As is now a yearly tradition... I have decided to write my GOTY stuff in an actual fashion, and not just list 10 games I liked.
2012’s 2011 Game of the Year - Dungeons of Dredmor
Whilst having actually purchased and attempted to play this game sometime near its release date in 2011, I didn’t really get into it, but then some point in the early months of this year I tried again - I think due to the release of some free DLC - and I really, really enjoyed my time with it. It was essentially my first real foray into Roguelikes, and I think the slight comedy aspects of it complemented the game, and made it easier to get into for someone with no real roguelike experience. I managed to get through the whole 15 levels of dungeons and defeat Dredmor himself, which was pretty great.
Runner-Up: MoW: Assault Squad
Most Realistically Depicted Decapitation of the Year - Chivalry
Chivalry was a game I was totally uninterested in for a while, as it came around just after War of the Roses (which I ended up feeling mostly ‘eh’ about, even though hyping it up to myself for like a year) and from the start it kinda looked like a buggy mess, and even now after playing it, it definitely seems to be a case people just spamming the mouse button hoping for the best, instead of something quite sophisticated like the M&B or WotR system. But even with all that aside, one of the areas Chivalry definitely succeeds in is decapitations. Never has the concept of heads being separated from bodies been so morbidly fun to watch/do; even when it happens to you, you still see from your character’s eyes as you roll away from your body
Runner-Up: Dishonoured and being able to throw said lopped off heads at the enemy
Best New Character - Vaas
Vaas is a great character: he’s crazy, intense, a talented wordsmith, and he gives no fucks. You never know quite what will happen when he’s about, you never quite know what he’s gonna do, and I’m not entirely sure he is ever fully aware of what his next move will be. The incredible performance put into the character by his voice actor and likeness Michael Mando is really what sets Vaas out though. The levels of passion put into every moment is outstanding, and as Ubisoft let him have essentially free-reign over the character, he was really able to carve him into exactly what he was going for. And oh how it worked. It’s a shame he’s not in the game a lot though.
Runner-Up: The drugged up Doctor.
Best PC Only Game/Best Looking game - Wargame: European Escalation
I figure I should combine these two categories, as one kind of leads to the other anyway. Eugen Systems really put a lot of love into this game, it runs really well, it’s near enough bug free - I've yet to encounter any - it’s huge, there are deep mechanics, and it looks outstanding due to the high resolution of all of the textures, and the implementation of DX11. The game really makes work of all the resources a PC will give it, and in a year with numerous ‘shoddy’ ports, it’s a welcome change.
Runner-Up: Crusader Kings 2
Most Disappointing Game - Darkness 2/Spec Ops.
I know having two things ‘winning’ this category is kinda dumb, but hear me out. Darkness 2 is a pretty decent game, but my god, this game was coded terribly. It’s full of bugs, crashes all the time, and is all around pants for a game coming out in 2012. I wanted to play this game, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it. A shame cause I enjoyed the gameplay, and it I enjoyed the art style.
Now Spec Ops, this was a game I bought because of all the hype surrounding it, how it was all emotional and took you through a journey. Now, I will say it first, I really, really do not like cover based third person shooters, they aren't fun, at all. But that’s ok, I saw past that, I saw the past the fact that the game was super easy, even on the hardest difficulty, but the fact that the one reason I bought the game was near to non-existent... I could not see past that. The characters transformed throughout the game, that was pretty cool to watch, but the emotional story? What emotion? The whole plot ‘twist’ at the end could have been done really well, but in this instance it wasn't The one moment I saw mentioned the most - after I played it of course - just seemed to be over the top to make me feel bad, I guess, but the fact that it was inevitable just ruined that. I dunno, maybe I just can’t get attached to bad characters in games, but either way this was a disappointment for me.
Runner-Up: The Walking Dead - bug-ridden mess, and a lacklustre emotional pay-out.
Genre I Found by Accident and Now Love - Grand Strategy
Now I spent countless hours this year playing Grand Strategy games this year, had someone asked me if I expected this to happen last year I would probably have laughed, “Pah, graphs, charts, and spreadsheets, what kind of nerd do you think I am?” Well it turns out I am the kind of nerd who likes graphs, charts, and spreadsheets. I’m still not entirely sure what it is about these games that I enjoy so much, but I can get so engrossed in them, putting many, many hours in Europa Universalis 3, Crusader Kings 2, and Victoria 2 all so far this year. I attempted to put some time into Hearts of Iron 3 as well, but that game is really something, I've not felt quite so overwhelmed by a game since that time I played a weekend of EVE. But I will try, maybe.
