I have zero confidence that anyone will actually see this thanks to Gamespots new layout but imma do it anyways!
2013 was decent year for gaming, especially after 2012, but it lacked RPG's and had its fair share of disappointments. Here are the games I enjoyed the most in 2013 from what I have played so far.
5. Tomb Raider
I have never played a Tomb Raider game before and had few expectations of any kind coming into this year's reboot. What I found was a refined version of the formula used by the Uncharted games with much stronger gameplay but weaker writing and narrative elements. The gameplay in Tomb Raider is very solid with tight shooting, fun stealth and some of the best platforming controls and camera angles I have ever seen. The blend of shooting, exploration, scripted events and stealth was very well executed apart from an excess of quick-time events, making this one of the most consistently enjoyable experiences of 2013.
4. Company of Heroes 2
the first Company of Heroes is my favorite strategy game of all time and probably my favorite game from the last 10 years. I find the formula of Real Time Strategy mixed with real time tactics a truly intoxicating one, and I anxiously awaited CoH 2 as it went through a troubled development cycle under THQ. I even had the chance to play a very early version of the game in a closed alpha while it was still under THQ; it was not a pleasant experience but I saw glimmers of hope in the poorly optimized mess. I was relieved when Relic was picked up by Sega, and the beta showed massive improvements over what I had played previously.
Since then, the game has gradually improved with the exception of some questionable DLC practices in the form of paid multiplayer commanders. It has become my most played game of 2013, with steam clocking about 130 hours playtime so far, and I still go in for multiplayer matches almost daily. While I don't think it's a better game than its predecessor, it has the same addictive quality and the core gameplay remains stellar. It also has enough differences to feel fresh and differentiate itself.
3. Rising Storm
simply put, this is probably the best designed and most atmospheric multiplayer shooter I have ever played. It lacks the production value of some of its AAA counterparts, but the asymmetric balance, stellar gunplay and well implemented teamwork mechanics make this a really engrossing game that I keep coming back to. Many maps capture the atmosphere of Medal of Honor: Pacific Assault's better levels (especially the Guadalcanal map), and the way the soldiers talk amongst themselves about their current situation is incredibly cool. This game feels like a world war 2 game on a mechanical level, it doesn't just use it as a backdrop like earlier Call of Duty titles. I just wish there was more of it. More maps, more guns and some vehicles to add variety. These things are coming, and for free, but the seven maps available right now just aren't quite enough.
2. Assassins Creed IV: Black Flag
I am not a big fan of the Assassins Creed series. Even with AC II and Brotherhood, the two previously most accomplished games in the series, I didn't manage to finish. When Black Flag was announced, I rolled my eyes, amazed that Ubisoft were rushing out yet another yearly iteration in the stagnating franchise. I was astonished then that it turned out to be a stellar open world game. The sandbox is well designed and side activities actually have a purpose now with the Jackdaw serving as an excellent focal point for the game, but more than anything it is the way in which the developers captured the Ocean that has me floored. Having spent a lot of time on boats growing up, no game has come close to capturing the feel of the ocean until now.
The most powerful moment in gaming for me this year wasn't some overwrought cutscene in The Last of Us or Tomb Raider, but a moment when I was simply sailing along with the sun setting on the Caribbean sea while the crew started singing a particularly affecting sea shanty. Black Flag won me over totally, despite some annoyances like eavesdropping missions and free-running mishaps returning from previous games.
1. Metro Last Light
This is one of the best story-driven first person shooters since FEAR and Half-Life 2. I found it totally enthralling for its duration, particularly the above surface segments that showcased the amazing weather effects. That atmosphere is just incredible, something that the game inherited from its predecessor, but all other elements have been improved hugely. Encounters with humans are highly enjoyable using both stealth and action, monster variety is much improved, and the pacing is largely excellent. The game remained in my psyche for months after playing it, and I plan on returning for another run through after recently purchasing the ranger mode DLC on sale. The game feels like a labour of love coming from a smaller, less wealthy studio, and it shows.
The Last of Us - I wanted to enjoy this game more than I actually did. I loved the story and the characters, and the weighty and intimate feel of the combat. Sadly I just found large parts of the game rather tedious, particularly the stretch of gameplay that took place in Pittsburgh. The strong writing and relationship between Joel and Ellie had me stay through to the end however, and I was impressed with the mature storytelling and character development even if the gameplay side of things often left me less than satisfied. I feel I would have enjoyed it exponentially more if I could have played it with a mouse and keyboard since the sluggish controller aiming was a major source of frustration for me.
Arma 3 - Mechanically, this game is extremely impressive. Considering the scale and complexity of the series, the fact that everything works as smoothly as it does is amazing. The gunplay is fantastic, the weight of movement and various stances is just perfect for style of gameplay the series is going for. Right now it feels more like a platform for future mods and developer made content however, as there really isn't a lot right now. I look forward to seeing how this title develops in the coming years.
Splinter Cell Blacklist - I never played SC Conviction, so my initial impressions of Blacklist were very negative. However once I got used to the cover system and started unlocking various gadgets, the game shone. Some levels in the middle of the game are really good, and I ended up having a lot of fun with the game despite some annoying action sequences in the second half.
The Stanley Parable - I don't know if this game is as deep and prophetic as some people claim, I found it incredibly funny though.
Antichamber - An interesting puzzle game that has a bit too many moments of "hah! you failed because you didn't know something you couldn't possibly know!" I know that is partially the point of the game but I found it got irritating after a point. Still a nice mind bending experience though.
The Swapper - the puzzles are clever, but it's the amazing atmosphere that makes this a very special experience. The finnicky puzzles toward the end of the game are a huge pain though.
Bioshock Infinite - I enjoyed the first half of this game immensely. The setting is fantastic and the combat is much tighter than in the first Bioshock. However the pace drags in the second half and the story moves away from the themes that made earlier parts of the game so interesting.