Non-GOTYs 2012

As every year, here's my list of games that were NOT a Game of the Year for me this year. It contains everything from barely-made-it missing entries on my GOTYs to games I actively disliked or didn't feel were too special. Unlike my GOTY list, this goes top to bottom, with the top of the list being the closest to GOTY. Here it is:

List items

  • I wanted to make AC3 one of my GOTYs. Its story is surprisingly good and full of twists, and it got unfairly panned online mostly due to franchise exhaustion, making the more than decent numbered instalment pay for how afraid of calling out the two previous spin-offs most of the media was. It's still a great game, absolutely worth playing, especially on the refreshingly not crappy PC version.

  • Clever as it may be, Fez also suffers from having this big great black hole of content between its simplistic platforming with a twist in the early stages and complex augmented reality-like puzzle solving later on. I see where it's coming from with its influences, but the execution on them really didn't click for me. Great art style, though.

  • It's a competent game. Good, even. I suspect it would also be a better game without being so desperate to mask its loading times with shots of a self-loathing Max drinking himself to death between every level. Still, where the first two games were too goofy and dumb for their own good, Rockstar's attempt to make a legitimately dark story work in MP3 doesn't quite find the right amount of dark and funny to justify slow motion diving while shooting.

  • I feel that we're getting to a point where "hardcore gamers" aren't allowed to take issue with any design decisions on masocore games, lest they be accused of being one of the noob-kind. Spelunky may be hard and unforgiving, but it's also twitchy, punishing, hard to read and frustratingly repetitive. Randomized levels and high difficulty aren't enough to make a game good, and this re-release comes just short of the brilliance in Binding of Isaac or Super Meat Boy.

  • I like the Persona RPGs as much as the next guy, but Arc's overcomplicated fighting games are not engaging to me. Persona 4 feels a bit simpler and more streamlined than BlazBlue, but it's still needlessly finnicky and loose on the fundamentals. I'd rather have some more turn based RPGing, thank you very much.

  • Vaas is awesome. Really, he's great. Best character of the year, if you're into giving that kind of awards. Far Cry 3, though... eeeh, not so much. It's a nice theme park sandbox, but it doesn't break past the concept of giving you a bunch of collectible and minigames and telling you to have fun with them. There's nothing in here that isn't in Assassin's Creed or Prototype, and much missing from Far Cry 2. A solid experience if you want more of what it's providing, but not GOTY material.

  • Yeah, see above. Borderlands 2 is more Borderlands, if you're into that kind of thing, but it's also nothing BUT more Borderlands. A few hours into it I remembered that I had enough Borderlands in Borderlands, and it's been really hard to get back into it. Yout mileage may vary.

  • I don't dislike MotN, but I wonder what people find so revelatory about it. It's not like surfacing the back-end of a stealth game is a new concept (hello, Batman) and, snappy as the controls are, they are all about enabling the stealth, still not providing a viable path after discovery. It's enjoyable but not spectacular.

  • Remember see above? See above. As in Mark of the Ninja, there's very little in Dishonored that I haven't done before, often better. Blink is a neat mechanic and the art style is fantastic, but with Bioshock Infinite looming large and Deus Ex HR still fresh in memory, Dishonored feels solid but not special.

  • See ALL of the above? Look, I love Hitman. I don't even think this game was ever going to be the dumbed down action game rabid fanboys thought it was going to be. Just to piss off those guys, I want to like Absolution. I... just can't. The unfunny story, which doesn't know how to embrace the inherent goofiness of the franchise, the small environments, the intrusive scoring mechanic... Absolution is fun to play when you're doing good at whatever the game wants you to do, but it doesn't know to let you screw up and play the game wrong. It's Hitman for the hardcore, ironically, and that makes it worse.