Best of 2013: Top 5 Game Consoles

Bestof13_light

Merry Christmas everyone! Here’s a new kind of list that I can see myself coming back to next year. It’s a smaller list to counteract the length of the last one.

There were many videogame platforms vying for the attention of consumers in 2013, which was overall a pretty spectacular year for memorable gaming experiences. Some of these consoles struggled on the sales charts more than others, but most of them enjoyed at least a few worthwhile game releases. So what if someone were to rank them with sales factors out of the equation, based on user experience and, above all, the quality of their game releases throughout the year? An answer to that question, albeit a subjective one, is coming at you right now.

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VR BEST OF 2013 DISCLAIMER
This list represents my opinion only. I am not asserting any kind of superiority or self-importance by presenting it as I have. My opinion is not fact. If you actually agree with me 100%, that’s scary. Respectful disagreement is welcome.
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5. Xbox One

Of the two exciting “next-gen” consoles released worldwide at the end of the year, the Xbox One probably had the slight edge in terms of early game library. The excellent visual showcase Ryse impressed many right from day one, despite its repetitive combat mechanics, while Dead Rising 3 by all accounts fixed many of the problems the series has suffered from since its inception and Forza 5 leveraged the power of the console to great effect with its hyper-realistic car models and innovative “Drivatar” AI augmenting system. Peggle 2 followed soon after launch and received great critical acclaim, with Plants vs Zombies Garden Warfare and Titanfall to follow early next year. Its current position is remarkable given the hate thrown its way in the middle of the year, when it was looking like quite a different beast.

4. Wii U

Despite its well-documented struggles compared to its immediate competitors and indeed to its predecessor the Wii, Nintendo’s Wii U had a stellar year for quality games when you add everything up. Sure, most of those games came in the second half of the year, forcing early adopters to wait out a painful software drought lasting months on end, but that’s in the past now. As its rocky early user interface issues began to stabilise and its operating system worked out its kinks, games like Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate, Lego City Undercover and New Super Luigi U hit alongside to provide some solid reasons for owning the console. Then things kicked up a notch, with The Wonderful 101, Pikmin 3, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD and the definitive versions of Rayman Legends and Deus Ex Human Revolution, all fantastic games. Super Mario 3D World rounded things out at year’s end as the new highest-rated Wii U game on Metacritic. Wii U owners, few as they are, had plenty to celebrate by the end of 2013.

3. Playstation Vita

The PS Vita celebrated its first Australian birthday back in February in rather bleak fashion, without all that many strong arguments for buying one. Since then, its case has improved considerably. Less than a week after its one year anniversary the superlative Persona 4 Golden launched in Australia, a game I thoroughly enjoyed and one that brought several of my friends back to the JRPG genre. 2013 was also the year the Vita finally got a decent first person shooter in the form of Killzone Mercenary , a strong Monster Hunter-esque adventure in Soul Sacrifice and the absolutely joyous Tearaway, which quite simply would not work on any other platform. The Vita also got a tremendous kick up the backside after the launch of the PS4, thanks to its ability to serve as a surprisingly competent streaming device to play next-gen games away from a TV. But I would argue that it was the many, many highly acclaimed smaller games already available on other platforms that made 2013 such a good year for the Vita. Excellent experiences like Guacamelee, Spelunky, Dragon’s Crown, Lone Survivor and even Terraria are now in portable form on Vita, mostly without control or graphical sacrifices and often in enhanced form.

2. Playstation 3

Sony’s preparation for the highly anticipated launch of the PS4 did little to slow the momentum of the PS3, which continued to deliver some excellent exclusive titles in addition to the usual slate of multi-platform blockbusters. You could play Bioshock Infinite, Grand Theft Auto V and FIFA 14 on PS3 in 2013, but you could ONLY play Beyond Two Souls, Puppeteer, God of War Ascension, Kingdom Hearts 1.5 HD ReMIX, Gran Turismo 6 and most importantly The Last of Us on Playstation 3. Sony even broke Microsoft’s long-standing hold on Minecraft when it released on the PSN store this month. The Playstation Plus subscription service had another truly fantastic year as well, with thousands of dollars of free games given out (many of them big-name 2013 releases). The choice to add limited Dualshock 4 support to PS3 and a line-up of exclusive games still to come in 2014 mean that if you’re in the market for a last-gen console that will be worth your while right now, it just has to be a PS3.

1. Nintendo 3DS

Few could surely argue that 2013 was a year in which Nintendo as a game publisher dominated just about all others in terms of number of great game releases. Most of these happened on 3DS. It’s hardly unusual for a newer console to start to come into its own after two years on the market, but let me just leave you with the names of some of the high profile games that hit the dominant handheld this year. Fire Emblem Awakening. Luigi’s Mansion 2. Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate. Animal Crossing New Leaf. Mario & Luigi Dream Team Bros. Phoenix Wright: Dual Destinies. Pokemon X & Y. Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds. Bravely Default. Any console would kill for a lineup like that. If you don’t have a 3DS (or 2DS) yet, get you one.

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Honorable Mentions
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Xbox 360
Microsoft’s last-generation console, in contrast to the PS3, was largely done and dusted in terms of exclusive titles months before the launch of the Xbox One. Aside from Gears of War: Judgement and the usual Kinect games, there wasn’t really all that much in the way of experiences you could only get on the eight-year-old box. It still hosted a number of multi-platform games, most of which performed slightly better on it than on the PS3, but the American multimedia giant at its helm clearly felt it was time to move its resources into the future, which hampered the 360’s year.

Playstation 4
It holds a slender early sales lead over the Xbox One worldwide thanks to smart marketing and a huge push in the United States, but right out of the gates the PS4 doesn’t have quite as many magnetic titles as its closest rival. The must-have exclusive titles will come, but for now Resogun will have to suffice in that regard. The new user interface of the PS4 is nice and clean, though, and its live game streaming features are incredible.

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