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Giant Bomb's 2013 Game of the Year Awards: Day Three

The awards feature trundles along with a Christmas Day-edition including Best Trend, Best Debut, and Apology of the Year.

"You there, boy! What day is today?"

"Why, sir, today is the third day of Giant Bomb's Game of the Year Awards!"

"Ah, so I haven't missed it! Do you know of the prize podcast hanging in the window at the poulterer's, not one street over but two?"

"The one as big as me? I should hope I did, sir!"

"Remarkable boy! Delightful. Go and buy it for me, and fetch it back here, and I shall give you a ridiculous awards recap video. Come back in less than five minutes and I'll give you half-a-crown!"

Best Exclusive Launch Game

Dead Rising 3

Super-duper dumb.

Console launch games are an iffy business. Developers are working on compressed timeframes, designing and optimizing games against changing hardware specs that might as well be a moving target. The final console doesn't often even land on the team's desks until a short few months before the game has to be finished. Is it any wonder many launch games from one generation to the next are simplistic, rough around the edges, just plain bad, or a combination of all three?

Of all the launch games that shipped on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in November, Dead Rising 3 felt the most fully formed, the most similar to the depth and breadth of a game you'd expect to see shipping in the second year of a new console, not at launch. While this third entry in the quirky zombie franchise dispensed with some of the more oppressive time restrictions of its predecessors, it also got rid of those games' frequent, ponderous load screens and moved the zombie apocalypse into a huge, detailed open world chock-full of ridiculous weapons to build and unlimited hordes of zombies to use them on. And what hordes they are; while the game may not run at the resolution and frame rate of other launch games, it uses the new horsepower to fill the screen with a truly mindboggling density of zombies that are delightfully fun to mow down with a motorcycle-steamroller.

While Dead Rising 3's story starts out seemingly flat, with new protagonist Nick Ramos making his way through what seems like another perfunctory zombie outbreak, the game in fact holds all of its interesting twists and turns in reserve until later in the game. Just when the plot seems like it isn't really going anywhere, the game manages to tie into the previous Dead Rising games in a rapid-fire series of ridiculous and fun ways. It's a solid game all around, and far and away our favorite among all the games exclusive to the new consoles.

Runners-up: Killer Instinct, Resogun

Apology of the Year

Ashes Cricket 2013

It sure is.

Look, we think it sucks that there continue to be game releases so botched, they require a public mea culpa from the offending company in the face of justifiable consumer outrage. To be nominated in this category isn't exactly a compliment, although in a backhanded way you could at least say it's respectable that the companies on this list bothered to make good on their mistakes at all. But it goes without saying that wed prefer this category didn't exist again next year. Ah, we probably shouldn't get our hopes up.

It was an especially egregious year for post-release apologies, and EA led the pack so thoroughly we nearly just called this category "The Electronic Arts Apology of the Year." But all of those slip-ups put together couldn't match the sheer mindbending absurdity of the Ashes Cricket 2013 situation. Here was a game so utterly messed up, so offensive to both its potential audience and its licensors from the cricket world, that publisher 505 Games actually bent the rules of time and space in an attempt to rectify it. They didn't promise a series of hurried patches to fix the game. They didn't just guarantee to refund everyone who had woefully sunk money into this failed project (though at least they did that). No, they went out of their way to cancel a game that had already been released. How do you even do that? You can't cancel it! It already exists! People bought it!

But they found a way. Ashes Cricket 2013 has ceased to exist as an active product you can purchase with money. We'll probably still be scratching our heads trying to figure this one out this time next year. Let's hope there isn't a repeat of this deplorable situation between now and then.

Runners-up: Battlefield 4, NBA Live 14

Best Trend

Expanded rights for digital games

Who doesn't feel good about all this stuff?

These are uncertain times. The ways you buy and "own" your video games have become many and varied, and at the same time more nebulous than ever before. The calamity surrounding Microsoft's attempt at an all-digital, Internet-required future earlier this year made it clear many consumers aren't ready to let go of their physical games just yet. And we're lucky that the most sprawling effort so far toward a digital game library, Steam, has mostly been handled with customer-centric grace and good will. But the sales of digital games (or licenses to play the games, or whatever it is you're buying) is still ripe for abuse. It feels like we're still waiting for the first true disaster in that space to happen.

