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Edited by pyrodactyl

Shit, that music... I need to play xenoblade now huh?

Also, I agree, go play the witcher 2 RIGHT NOW. It's on sale on steam RIGHT NOW.

Posted by CJduke

I wish I could play Dust, but I assume it is never going to get a PC port :(

Posted by myketuna

Had fun reading this. Looking forward to the GOTY post.

Posted by Bourbon_Warrior

Great read.

Posted by Claude

Ace from top to bottom. Love the Moosies. Thanks for the read and entertainment.

Posted by MooseyMcMan

Yay, awards!

Abraham Lincoln Award for Best Use of Facial Hair.

Winner: Call of Duty: Black Ops II

Black Ops II is a perfect example of how the subtle use of facial hair can improve the overall experience of a video game (or any sort of story, fictional or otherwise). None of the beards in Black Ops II are ridiculous, or over the top. Instead, they're all reasonable, if a bit scruffy at times. But it's the ways in which characters' facial hair changes over time that makes the game's use of facial hair as effective as it is. The overall story of Black Ops II take place over a pretty long period of time, and the state of a character's facial hair in the game is often a physical embodiment of that character's mental well being, or state of mind.

Take the game's villain, Menendez, as an example. The better he's doing, the more well kept and majestic his beard is, but the worse off he is, the more pathetic it looks (and the beard can be pretty pathetic, depending on how the story goes). And that's just one example. For having beards that reflect the inner spirits of characters, Black Ops II easily wins the Best Use of Facial Hair award.

Runners up: Assassin's Creed III, Asura's Wrath

George Washington Award for Best Returning Protagonist.

Winner: Commander "Loco" Shepard

Shepard may have a lot of hammy lines in Mass Effect 3, and Shepard might not be voice actor Mark Meer's finest role (that's Blasto, or maybe the Vorcha), but Shepard really went above and beyond the call this year in Mass Effect 3. Sure, he kinda acts like a creepy stalker guy by overhearing conversations and then traveling halfway across the galaxy to get something for a random person, but conversely, he pulls off a lot of really crazy stuff in Mass Effect 3, especially if you (the player) play your cards right (cough, Quarian/Geth conflict, cough).

But the real reason why Shepard wins the award for Best Returning Protagonist is that his return means more than the return of any other returning protagonist this year. By which I mean all the decisions from Mass Effect 1 and 2. And don't go saying, "Those decisions don't really matter." Yes they do. If Wrex is dead, then Wrex isn't going to show up. I don't care if you still go to the same places and do the same things, if Wrex isn't there, then it's not the same. And for me at least, all this baggage (for better or for worse) makes Shepard the Best Returning Protagonist of 2012.

Runners up: Alex "The Numbers" Mason, Desmond "Nolan North" Miles

Teddy Roosevelt Award for Best New Protagonist.

Winner: Lee "…" Everett

I could say a lot of things about Lee winning this because he's likable, because of his race (given so few leading African Americans in most video games), and numerous other things. But the thing that I liked most about Lee is how no matter what decisions you make in the game, it almost always seems believable. He's the kind of guy who is kind hearted enough to help a young lass through a zombie apocalypse, but also be cold hearted enough to do the truly brutal and awful things that have to be done in order to survive. I won't go into any details, because you either haven't played the game, or you have. If you've played it, you know what I mean, and if you haven't, then I don't want to spoil anything for you, because there are certainly plenty of places online where you can get things about this game spoiled for you. But rest assured that Lee Everett is a fantastically written and voiced character who handily won this award, and will probably go down as one of the best protagonists in video game history. Or at least he's become one of my all time favorites.

Runners up: Dust, Shulk.

Thomas Jefferson Award for Best Returning Supporting Character.

Winner: Garrus "Space Monocle" Vakarian

I think that after three games of constantly having Shepard's back, and just generally being cool Garrus needs to win this award. This award was definitely very Mass Effect 3 heavy in nominees (and for good reason, I think), but even against characters like Wrex and Mordin, I think Garrus takes this. My favorite moment out of any video game this year was in Mass Effect 3 when Shepard and Garrus went out shooting cans on the Citadel. In a lot of ways it's a throwaway moment that doesn't add to the overall story at all, but it's also the culmination of the relationship that's been built between the two over the course of three games. It's a fun bit that shows two buddies taking some time off and enjoying life. And the part when Garrus says, "I'm Garrus Vakarian, and this is my favorite spot on the Citadel" was so perfect that it just sums up not only everything that I like about Garrus as a character, but also Mass Effect in general.

