Video Game Holiday Guide: The Games

We’re back with our second video game holiday guide. Last week we discussed the next-gen consoles and helped you decide whether they were right for you. This week we’ll take a look at some of the best games and some of the overlooked games of the year. These games are sure to make any gamer happy this holiday season. It’s time to buy some games…


Best Games of 2013

If you haven’t played these games yet, maybe it’s time to ask Santa to drop one off for you. Here are some of the best games of 2013 to add to the shopping list for yourself or your loved ones. These aren’t in any particular order. Just know that these four games are some of the best on the market right now. (Please note: metacritic scores for multiplatform games are taken from the highest rated version of the game. The same goes for user scores.).

BioShock Infinite

  • PS3, Xbox 360, PC
  • Metacritic score: 94 / 100 (User score: 85 / 100)
  • 1 player only
  • Action / First Person Shooter
  • Rated M
  • Single player DLC available
  • Anyone who’s listened to a video game segment on the podcast knows about our love for this game, its universe, and its creator. Ken Levine is at it again with another masterfully intricate, headache inducing, jaw dropping plot. This game never ceases to amaze. Between unique power based gameplay, a captivating world, interesting characters, and a twist that will leave you studying college level metaphysics, BioShock Infinite is a challenging, entertaining, and powerful gaming experience.
  • Rich Liebig’s Game of the Year and Developer of the Year (Irrational Games)!! 

The Last of Us

  • PS3
  • Metacritic score: 95 / 100 (User score: 91 / 100)
  • Single player campaign; online multiplayer
  • Action / 3rd person shooter
  • Rated M
  • Single and multiplayer DLC available
  • The Last of Us is one of those games that defines a generation of gaming. Years from now, people will still talk about Naughty Dog’s crowning achievement. When people speak of video games as art, this is the type of game they are talking about. No other game is as difficult to play from an emotional standpoint as The Last of Us. Never before have I witnessed a person brought to the verge of tears playing a game for each separate emotion: joy, fear, frustration, and sadness. The gameplay will draw you in and stress you out in the best ways possible, and the ending is one that will sit with you long after completing it.
  • Michael Costanzo’s Game of the Year!!

Grand Theft Auto 5

  • PS3, Xbox 360
  • Metacritic score: 97 / 100 (User score: 82 / 100)
  • Single player campaign; online multiplayer
  • Action / 3rd person shooter
  • Rated M
  • DLC unknown (but it’s a good bet)
  • Grand Theft Auto never fails to stir up the gaming community, and this one is back and bigger than ever. Rockstar is the top developer in creating open worlds, and GTAV’s doesn’t disappoint. With three playable main characters — a first for the series — a new multiplayer mode, more activities, and a more lively world, Grand Theft Auto 5 is Rockstar’s perfect goodbye to this generation of consoles.

Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag

  • PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Wii U, PC
  • Metacritic score: 88 / 100 (User score: 81 / 100)
  • Single Player campaign; online multiplayer
  • Action / Adventure / Stealth
  • Rated M
  • Single and multiplayer DLC available
  • This series has been a mainstay for many gamers since its first game in 2007. Since the second game in the series released in 2009, Ubisoft has pushed out a new game in the series every year. Fortunately for gamers, quality has remained steady throughout. The latest entry sees the greatest departure from the series’ traditional gameplay, instead opting for a swashbuckling, sea shanty of a good time in the open waters of the Caribbean. Players will command their own pirate ship and sail the open waters looking for booty and battles, but players can still expect a healthy dose of the series trademark free running and assassinations. If you’re looking for updated graphics and smoother frame rates, AC4 is also available on next-gen consoles.


Overlooked Games of 2013

So, we talked about the best games, how about some that flew under the radar? These games may not have gotten the same amount of hype as the others, but they still stand out as some of the best unsung heroes of a great year in gaming. These next games will make perfect gifts for those gamers that have already played the best and are looking for more.

Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time

  • PS3, PS Vita (cross buy — buy 1, get both)
  • Metacritic score: 75 / 100 (User score: 85 / 100)
  • Single player campaign
  • Action / Platformer / Stealth
  • Rated E10+
  • No DLC
  •  The first three games in the Sly Cooper series were developed by SuckerPunch, but they gave up the series when they moved to developing one of my favorite superhero series, Infamous. Sanzaru Games picked up the slack and remastered the original series for the PS3. Sony and SuckerPunch were so impressed that they gave the fledgling developer the “ok” to produce a fourth game in the series. Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time released in February, but I just bought this game recently. I can’t believe how good it is. The art style is bright, vibrant, and whimsical; the gameplay is easy but entertaining and addictive; the controls are tight and responsive…everything about this game is solidly designed and adds to a very fun and enjoyable gaming experience.
  • Michael’s Hidden Gem of 2013!!

