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Giant Bomb's 2012 Game of the Year Awards: Day Three

Today's Game of the Year feature includes probably the first award we've ever given to a Flash game. Wait, what?

It's day three, ya'll! Get ready for us to heavy drop some fine award category nonsense in your general direction, including our Best Looking Game, our favorite Flash game of the year, and the one gaming trend we'd really, super duper love it if it just stopped, like, forever.

Enjoy!

Best Use of Skrillex

Far Cry 3

No Caption Provided

Skrillex. It's a divisive word, but then these are divisive times. When we find ourselves in need of some big-beat-dubdrum-st'p (which is what we're told by a bunch of very reasonable people is the appropriate terminology when dealing with a genre-bending force such as Skrillex) we reach for the brand name. The name of record. The real deal. Saul Skrillex, professional wobble bass enthusiast.

Apparently we're not alone this year, as 2012 was also the year that game developers reached out and placed a little Skrillex into their lives and into their games. That's not to say that every dubstep track to fit into a video game this year was a Skrillex banger, but, well, the best ones usually were. In this case, we're awarding this prestigious category to Far Cry 3, for its use of Skrillex in the mission where you grab a flamethrower from a government official that may or may not exist and... make it bun dem pot fields down bo bo bo bo bo. The hot collab between 'ex and Damian Marley, called "Make It Bun Dem," is pretty much the perfect soundtrack for one of the game's first forays into large-scale destruction.

Congratulations are due, but we're not exactly sure what this category is attempting to honor, so instead we'll just say "we noticed that many games used Skrillex music on their soundtrack and we think this is probably the best one." Congratulations?

No Caption Provided

Runners-Up: Call of Duty: Black Ops II, Syndicate

Best Use of Nolan North

Spec Ops: The Line

No Caption Provided

This was not exactly a banner year for Our Greatest Living Voice Actor. At least not in terms of video game work. One quick glance at his IMDB page sees plenty of work in television, but as for games, North largely stuck to unnamed side characters and occasional re-doings of his past characters--most notably returning as Desmond Miles in Assassin's Creed III, and a brief credited reprisal of Nathan Drake in PlayStation All-Stars: Battle Royale.

And then there's Spec Ops. Like a shining beacon through a largely foggy, indistinct year, North's performance as Captain Martin Walker goes beyond merely standing out amid the crowd. It helps, of course, that Spec Ops: The Line features some of the toughest, strangest, and outright most disturbing writing of any game this year. Walker, along with his two compatriots, find themselves trying to make sense of disasters--both natural and man made--so overwhelming that it's not quite surprising when psyches begin to fray, and people begin to lose their lives as a result.

North does a terrific job of maintaining that fragile balance between a man on-edge, and a man completely over it. It's certainly one of the better voice performances of the year, and it is by far the best use of Nolan North in 2012.

No Caption Provided

Runners-up: N/A

Best-Looking Game

Journey

No Caption Provided

For all the complaining some players have about thatgamecompany's...unusual approach to game development, rarely does anyone have an unkind word to say about what the developer does visually. This is a company that makes beautiful games, from the simple, yet mesmerizing visuals of flOw, to the gorgeous landscapes of flower, and now the transcendentally beautiful deserts, hills, caves, and mountains of Journey.

Above all else, Journey feels like a "complete" visual experience. Possibly helped by the game's relatively meager length, Journey's graphics are painstakingly crafted, with each seemingly minor piece of the environment that surrounds you seemingly there for good reason, and not just for the sake of filling in the background. As your nameless journeyer hops and floats around this gorgeously built world, some of the most breathtaking lighting effects you'll ever see shine a light over every resplendent detail, creating a visual experience that truly feels like nothing that's come before.

No Caption Provided

Runners-up: Far Cry 3, Fez

PLEASE STOP

DLC That Should Be in the Main Game

No Caption Provided

Worst Trend. Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself. This category has borne a variety of names over the years, but they all amount to the same thing: Please stop doing this awful, no good, very bad video game thing you are doing. So we decided to cut straight to the heart of the matter and call it exactly that. If you're guilty of anything on this list, just knock it off, alright? You're really harshing everybody's mellow. It's not cool.

