GOTY 2012

One of many coming in on the forums, I still felt the need to add mine to the site. While I do want to contribute to the community game of the year stuff, this also helps me re-evaluate what I played throughout the year.

List items

  • I struggled with my top three, particular in placement. But I settled on Dishonored. To me a game of the year list is nothing but the most memorable and best experiences you had throughout the year. While Dishonored may not be a transcendent everlasting experience, it was a hell of a good time. The sheer variety of how you could approach each mission was amazing. It become so much deeper than just choosing if you wanted to play stealth or action. With how big and open to experimentation both the environments and mission structure was, each level wasn't close to the same for every person. Even the end boss battle, while being anti climatic for some could be handled a variety of different ways.

    That is just some of the gameplay elements as well. There is still a rich world, a decent revenge plot, and tons of fun little story moments to explore throughout the whole game. Arkane studios has earned my respect for being bold enough to create a new IP this late in a cycle, and sticking to their guns in a oft used genre to create an experience you can't find in any other game.

  • Journey is the type of game you will remember for decades to come. For each person who both gets and enjoys this game, it has become something more of an experience. The best word to describe what makes Journey so special is immersion. With surround sound, a good quality TV sitting down to venture through the vast open desert and sand is probably one of the most captivating experiences this generation.

    Ultimately Journey doesn't miss a single note. Somehow it ties together a simple but meaningful narrative, a unique multiplayer component with elegant gameplay inside of what felt like a moving water color painting. Journey is simply a breathtaking experience.

  • For the longest time stealth games have been accursed to trial and error. Often times limiting the amount of information available to you and how quick you can react to every misstep. Mark of the Ninja sought to change all that and more. Like most contemporary stealth games it offers up some variety but Mark of the Ninja truly excels in the bread and butter of amazing stealth systems and level design.

    The amount of information the game surfaces, how easy it is to determine what is going on and when you make a mistake makes it very easy to get a handle of the nature of the systems inside this game. Which also makes the thrill and joy of the power fantasy of being that super sneaky ninja happen just often enough to not feel easy. When you add in layers of rpg style depth and upgrades, an intriguing story set up; as well as a truly unique art style and you get a winner.

  • I never played the original XCOM. I do however have a history of a variety of different RTS games. There are tons of impressive things about XCOM. The addicting and extremely balanced meta-game that forces you to make extremely difficult decisions in the various ways you can take your upgrades. The give and take combat that never ceases to throw that next surprise at you, forcing you to adjust and adapt your in combat tactics. Even the style, which is something the game doesn't get tons of credit for is through the roof. While the main story isn't the most memorable of the year, individual character interactions, the flavour text layered throughout the game; and the amount of thought and care put into enemy designs and types is very impressive.

    All in all XCOM rebooted a beloved RTS franchise while proving that change in the genre is a good thing. The fact that Firaxis managed to please so many crowds while making not just a competent but thriving strategy game for consoles is extremely impressive.

  • The most controversial game that we have seen all year. While tons of people enjoyed the game, a large portion of the community was disappointed with how Mass Effect 3 ended. The ending would later get patched up with various forms of DLC including a free extended cut change to the original endings of the game.

    But all of that is irrelevant to the fact that at it's core Mass Effect 3 is a fantastic game. The combat is the best it has ever been in this series. The individual story beats that wrap up so many of the personal storylines you had in Mass Effect 1 and 2 hits all the right notes that the ending of a trilogy should. In fact some of those wrap ups are some of the most memorable experiences I have ever had this entire generation.

    Ultimately Bioware couldn't satisfy everyone and make the perfect ending. But Mass Effect was never a perfect trilogy. Mass Effect 3 deserves recognition and praise for all the things it does right. Mostly because what it does right, it does so well that it is really easy to overlook any lows the game had.

  • Masking puzzle gameplay inside a violent and twisted top down action game? Check. Creating an atmosphere and mood with an addictive pacing and level design? Check. Covering up that gameplay with a narrative that attempts to look at the bigger picture and ask thematic questions about violence in video games? Check. Wrapping all of that up in a 80's style package with one of the most addictive soundtracks of the year? I'm sold.

    Hotline Miami was just another indy game that surprised me. The only real complaint I had with the game was that the boss battles felt like a spit in the face of the actual structure and style of the rest of the game. Ultimately though, I was drawn back to Miami again and again even after beating it. The frantic pace and timing mixed with the awesome soundtrack was made all the more fun by the variety of ways you could solve each level. This is truly a game not to be missed.

  • It is very hard to get non MMO fans excited about playing an MMO. On the surface, Guild Wars 2 looks like another run of the mill fantasy online game with it's own set of twists. While most of that may seem true, it is the under the hood stuff that Guild Wars 2 does that make it super impressive.

    It essentially throws the conventional gameplay elements of traditional MMO's for a loop. Working together isn't just encouraged it's pre built into gameplay. No more can you rob people of kills and steal their experience, or steal the specific quest item on another player and force them to wait for a respawn. You entire system from simple aid and help quests to bigger dynamic events is all structured to be done together.

    While the experience of Guild Wars 2 can feel frantic and chaotic at times, the deeper you get the more personal this game truly becomes. The biggest reason I can recommend Guild Wars 2 to anyone is simple though. It takes all the good ideas implemented in different MMO's, combines them with some of ArenaNets own, and then essentially fixes many of the issues that MMO games in general face. In a time where most agree that status and nature of an MMO needs to evolve, Guild Wars 2 shines as the best in class.

  • The best description for this game is always something hard to understand. It always ends up being some odd multi game comparison. Like Metroidvania meets Wario Ware meets Mega Man. For me I just like to say it's a old school game updated for modern times and then put on some extremely powerful narcotics.

    Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit is one of the most equally frustrating and fun times I have had gaming all year. The art style, the music, the story and characters all make tons of right moves. The only real thing stopping this game from true greatness is that it tries to be too much. In attempts to be a variety of things all at once, usually in an effort to fix pacing but some of the ideas both feel forced and underdeveloped. Yet the core of the game is so much fun and so unlike most other games out there that it is certainly one of the better games this year.

  • Assassins Creed 3 opens very elegantly, and with one of the more memorable and original twists of the year. The game drags on and goes deep downhill from there before finally picking itself back up for an underwhelming but satisfactory conclusion to the story of Desmond Miles.

    Still though, a lot of credit has to be given to Ubisoft for the vast world they created, and for not just continuing with the same old. Tons of the mini games, upgrade systems, and various other activities in the game are fresh to the series. While they don't all feel necessarily, or all that good, they are all at least different.

    In a year when so many sequels ending up being disappointments it is impressive for a game like Assassin's Creed 3 to manage to hit some of the right buttons while remaining mostly competent and satisfactory throughout.

  • A game I don't predict to see on too many game of the year lists. However due to the sheer fact that I played it so much it belongs on mine.

    Cook, Serve, Delicious! is pretty simple. It's billed as a hardcore restaurant simulator. You serve orders, upgrade your menu and your overall establishment and explore some of the other surprisingly deep sub systems in the game. The fact that I have put in 12 hours already and only have achieved 2 out of 5 stars in restaurant quality is a credit to the depth this game has. On top of that I am still exploring hidden systems within the game to allow you to do continue to do more.

    Ultimately this is an addictive and refreshing simulator set in a surprisingly fun setting. It's has a pretty loose narrative and simple presentation, but can hook you rather easily.