And, if for no other reason, I think Garrus is a really solid character to bring with you in combat, because he's good at range, and that Overload skill is crucial, especially when you play a Soldier class Shepard and are on Insanity (because of Achievements). But discussions of Mass Effect 3 on Insanity are outside the scope of this, so I'll just conclude by saying that Garrus is a rad character, and playing through three games with him was great. Also, he has a space monocle.

Runners up: Mordin "Gilbert and Sullivan" Solus, Urdot "Shepard" Wrex

Mr. Spock Award for Best New Supporting Character.

Winner: Javik "Prothy" The Prothean

Javik is a character where if the writing or the voice acting was just a little off in a few spots, the whole thing could have fallen apart and he would have been forgettable, or even awful. But both of those things hold up, and the end result is a character who is, to be frank, kind of a jerk. But he's the kind of jerk that you can't help but like. Every time he makes fun of one of the other races I couldn't help but smile, and occasionally even laugh out loud. And he doesn't do it because he doesn't know any better, he's purposely making fun of everyone. He takes pleasure in it, even if he never really seems happy on the outside.

Another reason why Javik is such a great character is all the ways in which he fills in holes about the history of the Mass Effect universe. Before Javik, the only direct experience with Protheans in any of the games was talking with Vigil (the AI) in Mass Effect 1. And that part was kept intentionally vague in many ways to keep the mystique about the Protheans alive. And while there is an argument to be made about keeping that mystique, I like that the people at BioWare decided to show us what the Protheans were really like. The fact that they were jerks was only icing on the cake. Yes, it's criminal that they held back the best new character in Mass Effect since Mordin in DLC, but that doesn't change the fact that Javik is a rad character, and one of the best in the series as a whole. And like Garrus, he's pretty all right in combat too.

Runners up: Haytham "I should be the protagonist through the whole game" Kenway, Fidget

Christopher Lee Award for Most Villainous Villain of Villany.

Winner: The Hubris of Man

This was the second image to appear when I searched for "hubris" on Google.

When you get down to it, The Hubris of Man is really the ultimate villain of life itself. Pretty much any bad thing in the history of mankind is caused by someone's hubris. Someone thinking his beliefs were better than others, or that his nation had the right to rule over all other nations. Hubris is at the center of it all, and this year was a shining example of how hubris can be the downfall of a great many people in video games. Almost every major release of the year, from Tokyo Jungle to Asura's Wrath to Dishonored featured the ills of hubris being brought to bear upon someone or something. And while The Hubris of Man is a pretty vague and formless thing in a lot of ways, and my going with it is a bit of a cop out, I feel like it really is the true villain of many of these games.

Take Far Cry 3 as an example. That is not a game about fighting crazy pirates, it's a game about what happens when you and your idiot friends go out partying in a third world country. It's about succumbing to their hubris, which is summed up really well in that intro cutscene with them partying and what not (a scene you may remember as Giant Bomb's best use of a licensed song). It's also the best use of hubris for 2012. But that isn't an award (it will be next year though). And until then, The Hubris of Man remains the greatest villain ever faced by humanity.

Runners up: Raul Menendez, Vaas Montenegro

Nolan North Award for Best Non-Nolan North Voice Actor.

Winner: Adrian Hough as Haytham Kenway

To a certain extent, Haytham Kenway is the most criminally underused character in video games this year. Okay, maybe that award should go to Vaas, but Haytham is a close second. And really, he's a much better and more interesting character than Vaas could ever dream of being (that, however, is an argument for another day). And that's due in no small part to the phenomenal voice acting from actor Adrian Hough, who is not exactly a household name. But not everyone can be Nolan North and be known for voicing numerous well known characters, sometimes you have to settle for voicing one really great character. It's hard to say exactly what it is about Mr. Hough's performance that stood out so much to me, but he definitely delivers each and every line extremely well, and made Haytham into the great character that he is, instead of being another lame character in a game filled with characters that don't live up to their potential. Now if only Ubisoft would give us a prequel just about Haytham...

Runners up: Dave Fennoy as Lee Everett, Michael Mando as Vaas Montenegro

Crash Time Award for Best Overall Voice Acting.

