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"