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Top 20 Video Games of 2013 – Part 2

2013 has been an interesting year as far as gaming has been concerned.  Not only have there been some new and interesting games as well as sequels to popular franchises, we have also seen the release of new gaming consoles — both big and small.  The Sony and Microsoft juggernauts have unleashed their new machines and we have seen hints at the kind of gaming that is to come.  We have also seen smaller efforts try and gain a foothold such as the Ouya.  The writing staff have all cast their votes on what they feel were some of the best games that we have seen in 2013 regardless of platform preferences and loyalties.  Between all the votes, we have been able to craft an interesting list.  Here is the second part of Sound on Sight’s picks for the top 20 games of 2013 (counting down from 10).  If you missed the first part, you can find it HERE.

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10. Forza Motorsport V

Developer: Turn 10 Studios

Publisher: Microsoft Studios

(Xbox One)

Racing games have been very prevalent during the year but none have even come close than Forza V. The first thing that you notice about this game is the graphics as the cars almost look real as the sun glistens over the iridescent paint. The game comes prepackaged with over 200 cars and there are 14 tracks that you can race on. From the classic Circuit de la Sarthe to the Top Gear Test Track you will be racing against other cars from all over the world.

The most unique thing about this instalment of the series has to be a little thing called the ‘Drivatar.’ This revolutionary new feature will analyze the way that you drive on your console and then makes a ghost image of yourself that will go out and race other cars. So even when the console is off you will be racing against other people and earning credits that you can use to buy new cars or upgrade your old ones. With these new features, slick graphics and tons of content are the reasons why this game is one of the best of 2013. – Tom R

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9. Splinter Cell: Blacklist

Developers: Ubisoft Toronto / Montreal / Shanghai

Publisher: Ubisoft

(MS Windows, Xbox 360, PS3, Wii U)

It’s been eleven years since Sam Fisher made his stealthy first debut; and just like George Clooney or Leonardo DiCaprio, he’s only gotten better with age. By combining gameplay elements from the past decade, the newest incarnation, Blacklist, provides a game experience custom tailored to the user’s play-style. Whether you want to live in the shadows and complete missions non-lethally as a Ghost, sneak around while snapping necks as a Panther, or just go in guns blazing as Assault, the choice is yours.

There’s also the return of Spies vs. Mercs multiplayer, first introduced in Pandora Tomorrow. With a host of new game modes and returning Classic, Splinter Cell’s multiplayer will keep players night-vision goggles on long after the campaign is finished. Here’s hoping we’ll keep seeing adventures from Sam into the next decade. – Matt N

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8. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds

Developers: Nintendo EAD Group No. 3 / Monolith Soft

Publisher: Nintendo

(Nintendo 3DS)

Set it in the same world as the 1992 Super Nintendo Entertainment System title The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds takes place six generations following that game’s events. Link Between Worlds ran the risk of being nothing more than a nostalgic trip down memory lane, but thankfully Nintendo has manage to re-imagine the Zelda universe through the lens of 60fps and incredible stereoscopic 3D visuals. Visually immersive and coupled with a gripping soundtrack, A Link Between Worlds is a thoroughly poignant, vivid and immensely entertaining – a game which pays homage to fans who’ve followed Link for over two decades, yet still stands on its own two feet. Link Between Worlds is a beautiful game, with complex characters adventuring through a colourful and vibrant world. This is essential for any true fan of the Legend of Zelda series. – Ricky D

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7. Rayman Legends

Developer: Ubisoft

Publishers: Ubisoft, Nintendo

(Xbox 360, PS3, PS Vita, Wii U)

This storybook world may look friendly, but once players dive into their first painting they are in for a pleasant surprise. Rayman Legends breathes new life into the platform genre and challenges players to bring their A-game as they undertake rescue missions, dungeon runs, musical levels, and competitions. Masterfully utilizing sound design in every aspect of the game, Ubisoft has created captivating worlds where players can stroll through a whimsical forest one minute, and sneak by security systems the next. With numerous check points that automatically save your progress, Rayman Legends encourages players to explore every inch of the world they are visiting. Clearing a level of baddies doesn’t always mean that you’re through either. Some paintings are invaded by the enemy, which means they need another butt kicking. If you get lonely, you can add up to three other players to spice things up, or you can hop online to challenge players around the world. No matter how you choose to play, Rayman Legends is sure to keep you entertained for hours. – Elizabeth R

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6. Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch

Developers: Level-5 / Studio Ghibli

Publisher: Namco Bandai

(PS3)

Ni no Kuni was originally released for the Nintendo DS in late 2010 and saw a PS3 release in Japan in late 2011. It wasn’t until early 2013 that North America and Eurpoe saw The Wrath of the White Witch – a game that was eagerly awaited. The game is very much a Japanese RPG with beautiful graphics creating a platform in order to tell a great story. For gamers who recall the dawn of 16-bit RPG games, playing Ni No Kuni will provide both a nostalgic and a fresh gaming experience all at once. It is a must play for anyone who has a fondness for Japanese style RPGs. – Pat B

