Entertainment

Videogames: from Dead Space and Resident Evil 4 to Spider-Man 2 and Super Mario Bros Wonder, we rate 2023′s top titles

As Santa prepares to stuff his sack, Neil McGreevy rounds up the year’s best console contenders that gamers everywhere will be hoping to unwrap this Christmas...

Your friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man returned in Spider-Man 2, one of 2023's top games
Spider-Man 2 was one of 2023's top games

AND so this is Christmas: we’re in the final festive furlong, and as 2023 staggers towards its Baileys-soaked finale, even more consoles will be wending their way down Ireland’s chimneys. With 10 more sleeps ‘til Santa, what better time for gamers to sample the cream of his sack?

Console contenders

IN A year dominated by slick horror remakes and blockbuster sequels, the PlayStation 5 found its swagger, even if Sony’s virtual reality boondoggle, the PSVR2, failed to set the world alight.

Xbox once again suffered a dearth of big exclusives, though Nintendo ensured the Switch - now in its sixth and final year - went out with a geriatric bang.

Microsoft’s purchase of Call of Duty-mongers Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion was the biggest corporate grab in gaming history, while Hollywood enjoyed a banner year for game adaptations, with HBO’s The Last of Us nabbing 24 Emmy nods and Super Mario Bros - the highest-grossing videogame movie ever – being trumped only by Barbie at the box office.

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But what about the games? Here’s five of the best...

2023′s five top titles

Dead Space (Multi)

FIFTEEN years after Dead Space first gave Resident Evil a run for its money, the gory outer-space yarn returns in a glitzy remake that retains the original’s thick atmosphere while rendering the Alien-inspired horror hokum in flawless 4K visuals. Scare machines don’t come more well-oiled.

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of The Kingdom was one of 2023's top titles
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of The Kingdom was one of 2023's best games

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom (Switch)

PICKING up several years after Tears of the Kingdom, the sequel to one of the highest-rated games of all time doubles down on everything that made the original so good. With new powers that let players cobble together their own weapons and vehicles, it’s Minecraft, Zelda-style - and shows you really can improve on perfection.

Resident Evil 4 Remake (Multi)

A GROUND-up do-over for one of the greatest creepshows ever made, 2005′s horror classic was the most influential game of the early noughties, and its blockbuster remake straddles the line between spectacular combat and icky creeps.

With crowd-control combat, blistering set-pieces and a knowing B-movie vibe, it’s a trip down memory lane that’ll wow both series vets and Johnny-come-latelies.

Mario in elephant form from Super Mario Bros Wonder
Super Mario Bros Wonder was one of 2023's top games

Super Mario Bros Wonder (Switch)

NINTENDO marked 40 years since the release of the original Mario Bros with a return to the brand of 2D platforming they perfected in the 90s. The first traditional Mario in over a decade, players sprint through kaleidoscopic stages, trouncing Bowser’s minions and hoovering up coins with a raft of new perks, including the power to transform into an elephant.

Nintendo at the peak of their powers, its hallucinogenic Wonder Flowers are more than a gimmick, triggering a trippy sugar rush of effects that reshape each world in a slice of platforming genius.

Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 (PS5)

THE spandex star crawls up the spout for a sequel to the PS4′s best-selling game, doubling the fun with two web-crawlers and a rogue’s gallery to spray with liquid silk. Its gorgeously realised Big Apple isn’t incey-wincey, offering 25 hours of swinging in a spectacular caper that juggles the webslinger’s wisecracking humour with plenty of emotional heft.

A shining example of what a superhero game can be.