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Giant Bomb's 2012 Game of the Year Awards: Day Two

Today's Game of the Year 2012 is UNSTOPPABLE as it drops awards like Best Surprise, Miiverse Community of the Year, and Walking Dead Episode of the Year.

The awards continue today with another batch of categories. Be sure to check out the podcast to figure out how we came to these conclusions and check out the videos for a more meanderingly endearing way to consume the awards. See ya tomorrow!

Walking Dead Episode of the Year

Episode 3

The Walking Dead's first season didn't have a single bad episode. Not a one. Nada. Zilch. Zero. Considering most episodic games can barely muster a single stand-out episode, let alone multiple ones, there was no choice but to call out this year's best Walking Dead episodes in their own category. Well, okay, there was a choice, but we chose to do it, dammit.

It's safe to say that The Walking Dead's best parts came during its utterly brutal middle sections. Episode 1 set the stage nicely, and Episode 5 tied the story together in a genuinely heart-wrenching way, but episodes 2, 3, and 4 were so chock full of action/sadness/action sadness, that they proved to be the clear standouts. And of those standout episodes, Episode 3 proved to be the most memorable of them all.

It's not hard to explain why, though it is somewhat challenging to do so without spoiling the whole damn thing for you. If you want that, our video coverage will more than suffice. If you don't want to be spoiled, all we'll say here is that Episode 3 is full of tremendously well-written shocks, twists, and emotional wallops, the likes of which were most certainly the highlights of the series. It's an emotionally draining episode, the kind of thing that will either break you entirely, or strengthen your resolve to power through the last two episodes. Most series probably aren't best served peaking in the middle, but in the case of Walking Dead's immaculately paced campaign, it worked out shockingly well.

Runners-up: Episode 2, Episode 4

Best Debut

The Walking Dead

By the end of The Walking Dead's season finale, once you're finished washing away the tears you swear you don't tell anyone about, there is one question on your mind: how the hell is Telltale Games going to top this? We're happy to see them try, but the creative turnaround of Telltale Games is a truly remarkable one. Many of us started to wonder whether Telltale Games still had it after the supremely lackluster Jurassic Park. There was a general sense that Telltale Games had accomplished its mission of bringing back the adventure game, but hadn't yet figured out where the genre had to go next. Bringing back old franchises wasn't enough.

The Walking Dead will likely have a profound influence on games both in and outside the adventure genre, but for fans of the point-and-click, it's a resounding shot of relevance. Through meaningful player-driven storytelling and a morbid tale about humanity in the most extreme of circumstances, The Walking Dead had players anxiously staying up late for each episode to go live. Telltale Games found a way to keep players interested in its episodic format in a way none of its previous games have, and created true watercooler moments once only the realm of TV and film.

Runners-up: Mark of the Ninja, Fez

Best Surprise

Asura's Wrath

If you wanted to get all mathematical about it, you could basically look at the Best Surprise as resulting from the difference between our initial expectations for a game and our final impressions of it. That game you thought was gonna be awful and then was kind of great? Yeah, that's this. In that sense, it would be hard to find a game that sounds less promising on its face than one made about 90 percent out of cutscenes driven by Quick Time events. None of us really wanted to give Asura's Wrath the time of day, and only dug into it grudgingly out of a responsibility to cover video games and generate site coverage.

Then a funny thing happened: Asura's Wrath grabbed hold of us with its six fiery, rage-fueled fists and refused to let go. It's hard to get more than a couple of episodes into the game's grandiose tale of scheming deities and Asura's burning need for revenge without just feeling aghast at the ridiculous enormity of the events taking place in front of you. Running the entire Earth through with your sword? Jump-kicking a planet-sized, Buddha-like starship in the face? All business as usual within the anime series-like episodic structure. What's even more astounding than the visuals, which consistently find ways to top themselves, is that CyberConnect 2 was able to come up with engaging and occasionally subversive uses of Quick Time events and simple button prompts that become way, way more satisfying than a game like this ought to be. If you can play all the way through this game without involuntarily yelling out "BURST!!!" at least once, there's probably something wrong with you.

Runners-up: Sleeping Dogs, Far Cry 3

Miiverse Community of the Year

Funky Barn

I think it's safe to say that we took issue with a lot of the ways the Wii U and its initial batch of games are built. But it's not all frowny faces and expired milk. The Miiverse, Nintendo's attempt at creating message boards and a bit of a social network to go along with them, is a fun take on some basic website concepts. The best part is that Nintendo creates a Miiverse section for every game and application on the Wii U, from New Super Mario Bros. U to Netflix. Considering there are plenty of Wii U executables that don't necessarily need a community of their own, you might think that the sections for smaller games and apps would be barren wastelands. But no. This is where the true magic of Miiverse lies.

