One Last Look at 2013
2013 was a fantastic year for the video game industry. In a year of transition marked by next-gen headlines, it seems as though media interest in video games has never been higher. As more and more people continue to play games, developers around the world craft unique experiences, from the hardcore to the casual, for this expanded audience. The gaming industry is now more mainstream than ever.
The big stories of the year were the launches of the Xbox One and Playstation 4 both of which were released to record sales numbers this past holiday season. Their releases followed months of hype, and a bloody PR battle between Microsoft, Sony and gamers everywhere, regarding the future of used games and online connectivity that culminated in a triumphant Sony press conference given at E3.
On the software front, Irrational Games, Rockstar North and Naughty Dog, each individually raised the bar for future software. Crystal Dynamics' hit it out of the park with their incredible "Tomb Raider" reboot, while "Super Mario 3D World" and "Rayman Legends" continued to defy expectations by re- invigorating the platformer genre yet again. Dedicated gaming handhelds are as popular as ever, the PS Vita seeing a surge in popularity thanks to Playstation Plus and its usefulness as a Playstation 4 companion device. While the Wii U has continually struggled to attract an audience, Nintendo's 3DS remained the best selling system of the year backed by one of the strongest first party software line ups in recent memory with amazing titles such as "Fire Emblem: Awakening", "Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon", "Pokemon X and Y" and "The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds" gracing the platform.
Despite 2013 being its final year as Sony's flagship console, the Playstation 3 was aggressively supported by quality first party software all year with the likes of "God of War: Ascension", "The Last of Us", "Beyond: Two Souls", "Gran Turismo 6" and "Ratchet and Clank: Into the Nexus".
While traditional MMOs continue to decline across the board, online battle arena games such as "League of Legends" and "Dota 2" continue to increase in popularity at an astounding rate.
Gabe Newell and Valve continued their quest for world domination with the Steam digital distribution platform continuing to gain popularity and the announcement of the SteamOS "Steamboxes" which will hit shelves later this year.
The ongoing development of the Oculus Rift and the promise of true virtual reality gaming headsets have developers and gamers everywhere on the edge of their seats.
The industry is on the verge of its next great change and it's never been a better time to be a gamer.
But for the present, we must answer one final question that remains from this landmark year in gaming:
Just what was the very best title of 2013?
While the year featured no shortages of quality software, in this humble critic's opinion there were three titles that elevated the medium to new heights never before reached in the industry. On the surface they are each very different titles but they all share an unrivaled degree of fine craftsmanship unmatched by anything else we've seen in 2013.
These masterpieces are "The Last of Us," "Bioshock Infinite," and "Grand Theft Auto V".
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