Time flies when you're having fun, doesn't it?

Another great year of gaming is in the books, and now it's time once again to select the superb titles that have achieved at the absolute highest level.

As usual, there was a mix of easy picks and insanely difficult decisions, many of which took a fair amount of thought. It's always tough when there are lots of worthy games out there, but they end up butting heads with the truly heavy hitters. Unfortunately, it's impossible to give the appropriate recognition to every last good game in 2013, but that's kinda the way contests are.

Time to check out the winners!

Achievement Awards

Best Graphics

Nominees

Winner: The Last Of Us

Given the superior level of visual excellence seen in 2013, this could've been a particularly tricky category. It's potentially even more difficult due to the fact that we got several new pieces of hardware; is it really fair to compare PS3 games to PS4 games? Shouldn't Killzone: Shadow Fall basically win by default? Our answer was surprisingly simple: No.

Although Shadow Fall was indeed beautiful and a great indicator of the PS4's future potential, Naughty Dog's gorgeous The Last Of Us takes the cake. No game came close to equaling that amazing level of detail, clarity, character design and animation, and overall atmosphere. These developers always push the technical envelope in terms of visual excellence, and TLoU is arguably the most impressive graphical tour de force of the PS3 generation.

Best Music

Nominees

Winner: Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag

In another complex category featuring plenty of legitimate contenders, we end up going with the game that presented us with a consistently incredible score. The orchestral soundtrack for Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag perfectly complemented that epic adventure; we tend to give preference to outstanding original pieces, and this title had a boatload of 'em (no pun intended). TLoU was more about subtlety and Infinite had flashes of brilliance but overall, the diverse, sometimes haunting, other times rousing, soundtrack in Black Flag earned the nod.

Best Sound Effects

Nominees

Winner: DmC: Devil May Cry

Perhaps you consider this to be a dark horse winner. And maybe that's true, given the fantastic sound accomplishments found in the other nominees. But one of the ways we judge this category is to imagine the game devoid of sound effects. How much lower is the overall quality when we do that? This tells us just how big of a role the effects play in that particular adventure and when you think of DmC: Devil May Cry without effects, you're shocked to discover a game that has lost its singular heart and soul.

Slicing and dicing Dante style is only as mesmerizing as it is because of the complicated, unbelievably well implemented myriad of combat effects permeating every minute of gameplay.

Best Acting

Nominees

Winner: The Last Of Us

This really came down to a neck-and-neck battle between Quantic Dream's Beyond: Two Souls and Naughty Dog's The Last Of Us . While one could make a legitimate argument for the former, we couldn't help but notice that Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe – despite their wonderful performances – were really the only two standout characters.

In TLoU, we come across quite a few colorful and distinct characters, along with a number of tense, wildly emotional situations. It's the believable and authentic acting that allows this game's story and plot to shine; Troy Baker (Joel) and Ashley Johnson (Ellie) are amazing, but we can't forget about Annie Wersching (Tess), W. Earl Brown (Bill), Jeffrey Pierce (Tommy), Nolan North (David) and others. Just…wow.

Best Writing/Story

Nominees

Winner: Bioshock Infinite

Philosophically and psychologically driven, the script for Bioshock Infinite was complex and intriguing. The character of Elizabeth was very well developed and awfully curious from multiple perspectives, and who can forget that ending? Ken Levine is an elite writer with lots to say, and he created quite the literary whirlwind in his latest production. TLoU was expertly crafted but it was a bit more straightforward and predictable; we often like to applaud extreme ambition, as well as stories that keeps us thinking long after we've experienced them.

Best Artistry/Art Direction

Nominees

Winner: The Last Of Us

When it came to developing an unparalleled atmosphere and environment, The Last Of Us was tops. Perhaps the most critical element of an effective atmosphere is the artistry and art direction, which is necessary to make the player believe in that virtual world. And those who played Naughty Dog's masterpiece will easily recall the mesmerizing post-apocalyptic backdrop. Not rife with life but rather, rife with death with the barest hint of hope. Extremely powerful and well deserving of this award.

Best Character

Nominees

Winner: Ellie, The Last Of Us

The importance of the Ellie character in The Last Of Us absolutely cannot be ignored. While it's true that the revamped Lara Croft in Tomb Raider was another step in the right direction (in terms of defeating sexist stereotypes in gaming), Ellie was the most memorable character of 2013. A young girl in a seemingly impossible situation; on the surface, full of sass and spunk; beneath, normal, human, even feminine vulnerability. The strength of this character can't be denied, and it's on that strength that Ellie wins this highly competitive category.

Best Trailer

Nominees

Winner: Bioshock Infinite, Beast of America Trailer