There were some seriously big hitters in the action-adventure genre this year, with long-running series like GTA and Assassin's Creed returning to searing form, a resurgent Lara Croft and Raiden staking claims for Game of the Year in their respective titles let alone Games of the Genre, and the likes of Capcom and Nintendo and Naughty Dog getting in on the act too. The swansong year for last-gen has yielded some cracking entries in this genre. Run your eyes down the shortlist below, and if you're missing some in your collection, rectify that as soon as possible.
"Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag is a wonderfully harmonious game. It's enormous, packed with more things to see and do than ever before, but Ubisoft have managed to make every little thing mean something in tangible, impactful terms. Black Flag is a wonderful piratical romp that manages to revive the stealthy focus of earlier series instalments, whilst delivering an outstanding naval sandbox, an excellent setting and story, and lashings of swashbuckling action. Unmissable."
"Dead Rising 3 is the essential Xbox One launch title: a rampant, ridiculous and riotous sandbox that delivers countless hours of unapologetic unrestrained fun. Rather than a pristine graphical showcase, it's a bountiful content-rich slaughter smorgasbord that encourages us to get our hands dirty in obscenely silly ways."
"Rockstar have created their most technically astounding game world to date. Los Santos is enormously diverse, extraordinarily well-researched, and almost impossibly detailed. But GTA V proves too in love with its own narrative to ever really encourage players to create their own. As flawed as it is as an open-ended game, Los Santos and Blaine County will delight and dazzle long after the script has been left behind, even if its ambitions promise extravagances that are never quite delivered here."
"As a Metal Gear game, it fits into the outlandish story perfectly, but as a brawler, it stands head and shoulders above its peers. Although not completely perfect, its moment-to-moment action that refuses let you go for a second ensures that Revengeance is yet another reason why we love Platinum Games. A stunning slice of over-the-top action insanity."
"The Saints are back in town, and they're firing on all cylinders! Volition have built a fantastically cohesive superpowered sandbox stuffed with plenty to do, some outstanding performances, and all of the tools for some outrageous virtual fun. It's the purple-tinted lovechild of Prototype and GTA, but with all of the Saints' own character and charisma . And it's bloomin' brilliant!"
"The Last of Us tells a cracking story, but it does so in such a heavy-handed way that it's difficult to feel totally engaged come the conclusion. Well paced, superbly written, and boasting some of the best visual and audio work of this generation, Naughty Dog have once again produced a fine game. This is linear blockbuster gaming at its best, and it dazzles the senses, even if the form disappoints the mind a little given the genre."
"The Zelda franchise normally serves up games of very high quality and the original Wind Waker was no exception. What the HD remake manages to do is provide solutions to all the bug bears of the original to provide a sublime experience for all. It takes a great game and makes it simply unmissable. Plus for veterans of the series, stick the game in Hero Mode and see your love affair with the series rekindled anew. A perfect example of how to do a remake."
"Boasting a dynamic platforming playground that reveals itself slowly but surely, the entire Tomb Raider experience is built around the (re)birthing of an icon in terms of action-adventuring. Deliciously tight mechanics, combined with a fine balance between scripted setpieces and player-driven action deliver an immaculately paced piece that grabs hold and never let's go. It might not prove transcendental, but it points towards a future of great promise for the franchise. Simply outstanding."
Best Action / Adventure Game 2013 | Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
We've long held up ACII and Brotherhood as the best games in the series, and two of the finest games of the passing generation, but Black Flag gives them a serious run for their money. That's not surprising, mind; after all, this is what happens when you create a magnificently detailed, interesting world and fill it with lots of little things to do that have meaningful impacts upon the game going forward. It's the level of cohesion that has kept us coming back for more each and every evening. As fans of Assassin's Creed, as fans of the stories surrounding the Golden Age of Piracy, as fans of Sid Meier's Pirates!, we'd hoped that Black Flag would deliver from the moment the whisper of pirates first escaped Ubi Montreal's vaults.
The developers succeeded in crafting world that you’ll never want to leave thanks to the well-designed open assassination missions, a motley crew of a cast, months of collectibles, an intriguing meta-gaming premise and a setting that’s never short of stunning to behold, particularly on next-gen machines.
Set sail today and don’t look back.