Welcome to the PC Gamer Game of the Year Awards 2013. For an explanation of how the awards were decided, a round-up of all the awards and the list of judges, check here.
Sometimes great games are released to the silent enjoyment of millions, others are lightning rods for discussion. They're talked about, turned over and examined for months, even years after release. Love it or hate it, Bioshock Infinite is one of those games, a shooter with too many ideas for its own good. Confusing, spectacular, controversial, its scope and absurdity ensure that it will linger in the popular imagination longer than its competitors. What better candidate for our Event of the Year award.
CHRIS Infinite is spectacular, grotesque, violent and sentimental. It s a shooting game about racism, America, grappling hooks, time travel and gospel music. Its schizophrenia is its biggest strength and its biggest weakness I admire for it for its spectacular nonsense as much as I understand why people have a problem with it. There s been nothing like it this year, and I m glad to have taken the journey.
CORY Whether or not you enjoyed exploring Columbia and its mysteries, you were certainly talking about it. Infinite s explorations of racism and religion angered some, but I still believe they were necessary to build a world that was beautiful on the surface but ugly underneath. I know some of us found the combat to be vapid, but I loved soaring over a Handyman s head on a skyrail, firing rockets and opening rifts that brought turrets to life.
ANDY Actually, I found the combat in Infinite a bit of a chore, but I still love it for taking me somewhere so wonderfully different. Emerging into that plaza for the first time after the church scene, and hearing Garry Schyman s beautiful Lighter Than Air , was a magical, transporting moment. Columbia is one of the most memorable places I ve ever explored, and the anachronistic music one of many neat touches that punctuated the wonder with a feeling of unease; a sense of something sinister lurking beneath those cerulean skies. As a game it has a lot of problems, but as an experience it s unforgettable. And I liked the ending.
BEN Without wanting to sound overly dramatic, stepping into Columbia for the first time felt like entering heaven both kingdoms of white and gold hanging like jewels in piercing blue skies (both, incidentally, ruled by crazy old white guys with beards). Irrational s world is a monumental achievement, from its foundations to its fiction. Whether I was watching families enjoying lazy picnics on the grass, poking at oddities and antiquities in shops, or bashing the crap out of terrorists using a hook hand, BioShock Infinite took me somewhere I had never been before.
TOM What spell was I under, to think that BioShock Infinite made a lick of sense? It was wonderful nonsense, though, a moshpit of ideas that provided ammunition for lengthy, excitable discussion. In the week that followed its release, we would talk in strange code to avoid spilling spoilers. Have you reached THAT bit? one of us would ask, with an odd eyebrow waggle. Oh you mean the bit with the THING? the other would reply, forming their hands into a flapping bird shape. The imagination behind Infinite s glorious, beautiful world proved infectious, and for all its incoherence, it s a million miles away from the mundane shooters we ve grown used to.
TONY As soon as I finished, I started again. Not for myself but so that I could plonk my non-game-playing girlfriend down beside me and show her the incredible sights. The colour-saturated, carnival atmosphere of early Columbia. The terrifying attack on Elizabeth s statue. A female NPC who didn t wear hotpants or carry a gun. No other game this year made me so excited to say look at what games can be now!
The holidays are a time for family gatherings, massive dinners, mildly disappointing presents, and visitations by ghosts who show you harrowing visions of what might have been. This year, the Ghost of Video Games Past showed me what the games of 2013 would have been like if graphics cards had never been invented! I have no idea why he did that. The Ghost of Video Games Past is a little weird.
Bioshock: Infinite impressed critics with its otherworldly visuals of a city in the clouds, but strip away the sunbeams and statues, and does it hold up? Let s chug a vigor, eat a cake out of the garbage, and take a look at Bioshock Infinite: The Text Adventure!
Before running away for a few days of making resolutions and breaking last year's, Evan, Cory, and Tyler gathered to talk about BioShock Infinite, and how they feel about it now that the buzzing excitement and debates have settled into a low hum. Watch the whole five-video series on the PC Gamer YouTube channel, and subscribe to our YouTube channel for more regular content, gameplay footage, and conversations.
