My Game of the Year Awards: The Winners

Here are the winners of my 2012 Game of the Year Awards

"The Moosey Retro" Award for best Non-2012 Game

Winner: To The Moon

I am a sucker for really heartfelt, emotional story lines and To The Moon fits that perfectly. Although it isn't an actual game, the writing and characters of To The Moon make it well worth experiencing. The plot isn't even that original but I felt so invested in what was happening that even when I saw some of the twists coming, I couldn't help but feel shocked and most of the time, totally heart broken. A lot of games are really poor at talking about love, or making love have real meaning, but To The Moon really gives you, in my opinion, one of the best love stories you can find. It is the only game that has ever made tears come out of my eyes and I am not embarrassed to admit it. To top it off, the game's soundtrack is beautiful, and the comedic moments fit in perfectly with my childhood (animorphs and power rangers references). To The Moon is another example of how good video game stories can be and how I hope for a future where stories like To The Moon can be combined with some great gameplay. If I had played this game last year it definitely would have made my top 10 of 2011.

Runner Up: Amnesia: The Dark Descent

"Time Should Freeze While Gaming" Award for Game I Didn't Get To Play in 2012

Winner: FTL: Faster Than Light

After watching a few videos of FTL it is really hard to understand why everyone loves it so much, but since so many people, including the GB crew, have talked about how great it is, I can't help but want to play it. The more I looked into the game the more excited I became about it and it definitely sounds like it will be a gaming experience I have not had before. I just recently purchased it for $5 during the Steam sale, so I will begin playing it very soon.

Runner Up: Dust: An Elysian Tale

"Parents Think It's Real" Award for Best Looking Game

Winner: Journey

While other games this year were better technically, Journey was by far the best game to look at. The side view sliding part was probably the best looking thing I have ever seen in a game. The game also has a good change in environments and each time it adds something new and breathtaking to look at. In all honesty, half my love of this game comes from just how amazing it looks so much so that I kept replaying parts just to SEE it again. You may not enjoy playing Journey, but I don't think there is any argument that it isn't an amazing looking game.

Runner Up: Far Cry 3

"Details, Details!" Award for Best Art Design

Winner: Dishonored

There is something about the way the city of Dunwall , its characters, and the weapons are designed that just makes me think the world is really unique and interesting. The steampunk-ish vibe works really well and I love how they fit together this kind of crazy new technology within an 1800's style world. Of all the games this year, Dishonored's art really gave the most life to its world and made the city of a place I want to revisit in the future.

Runner Up: Journey

"Prime Real Estate" Award for Best Setting

Winner: American Revolution (Assassin's Creed III)

I have always loved the historical settings of the Assassin's Creed series and the American Revolution is quite awesome. They didn't use it as well as they did with in Assassin's Creed 2, but the frontier was a beautiful place to explore, while the cities of and are both represented fairly well. After spending so much time learning about this period of history in school, it was fun to see a virtual re-creation of it. They did a good job of reminding me of the old museums around where I live which gave me fond memories of my childhood. Lots of games have used sci-fi universes and tropical islands, so the American revolution really stands out.

Runner Up: Rook Island (Far Cry 3)

"Actual Acting" Award for Best Voice Acting Performance

Winner: Michael Mando as Vaas

Michael Mando's performance as Vaas was truly one of the most memorable moments in games this year. A lot of video game characters have generic, flat personalities, and their actors often give a generic performance. Michael mando sounds like he is putting his heart and soul into acting like Vaas every time Vaas speaks in the game and it really brings the character to life. He jumps around from calm quiet talking, to loud yelling and spastic behavior. I believed that he was insane not because the codex in the game said he was or because he was the bad guy, but because Michael Mando made me believe it with an amazing performance.

Runner Up: Nolan North as Captain Martin Walker

"Take A Bow" Award for Best Overall Voice Acting

Winner: The Walking Dead

Of all the games this year, The Walking Dead had by far the most diverse and well acted cast. Every character sounded believable and no one gave a boring performance. While the moment to moment conversations were solid, it was the amazing acting during the moments of intense arguments that really shows the great voice work in The Walking Dead. The acting really brought out the stress, anger, and desperation in the characters and made it even harder for me to make split second decisions. From what I've seen of the TV show, the acting in the game is much better because it is less dramatic and more real.

