Game of the Year 2013

Martin Gaston's Top 10 Games For 2013

Dota? I hardly knew her!

I have always been a PC gamer, really. There's a bit of faffing about, but at the end of the day, I just find a PC the most enjoyable way to play games. That has certainly affected the way I play console games, too: mostly at a desk, hooked up to a big monitor. But I'd also argue that the freedom the PC brings to development and distribution--and I certainly applaud Sony's and Microsoft's ongoing efforts to realise a similar culture on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One--ensures that my computer is regularly home to the most creative, imaginative, and ultimately impressive games. With 2013's game library, and Valve's SteamOS efforts on the horizon, I honestly think now is the perfect time for everyone to make sure they've got a half-decent gaming PC in their house.

Maybe it sounds funny, but my personal game of the year for 2013 was always going to be Dota 2, a game I started playing back in 2012. My time invested in the game now hovers around 500 hours. Valve's strategy game has become a daily fixture of my life, and it's probably the only game in the world that I simply couldn't live without. There's probably some level of a psychologically crippling addiction in that, to be fair. But games like Papers, Please and Path of Exile are also perfect examples of engaging and exhilarating experiences. I'd encourage anybody to check them out.

Dota 2 is my game of the year then, and that's mostly by virtue of the fact that it was "released" in 2013. But if we're being honest, it was my game of 2012, and will probably be my game of 2014. Such a thing would have been unthinkable to me a generation ago, as I was unwrapping my first Xbox 360, but the sheer number of ways we can consume and experience games now is genuinely amazing. The tear-jerking moments of The Last of Us were utterly captivating, and the breadth of Los Santos in Grand Theft Auto V was enough to make everyone forget about next-generation consoles for a few weeks back in September. When I combine wonderful experiences like that with other emerging genres--downloadable, mobile, free-to-play, indie, and other pigeonholing terms--I realise that gaming is as versatile and incredible as it was when I first received a copy of Sonic the Hedgehog as a child.

But the biggest surprise for me this year was the 3DS, a workhorse of a handheld which housed the most consistently impressive lineup of games in 2013. The cream of the crop was undoubtedly Link's invigorating and challenging return in A Link Between Worlds, but I had so many other great moments with the machine: planning out time-travelling family trees in Fire Emblem: Awakening, filling out a new Pokedex in Pokemon Y, and running around for days on end in Animal Crossing: New Leaf, to name a few. The 3DS really became an essential piece of kit this year.

Martin Gaston's Top 10