"Game of the Year" of Gaint Bomb's Game of the Years

On the August 2nd, 2016 Bombcast, "Christopher" sent an email asking the staff to rank their Game of the Year winners. Because I always forget which have won, I thought I'd make a list of these and, for shits and giggles, also put my own thoughts on the games that won and put them in a ranked list.

Remember all of these rankings are scientifically proven and to disagree with them would be similar to denying the validity of the Three Laws of Thermodynamics, so please do not embarrass yourself in the comments below by saying that science is wrong or insulting me for being science's messenger. But do feel free to post your own lists and thoughts!

List items

  • #8 - Skyrim

    Probably the biggest drop in quality from a runner-up (Saints Row: The Third) to the actual winner. While I put Saints Row: The Third in the top 10 of the last generation, Skyrim has to be one of the least interesting games I've managed to play during that same time period. Boring story, uninteresting combat, and a slew of content that you not so much set out to enjoy, but to wade through until you find something good.

    What people see in this game, I will never understand.

  • #7 - GTA IV

    Pretty much the same reactions I have to Skyrim are echoed in Grand Theft Auto IV. Did you know I'm not a fan of the mainstream design of open world games*? Well, you do now!

    Wins over Skyrim because you can do dumb things with vehicles that will keep me entertained for at least an hour.

    *Might be wondering why I heaped praise on Saints Row: The Third then. SR:T is a greatest hits compilation of missions, keeping the content of the game short, concise, and of the highest caliber. It's authored story content is constantly innovative and it's main gameplay hasn't left fun on the table in favor of realism.

  • #6 - Shadow of Mordor

    I love the Lord of the Rings, books and the movies, but it's not really the world that makes me love it. It's the characters, the writing, the pacing, etc. etc. The world, at this point, is such an inspiration for every other fantasy book/movie/tv show/game/comic/whatever that it just seems cliche and rote. So slapping an open-world (ooo third one in a row!) Assassin's Creed game with the Lord of the Rings franchise while not living up to any of the portions of why I like the Lord of the Rings (or Assassin's Creed for that matter) is not really my idea of a good time.

  • #5 - The Last of Us

    A fantastic story set in a genre cocktail (stealth action mixed with some survival horror) I cannot stand. It just wasn't meant to be, Naughty Dog. At least I can appreciate it with the use of the ol Twitch 39 1/2 foot pole.

  • #4 - Uncharted 2

    Okay, we'll stop the negative train. There are times that even the Giant Bomb staff can pick a video game I like for Game of the Year.

    Uncharted 2 might not be the best game I've ever played, but it's a fun shooter that uses it's environment to maximum efficiency. Not to echo everyone's usual praise on the game, but the train sequence is actually jaw-droppingly beautiful. And the story is not amazing, but quite enjoyable as a fun little romp.

    You know, until the Chillwind Yetis appear.

  • #3 - Mario Maker

    Okay, now we're talking!

    Mario Maker is a master class in game design. Not because the levels people make in the end are amazing or worthy of being in their own game (play one 100 Mario on Expert and you'll be begging to play even the most mediocre of Mario games like the NSMB series), but because of how simple and eloquent the game makes the building process. It brings a tear to my eye as a developer just how fast someone can go from never playing the game before to building and testing their first level.

    I just wish the game had a better way of highlighting some levels that are actually just amazingly well designed. Like a weekly curated world that strung all of those levels into a world from each game (world map included!). Instead, you get 100 Mario mode driving home the old video game design adage: Making something hard is easy, making some good is hard.

  • #2 - XCOM

    One of the best western turn based strategy RPGs. Period.

    Enemy Unknown does a fantastic job of both staying true to the intent of the original games, while modernizing the classic to fit the design of modern games. It's insistence on having every mechanic make the player feel under pressure (from resource scarcity to the way countries work to base building to the permadeath to the low health pools on your characters to the injury mechanic to how time progresses to just how awful your soldiers' aim can be) makes for an addicting game experience that never really gives you a breather. It has all the "one more turn" of Civilization, all the move to move tension of Fire Emblem, and hard decisions that come with keeping your base prepared and alive that make Telltale games look like Golden Sun.

  • #1 - Mass Effect 2

    It's hard for me to admit this, as still somewhere deep in my brain I know that my lasting memories of Mass Effect 2's predecessor and successor drag this game down, but, god damn it, it's fucking space Ocean's Eleven with one of the best cast of characters in gaming history, a well realized world with decisions that actually matter within the game, and satisfying gameplay that basically feels like Gears of War evolved from a hallway running shooter to something more substantial.

    Mass Effect 2 might not be the best game to come out since Giant Bomb launched, but it's sure as hell the best game they've ever given the Game of the Year crown to.

    And, no, Dan. Fighting for Red Dead over Mass Effect is not the "good fight"