My Favorites from 2014 - oh wait, I didn't really play anything

I normally create a list of my favorite games from the past year around this time of year. However, I didn't really play a whole lot of the games that came out in 2014. Last year was a transitional year for me as I was transferred by my work to Japan to be the director of operations at a small Japanese company. I've really enjoyed the experience, but I'll admit it's been so much work that it's kept me from enjoying some games. So, instead of my regular list, I spent some time the past few weeks to put together this list of my all-time favorites. Please see it in my lists here:

As for games that I did actually have time to play in 2014 that I enjoyed:

- Dark Souls: Yep, I finally got to this one. I absolutely loved it. Nearly every frustrating minute of it. I'm currently trying to get through Dark Souls 2, but just not finding it as enjoyable or as well made.

- Demon's Souls: Yep, that's right, I played both of these for the first time in 2014. I loved this game, but it was overshadowed by its predecessor, Dark Souls.

- Threes!: I haven't had much time this year, but that doesn't mean I didn't play this on my iPhone when I had a minute. My wife really got into this one too. We often compare our scores with each other. She recently passed my long-held record. Too bad.

- Metal Gear Solid 5: Ground Zeroes: I've always been a MGS fan, but I'll admit I get annoyed by the strange story lines. When I heard that this one had some controversial subject matter that was, once again, mishandled, I was worried. However, once I got the game, I never even came across those items and the ending didn't seem controversial at all. A little rough, but not controversial. I do realize that if I had dug deep enough to find the controversial stuff it would probably had been off-putting, but I ignorantly enjoyed the game and didn't worry about the other stuff. The throwback to MGS1 was welcome and I loved the new control scheme. Makes me look forward to Phantom Pain and what other stupid things Kojima can throw at me.

- Rogue Legacy: Another game that didn't come out in 2014, but that's when I got around to playing it. It took me a long time to get through this game, but it provided just the right amount of game play for my busy schedule. I would turn this thing on occasionally in the evening, after a long, stress-filled day, and just enjoy killing some ghosts and knights for about an hour at tops. I did finally beat the game and really enjoy it.

I'm sure there were other games that I played in 2014, but I just can't recall. 2015 is shaping up to be a year that I can actually get some gaming in, so I hope I have a better list next year.

Thanks for reading!

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2013 GOTY list. All seven of them.

Ah, my personal game of the year choices. As usual, work and home life take up the majority of my time, and so it is only when I get to cut into my sleep that I can enjoy some video games. However, I did get to some good ones this year. Here is my top seven:

7. Year Walk

Moody atmosphere. Legitimate jump scares on iOS. Very creative companion app that was actually fun to read and was well incorporated into the late game. I really liked this one, and I don’t particularly like scary games.

6. Brothers

I didn’t think it was the super emotionally resonant app that Brad was making it out to be, but I did enjoy it. Journey affected me more last year, but this was a nice game.

5. Nimble Quest

Wait! A mind-numbingly simple iOS game like Nimble Quest is higher than the sacred Brothers on my top seven list? Yep, it is. This is a simple game and doesn’t take too much concentration to play it, and that is why I like it. It is the best game to zone out playing while I listen to the Bombcast (and other podcasts).

4. Beyond: Two Souls

I never played Heavy Rain. I really can’t remember why I bought this. It didn’t really pull me in at first. But, I’ll be damned to hell forever, eating nothing but worms if I wasn’t telling the truth about that homeless sequence being one of the best story sequences in a videogame that I’ve ever played. I’ve never been put in a situation like this in a game before, and I’ve never had a single situation in a game affect me like this one did. There were other good moments in the game too, but each one seemed to fall apart in the middle somewhere. The Navajo Ghost section started with a lot of potential, but went stupid at some point, And the expedition to the Korean military base started well, and had its moments, but ultimately caved in because of the gameplay. But damn, that homeless sequence was nearly perfect and resignated with me even after I played it a second time with different results.

3. Borderlands 2

Yeah, it’s from 2012, but it’s still my favorite game this year to play with friends. The DLC this year had its ups and downs, but ultimately it’s about the company you keep and I like playing this game with friends.