Runner Up: Mass Effect 3

"The Theme" Award for Best Song

Winner: Nascence (Journey)

Every time I listen to this song it just brings back all my wonderful memories of playing Journey. Although it's a short song it captures the spirit of the entire game and gives you the feeling of a very emotional adventure. In a lot of ways it reminds me of Lord of the Rings music, which I love, but I mostly chose this song because it fits perfectly with the amazing game of Journey (and it's really relaxing to listen to). Here is the song

Runner Up: Hydrogen (Hotline Miami)

"It's Gonna Be Epic!" Award for Best Soundtrack

Winner: Hotline Miami

The music of Hotline Miami fits the game perfectly, fast, crazy, and out of control. I'm not a big fan of electronica-type music (not exactly sure how to classify it) but every track in Hotline Miami practically gets me moving in my chair as I run around bashing fools head's in with a steel pipe. Unfortunately I keep getting the Error where the music in the game will not play and playing Hotline Miami without the music is just wrong. Believe me, I tried it. I just can't be as crazy and reckless without Hydrogen blaring. Here is the entire soundtrack as well

Runner Up: Journey

"Uh Uh Uh Uh" Award for Best Melee Combat

Winner: Sleeping Dogs

Sleeping Dogs is the best Arkham Asylum impersonation so far and although it isn't as fluid or fast as it is in the Arkham games, Sleeping dogs found a way to take that basic formula and make it it's own. The game reacts well to your button presses, it has good timings, and the animations are brutal in the best way possible. The counters look like real martial arts moves, and they are some of the most fun counters in any melee game ever. The real stand out however, is the use of the environment. Nothing is more fun than throwing a guy in a dumpster, or tossing him over a railing, or smashing his face into a fan...

Runner Up: Assassin's Creed III

"Pew Pew Pew Pew" Award for Best Shooting

Winner: Far Cry 3

Far Cry 3 has some of the most diverse shooting in any game I have ever played. From snipers, flamethrowers, grenade launchers, flare guns, to a bow, you can carry around an assortment of weapons that are not often grouped together in games like Far Cry 3. It's really not about the types of weapons themselves though, but more about how you are able to use them. Do you want to put a silencer on your sniper and kill from a distance, get in close with the bow, take down hordes of enemies with a machine gun, or light an entire camp on fire and watch the madness unfold? Far Cry 3 lets the player be creative with their guns which is what made the game so damn fun.

Runner Up: Spec Ops: The Line

"It's 2012 You Can't Join My Game!?" Award for Best Co-op Multiplayer

Winner: Journey

Journey's multiplayer was incredible because it allowed me to interact with people on the internet in a overwhelmingly positive way. By taking away mics and regular gameplay actions, Journey encouraged players to help each other find secrets, use each other to survive harsh conditions, and even wait for each other, hoping that their partner was not lost. During my first playthrough I lost the person I was playing with and my heart was completely broken. I sat at the end of the game and waited for what must have been ten minutes before finally giving up and sadly finishing the game alone. There was nothing this year quite like the chirping sound of another in game player to let you know "Hey don't worry friend, I'm over here!" It really is something special.

Runner Up: Diablo III

"Going Pro" Award for Best Competitive Multiplayer

Winner: Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

I didn't even buy Global Offensive yet because I got so obsessed with it during the Beta I played for way longer than I should have and burnt myself out. I didn't play too much new competitive games this year and from what I have played, CS:GO continues to prove to be the hardest and most competitive shooter out there. Getting a 15 kill streak in Call of Duty is great, but nothing feels better than hitting just one perfect head shot in CS. CS:Go maintains the greatness of CS while giving it a nice and much needed update. If I can ever learn to control my "just one more round" syndrome I will be back to playing this again and loving it.

Runner Up: Natural Selection 2

"Creativity" Award for Most Creative

Winner: Dear Esther

Dear Esther was a really interesting experience because it felt more like a visual novel than any other game I have played before. It's so creative though because the developers did a wonderful job of combining the writing and visuals and in most cases, relying on the visuals (which were stunning) to move the player forward. Also, the story and the writing of Dear Esther is totally unlike anything I have experienced in a game before. It's thoughtful, dense, and is the farthest thing from straight forward that you can get. But the fact that it got me to enjoy such an open ended and mysterious experience without any gameplay mechanics besides "walking" really says something about what video games can do in the future and thaat there is more to games than violence.

Runner Up: Journey

"They Wrote on the Walls in Blood!" Award for Best Use of Gore

Winner: The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead has some of the most shocking "gore" moments in any game I have ever played. When it requires the player to partake, or even be the cause of some of these moments, it really stunned me in a lot of ways. The game becomes extremely brutal a lot of the time, which just added to the tension. Jump scares have their place in movies and games, but The Walking Dead excels at scaring you with the horrible things you have to see happen because they are out of your control. Even when you are in control, you are hardly ever going to get a nice outcome, and with crazy humans and hordes of zombies around, you know plenty of blood will be shed.

Runner Up: Spec Ops The Line

"Vents Are Your Best Friend" Award for Best Stealth

Winner: Dishonored

Although Mark of the Ninja is far superior mechanically, it's the total freedom of the player that makes me love stealthing around in Dishonored. Blink is one of the most fun abilities I have ever used in a game and it solves so many problems I had with stealthing in game like Hitman and Deus Ex. Sure, the first-person view is not the best to see your environment, but Dishonored gives you plenty of tools to sneak around and be an expert assassin. I really enjoyed the ability to instantly teleport into windows or on roof tops to avoid guards. The game allows you to go almost anywhere you can see and how you choose to stealth around is totally up to you.