Winner: Dust: An Elysian Tail

Dust doesn't win this award because the voice acting in it is leaps and bounds better than the other games this year, it's because the voice acting in the other games wasn't as consistently good as it is in Dust. Games like Black Ops II and Mass Effect 3 have a lot of great voice acting, but they also have a lot of pretty bad voice acting. Dust, meanwhile, has a solid cast of no-name voice actors, and they all portray their characters excellently. Yeah, some of that could be considered intentionally bad (I'm looking at you, underground hillbilly), but like I said, it's intentional, which makes it great. Of course none of that would be relevant if the main cast wasn't great. Luckily the voice actors behind Dust (Lucien Dodge), Fidget (Kimlinh Tran), and the Blade of Arah (Edward Bosco) all bring their A games, and make up one of the most memorable trios in recent history. Because of them, and all the great voices behind the numerous NPCs, Dust wins the Best Overall Voice Acting award.

Runners up: Call of Duty: Black Ops II, Mass Effect 3

Multimedia Celebrity Poker Award for Best "Celebrity" Cast.

Winner: Mass Effect 3

I'm not going to lie, Keith David and Lance Henriksen are the main reasons why Mass Effect 3 won this award. The other reason is that Michael Keaton replaced Ed Harris as Hudson. But even if Ed Harris had returned, Mass Effect 3 still had a larger list of "celebrities" who (for the most part) did better than the celebrities in Black Ops II. But like I said, Keith David and Lance Henriksen are in the game. And Martin Sheen! I know I should really be writing about the great job done by the myriad of other "celebrity" voice actors in the game, but I think I can rest my argument at those three actors. At least when the competition is Hudson without Ed Harris. Come back to me with parallel universe Black Ops II that has Ed Harris, and this will be a totally different fight.

Runner up: Call of Duty: Black Ops II

Dishonorable mention: Dishonored. No, that isn't a pun based on the name of the game, that's because this game makes really bad use of its "celebrity" cast.

Monty Python Award for Funniest Game.

Winner: Dust: An Elysian Tail

Very early in the game the character Fidget makes a joke/reference to the merchant in Resident Evil 4, and does it in a really funny way. I actually laughed at what was really a kinda silly joke. But right then and there, I knew that Dust was a rad game, and a funny one. And while the story of Dust is ultimately very serious (more on that later), it has plenty of genuinely funny moments peppered throughout the game. Many of them involve Fidget, who is a much better goofy idiot sidekick than a floating ferret thing has any right to be. But like the voice acting as a whole, a lot of the humor comes from the dynamic between the main three characters (okay, mostly Dust and Fidget, because the Blade of Arah is mostly all business, as talking swords often are). Nonetheless, Dust is a very funny game, and by far the funniest game I played all year.

Runners up: Far Cry 3 (mostly random goofy stuff), Xenoblade Chronicles

Bruce Springsteen Award for Best Bosses.*

Winner: Asura's Wrath

Asura's Wrath may not have the best melee combat, but the parts where the you have full control are only a small piece of the boss fights in the game. These are often multi-part fights where one part might be a traditional one on one battle of fisticuffs, the second might be a Panzer Dragoon-esque shooting sequence, and the third would be some sort of Quick Time Event where various acts of insanity occur. But it's the way these parts weave together seamlessly that makes the boss fights work as well as they do. It also helps that the bosses in the game are named characters, and you're given plenty of reason as to why you are fighting them. Not counting the various Gohma bosses, like the giant elephants. But I'll ignore them for now. They're more like mini-bosses anyway, and that's a separate award (that doesn't exist). Regardless, Asura's Wrath has the best boss fights out of all the games I played this year.

Runners up: Darksiders II, Xenoblade Chronicles

*Note, I still do not like the music of "The Boss."

"Push X to Win" Award for Best Quick Time Events.

Winner: Asura's Wrath

BURST!!

The first time I experienced Asura's Wrath, my friend and I were playing the game "Endurance Run Style," which is to say that one of us was playing whilst the other watched. And for the first two thirds of the game, my friend was playing and I was watching (we switched for the last third, and I played the True Ending DLC on my own after replaying the rest of the game). And I was literally yelling "BURST" every time the button prompt appeared on screen when my friend was playing. The Quick Time Events in the game are so well done that they work even if you aren't actively playing the game. But after playing through the whole game on my own, I can say that they are even better when experienced first hand. I was almost worried about breaking the R2 trigger on my controller from slamming it so hard so many times. But maybe that's commentary on the quality of the R2 and L2 on PS3 controllers than anything else.