2. Bioshock Infinite

The big daddy that every fan of Bioshock was waiting on - for the record, I wasn’t a big fan of Bioshock. But, I fell into all the hype for this game and just had to play it when it came out. I didn’t regret it. Everything that I didn’t like about Bioshock was fixed in this game, or at least changed enough that I liked it more here. And the story is one of the best I’ve seen in a game. I don’t agree that the story falls apart in the end. It did require me to stop and think about it for a while, but I got all the loose ends worked out in my head. That is what I liked most about it; it made me keep thinking about it for hours, days, even weeks after I finished it. Only a well composed masterpiece can do that. I thought the combat was fun too.

1. The Last of Us

Now we are talking about the best story in gaming history (my own opinion). What a great accomplishment. In taking elements from Cormac McCarthy’s The Road and adding in a slightly-more-believable zombie story than your typical zombie hash, the writers were able to create a post-apocalyptic world that I actually believed (as much as you can believe a world with zombies). But, it was the way they used the camera in scenes (see my 2013 Retrospective blog for more details), the natural dialogue the characters used, and the use of hard cuts that really reflected the story the writers wanted to tell. I need more games like this that have storytelling that might rival most modern movies.

Also, I thought the combat was entertaining. I only found it frustrating when they threw a lot of zombies at you at one (see the warehouse in the Winter sequence). I found it very enjoyable to throw a broken bottle to attract the enemies, then hit the group with a molotov cocktail and watch them burn. Strangely satisfying.

Now for the The Game I Played the Most, But Didn’t Make the List Because I’m Not Sure if I Hate it or Love it award:

Battlefield 3

I started playing B3 in November this year for the first time. It quickly became the only thing that I played. I loved it…. And, it made me angrier than any other game has ever.

What I loved: I was so pulled in by it that it was nearly the only thing that I played for the last two months of this year. I’ve found very few things more satisfying than getting a knife kill on a veteran player with a kill streak. However, that feeling may be matched by the feeling of pure joy I get when I kill someone that is trying to get me, five times in a row!!!

What made me hate it: Well, I’m just not the best at it, and when I find myself pitted against a group of players that play the game better than me, the frustration mounts to a level that makes my wife ask me to shut the game off before I have a heart attack. I’m not usually like this; I’m normally calm and joking when I play a game. But, B3 gets the best of me sometimes and I find myself throwing tantrums like I haven’t since I was in diapers.

Oh, but I love this game!!!

No, but it made me so angry that I had to ban myself from it for the past week…. What has it done to me?

Games I missed that I wanted to play:

Tomb Raider

Dark Souls

Super Mario 3D World (don’t have a Wii U and don’t plan to get one)

Zelda: A Link Between Worlds (don’t have a 3DS and may get one)

Fire Emblem: Awakening (don’t have a 3DS and may get one)

Most anticipated for 2014:

Not a game, but I’m looking forward to picking up my PS4 in 2014. Now for the games:

1. Fallout 4

Oh Lord, just give me my Fallout in 2014!!!! I will have a PS4 by then and I want it!!! Enough said.

2. Destiny

I’m looking forward to playing with with friends just like we did with Borderlands 2. This looks like a prettier, more robust, Borderlands with a cool artstyle. As long as it delivers on what it has promised, this could be on my GOTY list for some time to come (fingers crossed).

3. Metal Gear Solid 5

This may not come out in 2014, and that is okay; I want it to be perfect. That still doesn’t change the fact that I really want to play this thing.

4. Pixel Junk Monsters 2

I put this game on my list each year in hopes that it will come true. Oh Pixel Junk, please stop making those stupid rhythm games - or whatever it is that you’ve been making instead of Monsters 2 for the past few years! I want my Monsters 2!!!

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2013 Retrospective

2013 Retrospective:

The release of new consoles. The release of end-of-the-generation games that proved further that gaming has as much storytelling potential as most modern movies. And, further proof that farming out development and rushed releases from large publishers, to meet prime marketing zones, opens the door to potential release issues and failures - look at EA; this speaks for itself.

