a year.
The Last of Us is less a simple video game than a work of art. The characters are so fully realized and three-dimensional that they might as well be real people. The graphics push the PS3 to heights not realized by any other game on the market, to the point that it might as well be a next-gen game released six months early. The story sets the bar for all other games. It's a dark and disturbing tale, it's not a laugh riot and sometimes it's downright cruel, but guess what? It's the zombie apocalypse, it's not a bedtime story. Overall, The Last of Us is something that you must experience, because it is without a doubt one of the best games ever made.
Games are art. This is proof. - Stephen Randle
I will admit, when I saw this won GOTY I was surprised, but then I thought about it, and the more I thought the more sense it made. What is harder, taking an established, but declining franchise and improving it or taking a franchise and making another game in a series of good games? The developers that worked on Tomb Raider did what many people considered impossible. They completely turned around the Tomb Raider franchise. I look forward to the sequel to the game and am interested to see what else they will do with the franchise on the next gen systems. - Daniel Anderson
While this surprised even the writers here when it won our overall voting for game of the year, I actually think that says so much about the quality of this title in an exceptional year for gaming. Games like Bioshock Infinite and Black Flag gained differing opinions, while some games like the Last of Us and Rayman Legends when unplayed due to who owns what, but everyone played Tomb Raider and everyone rated it highly. The more I've though about it, the more it makes sense as our game of the year. We're all old enough that Lara Croft played some part in our gaming upbringing in some way, but the originals just haven't held up well. What Square were able to do with this reboot though was not only revitalise a familiar character, but create one of the most well crafted, exciting and beautiful games of this console generation and while it may have been a dark horse in the game of the year voting, it's certainly a deserving winner. - Stewart Lange
I didn't like Tomb Raider.
I know, I know, all male gamers are supposed to worship at the altar of the old, pixelated, pointy-breasted Lara Croft, but the old games never clicked with me. In any event, I did not like the original Tomb Raider, and I found out about the new Tomb Raider almost by accident, just twenty-four hours before it released on Steam. On a whim, I bought it.
Many people say that the Uncharted series borrowed heavily from the original Tomb Raider, and rightly so (of course, Tomb Raider itself is an homage to Indiana Jones, which was probably a tribute to even older works, but at any rate). I suppose, then, that it's only fair that the new Tomb Raider lifts heavily from the concepts that made Uncharted a critically acclaimed and financially successful franchise. The cover and scramble combat mechanics of Tomb Raider are incredibly tight, especially the longbow, which is the first weapon you acquire and also one of the most fun to play with.
Tomb Raider is an all-around great game. It's visually spectacular (and on the PC, a good debut for the TressFX hair technology), aurally stunning, and has a great overarching plot. It's a roller-coaster ride from start to finish, with something new around every corner. It's a game that I didn't want to stop playing, even when it was over. So I guess I was wrong…I actually love Tomb Raider. - Stephen Randle
Ahh, Lara Croft. Has there been a video game character more discussed? The quintessential female video game protagonist has been ultimately venerated and criticized ever since her inception. On one hand, she's hailed as a strong woman character within a male character-dominated field. On the other, she's been accused of having her strength undermined by her blatant sexuality and put forth as little more than something for horny teenage gamers to slaver over. While the truth is somewhere in the middle, I've never been a huge Lara Croft person; I respect that she has paved the way for powerful female characters but recognize her faults and to be honest, the gameplay of the early entries were very frustrating and turned me off of the series.
That being said, I've always wanted a great Tomb Raider game. I've always felt that the series had the potential for something brilliant and just needed that push to get there. And when Crystal Dynamics announced that their next game in the venerable series would be a reboot, I was intrigued. Normally we hear things like reboot, remake, reimagining and other "re's" and we shake our head, bemoan the fact that nothing is original anymore. With Tomb Raider, this was a chance to reenvision Lara Croft as a more interesting character and that's exactly what they accomplished. The Lara wee see in the reboot isn't the cool, assured badass in the original games; this is Lara as she is starting out. And excuse me for saying so, but she looks like a real woman instead of a hypersexualized ideal of what a British Indiana Jones with breasts might be. The storyline is fantastic and introduces many of Lara's signature elements, the gameplay incorporates the traditional puzzle-solving of the franchise with action elements and open-world design to great effect. I was never frustrated with this game, with the exception of one single QTE event (the river ride). And that's not to say it wasn't challenging overall, because it most certainly is. It is simply that the challenges are engaging and fun, something many games fail to accomplish. While Tomb Raider may not have been my personal pick for Game of the Year it was very high on my list, and I'm thoroughly okay with it being 411's overall winner. - Jeremy Thomas
Well, we've come to the end of 411 Games Zone Top Ten. The only thing left to do now is to find out what you the comment section thought about our choices. Did you agree with our picks? Or did we just pick it all wrong? Let us know below and we hope that 2014 in Gaming brings us even more awesome games to enjoy.