First Annual Potaku Game of the Year Awards: Red’s Choices

First it was Blue, now it’s Red. Redartifice is next to share his choices for our game of the year awards!

Please note that there are spoilers for Mass Effect 3 in this article. They will be clearly marked, but just to be on the safe side, if you haven’t finished Mass Effect 3, do not read the awards for bomb-ass character and coolest ‘holy shit’ moment.

The “Why the Hell Did They Release This Garbage” award for Super Shittiness:I don’t tend to play terrible games- I’m a pretty conservative purchaser, at least of new ones. Like Pants, I’ll agree that Assassin’s Creed 3 could have done with a couple more months in the oven- I thought it had some mission design issues that crippled my enjoyment of it.
I have to give this award, admittedly sight unseen, to Medal of Honor: Warfighter. I picked up the rebooted MoH as part of the big Dick Smith sale earlier in the year, and found it a competent enough shooter with a nice, intimate story. What I’ve heard of Warfighter, however, is that it’s a train wreck, and I feel that the shift to modern times was a mistake on their part. The way EA have taken a once pretty great franchise and turned it into a generic dudebro shooter— and EA’s second one at that— is truly disappointing.

If you haven’t finished Mass Effect 3, please skip to the ‘Most Kickass Multiplayer Award’, as here there be spoilers.

Most Bomb-Ass Character: Discussing this half a week ago, I would have said Handsome Jack, no question- he was one of the most effective videogame villains I can call to mind- I talked about it earlier in the year here.
I have to give this prize, however, to the character who almost had me in tears, and whose death was just a vicious punch. It’s Mordin Solus.
Mordin was one of the stand out characters in Mass Effect 2; a complex, pragmatic guy who understood the weight of hubris. he reminds me of one of the other great scientist characters of recent years, Walter Bishop from Fringe. Both are brilliant men who have to deal with the consequences of their actions. the manner in which Mordin goes- in my game at least, to heal the mistakes of the past and to give an entire species a new lease on life- is one of the truly noble sacrifices in video game history, and the fact that he goes to his death willingly and singing a Gilbert and Sullivan riff just makes it much more of a big moment. Vale.

Coolest “HOLY SHIT” Moment: Following on from the previous award, I’m giving this one to the fall of the Asari homeworld in Mass Effect 3. Although ME3 drew criticism for its ending and some of the other plot elements (although I’ll defend a lot of that) the sheer desperation of seeing the Asari throw themselves in a last-ditch effort against the reapers really drove home the stakes.

We now return to spoiler-free awards.

Most Kick Ass Multiplayer: I was pretty pleasantly surprised by the Mass Effect 3 multiplayer, which could have gone so, so wrong. Like many, I thought it had the potential to be tacked on and irrelevant (I’m looking at you, Bioshock 2) but it was a fun and deep mode that I really should get back into. Another honourable yet personal mention goes to Uncharted 3- even though it released late last year I’ve had some good fun with it with friends in 2012.
The winner for me though is Borderlands 2. Borderlands is fun enough in single player, but adding a mate into your fun just makes it so much better. The tools that they’ve improved from Borderlands 1 such as a proper trading system makes BL2’s multiplayer just hum.
I also have to give a shout out to Torchlight 2. Clickclickclickclickclick…

The “This Music is Making Ear Love to Me” award for Best Soundtrack: Having not yet played Journey or Max Payne 3 (sorry Shiggy) I’m going with Guild Wars 2. Even though I’ve not played it myself, I’ve listened to it come out of my housemate’s speakers for a good chunk of the year and I’ve been impressed at how well it hits the epic fantasy notes. While fantasy soundtracks are a dime a dozen, Guild Wars 2 does it right.

Keanu Reeves’ “Whoa” Trailer of the Year:Rather than pick a released game, I thought I’d pick some games that haven’t been released yet. For me, there’s two trailers that have really made me sit up and take notice. The first one (but not my winner) was the trailer/demonstration video for Watch Dogs, which I think really shows what a “next-gen” title could be. My guess is that Watch Dogs actually started out as a couple of Assassins Creed related mechanics that Ubisoft pulled out into their own game— I reckon that a full contemporary Assassins Creed game would feel similar. It’s one to watch anyway

The biggest trailer/video for me, however, was Quantic Dream’s “Kara” short film.

Released back in March and rendered on a PS3, Kara both told a really cool and touching little sci-fi story in less than ten minutes. Using mocap in games has been one of the big innovations of the past ten years, but Kara was possibly its best application yet. The PS3 might be getting long in the tooth, but Kara showed that there are still boundaries that can be pushed. I know Quantic Dream’s next project isn’t Kara related, but I’m not too upset as I thought the story the trailer/film/demo showed was enough for now.

The Outta Left Field award for Most Surprising Game: Not to hammer a point I’ve made here before, but my biggest gaming surprise of 2012 was Crusader Kings 2. I bought it in a steam sale because I heard there was a cool Game of Thrones mod, but the base game has got me well and truly hooked. It’s not a game I’d ever thought I’d be so invested in- a methodical, historical grand strategy game that’s almost like The Sims filtered through Risk- but I’ve now put almost 100 hours into it and with new expansions on the horizon, I’ll probably put the same in again. Kudos to Paradox Interactive, who have taken a niche genre (grand strategy) and made it their own.

Best Use of Your Money award for DLC: Rather than give it to an individual game, I’m going to give this one to the Playstation Plus service. The addition earlier in the year of the Instant Game Collection took PS+ from a “nice to have” to a “shut up and take my money.” The downloadable games through the service have included some brilliant blockbuster games and cool smaller titles. I recommend it to any PS3 owner, and for 70 bucks a year, do it.

The “Someone Painted This With a Goddamn Rainbow” award for Best Art Style: There has been some awfully pretty and photo-realistic games this year, but I think The Walking Dead has used its art style to the best effect. Going with the comic book look meant that Telltale hasn’t fallen into the real-world-is-brown trap that post apocalyptic games often do.
I’ll pick out as a special highlight the end of chapter two, which takes places at the start of a thunderstorm- the dark sky coupled with the bright characters, set against the reds and yellows of autumn leaves, are beautiful. That beauty is a nice counterpoint to the horrors of the rest of the game.

Most Dick Kickingest Game of the Year: While I ummed and aahed a little between this and Crusader Kings 2, it’s Borderlands 2. I’ve been waiting for this one ever since it was announced, and I gobbled up every scrap of trailer that came my way, and I was still surprised at how well Gearbox pulled it off. They retained the existing good mechanics, fixed most of the annoyances I had with the old ones, and added a funny and engaging story to boot. The fact that they’ve followed up the main game with (so far) two pretty decent bits of DLC and another class with at least that again in the pipeline makes me think that I’ll be playing Borderlands 2 for a good chunk of 2013 as well.

So there you have it! What do you think of my choices? Do you agree or disagree? Leave your comments below! Want to see your own list up on Potaku? Get in contact with us!

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