Runner Up: Mark of the Ninja

"Broken Controller" Award for Hardest Game

Winner: XCOM: Enemy Unknown

XCOM is hard because soldiers can die in one shot, you can miss shots that have high percentages, totally ruining your whole plan of attack, or you can be careless for one turn and get caught in the fire of a sectopod. But what really makes XCOM difficult and fun is the tough choices you constantly have to make. Should I overwatch or should I go for the run and gun? Should I buy more air jets or buy new rifles? Do I want to save Nigeria or Japan? Should I test my best soldier for psi powers and lose them for ten days? The game is constantly filled with ridiculously hard choices and even when it seems like the game is being unfair, its probably your own fault because of some poor choice you made before.

Runner Up: Hotline Miami

"Purposely Blind Yourself" Award for Best Sunlight

Winner: Journey

The sunlight in Journey is the best I have seen in any game before. Although it isn't present throughout the entire game, the moments it is there are absolutely stunning. Seriously, this game is worth playing just to experience the picture on the left.

Runner Up: Far Cry 3

"Cryo Sleep Does Not Work on Robots (Uhehehehehe)" Award for Funniest Game

Winner: Hitman Absolution

I didn't actually play any real comedic games this year, but Hitman Absolution got me to laugh more than once. Some of the costumes you can wear in certain scenarios are really entertaining, but where the game really got me to laugh was when listening to some of the npc conversations. The "bro" talk in the game, whether intentional or not (I hope it's intentional) was down right hilarious and Hitman does one of the best jobs of any game of throwing in well timed comedic relief.

Runner Up: Gotham City Imposters

"Cool Guys Don't Look At Explosions" Award for Best Action

Winner: Far Cry 3

One minute you are shooting a bear with a shotgun, then you are overtaking an outpost by shooting a tiger out of its cage so it starts to maul everyone while you shoot explosive barrels, then you are lighting the jungle on fire with a flame thrower, escaping the flames by jumping off the mountain and flying away with a wing suit, grabbing a jet ski and jumping off a water fall, tossing C4 and blowing up a shark, and then sniping guys in the head from a mile away. And none of this is necessary to beating the game, you do it because it's fun.

Runner Up: Spec Ops: The Line

"The Final Stage" Award for Best Boss Fights

Winner: Asura's Wrath

By far the best part of the game, the boss fights in Asura's Wrath even got me to love it's insanity. I will never forget rapidly smashing buttons while Asura, as the size of a man, punches a finger of a God that is bigger than the entire planet, preventing it from crushing him. It is completely stupid, fun, ridiculous, and awesome all at the same time.

Runner Up: Torchlight 2

"Hit 'M' Once Every 30 Seconds" Award for Best Open World

Winner: Far Cry 3

Rook Island is a blast to explore. There are tons of cool places to see, the environment is beautiful to look at, and you never know what kind of craziness you are going to witness during your explorations. Like two island inhabitants crashing into each other at full speed and blowing their cars up, or a leopard chasing a pig and a human, or a man standing next to an open grave with shovels and blood all around, crying. It's a great sandbox world, and I really appreciate its size. It wasn't so big that the game took 100 hours to complete and felt overwhelming and it wasn't too small that I had seen everything too soon. And there's sharks.

Runner Up: Assassin's Creed III

"The Addiction" Award for Best Gameplay

Winner: XCOM: Enemy Unknown

I love strategy games and XCOM is some of the most strategic turn based play I have ever played. The games constant demand of the player to make tough choices, while managing a base, research, your soldiers and praying to god that your sniper one shots that damn muton before it throws a grenade is so much fun. The hilarious nicknames and the memorial of your fallen soldiers are just little touches to the game that make the core mechanics so great. Like when "Snake Eyes" blasts a Sectopod with a head shot crit and then what's that? Double tap? Another critical shot? Hell yeah "Snake Eyes"! Nothing was more satisfying than blasting aliens in the face.

Runner Up: Dishonored

"Steal the Spotlight" Award for Best Supporting Character

Winner: Clementine

I don't care if some people see her just as a plot device to keep the players morals in check, Clementine is probably one of the best kid characters in video games ever. She is not annoying, and I never felt like getting rid of her. I wanted to protect her and make sure she was safe. The horrors this girl has to go through by the time episode 5 was complete I could not believe. She is a really likable character, who has some great lines that made me laugh, and some other great lines that made me sad. She was one of the main reasons why I found The Walking Dead to be such a good game.