Batman: Arkham Origins

  • PS3, Xbox 360, Wii U, PC
  • Metacritic score: 76 / 100 (User score: 78 / 100)
  • Single player campaign, online multiplayer
  • Action / Adventure
  • Rated T
  • Single and multiplayer DLC available
  • Releasing between GTA5 and Call of Duty: Ghosts with the next-gen consoles on the horizon and no next-gen port of your game is a surefire way get ignored in the video game world, which is exactly what happened to Batman: Arkham Origins. Batman: Arkham Origins might not be the revolutionary game its predecessors were, but  most reviewers spoke positively of this game. Featuring the biggest open world in the Batman series to date, and a story that focuses on a younger, less experienced Batman are two unique twists that this game holds over the previous titles. Fans of the series will be happy to know that the brilliant combat and flight mechanics return, and the the new voice actors are stellar in their performances. While this game isn’t a hidden gem in the traditional sense, it definitely flew under the radar this fall.

The Wolf Among Us

  • PS3, PS Vita, Xbox 360, PC, iOS
  • Metacritic score: 86 / 100
    (User score: 89 / 100)
  • 1 player only
  • Action / Adventure / Point ‘n’ click
  • Rated T
  • Episodic content
  • Telltale may have flown under the radar for the last time in 2013. After the immense success of their Walking Dead adaptation (which you should all go play right now!), Telltale quickly pushed out The Wolf Among Us, based on a comic book about fairy tale characters living in the modern world. Players control the sheriff, formerly the big, bad wolf, as he attempts to solve vicious crimes. In a noir-esque tone, The Wolf Among Us draws players in with amazing characters, a unique visual style, and choice based gameplay. This episodic, download only title probably didn’t make it in many gamer’s collections because of the huge number of big releases recently, but it’s definitely one to check out. Also, now is the perfect time to get acclimated to Telltale’s games because the developer just released The Walking Dead Season 2, and recently announced a Borderlands game (in conjunction with Gearbox), and a Game of Thrones game. They are quickly becoming a powerhouse in the gaming world.
  • Michael’s Developer of the Year: Telltale Games

LEGO Marvel Super Heroes

  • PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC, Wii U
  • Metacritic score: 83 / 100 (User score: 78 / 100)
  • Single and multiplayer campaign
  • Action / Adventure / Platformer
  • Rated E 10+
  • DLC available
  • These LEGO branded games can easily slip past a “hardcore” gamer’s attention, but this one deserves a second chance. I played the original LEGO Star Wars game (you know, the one that made the prequel trilogy tolerable) and the LEGO Batman games. I recently played the demo of this latest LEGO game and was pleasantly surprised at how fun it is. There’s plenty to like about this game.The competitive co-op is a blast; the game features a huge assortment of characters (nearly every major and minor Marvel hero and villain); completionists have plenty of collectibles to hunt; and the gameplay is easy but fun. Don’t let the “kiddy” appearance fool you, these LEGO games are incredibly fun if you play with a friend or family member (kids will especially love it). Plus, it’s got Spiderman, the X-Men, and Iron Man…that makes it a win for everyone.

Honorable Mentions: Here are some other brilliant games that are worth a shot. Some of these probably even deserve their own entry, but there’s just not enough hours in a day or space in this article. If you have suggestions, leave them in the comments section and I’ll add them to the list. Let’s make it a great video gaming holiday for everyone!

  • Tomb Raider — a reboot that brought Lara Croft into the modern world with real emotion and visceral gameplay
  • Beyond: Two Souls (PS3 only) — the next great story game from the creators of Heavy Rain
  • Brother’s: A Tale of Two Sons — a fun, puzzle platformer action game with a unique control scheme
  • The Stanley Parable (PC and Mac only) — a quirky, narrated, satire on common video game conventions
  • Gone Home (PC and Mac only) — a moody, “story-exploration” game focused on discovery based gameplay
  • Battlefield 4 — a shooter with a huge, open, vehicle enabled online multiplayer
  • Call of Duty: Ghosts — the latest game in the immensely popular first person shooter series
  • Saints Row IV — an irreverent, insanely wacky open world shooter with plenty of laughs and chaos

So, there you have it, just some of the gaming highlights from 2013. Of course, there are too many excellent games to name here; these are just a small sampling of some of the best games, and some of the overlooked games, that came out this past year. Either way, there’s a game on this list for every type of gamer, from the hardcore to the little kids and everyone in between. Hopefully, something on this list has caught your eye, but if you have any suggestions of your own, make sure to leave them in the comments section so everyone can see them.

Michael Costanzo (51 Posts)

Michael is new to the podcasting scene, with The Crispy Noodle Podcast marking his first foray into the world of internet radio. He also enjoys playing video games, reading, criticizing the Philadelphia Eagles, and being Italian. Currently, Michael is enrolled in Rosemont College's Masters of the Fine Arts program for Creative Writing. He one day hopes to traumatize people of all ages with his writing. Until then, Michael will continue to bring his unique perspective to The Crispy Noodle.

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