Downloadable content is certainly an idea that's drawn its share of flack over the years, but it's one that we at Giant Bomb have generally felt OK about, with a couple of provisos. Chiefly, in terms of raw content, the game you get for the initial purchase price needs to feel satisfying and whole. As long as the game out of the box doesn't seem like it's missing anything, who cares what else they're selling on the side, right? And up until this year, we felt like the game industry was doing a pretty good job of policing itself in that regard. But not anymore.

The discussion of this topic practically begins and ends with Mass Effect 3. It held back a profound piece of content on release day in the form of From Ashes, which added an entire new party member (one who we consider one of the best new characters introduced this year) and accounted for significant additional drama and back story throughout every stage of the game. And months later, the Leviathan DLC added painfully necessary context to Mass Effect 3's controversial ending, context so necessary the entire game becomes better for having it. But there were other offenders. Just when Asura's Wrath seemed like it had wrapped itself right up, it dropped a last-minute plot twist out of left field that required you to buy an additional episode to fully resolve. Street Fighter X Tekken shipped with bonus characters that unsavory players managed to hack right off of the disc, but those characters didn't actually go on sale until months after release. Examples like these simply strained our patience for the way DLC is produced and sold.

Hey, publishers: We get it. You need to make a buck. But if you're going to sell additional content on the side, make damn sure the base game doesn't suffer for its absence. When that happens, nobody wins.

No Caption Provided

Runners-up: The All-Story, New Super Mario Bros.

URL of the Year

http://twinbeardstudios.com/frog-fractions

No Caption Provided

Frog Fractions is a bit like Fez. There will be people who play Frog Fractions, and never plunder its true secrets. They will close a browser window, and wonder why a badly made fraction game with a Typing of the Dead section had people in stitches. Frog Fractions masquerades as something it is very much not, and while it hints something is going on, it maintains a poker face. There is never a big, glowing arrow that says "go here to have your mind totally fucked." You have to find that for yourself.

The crazier part about Frog Fractions is that just when it feels like it's crossed the apex of insanity, it keeps going. What starts as a subversive commentary on our expectations for math games (or browser games, really) becomes a thrilling rollercoaster of forgetting what the designer has cooked up next and enjoying the ride. Pure non-sequitur humor would not work in most hands, but Frog Fractions is not just weird and bizarre, it's really damn funny. Its surprises work because they're unexpected and hysterical. Your first impulse is to turn to a friend. "PLAY THIS!"

This category came to be when we had a list of games we really loved that didn't seem to make sense in our traditional categories. It's a bit how the "download" category came into existence, too. One day, and a day that's probably not far off, these browser games will be no different from all the other games we play, and this will no longer make sense. But we felt compelled to highlight these experiences because of what they do so well within such a limited scope. That limited scope is what allows them to succeed so brilliantly, and subvert our expectations.

And if you're playing and still confused at what the hell we're talking about?

No Caption Provided

Runners-up: http://ludonaut.de/the-message/, http://www.foddy.net/CLOP.html

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Brad

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Edited By Brad  Staff • 

It's day three, ya'll! Get ready for us to heavy drop some fine award category nonsense in your general direction, including our Best Looking Game, our favorite Flash game of the year, and the one gaming trend we'd really, super duper love it if it just stopped, like, forever.

Enjoy!

Best Use of Skrillex

Far Cry 3

No Caption Provided

Skrillex. It's a divisive word, but then these are divisive times. When we find ourselves in need of some big-beat-dubdrum-st'p (which is what we're told by a bunch of very reasonable people is the appropriate terminology when dealing with a genre-bending force such as Skrillex) we reach for the brand name. The name of record. The real deal. Saul Skrillex, professional wobble bass enthusiast.

Apparently we're not alone this year, as 2012 was also the year that game developers reached out and placed a little Skrillex into their lives and into their games. That's not to say that every dubstep track to fit into a video game this year was a Skrillex banger, but, well, the best ones usually were. In this case, we're awarding this prestigious category to Far Cry 3, for its use of Skrillex in the mission where you grab a flamethrower from a government official that may or may not exist and... make it bun dem pot fields down bo bo bo bo bo. The hot collab between 'ex and Damian Marley, called "Make It Bun Dem," is pretty much the perfect soundtrack for one of the game's first forays into large-scale destruction.