But back to Asura's Wrath. If you've been keeping up with Giant Bomb's coverage of the game, then you already know about things like filling the screen with button prompts, and the other ingenious ways in which the game uses Quick Time Events. The other aspect I like is how the game rates how successful you are at hitting the Quick Time Events. It's the Synchronic Rate. You know, for how well synchronized you are. Makes perfect sense.

Runners up: The Walking Dead, Far Cry 3

"Never Not Shooting" Award for Best Shooting.

Winner: Call of Duty: Black Ops II

Black Ops II also wins the award for Best Horse Riding. But that's not a real award.

There are a lot of things that factor into what makes the shooting in Black Ops II so good, but what it really comes down to are the core controls and handling of the Call of Duty series. Part of it is the ever smooth frame rate, and part of it is the blend of realism and video game-ness. But like I said, that's all par for the course for Call of Duty games. What makes Black Ops II even better than the rest are the improvements to the variety of the guns, and to the sounds of the guns. Unlike the previous games in the series, that were always "bound" to reality, this one features a fair amount of near future goings on, and as such the people at Treyarch crafted a bunch of fictional guns that have some more variety than the regular old normal real world guns in the game. But the point I'm trying to make is that Black Ops II provides not only the best video game shooting experience of the year, it's also the most varied (at least of the games I played, and I didn't play many shooters).

Runners up: Far Cry 3, Gotham City Impostors

Cardboard Box Award for Best Stealthing.

Winner: Dishonored

While I definitely have a fair number of issues with Dishonored as a whole, its core stealthing mechanics are more than strong enough to make up for the issues with the story and a few other small things. Dishonored has a wide array of weapons, items, and magic skills for sneaking past enemies, or killing them outright (though there aren't enough ways to knock out enemies, I think). Get into a pickle? Just use the Blink power to dash away into safety. Or why not stop time and then stab a guy in the throat? Well, that leaves a body. So just summon some rats to eat the corpse. I never did that, because I found that the ability to auto-disintegrate enemies after killing them to be far more effective. Add in the ability to see through walls and it almost becomes too easy to get past the enemies, especially because like most enemies in stealthy games, they don't have good eyesight (at least on normal). But regardless of the nearsightedness of foes, Dishonored wins the Cardboard Box Award for Best Stealthing with a flair and style that few stealth games have. Also, I didn't play Mark of the Ninja.

Runners up: Far Cry 3, Assassin's Creed III

"Holy Fistfights Batman!" Award for Best Melee Combat.

Winner: Assassin's Creed III

Over the years the combat in the Assassin's Creed games has gotten progressively faster and deeper. Assassin's Creed III is no different, especially with the new focus on tomahawks as a way to make the combat even faster. And while you could get through a lot of the game by just mashing the attack button over and over again, the combat allows for counters, grapples, throws, and probably other things as well. And it's always fun to go into a fight with no weapon equipped, steal an enemy's weapon, and then fell him with his own blade. Actually, much like Dishonored, Assassin's Creed III gets somewhat easy because Connor is so much more powerful and skilled in combat than the countless unnamed foes that he defeats throughout the course of the game. But Assassin's Creed III's combat is still the best and deepest melee combat in any game I played this year.

Runners up: Dust: An Elysian Tail, Darksiders II

Bob Goddard Award for Best RPG-ing.

Winner: Xenoblade Chronicles

Where to even begin when describing Xenoblade's RPG-ing? There's leveling, like any other RPG, and of course leveling leads to becoming more powerful, more health, and more talents (attacks). But in addition to those things, Xenoblade has Skills, which are passive, things like buffs and whatnot. Each character (you can play as any of them in combat, by the way) has several Skill trees. You pick the one you want to level, and that's where the XP goes for unlocking new Skills until you decide to focus on a different Skill tree. But the part where it gets crazy is that there are another set of "trees" where characters can share the Skills of other characters based on having enough Skill Points and fitting the Skills (which all have different shapes) into the right slots on the trees. It's nuts!

And I haven't even mentioned the combat, with all the tons of status ailments, talents, tag team attacks, buffs, debuffs, and the myriad of other things going on whilst in combat. And then there's the gem crafting! Xenoblade Chronicles is a game with very deep mechanics that is also pretty easy to understand, and more importantly fun to play. Thus it easily wins this award, especially in a year where the other nominees just have skill trees.

