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Editor’s Choice Game of the Year

by William Schwartz

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This year, our Game of the Year process was relatively simple. We polled our editors to see if we could come to an agreement on this year’s top five games.  As it turns out, 3/4 of our editorial staff selected Bioshock Infinite as the best game of the year, and you can find each’s reasoning, below.  Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us and Rockstar Games’ Grand Theft Auto V were also at the top of the list for each of our editors, which put the games in second and third places respectively.

You can find our top five games of 2013 below, as well as a list from each our editors of their favorite games of the year.

AOTF Editor’s Choice Game of the Year

#5 – Devil May Cry

#4 – DOTA 2

#3 – GTA V

#2 – The Last of Us

#1 – Bioshock Infinite

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Jonny Hercock

#5 Payday 2 – Although there were a number of games that were released in 2013 that were arguably better and more diverse than Payday 2, it just couldn’t escape my list. At its core, Payday 2 is fun. The thrill of trying to pull off the perfect heist, the co-operation required to salvation a mission-gone-bad and the lengthy levelling system kept me coming back hour after hour.

#4 FIFA 14 (Next Gen) – Rebuilt from the ground up using EA Sports Ignite engine, FIFA 14 is the game that has really shown me what the future of gaming is going to be like. Stunning visuals, especially during slow motion replays, show what the consoles can do. The game also feels noticeably better than it does on previous consoles in almost every way.

#3 Grand Theft Auto 5 – Big, brilliant and ambitious. All of those words describe GTA V, but none of them cover the grand scale on which it achieves them. Quite frankly, it’s incredibly diverse and it caters to everyone. Whether you like driving, shooting, flying, playing sports or just causing mayhem, GTA V does each of them well. The multiplayer is big enough to be a game in its own right, and it’s difficult to put it down once you start.

#2 The Last of Us – Unfortunately I haven’t had much experience with The Last Of Us, but the fact that it gets the number 2 spot is a testament in itself. Just by seeing the game being played and knowing the intricacies of the storyline, it’s clear that this game is something special. The lines between game and art are blurred by Naughty Dog’s creation, and it’s definitely a must-play.

#1 Bioshock Infinite – This game left me speechless at the end. Without ruining it, the conclusion to this game made the entire storyline fit together like an intricate puzzle. It not only made everything make sense, but made me want to relive the journey to discover it. That journey; playing the game up until the ending was enjoyable too, and I walked away from Bioshock Infinite like I’d just stepped off a rollercoaster.

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Bill Hess

#5 Rogue Legacy – Cellar Door’s Rogue Legacy completely and fully dominated this year’s summer doldrums for me. This game had an extremely addicitive front-end. A great leveling and progression system, tied together with a unique random roll at the start of every life, it continually begged for one more playthrough. And 2014 could see the same thing for me when this game releases on the PlayStation Vita.

#4 Crysis 3 – Crysis 3 is arguably the best looking video game ever made. If you’ve got the PC to run this thing in all it’s glory, there aren’t any that can match this fidelity. Metro Last Light came close, I must admit, but at the end of the day Crysis 3 is a marvelous game. While they didn’t add much to the equation in terms of gameplay, Crysis 3 is still probably the best game in the series, and the best looking game of the year.

#3 The Last of Us – Shifting gears away from the light-hearted fun of the Uncharted series, Naughty Dog proved yet again, that they have some of the best storytellers in the business. While the actual gameplay wasn’t my cup of tea, that story kept me on board all the way through. When it was all said and done, it was also promising to see that Naughty Dog learned a lot from their online experience with the Uncharted series, The Last of Us offered up a compelling multiplayer offering that’s still a blast to play.

#2 Saints Row 4 – The Saints Row series has seen an amazing transition since its 2006 release. What was once a GTA clone, is now a bonafide contender for the best open world game on the market. Video games are supposed to be fun, and Saints Row 4 was some of the most fun I’ve had in an open world in a long time. It wasn’t the most technically advanced game of the year, but Volition leveraged their strengths into their best game to date.

#1 Bioshock Infinite – Bioshock Infinite was the whole enchilada. Irrational’s vision of Columbia was one of beauty and mystery. Infinite’s impeccable story was driven home by the most talented voice actors in gaming, and it’s one that left your jaw on the floor when all was said and done. There were so many great moments in Infinite that just outshine any game this year. Not that it wasn’t close, with so many good games this year, but Bioshock Infinite was simply an unforgettable ride.