Congratulations are due, but we're not exactly sure what this category is attempting to honor, so instead we'll just say "we noticed that many games used Skrillex music on their soundtrack and we think this is probably the best one." Congratulations?

No Caption Provided

Runners-Up: Call of Duty: Black Ops II, Syndicate

Best Use of Nolan North

Spec Ops: The Line

No Caption Provided

This was not exactly a banner year for Our Greatest Living Voice Actor. At least not in terms of video game work. One quick glance at his IMDB page sees plenty of work in television, but as for games, North largely stuck to unnamed side characters and occasional re-doings of his past characters--most notably returning as Desmond Miles in Assassin's Creed III, and a brief credited reprisal of Nathan Drake in PlayStation All-Stars: Battle Royale.

And then there's Spec Ops. Like a shining beacon through a largely foggy, indistinct year, North's performance as Captain Martin Walker goes beyond merely standing out amid the crowd. It helps, of course, that Spec Ops: The Line features some of the toughest, strangest, and outright most disturbing writing of any game this year. Walker, along with his two compatriots, find themselves trying to make sense of disasters--both natural and man made--so overwhelming that it's not quite surprising when psyches begin to fray, and people begin to lose their lives as a result.

North does a terrific job of maintaining that fragile balance between a man on-edge, and a man completely over it. It's certainly one of the better voice performances of the year, and it is by far the best use of Nolan North in 2012.

No Caption Provided

Runners-up: N/A

Best-Looking Game

Journey

No Caption Provided

For all the complaining some players have about thatgamecompany's...unusual approach to game development, rarely does anyone have an unkind word to say about what the developer does visually. This is a company that makes beautiful games, from the simple, yet mesmerizing visuals of flOw, to the gorgeous landscapes of flower, and now the transcendentally beautiful deserts, hills, caves, and mountains of Journey.

Above all else, Journey feels like a "complete" visual experience. Possibly helped by the game's relatively meager length, Journey's graphics are painstakingly crafted, with each seemingly minor piece of the environment that surrounds you seemingly there for good reason, and not just for the sake of filling in the background. As your nameless journeyer hops and floats around this gorgeously built world, some of the most breathtaking lighting effects you'll ever see shine a light over every resplendent detail, creating a visual experience that truly feels like nothing that's come before.

No Caption Provided

Runners-up:Far Cry 3, Fez

PLEASE STOP

DLC That Should Be in the Main Game

No Caption Provided

Worst Trend. Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself. This category has borne a variety of names over the years, but they all amount to the same thing: Please stop doing this awful, no good, very bad video game thing you are doing. So we decided to cut straight to the heart of the matter and call it exactly that. If you're guilty of anything on this list, just knock it off, alright? You're really harshing everybody's mellow. It's not cool.

Downloadable content is certainly an idea that's drawn its share of flack over the years, but it's one that we at Giant Bomb have generally felt OK about, with a couple of provisos. Chiefly, in terms of raw content, the game you get for the initial purchase price needs to feel satisfying and whole. As long as the game out of the box doesn't seem like it's missing anything, who cares what else they're selling on the side, right? And up until this year, we felt like the game industry was doing a pretty good job of policing itself in that regard. But not anymore.

The discussion of this topic practically begins and ends with Mass Effect 3. It held back a profound piece of content on release day in the form of From Ashes, which added an entire new party member (one who we consider one of the best new characters introduced this year) and accounted for significant additional drama and back story throughout every stage of the game. And months later, the Leviathan DLC added painfully necessary context to Mass Effect 3's controversial ending, context so necessary the entire game becomes better for having it. But there were other offenders. Just when Asura's Wrath seemed like it had wrapped itself right up, it dropped a last-minute plot twist out of left field that required you to buy an additional episode to fully resolve. Street Fighter X Tekken shipped with bonus characters that unsavory players managed to hack right off of the disc, but those characters didn't actually go on sale until months after release. Examples like these simply strained our patience for the way DLC is produced and sold.

