The Best Games of 2013 (so far)

As we head past 2013's mid point, each member of the USG team looks back at the first half of this year and nominates their three favorite games from the last six months. The winners are an interesting, varied, and sometimes unexpected bunch - but they're all great. Check them out and see.

Livetopic by Jaz Rignall, .

This article may contain links to online retail stores. If you click on one and buy the product we may receive a small commission. For more information, go here.

Comments 24

  • Avatar for MattG #1 MattG 4 years ago
    Best Revived Franchise - Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time. It takes a special talent to bring back a character that has sat out the current console generation so late in the cycle, but Sanzaru managed to revive Sly Cooper in a way that kept him close to his PS2 roots while adding something new to the mix. The new Sly adventure was a great way to start 2013 and the Vita cross-buy and cloud saving just made the experience even better. I'd gladly buy a Sly 5 for PS3 or PS4.
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for Thusian #2 Thusian 4 years ago
    Luigi's Mansion two, so fun so funny.
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for pjedavison #3 pjedavison 4 years ago
    @Thusian Yes! That game's great. I even like the multiplayer.
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for Thusian #4 Thusian 4 years ago
    @pjedavison I mean really year of the 3DS or what? I loved Fire Emblem LM2, SMT4, Animal Crossing, sheesh.

    Other highlights for me this year were Monster Hunter 3U and Lego City Undercover, which wile good and I invested tonnes of time, I would not maybe place on this list.
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for renatocosta90 #5 renatocosta90 4 years ago
    This year I've been working like crazy, so I have not been able to play properly on my console (ps3) or PC. But I got myself a 3DS, and the finest examples of great RPGs are definetely there.
    I would say SMT IV (which I'm playing right now) and EO IV (that was the reason I got my 3DS in the first place, thanks to mr. Parish) are the best so far, though I haven't had the time to play Last of us or bioshock infinite.
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for MHWilliams #6 MHWilliams 4 years ago
    @MattG I've honestly never played a Sly Cooper game.
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for KingOfSpain #7 KingOfSpain 4 years ago
    Fire Emblem on the 3DS has to be up there. Never played a FE before, but it has blown me away. Animal Crossing might be getting all the love at the moment (no problem with that, AC is also a quality game)but I can't help feeling more people should be talking about Fire Emblem.
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for jeremy.parish #8 jeremy.parish 4 years ago
    @MattG I'm sad to say it, but Sly 4 was the game that made me realize I don't actually like Sly Cooper all that much. Sly 2 was a lot of fun 10 years ago, but the series hasn't evolved at all since then.
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for pixelatedsoul #9 pixelatedsoul 4 years ago
    For me the best game so far is The Last Of Us. Without a doubt it is the most emotionally affecting game I've ever experienced. I've played through it twice now and two months later I still think about it everyday.

    After that I'd say Bioshock Infinite. One of my favorite things about this is all games media seemed to have roundtable discussions about the ending and what it all meant. When a game can trigger that kind of reaction from it's community, you have to respect that.

    Finally, I have to go with Animal Crossing: New Leaf. For obvious reasons, it's the only game I have played every single day since it's release. Few games can make that claim and I can't wait to go back to my village today.
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for MattG #10 MattG 4 years ago
    @jeremy.parish My take on Sly is a bit different since I'd never played a Sly game until I shotgunned all 3 games in The Sly Collection back in December 2010 and was left hungry for more. In my mind, I wasn't expecting or even really wanting to see the advances of ten years worth of time since the original games were still fresh in my mind.
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for Stealth20k #11 Stealth20k 4 years ago
    etrian 4
    soul hacker
    smt IV
    pokemon mystery dungeon
    ni no kuni
    generation of chaos pandora
    pandoras tower
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for Kuni-Nino #12 Kuni-Nino 4 years ago
    Tomb Raider is up there for me. After a few years of build up, analyzing interviews, videos, pictures, previews, I FINALLY got to play it. It was a game I waited for, a game I anticipated. Going into it, I made sure to keep my expectations in check. I didn't expect anything like Anniversary, instead I expected something more cinematic; an experience more in line with those that define this generation. Tomb Raider managed to achieve that and something a little bit more.

    Despite Tomb Raider sticking to a rote game formula, what makes it stand out for me amidst all the titles I've played this year is Lara herself. It's been awhile since I've rooted for a protagonist as much as I did for Lara. She goes through hell to save her friends. She gets beat up, shot at, stabbed, burned, and through each encounter, ending up bruised and scarred, she responds by putting her head down and fighting on. She never quits. At the start, she's a naive college student. At the end, she's a calculating warrior. How many female protagonist do we actually see in video games get a character arc like that? How many female protagonists in video games actually get to do all the things their male counterparts do? It's strangely empowering and I'm not even a woman.

