A revolution in list-making. My top FIVE games of the year. I'm broke, sue me.

So it's that time of year again. Game of the year time, a time of revelry and, let's be honest, airing of many grievances. I have once again been wrapped up in the spirit of the season, but much to my dismay I realized that the only games I had played (and, let's be honest, the only games I could afford to play) were, for lack of a better term, Indie titles, essentially not any self-proclaimed "triple-A" titles (sorry, The Last of Us). Without further ado, let's begin.

5. Don't Starve

Man was this game cool. I'm a sucker for that hand-drawn, 2-D, paper-esque art style that so few games really nail. In addition, few games really inspired the holy shit, if-I-breathe-I'll-lose-focus gameplay that Don't Starve brings to me. One of the most successful mechanics of this game, and the one that I think is extraordinarily important, is the Minecraft-esque day/night cycle. In fact, Klei Entertainment takes some of what I enjoy about Minecraft (exploration, day/night cycles, survival, etc.) and successfully wraps those mechanics in some wonderful art and in the premise of a roguelike. Now, don't take that to mean that Don't Starve is ripping off of Minecraft, which is obviously not the case, but it does take some great survival aspects of the Mojang game and splices it into a roguelike game successfully.

Oh yeah, and fire.

4. Gone Home

Gome Home seems to be the darling of many different Indie game lists and Top 10's, and that's one reason it's up here. In fact, it was partially due to those lists that I even picked up this game in the first place since I am often more wrapped up in gameplay mechanics than in the story. I can't necessarily put my finger on it, but something about this game really nailed it for me and I instantly became engrossed and invested in figuring out what the hell happened to this family.

3. The Stanley Parable

Few times have I really, purely stumbled upon a gem like this more or less on my own. I was, seemingly, lucky to have avoided playing or, for the most part, hearing about the original mod until I picked up the final, polished product. And I couldn't be happier. It's fantastic to see a game like this offering witty (and accurate) commentary on the gaming world, and I found myself smiling and shaking my head in wonder (and laughter) as this well-narrated game walked me through Stanley's mind.

2. Divekick

What can I say, I'm a sucker for the ridiculous, and it's hard to be more ridiculous than Mr. N or Redacted. Iron Galaxy Studios took a conventional fighting game and boiled it down to the most tense and exciting moments: the last ten seconds. The best way to play this game is with friends, and in my experience, many drinks were thrown, cuss words launched, and friendships shattered (not really, but you get my point) over this game. Better yet, Divekick does it all with pretty much the simplest layout possible. Two buttons. Anyone can handle that, right?

1. Rogue Legacy

I love, love roguelike games. And I love Super Meat Boy. So what could more could I ask for? Rogue Legacy offers a set of extraordinarily tight controls, seemingly endless dungeons, and a unique and witty way to illustrate character progression in a roguelike game (or, more accurately, show how many time you actually died, which is often way too many). The freshly rerolled characters offer a plentiful amount of traits, extending from the difficult (like vertigo, in which you play the game upside down) to the ridiculous (Irritable Bowel Syndrome... really). All of this, combined with a unique overarching progression system makes for incredibly fun and tight gameplay, and that makes it my favorite Indie game of this year!

Fashionably late Game of the Year: FTL

After hearing so much about this game from lots of people last year, I finally snagged the game during a Steam sale, and boy was I excited. I'm a sucker for roguelike games, and I've always loved me some space combat, so this game was a natural fit that I should have picked up on last year. I've spent way too many hours giving the middle finger to my computer screen while angrily smashing the "Hangar" button on the menu to restart my voyage. And, to top it all off, the soundtrack is in-freaking-credible.

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My GOTY 2012 List (Xbox 360 edition)

I enjoy all game platforms, but my primary one (by far) is the Xbox 360, and it's the only platform that I feel I am (somewhat) qualified to create a Game of the Year list for, and that's what's down below. I just want to preface this by saying that these are my opinions and based on my personal enjoyment that I get from these games, also, these are only games released on Xbox 360 (and XBLA) in 2012, hence the name. That being said, let's rock.

10. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

When I knew that CS: GO was coming out this year, I pretty much peed my pants. This was one of the first real competitive online shooters I played as a kid, and I loved it, so much so that I think it's the reason why I have such an affinity for first person shooters and competitive online play. I know that few people think that this would deserve a mention on a Game of the Year list, but I have had a ton of fun playing this game. It's probably a ton of nostalgia towards Counter-Strike: Source, but even still, I gave it the last position on the list, not because of some fantastical story telling or player-made choices, but because this game brings out the little kid in me, as strange as that sounds.