Hey, publishers: We get it. You need to make a buck. But if you're going to sell additional content on the side, make damn sure the base game doesn't suffer for its absence. When that happens, nobody wins.

No Caption Provided

Runners-up:TheAll-Story, New Super Mario Bros.

URL of the Year

http://twinbeardstudios.com/frog-fractions

No Caption Provided

Frog Fractions is a bit like Fez. There will be people who play Frog Fractions, and never plunder its true secrets. They will close a browser window, and wonder why a badly made fraction game with a Typing of the Dead section had people in stitches. Frog Fractions masquerades as something it is very much not, and while it hints something is going on, it maintains a poker face. There is never a big, glowing arrow that says "go here to have your mind totally fucked." You have to find that for yourself.

The crazier part about Frog Fractions is that just when it feels like it's crossed the apex of insanity, it keeps going. What starts as a subversive commentary on our expectations for math games (or browser games, really) becomes a thrilling rollercoaster of forgetting what the designer has cooked up next and enjoying the ride. Pure non-sequitur humor would not work in most hands, but Frog Fractions is not just weird and bizarre, it's really damn funny. Its surprises work because they're unexpected and hysterical. Your first impulse is to turn to a friend. "PLAY THIS!"

This category came to be when we had a list of games we really loved that didn't seem to make sense in our traditional categories. It's a bit how the "download" category came into existence, too. One day, and a day that's probably not far off, these browser games will be no different from all the other games we play, and this will no longer make sense. But we felt compelled to highlight these experiences because of what they do so well within such a limited scope. That limited scope is what allows them to succeed so brilliantly, and subvert our expectations.

And if you're playing and still confused at what the hell we're talking about?

No Caption Provided

Runners-up:http://ludonaut.de/the-message/, http://www.foddy.net/CLOP.html

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DonChipotle

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Edited By DonChipotle • 

Not much in the way of Northies, eh?

Time to start the Bakies.

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Edited By DeF • 

GOTY Awards are serious business, I see ;-)

Not sure I agree with this year's Northies choice though. I feel the runners up were stronger.

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SSully

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Edited By SSully • 

I love how they linked The all-story as the runner up.

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Phished0ne

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Edited By Phished0ne • 

After this week the community should hold a "Best television parodies in a website Game Of The Year feature" award.

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Little_Socrates

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Edited By Little_Socrates • 

aaaaah, it's sad that nobody played Dikembe Mutombo's 4 1/2 Weeks To Save The World. It's so goddamned good.

(Unless I find out they have this week on the podcast! Yaaaaaay!)

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WMoyer83

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Edited By WMoyer83 • 

Skrillex looks like Darlene from Roseanne if she was in the Matrix movie.

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kalmia64

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Edited By kalmia64 • 

Um, why does it say that the 2012 Northies will be the last on Nolan North's page? This...can't be true, right? Right?!

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rmanthorp

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Edited By rmanthorp  Moderator • 

Northies not made such a big deal out of. He was in AC3 and Golden Abyss etc. :/ Is this the beginning of the end for the Northies?

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Edited By Sooty • 

So is Frog Fractions just some flavour of the month thing or actually excellent?

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Edited By mrfluke • 

 
yep, this alone is 1000% why journey wins, that was just beautiful when i first came across it, kinda disappointed they didn't show this scene in the video recap though.  cause id bet as soon as people see this scene in the video recap reel they would go "YEP"
 
as for frog fractions, yea that game is nuts, but i think "explore the water" sells it short, it should've been something like "ride the magic dragon"  or "up"
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Edited By whatsnme • 

best use of skrilex is my favorite category

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Edited By hollitz • 

NO MORE NORTHIES?!

Can I get my subscription refunded?! THIS IS SOME BULLSHIT!

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm gonna go get hunked.

Also, what is up with the Asura's wrath graphical praise? It looks like such a damn mess. The textures are all washed out and gross. Gears of War 2 and 3 are like the only Unreal games I've seen on consoles that aren't just kinda shitty.

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Edited By LegendaryChopChop • 

@Sooty said:

So is Frog Fractions just some flavour of the month thing or actually excellent?