Next year seems like another year full of Grand Strategy too, with Europa Universalis 4 and East Vs West coming out and opposite ends of the year.
Bargain of the Year - 1C Mega-Pack
This was a pack I noticed back in April, a pack of ~90 games, almost all unknown to me, for a mere £17.04. Now at the time, this was a pack worth £1000, being offered for about £150, and then further discounted down to £17.04, which is ~20p a game. Even without knowing what 90% of the games were, I knew they were mostly Russian, and as such, could not be passing up this deal. And you know what, 75% of the games were bad, or at least, old, and not good. But the 25% that were good, were good. The Men of War games - more on that below - Cryostasis, Death to Spies, You Are Empty, Pathologic, NecroVisioN, and even King’s Bounty. All of those legit games, some even really damn good. And even the ones that weren't good, some were an experience, some were weird as hell, some were really terrible, and some made me super angry. They spurred me on to write a blog series as well, although I did give up 2/3 of the way through. It was definitely I purchase I am glad I was able to make.
Best Surprise - Men of War Franchise
Now, Men of War was one of the 2 game series I knew of from the above pack before purchasing, and as such one I was looking forward to playing. The whole series - minus Condemned Heroes as it hadn't released at that point - was a part of the pack, so I was able to play through them all and see the progression through the series. Whilst Assault Squad is clearly the best game of the series, the first game remains my favourite due to the mission structure, and the insane shenanigans it allows. Finishing missions with a single unit, scavenging AT cannons and grenades, or fixing up lone tanks and then using them to destroy the remaining enemies, these were some of the greatest and most ridiculous moments I had in videogames all year.
Runner-Up: Far Cry 3 not being terrible.
The Best Use of Press Button To X - Chivalry - Press C to AAARRRRRRRRRRGH
Whilst essentially a useless feature, it’s generally the useless features that are the best. Hitting C to yell screams to elicit terror, courage, honour, and seemingly alcoholism; this was definitely one of my favourite features this year.
Runner-Up: AC3: Press B to pet.
Best Game This Year - Wargame: EE
Now, I already proclaimed a love for the technical aspects of this games up above - the fact that it’s well coded and looks beautiful - now I will explain why I think it was the best game this year. The game has the perfect balance of realism - both historical and mechanical - and fun gameplay that gives everything a real sense of worth, as if your actions actually mean something, and do something; and it leaves you with a brilliant sense of accomplishment.
I am a sucker for lore and factual depth, so the insane levels of realism and historical fact brought in for the vehicles and units was definitely something that I liked, and I have spent a significant amount of time looking through the unit roster.
The campaign has a varied mixture of objectives too; a nice mix between capturing points, liberating towns, defending from attacks, etc, and every mission has multiple secondary objectives, which lead to you collecting more command stars - the currency with which you unlock more vehicles. Now I’m not very good at RTS games, so I haven’t been able to see every single mission in the game, especially as I they recently added 6/7 new missions to the game, but that just means I can keep on playing as time goes on. Or well, ‘til the sequel comes out sometime next year.
Game I Played The Most - EU3
As I said above, the game genre I played the most throughout this entire year was Grand Strategy, and the game that spearheaded that was Europa Universalis 3, which was also my first grand strategy game. Now, when people ask me what the game is like, I never know what to say, and I mumble about stuff and end up saying it’s a bit like Civ, but really, Civ is Draughts to EU’s Chess. It’s the most all-round and least specific of Paradox’s Grand Strategy games, with a focus on general ruling of your country, with in-depth systems governing trade, economy, relations, war etc. You can play in a multitude of ways, become a trade republic and rule with riches, wage war on your neighbours and conquer, or even play diplomatically and ally with powerful nations and reap the benefits.
I played three different campaigns over the past year: first I played as the Habsburg ruled Duchy of Austria, and conquered the surrounding areas forming Austria-Hungary and going on to vassalise Bohemia. The second time I played as Denmark, going on to form Scandinavia, and colonise the entirety of the Northern two thirds of North America, and even take a bit of Northern Germany. Lastly, and also currently, I am trying to take Muscovy on to form the Russian Empire, and I am part of the way there, but Lithuania decided to conquer half of the nomadic tribes to the east, and as such hindered by progress.
It’s so easy to get engrossed in this game, which is how I spent so much of my time this playing it, turn off the in game music, put on some post-metal, and kick-back and conquer.