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Al McCarthy

#5 Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag – I had zero faith in the future of the Assassin’s Creed series after Assassin’s Creed III. Good on Ubisoft for making Assassin’s Creed fun again, and hopefully they’ll take these lessons learned to continually move the franchise in the positive direction. Sure, there was still a lot of antiquated baggage left over from previous AC games in Black Flag, but the change of pace is one that proves that as long as Ubisoft is willing to step outside the conventional, AC has some gas left in the tank.

#4 DOTA 2 –  Free to play developers should take notice of Valve’s DOTA 2.  This is the model that they should be following.  Valve has put together a game that is well worth the cost of a traditional admission fee, yet they give everything you need to enjoy the game free of charge.  They make the game so good, get players so entrenched, that spending money on it becomes second nature.  Valve’s offering has risen to the very top of a crowded MOBA market that only got bigger in 2013.  

#3 Bioshock Infinite – From the moment you step foot in Columbia, you know you’re in for a special treat. Bioshock Infinite is a rich and thoughtful game, no matter what aspect you are judging. Booker and Elizabeth were the second best duo that we encountered in video games this year.

#2 GTA V – Los Santos is quite possibly Rockstar’s best technical achievement to date.  And that’s a big deal considering just how many beautiful open worlds the developer has created over the years.  None were as rich and true to life as Los Santos.  No matter what your desires, you could live them out in this virtual world.  A three-pronged approach to story telling, coupled with the dark humor of the Rockstar Games’ writers, left us with three unforgettable new characters in the GTA universe.  If it wasn’t for the pesky problems that have faced GTA Online since launch, this game would have been higher on my list.

#1 The Last of Us – Dark and Gritty. The Last of Us was an eye-opener as to the possibilities of serious storytelling in the medium.  The collapse of civilization due to a zombie outbreak has been tackled before, but never with such an acute look at the psychological aspects of the remaining survivors.  With gameplay to match, The Last of Us was also one hell of game when it came time for combat.  Brutal sequences that truly had you counting every piece of scavenged equipment as you tip-toed your way through stages of powerful infected creatures.  The Last of Us won’t only go down as my game of the year for 2013, but possibly the best game of the generation.

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William Schwartz

#5 Battlefield 4 – When I think about the most memorable experiences that I had in games in 2013, Battlefield 4 comes to mind over and over again.  The sheer variety that you’ll find in any single online match in Battlefield 4 is unparalleled, but this isn’t really anything new.  DICE has been doing this brand of gameplay for a while now.  Add in the dynamic levels found in Battlefield 4, and nobody is doing anything close to what DICE is on the multiplayer front.  Other military shooters have a long way to go before they catch up with both the graphics and gameplay of Battlefield 4, connection issues aside, Battlefield 4 is easily the best multiplayer shooter on the market today.

#4 The Last of Us – The Last of Us not only fulfills the expectation from Naughty Dog fans of game with a beautiful presentation and well thought out story, but its also got the gameplay that is both fun and tension filled. It’s quite possible that The Last of Us will go down as the best story telling work of this generation, not only from Naughty Dog, but in the industry as a whole.

#3 Grand Theft Auto V – Rockstar stretches the capabilities of the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3 to their absolute maximum with Grand Theft Auto V.  Los Santos is an uncanny representation of Los Angeles, where players familiar with the city will notice hundreds of landmark areas that breath life into this virtual world.  Whether you’re in it for the story, the hidden secrets, or the open world freedom, GTA V has something for every type of gamer.  GTA Online didn’t quite fulfill the promise that it had, but with a single player portion this good, who needs it?

#2 Devil May Cry –  Ninja Theory’s reboot could quite possibly be the best hack and slash game since 2010 saw the release of Bayonetta.  It’s a great looking game with a ton of style, an excellent soundtrack, and its chocked full of memorable moments.  Ninja Theory didn’t disappoint when it came down to the core gameplay that DmC fans were hoping for, either.  A robust combat system that featured plenty of customization options, if this Devil May Cry was the whole package when it comes to hack and slash games.

#1 Bioshock Infinite –  The Bioshock universe remains one of the most mysterious and fascinating worlds ever created.   Infinite’s captivating narrative, beautifully designed world, and details found in every nook and cranny of Columbia, made Infinite infinitely delightful to explore.  From the very start of this adventure, to the game’s closing moments, Irrational keeps you guessing when it comes to story.  And even after the curtain falls, it’s a game that prompted many discussions among those who made it through.  It one-upped nearly every aspect of its predecessor, which many (including myself) consider to be the one of the best games of the generation, where Irrational introduced us to Rapture in the original Bioshock in 2007.

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