The Last of Us
2013 was one of the strongest years ever for video games. So many games that deserve recognition for being incredible in their own right. When it comes right down to it, as I sat and looked at my list of possible picks, there was only one choice that was easy for me to make.
The Last of Us is a game that defines a generation and it comes at the very end of the current one. Naughty Dog’s reputation as a premiere developer was already sealed with their Uncharted trilogy, Jak and Daxter and Crash Bandicoot, but with The Last of Us they married the gameplay and story so seamlessly it reimagines what is possible in video gaming. Not just very good at one and slack at the other, rather a symbiosis created and learned over 30 years of gaming.
Led by Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson, who set a new bar for voice acting, The Last of Us is the story of Joel and Ellie and their journey across the country, which spans a year, and set against the backdrop of a post-apocalyptic outbreak twenty years prior that has left mankind hanging on by a thread. We have seen the apocalypse scenario before. In fact, we are inundated with it in pop culture with the current zombie craze which makes Naughty Dog’s ability to make it feel fresh all the better. The lines of “video game as art” are blurred further the more you play.
It has been a long, long time since I felt so much emotional connection to characters in a game, not since the original Mass Effect in 2007. As Joel and Ellie’s relationship grows from contentious to so much more you can not help but have your own attachment to both of them, especially if you have experienced the type of loss that both of them have. I can not thank Naughty Dog enough for creating such a fully realized world and characters that will always stick with me.
The Last of Us is a journey that reveals just how good…and horrific humanity can be in its worst hour. As a species on the brink of dying off you are focused on these two engaging people who show you that The Last of Us isn’t about the last of humanity, but rather, the last of humanity left in us.
The best of the rest
Any other year. Any other year this would be sitting at the top of my list. Taking the fun Bioshock formula and add in a host of mindfucks and you have only just begun to realize what awaits you.
Welcome back, Lara Croft. It has been awhile. Where Uncharted was a spiritual successor to the original Tomb Raider this brings it full circle and the new Lara is a spiritual successor to Uncharted. Smooth controls and beautiful to look at.
-Assassin’s Creed IV
I had all but given up on the Assassin’s Creed franchise then Ubisoft goes and does this. Who doesn’t want to be a pirate on the high seas? It lets you live out your Jack Sparrow fantasies and reinvigorates the series.
-Super Mario 3D World
It looks like I bought a Wii U just in time. Crazy level design and co-op play that will make friends enemies. It is easily the best Mario game since Super Mario 64. Should be a system seller.