Best of 2013: #4 - The Last of Us

Perhaps no other game in 2013 could be as easily pointed to by the mainstream as proof that games are art. The Last of Us enraptured gamers with its cinematic presentation and remarkable performances from Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson. Somehow, Naughty Dog managed to one-up their Uncharted series, raising the bar for what narrative can be in games--with deep, nuanced characters positioned in challenging, morally gray situations.

There are so many moments that help cement TLOU's position as one of the year's best. However, none are as haunting or as lasting as the very last shot of the game. It's chilling not because of what is said, but what isn't. Surely, there could be no more doubts about the legitimacy of digital acting.

While The Last of Us will be celebrated for its presentation, it doesn't hurt that a genuinely interesting gameplay engine powers the experience. Naughty Dog masterfully does away with many modern gaming tropes. Finally, here's a game where the threat of a bullet is almost as effective as actually shooting. It's a game that's meant to be played in a particular way: scavenging for supplies, using resources wisely. It's a game that discourages the Hollywood-style run 'n gun action that embodies the Uncharted franchise.

Even the multiplayer managed to convince doubters. While limited in modes, Naughty Dog managed to capture the oppressive feeling of their world in an online setting. Remarkably, not only does The Last of Us aspire to be video game art, but it manages to be a great game in the process.

The Shacknews Best of 2013 Awards were determined by ballot voting across the entire Shacknews staff. Stay tuned all this week as we reveal all our winners.