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Best video game characters of 2013

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Despite massive budgets and huge marketing campaigns, some of this year's loudest video games were let down by unimaginative characters, hammering bullets into opponents from some murky country not in 'the West'.

But every now and then, a character emerged from the 2013 production line with a rare glimmer in their eye. As a year of new consoles and record-breaking games comes to a close, we've rounded up some of the best video game characters to grace your Start buttons in 2013.

Billy

Game: Ridiculous Fishing: A Tale of Redemption

Notable qualities: Charming story in a game that didn't need one

For a tilt-and-tap mobile game, Ridiculous Fishing had surprising depth (that's it for puns, we promise). Some would put this down to its brilliant artistry, others its superb soundtrack, but we (largely for the sake of this list's theme) would point to its silent protagonist Billy.

As you searched the ocean's deeps with this wizened sea dog, you began to realise that it wasn't the fish that brought Billy back to the waves. With a fully customisable wardrobe (you could make the poor chap fish in the nude if you were cruel enough), extensive arsenal and often hilarious Twitter-esque social feed, Billy was the star of a game with reel heart (we lied).



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Young Lara Croft

Game: Tomb Raider

Notable qualities: Rebooted an unrebootable character

No one enjoys puberty - even less so when your rampaging hormones are stirred by a collection of pixels. And yet for many of us growing up in the 90's, this was our unavoidable lot.

For many, the Lara Croft of old was the figurehead of everything that was awkward about female representation in gaming - any shades of interesting were hidden under layers of ogle meat. The Lara of this year's Tomb Raider was refreshingly: thanks to a marvellous story penned by Rhianna Pratchett (daughter of Terry), we witnessed a young Croft mature into the familiar explorer without focusing on her much-discussed assets.



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Joel

Game: The Last of Us

Notable qualities: Not another generic hero

Every so often a game arrives that unites critics and gamers in a frenzy of praise that eclipses all other releases of the year - titles like Half-Life, Halo, Super Mario Galaxy. Naughty Dog's The Last of Us was that game of 2013, and Joel was its grizzled driving force.

Despite being another stubbly badass, Joel wasn't cut from the same tired cloth of familiar video game protagonists. From the Pixar-esque prologue to that touch-and-go period in the mountains, all who played The Last of Us genuinely cared if this unlikely hero made it through the night. Here's hoping the PS4 gets a character as brilliant as Joel.



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Tim Burr

Game: Fist of Awesome

Notable qualities: He's a time-travelling lumberjack for goodness' sake

In an age of £400 consoles and 4K TVs, Tim Burr proved to us that games don't have to be overly sophisticated, expensive or clever to be honest, fun and entertaining.

A humble lumberjack, Tim embarks (there's a pun in there if you concentrate) on a time-tripping quest to save the world by doing little more than punching bears in the face. A love-letter to beat'em'up classics (think Streets of Rage), Tim's manly beard, huffs of exertion and general merriment caused us too miss three bus stops and an important phone call this year.



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Sergeant Rex Power Colt

Game: Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon

Notable qualities: Best one-liners of the year

It wouldn't be a true gaming roundup without a cybernetic super-soldier now would it.

Sergeant Rex Power Colt was 2013's welcome throwback to the Duke Nukems and Serious Sams of old - potty mouthed characters whose lewd humour and self-aware quips were the highlight of otherwise ropey games. Far Cry 3's superb VHS fantasy romp expansion Blood Dragon didn't need saving (it sold over 1 million copies in 2013), but Colt's acid tongue and general silliness added a wonderful charm all the same.



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The Cave

Game: The Cave

Notable qualities: The most interesting narrator of the year

The best stories always come with a good narrator - an authoritative voice to take you by the ear and lead you through the uncertain twists and trips of the narrative. What we got from Ron Gilbert's The Cave was a talking cave.

Acting as both the setting and the central voice of the game, the magical cavern of The Cave was a thoughtfully created character, filling in for the unknown motives of the otherwise silent main cast of playables. Warm, humorous and insightful, this cave was nothing like the subterranean types we've met in real life.



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Elizabeth

Game: BioShock Infinite

Notable qualities: 10/10 would travel with again

Non-playable companions have a nasty habit of interrupting the flow of a good game: turn around in a small room and they'll invariably be blocking the doorway, a gormless smile on their smug little face as you fail to edge round them down. Such issue were blissfully absent from BioShock Infinite.

Peppy, thoughtful and with a great arm, Infinite's Elizabeth was a delight. Her story was complex and thought provoking (we had cause to pause the game several times in order to process what was going on), her ability to find ammo and weapons hugely useful, and her animation flawless. The next time our gaming travel companion steps into our line of sight, we'll sigh and wish for Elizabeth to return.



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Juan Aguacate

Game: Guacamelee!

Notable qualities: A majestic stride

Charm dripped from every brightly lit facet of this hit Indie title, helped a good measure by easy controls and an immediately appealing central character, Juan.

Guacamelee's muscle-bound protagonist appeared hail from the same family tree as The Emperor's New Groove's Kronk - an unnaturally agile triangle of a man with an unquenchable desire to run. We don't really understand why Juan needed to turn into a chicken, nor how he was able to kill the undead (surely they're already dead?), but we were having too much fun with him to really mind.



(Images: YouTube; Sony)

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