9. Mark of the Ninja

So I hadn't planned on picking this game up until hearing my friends rave about it, and seeing it on lots of Game of the Year lists around GiantBomb. Let's just say that I'm very glad that I did. I played through the game in two sittings, and enjoyed every second (except for a few very frustrating gameplay moments). It offers a new, fresh take on stealth, and revived the genre for me a little bit. I wish that I had more time to play through it before making this post, but from what I've played, it's definitely top ten worthy.

8. Dust: An Elysian Tail

This game is unique, and I think that's why I love it so much. The art style isn't what I usually enjoy, but in this case, I'm in love with it. All in all, the game isn't my typical style of game, but I'm glad that I deviated from the path a little bit, because I was pleasantly surprised when I played it. It's also got a great story behind the game! Dean Dodrill had previously thought that the game would take him three or four months, but instead it took him about three years! Sounds a little bit like the story of Miasmata!

7. XCOM: Enemy Unknown

Let me start by saying that the strategy games I play are Starcraft II and Age of Empires, so XCOM: Enemy Unknown came to me as not only a different experience, but a new learning curve. This game struck me as similar to Civilization Revolution, which I had heard many people talk about but I had never actually played. Needless to say, after Brad's consisted persistence on the Bombcast, I picket up XCOM and I was in it immediately.

6. Sleeping Dogs

Oh look, a Grand Theft Auto rip off. At least that's what I had thought before I put this in my 360. Boy was I wrong (again). As many of you know, this game resembles the GTA series, but only by virtue of the fact of it being an open world action-adventure game, though while playing this game, I was reminded of many of the great memories I had while playing Grand Theft Auto. Sleeping Dogs does a great job of making it it's own game, and it's a road that I hope is continued in the future by Square Enix.

5. Borderlands 2

After finishing the first Borderlands game, I was conflicted. On one hand, I really wanted to play the next Borderlands game that second. On the other hand, if I had to hear Claptrap say "Hey, I'm dancin'" one more time, I was going to punch a hole through the wall. Luckily, Borderlands 2 is a great game that makes me remember why I love the looting and the different guns of Borderlands, and I realized immediately why this game was going to land a spot fairly high on my Game of the Year list. I'm a huge fan of the cell shading art style, and I don't think any other game can quite pull it off like Borderlands does.

4. Halo 4

What a game this is. It's a testament to the quality of games that have come out in 2012 that Halo 4 is number four on this list and not higher. Halo 4 is 343 Industries' first full fledged game release, and they really knocked it out of the park, whether it comes to the slick matchmaking that we have all come to know and love from the Halo series, the epic soundtrack which I had to immediately purchase, or the fantastic graphics. I didn't know that the 360 could support a game that looked this good. It's one of the many things that keeps drawing me to play Halo 4. Well, that and the fact that Cortana's a model now. It's a Halo game, folks, but a great one at that.

3. Asura's Wrath

This has to be the uniquest game on this list that I played this year. Take your pick. Is it the crazy anime style, the massive bossfights, or the quick time events that grab your fancy? All of them? Me too. I'm not an anime guy, not by a long shot, but everyone kept saying just how fantastic this game was, and I had to see for myself. It's such a unique experience (especially for me) to be, instead of looking down a sniper scope, mashing the A and B buttons and still be having a blast. I've always seen the quicktime events of games to be kind of a cop-out, but not in Asura's Wrath. Good thing too... that's what the majority of the game is, and the fact that it held my attention should tell you that it's a game that I really enjoyed. My favorite aspect of the game isn't one particular section - it's the fact that Asura's Wrath actually combines tons of genres of games into one great experience.

2. The Walking Dead

I was really debating about whether this game should be on this list, because I almost don't consider this an actual video game. My favorite parts of the game are when you have an important decision to make, and you're running out of time to make it. Oh right, that's the whole game. My controller has never had quite that much sweat on it. The way that The Walking Dead implements player choice is unprecedented, and I think that it has forever influenced the way games will tell stories.

1. Far Cry 3

I know that many people won't consider this to be their number one Game of the Year, but I do, hands down. Where do I even start? When I got thrown in this lush jungle, only to be captured by Vaas, I was in immediately. I'm all about first person shooters, so I was a bit wary of the open-world element. As it turns out, that's the best part of the game! Every time I have an encounter with a stronghold, I want to jump up and tell my friends about it. I can't tell you how crazy fun it was to lure an entire stronghold over to a group of Cassowary's who tore the pirates apart while I sat in a bush, laughing gleefully. Everything in this game grabs my attention and keeps it for hours on end. The shooting feels very good, the crafting keeps me doing many different hunting missions, and the stealth aspect of the game is what makes every encounter with pirates that much more intense. I have to say, the first time that I stalked a group of pirates for a while, I was doing well. "This isn't that hard" is what I thought to myself, only to turn around and have three dogs tear me up. That was the moment I knew that this game was for me, and I haven't stopped playing it since.


Enough with the GOTY and on with the MOTY!

Game of the Year selections are extremely objective and vary from person to person based on different play experiences. People will argue about this and that over the different selections, but ultimately, the selections are over. One reason that people tend to argue with them is that they are completely subjective, and since this is a video game website, many people have played the games that the Bombsquad played and have different opinions. But I ask you this: What was your personal Moment of the Year? Enough with this Game of the Year argument. I'm asking about a personal Moment of the Year in any game you've played.

It can be anything, from going 50-0 on Call of Duty to slaying Deathwing. I'm just interested in your personal gaming highlights of 2011. Let the bragging begin!


Losing touch

This morning, I read the newspaper and found an article that struck me as funny.  Basically, this article was for moms and dads, and it gave suggestions to them about what to do over the summer with their kids. I was going into this expecting things like "go to a water park, make a slip n' slide, and go play baseball". Instead, the first thing I found (and the thing that subsequently made me stop reading the article) was a paragraph on watching movies.  
I was down with this suggestion. I mean, which kid doesn't like watching some flicks over the summer when it's hot outside? I used to do that, and so did many of my friends. But no. When I further read this paragraph, it said something that I knew would never work. The expert they talked to said that parents should watch a movie with their kids (keep in mind that this was specifically a suggestion for teens), but right before the ending scene, they should turn it off and have their kids write what they think is going to happen, and then turn it on again to see how close they were. I was shocked.  
First off, when I was a teenager (I'm not very far removed from 16, either), if I was watching a cool movie and my parents first shut the movie down right before the ending, and then told me to write about it, I would have laughed in their faces. Which kid wants to do that? I don't see the fun in doing that, and I somehow doubt that other teenagers would, either. In this day and age, it's all about technology, and being with friends. Maybe if the parents had them text it to them... 
Anyway, I thought that this was pretty rediculous, and I wanted to get some of your opinions. So, in Jeff's favorite internet journalism term: 


Bang fo' ya buck

I've been an active member of the Xbox Live community for over three years now, and I've really taken a liking to the idea of Xbox Live Arcade games. I've only made a few purchases: Geometry Wars: RE2, Monday Night Combat, Death Spank, Blacklight: Tango Down, Toy Soldiers, Limbo, and a few more. I've recently spent some time considering these games, and I've reached a conclusion
Monday Night Combat is the best $15 I've spent on XBLA. 
Now, some people will contest this decision, but this is based on my personal tastes. I love multiplayer. I find myself drifting towards it, sometimes even before I've touched the singleplayer in the game. I bought Limbo, thinking that it was a solid looking game, and it was. It was a lot of fun, but lack of multiplayer had some adverse effects on my views towards the game. I then purchased Blacklight: Tango Down, after seeing an article on it in GameInformer magazine. I saw that it was, for all intents and purposes, a completely online First Person Shooter. The game was very fun, but lacking slightly graphically. The other problem I had with it was that they tried so hard to make so many gun combinations, the UI is lacking too. It's tough to tell when and what you've unlocked, and even where you can locate it to equip it.  
After playing those games, I purchases Monday Night Combat on it's release date. I was instantly gratified. The game had Team Fortress 2 elements that I so cherished, and it combined unique gameplay with a very cartoony but easy to use UI. It's easy to locate new tags that you've unlocked. The multiplayer community is growing rapidly by the day, and even the Blitz mode grabs my attention. Myself being a big PC user, I played a lot of DotA. The game mixed the TF2 art style with DotA base defense into a game that I would love to play.  
To conclude, yes, Monday Night Combat has my highest Bang Fo' Ya Buck rating to date.