I don’t have too much opinion on the new consoles yet. I don’t have either and it is still too early to make a judgement call. What I would rather do is discuss the close of the last generation. The long lasting 360/PS3 generation is coming to a close and I’d like to look at one advancement that this generation improved a lot.


One thing that I’ve always wanted in video games was for the storytelling to finally reach the same level as film. I love film and I love the amazing dialogue and storytelling that it can offer. However, it seemed that I either had to lower my standards or turn off my snobbiness in order to enjoy the banter and character arches in video game storytelling. In my opinion this is changing, and it took a large leap forward this generation.

Of course the origin of gaming was not founded in storytelling like film was. Storytelling in games came later in the formation of the media. When it did poke its ugly head out in early video gaming it was often clunky and/or incomprehensible. Clunky because it wasn’t a writer that was writing the dialogue and story, and incomprehensible because most of it was an abysmal translation of Japanese.

Many early video games skipped dialogue in favor of non-verbal communication of their story. The best example of this was Super Metroid. Aside from a quick intro, the remainder of the story was told though actions and sound effects. Although the story was not complicated at all, it was still impressive and emotionally impactful.

Once video games reached a point where they could more easily communicate a story, and comparisons to film became more common, I still always felt that the storytelling was still only as good as a middle-tier movie. In the past decade, video games have introduced some great premisses and even tried to tackle important, and insightful subject matter. Often falling short, video games needed a game to come along and tell a better than middle-tier movie story, have dialogue that even Quentin Tarantino could respect, and deliver on the gameplay and presentation (art style, cinematography, etc). In my opinion, there were a few games this generation that did just that. Some of these are Gone Home, The Last of Us, Bioshock Infinite, and others. The most striking to me was The Last of Us.

The Last of Us provided not only spot-on dialogue, but it also had an out-of-the-ordinary character arch (for video games) for its protagonists that left the audience (me) contemplating the story when the game was finished. I didn’t feel that it was weak at any point in the game either.

And for that final ingredient (good presentation), The Last of Us did deliver. The graphics were very impressive and showed that there still is little aesthetic purpose to move to the next generation consoles. Also, there were several cinematography and “filmish” situations that the game presents to you that were very impressive. One of these came during the Colorado State campus sequence and is a scene that could possibly only work in a video game because it relied on the manipulation of a gameplay element that you had grown accustom to up to that point.

Throughout the game, you have to lift Ellie up on to ledges. Each time this happens the same sequence of button presses and animation is used. The player grows used to pressing the correct button when prompted and seeing the same canned animation each time this happens. While the characters are making their way through the Colorado State campus, Ellie and Joel are having an argument about something terrible that had just happened. Joel makes a comment to Ellie to let it go. The next step in the game is to climb over a wall and requires the player to trigger one of these ledge-climbing sequences. The player is presented with the same button prompt, and the camera swings down to a eye-level angle pointed towards Joel as he takes his position to hoist Ellie up to the ledge. Normally Ellie comes into the scene from off-camera, but this time she does not. Joel begins the sequence looking down at his hands waiting for Ellie’s foot to step there. When she doesn’t, a new animation, different from what the player is expecting to see, begins and Joel slowly looks up and looks off-camera where it is assumed Ellie is standing. The camera lingers on Joel’s expression and frozen position just long enough that I understood that something was seriously wrong and this wasn’t your usual scene change.

The developers (Naughty Dog) did an amazing thing here to play with our expectation of a gameplay element to communicate an important turning point in the storytelling. Most people rightfully point out the more impactful moments in the game/storytelling like the intro, the Giraffe scene, and the last dialogue between Joel and Ellie. I agree that these are important and impactful, but I think that the sequence that I describe above is important because it could probably only be done in a video game. It is important to distinguish this discovery in storytelling methods that may be unique to video games.

I am anxious to see what other storytelling advances the industry makes in the coming generation, but I feel that we have seen some very good strides in the current.

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Ni no Kuni Should Have Been For Me...

I haven’t played a JRPG for some time, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t want to. I skipped FFXIII because it just didn’t look like the type of game that I wanted to play at the time. Then, after hearing all the bad about it, I decided to not give it a try. I still haven’t played it and have no plans. So, what happened to my once strong love of JRPGs? I just don’t think most of them live up to the higher standards that modern games achieve now.

