Kotaku Award 2013: Biggest Surprise Of The Year

Kotaku Award 2013: Biggest Surprise Of The Year

What surprised you this year? Not a lot? Have the ability to foresee the future. Cool. For the rest of us this is what we voted the biggest surprise of 2013…

Reader’s Choice

Tomb Raider
I agree. When Tomb Raider was announced it was clear that Crystal Dynamics talked the talk, which was all well and good, but when the game was released and they walked the goddamn walk? That was a pretty big surprise. Pretty good choice here friends!

2nd place: The Last of Us
3rd place: Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon

Editor’s Choice

The Legend Of Zelda: Wind Waker HD

How does a decade old game surprise you? How does that happen? How is that possible.

I guess you do it by being way better than anyone could have expected. By dazzling people. By reminding people of something they forgot. That’s how Wind Waker HD became my biggest surprise of 2013.

So, really, Wind Waker surprised me not because it’s a great game but because I had forgotten how good it was. I had forgotten how crisp the art was. I had forgotten the music. I had forgotten everything.

But it was more than that. Wind Waker HD was just, easily, the best HD remake I’ve ever played, just in terms of the upgrade and the time and… well, everything. It was the game that, in 2013, actually helped reinvigorate my love of video games. It’s also probably the best looking video game I think I’ve ever played on any format. I just love it.

Runners up: Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, Luigi’s Mansion 2


  • Although I missed more tombs and exploration in the latest TR, I did think it had a welcome face lift, which was needed at this point for the series. It’s a series I’ve played since 1997, and have stuck by it all these years through the good and bad, i’m glad the reboot did well so we get more and i’m still happy to stick with the series all these years later.

  • Tomb Raider is awesome and did more for women then any other developer adding in female soldiers, who for some reason wore mascara. A shame about forced multiplayer though.

    Assassins Creed 4 is awesome because it managed to take a franchise that was getting worn down and make it new and fresh again. To the point that some people actually say that the Assassins Creed parts interrupt the game. Although I don’t get why a woman who has been imprisoned for a year, gives birth and dies would be wearing makeup.

    Blood Dragon is awesome because it proved to the industry that sometimes you need to be stupid. Let’s just hope that Ubisoft doesn’t run “the 80s” into the ground more then The Expendables did.

    • Did more for women? It was 5 hours of a woman’s predominantly fake cries and wailing. Elly’s character from the Last of Us was stronger than most female protagonists featured nowadays. Accepted an immoral lie, and survived the worst parts of an apocalypse, all while Lara spent five hours rolling mercilessly down hills.

      What does mascara have to do with it? Sounds like you’re quoting a rather specific case, but not actual providing so much as a reference to the material you’re getting at.

      • She was crying, like ANY human would but she endured. IT wasn’t about her being a female it was about her being a HUMAN. Oh I’m sorry, it’s perfectly realistic for someone to not scream and cry when they’ve been impaled and set on fire. That’s certainly conforming to female stereotypes. But that’s ignoring the fact that the female in question single handedly conquered an entire army and mother nature(himiko) herself. But who cares about that?

        • You mentioned realism and then admitted that she single-handedly defeats an army and a deity. Righto.

          She was wailing in such an amateur manner that were you to take the display away you could easily mistake the game for a cheesy porno.
          Anyway, I’m not entirely sure what your stance is, as you don’t seem entirely able to communicate it effectively. Sorry.

  • And there goes my faith in humanity.

    Riddled with “press X to not restart the cutscene” QTEs during cutscenes, a hunting/skinning mechanic that is all but ignored, and linear linear gameplay, i cannot fathom how it got voted.

    Call it an action adventure game, with rpg elements. a cover shooter with upgradable abilities, a survival action adventure, but dont call it Tomb Raider, because its anything but.

    An example of the stupid absurdity of the game is at one point, Lara, badly injured, and utterly exhausted is with her perfectly healthy companion, standing in front of a door that they cant open, and instead of the healthy companion helping you look for salvage so you can open the door or even going himself, he stands at the door and doesnt move.

    • No one’s calling it GOTY here, just saying that it was surprisingly better than what was expected and made Tomb Raider a relevant IP again.

      I also don’t agree that this game can’t be called Tomb Raider just because it’s not the same as the old games. It’s a reboot, and in an effort to make Tomb Raider a sellable series again, Crystal Dynamics changed the gameplay.. if you don’t like it, go back to your PS1 games and play them again. Personally, I’m glad we didn’t just get old gameplay with HD graphics.

      It wasn’t perfect, but it was definitely one of the most satisfying games of the year.

    • Can you tell us what game your talking about before you start going on an uneducated and moronic rant?