Definitely getting a "flavor of the month" vibe from this, especially considering Fez (which is much better) hasn't gotten as much notoriety for similar gameplay methods.

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Edited By ChrisTilton • 

Whoops, I completely missed the Skrillex moment because I had turned the music off. My fault!

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Edited By Elwoodan • 

not the most emotionally resonant or powerful moment this year but I had a huge smile on my face the entire time I was burning that pot.

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Edited By edgefusion • 

@ChrisTilton: Why did you turn the music off? I only ask because I also had it off, I found it to be so overbearing I couldn't make out what anyone was saying except for that guard in The Compound who would loudly and repeatedly exclaim, "A pretty boy eh? Better pucker that asshole! A pretty boy eh? Better pucker that asshole! A pretty boy eh? Better pucker that asshole! A pretty boy eh? Better pucker that asshole! A pretty boy eh? Better pucker that asshole! A pretty boy eh? Better pucker that asshole!"

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ocdog45

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Edited By ocdog45 • 

Surprised Fez is a runner up for best looking game. Makes me want to play that even more. PC port please.

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Edited By Mystyr_E • 

they missed an opportunity to call it the "Just stahp" awards

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Edited By Droop • 

No more Northies? How the mighty have fallen.

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Edited By satchamobob • 

As one of the testers for Frog Fractions, I am thoroughly happy with GB's choice. For those of you who haven't played it, give it a shot. It's worth your time. :)

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Edited By autumn_thunder • 

@whatsnme said:

best use of skrilex is my favorite category

What is this "best" use of skillrex category? I don't see it

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Edited By Bones8677 • 

@rmanthorp: Lately the main guy in video game voice acting has been Troy Baker with Last of Us, Bioshock: Infinite, Catherine, etc. Maybe it's time to begin the annual Best Use of Troy Baker.

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Edited By LackingSaint • 

@Sooty said:

So is Frog Fractions just some flavour of the month thing or actually excellent?

Flavour of the month for sure. It doesn't even matter that it's a short flash game, if the guys at GiantBomb had played it earlier in the year they'd have had time to realise that a sense of humour was disguising an extremely shallow, boring game with a non-existant art style and forgettable soundtrack. Nothing about that game is impressive apart from some self-awareness, which you'll find in dozens of other fantastic flash games.

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Edited By mcmax3000 • 

I haven't gotten to the end of the podcast yet, and I haven't read the article, so I don't know what wins, but I'm fine with the 'DLC that should be on the disc" mention for the Please Stop award, but at the same time, I think some people take that too far in basically saying that all DLC should be on the disc.

When Forza is putting hundreds of cars on the disc(s), and people are whining that the car packs should've been on the disc, that just makes them sound whiny for the sake of being whiny. Stuff like endings, and the Mass Effect content that was mentioned is valid though.

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Edited By CloningMishap • 

Did anyone else out there try 'The Message'. It's actually pretty atmospheric, and then...

Also, kudos to Frog Fractions. I'm spending today evangelizing about it to my friends.

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Edited By Phatmac • 

RIP NORTHIES :(

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Edited By ninkendo • 

I feel as if I should be offended that Xenoblade wasn't even nominated for Best Looking Game.

then I remember this is Giant Bomb.

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Edited By NekuCTR • 

@LackingSaint said:

@Sooty said:

So is Frog Fractions just some flavour of the month thing or actually excellent?

Flavour of the month for sure. It doesn't even matter that it's a short flash game, if the guys at GiantBomb had played it earlier in the year they'd have had time to realise that a sense of humour was disguising an extremely shallow, boring game with a non-existant art style and forgettable soundtrack. Nothing about that game is impressive apart from some self-awareness, which you'll find in dozens of other fantastic flash games.

It was clever, an extremely shallow. I can think of tens of games this year that were just as clever with interesting game play that deserve at least the recognition than Frog Fractions is getting.

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artfuldodger

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Edited By artfuldodger • 

they used my category :)

edit: also it's my birthday.

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Bartman3010

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Edited By Bartman3010 • 

I think Capcom dicking around with Mega Man would be a better spot in the "PLEASE STOP" category, personally.

