By Chaser324 5 Comments
2012's Game of 2011
Solid DLC kept bringing me back to the dragon infested realm of Skyrim this year, and if I let myself, I could easily dump another few hundred hours into playing it. A full year later, this is still an incredible game.
Runner Up: The Witcher 2
I feel bad for ignoring this game prior to its console release, but once I played it, I was really thrilled with the beautiful graphics, varied combat, and the incredible storytelling and world building.
Most Disappointing Game of 2011
Perhaps its biggest mistake was claiming that Most Wanted would be the successor to the classic Burnout Paradise, but Criterion really messed up here. As someone that spent 100+ hours in Paradise City getting 100% in single player and doing barrel rolls and flatspins in multiplayer, I was barely able to motivate myself to work my way to the top of the Most Wanted list. There are a lot things you can point to as reasons why this game is a failure, the baffling design of the single-player and uninteresting city being chief in my mind, but the bottom line is that I just couldn't manage to have any fun.
Runner Up: Street Fighter X Tekken
I actually like the core fighting (though maybe it does end in a draw a bit too often) and the cast of characters quite a bit, but the experience is really diminished by the gem system, DLC debacle, and bumpy online play.
Soundtrack of the Year
A veritable greatest hits of tracks from Persona 3 and 4. This being Giant Bomb, I think those games are already lauded enough that I don't need to say anything else.
Runner Up: Hotline Miami
An expertly crafted collection of tracks that pair perfectly with the 80's acid trip visuals and plot.
Games that Missed the Top 10 but Deserve a Mention
- CoD: Black Ops II - A surprisingly well crafted single-player experience (except for the "Strike Force" missions). Same great multiplayer as always.
- Halo 4 - Congrats to 343 for crafting a game that makes me care about Halo again. I can't wait to see more from them.
- Far Cry 3 - The first Far Cry game that feels to me like more than just a tech demo.
- Borderlands 2 - The humor is very hit or miss, but the co-op is still consistently great and the increased variety of terrain is appreciated.
- Spelunky - Great HD update to an indie classic, and its finally a way for me to give Derek Yu some money for all of the time I spent playing this game for free.
- Max Payne 3 - Rockstar's brand of storytelling is in full effect here and delivers an excellent gritty tale of Max Payne's alcohol and painkiller fueled trip through Brazil.
- NBA 2K13 - MyCareer continues to be the best experience available in sports games.
On its face, this game is an excellent puzzle-platformer with beautiful retro-inspired visuals. However, once you really dig deeper (cue the Inception sound), this is a game unlike any other. I also feel a bit obligated to put this on my list because I fear Phil Fish considers hurting himself every time he sees a 2012 GotY list without Fez on it.
9. Rhythm Heaven Fever
The reason I love Rhythm Heaven Fever is because it's exactly what I've come to expect from the previous two entries in the franchise: simple yet demanding rhythm gameplay with cute visuals and a dash of Japanese weirdness. Thank you Nintendo for keeping it simple and not ruining this with horrible waggle controls.
8. Diablo III
It's more Diablo...so yeah, it's pretty great. The only real surprise here is that it isn't higher on this list.
7. Mass Effect 3
While it might not have closed out Shepard's story in the best way possible, Mass Effect 3 still provided an excellent action-packed romp around the galaxy. The third-person shooter action is the best in the series and made for a surprisingly satisfying multiplayer experience, but it lacks the little intimate character moments that made Mass Effect 2 feel so special.
6. Forza Horizon
Coming out of E3 2012, I thought this game would pale in comparison to Criterion's latest effort, but I couldn't have been more wrong. NFS: Most Wanted turned out to be one of my biggest disappointments of the year, and Forza Horizon delivered an absolutely incredible experience with its drift-tuned Forza driving in a jaw-droppingly beautiful open world. Considering the pedigree of the guys at Playground Games, I'm not sure why I ever doubted them.
I spent more time playing the demo for this game than I did with some games I paid $60 for. I wasn't a huge fan of some of the survival aspects (especially the caves), but the basic feel of tricking and boosting down a mountain is still extremely satisfying. The excellent collection of indie and electronic tracks on the soundtrack were also a real bonus.
4. Sleeping Dogs
A game with a development history as tumultuous as this one had no business being more than mediocre GTA-clone shovelware, but against all odds, Sleeping Dogs is fantastic. A charming lead character, unique setting, and satisfying beat 'em up mechanics earn this game a spot alongside GTA IV and Saints Row 3 as one of the best open world crime games of this console generation.
Similar to The Walking Dead, Journey is a game where you could easily criticize its lack of gameplay, and in the case of Journey specifically, you could even criticize it for the lack of any real exposition. As pretentious as it sounds, Journey is a game that uses the video game medium to communicate tone and emotion in ways that have never really been done before. A truly unique and special experience.
2. XCOM: Enemy Unknown
This is the revival that XCOM has deserved for a long time. Firaxis managed to capture all of the magic of the classic tough-as-nails turn-based gameplay with a whole host of improvements, refinements, and streamlining to make it accessible for a new audience.
1. The Walking Dead
There's really no praise I can heap on this game that dozens upon dozens of video game critics haven't already. This is the game of the year, go ahead and crown them. In terms of actual gameplay, The Walking Dead is little more than a shallow point-and-click adventure with occasional quick time events, but what it lacks in interactivity, it more than makes up for with a great cast of characters and some of the most emotionally affecting storytelling ever seen in a game. The Walking Dead is simply the best experience I've had with a video game this year, and it's a pretty good bet that it will be a touchstone for video game storytelling that critics will refer back to for years to come.