2013's 2012 Game of the Year
A terrific game in its own year continued to have long legs stretching into 2013, with the price of Sleeping Dogs on Steam dropping lower and lower only increasing the discussion of it, reminding everyone of the true breath of fresh air it was into a somewhat stagnant genre before this year. Incredibly stupid parody DLC helped, too.
Runners-Up: Mass Effect 3, XCOM: Enemy Unknown
The Last of Us - Winter
Wherein The Last of Us shifts from being one thing to being another. Months have passed, player control has shifted from Joel to Ellie, and it's unknown if Joel is even still alive. Ellie proves herself more than capable against all odds. Joel stumbles his way to Elllie's rescue, only to discover that she wasn't in need of rescuing at all. Joel finds he doesn't have to be the hero all the time. Sometimes he just needs to be there.
Runners-Up: Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies - Confronting The Phantom, Saints Row IV - Rescuing Johnny Gat
Best New Character
A headstrong, brash young girl in a harsh, unforgiving world, Ellie is essentially the typical Naughty Dog character. But where The Last of Us ends up is where Ellie shines. Her survivor's guilt over outliving her best friend informs everything she does, including her compulsive need to be of use to somebody. The Last of Us doesn't tell us where these characters end up, but characters like Ellie are so well-defined that it's easy to continue their lives in your head.
Runners-Up: Elizabeth, Trevor Phillips
Grand Theft Auto V
It's pretty much cheating, I know. But GTAV's impeccably curated soundtrack creates instant connection with dozens of songs that you may have heard all your life, or you've never heard at all. The radio in GTAV could essentially be a primer for all sorts of genres. I never considered myself a country guy before Grand Theft Auto V, but Rebel Radio taught me otherwise. The original score provided by the unlikely team-up of Tangerine Dream, The Alchemist and Oh No, and Woody Jackson also proved fruitful. Oh christ, I just wrote "fruitful" after Tangerine Dream.
Runners-Up: BioShock Infinite, The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
Best Classic Revival
Yeah, that's right. Knack. I said it, and I won't take it back. Knack is a wonderful throwback to the platformers of the mid-90s. This is not to say it's a particularly excellent game. Knack is riddled with design flaws. Its lead character has so many puzzling aspects to him it boggles the mind how dozens of people could let him go out into the world like this. The game is overly difficult, with clunky combat that's not nearly rewarding enough to balance out how quickly death comes to Knack. It fits perfectly with my memories of how I used to play Crash Bandicoot as a kid, as I suspect those games had the same sort of problems. It's an instant nostalgia-trip that I would recommend to absolutely nobody.
Runners-Up: DmC Devil May Cry, Resogun
Episode of the Year
Kentucky Route Zero - Act Two
While the development train has seemed to slow to a near-stop on Kentucky Route Zero, they've still left us on an ethereal masterpiece. In Act Two, Conway finally finds his way to Route Zero, and the experience is unlike any other. The eerie caves beneath Kentucky exude atmosphere, as well as the Bureau and the dark forests. Kentucky Route Zero is light on story but has a wealth of stories. Stunning visuals and sound design amplify all aspects of KRZ, leaving people trying not to think about how badly they wait for the next Act.
Runners-Up: Kentucky Route Zero - Act One, The Wolf Among Us - Episode One: Faith
A game that could only be designed by someone who spends all their time analyzing games, Gunpoint is impeccably designed. There are better games than Gunpoint, but I don't know if there are more fun ones. Endlessly replayable, Gunpoint demands experimentation. Its regrettably short length only increases the want to go back to it again and again.
Runners-Up: Divekick, The Last of Us
The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
Invoking the name "Link to the Past" seemed to only bring down the dark cloud of expectations on A Link Between Worlds. Some felt it was an act of desperation on Nintendo's part, pandering to nostalgia in order to entice sales. Let's be clear: A Link Between Worlds is an act of desperation on Nintendo's part, pandering to nostalgia in order to entice sales. It's also the shakeup the Zelda franchise was so desperately in need of. Hitching the game onto the weighty reptuation of Link to the Past only heightened the creativity of the game design, along with using the unique capabilites of the 3DS to accentuate the presentation.
Runners-Up: DmC Devil May Cry, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies
Miiverse Community of the Year
Game & Wario
You can draw a picture of a Playstation 4 and everyone else can rate it.