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Edited By artofwar420 • 

Guys, GUISE. Frog Fractions. Blew. My. Everything.

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Edited By TheHT • 

no javik i will not deal with it! you're a part of the problem!

great list! can't wait to hear the podcast on this one.

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Edited By KittyVonDoom • 

Yo. I'm calling it.

So if there are 5 days of awards, the following 2 days will go:

Patrick's GOTY: Journey

Vinny's GOTY: TWD

The order could go either way, but I'm not doubting the overwhelming affection the staff have for TWD. Um, I guess.

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Edited By Turambar • 

@ninkendo said:

I feel as if I should be offended that Xenoblade wasn't even nominated for Best Looking Game.

then I remember this is Giant Bomb.

It didn't actually look that great. This is coming from someone who would rank the game as one of the "5 games I really liked this year" if push came to shove. It had a far larger environment we ever thought possible for a Wii game, but that's not enough.

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yyZiggurat

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Edited By yyZiggurat • 

Finally a spoiler-free podcast that I can listen to! Hopefully.

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KingBroly

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Edited By KingBroly • 

I don't get why NSMB2's DLC is in the DLC category. It was created after the game shipped, or so Nintendo claimed, and it definitely doesn't feel like it should've been in the main game. It feels like it was put there for the sake of putting it there, nothing more.

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vhold

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Edited By vhold • 
@NekuCTR said: 

It was clever, an extremely shallow. I can think of tens of games this year that were just as clever with interesting game play that deserve at least the recognition than Frog Fractions is getting.

I'd like to see that list.
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happymeowmeow

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Edited By happymeowmeow • 

A thousand times YES on the mass effect 3 dlc being the PLEASE STOP of the year.

I don't know if it would win over Journey, but I would have added Resident Evil Revelations for the 3ds on the best looking. It made me go, holy shit is this what the 3ds can do. Also an example of Capcom not totally fucking up the resident evil franchise.

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Brainling

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Edited By Brainling • 

No love for Gearbox's use of Nero's Doomsday in Borderlands 2? Not even in the the honorable mentions? I guess it's a Skrillex only category, but that's kind of dumb. There were much, much better dubstep tunes used in games this year than just Skrillex. Make It Bun Dem is used very appropriately in FC3, but it's certainly not the best dubstep tune used in a game this year *shrugs*.

As DJ Fresh said...Dubstep is not Skrillex, no matter what anyone tells you.

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rmanthorp

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Edited By rmanthorp  Moderator • 

@Bones8677 said:

@rmanthorp: Lately the main guy in video game voice acting has been Troy Baker with Last of Us, Bioshock: Infinite, Catherine, etc. Maybe it's time to begin the annual Best Use of Troy Baker.

That handsome mother fucker was Kanji Tatsumi as well!

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Graham_Nix

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Edited By Graham_Nix • 

Guys, you forgot Skrillex Quest for the Use Of Skrillex and Best URL awards (it's in the goddamn name!).

It's really good, following the same 'short, sweet, wacky' pattern also on display in Frog Fractions and Dikembe Mutombo's 4 1/2 Weeks To Save The World.

Linky: http://www.skrillexquest.com/

Much recommended!

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bvilleneuve

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Edited By bvilleneuve • 

@Sooty said:

So is Frog Fractions just some flavour of the month thing or actually excellent?

It depends on who you ask, but I found it to be completely delightful and unique.

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GunstarRed

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Edited By GunstarRed • 

Played a bunch of Frog Fractions, it's funny and there's some great jokes, but once I got to the bug porn section I lost interest. I have no idea how much more of it there is, but I get the point... I don't really get the massive amount of love for it though.

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KDR_11k

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Edited By KDR_11k • 

@KingBroly said:

I don't get why NSMB2's DLC is in the DLC category. It was created after the game shipped, or so Nintendo claimed, and it definitely doesn't feel like it should've been in the main game. It feels like it was put there for the sake of putting it there, nothing more.

That's not the DLC category, that's the "stop it" category. The nomination was for making more NSMB sequels, not the DLC.