Gamebrit Game of the Year Awards 2013
2013 was a year with plenty of videogame scandal, from EA’s botched handling of the Sim City launch, Ashes Cricket’s sudden removal from shelves, Nintendo’s continued Wii U struggles, to Microsoft’s embarrassing about-turn on its Xbox One policies.
However, issues aside, the industry continued to push the medium of interactive entertainment forward, offering a breadth of refreshing and new experiences. Here are our favourites of 2013:
Mobile — Dots
Dots, from Digg-owner Betaworks, may not push your smartphone to its limits with cutting-edge graphics — instead it offers an insanely simple pick-up-and-play experience that proves more than addictive.
It’s perfect for filling those dead moments, like waiting for a bus, with a minute or two of uncomplicated jump-right-in gameplay. Simple and to the point — that’s why we love it.
Handheld — Tearaway
Just like last year, Media Molecule come up top with their handheld offering. Tearaway stands to prove to other developers just how best to make use of the PlayStation Vita hardware.
Tearaway offers a cutesy, unique blend of platforming and puzzling that’s more than charming.
Runner-up: Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
Indie — Papers, Please
Depressing — that’s one word we’d chose to describe indie-hit Papers, Please. Its cold, stark pixel style and glum music matches perfectly with its gloomy subject matter.
Papers, Please is a repetitive, labourish experience, and one that we wouldn’t particularly call fun. However, it’s not often a game makes you feel genuine empathy for its characters, let alone reflect on the wider world issues it attempts to shine a light on.
Runner-up: Gone Home
PC — Total War: Rome II
A successor to 2004’s Rome: Total War, Total War: Rome II’s launch sales surpassed all previous releases in the Total War series, culminating with a peak position of second in the UK chart.
The Creative Assembly, based in West Sussex, enhanced the Total War experience with a more progressive and decisive campaign within the Roman era — however, the game did not amass critical acclaim, with many reviews citing a flawed release. Yet, the game more than made up for its critical disappointment with commercial success, as it quickly became the most successful game in the series to date.
Runner-up: Dota 2
PS3 — The Last of Us
Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us struck a chord with many, no doubt due to its refreshingly genuine human-angle storytelling.
The survival adventure undertaken by protagonists Joel and Ellie is filled with plenty of moments that’ll no doubt stay with you — be it the upsetting introduction, the joyful moments Ellie spent walking with Giraffes, the stealthy winter scenes, to the conflicting conclusion.The Last of Us won’t be easily forgotten.
Runner-up: Grand Theft Auto V
Wii U — Super Mario 3D World
Nintendo have been making Mario platformers for the best part of nearly 30 years now; yet despite this the Mario series still manage to surprise and delight gamers.
Simply put Super Mario 3D World is the Mario game Wii U owners were waiting for. Oodles of fun, plenty of variety and a perfect balance of gameplay. Welcoming for newcomers and challenging for those who have been playing Mario for as long as Mario has been saving the Princess.
Runner-up: Wonderful 101
Xbox 360 — Grand Theft Auto V
Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto V seemed to squeeze every drop of power out of the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 to deliver a game world of epic proportions. Once players got the opportunity to first hit the open roads of Los Santos it quickly dawned on them just how big GTA V’s virtual sandbox was: huge.
A much improved and multi-layered story gave GTA V a fresh feel over its predecessors, and people took notice with the game racking up a record-breaking $1 billion in sales within just 72 hours.
Runner-up: BioShock Infinite
British Developer of the Year — Rockstar North for Grand Theft Auto V
Edinburgh-based Rockstar North are awarded the 2013 Gamebrit British Developer of Year Award for their work on blockbuster Grand Theft Auto V.
Costing a reported £170 million, Grand Theft Auto V is the culmination of five years of work from the Rockstar teams. With an in-game map bigger than those of Red Dead Redemption, GTA IV and GTA San Andreas combined, Grand Theft Auto V stands as a true technical marvel of the seventh console generation.
The Gamebrit 2013 Game of the Year
The Last of Us
The Gamebrit 2013 Game of the Year is awarded to The Last of Us.
Naughty Dog took something which, on paper, sounded awfully clichéd: yet another zombie-style survival game with a big Hollywood-style budget to match. You’d be mistaken for expecting explosions and plenty of gore. Instead, you’re treated to a well-paced and considerate adventure which explores grief, loss, confrontation, conflict and hope.
Joel, a man unsettled by the loss of his daughter, is thrust into the responsibility of safeguarding teenager Ellie. The dynamic between these two characters develops exquisitely as you play, with smart dialogue, body language and engrossing set-pieces. The Last of Us shines as an example of the mature and sincere storytelling that videogames can achieve.
Yes, The Last of Us is by no means the last game to be released on the PS3, far from it, but it sure does feel like a parting love letter to Sony’s third home console.
Naughty Dog’s epic The Last of Us very much feels like the PlayStation 3’s swan-song.
We’d love to see what your favourite games of last year were – be sure to let us know in the comments.
*Wondering where the PS4 and Xbox One categories are? They’ll be making their Gamebrit Awards debut next year once the consoles have been on the market a little longer.