The current console game generation is drawing to a close, but it isn’t going down without a fight. These are the top picks for the PS3 and Xbox 360 in 2013.
Matt Tuthill 1 / 11
The <a href="http://www.mensfitness.com/topics/video-games"target=_blank>gaming</a> world’s sights are now set squarely on the holiday season, when a new console generation led by the PS4 and Xbox One will change our collective expectations of digital entertainment. But the current console generation—the PS3 and Xbox 360—despite operating on some fairly old technology, is still producing some of the best gaming experiences in the world. Thus far, 2013 brought a fantastic number of AAA games, many of which are sure to go down in history as classics. What’s more, most of these games will see price cuts soon (some of them already have) giving you a chance to experience the best that gaming has to offer—without taking out a second mortgage for those new consoles. Send the current generation off in style with the 10 best games of the first half of 2013.</p>
10. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance (PS3, Xbox 360)
We couldn’t help but be skeptical of this one right off the bat. The <em>Metal Gear</em> series is known for stealth action, long cinematic cut scenes, and complex storytelling. So when Konami announced a hack-and-slash game as part of <em>Metal Gear</em>’s expanding universe, it seemed like an odd fit. It turns out that the only thing odd about <em>Revengeance</em> is its name. The rest of it is tight, fast, and beautifully executed. The ninja sprint attack is a cool touch, but total-control analog slashing takes center stage, giving the player more control than in any other game in the genre. It’s an innovation sure to be copied.
9. God of War: Ascension (PS3)
<p>Is this Kratos’ greatest adventure ever? Probably not, but it is his final hurrah on the PS3, and there’s plenty of justice to be dealt out in this prequel to the original <em>God of War</em>. The full-screen boss battles are, as is typical of the series, lavishly detailed and epic in scope. The story might not be as inspired as previous go-rounds, but the pace between puzzle-solving elements and mind-numbing action has been perfected.</p>
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8. Remember Me (PS3, Xbox 360)
Deep, cinematic environments and heavy sci-fi themes ground <em>Remember Me</em>, a genre mashup that’s equal parts brawler, platformer, and puzzle solver—and compelling from start to finish. Set in Neo-Paris in 2084, you play Nilin, a “memory hunter” whose mind has been wiped, as she sets out on a quest to discover who she is. Along the way, she finds herself at the heart of a separatist movement trying to overthrow the tyrannical government that watches its citizens’ every move. The combat can get repetitive at times, but the story is the star here, and it’s strong enough to hold the other elements of the game together.
7. Metro: Last Light (PS3, Xbox 360)
One of the rare story-driven first-person shooters, <em>Metro: Last Light</em> is based on the post-apocalyptic sci-fi novel <em>Metro 2033</em> by Dmitry Glukhovsky. Rather than just pay lip service to Glukhovsky’s work, <em>Last Light</em>’s action exists to advance the plot, not provide spectacle. The developers meticulously created a believable burned-out version of Moscow. Crawling through the tunnels of the metro system—where mankind’s survivors now live—you’ll notice the rough texture on every rust barnacle or crumbled brick. The level of detail in the environments suspends disbelief better than just about anything else in the FPS genre, and makes the action—while admittedly a bit slower than the likes of <em>Call of Duty</em>—really matter.
6. Gears of War: Judgment (Xbox 360)
If this were just more of the same old <em>Gears of War</em>, we’d probably tell you to pass on it. But the biggest reason you should play <em>Gears of War: Judgment</em>—a series prequel—isn’t just to get the whole story but also to experience the overhauled single player campaign. Messing around with the basic gameplay of a successful franchise is risky business, but it’s pulled off flawlessly here, adding tower defense elements and the option to endlessly branch the story and “declassify” missions, bringing a ton of welcome variety to the proceedings.