Now we have Ni no Kuni. Produced by Level 5 in collaboration with Ghibili Studios. From what I’ve heard this seems to be a good marriage of the two. I love Ghibili Studio films, even though I don’t particularly like anime. Ghibili studio films just seem to add the depth, heart, mystery, and fantasy that Pixar has to traditional animated films - something Disney films never had was the originality in their fantasy and storytelling that Ghibili Studios and Pixar found (in different ways of course, but still they set themselves above Disney in this way).

A Ghibili Studio co-produced game excited me a lot. I almost ran right out to buy it, but instead waited to see the review and the quick look instead. Initial reviews are favorable and the quick look showed a game that I could probably get into.

HOWEVER, I don’t think I can play the game. And, for a very strange reason. During the quick look, at the part where the the little stuffed animal comes to life, I couldn’t get over the damn lantern pierced to its nose... You know that feeling you get when something is floating near your eyes or just in front of your nose? I started to get that uncomfortable sensation, and it wouldn’t go away. No, it actually kept growing stronger as the scene unfolded. It got to the point that I started getting nauseated and kept yelling out, get that thing off your damn face!!!

I tried watching it again a little later, but with the same result. I don’t think I can do it. I don’t think I will be able to play this game. I’m disappointed that I physically won’t be able to play a game that I’ve been looking forward to for such a strange reason. I don’t fault the artists; it seems like a simple enough anime troupe to put a strange piercing in a strange place, but it just ruined the game for me... Oh well, I’ll have to find something else to play until the big games start to come out in March. I still haven’t played Giant Bomb’s game of the year, XCOM yet, maybe I’ll play that instead. Any aliens with strange, overly-large nose piercings in XCOM?


Looking Forward to 2013

So, I started making a list of the games that I’m looking forward to in 2013. However, I began to realize that, unlike 2012, there aren’t a lot of upcoming games I feel really passionate about right now. This is partially due to the release of the new consoles, but also because most of the major releases are sequels to franchises that I didn’t get into like others may have. For now here are a few games that I’m looking forward to:

- Tomb Raider - I loved the original and Anniversary. Could this be a beneficial re-imagining for Lara? I hope so.

- Bioshock Infinite - I’ll admit, I wasn’t the biggest fan of the first Bioshock, but this game still looks like it has potential.

- Watch Dogs - I loved the Assassin’s Creed series. This game looks like that, but placed in a near-future setting. Looking forward to this one.

- Metal Gear Solid 5 - Yeah, I love the MGS series. I played MGS4 this year for the first time and really liked it. It will be interesting to see what happens next.

- Pixeljunk Monsters 2 - Wishful thinking here, but I really loved the first one. It’s the best game to play while listening to a podcast. Please make another one!

Well, that’s about it. So, with few games to look forward to in the next few months, I’ve come up with a plan. Since I didn’t get a few games in this year that I wanted to, and it looks like the DLC for Mass Effect 3 may have improved things from the janky, incomplete version released last March, I think this is what I’m going to do:

1. Finish Sleeping Dogs. I’m currently playing this and enjoying it for the most part.

2. Play Halo 4 and get a review up.

3. Start Mass Effect 3 again from the beginning (my save was erased just before the ending). I know it was cheap and sleazy that BioWare (EA?) didn’t include the entire game with the retail version, but I went ahead and paid for the DLC that any honest company would have included in the retail version. Given, I bought these with the PSN money that I got back because I purchased Most Wanted and AC3 from PSN. So, I don’t feel too bad about paying “nothing” to complete an unfinished game. It may be the last time BioWare gets any money from me though. Anyway, I plan to play through Mass Effect again and see how I like it now (I gave it my “Disappointment of the Year” award for 2012).

Because of these three prospects, I’m actually very excited for Q1 2013. Then when the big titles start to roll out in late Q1 and Q2, I’ll be somewhat caught up!


