GOTY: Grand Theft Auto V
2013 was a special year for games. With a front-loaded first quarter, and some of the biggest names getting sequels (God of War, Metal Gear), it was clear there would be some heavy competition for top honors. But one title stood on a higher pedestal than the rest: Grand Theft Auto V. Let me be clear, GTA IV was a catastrophe. While there was a solid story, the unbridled freedom was gone, straying away from what made GTA the pinnacle of open-world games. Grand Theft Auto V changed all that by bringing in an exceptional script, an expansive area with tons of things to do, and a sense of a true living world. It would be a fruitless effort to try and name all the things you can do here, but know that it will take over your life. Aside from that, Michael is one of the best characters ever in a video-game, bringing players into his complicated, mid-life crisis. Add tons of biting satire, and you’ve got yourself a bona fide masterpiece.
Biggest Disappointment: Beyond: Two Souls
This is a heartbreaker. Heavy Rain pushed the idea of a strong interactive narrative, and represented a lot of potential for the future of video-games. Adding Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe sounded like a winning combination, but Beyond’s narrative fell on its own ambition. Too much cliche, not enough originality. Too much movie, not enough interaction. These games are something special, and them existing is great in itself, but I would have liked Beyond to live up to its expectations. Despite this, I look forward to David Cage’s next title, and I imagine he will keep things a bit more grounded this time around.