Team Joystiq is barging into 2014 with a celebration of last year's best games. Keep reading throughout the week to see our assembly of ingenious indies and triple-A triumphs.Payday 2
We've all thought about stealing something at one time or another. We watch crime movies and Cops; we fantasize about what it'd be like to make off into the night with stacks of cash. Payday 2, for me, is that fantasy realized within the context of a continually surprising, highly replayable video game. It's not just one of my favorite games of 2013 – it's one of my favorite games ever.
Style goes a long way, and no other game proved that better this year than Guacamelee. Drinkbox Studios took familiar gameplay conventions of 2D, retro-inspired platforming and exploration and wrapped it all up in beautifully flat pastels and a Mexican motif celebrating the lucha libre culture. This, along with punchy writing and video game fan service, made Guacamelee stand out for me this year. Play this game.
Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag
I haven't legitimately played an Assassin's Creed game since Brotherhood. The over-saturation of the series these past few years ultimately led to my dismissal from the ranks of the Order, and I was ready to continue my excommunication through Assassin's Creed 4, but then I gave it a glance at a friend's house and saw the ship battles. Over the next couple of days, I would help my friend take on some legendary naval engagements before picking up the game myself and falling in love. The other stuff needs some more refinement, but the ship battles are thrilling – each and every one.
It seems like nobody played Rayman Legends this year. Maybe it was the delay? Maybe we all had our fill with Rayman Origins? Regardless, Rayman Legends takes the addictive and sometimes punishing platforming of its predecessor and evolves it all in very sensible ways. And the musical levels are absolutely delightful – actually, the entire game is delightful, so make an effort to experience it for yourself.
Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon celebrates video games in ways few others do. It recognizes that this passion of ours can be ridiculous at times and fulfilling always. Blood Dragon is a potent cocktail of cheesy dialogue, overabundance of neon lasers and one of my favorite video game soundtracks of all time – not to mention my favorite tutorial sequence in recent history.
It took a long time for us to get BioShock Infinite and ultimately it fell a bit flat for me; however, the combat was engaging enough for the game to bottom out my list of the year's best. The combat is brutal and hooked me throughout the game, even if everything outside of the wanton murder and riding the rails failed to leave a lasting impression.
"Xbox, record that!"
This is by far my favorite feature on the Xbox One. At any time, you can shout at your Xbox One to record the last few moments of whichever game you're playing. It's great for bragging rights when you do something amazing, or simply for posterity when trying to convince your friends that the braking in Forza 5 is pretty ridiculous sometimes. I just hope we see fewer games automatically recording clips in the future, because it's straight-up annoying.
Joystiq is highlighting its 10 favorite games of 2013 throughout the week. Keep reading for more top selections and every writer's personal picks in Best of the Rest roundups.