The Funky Barn community is the best example of this because the game carries an extremely evocative name, leading to a lot of fan art (well, "fan" art) of sheep with gigantic afros positioned next to disco balls. And since you can easily see at a glance if a poster has played the game in question or not, it's easy to see that no one on this board is actually playing Funky Barn. Not to brag, but we may have been the first "played it!" checkmark on that board when Jeff cracked his copy open for a quick and dirty live stream.

Runners-Up: YouTube, Netflix

Best Use of a Licensed Song

Far Cry 3 - MIA "Paper Planes"

Most games might try to make the player identify, or at least empathize with their protagonist, but Far Cry 3 does exactly the opposite in its opening moments, and deliberately so. While the handheld vacation footage of Jason Brody and his idle-rich posse of entitled Abercrombie & Fitch bros and bras flashing their Black Cards, doing shots of sambuca, riding jet-skis, and basically fulfilling the Ugly American stereotype with aplomb would've been enough to have you rooting for for the charasmatically psychotic Vaas, pairing it with MIA's druggy summer club hit "Paper Planes" really brings it all together. Never have I wanted to see harm befall my own player character as deeply or as instantaneously as I did at the start of Far Cry 3. Luckily, the game wastes no time delivering on that desire...

Runners-Up: Spec Ops: The Line - Deep Purple "Hush", Alan Wake's American Nightmare - Kasabian "Club Foot"

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Posted by Brad

The awards continue today with another batch of categories. Be sure to check out the podcast to figure out how we came to these conclusions and check out the videos for a more meanderingly endearing way to consume the awards. See ya tomorrow!

Walking Dead Episode of the Year

Episode 3

The Walking Dead's first season didn't have a single bad episode. Not a one. Nada. Zilch. Zero. Considering most episodic games can barely muster a single stand-out episode, let alone multiple ones, there was no choice but to call out this year's best Walking Dead episodes in their own category. Well, okay, there was a choice, but we chose to do it, dammit.

It's safe to say that The Walking Dead's best parts came during its utterly brutal middle sections. Episode 1 set the stage nicely, and Episode 5 tied the story together in a genuinely heart-wrenching way, but episodes 2, 3, and 4 were so chock full of action/sadness/action sadness, that they proved to be the clear standouts. And of those standout episodes, Episode 3 proved to be the most memorable of them all.

It's not hard to explain why, though it is somewhat challenging to do so without spoiling the whole damn thing for you. If you want that, our video coverage will more than suffice. If you don't want to be spoiled, all we'll say here is that Episode 3 is full of tremendously well-written shocks, twists, and emotional wallops, the likes of which were most certainly the highlights of the series. It's an emotionally draining episode, the kind of thing that will either break you entirely, or strengthen your resolve to power through the last two episodes. Most series probably aren't best served peaking in the middle, but in the case of Walking Dead's immaculately paced campaign, it worked out shockingly well.

Runners-up: Episode 2, Episode 4

Best Debut

The Walking Dead

By the end of The Walking Dead's season finale, once you're finished washing away the tears you swear you don't tell anyone about, there is one question on your mind: how the hell is Telltale Games going to top this? We're happy to see them try, but the creative turnaround of Telltale Games is a truly remarkable one. Many of us started to wonder whether Telltale Games still had it after the supremely lackluster Jurassic Park. There was a general sense that Telltale Games had accomplished its mission of bringing back the adventure game, but hadn't yet figured out where the genre had to go next. Bringing back old franchises wasn't enough.

The Walking Dead will likely have a profound influence on games both in and outside the adventure genre, but for fans of the point-and-click, it's a resounding shot of relevance. Through meaningful player-driven storytelling and a morbid tale about humanity in the most extreme of circumstances, The Walking Dead had players anxiously staying up late for each episode to go live. Telltale Games found a way to keep players interested in its episodic format in a way none of its previous games have, and created true watercooler moments once only the realm of TV and film.

Runners-up: Mark of the Ninja, Fez

Best Surprise

Asura's Wrath

If you wanted to get all mathematical about it, you could basically look at the Best Surprise as resulting from the difference between our initial expectations for a game and our final impressions of it. That game you thought was gonna be awful and then was kind of great? Yeah, that's this. In that sense, it would be hard to find a game that sounds less promising on its face than one made about 90 percent out of cutscenes driven by Quick Time events. None of us really wanted to give Asura's Wrath the time of day, and only dug into it grudgingly out of a responsibility to cover video games and generate site coverage.