    Say what you will about the body count being too high and narrative dissonance, I'll still say that every one of those dudes you killed had it coming. Tomb Raider is on my short list. It's a good action game with a legit great heroine.
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for christopherhughes97 #13 christopherhughes97 4 years ago
    On MGR:R
    "Depending on the angle from which you look it at, it can be seen as a critique of the developers for wallowing in violent fare, consumers for demanding it, the industry for commoditizing it, or all three simultaneously."
    I'm not sure if that's really how the developers intended it to be read. I could be wrong, but I really saw Revengeance as a pretty direct continuation of the the themes of the rest of the MGS series. I'd say the overarching theme of the MGS series has been "We should strive toward a world where people everywhere who choose to learn to fight can do so solely as a way to better themselves and defend their communities and are never expected to fight in political conflicts or hurt another person for dubious reasons. So don't support pro-war politicians, eliminate the stocking of WMDs, etc." And I read the big theme of MGR:R as being "We should strive toward a more equitable and less violent world, where indulging in fantasy violence is not misunderstood as having violent tendencies or being unhealthy in some way." I really see the second theme as a broader version of the first one, and I see them both as being very typical of the "military otaku" mindset that I think informs most of Kojima's projects.
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for internisus #14 internisus 4 years ago
    The best use of goats actually will be Escape Goat 2 when it comes out in September.
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for Shadowfire #15 Shadowfire 4 years ago
    Best "I'll be right to bed honey, just one more round"
    Rogue Legacy. The game hits that perfect balance of platforming, rogue-like difficulty and randomness, and just enough progression to want you to keep going. The first game since Civ V came out that made me want to keep playing. And playing. And playing. And.. oh damnit, the sun's coming up.
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for sakicfan84 #16 sakicfan84 4 years ago
    I love the articles involving the whole USG team, and this is easily the best yet. You guys are have done a great job separating yourself from the heap of other gaming sites with a focus that seems to differ significantly. There are dozens of places to go to read the current gaming news; it's refreshing to have another site that isn't just trying to follow in that mold. Keep up the great work USG team!

    That being said, I have to say Etrian Odyssey 4 is at the top of my list right now. I think it did what every sequel should strive to do; it refined some of the core elements while also adding on new features that expend the user base of the game. An optional casual mode is exactly what this series needed. I don't know the sales numbers on this title, but I'm hoping all of the improvements have resulted in increased sales.

    I'll also throw my support for Bioshock Infinite out there. I haven't finished the game yet, but I'm definitely a stand out game so far. While there are definitely some areas that I have some gripes about, I can forgive them all when I think about how amazing the atmosphere is in this game. There is so much detail put into every environment; I'm sucked into Columbia every time I start the game up. Couple this with a very competent story thus far, and I think we have a game that could be one of my favorites of the generation.
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for Fresh_Paprika #17 Fresh_Paprika 4 years ago
    Best RPG Released in Europe with Level and Puzzle Design that's Actually Creative - Mario & Luigi: Dream Team Bros.

    There's always something wonderful and different in Mario RPGs, something that sets them apart from most of their peers. A certain spark, charm, and silly wit that makes each game special. A focus on level and puzzle design over customization and character development depth, a battle system that has more to do with observation and reaction than strategy. I think that's the key to a great Mario RPG - it needs to be a Mario RPG, not an RPG staring Mario.

    The Mario & Luigi series is exactly that. Clever puzzle design that always adds a new mechanic or twist to the mix and never runs an idea to the ground (creativity, that's my Mario!). Low on strategy, high on giddy thrills (frivolousness, that's my Luigi!), lovely characters filled with charm and crazy scenarios (magical craziness, that's my Nintendo!). It focuses on what most other RPGs don't, while not losing the genre's selling points.

    This isn't a reinvention, if you've played any of the 3 previous games in the series you pretty much know what to expect. But its ideas come from within itself, not others. I have no problem with a franchise building with what it has, as long as the ideas were originally its own. Yes, the opening tutorials are tedious (I bet there's a producer at Nintendo going "This is gonna be someone's first video game, dammit! Everybody else can go suck on a lemon."), but after the first hour or 2 they're few and far between and you have roughly 25-35 hours more to enjoy. And while Dream Team Bros.' level/puzzle design, boss battles, and music live up to Mario & Luigi's high standards, the characters and scenarios do suffer when compared to the outstanding Bowser's Inside Story. If you're hoping for something to match Fawful's broken wit, you're out of luck. Not to say that the scenarios aren't wonderful, they are, just not on par with Inside Story.

