February is a bit of a dry month when it comes to video game releases, which makes it a great time to look back on the biggest hits of 2013. It was an exciting year in gaming, not only due to the launch of two major new consoles, but also because of the high quality of storytelling and gameplay in the titles that were released.
This made for an extremely competitive awards season, as each gaming site elected its own Game of the Year, and last week saw The Last of Us dominating the D.I.C.E. Awards. Now the games of 2013 are set to go head-to-head once more in the British Academy Games Awards, which will take place in mid-March.
BAFTA announced the nominees today, and somewhat unsurprisingly The Last of Us is top dog once again with an impressive ten nominations. These include a Best Performer nomination apiece for Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson, as well as nominations for Artistic Achievement, Action and Adventure, Audio Achievement, Original Music, Multiplayer, Story, Game Design and – the big one – Best Game. Naughty Dog may well end up needing a wheelbarrow to carry home those golden masks.
Rockstar Games’ Grand Theft Auto V isn’t lagging too far behind, with a respectable nine nominations in categories including Best Game, Best British Game, Best Performer (for Steven Ogg, who voiced Trevor) and Game Innovation. Released to both critical acclaim and the usual controversy, Grand Theft Auto V was the first game in the franchise to feature three protagonists, with the player able to move between each of them at almost any time.
The second runner-up in the BAFTA nominations race is Tearaway, which is impressive considering for a game only available on a mobile platform. Released on the PlayStation Vita and developed by Media Molecule, the studio behind the LittleBigPlanet games, Tearaway is set in a paper world that definitely seemed to charm the Academy, based on the eight nominations it received in categories such as Game Innovation, Game Design and Best Game.
The latter is even more surprising, since Tearaway actually beat out Irrational Games’ BioShock Infinite for a Best Game nomination. BioShock Infinite, the spiritual sequel to Irrational’s critically-acclaimed FPS BioShock, suffered a critical backlash after the initial praise that it received and this seems to still be in full effect. BioShock Infinite did manage to achieve nominations for Audio Achievement, Artistic Achievement, Original Music and Best Performer (Courtnee Draper), but the snubs for Best Game and Best Story seem rather pointed.
On a slightly cheerier note, Galactic Cafe’s funny and cerebral indie title The Stanley Parable also scored four nominations, as did the dystopian bureaucracy simulator Papers, Please, which is up for a Best Game award. Other nominees for Best Game include Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag and Super Mario 3D World. Tomb Raider has three nominations, as does mobile title BADLAND and Beyond: Two Souls.