Then a funny thing happened: Asura's Wrath grabbed hold of us with its six fiery, rage-fueled fists and refused to let go. It's hard to get more than a couple of episodes into the game's grandiose tale of scheming deities and Asura's burning need for revenge without just feeling aghast at the ridiculous enormity of the events taking place in front of you. Running the entire Earth through with your sword? Jump-kicking a planet-sized, Buddha-like starship in the face? All business as usual within the anime series-like episodic structure. What's even more astounding than the visuals, which consistently find ways to top themselves, is that CyberConnect 2 was able to come up with engaging and occasionally subversive uses of Quick Time events and simple button prompts that become way, way more satisfying than a game like this ought to be. If you can play all the way through this game without involuntarily yelling out "BURST!!!" at least once, there's probably something wrong with you.

Runners-up: Sleeping Dogs, Far Cry 3

Miiverse Community of the Year

Funky Barn

I think it's safe to say that we took issue with a lot of the ways the Wii U and its initial batch of games are built. But it's not all frowny faces and expired milk. The Miiverse, Nintendo's attempt at creating message boards and a bit of a social network to go along with them, is a fun take on some basic website concepts. The best part is that Nintendo creates a Miiverse section for every game and application on the Wii U, from New Super Mario Bros. U to Netflix. Considering there are plenty of Wii U executables that don't necessarily need a community of their own, you might think that the sections for smaller games and apps would be barren wastelands. But no. This is where the true magic of Miiverse lies.

The Funky Barn community is the best example of this because the game carries an extremely evocative name, leading to a lot of fan art (well, "fan" art) of sheep with gigantic afros positioned next to disco balls. And since you can easily see at a glance if a poster has played the game in question or not, it's easy to see that no one on this board is actually playing Funky Barn. Not to brag, but we may have been the first "played it!" checkmark on that board when Jeff cracked his copy open for a quick and dirty live stream.

Runners-Up: YouTube, Netflix

Best Use of a Licensed Song

Far Cry 3 - MIA "Paper Planes"

Most games might try to make the player identify, or at least empathize with their protagonist, but Far Cry 3 does exactly the opposite in its opening moments, and deliberately so. While the handheld vacation footage of Jason Brody and his idle-rich posse of entitled Abercrombie & Fitch bros and bras flashing their Black Cards, doing shots of sambuca, riding jet-skis, and basically fulfilling the Ugly American stereotype with aplomb would've been enough to have you rooting for for the charasmatically psychotic Vaas, pairing it with MIA's druggy summer club hit "Paper Planes" really brings it all together. Never have I wanted to see harm befall my own player character as deeply or as instantaneously as I did at the start of Far Cry 3. Luckily, the game wastes no time delivering on that desire...

Runners-Up: Spec Ops: The Line - Deep Purple "Hush", Alan Wake's American Nightmare - Kasabian "Club Foot"

Staff
Edited by PatVB

Awesome stuff! Episode 2 was my favorite Walking Dead episode, but you can't go wrong with any of them.

Posted by LarcenousLaugh

Asura's Wrath is at the top of my backlog because of the coverage here. Can't wait to BURST!!!!!

Posted by Conker

Aw no!! Best use of licensed music shouldve went to Make it Bun Dem in Far Cry 3!

Posted by deathfromace

Now I need a WiiU to be part of the community of the year

Posted by The_Vein

Fuzzy Falone. Never forget.

Posted by Chicken008

I wonder if the guys even saw the Willem Dafoe posts in the Rabbid's Land community..

Posted by bvilleneuve

The Walking Dead episode 2 is my favorite, though episode 3 is also a strong contender. I have to disagree about episode 4 being top-tier, though. That one has some nasty pacing issues and a couple of gaping plot holes regarding character movements and geography.

Posted by PerfidiousSinn

I never understood why Giant Bomb hated the main characters of Far Cry 3 so much. Because they're privileged rich kids? What's so terrible about that?

Posted by SgtSphynx

Woo Day 2!

Posted by TheMasterDS

I think episode 4 is my favorite. I'd say 3 was my least favorite honestly, felt too disjointed. Like we were just going from set piece to set piece and it took too long to get to the ending.

Edited by Gyoru

Episode 3 is the best.

edit: 3 > 2 > 4 > 5 > 1

Posted by rmanthorp

Asura's Wrath WOOO!!

Moderator
Posted by BBQBram

Good thing The Walking Dead episode one is free right now, I need to get on that apparently.

Posted by Rirse

They should had picked the shovelware party game as one of the runner ups for Miiverse. So many great pictures in that. Not that they could topple Funky Barn.

Online
Posted by csl316

The more Asura's Wrath awards, the better.

Posted by bloodsoul5

finally someone gives asura's wrath the credit it deserves.

Posted by gerrid

I loved the Far Cry 3 opening, I was actually disappointed when it ended because I was enjoying it so much

Posted by wjb

Curious if the Health song from Max Payne 3 was even considered. Wondered if they even remember...

Posted by Brackynews

I got the Jurassic Park franchise for free in an app bundle, so I've been tapping my way through it and racking up the achievements... it's clearly Telltale's low point (coming from someone who keeps Poker Night installed until I get that last item). I'm glad somebody over there recognised that and pulled their ass out of the chipper.

Posted by CatsAkimbo

So glad to see Alan Wake's American Nightmare on there -- they use Kasabian to great effect.

Posted by Marz

so did they just forget about Journey for best Debut?  i'm just listening to that part right now in the podcast but we'll see.

Posted by hollitz

TWD:

I know episode 3 was the best, but 2 is still my absolute favorite. 4 fell flat for me in kind of every respect. None of the choices were that interesting, and that Crawford scenario has been done before.

And am I seriously the only one who killed Larry? Why the fuck would you try to revive that piece of shit? HE TRIED TO KILL YOU IN THE FIRST EPISODE.

And not taking the food? You guys are way too conditioned to pull the left trigger. That's a crazy decision to make that I think suffers from gamers' tendency to always want to play the good guy.

Posted by Sunjammer

Seems like someone didn't check out the Rabbids Land miiverse.

So far I'm disagreeing with almost every award given. Exciting!

Edited by deerokus

@wjb said:

Curious if the Health song from Max Payne 3 was even considered. Wondered if they even remember...

I guess technically not licenced, since they scored the whole game.

2 is the best walking dead episode, followed by 5. 3 has great stuff but that train sequence feels a wee bit filler-ish. 5 is paced perfectly, and that ending, bloody hell.

Posted by chilibean_3

I feel like the M.I.A. song, which in itself is just as terrible as the characters, is probably second to the Skrillex song moment. I was laughing for minutes when that song started up.

Posted by Pop

I didn't play Borderlands 2 so much, didn't it have some dubstep in it? There was no game that used a Flo Rida song in a crazy way? I am disappoint!

Posted by Mercer

Wasn't Paper Planes one of the licensed songs in a Best Use of a Licensed Song category recently?

Posted by ConnorHallTheMighty

I am so getting asuras wrath now

Posted by mrfluke
@csl316 said:
The more Asura's Wrath awards, the better.
@rmanthorp said:

Asura's Wrath WOOO!!

YESSSSS
Posted by beard_of_zeus

@CatsAkimbo said:

So glad to see Alan Wake's American Nightmare on there -- they use Kasabian to great effect.

Yeah, I actually hadn't thought about that until Ryan brought it up on the podcast. Good pull at the last minute, though. Fits well as a memorable start to each "playthrough".

Posted by beard_of_zeus

I'm really surprised Tokyo Jungle didn't end up in the top 3 for Best Debut, I wish Patrick would have fought a little harder for it, but hey, what can you do. TWD and Mark of the Ninja I'm totally behind, though.

Posted by Lurkero

@PerfidiousSinn said:

I never understood why Giant Bomb hated the main characters of Far Cry 3 so much. Because they're privileged rich kids? What's so terrible about that?

I don't care if anyone is a privileged rich kid, I just care if it gets thrown in my face that they are rich and privileged. The characters in Far Cry 3 came off as jerks to me whether it was on purpose or not. Having fun, living a carefree life, and then gloating about it as if you worked hard to get what you have is an annoying quality (although I am not sure if they worked hard so maybe they aren't privileged).

Posted by Phatmac

PRESS [RT] BURST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by hollitz

Really glad to hear Hush make the top three. I REALLY REALLY loved that sequence. It was so fucking reminiscent of the dirty seventies rock that encapsulated the Vietnam war theme.

That Alan Wake song was really sick too.

I hate MIA, so whatever, just glad to have those other two on the list.

Posted by sub_o

@ConnorHallTheMighty: Remember to get the True Ending DLC. It's probably the best part of the game.

Posted by Razputin

@chilibean_3: are you talking about the song's lyrics and message as being as bad as the characters? Because if yes, than, well, you might want to try and listen to it one more time.

Posted by Razputin

Well, I personally loved the part in Spec Ops in the aquarium with Mogwai's "Glasgow Mega-Snake" playing in the background, but I'm a huge fan of the band so that may have coloured my perspective.