My Personal Game of the Year Awards for 2012

I have to admit, I like doing these "best of the year" lists. It feels like I get to give out awards that matter. I really didn't play a ton of games this year (nightmare year from hell at work that made me work a lot of late nights). But, I've had time lately to fit in some games. For this reason, my list will only be five instead of the usual 10. I will follow this up with a few honorable mentions (games I liked, but just couldn’t fill out a list of 10), and games that I missed and I really want to play (badly!). Lastly, how about we hit the disappointment of the year award.

My favorite games of the year:

Number 5: Dust: An Elysian Tail

Cartoonish characters? Check. Immature, anime humor? Double check. Short, ten hour length? Checkers. All the things that normally keep me from liking a game? Yes, many accounted for! So, why the hell did I like this game??? And, why the hell is it number 5 on my list instead of Mass Effect 3? Have you played this game? It is fucking awesome! Yeah, it's a little short, but the fact that I felt it was too short is only a testament to how much I wanted more by the end. Even the anime-like humor was mostly bearable and entertaining - I’m embarrassed to admit that I found myself chuckling from time to time. The story was unique, and although I'll admit the cartoonish look to the characters distracted slightly from the plot, I still enjoyed it a lot. Give it a chance.

Number 4: Assassin's Creed 3

I love this series. I disagree with most out there; I thought the game started out strong. I loved the Hatham character too. The new, main character, Connor, was a great addition, Hatham could have been a better main if they had pursued it. I loved the setting, the art, the characters, and the blunt honesty of the interactions with famous American's that I've always felt were untouchable by video games. Unfortunately, signs that the game was farmed out to several smaller studios within Ubisoft became much too evident throughout the game and caused the pacing to go to hell. Also, the controls were often unresponsive and jank was rampant throughout. The ending came too quickly and too much focus was given to the ass-terrible Desmond story (Ubisoft, I beg you, please kill Desmond so we can just focus on the historical characters!!!!! please!). Even with these big downfalls, the game is still one of the best of the year and a joy to play.

Number 3: The Walking Dead

Check out my review on this game. It made me cry... Do I need any other reasons for it to make my list? Okay, the art is great, the writing is better than most TV shows and movies, the characters are endearing, the voice acting was perfect, the choices and situations kept me on the edge of my seat, etc. The only thing that I can think of to say against it is that it kept throwing those darn item-grab sections that slowed down the pace of the game a bit (VERY small gripe).

Number 2: Borderlands 2

I loved the humor. I loved the endless guns to collect. I loved the long length of the campaign. But, most of all, I loved the co-op! I would sometimes stalk my friends on PSN and wait until they logged in so I could invite them to my game. Many nights were well wasted trying to finish all the rounds in the arenas. Also, the new game plus version is great too. All I want to do right now is get my friends online and play some Borderlands 2 co-op. Gearbox, please raise the level cap!!!!

Number 1: Journey

Yep, I thought I'd join the VGA bandwagon and give my Game of the Year award to a Downloadable game. Truthfully, that isn't the case though. I knew Journey was going to be a game that I would like well before it came out. However, when I finally did play it, it was better than I imagined. I loved the vast, desolate expanses. I loved the artwork. The music haunted me. The steady progression and simple, yet fun, puzzles kept me entertained. But, in the end, it was the original take on online play that surprised me. The lack of voice chat (or any chat at all other than a single chirping sound) made the occasional companion that joined you a welcome comrade. I had several emotionally impacting experiences with other players. It was raw and I loved it. I even drew a heart in the sand with my footsteps at the end without know if the person I was playing with was a guy or a gal - this single gaming experience helped break down the years of subjective prejudice that’s been instilled in me. It felt great. Although the online anonymity was part of this, I think it was more a kinship that I felt with my comrade that followed me through the virtual trials that make Journey so great. What a beautifully polished, transcendent game.

Honorable Mentions:

- Need for Speed: Most Wanted. Not Paradise City 2, but still a great game to play when you want to listen to a podcast. Not Paradise City 2.....

- Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy. I played this on the iOS. It is a freaking micro-transaction money-grab from hell... I can't stop playing this game... Please help me because I am now part of the problem... Please help!