Runner Up: Yasha

"Heroes of Our Time" Award for Best Main Character

Winner: Lee

Lee is a great character because even though the player is in control of most of his actions he still keeps his own personality. He is also a character who is able to do the hard thing when he has to, and is willing to help others instead of hiding. His relationship with Clementine is one of the best in any video game I've seen. You never get the feeling that Lee is a bad guy, just a man forced into bad situations. And just like Clementine I never had any reason to be annoyed by him. Even though I was controlling Lee, I felt like I was making the decisions to help Lee rather than to help myself as the player. The fact that his personality stood out more than my own goals within the game shows what a great character he is.

Runner Up: Captain Martin Walker

"The Power of the Dark Side" Award for Best Villain

Winner: Vaas

Easily the most underused character of all time (in my opinion). Vaas facial expressions, his actions, his lines, the acting of Michael Mando, are all so amazing it is a terrible shame that he appears only in roughly 5-6 scenes in the whole game. I would be totally fine if they announced Far Cry 4 starring Vaas, because I loved his character. As a villain hes pretty damn ruthless and his insanity is believable.

Runner Up: Haytham Kenway

"Bring Your Whole Crew" Award for Best Cast of Characters

Winner: The Walking Dead

With so many new, original, and well developed characters The Walking Dead was an easy choice. The attachment you get to each character is something special and it is amazing how Tell Tale was able to take a 12 hour game and flesh out so many characters. Each one of them brought something new to the story and it was always exciting to meet a new character and see how they would fit in with everyone else.

Runner Up: Asura's Wrath

"It's 2012 WTF!" Award for Biggest Disappointment/Annoyance

Winner: Inferno (Diablo III)

Of all the disappointments this year (there were some big ones) Inferno in Diablo III was the biggest let down for me. I loved my first playthrough of Diablo III. The game feels good to play and the loot was exciting and fun. Then I got to infenro and was ready to grind and have a blast, but then got stuck on Act 2's insane difficulty. And after playing in Infenro for roughly 30 hours I hadn't even got one piece of loot I used on my character, I had to buy everything on the auction house. Then the real money auction house went live and the drop rates stayed terrible. My friends quit playing and sadly I did too. I have played a bit since they fixed it and I think the changes they have made are really good, but damn did they fuck this game up when it came out.

Runner Up: Mass Effect 3's Lack of Meaningful Choices

"The People's Champ" Award for Best Developer

Winner: Runic games

Torhclight II has as much content as Diablo III (and a better end game) and less bugs than most of the big budget releases this year, and yet Runic kept it at a $20 price. That is pretty awesome in my opinion. Torchlight II is a great game with solid design, tons of replay value, offline play, server browsers, no micro transactions, no real money auction house, no crazy save file losses, and is at such an amazingly low price. Props to Runic for sticking to their core and being loyal to their fan base, and for making a really fun game in Torchlight II.

Runner Up: thatgamecompany

"Tears of Joy" Award for Best Story

Winner: Spec Ops: The Line

While the Walking Dead has the best characters and character interaction, the actual plot of Spec Ops: The Line was the most surprising and entertaining for me this year. Nothing that I thought was going to happen, happened and the choices you can make during the ending actual are meaningful and have dramatic changes. At times it did seem like the developers were trying to be a bit too "dark" but everything caught me off guard and I liked the idea that sometimes the player can't always be the hero and make everything come out like a perfect action movie. War is a serious thing, and while Spec Ops is not even close to the best representation of it, I was happy to see it take the horrors of war more seriously.

Runner Up: The Walking Dead

"Standing Ovation" Award for Best Ending

Winner: The Walking Dead

Although I saw the ending coming from a mile away, never did I think it would be as horribly brutal as it was. Tell Tale really deserves serious respect for avoiding the generic happy perfect ending formula. The relationship between Clementine and Lee made for great story telling and the ending summed up everything that was great about the game.

Runner Up: Spec Ops: The Line

"It Came Outta Nowhere" Award for Best Surprise

Winner: Spec Ops: The Line

I never ever expected to play this game or expected it to be any good. Then I started hearing what Jeff was saying about the story and that other people on the internet were really liking it. I saw an Amazon summer sale drop the price to $25 and I am glad I bought it. The story was great, and since I am someone who doesn't ever play military shooters besides an occasional Call of Duty campaign, I thought the gameplay was pretty good. It moved fast and I liked the sandstorm ideas they had. Overall, truly the biggest surprise of the year for me.

Runner Up: The Walking Dead

That's all the awards, thanks for reading! I'll (hopefully) post my top 10 tomorrow.