Posted by paulunga

Walking Dead Episode of the Year

Asura's Wrath

Posted by Artso

@PerfidiousSinn said:

I never understood why Giant Bomb hated the main characters of Far Cry 3 so much. Because they're privileged rich kids? What's so terrible about that?

This is a joke right?

Posted by RecSpec

Glad Spec Ops was mentioned. A lot of that music was used very well. My personal favorite was "Dies Irae" when the helicopter was firing at you. 

Posted by Goblin

Considering "Best Use of a Licensed Song", my mind immediately goes to Lollipop Chainsaw:

When Dead or Alive's "You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)" kicks in during the combine sequence, when Skrillex's "Rock ‘N’ Roll (Will Take You To The Mountain)" drop on you during the Pong arcade game, that bizarre moment when you realize Buckner & Garcia's "Pac-Man Fever" is playing on the roof of the arcade (but not in the Pac-Man clone you played earlier) and, of course, the obnoxious loop of The Chordettes' "Lollipop" that is constantly playing in the shop are just a few of the uses that really stood out to me.

Edited by Colourful_Hippie

@Artso said:

@PerfidiousSinn said:

I never understood why Giant Bomb hated the main characters of Far Cry 3 so much. Because they're privileged rich kids? What's so terrible about that?

This is a joke right?

Yeah I think it's safe to say that anyone who doesn't understand (you don't have to share) their hate for that group after reading the last paragraph are either idiots or trolls.

Edited by SexVicar

The M.I.A song really works for that sequence as well if you know the background of that song because as it's about the perception of immigrants in America in American society and the media. Having it re-appropriated as a song a bunch of rich trust fund douchelords would jam out to on their totally sick (and expensive) holiday to an island where people are forced to work on pain of death is some real slick thinking on Ubi Montreal's part.

If only that carried to the rest of the game, as Jeff says.

Posted by KittyVonDoom

TWD's Episode 4 was kind of a messy disaster in-terms of plot holes and logic, and I felt it fumbled with some potentially interesting ideas. Some of the dialogue also felt really off too.

With that said, glad Episode 3 won :D

Posted by smitty86

My Walking Dead Episode ranking goes: 3>2>5>1>4. 1 and 4 are almost interchangeable but I feel that 1 only loses points because it is the start so people you lose you don't really have feelings for yet and lots of it is just the springboard for 2 & 3 to be so great. 4....4 is just a weird episode. People seem to just come and go through it and you never really feel that attached to them unless the story is beating you over the head with their demons or baggage. 4 is treated as a staying pat penultimate episode with one end twist to let you know what level of crazy to expect in the finale.

Posted by KittyVonDoom

Absolutely stunned this didn't get into the nominations for best use of licensed music:

Posted by PerfidiousSinn

@Colourful_Hippie said:

@Artso said:

@PerfidiousSinn said:

I never understood why Giant Bomb hated the main characters of Far Cry 3 so much. Because they're privileged rich kids? What's so terrible about that?

This is a joke right?

Yeah I think it's safe to say that anyone who doesn't understand (you don't have to share) their hate for that group after reading the last paragraph are either idiots or trolls.

It's really easy to "pull the troll card" because someone doesn't agree with you. Unfortunately it never adds anything meaningful to an actual discussion =/

I think a lot of people have a rather irrational hatred of characters on the basis of "they're rich, privileged white kids".

Posted by PerfidiousSinn

@Goblin said:

Considering "Best Use of a Licensed Song", my mind immediately goes to Lollipop Chainsaw:

When Dead or Alive's "You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)" kicks in during the combine sequence, when Skrillex's "Rock ‘N’ Roll (Will Take You To The Mountain)" drop on you during the Pong arcade game, that bizarre moment when you realize Buckner & Garcia's "Pac-Man Fever" is playing on the roof of the arcade (but not in the Pac-Man clone you played earlier) and, of course, the obnoxious loop of The Chordettes' "Lollipop" that is constantly playing in the shop are just a few of the uses that really stood out to me.

Couldn't agree more. Most of the uses of licensed music in Lollipop Chainsaw were spot-on, and the whole soundtrack to that game was one of my favorites of the year.

Edited by SexVicar

@KittyVonDoom said:

Absolutely stunned this didn't get into the nominations for best use of licensed music:

It's a track done specifically for the game by Skrillex so it likely doesn't count (even though it's one of my favourite moments of the year too)

Unquestionably the lead contender for the "Sickest Drop Of The Year" category that I just made up now, however! (I guess we can have Far Cry 3 and Kinect Party as well, obviously. Forza Horizon you can come too.)

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