A new challenger appears! McGarnical covers some new ground and reminds us that 2012 really was a great year for gaming.
Choosing a game of the year is tough, especially in a year where current-gen consoles have peaked and handheld gaming has reached a new level of sophistication. Like many of you, gaming for me is not the same as it was when I was 12 and I would play and replay the same game for a year finding every secret – I’m looking at you, A Link to the Past. With very little free time, but a decent amount of disposable income, I fall into the trap of novelty and rarely finish a game. So for my GOTY list, I’ve decided to focus on the games that got through to me and made me stop and appreciate them properly.
I’ve followed the rather wonderful Potaku format here, and I enjoyed writing it. But reading over it I see I haven’t mentioned Mark of the Ninja, which gets an honourable mention for being an excellent game. It nails what makes stealth fun, and has a gorgeous style, good writing, and loads of replayability. I also want to mention Lone Survivor as it’s the best horror game since Amnesia.
Before we get to the good stuff, let’s mention my biggest disappointment of the year.
The “Why the Hell Did They Release This Garbage” award for Super Shittiness: I love horror games, and I love action-horror games. Resident Evil 4 and Resident Evil 5 are both amazing games for me. This award is a no-brainer to Resident Evil 6. This is an over-long bloated disappointment with no consistent style or theme. There are flashes of brilliance, but this is smothered by frequent QTE events, boring boss battles (the same boss over and over), and no incentive or encouragement to replay the game.
Most Bomb-Ass Character: This has to go to Vaas from Far Cry 3. Now, I’m only half-way through the game and I’ve been warned my opinion of the game may change but for now I am still blown away by every cut scene I’ve seen with this crazy character. I can’t hope to match that glint in his eye with my prose so I’ll just say, go play the game and enjoy watching a truly magnificent character.
Coolest “HOLY SHIT” Moment: This again has to go to Far Cry 3. I will avoid spoilers, but when you get to the mission with a flamethrower and some amazing music, you’ll understand.
Most Kick Ass Multiplayer: I enjoy Call of Duty, and Black Ops II does a fantastic job, but that is really the multiplayer experience of 2007 not 2012. We expect Call of Duty to provide at least a similar experience to last time. My choice goes to Halo 4, mostly because of what 343 Industries didn’t do. This new studio did not screw it up. They have shown themselves as worthy successors to Bungie and for my money have done a better job than I think Bungie could have. The multiplayer is smooth and fast, while retaining that tactical element that has always made me love the Halo games.
The “This Music is Making Ear Love to Me” award for Best Soundtrack: One of the few games I’ve finished this year, and one I still think about now, is Hotline Miami. That soundtrack is just amazing. Best played with good headphones and a loud volume, this game will have you going “just one more try” over and over as you listen to excellent pumping tunes that capture the blood-soaked 80s aesthetic that this small team have masterfully created.
Keanu Reeves’ “Whoa” Trailer of the Year: This is a tricky one for me as I haven’t watched many trailers. But I did watch every single trailer put out for Max Payne 3. As Pants said in his list, Rockstar know how to make a good trailer. I love how they always use in-game footage, and they really focus on explaining the features of the game that will make it another unique experience.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q6a8t3zL70A]
The Outta Left Field award for Most Surprising Game: I’m tempted to put Halo 4 here, simply because I did not expect it to be as good as it is. But I have to put FTL. This was a game I hadn’t even heard of and then it appeared out of nowhere for me and suddenly I was sharing really extraordinary space stories on Twitter. Like the time my ship was boarded and I moved all my crew into one room. The enemy had destroyed my sensors so I was in the dark. My crew just sat in that one room listening to the enemy banging on the door trying to get in. I opened the rest of the ship to vacuum and, eventually, the banging stopped.
Best Use of Your Money award for DLC: If you’ll forgive me, I’m going to give this award to a game I haven’t even played the DLC for. Anything that gets people going back and playing Dark Souls again is worthy of this award. I’ve also heard the DLC is really good.
The “Someone Painted This With a Goddamn Rainbow” award for Best Art Style: Making a racing game stand out from the rest is a true achievement. Need for Speed: Most Wanted has created a distinct image with its beautifully realised open world and magnificent cars where the metal can look so shiny and then so damaged. There’s something of Battlefield 3 in this aesthetic and I have to say I enjoy this game a lot.
Most Dick Kickingest Game of the Year: This is going to surprise many and annoy some, but I have to choose Super Hexagon. Terry Cavanagh (who also made VVVVVV) has created a work of art. I have this game on iPhone, iPad, and PC and I play it on all three, and I play it every day. According to Cavanagh’s Twitter feed, the Android release is any day. Between the effective visuals, the voice work by Jenn Frank (who is also one of the nicest people you’ll ever follow on Twitter, @Jennatar), and the brutal difficulty, I just cannot stop playing this game. It has six difficulty modes and I recognised right away I’d never finish it. Apparently the game has an ending, but I don’t think I’ll ever see it. Cavanagh said that the ending is viewable on YouTube, but don’t watch it as you haven’t earned it. I’m standing by this, accepting I’d just never see the ending. I set out to finish just level one. I managed that and couldn’t stop myself focusing on level two. Now I’m desperately trying to finish level three. I don’t know if I’ll ever manage to finish all six, but I’m having a blast trying, again, and again, and again. “Begin.” “Game over.” “Begin.” “Game over.” “Begin.” “Game over.” “Begin.” “Excellent.”