Runners up: Mass Effect 3, Dust: An Elysian Tail

Michael Bay Award for Most Ridiculous Game.

Winner: Asura's Wrath

You know, I actually tried ginning up some sort of reasoning as to how I could give this award to something like Xenoblade instead of Asura's Wrath which is, as someone pointed out to me, the obvious choice. And while Xenoblade Chronicles is a very ridiculous game in many ways, Asura's Wrath is the most ridiculous game I've ever played, hands down. It's almost TOO ridiculous. It's so ridiculous that it even puts Michael Bay to shame, and Michael Bay is the Shame-Father.

The moment when Asura's Wrath became too ridiculous for even me was in the True Ending DLC, and I suppose this is a very mild spoiler. But the specific moment was when Asura grew to the size of a planet, and began flying through space while destroying dozens of planets and stars. In some ways, it's just more Asura's Wrath, but with big spheres instead of space ships or space fish, but it's so crazy and dumb that it got even me to roll my eyes at the ridiculousness.

Believe me, part of me definitely wanted to give this award to Xenoblade, which is many other years could have easily won this award. And while Xenoblade has some truly ridiculous and insane stuff in it (especially toward the end), it's still not Asura's Wrath ridiculous. But like I said, Asura's Wrath is more ridiculous than Michael Bay, and that is something I never thought was possible. But it is. IT IS.

Runners up: Xenoblade Chronicles, Tokyo Jungle

Machete Award for Best Use of Blood and/or Gore.

Winner: The Walking Dead

It's easy to assume that a game about zombies would have a lot of zombie related dismemberment, but the memorable dismemberment in The Walking Dead pertains to the living. But I don't want to spoil it for anyone, and if you've played it, then you don't need to me summing it up. But I will say that no other game this year made the removal of body parts integral to the experience like The Walking Dead did, and for that, it handily wins this award. That was an unintentional pun. You know, handily. I'll just move on now before this goes too far.

Runners up: Call of Duty: Black Ops II, Far Cry 3

Mister Sparkle Award for Most Japanese Game.

Winner: Tokyo Jungle

Tokyo Jungle wins this award both literally for being set in Japan, and metaphorically for being the most Japanese in terms of design. Every little thing about this game screams of Japan. The level design, the items, the item descriptions, the character models, the choices about what animals to include, the sound effects, the music, the menu layout, the stiff animations when you attack, and the generally clunky feel that the whole game has. No, that may not have been a grammatically correct English sentence, but Tokyo Jungle comes off as the video game equivalent of a grammatically incorrect English sentence. The core of something great is there, but it's also broken in some key ways. And the ways in which Tokyo Jungle is "broken" (and that's a bit much, "flawed" would be better) are very Japanese things. The story mode's awful stealth sequences and poor plot twists feel like they are straight out of bad Japanese game design. The unrelenting difficulty of the non-story mode and crazy high requirements for unlocking high level animals are other examples of the game's bad Japanese design. Or maybe that's just bad design in general, I don't know.

In other words, Tokyo Jungle is an extremely Japanese game. In fact, it's the Most Japanese Game of the year, for better or for worse.

Runners up: Asura's Wrath. Xenoblade Chronicles

"I need a cloth map to figure out where to go." Award for Best World (Open or Otherwise).

Winner: Far Cry 3

As much as I wanted Assassin's Creed III to win this award (for being set in and around New England, a place I know moderately well), it's not actually an open world. And while I have adapted this award over time to be open to games that don't have strictly open worlds, the islands of Far Cry 3 are so expansive and beautiful that I couldn't not give this award to Far Cry 3. And more importantly, Far Cry 3 manages to have a much larger world that Assassin's Creed III, and do it with a much better frame rate. I played both games on PS3, and while ACIII was chugging up a storm, Far Cry 3 ran pretty smoothly for me almost all of the time.

Far Cry 3's world feels more natural and real as well. Both games tried their hand at wildlife, and I think Far Cry 3 came up on top, with a larger variety of wildlife, and more realistic actions for those critters to be taking (predators will sometimes run away from you, instead of always attacking, like in ACIII).

And there are vehicles too. Nothing is quite as fun as careening off a cliff in a tiny car whilst goofy music is playing in the background, only to die in a giant explosion. At least in video game form.

Runners up: Assassin's Creed III, Xenoblade Chronicles

Dark Middle Chapter Award for Darkest Dark Game of Darkness.