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Here are the winners of my 2012 Game of the Year Awards

"The Moosey Retro" Award for best Non-2012 Game

Winner: To The Moon

I am a sucker for really heartfelt, emotional story lines and To The Moon fits that perfectly. Although it isn't an actual game, the writing and characters of To The Moon make it well worth experiencing. The plot isn't even that original but I felt so invested in what was happening that even when I saw some of the twists coming, I couldn't help but feel shocked and most of the time, totally heart broken. A lot of games are really poor at talking about love, or making love have real meaning, but To The Moon really gives you, in my opinion, one of the best love stories you can find. It is the only game that has ever made tears come out of my eyes and I am not embarrassed to admit it. To top it off, the game's soundtrack is beautiful, and the comedic moments fit in perfectly with my childhood (animorphs and power rangers references). To The Moon is another example of how good video game stories can be and how I hope for a future where stories like To The Moon can be combined with some great gameplay. If I had played this game last year it definitely would have made my top 10 of 2011.

Runner Up: Amnesia: The Dark Descent

"Time Should Freeze While Gaming" Award for Game I Didn't Get To Play in 2012

Winner: FTL: Faster Than Light

After watching a few videos of FTL it is really hard to understand why everyone loves it so much, but since so many people, including the GB crew, have talked about how great it is, I can't help but want to play it. The more I looked into the game the more excited I became about it and it definitely sounds like it will be a gaming experience I have not had before. I just recently purchased it for $5 during the Steam sale, so I will begin playing it very soon.

Runner Up: Dust: An Elysian Tale

"Parents Think It's Real" Award for Best Looking Game

Winner: Journey

While other games this year were better technically, Journey was by far the best game to look at. The side view sliding part was probably the best looking thing I have ever seen in a game. The game also has a good change in environments and each time it adds something new and breathtaking to look at. In all honesty, half my love of this game comes from just how amazing it looks so much so that I kept replaying parts just to SEE it again. You may not enjoy playing Journey, but I don't think there is any argument that it isn't an amazing looking game.

Runner Up: Far Cry 3

"Details, Details!" Award for Best Art Design

Winner: Dishonored

There is something about the way the city of Dunwall , its characters, and the weapons are designed that just makes me think the world is really unique and interesting. The steampunk-ish vibe works really well and I love how they fit together this kind of crazy new technology within an 1800's style world. Of all the games this year, Dishonored's art really gave the most life to its world and made the city of a place I want to revisit in the future.

Runner Up: Journey

"Prime Real Estate" Award for Best Setting

Winner: American Revolution (Assassin's Creed III)

I have always loved the historical settings of the Assassin's Creed series and the American Revolution is quite awesome. They didn't use it as well as they did with in Assassin's Creed 2, but the frontier was a beautiful place to explore, while the cities of and are both represented fairly well. After spending so much time learning about this period of history in school, it was fun to see a virtual re-creation of it. They did a good job of reminding me of the old museums around where I live which gave me fond memories of my childhood. Lots of games have used sci-fi universes and tropical islands, so the American revolution really stands out.

Runner Up: Rook Island (Far Cry 3)

"Actual Acting" Award for Best Voice Acting Performance

Winner: Michael Mando as Vaas

Michael Mando's performance as Vaas was truly one of the most memorable moments in games this year. A lot of video game characters have generic, flat personalities, and their actors often give a generic performance. Michael mando sounds like he is putting his heart and soul into acting like Vaas every time Vaas speaks in the game and it really brings the character to life. He jumps around from calm quiet talking, to loud yelling and spastic behavior. I believed that he was insane not because the codex in the game said he was or because he was the bad guy, but because Michael Mando made me believe it with an amazing performance.

Runner Up: Nolan North as Captain Martin Walker

"Take A Bow" Award for Best Overall Voice Acting

Winner: The Walking Dead

Of all the games this year, The Walking Dead had by far the most diverse and well acted cast. Every character sounded believable and no one gave a boring performance. While the moment to moment conversations were solid, it was the amazing acting during the moments of intense arguments that really shows the great voice work in The Walking Dead. The acting really brought out the stress, anger, and desperation in the characters and made it even harder for me to make split second decisions. From what I've seen of the TV show, the acting in the game is much better because it is less dramatic and more real.

Runner Up: Mass Effect 3

"The Theme" Award for Best Song

Winner: Nascence (Journey)

Every time I listen to this song it just brings back all my wonderful memories of playing Journey. Although it's a short song it captures the spirit of the entire game and gives you the feeling of a very emotional adventure. In a lot of ways it reminds me of Lord of the Rings music, which I love, but I mostly chose this song because it fits perfectly with the amazing game of Journey (and it's really relaxing to listen to). Here is the song

Runner Up: Hydrogen (Hotline Miami)

"It's Gonna Be Epic!" Award for Best Soundtrack

Winner: Hotline Miami

The music of Hotline Miami fits the game perfectly, fast, crazy, and out of control. I'm not a big fan of electronica-type music (not exactly sure how to classify it) but every track in Hotline Miami practically gets me moving in my chair as I run around bashing fools head's in with a steel pipe. Unfortunately I keep getting the Error where the music in the game will not play and playing Hotline Miami without the music is just wrong. Believe me, I tried it. I just can't be as crazy and reckless without Hydrogen blaring. Here is the entire soundtrack as well

Runner Up: Journey

"Uh Uh Uh Uh" Award for Best Melee Combat

Winner: Sleeping Dogs

Sleeping Dogs is the best Arkham Asylum impersonation so far and although it isn't as fluid or fast as it is in the Arkham games, Sleeping dogs found a way to take that basic formula and make it it's own. The game reacts well to your button presses, it has good timings, and the animations are brutal in the best way possible. The counters look like real martial arts moves, and they are some of the most fun counters in any melee game ever. The real stand out however, is the use of the environment. Nothing is more fun than throwing a guy in a dumpster, or tossing him over a railing, or smashing his face into a fan...