5. MLB 13 The Show (PS3/PS Vita)
<em>The Show</em>’s visuals come closer than any other sports game to replicating the real thing. Too often, photorealistic visuals can be a mask to gameplay problems hiding beneath the surface. But amazingly, <em>The Show</em>’s beauty is more than skin deep, and instead reflects the nearly flawless level of depth and realism you’ll experience when you pick up the controller. If you watch baseball with any regularity, <em>The Show</em> will feel real to you. On the mound, you have to be smart about the way you approach each batter, mixing up pitch selection and location. From an offensive standpoint, the game rewards patience at the plate and will eat you alive if you don’t have the discipline to lay off borderline pitches. For example, on the experienced setting the computer is relatively unpredictable; it may try to make you chase on an 0-and-2 count, or it may try to lay one on the black. The Vita version doesn’t boast the level of detail present in the PS3 version—which is to be expected—but if you have both systems and get both versions of the game, you’ll be able to save your season on the cloud to continue on either device. It ain’t cheap, but if you’re a die-hard baseball junkie, this is a very cool feature and would justify the double purchase.
4. Injustice Gods Among Us (PS3, Xbox 360)
All the love and attention that goes into the storytelling and artistry of a big comic book crossover event now comes to you in the form of this amazing new entry to the fighting genre, <em>Injustice: Gods Among Us</em>. The character roster boasts Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and just about everyone else of note in the DC universe. The real reason it works so well, though, is that the gameplay is so deep. The combo system starts simple but allows experienced players to get creative and chain together a massive attack. Supermoves are ludicrously elaborate—making them that much more satisfying to pull off—and every environment presents some unique type of interactivity. It all fits together in such a way that both newcomers and hardcore fighting fans can enjoy every aspect. Score another flawless victory for <em>Mortal Kombat</em> developer NetherRealm.
3. Bioshock Infinite (PS3, Xbox 360)
Something is not quite right in the city of Columbia, and you can sense it from the moment private investigator Booker DeWitt arrives to pursue his new case, a search for a woman named Elizabeth. For starters, it’s the year 1912 and Columbia floats in the clouds. Booker can’t remember exactly why he’s on this mission, and the dreamlike mystery of everything that happens in Columbia only intensifies as the hours fly by and culminates in one of the most ambitious shock endings in the history of games, so prepare to have your mind blown. <em>Bioshock Infinite</em> has a couple of nods to series history, but no background is required to pick it up.
2. The Last of Us (PS3)
Emotionally moving and genuinely frightening, <em>The Last of Us</em> might also be the most visually arresting game of this generation. Developed by notorious perfectionists Naughty Dog—creators of the <em>Uncharted</em> series—<em>The Last of Us</em> excels in every facet of game design from combat and stage layout to storytelling and voice acting. You must guide a grizzled old soul, Joel, and a young girl under his protection, Ellie, through a realistically corrupt and decaying post-apocalyptic society. Along the way, you are beset on all sides by the infected—they’re not quite zombies, per se—and roving bands of sadistic thugs who are just as terrifying. Ammo is a rare, prized possession, so much so that you’re forced to get through certain areas with nothing more than a shiv. You’ll shudder every time you have to use it, and be thankful that someone managed to make a game capable of eliciting real emotion from the player.
1. Tomb Raider (PS3, Xbox 360)
We went on and on about how much we loved <em>Tomb Raider</em> in our <a href="http://www.mensfitness.com/leisure/entertainment/meet-the-new-lara-croft... review</a> earlier this year . To quickly sum up everything that makes it great: It includes a story with the perfect balance of character development and action, expertly built tension, and a customization menu that lets you play the game exactly the way you want to play. It’s equally addictive and breathtaking. So how close was <em>The Last of Us</em> to beating it out for the top spot? It was a tough call, but what puts <em>Tomb Raider</em> over the top is the fun factor. <em>Tomb Raider</em> is perfectly paced and simply doesn’t have a dull moment from start to finish. If you had only time—or money—for one game on this list, it should be this masterpiece of modern game design.