Winner: The Walking Dead

It's easy for a game to make you do awful things, or put the character(s) in a horrible situation without it really having much impact on the player. But that's not true darkness, that's fake darkness. Like closing the shades at high noon on a cloudless day. True darkness is at the dead of night with full cloud coverage. And that's what The Walking Dead is, but in the best way possible. But I still refuse to spoil anything about the game, so I'll rest my case there, and say once again that if you have not played this game, you should play it. But man, this game is DARK. They make you do some messed up stuff in this game.

Runners up: Tokyo Jungle, Dishonored

"Split-Screen will never die!" Award for Best Multiplayer.

Winner: Kinect Party

First off, I want to say that I couldn't find any good pictures of this game, so I just went with Tim Schafer. Also, this is the only time that a game that requires Kinect will ever win an award at the Moosies. EVER. But, the time I spent "playing" this "game" at my cousins' house during their "end of the world party" was easily the most fun I had "playing" a game with other people all year. It was the only game that got me not only to jump up and down flailing my arms like an idiot, it also got me to yell, "Now I'm the fairy princess, oh wait-" at one point. Black Ops II may have camouflages for knives, but it doesn't have malevolent Tron toasters, or aliens hidden in sand.

But the true "brilliance" of Kinect Party is the way in which is brings people together like those other games can't. Sure, I can online in Black Ops II and shoot internet people to my heart's content, but I'm not interacting with them like how I do when I "played" Kinect Party. By which I mean "accidentally" hitting people in the head. Really, the only thing holding Kinect Party back is the Kinect itself, but we're all well aware of how not great Kinect is.

Runners up: Call of Duty: Black Ops II, Mass Effect 3

"Mistakes were made." Award for Game I Wish I Played Most.

Winner: Binary Domain

Binary Domain has all the elements of a game that I should have played. It's weird and Japanese (in good ways), it's a third person shooter that isn't terrible, and it has a robot that speaks in English with a French accent. And of course we can't forget Big Bo! But for whatever reason, I just never ended up playing Binary Domain (or buying it, for that matter). But that's what happens when you don't have the money to buy every game that you want to play. I'd like to talk more about Binary Domain, but I never played it, so I can't. BIG BO!

Runners up: Spec Ops: The Line, Sleeping Dogs

"IT'S SO REAL!" Award for Best Graphics Technology.

Winner: Far Cry 3

I have already discussed the vastness of the world in Far Cry 3, so now would be a good time to go into the level of detail in the game. There's a lot of it. The guns all look nice, the faces of the named story characters all look fantastic (side characters, not so much), and it's just a very nice looking game. The fire tech is cool too, but it doesn't spread anywhere near as much as I would like it to. My dreams of lighting entire islands on fire (in a video game, don't be silly) will have to wait until that is modded into the PC version... And I have enough money to afford both a gaming PC and a second copy of Far Cry 3.

Runners up: Call of Duty: Black Ops II, Assassin's Creed III

Leonardo da Vinci Award for Best Artistic Design.

Winner: Dust: An Elysian Tail

Dust is a beautiful looking game, from top to bottom. The care and craft put into every last piece of art in the game is absolutely astounding, especially when you take into account the fact that it was all done by one guy. I know there are plenty of people out there always ready to pounce on the game's art style, and its use of critter-people, but hey, those people are jerks. I, on the other hand, love the art style, and think it's goofy and cheery look is a perfect juxtaposition to the game's story. Speaking of which...

Runners up: Fez, Closure

Bill Shakespeare Award for Best Story.

Winner: Dust: An Elysian Tail

As always, I like to avoid spoilers, but the heck with it; Dust is a game about genocide. And even if the plot ultimately wasn't about so grim a subject, the other side of the story, Dust's quest to learn about his mysterious past, is much better than such a clichéd plot has any right to be. Part of that is the quality of the characters (which I have already discussed), and the other part is the reveal of Dust's origins, and I definitely will NOT spoil that. Go play the game if you want to know. You should play it anyway, it's a fantastic game. It has a talking sword.

Runners up: Call of Duty: Black Ops II, Xenoblade Chronicles

Koji Kondo Award for Best Music.