Runner Up: Assassin's Creed III

"Pew Pew Pew Pew" Award for Best Shooting

Winner: Far Cry 3

Far Cry 3 has some of the most diverse shooting in any game I have ever played. From snipers, flamethrowers, grenade launchers, flare guns, to a bow, you can carry around an assortment of weapons that are not often grouped together in games like Far Cry 3. It's really not about the types of weapons themselves though, but more about how you are able to use them. Do you want to put a silencer on your sniper and kill from a distance, get in close with the bow, take down hordes of enemies with a machine gun, or light an entire camp on fire and watch the madness unfold? Far Cry 3 lets the player be creative with their guns which is what made the game so damn fun.

Runner Up: Spec Ops: The Line

"It's 2012 You Can't Join My Game!?" Award for Best Co-op Multiplayer

Winner: Journey

Journey's multiplayer was incredible because it allowed me to interact with people on the internet in a overwhelmingly positive way. By taking away mics and regular gameplay actions, Journey encouraged players to help each other find secrets, use each other to survive harsh conditions, and even wait for each other, hoping that their partner was not lost. During my first playthrough I lost the person I was playing with and my heart was completely broken. I sat at the end of the game and waited for what must have been ten minutes before finally giving up and sadly finishing the game alone. There was nothing this year quite like the chirping sound of another in game player to let you know "Hey don't worry friend, I'm over here!" It really is something special.

Runner Up: Diablo III

"Going Pro" Award for Best Competitive Multiplayer

Winner: Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

I didn't even buy Global Offensive yet because I got so obsessed with it during the Beta I played for way longer than I should have and burnt myself out. I didn't play too much new competitive games this year and from what I have played, CS:GO continues to prove to be the hardest and most competitive shooter out there. Getting a 15 kill streak in Call of Duty is great, but nothing feels better than hitting just one perfect head shot in CS. CS:Go maintains the greatness of CS while giving it a nice and much needed update. If I can ever learn to control my "just one more round" syndrome I will be back to playing this again and loving it.

Runner Up: Natural Selection 2

"Creativity" Award for Most Creative

Winner: Dear Esther

Dear Esther was a really interesting experience because it felt more like a visual novel than any other game I have played before. It's so creative though because the developers did a wonderful job of combining the writing and visuals and in most cases, relying on the visuals (which were stunning) to move the player forward. Also, the story and the writing of Dear Esther is totally unlike anything I have experienced in a game before. It's thoughtful, dense, and is the farthest thing from straight forward that you can get. But the fact that it got me to enjoy such an open ended and mysterious experience without any gameplay mechanics besides "walking" really says something about what video games can do in the future and thaat there is more to games than violence.

Runner Up: Journey

"They Wrote on the Walls in Blood!" Award for Best Use of Gore

Winner: The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead has some of the most shocking "gore" moments in any game I have ever played. When it requires the player to partake, or even be the cause of some of these moments, it really stunned me in a lot of ways. The game becomes extremely brutal a lot of the time, which just added to the tension. Jump scares have their place in movies and games, but The Walking Dead excels at scaring you with the horrible things you have to see happen because they are out of your control. Even when you are in control, you are hardly ever going to get a nice outcome, and with crazy humans and hordes of zombies around, you know plenty of blood will be shed.

Runner Up: Spec Ops The Line

"Vents Are Your Best Friend" Award for Best Stealth

Winner: Dishonored

Although Mark of the Ninja is far superior mechanically, it's the total freedom of the player that makes me love stealthing around in Dishonored. Blink is one of the most fun abilities I have ever used in a game and it solves so many problems I had with stealthing in game like Hitman and Deus Ex. Sure, the first-person view is not the best to see your environment, but Dishonored gives you plenty of tools to sneak around and be an expert assassin. I really enjoyed the ability to instantly teleport into windows or on roof tops to avoid guards. The game allows you to go almost anywhere you can see and how you choose to stealth around is totally up to you.