      • It’s quite clear what game he’s talking about. You’re ignorant if you honestly can’t suss it out yourself.

        Tomb Raider was -okay-. Nothing special, bland gameplay, mundane plot, and horrible weapon/stealth mechanics. It was pretty to look at, sure – but ultimately quite average.

  • Yeh do agree with this. Never really got into the Tomb Raider games and wasn’t expecting much from this, but was awesome in the end..

  • The Last of Us was a surprise? People were going screwy over it 18 months before it even came out.

    • It’s like any online voting….. The category is meaningless…

      “Pick the game from this list which I liked best…”

    • I think it surprised a lot of people how much it drew them in and that it wasn’t just another zombie apocalypse game.
      It’s also surprising that it was a game that lived up to and exceeded the hype.

  • Why was Last Of Us a surprise? It was an interesting concept from a proven studio, I always figured it was going to be gold, if not at least silver.

  • I agree Last of Us wasn’t a surprise at all, what Naughty Dog game isn’t anticipated with drooling mouths and the hailed as the second coming once released? the studio has a major good rep, anyone surprised by it was clearly living under a rock for the past 7 years.

  • Hoorah for WW HD love! I’m about 2/3rds of the way through and it is truly a marvellous experience. They managed to fix most of the annoying issues with the original, whilst improving it in ways that I am enjoying this run through more than when I originally played it. That’s an achievement.
    Maybe remakes should get their own category.

  • It looked awesome but I have to agree with you on “but don’t call it a Tomb Raider game”
    Jumping was not actual jumping. You pressed a button to jump but there was no skill or timing involved. The whole thing felt like it was on rails. That was the massive disappointment for me, there was almost no skill required to play the game. Also tired of scattering a billion objects throughout the game for the player to collect and calling this gameplay. And quicktime events, when are we going to get rid of these.
    Story and graphics were awesome but they didnt make up for the other numerous short comings

    • I’ll give you the collectibles. It’s like Arkham City after Asylum. The riddler stuff was just oversaturated.

      As soon as I see collect 100 of these scattered across the world it’s “get farked”.

      • My favourite was Assassin’s Creed: “our courier has seemingly accidentally dropped standards throughout the world. Could you collect 100 of them?”
        “Gonna say no.”
        “Oh, the kid likes feathers. Could you grab me 200 of them? They kinda blew away in the wind. Oh, and they need to be the exact same ones.”

        Didn’t even second glance the following games for their version of that over saturation 😛

        • It bugs me that my original Assassin’s Creed achievements are locked at like 900/1000 because I just can’t be bothered going out and collecting a thousand flags. Even with a map I just don’t want to do it, and normally I’m a 100% of everything sort of guy. I’ve got every Hidden/Agility Orb in Crackdown/Crackdown 2. Even before achievements I’d go for 100% in all my games. There’s just something about Assassin’s Creed collectibles where it goes beyond a transparent attempt to fill in your time and becomes almost insulting.

    • Agree, the gameplay could’ve been better for sure. However I looked at this game not as a game and more like the best god damn interactive movie ever to be released. And I don’t meet this as an insult, I found the cinematic shots, amazingly well written script and fantastic atmosphere really made this game.

      But I think the thing that really drove this home was the realism of the game, and I’m not talking about the graphics. When you first kill a deer you have a real emotional breakdown like most people would. The initial battles are dirty, uncoordinated and you get injured a lot. I loved that my character in game started out just like me, “weak” but then through the experiences in game you and Lara become strong.

      It is a shame that they couldn’t add more and harder puzzles to make this a real Tomb Raider game, but I think they deliberately made this game easy to get a new generation of gamers into Tomb Raider. A sequel is being made apparently and I wouldn’t be surprised if this one will be much harder.

  • I loved Tomb Raider and honestly believe it was one of the better games for the year. Certainly better than many expected, and definitely a great example of re-constructing a character and a series. I hope they make a sequel.

  • Tomb Raider… I guess. It was fine but littered with terrible little mistakes and some atrocious storytelling. As biggest surprise… Maybe. I thought it looked fine all the way up til release and… yeah, it was fine but it didn’t set my world on fire. I really hope this wasn’t voted for because people think women need positive female role models or something because the game quite famously fumbled its way all through Lara’s characterisation. Also, a good portion of the game was navigating endless menus of STUFF, stuff that I never had any interest of doing anything with. That being said I’m not sure what my personal surprise would be… possibly Pokemon X/Y actually moving forward a bit in its design. Maybe the Vita actually proving to be an amazing little handheld that became my personal little JRPG and indie games machine?

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