Winner: Xenoblade Chronicles

When I was first trying to decide the winner for this award, I was having a tough time, as Asura's Wrath also has some pretty rad music in it. But after going back and re-listening to the music from Xenoblade, I was reminded of how amazing and fantastic the game's music is. It's definitely the best soundtrack since Deadly Premonition, and maybe even better. Every last track in the game is expertly crafted, and it has a lot of music, that spans a lot of different genres. There's the orchestral themes that are very well done, then there's the driving beat that plays during some of the more intense cut-scenes. And I'd be crazy not to mention the insane anime-metal-battle-theme that starts to pop up late in the game. Or my favorite of the bunch, the music that plays during most of the boss fights. However crazy the music may get, it's always appropriate, and always goes the extra mile to invoke whatever mood the game is trying to set at any given time. And more than anything else, it's just plain good.

Runners up: Asura's Wrath, Closure

"POW! BAM! BIFF!" Award for Best Sound Effects.

Winner: Call of Duty: Black Ops II

I just wanted to reiterate how good the guns sound in this game. They have a real punch to them in a way that the guns haven't in the previous Call of Duty games. All of the sound effects in the game, from the robots to the tanks sound great, and that's important in a game that has a lot of sound going on at any given time.

Runners up: Far Cry 3, Tokyo Jungle

Antioch Award for Best Weapon.

Winner: The Monado (Xenoblade Chronicles)

The Monado is an amazing weapon. The design is great, in that it looks alien (hence the "Xeno" in the title of the game) in a lot of ways, but also really cool looking. But the Monado really shines in combat, where its large energy beam and ability to do things like let its wielder see into the future combine to make it a killer weapon. So killer that Shulk (its wielder) can't switch to other weapons in the game after he gets it, unlike the other characters. That's right, it's so good that the game makes you use it (unless you go into combat without Shulk, but I think that wouldn't be wise in many encounters).

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention that the Monado is the only weapon (initially) that can hurt the Mechon. What are the Mechon? Robots, basically. I don't have the time or space here to go into more detail than that, because like any good JRPG, there's a lot more to it than that. Just like the Monado.

Runners up: The Blade of Arah (Dust: An Elysian Tail), Crazy Robot Deity Arms (Asura's Wrath)

Electronic Arts and The BioWare Present: The Mass Effect 3 Award for Most Disappointing Ending.

"Winner:" Assassin's Creed III

Assassin's Creed III is pretty special when it comes to games with bad endings in the year of 2012. Why? Because unlike the other nominees, ACIII has not one, but TWO disappointing endings, an astonishing feat for a game with a totally linear story. (Actually, I lied, several other nominees have multiple bad endings, but you only get one when you beat either of them.) But while people are quick to point out the disappointing "All Story" ending to the Desmond story outside of the Animus, we shouldn't forget that Connor's story inside of the Animus is very disappointing as well, right up to its end. I can sort of understand why certain parts of Connor's story are bad (they were too tied to history, and made one of the central villains a real guy), but there's really no excuse for the awful ending to Desmond's story. Coming up with a good ending is tough, believe me, but when you have so many people working on something, and throwing so much money at it, you'd think they'd be able to come up with something better. But maybe that's the problem. Too many cooks in the kitchen, to use an old Earth saying I heard once.

Runners up: Far Cry 3, Dishonored

"The Dream Will Never Die!" Award for Best Game that Should Exist, but Doesn't (Yet).

"Winner:" Two Human

With all of the sad events that took place at Silicon Knights this year, I think it's pretty safe to say that we will never get a sequel to Too Human. And as such, I feel like this award can only go to Two Human this year, because I may have to retire it from the list of nominees next year. And I wanted to be the only person on Giant Bomb to bring up Too Human in a discussion of any game during game of the year season this year. But of course the GB Crew had to beat me to it with CollectSHUN yesterday, but I digress!

But in all seriousness, while Too Human was definitely a very flawed game in a lot of ways, it had just enough good parts to be mostly fun to play. And more importantly, it had enough promise and potential for growth that a sequel could have been something truly special in the right hands. But apparently the right hands that made the stuff Silicon Knights is (er, was) loved for got cut off in some sort of sword fight during the production of Too Human, and those poor hands never grew back.

It's been a good journey. By which I mean the wait for Two Human. But I think it's come to an end, and not the end I wanted it to come to. But alas, such is the way of things. But let us raise one last glass for Too Human, a game that had potential, and a bad camera. Long live Too Human!

Runners up: A new F-Zero game, Bravo Protocol (the sequel to Alpha Protocol)

"NOTHING STOPS THE GAME ROOM QUICK LOOK!" Award for Best Downloadable Only Game.

