GOTY 2012

To all who might actually read this:
I have to say, ordering this list was difficult. I struggled to really think of ten games that deserved such grand recognition, and really, this list is more like a top six (or eight, tops), with some honorable mentions thrown in for good measure. Maybe it was because I was catching up with older games this year too (You should really play Saints Row 3). This was also a list that made me reevaluate the way I look at games, and my ranking of them. There were games I thought didn't deserve to be on here because of their form, or maybe didn't deserve the spot I ultimately gave them. But really looking at my reaction to the game, the enjoyment I got from them in the long run, shaped the list. I'm a traditional guy: I like third person, single player, story driven games. But I've bent over a little bit this year, and the list reflects it. Maybe the ordering isn't 100% correct, but the remnants of my old gaming habits are slowly fading.
2012 was both the year of the surprise and the year of the bummer. At the beginning of the year, I only expected two of the games on here to be in my tops (and much higher). Every other game was unexpected, and maybe that's why I enjoyed them more.
 
And just as a disclaimer, here are the games I want to play in the near future but never got to this year, mostly because a lot of these were shaped by the GOTY discussions. I already own most of these games, and the others I'll at least own in the future, even if I never play them.
Dear Esther, Binary  Domain, Xenoblade: Chronicles, Fez, Quantum Conundrum (own it, not expecting much though), The Last Story, Papo y Yo, Dust: An Elysian Tail, Mark of the Ninja, The Unfinished Swan, Far Cry 3, Sleepy Dawgz, XCOM: Enemy Unknown
 
And these are some games that look interesting, and I may check out some time in the future. I mostly didn't include them in the list because they're part of a series I haven't played the past games in, but maybe will one day? Or they were hyped up so much during GOTY that my inherent disinterest was somewhat swayed, but not completely (as say with Dust). Or they just looked kinda cool. These games I may buy and then may play.
The Darkness II, Syndicate, Sine Mora, Max Payne 3, Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward, New Super Mario Bros ( U and 2...shit), Paper Mario: Sticker Star, Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Future Soldier, Hotline Miami, Halo 4 

List items

  • Fuck. It may be game of the generation for me. Everything about the game is meticulously crafted and deliberate; it's the Lord of the Flies or the Donnie Darko of video games. Every little aspect serves a greater purpose, from the lighting to the load and death screens to how quickly dudes go down. I would love to write a paper on this game. Yes, the gameplay isn't the strong suit, but it's still good, and melds with the narrative (I'm looking at you Walkind Dead). I had fun(?) with shooting, and unlike many games like this, it's tied to the overall pacing and tone of the narrative. And the game has style. The graphics are pretty Unreal Engine, yes, but it works with the constraints (I swear the texture pop after Walker falls in the pit is [somewhat] intentional) with some great art, and the soundtrack is killer. It was the song in the demo, combined with the mood in that scene, that sold me on the game itself.

    But above all, the story really got to me in a way other games didn't (still looking at you Walking Dead). After THE scene, I had to put the controller down and stop playing. It was not only the most effective moment in gaming for me, but maybe of any media.

  • If is art is a thing other than something for pretentious people to argue about, it's Journey. The only word that could describe my Journey was elated- I can't really think of anything else. Profound maybe? Whatever it was that happened to me, it was an experience I've never had before. Besides some frustration with the snake thing, the entire game made me feel emotions (or something). The online interaction was genius, the graphics, music, and sense of place amazing. Gameplay was simple and intuitive- something I'd love to show someone who doesn't play games. And it was just the right length. I never want to play Journey again, but that's because it was so amazing I don't want to sully that memory.

  • It's been awhile since I've been this excited in a game. As someone who hasn't exactly tired of Quick Time Events (kinda), this game was extra amazing. The third person fights were terribad, but it was all worth it for the cinematics. As a man who loves all things insane, the characters, story, and general actions (I NEED MORE ARMS FOR THIS)really jived with me. I didn't really like the story, but the insanity. Graphics were beautiful, soundtrack cool (if not a bit too repetitive), and style unique. Paid DLC for the best part sucks, but what can you do.

    You know you yelled BURST! out loud too. I even did it watching the QL before getting the game.

    Also...*SPOILERS*...

    Two late title cards!

  • The placement of this vs. Asura's Wrath was tough, but you know what? This game is broken, the gameplay tries to be something it's not (unlike every other game on this list, which plays to strengths), and it peaks way too early. So yeah, BURST!

