The year’s nowhere near over yet but 2013 has already seen a wealth of great video games. And we’ve still got the highly-anticipated release of two new consoles to look forward to, with a shedload of beautiful, next-gen games. For the time being, let’s focus on those games that have already had us shunning our social lives and living off ready meals.
With Bioshock: Infinite, Irrational Games reinvented an already successful franchise and in doing so made a potential contender for Game of the Year. As IGN’s senior editor, Kevin VanOrd, pointed out, it’s “more than just a quality game: it’s an important one.” The ages-old scenario of rescuing a damsel in distress is played out against a backdrop of religious fanaticism and racial cleansing, drawing uncomfortable parallels with America’s recent history. It’s unsettling stuff, though the fluid action and gorgeous graphics make the thought-provoking narrative easier to swallow.
Another rebooted franchise that hadn’t fared too well in recent years. The sex appeal of Lara Croft, once so important, didn’t work on a generation of kids who’d seen it all already and were more interested in blowing each other away on Modern Warfare. The newest outing for Ms Croft sees her as much more than one-dimensional, puzzle-solving cleavage and focuses instead on her human side with a great mix of exposition, action and mystery to boot. It’s proof that video games still matter in the days of websites which offer free access to a large selection of games and betting.
The original Crysis game was out of step with its time. A game so graphically advanced that most people had to take out loans to afford the necessary PC upgrades to play it. Crysis 3 is also no slouch in the graphics department but it runs damn smoother than its predecessors. This means shorter loading times and more time spent actually playing rather than changing settings so that rock looks more like…a rock. The fun comes from an arsenal of amazing weaponry, the legendary nanosuit, and a storyline involving alien invasion. What’s not to like.
The third game (surprise, surprise) in the Dead Space series is every bit as terrifying as previous titles. It’s sci-fi horror of the kind that often draws comparisons with Aliens, since the protagonist battles Necromorphs on a frozen planet in the dark, labyrinthine remains of spaceships. The only thing missing is a mining colony. A new co-op mode and stunning graphics made this a worthwhile addition to the franchise.
The Last of Us has echoes of The Road and The Walking Dead, making tangible the hopelessness of a post-apocalyptic world. You play Joel whose role it is to escort a teenage girl, Ellie, through this dangerous landscape. You have to watch out for surviving humans as well as the infected clickers who were the victims of a fungal plague. IGN has called this game a “masterpiece” and it will almost certainly go down as one of the PS3’s best titles. In many ways, it’s the console’s swansong before the PS4 arrives.