So it's great that we saw multiple instances this year of digital game services moving in a positive direction, offering more consumer protections instead of less. EA's once-maligned Origin service announced a great blanket policy to offer refunds within a reasonable timeframe for any reason. GOG similarly established a money-back guarantee for any game you buy and can't run on your PC. Steam began beta testing its family sharing service, allowing you to share your entire game library with a number of other machines besides your own. And on the console side, Sony and Microsoft ended up maintaining the status quo with regard to physical media while also expanding your options for all-digital purchases and rights management.

It doesn't feel like we're completely out of the woods yet in terms of consumer empowerment in the all-digital future, but for the first time we really felt like things might actually be moving in the right direction. And that's a good feeling.

Runners-up: PlayStation Cross-Buy, Advancements in console cloud saving

Best Debut

The Last of Us

Two years in a row, we’ve seen developers tackle one of gaming’s most reliable villains, zombies, and come up with a fresh way of appreciate them. The Last of Us’ fungus creatures are not the stars of The Last of Us, and like The Walking Dead, they set the stage for the human drama that makes Naughty Dog’s latest game so gripping. The Last of Us feels like Naughty Dog looking at the problems from Uncharted--mindless combat, a disconnect between the cutscenes and in-game action--and tackling them head on.

There are different ways to take advantage of technological progress, and The Last of Us does so by building a world for us to invest in. It leverages realism to present a sense of place, a world that’s awfully similar to ours, enough to make us uncomfortable. The environment conveys nearly as much storytelling as the advanced motion capture cutscenes do, filling in the expositional gaps usually left to game-y conceits like audio logs and hastily scribbled notes. (Though the game does have some of that.)

Even stranger for 2013, The Last of Us arrives as a new property at the end of this generation of hardware, just months before we ushered in new consoles. It's a feat impressive and surprising on its own. And it's a high note to go out on, making the studio’s bold choice for the game’s ending all the more poignant.

Runners-up: Gunpoint, Rogue Legacy

39 Comments
Edited by jimmyfenix

NBA Live has been robbed!

Posted by sephirm87

And God bless us, every one!

Edited by Vuud

I have no doubts that Last of Us is going to be GOTY for Giant Bomb.

Posted by McTaters

@jimmyfenix: Nah man. You know a dev is sorry when they give everyone Double XP for a week. That stuff comes from the heart.

Posted by dr_mantas

All solid categories and picks. Don't really feel The Last of Us was that much a debut, more a continuation of the studio's previous work, but if it ever has a sequel, well, that's a start of a new franchise.

Gunpoint, however, is amazing as a first game for one dude to make.

Posted by XanderCrews

GTA Online got robbed.

Edited by SatelliteOfLove

I agree wholeheartedly with all of these.

Posted by I_Stay_Puft
Posted by sub_o

I have the feeling that The Last of Us is the game that wins many GiantBomb's awards, but not shown on any of their recaps, since it's not on the top of their personal lists.

I also have the feeling that Revengeance might be Jeff's GOTY.

Posted by Efesell

@vuud said:

I have no doubts that Last of Us is going to be GOTY for Giant Bomb.

Final day looks like TLoU vs Zelda to me.

Posted by Oginam

Kinda bums me out that Path of Exile isn't going to get any props from Giant Bomb this year. Would of been on the Best Debut top three for sure.

Posted by mrfluke

@efesell said:

@vuud said:

I have no doubts that Last of Us is going to be GOTY for Giant Bomb.

Final day looks like TLoU vs Zelda to me.

yep that seems like the final fight.

Posted by Droop

" Even stranger for 2013, The Last of Arrives as a new property "

You forgot a word. Nice picks!

Posted by mbr2

I don't think debut means what they think it they means (not including Gunpoint).

Posted by gbrading

Think Best Debut should probably have been called Best New IP. Still, nice choices.

Posted by jvdgoot

@gbrading: first time they introduced this category they specifically said they didn't want to call it that because it sounded "too business-y"

Edited by noizy

@gbrading said:

Think Best Debut should probably have been called Best New IP. Still, nice choices.

On the day 3 postcast (57m24) Jeff says the following : "Now on to best debut. This category is specifically, like, kinda, best new IP, but that sounds like shit, so we call it best debut." So there you have it.

Posted by HellknightLeon

Wait... What about the DireTide apology? How was that... I mean.... why.... Oh well. :(

Posted by LarryDavis

@vuud said:

I have no doubts that Last of Us is going to be GOTY for Giant Bomb.

Zelda.