PC Gamer editors are prohibited from celebrating Christmas. For the team, the end of the year is marked by an event known as GOTY Sleepover, a time where we somewhat-voluntarily sequester ourselves away from our families and loved ones in the interest of a greater good: selecting the best PC games of the year. We gather in a room with a very heavy door and very little ventilation and stay there until we ve reached a unanimous decision on every award category. It s a lot like the Papal conclave, but with more Cheetos.
So far, this is what we ve got. These are games nominated for awards in general, not just our single Game of the Year. Consider this a short-list of the games our team loved in 2013, one we ll whittle down into proper, named awards in the coming days.
Dota 2 Arma 3 Spelunky Battlefield 4 Gone Home Tomb Raider Rising Storm Saints Row IV Papers, Please BioShock Infinite Total War: Rome II The Stanley Parable XCOM: Enemy Within
Check in each day over the holiday break to see who's victorious. In the meantime, here's our 2012 winners and some lively year-end video conversations about our best PC gaming experiences in 2013.
The Steam Holiday Sale is here! For the next fourteen days, take advantage of huge saving throughout our store on thousands of games. Check back often to take advantage of our eight-hour Flash Sales. You can even help select what goes on sale with our Community's Choice Voting Sales.
In addition to Flash and Vote sales, more than a hundred games and apps will be featured as Daily Deals throughout the sale, with new deals popping up every 24 hours.
Participating in the 2013 Steam Holiday Sale will also earn customers exclusive Holiday Sale Trading Cards. Collect, trade, and craft 10 Holiday Snow Globe Cards that can only be earned during the sale. Every craft of a Holiday Sale badge will also generate a random item drop from 10 participating Free-To-Play games, featuring exclusive in-game items from Warframe, Path of Exile, Team Fortress 2, DOTA 2 and more. These items are both tradable and marketable.
Learn more about this year's Steam Holiday Sale features at HERE.
The Steam Holiday Sale will run from now until 10AM PST, January 2nd. Complete information on Daily Deals, Flash Sales, Community Choice Voting and more can be found HERE.
We're in a giving mood at PC Gamer, and so in the style of a certain in-flight catalog (except without dog sofas or skeleton gnomes), we're giving you the gift of a gift guide packed with great ideas for all the gamers in your life (or yourself, of course). So welcome to PC Gamer's 2013 Giftstravaganza, your one stop holiday satisfaction machine with toys, gadgets, tools, and merriment for all as we embark on the next month of family gatherings, overeating, and gaming marathons. Let the binging begin.
Plush Doom Monsters
Warm up your heart with the fires of hell! Who says evil hell monsters don’t like to cuddle? Get cozy with a snuggly plush Cacodemon or Pain Elemental, and fall in love with their insidious eyeballs and twisted grins.
bit.ly/doomplush $15 / ~£10
Nerf N-Strike Elite
Fire high-caliber foam with the Centurion Blaster! The N-Strike Elite Centurion Blaster is a marvel of foam dart weaponry. The 6 included MEGA darts (big darts, that is) can fly 100 feet—we swear we felt recoil from this thing. It even includes a detachable bipod so you can accurately pelt your friends while lying prone under a ghillie suit made of lawn trimmings. That is, if the bright orange plastic doesn’t give you away.
hasbro.com/nerf $50 / £50
Kerbal 3D Prints
The cutest little green men in the universe! They’ve died countless deaths adventuring into the great unknown, and now you can memorialize the sacrifices of your Kerbal Space Program astronauts with an adorable 3D print! Made by Shapeways, these little guys are the perfect addition to any launch control room or captain’s quarters.
bit.ly/kerbal3d $47 / €41.35
D20s just like they used to make ‘em! These gorgeous hand-crafted dice are made from the finest hardwoods. Take your pick from standard six-sided dice, fudge dice, and polyhedral dice, and choose from dozens of exotic woods for your own custom set of fate-deciders!
artisandice.com $25+ / £15+
Give the gift of imagination! We’ve crawled countless dungeons and slayed hundreds of dragons on our monitors, but some of the fantasy adventures we remember best happened around a table with friends. Pick up the D&D 3.5 handbook (we prefer it to the newer 4th edition), accessorize with guides and adventures, and start a quest you’ll never forget!