Runner Up: Mark of the Ninja

"Broken Controller" Award for Hardest Game

Winner: XCOM: Enemy Unknown

XCOM is hard because soldiers can die in one shot, you can miss shots that have high percentages, totally ruining your whole plan of attack, or you can be careless for one turn and get caught in the fire of a sectopod. But what really makes XCOM difficult and fun is the tough choices you constantly have to make. Should I overwatch or should I go for the run and gun? Should I buy more air jets or buy new rifles? Do I want to save Nigeria or Japan? Should I test my best soldier for psi powers and lose them for ten days? The game is constantly filled with ridiculously hard choices and even when it seems like the game is being unfair, its probably your own fault because of some poor choice you made before.

Runner Up: Hotline Miami

"Purposely Blind Yourself" Award for Best Sunlight

Winner: Journey

The sunlight in Journey is the best I have seen in any game before. Although it isn't present throughout the entire game, the moments it is there are absolutely stunning. Seriously, this game is worth playing just to experience the picture on the left.

Runner Up: Far Cry 3

"Cryo Sleep Does Not Work on Robots (Uhehehehehe)" Award for Funniest Game

Winner: Hitman Absolution

I didn't actually play any real comedic games this year, but Hitman Absolution got me to laugh more than once. Some of the costumes you can wear in certain scenarios are really entertaining, but where the game really got me to laugh was when listening to some of the npc conversations. The "bro" talk in the game, whether intentional or not (I hope it's intentional) was down right hilarious and Hitman does one of the best jobs of any game of throwing in well timed comedic relief.

Runner Up: Gotham City Imposters

"Cool Guys Don't Look At Explosions" Award for Best Action

Winner: Far Cry 3

One minute you are shooting a bear with a shotgun, then you are overtaking an outpost by shooting a tiger out of its cage so it starts to maul everyone while you shoot explosive barrels, then you are lighting the jungle on fire with a flame thrower, escaping the flames by jumping off the mountain and flying away with a wing suit, grabbing a jet ski and jumping off a water fall, tossing C4 and blowing up a shark, and then sniping guys in the head from a mile away. And none of this is necessary to beating the game, you do it because it's fun.

Runner Up: Spec Ops: The Line

"The Final Stage" Award for Best Boss Fights

Winner: Asura's Wrath

By far the best part of the game, the boss fights in Asura's Wrath even got me to love it's insanity. I will never forget rapidly smashing buttons while Asura, as the size of a man, punches a finger of a God that is bigger than the entire planet, preventing it from crushing him. It is completely stupid, fun, ridiculous, and awesome all at the same time.

Runner Up: Torchlight 2

"Hit 'M' Once Every 30 Seconds" Award for Best Open World

Winner: Far Cry 3

Rook Island is a blast to explore. There are tons of cool places to see, the environment is beautiful to look at, and you never know what kind of craziness you are going to witness during your explorations. Like two island inhabitants crashing into each other at full speed and blowing their cars up, or a leopard chasing a pig and a human, or a man standing next to an open grave with shovels and blood all around, crying. It's a great sandbox world, and I really appreciate its size. It wasn't so big that the game took 100 hours to complete and felt overwhelming and it wasn't too small that I had seen everything too soon. And there's sharks.

Runner Up: Assassin's Creed III

"The Addiction" Award for Best Gameplay

Winner: XCOM: Enemy Unknown

I love strategy games and XCOM is some of the most strategic turn based play I have ever played. The games constant demand of the player to make tough choices, while managing a base, research, your soldiers and praying to god that your sniper one shots that damn muton before it throws a grenade is so much fun. The hilarious nicknames and the memorial of your fallen soldiers are just little touches to the game that make the core mechanics so great. Like when "Snake Eyes" blasts a Sectopod with a head shot crit and then what's that? Double tap? Another critical shot? Hell yeah "Snake Eyes"! Nothing was more satisfying than blasting aliens in the face.

Runner Up: Dishonored

"Steal the Spotlight" Award for Best Supporting Character

Winner: Clementine

I don't care if some people see her just as a plot device to keep the players morals in check, Clementine is probably one of the best kid characters in video games ever. She is not annoying, and I never felt like getting rid of her. I wanted to protect her and make sure she was safe. The horrors this girl has to go through by the time episode 5 was complete I could not believe. She is a really likable character, who has some great lines that made me laugh, and some other great lines that made me sad. She was one of the main reasons why I found The Walking Dead to be such a good game.

Runner Up: Yasha

"Heroes of Our Time" Award for Best Main Character

Winner: Lee

Lee is a great character because even though the player is in control of most of his actions he still keeps his own personality. He is also a character who is able to do the hard thing when he has to, and is willing to help others instead of hiding. His relationship with Clementine is one of the best in any video game I've seen. You never get the feeling that Lee is a bad guy, just a man forced into bad situations. And just like Clementine I never had any reason to be annoyed by him. Even though I was controlling Lee, I felt like I was making the decisions to help Lee rather than to help myself as the player. The fact that his personality stood out more than my own goals within the game shows what a great character he is.