Posted by gbrading

@noizy said:

@gbrading said:

Think Best Debut should probably have been called Best New IP. Still, nice choices.

On the day 3 postcast (57m24) Jeff says the following : "Now on to best debut. This category is specifically, like, kinda, best new IP, but that sounds like shit, so we call it best debut." So there you have it.

Yep, I kicked myself when I listened to that just now. :D

Posted by AMyggen

@larrydavis: I too think it will be Zelda. Jeff will win that fight since they all seemed to really like Zelda too.

Edited by Time_Lord

@amyggen: they all seem to like the last of us as well it depends on how powerful there nostalgia is

Posted by Lurkero

In the future I hope that best apology evolves into best blunder and best apology. Not every good blunder gets a good apology. The XBO controversy comes to mind for that one.

Edited by BaconGames

I think it's weird that no one is talking about the art in Zelda one way or another but maybe I'm a bit early on that. For my money I think it's kinda bland and deserves a few arguments toward that end but if others really like it I'd like to hear it represented as well. I'm sure they will be tearing it down left and right on the final podcast.

Edited by wariomona

I've been fine with most of the website's choices up to this point. But I don't understand how Last of Us can win "Best Debut". It's certainly not Naughty Dog's first and it doesn't work as 'best new IP' either because I'm pretty sure I remember them saying it would be better off without a sequel...

Maybe I don't understand what they mean by 'debut'...

Posted by TheHT

Hell yeah Gunpoint runner-up!

Posted by RonGalaxy

@vuud said:

I have no doubts that Last of Us is going to be GOTY for Giant Bomb.

Zelda.

So far the praise for The Last of Us is WAY more consistent than Zelda. It placed high on Vinny, Drew, and Patricks List (2, 2, 3, respectively) and is the only game to have won multiple awards so far (best looking, best story, best debut. 2 of those are pretty big awards). Zelda has only placed twice; Vinny's GOTY and Drews number 5, and it only has won best music.

In the past they decided GOTY based on consistency of praise, and right now that's exactly the position The Last of Us is in. Though I think that could all change depending on where Zelda places on Jeff/Brad's top 10 lists. I don't think it will be on Jeff's list at all, but I could be wrong, and Brad could go either way. Also, Alex is going to place TLoU high on his list, possibly his GOTY

Edited by LarryDavis

@naru_joe93: @amyggen: Jeff seems to agree with me that TLOU's actual gameplay is super boring, though, and Brad felt the same way until he suddenly decided he liked it. There's the whole argument about how if the beginning of a game is garbage, it shouldn't be ignored because the rest is good.

Everyone likes Zelda. Most of them like TLOU. I bet TLOU will take second, with Zelda winning.

Zelda also hasn't really been eligible for a lot of the awards so far. It's a 3DS game, so it's not going to win best looking, it's a franchise so it won't win best debut, and story doesn't matter at all in Zelda so of course it won't win that. Previous awards won is immaterial.

Not that I particularly care, I'm not going to listen to any more of the podcasts since TLOU won best looking game, which is hilarious. In technical terms, BF4 or Metro looked better, in artistic terms, a LOT of games looked better, and even in terms of "a game to send off the previous hardware", GTA 5 is a better example. It was never even mentioned once. I'll give TLOU best story or cutscenes, but that's really all it should win. Maybe biggest disappointment, for me.

Posted by AMyggen

@larrydavis: You're not gonna listen to more of the podcasts because TLoU won best looking? That doesn't make much sense, but okay.

Posted by PerfidiousSinn

The Last of Us seems like it will win GoTY even though most of the staff is lukewarm on the gameplay. Interesting!

Also I'd like some links to those apologies because I want to laugh at them.

Posted by RonGalaxy

@larrydavis: did jeff even play zelda? I dont think he even played the whole thing.

Posted by Pie

Feel like these awards could use more clarification on what they represent. How they were judging what made a great debut seemed a little funny and what exactly an "apology" is. Cool stuff anyway

Posted by LarryDavis

@naru_joe93: He has played it, I'm not sure if he's finished it.

@amyggen: In general I think the bickering is just tiring, exacerbated (or as Patrick would say, "exasperated") by the fact that I just kinda don't like most of their picks. Even last year, when I agreed with almost all of the decisions, I was kinda done about halfway through, but constant fellating of Gone Home and TLOU make this even worse.

Posted by BisonHero

@alex Did you write the summary of "Best Apology of the Year"? It just really reads like something you would've said.