    I'm not sure if Dream Team Bros. is my favorite game of the year so far (I haven't finish it quite yet, but I'm close), and frankly, I don't think that I care what my yearly favorite is anymore (it'll probably be Pikmin 3 anyway, just sayin'). But it's wonderful, it's joyful, it's clever, it's funny and sweet. That's more than enough to put it on any list.
    Best Game that's in the Mail and I'm Counting the Stinking Seconds For - Pikmin 3

    Soon, it'll be here soon... Tracking info says it's on the plane, possibly landed. Holy crap, it's actually out! It's finally out! It's been so long... Maybe I should just download it? NO!!! I'm not a rich man and I want the box! The box, dammit! Soon, it'll be here soon...

    Best Game in a Flying City Run by the Sorta-Kinda-KKK that Even America at its Richest and Most Powerful Doesn't Want to Screw With But One Guy with a Gun that Owes Money to some Sorta-Kinda-Gangsters Prefers to Go In Guns Blazing Into the Flying City Run by the Sorta-Kinda-KKK that Even America at its Richest and Most Powerful Doesn't Want to Screw With than Pay His Creditors and Wipes Out an Army of Tech-Savvy Sorta-Kinda-KKK Members that America at its Most Rich and Powerful is to Afraid Screw With and Their Rebellious Opposition to Rescue a Girl that Bribes Him With Money and Ammo that She Supposedly Finds Even Though He Particularly Combed the Place Beforehand and Didn't Find Anything but She Did Proving She's a Witch - Bioshock Infinite

    Best Game that Made Me Think, Laugh, Hit the Reset, and Not Cry but More of a "Aww, that's a shame..." - Fire Emblem: Awakening

    Best Game that Has and Always Will Show Me How Lousy I Am at Making Sprites and City Planning but Has Mr. Resseti and General Loveliness (I Love you, Mr. Resetti!) - Animal Crossing: New Leaf

    Best Game with a Middle Aged Man Vacuuming Junk while Humming - Luigi's Mansion 2

    Best Game I Got for Free (Thanks, NoE!) But Kinda Have Mixed Feelings About Proving I'm a Jerk that Can't Appreciate Free Stuff - Monster Hunter 3: Ultimate

    Best Game Not Out in Europe Yet - Shin Megami Tensei IV

    Damn, Americans. Think yar so great with yar Shin Megami Tensei IV and yar white teeth...

    Best Game from Last Year that I Still Play Even Though People Online are Dicks so I Play on Japanese Servers Instead Where People are Much Nicer, Also: Tekken is and Always has Been Poop Next to It: Phase 5 -Expansion 3 (Yu, Where Are You? I Miss You so Much, Yu) - Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown

    Best Game I'm Gonna Ignore 'Cause I Just Don't Care Anymore - The Last of Us
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for Shinta #18 Shinta 4 years ago
    Favorites of 2013 so far:

    Tomb Raider
    Fire Emblem: Awakening
    Soul Sacrifice
    Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen
    Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed
    Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 PLUS

    Most disappointing games of 2013, so far:

    The Last of Us
    Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
    Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for Jaz_Rignall #19 Jaz_Rignall 4 years ago
    @Kuni-Nino Thanks for the great comment. I've included it in the main article!
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for Jaz_Rignall #20 Jaz_Rignall 4 years ago
    @Fresh_Paprika Thanks for your great comments. I've included one of your nominations in out main article.
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for link6616 #21 link6616 4 years ago
    Best RPG Released in Europe needs to be a category in more Games of the year type situations, given how many we usually miss out on compared to the US. (And then Australia probably another layer on top of that)
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for EuroDarlan #22 EuroDarlan 4 years ago
    It's not the interesting unique choice, but the honest answer for me is Last of Us by a mile. Fantastic gameplay, story, visuals...pretty everything is *just* right in this one. Naughty Dog is fantastic, and I hope they continue to get the leeway to make interesting one offs instead of a billion Uncharted sequels.
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for SargeSmash #23 SargeSmash 4 years ago
    @MattG: I agree with you. I just picked the game up, and from what I've played so far, it's everything I want in a Sly game. Wonderful stuff.

    I've got to give props to Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon for being leagues above what I was expecting, and I liked the original game. I also have to acknowledge the excellent Soul Hackers, which proved to be the first SMT game I've ever finished, and it holds up surprisingly well despite being much older than a lot of its competition.
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for wardboi #24 wardboi 4 years ago
    Pokemon X/Y, nice game with new pokemon and good music in stereo!

    Got it with the 2DS, which I like but have had problems with

    Found the first guy to ever fix it which helped!
    my original post on it can be found here:
    Sign in to Reply