Games I missed (lack of money and time) that I wished I would have gotten to:

- Halo 4 - Got just got this as a gift for Christmas. Will follow up later with a review.

- XCOM: Enemy Unknown

- Dishonored

- Farcry 3

And, now for the award you've all been waiting for (drum-roll): The Disappointment of the Year Award

This has to go to Mass Effect 3. Not because it was a bad game. And not because of the ending - I never finished it because my save file was erased just before the ending. It was disappointing because it had, "released too early" and "not made by the same team that made 1 and 2" written all over it. Oh, how I just wanted a continuation of Mass Effect 2 (without the Terminator), but, instead I got a 3/4 finished game full of jank and bugs all over. Most of the best parts were kept from the game for pre-orders and DLC (purely, sleazily, dishonest if you ask me). I still enjoyed the parts that were finished, but I just couldn't bring myself to suffering through that game again after my first save was erased. I can go to my grave without knowing the ending to the Mass Effect series I guess.

So I don't end on a negative note, please play the games in my top 5; they are worth it! Here's to a safe and wonderful 2013 for you all.


Borderlands 2 DLC in January!

So, the news just came out this week that the next Borderlands 2 DLC will be coming out soon and that it would be following the Sir Hammerlock theme. Well, today, we just found out more about the DLC. Here's my thoughts on it.

The title of the DLC is "Sir Hammerlock's Big Game Hunt". When I first heard that it would be centered around Hammerlock, I was very disappointed. I thought that the Sir Hammerlock side missions in the main campaign were boring and felt more like fetch quests than hunts. However, after delving into today’s news a little more, it seems that this DLC will be a little more than that.

But, before I get started talking about what I'm excited about, how about we just get the negative out of the way first. The biggest bit of disappointing news is that the level cap will not be raised.... My character is now at level 50, and once I lost that ability to gain levels, I got very bored of that character. I really want to play through that DLC with this character, but because I won't gain any levels, I guess I'll be using my other character who is at level 34 now. This might be a better fit anyway because of the next bit of news that came straight from the developer's mouth.

They suggest that those that begin the DLC be at at least level 30. The reason being that the enemies in the new areas begin at level 30 and are designed to be more difficult than the enemies in the main campaign. The new enemies have shields, healing abilities, and other added mechanics to increase the difficulty of even the most common encounters. So, get ready to massage that gray matter.

Some of the hunts you will go on will snag you some special Sir Hammelock themed gear. Thankfully, the hunts won't just be simple fetch quests like in the main campaign. Now, when you arrive at a hunt location, you may need to meet certain requirements to meet the creature you are hunting. Some examples that have been given so far are arriving at the area at night, or having the scent of blood in the air. Not sure what that last one means, but it will be fun to find out.

The developers have said that there will be 8-10 new types of enemies - not sure why such an arbitrary number, but that seems like a good amount. Some popular enemies are returning from the first game, including the drifters (think tall spider-like creatures reminiscent of Half-life 2).

Last, but not least, the DLC takes place on a new continent. The aesthetic is modeled after Jacob's Cove from the first game. The developer's said that this aesthetic was popular with the fans of the series. I agree; I really enjoyed the foggy, swampland setting. It made things feel more mysterious and added to the atmosphere, which is something that Borderlands has not had a lot of due to the cartoony art style.

Other than the lack of a level cap increase, I'm really looking forward to this DLC. Should be out January 15, 2013. Also, they’ve mentioned that the level cap will finally be raised sometime in Q1 2013.


My Favorites from the 00's

Here's a list of my favorite games of the 00's (2000-2009):

10. Halo 2

9. Oblivion

8. God of War

7. Mario Kart: Double Dash

6. Metal Gear Solid 3

5. Half Life 2

4. Metroid Prime

3. Resident Evil 4

2. Final Fantasy XII

1. Shadow of the Colossus

Just thought I'd throw that out there for prosperity.