    This award really goes to episodes 1,2,3, and 5. Sorry Gary Whitta, but episode 4 was straight up bad. Molly was stupid, the kid was too one off and too long, and the town was portrayed way too one-dimensionally (it was an interesting concept that could have easily been explored). The big end felt rushed, the twist at the end of episode 3 was all but dropped. It was a bad episode.

    Which is a shame, because it really broke the pace of the series. At the end of episode 3, I was PUMPED for more Walking Dead. But after episode 4 dropped the ball, the momentum inherit to the series was killed. Also, the reveal in episode 5 was pretty confounding.

    But yeah, that ramp up from 1-3, and the end of 5. I really didn't feel like my choices were necessarily drastically changing anything (it was easy to see when things were getting to tangential to handle, and killed off), but I felt like most of my decisions were melding with the plot. It felt like a linear narrative because things never seemed too forced or awkward, the story continued at a natural pace in accordance to my moves, as if I were making all the right choices. I'm sure playing the game again will show the kinks, but I don't plan on playing it again, since I'm content with my story. It's a real shame the gameplay is terrible, the performance barely acceptable, and an entire episode moot.

  • Let's get some things out of the way. 1) The ending is garbage. 2) I didn't play the original Mass Effect, and I wasn't too into Mass Effect 2.

    So color me surprised Mass Effect 3 is on the list. If we ignore the last 20 minutes(which in retrospect, isn't terrible in concept, but is executed horrendously), this is the best Mass Effect. Maybe it's because I finally got used to the world, maybe it's because my past decisions mattered (kinda), but Mass Effect 3 clicked with me in a way 2 didn't. The experience was fantastic, let's just ignore that end. Sure if it ended 20 minutes earlier, it would have been disappointing and not factored in your decisions, but it would have been cohesive, interesting, and not objectively bad.

    And man, the Krogan thing. I had my mind conflictingly made up until the absolute last second, where I flipped. Touche.

  • Assassin's Creed III was most most anticipated game of the year. I loved ACI and II, particularly the Desmond stuff (for a plethora of reasons, but it does remind me a lot of the Metal Gear shenanigans). So when ACIII dropped the ball and ruined his story and all of his segments...yeah...

    But the Connor stuff was great. I love me some American history, and thought the gameplay overhaul was really interesting and cool. Connor's story might have been the best one since Altair's, and I really liked his growth. Again, a bad ending, but the actual playing was great, and the majority of the story was interesting and cool. Hatham was a freakin' badass.

  • So I got an X-Box this summer when Jeff was freaking out about Fez (which I bought and never played due to fear of commitment), and decided to check out this whole Call of Duty multiplayer thing everyone's been raving about. I played through all of the modern COD campaigns (minus World at War), and enjoyed them, but never touched multiplayer.

    I get it now. Playing with my friends online is awesome, especially Zombies. Imagine gong back to your first COD multiplayer experience, and now imagine me. That's the main reason this game is on the list.

    The story is fine. I really like what they were doing with the way choices were gameplay dependent; it really changed the way I played the game. I was much more active, less dependent on the AI and hiding out in order to reach my goal quickly. That said, the story itself was super dumb, with terrible character motivation for Menendez. And the ending was extremely abrupt- how has no one else complained about it like they did for ME3, ACIII, and Far Cry III?

  • I was hesitant to put this on the list, since after the text adventure, the game falls apart. But the boxing thing? Like a billion? Come on.

    Forcing some friends to play it and putting it on their Facebook wall probably means something too, right?

  • Also, hesitant, but it scared the bujeezus (spelling) out of me. And like Frog Fractions, it's a game I wanted to share with everyone. One day, me and the boys will finish the game.

    There was also that moment when me and my friend jumped into each other's arms...it was weird.

    Also, it made this:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aXwkfSmYkf4

  • I came away from this game pretty apathetic, if not respectful. Story, voice acting, and characters are terrible. Notes are an antiquated way to commmunicate, and I found myself not reading them about half way through. You can see the twist a mile away. The ending sucks. It's short. And after I established my "warp around the outer edges of rooftops" method, the game kind of became a chore.

    But the art rocks, and it is an interesting game to observe at the very least. I don't regret my time with Dishonored, but I just don't see the mass praise it's received.