LEGO MindStorms EV3
Robot block! Robot block! Build and command five robots or design your own with the incredible LEGO MindStorms EV3 kit! The set includes an ARM9 processor, touch sensor, color sensor, infrared sensor, and over 550 LEGO Technic parts. You can build remote control and automated machines that’ll scare your cat like never before! Or, design a robot that solves Rubik’s Cubes while scaring your cat—the possibilities are endless!
bit.ly/legoev3 $350 / £300
Learn to play the LED way! Learning to play a new instrument is hard—most of us have given up on a few—but Fretlight has designed a solution that gives beginning guitarists the lessons they need without all the frustration. The built in LED system removes the finger position guesswork new players struggle with by showing where the hands should be right on the fretboard. The $300 FG-507 Acoustic model is great for beginners, but novice rock stars should also have a look at the $600 FG-521 Traditional Electric model pictured here. If you want to go really crazy, Fretlight also sells a $900 Pro Electric model, but at that level of investment, we’re guessing you have some idea how to play already.
store.fretlight.com $300+ / ~£185+
They’re not just cat ears—they can read your mind! Expressing emotions is hard (why not just bottle them up?), but the Necomimi makes it easy! Just put it on your head and let the ears do the talking—your brainwaves make them move! Believe it or not, it works! We're pretty sure, at least—if all is operable, concentrate to make the ears rise, and relax to let them lie down. When you do both at the same time, they move back and forth. Science!
necomimi.com $70 / £60
Flip Book Kit
Make your own moving pictures! It’s actually called “FlipBooKit,” and includes everything you need to create incredible animations—we’ve chosen to showcase Laser Death Cat from Team Fortress 2 map achievement_all_v4. Run!
bit.ly/flipbookit $49 / £30
Stay safe with your own obsessive robot protector! This hand-crafted faux-leather plushie won’t just love you, it will watch you sleep and violently kill intruders with its brass eyes and beak! Everyone’s favorite BioShock Infinite character sits seven inches tall with a wingspan of 14 inches.
bit.ly/songbirdplush $55 / ~£34
BioShock Infinite: The Siege of Columbia
The great board game in the sky! Replay BioShock Infinite on your table! This time, you’ll wrestle for control of Columbia as the Founders or Vox Populi—draw cards to zip across sky-lines, build an army, and deal with some jerk named Booker.
bit.ly/siegegame $85 / £70
Logitech Driving Force GT
Woah, slow down buddy! Cory’s having a blast obeying traffic laws in Euro Truck Simulator, but you can go as fast as you want with Logitech’s Driving Force GT, which includes a force feedback steering wheel with 900-degree rotation plus gas and brake pedals. Quit racing with WASD, silly!
bit.ly/drivingforce $150 / £272
Stay grounded! Make your next PC repairs go smoothly with this giant anti-static surface—it even includes nine handy reference guides so you can get to work without referencing a pesky manual!
bit.ly/modmat $60 / £55
Great sound with style! Is that a glowing jellyfish under your desk? Nope! It’s the stylish down-firing subwoofer in Harman Kardon’s three-piece speaker system. Add the eight transducers in the two speaker towers, and the set pumps out a deep, rich sound—it looks and sounds so good, even the New York City Museum of Modern Art has one!
bit.ly/sndsticks $170 / £130
Parrot AR Drone 2.0
Fly by phone and watch in 720p! The Parrot AR Drone 2.0 flies high and fast, and even includes a camera to capture photos and 720p video from the sky! Control it with your iOS or Android device, and fly it inside or out—embedded sensors help you take off and land, and you can even tell it to hover or flip on autopilot!