Should The Walking Dead be Game of the Year

By now I'm sure you've heard a million times that TellTale's The Walking Dead won game of the year at the VGAs. Also, the response to this decision has probably found its way in to your ears too. A lot of video game commentators and journalists have either praised the selection or complained that games like The Walking Dead and Journey should not be allowed in this category. Why shouldn't they? That's what I'd like to discuss. Shane Satterfield of Games Trailers tried to defend his misgivings towards independent (or small budget) games getting the Game of the Year nod, by saying that they don't have enough "work that goes into them." A week later he responded to the internet's response to his comments by saying that "these two particular games... (aren't) transcendent enough to be game of the year." He goes on to qualify this by saying that if a game is "only a couple hours long... it absolutely must blow my doors off sideways".

Don't worry, I'm not going to berate Shane's opinion; I think he brings up some good points. In the end, this is Shane's opinion and shouldn't be taken as the industry's opinion on what should win game of the year - we obviously heard that on Friday night when The Walking Dead won.

I also don't want to talk about the validity of the VGAs. Although they are trying to accomplish something that I've wanted to see in years (ie a Oscar-like awards show for video games), I think their method is disappointingly misguided. I enjoy the world exclusives, but after the second or third trailer I've had enough. I have to keep myself from mentioning the God awful comedy stints and celebrity appearances...

I just want to give my opinion on whether Journey and The Walking Dead should be on that list and whether they should win. Short answer: Yes. Long answer: I don't see the Game of the Year award as a recognition of who accomplished the most with the most resources, who used the most money, or spent the most time to polish the best game. I think the Game of the Year award should be given to the game that best represented what the community enjoyed the most over the past year.

So, lets look at the candidates and see how they fit in this criteria.

A few notes before we get started:

1. I follow the game journalist community closely and have since I read EGM in middle school in the late 80s and early 90s.

2. I played each game on the list except for Dishonored (I still really want too, but I also want to pay rent and eat too...)

3. I enjoyed the other four candidates and some have been sequels in series that I've enjoyed a lot.

Lets begin with, arguably, the biggest game on the list: Mass Effect 3. I loved the Mass Effect series. It gave me what I've wanted ever since The Phantom Menace took it away from me; a good, gritty Scifi reminiscent of the 70s Scifi that took me to new worlds and introduced me to interesting species, environments, and conflicts. Mass Effect 3 delivered on each of these, but it fell short because it was janky as hell and never delivered on its greatest promise that the story would be molded to the gamer's choices. Us gamers are used to undelivered promises, but this one was felt deeper across the community because BioWare came so close, but failed. I never actually finished the game because my save was erased by a bug after I saved at the last save point... I regrettably cannot comment on the ending.

The next "big" game on the list, Assassin's Creed 3 was also a joy to play through. It looked beautiful, the story was rich, the ship sequences were unique and fun, and the new characters were interesting enough. On a personal note, I enjoyed the father to the son as the main character. However, the issue of having so many parts of this game farmed out to so many studios was unforgivably noticeable all over the game. The pacing was terrible, the ending was short and disappointing, and many systems in the game didn't jive or feel necessary. AC3 was a good argument why large budget, over-encompassing games should have a hard time gaining the community's vote for game of the year.

Next up is Journey. This is (so far) my favorite gaming experience this year. Yes, it was short and concise, but it gave me something I've never had. It broke down the walls that games get trapped in, and brought emotion to my gaming plate. It looked good. It played well with no jank. It gave me a feel good online experience, that Call of Duty could never, with only a single button to communicate with.

Lastly, the game that won the votes, The Walking Dead. Given, I've only finished through episode 3, but I can say that it has given me a better "gaming" experience than Mass Effect 3 did. The writing is next to none, the art is catchy, and the timer on the dialogue wheel is a lesson that BioWare could learn.

I don't want these next comments to be taken as analogues, but as the Motion Pictures Academy failed to vote for Citizen Kane, I'm very proud that the Video Game journalist community was savvy enough to pick The Walking Dead. This game, stepped outside the box with its brutal realism and writing that is second to none (it's better than the TV series). In the end, the VGA's voting system worked. Now they just need to ditch their terrible writing, uncomfortable celebrity appearances, and reduce the world premiers. Could the gaming community once again trump the Oscars by showing how an award show should be done? Maybe I'm asking too much...