Runner Up: Captain Martin Walker

"The Power of the Dark Side" Award for Best Villain

Winner: Vaas

Easily the most underused character of all time (in my opinion). Vaas facial expressions, his actions, his lines, the acting of Michael Mando, are all so amazing it is a terrible shame that he appears only in roughly 5-6 scenes in the whole game. I would be totally fine if they announced Far Cry 4 starring Vaas, because I loved his character. As a villain hes pretty damn ruthless and his insanity is believable.

Runner Up: Haytham Kenway

"Bring Your Whole Crew" Award for Best Cast of Characters

Winner: The Walking Dead

With so many new, original, and well developed characters The Walking Dead was an easy choice. The attachment you get to each character is something special and it is amazing how Tell Tale was able to take a 12 hour game and flesh out so many characters. Each one of them brought something new to the story and it was always exciting to meet a new character and see how they would fit in with everyone else.

Runner Up: Asura's Wrath

"It's 2012 WTF!" Award for Biggest Disappointment/Annoyance

Winner: Inferno (Diablo III)

Of all the disappointments this year (there were some big ones) Inferno in Diablo III was the biggest let down for me. I loved my first playthrough of Diablo III. The game feels good to play and the loot was exciting and fun. Then I got to infenro and was ready to grind and have a blast, but then got stuck on Act 2's insane difficulty. And after playing in Infenro for roughly 30 hours I hadn't even got one piece of loot I used on my character, I had to buy everything on the auction house. Then the real money auction house went live and the drop rates stayed terrible. My friends quit playing and sadly I did too. I have played a bit since they fixed it and I think the changes they have made are really good, but damn did they fuck this game up when it came out.

Runner Up: Mass Effect 3's Lack of Meaningful Choices

"The People's Champ" Award for Best Developer

Winner: Runic games

Torhclight II has as much content as Diablo III (and a better end game) and less bugs than most of the big budget releases this year, and yet Runic kept it at a $20 price. That is pretty awesome in my opinion. Torchlight II is a great game with solid design, tons of replay value, offline play, server browsers, no micro transactions, no real money auction house, no crazy save file losses, and is at such an amazingly low price. Props to Runic for sticking to their core and being loyal to their fan base, and for making a really fun game in Torchlight II.

Runner Up: thatgamecompany

"Tears of Joy" Award for Best Story

Winner: Spec Ops: The Line

While the Walking Dead has the best characters and character interaction, the actual plot of Spec Ops: The Line was the most surprising and entertaining for me this year. Nothing that I thought was going to happen, happened and the choices you can make during the ending actual are meaningful and have dramatic changes. At times it did seem like the developers were trying to be a bit too "dark" but everything caught me off guard and I liked the idea that sometimes the player can't always be the hero and make everything come out like a perfect action movie. War is a serious thing, and while Spec Ops is not even close to the best representation of it, I was happy to see it take the horrors of war more seriously.

Runner Up: The Walking Dead

"Standing Ovation" Award for Best Ending

Winner: The Walking Dead

Although I saw the ending coming from a mile away, never did I think it would be as horribly brutal as it was. Tell Tale really deserves serious respect for avoiding the generic happy perfect ending formula. The relationship between Clementine and Lee made for great story telling and the ending summed up everything that was great about the game.

Runner Up: Spec Ops: The Line

"It Came Outta Nowhere" Award for Best Surprise

Winner: Spec Ops: The Line

I never ever expected to play this game or expected it to be any good. Then I started hearing what Jeff was saying about the story and that other people on the internet were really liking it. I saw an Amazon summer sale drop the price to $25 and I am glad I bought it. The story was great, and since I am someone who doesn't ever play military shooters besides an occasional Call of Duty campaign, I thought the gameplay was pretty good. It moved fast and I liked the sandstorm ideas they had. Overall, truly the biggest surprise of the year for me.

Runner Up: The Walking Dead

That's all the awards, thanks for reading! I'll (hopefully) post my top 10 tomorrow.

Posted by MooseyMcMan

I was not very good at correctly guessing your choices.

This is what I get for feeling obligated to guess them after you went through the trouble to get mine.

Argh.

Posted by Hizang

Good names for catagorys, best sunlight is fantastic.

Posted by Demoskinos

That's like a lot of awards.

Edited by pweidman

Great award's list. We see eye to eye on a ton of stuff. And kudos on propping Runic, they so deserve it.

EDIT: Best co-op is easily Borderlands 2 though...simply incredibly fun stuff. Sorry couldn't help it. :P.

Posted by Breadfan

Pew Pew Pew Pew award. Awesome list. To the Moon is fantastic. I feel like a ranting mad man ever time I mention it, but go play it people!

Posted by CJduke

@MooseyMcMan: Well I got half or more of yours wrong. @Hizang: Thanks! @Demoskinos: Yeah I know, MooseyMcMan inspired me. @pweidman: I didn't get to play Borderlands 2 :( @Breadfan: Thanks!