Our last 2015 Game of the Year award goes to our favorite game of 2013. Catch up on all the awards (including the actual game of 2015) on our main GOTY awards page.
Samuel Roberts: GTA V was late coming to PC, but the port was worth the wait—this is the definitive version of a game I first played two years ago, which is why it’s been given this particular award, to be honest. That extravagantly realised world will likely never be topped by anyone but Rockstar themselves, and while there’s been a fair bit of backlash to the story mode being let down by unlikeable characters, I was entertained by the leads and the single-player missions are some of the best fun you can have in any game. From the dynamically lit Los Santos skyline to the reflections in the ocean at dusk, I can’t believe someone created a game environment that’s this lavish. I’m personally not as massive on the chaotic playground of GTA Online, but even so, the multi-part heist missions, which I played with some of the other PCG guys, were some of my highlights from the year, too.
Chris Livingston: Rare is the game in which a quick drive to the clothing store to buy a new suit can lead to an extended session of freeform mayhem and destruction. Sideswipe the wrong driver and attract the attention of the cops, and a highway chase results. Flip your vehicle off a bridge, steal another, speed to a helicopter pad, swipe a chopper, get shot down over a military base, parachute to the beach, steal a boat, jump it onto a busy street, enjoy a shootout with more cops, escape to the hills on a motorcycle, get killed by a mountain lion. What was I doing an hour ago? Oh, right, I was going to buy a suit.
For me, GTA 5 is about what you do between the things you’re supposed to be doing. Long after the details of the story have faded, Los Santos will remain a big, beautiful world perfect for hours of chaotic and ridiculous fun.
Chris Thursten: I had such a strange time reviewing this. It’s the most extraordinary open-world, a vast and immersive city that houses a freeform driving game, a lightweight flight simulator, a racing game, a shooter, a tennis sim, and so on and so on. I couldn’t stand the story or the characters and wish Rockstar would reclaim some of the heart that GTA IV and Red Dead Redemption had, but it’s a testament to the team’s overall achievement that GTA V is still /so good/ despite that forty-hour campaign, ostensibly the core of the game, being so derivative and cynical. Multiplayer remains a game where you can kidnap your friends inside their cars in a helicopter with a big magnet. All is forgiven, and then some.
Phil Savage: Los Santos is such a robust city, and the perfect setting for experiences both big and small. I love driving through it at night, listening to my custom soundtrack (Kavinsky, of course,) just as much as I love the chaos and last-ditch saves of a successful multiplayer heist. For all the bluster of the campaign, GTA V's strength is in how it comfortably scales to whatever you want to do.
Tim Clark: Whilst obviously an inspiration, the very existence of GTA V must feel like a blight to other developers of open world games. How can they possibly compete with the fidelity and richness of Los Santos’ sun-kissed urban hellscape and the dusty expanse of badlands surrounding it? Fallout 4 got by on its sheer size and RPGiness, The Witcher III had a story people actually cared about and peerless visuals, but for games like Just Cause 3 trying to come even close to offering a playground as packed with fine detail and stuff to do proved impossible. Like Chris, I didn’t much care for the three ageing amigos setup, though did find laughs along the way from the world itself. And as ever it really is the brilliance of the world, and just mooching around in it causing mayhem, that made you want to spend such a big a chunk of time playing GTA V. Not to mention, of course, that the modding community is already making some ridiculously cool things happen, meaning we may not even have seen the best of what GTA V has to offer yet.