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GOTY 2012

My list for the Official Giant Bomb Community Game of the Year! This might be the hardest GOTY list I've ever put together. I'm still playing many of the games below, so this list will likely see some changes up until the 12/31 deadline. (Mild spoilers may appear below)

List items

  • The conclusion to my favorite series of the generation, I loved every second of Mass Effect 3. Well... almost. Yeah okay, the ending could have been better. But it wasn't terrible, and it certainly didn't change the fact that every single moment of the series leading up to it was fantastic.

  • Episode 1 of The Walking Dead was interesting, but I hardly expected it to take me the places that it did. The game takes off like a rocket with Episode 2, and doesn't slow down until the final cut to black.

  • I don't think anyone expected this game to be as good as it is. The combat, the story, the characters. The game was barely on my radar, and it was only after some positive buzz that I bothered to rent the game out from my nearest Redbox. Turned out to be a pretty good decision.

  • It's been said before, but Dishonored is the stealth-action game that Deus Ex: Human Revolution was not. The game allows traversal of it's open-ended levels without requiring you to crawl through a series of vents, and doesn't punish you for choosing that play style with poorly designed boss encounters. I played through it once being as quiet and passive as possible, and I look forward to starting it all over again and killing everything in my path.

  • The simplest way to describe my time with Journey is this: I am not a spiritual man by any means, and after playing Journey start to finish in one sitting, I can say with great confidence that playing this game was the closest I may ever come to a religious experience. Transcendent, indeed.

  • As a Halo fanboy, it's tough for me to put this game so far down on my list. But the campaign had some real pacing issues, and I found myself disappointed in the overall narrative of the game. That said, I love how the game ended and I'm excited to see the continuing adventures of the Master Chief in this new trilogy. And while many of my friends would disagree, I am a fan of the tweaks made to the the multiplayer structure of the series. 343 kept the multiplier fresh, and kept me interested as a result.

  • Far Cry 3 is really, really good. And maybe if I'd played this on PC instead of the technically inferior Xbox 360 version, or maybe if it's narrative didn't shit itself after showing so much promise in this first half of the game, it would be higher on this list. Still, even as I talk about the story's shortcomings, I want to dive back into the game and clear out a few more bandit camps.

  • I've never been a big fan of strategy games, but Firaxis has this way of crafting ones I really enjoy. After all of the positive buzz, I decided to give XCOM a try and at first, I couldn't really get into it. But I kept playing, and once I started to wrap my head around the game's depth and began developing more successful strategies for approaching each mission, I couldn't put the game down.

  • Rarely does music make a game, but Hotline Miami likely wouldn't have even gotten my attention this year if it wasn't for the amazing soundtrack. But underneath that, the puzzle combat of Hotline Miami is additing as hell, and although I'm still not entirely sure what the hell was going on with that story, I'm pretty sure I liked that too.

  • As a huge fan of the Hitman series, Absolution's rather linear mission structure was pretty disappointing. Far too much "hide from the bad guys and get from A to B" and not enough of the living world, open-ended stuff that made me fall in love with the original games, and the new detection system made acquiring disguises nearly irrelevant. However, there are still The Contracts mode is interesting if not all that well implemented, and gives me nostalgia for the days when I'd congregate on the GameFAQs forums for Hitman 2 and Hitman: Contracts, sharing our own user-created contract long before it was an official mode.

  • HONORABLE MENTION: If you couldn't tell, I love love love stealth-action games, and Mark of the Ninja brought some freshness to the genre, and I was pleasantly surprised at just how much stealth combat variety Klei managed to squeeze into the game. The only reason this game falls to 11 is simply because, unlike Hitman and Dishonored, I haven't felt the itch to go diving back into the game.

  • HONORABLE MENTION: The NBA 2K games always get a lot of play from me during the NBA season. You'd think that would land it a spot in my top ten, but I actually just pick it up every year to run team-up games with a couple of friends. The game gets better every year, but I still never have much desire to play the game alone, and I'm still frequently frustrated with 2K's lazy roster updating efforts.

  • HONORABLE MENTION: Yeah this was my #1 game last year, but I spent much more time with it in 2012 than I did in 2011, and I'm still playing it enough to justify a subscription despite the game's new found status as a free-to-play game.

  • HONORABLE MENTION: I haven't had much time to dive into the DLC, and there are a lot of side-missions that I haven't even seen thanks to playing through it with a group of guys that treated the game like a race instead of a journey.

  • HONORABLE MENTION: Heavy nostalgia for the Attitude Era of mid-to-late nineties nearly landed WWE '13 in my top ten, but the rest of the game is still rather bland. Still, THQ is (or was) headed in the right direction, and I'd like to see them continue where they left off, exploring more of the Attitude era (maybe even some of the WCW Invasion angle), and maybe even explore the WCW and ECW side of things from this period of time.

  • HONORABLE MENTION: I'm not sure if I played a single game more between February and April than I played GCI. A breath of fresh air in a market saturated with military shooters, the silly mayhem of GCI just clicked with me.

  • HONORABLE MENTION: Despite it's flaws, I found a lot to love in AC3. Unforunately, the pacing of the game - specifically throwing Connor from one historically relevant set piece to the next - was a bit jarring and often left me confused from a narrative standpoint. And yet again Ubisoft seems it necessary to introduce a bunch of new completely pointless and boring micromanagement systems, from crafting to trading, that don't really have much of an effect on the gameplay, at all. Ubisoft, next year take some of that menu minigame budget and bandwidth and put it towards bug fixing. I'm getting tired of falling through the level geometry in your games.

  • HONORABLE MENTION: It was actually the fun I had with XCOM that led me to give FTL a try. The first things I noticed about it: I am terrible at FTL but this music is rad as fuck. No matter how frustrated I get when my ship eventually falls to the rebels, I'm always quick to start it all over again.

  • HONORABLE MENTION: Another game that I spent a ton of time with in 2012, The Secret World does some amazing things within the MMO genre that were largely ignored by the gaming press. The skills, leveling, and combat systems did a lot to set it apart from the MMO crop, and the investigative quests is some of the most fun I've ever had playing an MMO. It's just unfortunate that the game still manages to fall into enough old MMO tropes (BRING ME X OF THIS ITEM) to keep it from being truly revolutionary.

  • HONORABLE MENTION: As someone that never really played the first two Diablo games, I was initially enamored with Diablo III. Hitting Inferno difficulty made me fall out of love with it pretty fast. Not because it was hard mind you, but because Blizzard decision to make all loot 100% random turned the game into a gold treadmill designed to push users to their poorly made and often broken auction house. The fun and excitement of loot drops in Diablo III just doesn't exist, because the chances of getting something useful from a drop is close to zero. It soured my opinion on the game, causing me to uninstall the game, and I haven't looked back.