In which I discuss family gatherings and parades

I’m not a big fan of parades.  I don’t care if that statement is completely plausible, ridiculous, unpatriotic, or whatever.  I.  Hate.  Parades.  The whole idea of a parade is completely foreign to me.  Who was the guy that was just stoned enough to say to his buddy, “You know what I like?  Tractors, marching bands, crappy floats, and Santa Claus.  Let’s make them all clog our streets and watch them travel at a snail’s pace through the downtown district.”?  Whoever he is, I hope he died painfully and alone.

The whole point of a parade is for it to get over.  The only reason anybody goes is for candy and, depending on the parade and season, to see Santa Claus.  Here’s an idea:  GO TO THE MALL.  There are candy stores, or at least those quarter candy and gumball machines, and Santa will be there.  And your spoiled, disinterested kid can INTERACT with Santa while he/she cries his/her little eyes out, as opposed to just seeing him cross 14th and Main while he/she cries his/her little eyes out.  Wanna see fancy cars?  Go to an auto dealer or car auction.  Tractors more your thing?  Go to ANY field in the fine state of Iowa.  There is NOTHING in a parade you can’t see at any time that is a convenience to you on any given day.  The only difference is the parade allows all of these boring, mundane things to come together at 2.3 MPH.  And you get to stand on the sidewalk, which you can do ANY DAY YOU WANT, and watch the traffic jam.  99% of the time people hate just standing around doing nothing, or being stuck in stop and go traffic.  But when it comes to Thanksgiving or the 4th of July, you’re suddenly willing to give up 2 and a half hours of your time to watch these exact things.  

The only reason I can think of to justify this utter waste of time is to be with family.  Thats great and I get that.  However, I came to a realization today that takes away this argument.  I was looking at a picture in my house today of me with some of my extended family.  The picture was taken by a professional photographer, and shows the big happy family enjoying each other’s company.  There’s only one problem.

My cousin Jared.

Don’t get me wrong, he’s there and enjoying the presence of his aunts and uncles as much as I am!  30 years from now, our families will look at that picture and smile at the memories we shared.

Or almost shared.  Jared was in Wisconsin.  He was Photoshopped into the portrait.

That kid is a GENIUS.  Instead of sitting around awkwardly with distant family members you don’t remember and listening to them call you the wrong name for the duration of a conversation, he gets to do his thing in another STATE.  No crappy cold cut sandwiches.  No forcing conversation.  No lack of internet.  No waiting for the hell on earth to end.  He is busy living his life.  And duping the future versions of us forever.  People will look at photographs from the family gathering and see how much he’s grown and how happy he is.  He gets the positive association with the family without putting up with all the crap that goes with it.

I propose that we NEVER have another family gathering.  They suck, and anybody under the age of 35 that says they truly enjoy spending time with that one lady that’s related to your aunt’s cousin ramble on and on about her labradoodle “Dutchess” and her nephew’s new data entry job at some factory somewhere making $12,000 a year is a COMPLETE liar.  Instead of hanging around that lingering old people smell for 7 hours followed by the 3 and a half hour drive home, let’s just all submit pictures of ourselves posing in certain angles.  Then pay some photographer to professionally Photoshop them all together.  BETTER YET!  Every family has either a) a tech geek kid in it that already can Photoshop like a beast, or b) some 14 year old girl that sort of knows how to Photoshop, because she makes all of her pictures black and white to be “moody and deep”, and somehow digitally drags her breasts out to make them seem bigger.  Family reunion without spending a dime.  And nobody has the urge to kill themselves after wasting a day of their lives “catching up”.  Win friggin win.    


Famous Friends

After countless minutes spent toiling over the search section of Giant Bomb, I've finally compiled a finished list of hints for the Famous Friends quest set. 
Original Sim- Will is definately not wrong, which makes him ____.

Changing the Game-This man's fabled fame landed him a job at Lionhead Studios.

Brad was freaking out about this man's game in the E3-2010 podcast. He was so excited, he shot himself and had a mortal wound.
Lord, people still can't find this one?

He oversaw development for Microsoft's handheld portable media device.
Jeff gave him a wet nappy in the 6-22-2010 podcast.
Hope this helps some!