Winner: Dust: An Elysian Tail

I've said enough good things about Dust for now. You already know that I really liked this game, and I will have more to say in my top ten list in the near future (spoiler, Dust is one of the games in my top ten list). Until then, I move on to the next award, because if you've read this far, you're either as crazy as I am, bored, or hoping this will end soon.

Runners up: Fez, Closure

"The TRAIN needs some renovations" Award for Best Overall DLC.

Winner: Mass Effect 3

Say what you will about making content that should be part of the main game into DLC (I think it should stop too), Mass Effect 3 had a lot of DLC this year, and it was all pretty good. Now, of course the only stuff I really dabbled with was the story stuff, but let's not forget that the game had a TON of multiplayer DLC. There were new maps, new characters, new weapons, and I think even a new set of enemies to fight. But like I said, it was the story stuff that caught my attention. Javik was an integral part of my Mass Effect 3 experience, and he alone would be enough to win this award this year. But let us not forget the ending retcon DLC that turned one of the worst endings ever into an ending that was simply bad. The Leviathan DLC was great as well, even without the ending that goes even further to make the ending of the game itself slightly less bad. Sure, none of this stuff (not counting Javik as a character) was as good as the best DLC for Mass Effect 2, but it was by far the best bunch of DLC for any game I played this year.

Runners up: Asura's Wrath, Darksiders II

"NOTHING STOPS THE NDX!" Award for Best Individual DLC.

Winner: From Ashes (Mass Effect 3)

As you can probably tell by now, I think Javik was pretty rad. I'd say he's right up there with the likes of Garrus, Wrex, and Mordin for my favorite Mass Effect characters. It's absolutely CRIMINAL that this content was DLC, but since it is DLC, it's up for this award. And while I think Leviathan was great, Javik was there from the beginning for me. And he's a rad dude. And a bad dude. He'd be bad enough to rescue Ronnie. But he wouldn't, because he has better things to do. Like scowl and make fun of people. Did you know that Salarians used to eat flies? At least that's what Javik says. Sometimes I think he was making up stuff, but either way, From Ashes is easily the Best Individual DLC I played all year.

Runners up: Leviathan (Mass Effect 3), True Ending (Asura's Wrath)

Mega Man Award for Best Box Art.

Winner: Xenoblade Chronicles

It's simple and lovely looking. But what really wins this award is the true box art hidden within the game (by which I mean the reversible box art, which is the picture I put above). Now that's a lovely piece of art. But I'm no artist, so I don't really have much else to say. But I do like that the reversible box art has the name of the game down the spine, so I can reverse the cover and still keep it with my other games, and be able to tell which one it is. I hate how all other games with reversible box art don't have that, so they nice art stays hidden. So sad!

Runners up: Assassin's Creed III, Fez

"MOST MODERN PUBLISHERS ARE TERRIBLE" Award for Best Instruction Manual.

Winner: Xenoblade Chronicles

Yet another award handily won by Xenoblade! This instruction manual has it all! Full color, lengthy, explains game play mechanics, and it's also in French. Sacré bleu, c'est un bon manuel! Oh, and Spanish too, I guess.

Runners up: Asura's Wrath, Dishonored

"Even the box is nice!" Award for Best Supplemental Materials with the Game.

Winner: The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings: Enhanced Edition (360 Version)

Two reasons why Witcher 2 wins this. The first is that it really does have a lot of stuff with the game. First is the cardboard sleeve that contains not only the game, but a mini-guide book thing that has details about how to complete every quest in the game. I never really looked at it until after I beat the game, because I wanted to keep my experience pure, but it's a neat addition. Then inside the game I was delighted to see a thick manual (black and white, but still detailed) a double sided map, and best of all, a soundtrack CD. The Witcher 2's music is quite fantastic, so I was thrilled to get it.

The other reason why Witcher 2 wins is that I felt compelled to mention The Witcher 2 here. It really is an amazing game that excels at just about everything it does. And the 360 version is great too, despite an abundance of loading screens. But hey, you gotta take the good with the bad.

And that is it for awards this year! I'm sorry if you were expecting another story line like in the Retro Awards, but with no sponsor, I couldn't afford to write one (by which I mean I couldn't think of anything good, so I didn't even try).

What's that, you say? No Game of the Year Award? No top ten list? PATIENCE! That's coming this Monday. I still need to write that stuff.

He still hasn't returned my calls.