ardrone2.parrot.com $300 / £279
Rosewill PC Tool Kit
Fix it the right way! This 90-piece tool set includes everything you need to build and maintain your rig, including a ratchet driver with 40-piece bit and socket set, six precision screwdrivers, nine hex keys, a wire cutter, an anti-static wrist strap, a soldering iron, an electronic tester—the list goes on and on! If you like to tinker—and we know you do—make sure you’re never without the right tool for the job.
bit.ly/pctoolkit $30 / ~ £19
Play bigger with the PJD7820HD! Pronounced “Puh-Juh-Duh,” the PJD7820HD is the perfect way to play your games big! With a native resolution of 1920x1080, 3000 ANSI Lumens, and 15000:1 contrast, this projector fills your wall with crisp, high-definition gaming. Try pointing it at your ceiling—you’ll never need to sit again!
bit.ly/vsprojector $780 / £688
Mounted T-Rex Head
Wall decorations may be closer than they appear! Remember when you traveled back in time to hunt Tyrannosaurus? If not, you probably stepped on winged insect and irreparably altered history, but no matter! Remind yourself of the greatest hunting exhibition to ever possibly happen with a mounted T-Rex head—your friends rightfully won’t believe it!
bit.ly/trexmount $100 / £62
Raspberry Pi Starter Pack
Build your own electronics! Want to build a murderous robot that enslaves all humans? Start here! Adafruit’s Raspberry PI Starter Pack includes everything you need to learn microcontroller programming basics.
With BioShock Infinite it only makes sense to have more questions than answers. Thankfully the launch trailer for the shooter's new DLC—Burial at Sea, Episode One—fills that role nicely. We see the expected, and very stylish, film noir vibe dialed up to 11, but there's also a sense of dread lurking under the surface.
The treatment of children in both the original BioShock as well as in BioShock Infinite was one troubling theme among many, but from the new trailer it looks like we'll be heading down that dark corridor again in the DLC. As Elizabeth tells us, "This world values children, not childhood."
We get glimpses of a sparkling and intact rapture as well as a glance at a familiar foe from the first BioShock, whose presence in the trailer must surely signal that there are even stranger confrontations in store for Booker DeWitt than a Big Daddy. As we saw in our review and hands-on preview, Rapture has become a stage for Booker to encounter some punishing combat, desperate moments, and bizarre characters. Want to dive back into the brain-bending possibilities of BioShock Infinite's ending before tackling the new DLC? Check out our in-depth discussion.
Burial at Sea, Episode One is out this week for $15.
On the eve of Rapture's fall from grace, Elizabeth enlists Booker DeWitt's services in locating a lost girl. Who is this girl Sally, what does Booker know of her supposed fate, and what is Elizabeth's connection to this mysterious child? Find the answers to these questions and more in this new addition to BioShock Infinite, built nearly from scratch by Irrational Games.
Come back to Rapture in a story that brings Booker and Elizabeth to the underwater city on the eve of its fall from grace. Developed by Irrational Games, the studio behind the original BioShock and BioShock Infinite, this DLC features Rapture as youve never seen it before—a shining jewel at the bottom of the ocean, built almost entirely from scratch in the BioShock Infinite engine. The combat experience has been rebalanced and reworked with a greater emphasis on stealth and resource management to give the player a combat experience that merges the best parts of BioShock and BioShock Infinite. It includes a new weapon, an old favorite weapon from the original BioShock as well as the return of the weapon wheel, a new Plasmid, new Gear and Tears. Explore the city when it was at the height of its beauty, meet some old friends, and make some new ones, all through the eyes of Booker DeWitt. Why are Booker and Elizabeth in Rapture? What was the city like before everything fell to pieces? The answers to these questions and more will be found in BioShock Infinite: Burial at Sea Episode 1.
**This pack is included in the BioShock Infinite Season Pass and will contain new Achievements.