Check here for more from GamesBeat’s 12 Days of the Best and Worst of 2013
Originally, I was ready to crown GamesBeat’s best system of the year all by myself. Then my boss politely reminded me that we should probably do a staff vote for that sort of thing. So vote we did, choosing our favorite game-playing device from an extensive list. Hell, we even considered the Ouya! I mean, no one actually voted for it, but we considered it.
But we did come manage to come to a consensus. Below you’ll find our (democratically selected) pick for system of the year and the runner-ups.
No. 1: PlayStation 3
2013 saw the launch of PlayStation 3’s successor, but the old, curvey console proved supreme. The PS3 started the year off with the release of the colorful and epic Japanese role-playing game Ni no Kuni in January, and it just marched through 2013 with a steady stream of quality exclusives, including developer Naughty Dog’s survival-action game The Last of Us and the racing simulator Gran Turismo 6. Other notable exclusives included the 2D platformer Puppeteer, the bloody, action-filled God of War: Ascension, and the baseball simulator MLB 13 The Show.
Of course, the PS3 also played host to the year’s biggest multiplatform releases, including the open-world Grand Theft Auto V, the first-person shooter BioShock Infinite, and the pirate-themed Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. Sony’s 7-year-old system also saw great collections of older titles, like the Metal Gear Solid: The Legacy Collection and Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix.
Combined, that’s one hell of a software library for one year.
- The Last of Us: Metacritic score of 95
Developer Naughty Dog made a mark on the PS3 with the adventurous Uncharted series, but The Last of Us and its darker, more dramatic tone earned it one of its best-received games yet. In fact, The Last of Us has the second-highest Metacritic score of 2013, behind only Grand Theft Auto V. That makes it the best-reviewed exclusive of the year.
- MLB 13 The Show: Metacritic score of 87
Sony’s exclusive baseball series The Show always receives high marks, and this year’s entry was no exception. For comparison, the multiplatform MLB 2k13 has a low Metacritic score of 48. It’s pretty clear that if you want a good baseball experience on your console, you need a PlayStation 3.
- Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch: Metacritic score of 85
It wasn’t a great console generation for Japanese role-playing games, but Ni no Kuni was a highlight of the year. A collaboration between Japanese developer Level 5 and beloved Japanese animation studio Studio Ghibli, Ni no Kuni is a beautiful, touching adventure with plenty of depth.
No. 2: Nintendo 3DS
Some people consider portable gaming as complementary to the console or PC, but the Nintendo 3DS’s incredible collection of 2013 exclusives proved that some of the best experiences take place on smaller screens. In fact, the 3DS even came close to topping this list, missing the top spot by only two votes.
- Fire Emblem: Awakening: Metacritic score of 92
Fire Emblem is an old series of turn-based strategy games for Nintendo, but Awakening was easily the best-reviewed game in franchise history. That’s thanks to excellent production values, an engaging story, and an intriguing feature that hooks up team members for marriage.
- The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds: Metacritic score of 90
The Zelda series has had plenty of excellent entries on portable systems, but A Link Between Worlds may top them all. It’s both nostalgic and refreshing, and it harks back to older mechanics and aesthetics while modernizing and improving them.
- Animal Crossing: New Leaf: Metacritic score of 88
It’s hard to believe an unassuming game like Animal Crossing: New Leaf, which is really about moving into a town and … well, living in it, could gather so much critical acclaim, but it offers a perfectly peaceful and addicting distraction for players looking for a little digital decorating and friend-making.
No. 3: PC
PC gaming had an incredibly healthy year thanks to innovative exclusives from developers both large and small. Sure, a lot of the hype in 2013 may have concerned consoles, tablets, and smartphones, but PC gamers had as much fun as anyone.
- Dota 2: Metacritic score of 90
Dota 2 was in beta for a while, but the multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) officially released in 2013, welcoming in a huge wave of players eager to try out its highly competitive, complex, and addicting gameplay.
- The Stanley Parable: Metacritic score of 88
Almost more interactive fiction than a game, The Stanley Parable received a lot of praise for its clever humor and unique form of storytelling.
- The Swapper: Metacritic score of 87
The Swapper is a 2D platformer featuring challenging puzzles mostly solved via cloning. It also takes place on a creepy, heavily damaged space station, where I’m sure nothing bad could ever happen.