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Top five videogames of the year

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- There's no way to sugarcoat it: 2013 was a rather bland year for video games. You can blame it on the release of the Wii U last November, the release of the Xbox One and PS4 this November or something else entirely, but the fact remains that this was a boring year for the gaming industry. However, there were still some quality releases.

Highlighting certain titles was hard, not because there were so many to choose from, but because with the slim pickings, every title seemed good enough to deserve a spot. Unfortunately, all couldn't make the cut.

Here are my picks for the five best games of the year:

5. "Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate"

Wii U, 3DS; rated T

An expanded re-release of the 2010 Wii exclusive "Monster Hunter Tri," this title caters to a very niche crowd. Considering how the game offers no tutorial, no explanations of what a monster is weak to or any hint as to how you have to take the monsters down, that "niche crowd" is really just masochists.

Jam-packed with hundreds of hours of gameplay, the formula for "Ultimate" seems simple at first: accept quest, kill monster, collect enough parts from monster to build new equipment and armor, repeat. Soon, however, you'll realize how tough it can be. There's no handholding from the game, meaning you'll have to memorize what status ailment a monster inflicts, what monster drops which item and where items are located.

4. "Grand Theft Auto V"

PS3, Xbox 360; rated M

"Grand Theft Auto V" is not only the most ambitious Rockstar title to date, but the most ambitious open-world game in general. There are three playable characters, and you can switch to them on the fly. Their stories are interwoven into an overall satirical plot that's full of Rockstar's trademark biting sarcasm.

When not doing missions that make use of wonderfully refined third-person shooter mechanics, you're free to explore the game world that spans 49 square miles. Scuba diving, golf and BASE jumping are just a few of the new activities. And if those don't tickle your fancy, the robust online multiplayer mode is sure to.

3. "Pokemon X/Y"

3DS; rated E

Nintendo has finally brought a proper entry of the "Pokemon" series to the third dimension. Character models, including Pokemon, are now in 3D.

Additional new features -- like Mega Evolutions that temporarily evolve certain Pokemon past their final evolved form, character customization and stronger online multiplayer -- make this one of the best "Pokemon" games. Like all "Pokemon" games, the "X" and "Y" versions only differ based on the Pokemon available in them.

2. "The Last of Us"

PS3; rated M

Are video games art? "The Last of Us" seems to answer that question in the affirmative. While some of the gameplay mechanics don't work as well as they should, it doesn't really matter, as the narrative is what will drive you to complete this survival-horror title.

It's set in a post-apocalyptic America that's been ravaged by the cordyceps fungus, which has spread to infect humans. You take on the role of Joel as he guides young Ellie, who might hold the infection's cure, across the country.

The superb voice acting, motion capture and script all lead to extremely believable characters. You will become emotionally attached to Joel, Ellie and the father-daughter relationship that forms between them.

1. "DmC: Devil May Cry"

Xbox 360, PS3, PC; rated M

This reboot of the "Devil May Cry" franchise is guaranteed to offer you the most fun of any game this year. The hack-and-slash gameplay is top-notch, and the game is as difficult as ever -- so long as you want it to be. For those inexperienced with the series and its notorious difficulty, easier difficulty levels are available, as are even higher ones, bringing the total to seven.

Gameplay is what really drives "DmC," but thankfully there's more to this game. The story's satire on today's society and "moral guardians" is entertaining and eventually gets a little philosophical. It also explores the relationship between protagonist Dante and his brother, Vergil, as well as their relationship with series newcomer Kat, which keeps the story engaging.


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