Usual disclaimers in place here, these aren't the objective best, just the best in my opinion, console games particularly those by Nintendo may or may not be on the list due to the fact Ninty hates Europe for some reason and most important to remember, though I own all formats my primary gaming machine is a PC. As ever feel free to comment, disagree and list your own top 5. With that said, lets begin with:
5. Path of Exile:
So as we all well know, Diablo III was a flop, man... was it a flop... oh sweet JEHESUS! did that game blow. So here's a free to play Diablo style game, with an infinite (as good as anyway) Skill Tree, micro-transactions that consist purely of cosmetic items and a brilliant aesthetic. It's dark, brooding, fun and deep, everything D3 should have been but wasn't.... oh and did I mention it's free, so there is no reason not to buy this game.
4. Ni No Kuni - Wrath of the White Witch:
J-RPG masters Level 5 and grand master anime studio Studio Ghibli combined? In a whimsical fairy tale? That will make you cry like a bitch? I'm down, NNK wears it's legacy very much on the sleeve if you're not a fan of 80hour+ J-RPG's this most certainly isn't for you, however if what you want is a deep involving story, without all the grimdark and misery and a world that's a joy to play in, I can highly recommend this title.
3. The Last of Us:
Need I actually say anything? A lot of you will be screaming that isn't higher on my list (also where is Bioshock Infinite will no doubt be a cry). Well this is my list and whilst I can't say I didn't enjoy the ride as this game is perfectly paced, never have I felt so emotionally beat up by a game, this thing within the first half hour suck punches you to the gut and by the ending you'll be left as naught but an empty shell. Best game of the year objectively? Well it would be if not for 1 other game (Brothers, but I haven't played that hence it not being on my list), but it's a damn fine adventure and even if you're not a Gamer yourself, pester a gamer friend to play it through with you whilst you watch, you'll be left as hollow and empty by the end as Breaking Bad left you. It's that good.
2. Saints Row 4:
"Saint Row 4? Not GTA 5? Better than TLU? Boy you don't know what you're talking about." Actually I think you'll find it's you that doesn't know what you're talking about. Saints Row 4 is a glorious celebration of everything that's great, not just about Video Games, but about nerd culture in general, most won't get all the references, I certainly did though and I appreciate them, no other game made me feel so much like a powerful bad ass whilst keeping a massive grin on my face as this one did. From climbing up the side of the flying nuke to Aerosmiths: Don't want to miss a thing whilst your team says their good byes, to jumping down a shaft avoiding lasers and missiles whilst exchanging, line for line Megatron and Optimus Primes speech from Transformers, is glorious... and Stan Bush's The Touch playing in the background is the icing on a delicious cake, this game is a celebration of me and everything I love, every movie reference, singing to opposites attract and being a cockney president (if you pick any other voice, you're wrong). No game had me smiling more, with one possible exception...
1. The Stanley Parable:
The adventure line for best character of 2013. I won't talk too much about this, because it really would be a spoiler, but no game is such a joyous, spot on satire of the elements and expectations of gamers, for years to come this game will be taught in game design schools and held up at dev conferences as an example. No other game had me thinking, laughing out loud, swearing, staring at ferns, wondering hallways, giggling and just plain grinning like this one did. There is an argument that it's akin to a Chinese Room style game (makers of Dear Esther and Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs) but without the pretense and with actual exploration gameplay... to which I say those 2 elements alone are enough to distinguish it, I highly recommend anyone who just wants to laugh and likes having their expectations played with check out this game... if Monty Python made a Video Game, it would be The Stanley Parable.
Elephant in the Room: GTA5 and Bioshock Infinite.
Lets start with why these didn't make the cut and it's both for differing reasons; GTA5 is a marvel of technological achievement, but 3 things kept it off the list.
1. No PC Version, this sounds minor, but effectively Rockstar gave the finger to those of us who want to have the best experience possible by not releasing it, I'd actually like to play in 1080P or higher at 60fps with high res textures and mod support. There is no reason why it couldn't have been released to PC simultaneously.
2. It's half a game. With launch features of the multiplayer affecting the single player, the fuck up of the multiplayer is inexcusable, the single player experience should never have been compromised like that.
3. Trevor. A great many people like Trevor, I don't get it? He's basically a Kane or Lynch, he's reprehensible, morally ugly and completely unrelatable, I get he's meant to be the guy we flip out as, but when Niko Bellic was likable, Trevor isn't. I like some connection to my characters actions and Trevors never felt like actions I'd undertake in a GTA game, blow up cops, sure, torture? No way.
As for Bioshock Infinite well there is only one reason:
It's a mediocre game... a fantastic, amazing, compelling story I recommend all play through, but mechanically, just meh... mediocre and whilst for some genres mechanics aren't always a thing, in FPS, RTS and Platforming, mechanics are god.