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5. Tomb Raider (2013)

Developer: Crystal Dynamics

Publisher: Square Enix

(MS Windows, Xbox 360, PS3)

Reinventing such a famous icon as Lara Croft was certainly no easy task but the 2013 reboot of Tomb Raider did just that. Players accompany Lara as she embarks on her first adventure, shipwrecked on an isolated island with nothing but her ingenuity and resourcefulness to help her. Amongst backdrops of lush forest and dripping caves, Lara evolves from a timid academic to a fearsome adventurer. Tomb Raider shows a side of Lara not often seen before as she discovers not only priceless treasures but herself, as well. – Holly F

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4. Grand Theft Auto V

Developer: Rockstar North (principal developer)

Publisher: Rockstar Games

(Xbox 360, PS3)

Since it’s release, Grand Theft Auto V is considered the definitive open world video game presently available. Set in the fictional state of San Andreas, the center of the action takes place in the city of Los Santos. The game plays from a third person perspective and the single-player mode is told through the interactions of three protagonists – all criminals and all of which are controlled by the player and can be chosen at will to complete a variety of missions and objectives. At its core, it is an action-adventure game which players can loose themselves for hours at a time be it by walking, driving, flying, or even scuba diving. Given the scale of the game world and immense detail that went into Los Santos, the depth of story and characters, Grand Theft Auto V is a prime example of how games can also be art. Given what we have seen, it is no wonder that Grand Theft Auto V also has the distinction of currently being the fastest selling video game in history surpassing the one billion USD mark in a mere three days. – Pat B

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3. Gone Home

Developer: The Fullbright Company

Publisher: The Fullbright Company

(MS Windows, OS X, Linux)

It’s rare when a game as simple as Gone Home is able to evoke such powerful emotions. Transported back to the 90’s, players take the role of Kaitlin Greenbriar as she comes home from travel abroad to find that her new house is empty and notes have been left for her to find. But what makes this game so interesting is that the player takes a backseat as an observer; the real star of the show is Kaitlin’s younger sister, Sam, who narrates her story as we discover more about her whereabouts. Gone Home is proof that video games have become a viable medium for breaking new ground, providing a voice for oft-silenced minorities. – Holly F

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2. Bioshock Infinite

Developers: Irrational Games, 2K Australia

Publisher: 2K Games

(PC, PS3, Xbox 360, OS X)

Bioshock Infinite was the probably the most anticipated game of 2013 and the third in the Bioshock franchise despite its departure from the previously established storyline taking place in Rapture, the city beneath the sea. The game is set about five decades prior to the events which unfold in the first Bioshock game in a floating air city of Columbia. In Bioshock Infinite, you play the role of Booker deWitt who is hired to find Elizabeth, a young woman whom you discover is entwined in the fates of both the city of Columbia and yourself.

At its core, the game is a first person shooter set in a fictionalized backdrop which explores religious beliefs, sociological, and political themes. As such, this same backdrop and the events witnessed as you play through the game have been viewed as charged and controversial. What makes the story compelling is how the characters are changed as it comes full circle while managing to deliver a few shocks and surprises along the way. However, the game is still a shooter – gear, weapons, powers are all at hand to enable you to go through a multitude of combat oriented challenges necessary for an interesting story to unfold. Love it or hate it, there is little doubt that Bioshock Infinite is one of the best games of 2013. – Pat B

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1. The Last of Us

Developer: Naughty Dog

Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment

(PS3)

Perhaps the only game this year to bring tears to the eyes of gamers, The Last of Us earned top spot on our list this year because of its unrivaled storytelling and innovative gameplay that takes the horror action genre to a whole new level. This emotional roller coaster takes its time introducing gameplay, but keeps players invested in dynamic characters and gorgeous graphics. The complex bond between Joel, a pandemic survivor who has no problems killing, and Ellie, a brave teen fighting to save humanity, is fascinating to watch as it develops from a forced pairing to a welcomed companionship. As players fight the infected and roaming bandits on the trek across the United States, they are able to loot buildings and collect various items in order to upgrade weapons. Last of Us also features a brand new AI system called “Balance of Power” which allows enemies to react more realistically to situations when players are fighting back, making sure that players are always on their toes. Gut wrenching from start to finish, Last of Us is definitely a game that will go down in history as one of the greatest. – Elizabeth R

And there you have it.  Our top 20 of 2013 has something for everybody this year and there is so much more to come in 2014!  I want to give thanks to the writers who helped with the capsule reviews for Part I and Part II of Sound on Sight’s Top 20 Video Games of 2013.  In no particular order, Holly, Elizabeth, Tom, Matt, and Ricky — thank you very much for your efforts and I want to wish you, the other writers, and all our readers a very happy and prosperous 2014!

Part One


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