Use of Dubstep
Saints Row IV
BOWWWWW TSH DUH DUH DUH ZTZTZTZTZTZT REEEEEEEEEEEEEE DAAA DAAA DAAAA DAAAAAA THESE GLITCHED OUT ENEMIES ARE ALL DEAAAAAAAAAD BECAUSE I SHOT THEM WITH THE POWER OF MUSIC
Best Use of Troy Baker
The Last of Us
In 2013, hereafter referred to as "Troy Baker's Dozen", Baker inserted himself into video games as the new Nolan North. What sets him apart from North, however, is his wealth of unique roles in his first year of prevalence. If Booker DeWitt is the Troy Baker Voice at it's best, The Last of Us is the best showcase of him as an actor. Nearly unrecognizable as the gruff and aging Joel, Baker shows that he doesn't just have a great voice that can be applied to a character, he can get inside a character and understand how to use his voice to make a character come alive. The extra level of Baker physically playing Joel in The Last of Us' many motion-captured cutscenes is a plus. And that one YouTube video where the ending becomes a musical!
Runners-Up: Batman: Arkham Origins, BioShock Infinite
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies
Professor Layton made the transition from 2D sprite-based puzzle game to fully 3D animated earlier, but it wasn't done nearly as well as in Phoenix Wright. Every shot of Ace Attorney 5 is gorgeous, with hand-crafted animation befitting of any theatrical animated film.
Runners-Up: BioShock Infinite, The Last of Us
Releasing Broken Games, Electronic Arts
It would be nice if I could play Battlefield 4 for longer than 30 minutes without it crashing, and it would be nice if I could get more than 2 missions into the campaign without it all being erased, and it would be nice if Need For Speed Rivals' online connections worked way smoother, and it would be nice if NBA Live worked at all.
URL of the Year
Bubsy takes a visit to the James Turrell Retrospective, and I don't think a single visitor comes away without learning the true meaning of art.
WarioWare Spirit Award
WarioWare is, at it core, a loving madcap parody of video games. Divekick is nothing if not a wonderful inside joke made public. Parodying not just modern fighting games but the fighting game community as a whole, Divekick is the cliched love letter to its own medium.
Runners-Up: Game & Wario, Surgeon Simulator 2013
2013 became the year of the return of local multiplayer, with Towerfall on the Ouya and this week's surprise release of Samurai Gunn on Steam. While those games have more complex systems, Divekick is as simple as simple can be. Anybody with good reflexes can be an expert Divekick player.
Runners-Up: Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, Super Mario 3D World
The Last of Us
Beyond the story of the end of the world, The Last of Us is a story about love and devotion. The story of a man who closed himself off to the world learning to love somebody again. The story of a girl coming to grips with her continuing existence, hoping against hope.
Runners-Up: BioShock Infinite, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies
Most Disappointing Game
Dead Space 3
Dead Space was at one point breathing new life into the survival horror genre. Dead Space 3 is the point where it turned the corner on all of that, into becoming a mediocre action game. Dead Space 2 was the start of the turn to action, but the action was tight and the game had no shortage of atmosphere. Dead Space 3 is a scary game without scares, an atmospheric game without atmosphere, and a shell of a franchise that EA has hollowed out into a microtransaction-filled Necromorph.
Runners-Up: Dead Rising 3, SimCity
Dumbest Motion-Controlled Moment
Dead Rising 3
Shake the controller to shake off zombies! There are likely actual dumber motion-control moments this year, but this one really gets my goat. The Kinect is built for all this precision, but here it's used to watch your controller and make sure you jerk it around. Incredible future technology is used here to do the job of a simple gyroscope.
It's not available yet on the Xbox One, but hopefully it'll get there soon. The Share Button on the Playstation 4 is a revelation in gaming, heightening the communal experience of each and every game. Found a crazy bug in Assassin's Creed 4? hit the Share button and put it on Facebook so your friends can see it for themselves. Holding an impromptu NBA 2K bracket? Broadcast it on Twitch and let your pal on the other side of the country take part. It makes even single-player games a connected, multiplayer experience.
The Xbox One Does This Except It Does This No Wait It Doesn't Do That Anymore
Giant Bomb's Worst Game of the Year Presented By Someone Who Isn't Alex Navarro
Runners-Up: Deadpool, Dead Island Riptide
Game of the Year
The Last of Us
I've already written so much about The Last of Us that there doesn't seem like much else to say. The Last of Us is a masterclass in all aspects of a video game. Perfect gameplay that elicits mood and character as well as any other, you feel both the struggle for survival and Joel's unique capabilities that show why he's still around after so long. A world that's worth visiting even in its hellish state. The Last of Us can be about the big moments, but its got even more small ones. A conversation about movies. A toy found on the ground. Music. The Last of Us is a long game, but when it's over I'm left wishing I could spend more time with these characters. There doesn't even need to be anything said. Just here, looking at these giraffes. Just one more minute.
Runners-Up: Gone Home, The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds