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GAF Games of the Year 2012 - Voting Thread, now closed. Thanks for all the fish.

Acquiescence

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Mar 5, 2011
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1. Gravity Rush ; The reason Gravity Rush reigns above everything else I played this year is due to its unrivalled sense of wonderment; that certain kind of magic that one can’t intentionally create from the outset but just falls into place as things go along. It’s inherent in the game’s every facet, from Kohei Tanaka’s enchanting score to the Studio Ghibli-meets-steampunk art sytle, from the interactive 3D comic book panels that chronicle the story to the heroine and city do-gooder Kat - an iconic and instantly likeable lead, mercifully free of any angst or brooding temperament but endowed instead with a bubbly personality and selfless dedication to always helping others. Graphically it’s a visual feast, a game that seemingly incorporates black magic to look as astonishing as it does on a device so miniscule, while the game’s signature gameplay mechanic of Kat’s gravity-manipulating powers provides an endlessly liberating means of traversing the city of Hekseville. There’s a satisfaction that cannot be put into words as Kat hurtles through the sky, sweeping past a series of monolithic structures, only to land swiftly on the side of a rooftop spire.

It’s a game that made me feel like a kid again, constantly in a state of awe at what I was seeing while frequently being reminded that this is something I’ll probably look back on with much nostalgia in twenty years time. And in a way, I can’t give Gravity Rush higher praise than that.



2. Journey ; It was to my good fortune that I was able to experience Journey in the most ideal way intended during my first playthrough. From almost the very beginning I had met my fellow wanderer and in one single sitting (although I do recall having to take the world’s quickest toilet break) we never left each other’s side through the course of the entire experience that this game had to offer. Needless to say, it roused inside me emotions that a video game have not given me since the tender age of 11, when I first saw Aeris slain at the hands of Sephiroth. By the end I was a quivering wreck; desperately trying to maintain my masculinity as I held back the tears. There are those who’d prefer to argue semantics about whether Journey constitutes as a ‘real’ video game or not… I feel sorry for those people.

Dat “Oh shit” moment –
Sand-surfing while the camera pans sideways to reveal the mountain top destination in the far off distance, all the while Austin Wintory’s unforgettable crescendos to a delirious high.



3. Silent Hill: Downpour ; In this day and age, a moderately budgeted survival-horror that adheres to its genre’s foundations is a rare thing. As such, I applaud Konami (almost begrudgingly) for keeping Downpour relatively traditional to the Silent Hill name. Continually hindered by some unfortunate technical issues, and lacking majorly in effective enemy design, Downpour nonetheless has the good grace to deliver some genuine survival-horror thrills in a console generation that has led us to believe the genre is irrelevant. An emphasis on exploration not seen since the second (and still the best) installment, the town of Silent Hill in this iteration is a semi open-world haven with a series of side-quests to discover; some of which are perfunctory at best while others offer some of the most memorable sequences in the game. Fixed camera angles make a welcome return, disempowerment is focused upon again, puzzles and combat can have their difficulty altered and even a fully-fledged inventory system is included! It’s a game seeping in atmosphere, with Vatra’s eye for detail paying dividends in making the ghost town feel simultaneously lived in, yet wholly abandoned. The story itself is a gripping enough cautionary tale on the ramifications of revenge, but benefits the most from the presence of its leading man. The greatest protagonist to feature in a Silent Hill yet, escaped convict Murphy Pendleton is a dubious individual to begin with, yet becomes quickly relatable as events progress. He’s no pushover, yet his vulnerability is expressed more than adequately as he reacts convincingly toward the horrors that continue to engulf him. Even by Silent Hill standards, the man is a truly tragic figure, and by the end I sympathized with him immensely (although it does ultimately depend on what ending you get).

If you’re not biased toward the petulant notion that the only good Silent Hill game is a Japanese-developed one (The Room and Shattered Memories can attest to that not being true anyway), then I urge anyone who hasn’t to check out Downpour. You’ll be surprised.

Dat “Oh shit” moment –
Witnessing a gramophone-assisted retelling of a family killing spree… and then having to deal with the murderer.



4. Sleeping Dogs ; In my experience, sandbox games usually sacrifice atmosphere and detail for abundant scale and empty, lifeless environments (hello Just Cause 2). Not Sleeping Dogs however, and that’s what I loved about it. It doesn’t feature the biggest world to roam around in, but what’s here is chock full of detail and ambiance, with its setting really feeling like a living, breathing, accurate depiction of Hong Kong. A melting pot of influences that range from Infernal Affairs to Grand Theft Auto to the Batman Arkham games, Sleeping Dogs is derivative for sure, but pulls off its multitude of differing gameplay mechanics sufficiently. It's packed with content and a wide variety of things to do, and straddles a fine line between and the realistic and the absurd, keeping the tone consistent throughout and avoiding the pitfalls of GTA IV. Hell, even some of the hacking mini-games are fun.

At best, it represents the most unexpected delight of the year. And at the very least, it acts as an extension of the middle finger to Bobby Kotick and the rest of the spawn of Satan over at Activision who axed such a great game in the making.



5. Uncharted: Golden Abyss ; Uncharted 2 was partly the reason I bought a PS3. Golden Abyss is partly the reason I purchased a Vita. This, apparently, is a good trend to follow, so bring on Uncharted 4 for Sony’s next console I say. Not quite the Hollywood blockbuster action of its home console ilk, Golden Abyss sets aside the elaborate set-pieces for something a bit more measured. There’s no event during its campaign to leave the mouth agape like escaping the confines a capsizing cruise liner, but the fact that an Uncharted game is even on a handheld device, and successfully replicates the formula at that, is hugely commendable. Nate and Sully remain as endearing as ever, Chase outdoes Elena in the love interest stakes and the gyroscope-enhanced aiming is perfect for fine-tuning those all too important headshots.



6. Max Payne 3 ; So it doesn’t reach the high-water mark attained by Max Payne 2, but Rockstar’s Max Payne 3 is worthy of the name, and in a year of underwhelming AAA releases has managed to stand proud as one of the very few threequels that actually delivered. It forgoes much of the pulpy noir of Remedy’s winning formula for a darker, grittier tone that I wouldn’t exactly say is a change for the better, yet still manages to retain the gravitas of before by telling an absorbing, suspenseful story that’s beautifully complimented by the best mo-cap performance of the year in James McCaffrey. What has been refined to an absolute tee is the gunplay, and it’s here that the game shines brightest. The Euphoria engine, through its dynamic use of physics and animation, permits gunfights to be as exhilarating and brutal as they’re likely going to get this gen, with series staples like shoot dodging and bullet time never feeling more satisfying to pull off.

Dat “Oh shit” moment –
Max storms an airport terminal to the noisy strains of HEALTH’s ‘Tears’. Let the audio/visual harmony commence.



7. LittleBigPlanet Vita ; I love LBP Vita for much the same reasons I loved Golden Abyss – it’s a handheld iteration of a beloved home console franchise that has had nothing taken away from it in its conversion to a smaller, less powerful system. Can’t say I’m all too fond of the newly implemented touch controls, but otherwise it’s almost graphically identical to the PS3 games, it’s a small step up in the platforming stakes from previous installments, and Sackboy and his world are still the epitome of charm.



8. Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale ; It still amazes me that this game managed to accrue as much controversy as it did. Is it a Smash Bros. clone? On a surface level… yes. Dig a little deeper though and it’s its own game for sure. The Super system, a point of contention for many, takes some getting used to, but plays a huge tactical role when trying to beat your opponent that gives matches a hefty bit of tension as you try to find that key opportunity to unleash your own character-specific super move. Yes, SuperBot/Sony dropped the ball majorly when it came to the third-party representation. Yes, there’s a distinct lack of classic PlayStation characters that many are still pining for. Yes, Good Cole and Evil Cole as separate characters is sheer stupidity (blame Sucker Punch for that one). But for all its problems, the game is pure crack online. It is, honest to goodness, one of the most addictive gaming experiences I’ve encountered. Kicking the shit out of the God of War with Sony’s ultra-lovable Japanese mascot Toro never gets old.

Dat “Oh shit” moment – Killing off all three opponents with a level 1 super in a ranked match. Your self-satisfaction will know no bounds.



9. Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward ; I’m new to this visual novel malarkey, and I’m new to the Zero Escape series, yet much against everyone’s advice I skipped 999 and delved straight into the mysteries of its sequel (I also really needed a Vita game to play for the Fall). I’m more than willing to concede that doing so probably diluted the impact of some of the twists that occurred, but all the same I thoroughly enjoyed Virtue’s Last Reward. The cast was engaging, the story was instantly intriguing, the escape rooms brought out my inner point ‘n’ click adventure game fanboy and the segments requiring me to ally or betray were always nerve-shredding moments. A minor annoyance is that the game is privy to scenes with drawn out, yawnsome exposition that do their best to kill the pacing.



10. Spec Ops: The Line ; *WARNING* Contains slighty spoiler-ish details for both this and Silent Hill: Shattered Memories.

I normally keep tabs on anything narrative-heavy when it comes to video games, but I wrote off Spec Ops: The Line upon release as the very personification of generic, glorified war-porn that I had become allergic to somewhere during 2008. A cursory glance at some screenshots and the cover art, and I had made up my mind that it was another Homefront or Medal of Honor to be instantly forgotten about… how wrong I was. Spec Ops, for all its flaws, is an unforgettably harrowing experience that’s practically subversive in its critique of the military shooter. Oddly enough, it reminds me of Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, in the sense that the game has a very short, concise campaign, shorn of filler and supremely effective in establishing a tight, compelling narrative and stringing the player along in its twisted rollercoaster ride. Unlike Shattered Memories however, Spec Ops suffers from an anti-climactic twist ending that doesn’t feel like the pay-off that a game of such intensifying madness deserved. The beauty of Shattered Memories is that it escalated and escalated, got progressively more surreal as it came to its conclusion, and then it hit the player with the mother of all twists right at the end to leave the player with a sense of satisfaction. Spec Ops was following that same trajectory for me and then fell at the last hurdle. If it had culminated in something more memorable, I’d wager the game would be in the top half of this list.

Dat “Oh shit” moment –
Rendering a military base a burning pile of destruction with white phosphorous is bad enough, only to realize you’ve made a grave mistake.

x. The Walking Dead ; Three episodes in and this was all geared up to be my GOTY… then it all started to fall apart at the seams. I started to cotton on that the moral choices weren’t really choices at all, that events were already predetermined no matter whose side I picked or who’s cranium I decided to bash in, depriving the game of most of its tension. Say what you will about Heavy Rain, but at least its ‘rubber band’ narrative gave actions a weight to them. The last two episodes are poorly paced, certain characters act in a schizophrenic manner at times and the game only has a single outcome. Terrific start, disappointing conclusion.
x. Machinarium (PSN) ; Adorably charming point ‘n’ click adventure game set in the traditional mold. It tells a heartwarming little fable, while the hand drawn art style is gorgeous to behold.
x. The Last Story ; The only game I bought for my Wii this year, disappointingly. Rollicking good fun though, ignoring the fact that it ran like crap, utilized a muted and reserved soundtrack by the greatest video game composer in existence and contained some sorely misplaced British voice-acting.
x. The Unfinished Swan ; I was often in awe of what I was witnessing, but unlike that other indie-developed, artsy PSN-exclusive, this does not reach the necessary lasting emotional impact to honour it a complete success.
x. Dishonored ; The open-ended nature at which you could approach your mission and deal with your targets was great. The uninspired story, lifeless cast and dreary setting of Dunwall however was not. I know this is a city ravaged by plague and decay, but geez, at least give it a little glitz! Dunwall makes Victorian London look like Disneyworld for crying out loud.

2011. inFamous 2 ; Got this when it was made available free on PS+ this year. It remedied a lot of the issues inherent in the first game I think. The cast was vastly improved, with Zeke somehow transformed into a legitimately likeable fellow. And the acting chops of new Cole Eric Ladin really bolstered the character from what came before. I've seen Ladin in Mad Men, Generation Kill and The Killing - he's an excellent actor. Less goons shooting at you with pinpoint accuracy at every turn; that was a big plus. More variety in the missions and cooler powers to obtain during the campaign. It wasn't perfect by any means, but it was definitely a step up, and I liked it enough that I would actually welcome a third game from Sucker Punch if it ever happens.

2013. DmC: Devil May Cry ; Most fun I’ve had with a hack ‘n’ slasher since I can remember.

 

Ridesh

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Oct 23, 2011
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GOTY 2012



1. Sleeping Dogs ; I love open world games, and this game nailed the quality gameplay that I've expected from Rockstar for a long time.
2. The Walking Dead
3. Mass Effect 3
4. Max Payne 3
5. Assassin's Creed III
6. Darksiders II
7. Borderlands 2
8. Resident Evil 6

2011. The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings
 

MushroomSamba

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Nov 15, 2009
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Kind of a bummer year for me.

1. Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning ; Pretty engrossing fantasy world that I actually had fun exploring. There's a pretty fun combo system in there, but unfortunately the game's so easy, most people probably didn't feel forced into discovering them. Fair share of interesting stories, especially the faction quests.

2. Mass Effect 3 ; The ending gets a lot of shit, and yes, it definitely leaves the story with a sour note, but it was doing fairly okay up until that point. The overall package isn't bad, per se, but it's clearly not the best ME game in the series. It does have the best combat though. A pity Bioware couldn't give one of the most epic new franchises of this gen the proper sendoff it deserved.

3. Gunman Clive ; It's a fantastic homage to retro 2D platformers (Mega Man in particular) and does the genre proud. The mechanics are so pure and butter smooth, you always feel that it's your skill that determines success or failure. It also boasts a unique "sketchy" art style and some twangy western tunes. It may be a short game, but it's worth every second.

4. Journey ; My thoughts on the game.

5. Borderlands 2 ; It didn't hit me the way the first one did, but it still has its unique charm that made the adventure a worthwhile experience.

2011. Alice: Madness Returns ; 2011 was such an awesome year for me, which makes the somewhat crappy '12 all the more apparent. Alice was 3D platform-actioning at its finest for me, stirring up nostalgia for a genre that's gone by the wayside.
 

Ein Bear

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Mar 10, 2011
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1. Gravity Rush; I went into this not knowing much about it, which I think helped spare me from the hype-backlash the game seemed to suffer after it came out. Gravity Rush was just so damn charming I fell in love with it instantly, and it's core gameplay is so refreshingly different to anything I've ever played before that it kept me glued to my Vita for hours.

2. The Walking Dead; This would be my number 1 if not for the technical issues that let the rest of the game down. Regardless, it has amazing writing and some shocking moments - have honestly never felt so emotionally attached to a cast of character.

3. Mass Effect 3; The ending was terrible, no arguments there. But the rest of the game was a great experience, full of amazing moments. Tuchanka alone means it deserves a place on any GOTY list. Has the best TPS gameplay around too, IMO.

4. Resident Evil: Revelations; Tense, scary, and a technical marvel. The best Resident Evil game since 4, and hopefully the one Capcom look at closely when they're going forward with the series. 6 should be ashamed.

5. Asura's Wrath; Absolutely batshit insane. Perhaps it's more of an interactive movie than a game, but whatever it is it's damn enjoyable.

6. Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed; Hands down, the greatest Kart racing game ever made. The transforming vehicles and tracks are awesome, and the amount of Sega fanservice makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. Just remember to bring Ryo back next time, okay?

7. Uncharted: Golden Abyss; After being somewhat let down by UC3, this was a refreshing return to form for the series. Less focused on set-pieces, more of a return to a UC1 style of adventure. Also, it was just crazy to play a game like this on a handheld.

8. Lollipop Chainsaw; Grasshopper Manufacture never fails to deliver a crazy, stylish game full of memorable characters and hilarious dialogue. Not quite as good as SotD was last year, but still a great experience.

9. The Unfinished Swan; For some reason I haven't played Journey yet, so I'm picking this as my artsy digital PSN release. Absolutely breathtaking.

10. New Super Mario Bros U; 2D Mario at it's very best, so by rights it should probably be much higher. The tight gameplay and masterfully designed levels, however, are let down by the lazy presentation which do make the game feel slightly stale at times.

Honourable Mentions:

x. Okami HD; I wasn't sure about if a remaster of an older game 'counted' in a GOTY 2012 list, but I feel I should mention the absolutely incredible job they did porting this. 1080p, AA, re-done cutscenes... they really went above and beyond.

x. Dear Esther; Minimal gameplay, but beautiful atmosphere. Poetry made interactive.

2011:

x. Xenoblade Chronicles; PAL supremecy. I played this in 2011, so I'm throwing this here. Simply the greatest JRPG ever made.
 

Thores

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Sep 21, 2011
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1. Xenoblade Chronicles ; I am an adult. I have a job. Even when I am not at my job, I don't really have enough free time to spend on a single video game before another begins commanding my attention. And yet I spent 120 hours on Xenoblade Chronicles. To achieve this feat, it had to have been the best game of the year. Also it is my favorite JRPG of this generation hands down, and when I try to explain the specifics of why I just get really excited and flustered and sputter unintelligible nonsense for a few minutes. Affinity Charts, you guys! Social drama sidequests! MMO streamlining with a single-player sense of focus and scope. M-Melia

2. Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward ; 999 was my 2010 GOTY in 2011, and this was an incredibly engaging continuation of that story. I cannot fucking wait for Part 3.

3. Persona 4 Arena ; The chance to revisit one of my favorite casts in videogame history (without having to buy a Vita) negated most of its flaws and the drama around its release for me. It is gorgeous, fun, and accessible, and I was super entertained with it for like a month straight. Also, not many other games let me have "Cream Soda Downpour Daddy" or "Steak Steak Steak" as online play taglines.

4. Kid Icarus Uprising ; It's like playing a Saturday morning cartoon! And it's stuffed to the brim with content. Thank you Sakurai, I should have never stopped believing in you.

5. Guns of Icarus Online ; Oh my god, online co-op airship battles THIS GAME IS SO GOOD, more of everything about it please.

6. Skullgirls ; It is incredibly easy to see every single drop of love squeezed into this game. And it does things with the fighting genre that retail games should have picked up on years ago. Skullgirls would have been way higher on my list if it had delivered on its promise of beefing up the roster with DLC support throughout the year. I understand that it falling short of these goals are due to factors completely out of Reverge Labs' control, but the single-digit roster and currently-unaddressed teases in the title's story mode make it feel like an incomplete game.

7. Tokyo Jungle ; In practice this game can be more frustrating than fun. But it can also be incredibly addictive, and seriously, packages this unique are a big part of why videogames are my hobby in the first place.

8. Knights of Pen and Paper ; The mechanics don't really do anything new, the gameplay is needlessly stretched out with a thousand fetch quests, and it has some standard smartphone game pitfalls like making the player wait eight real-time hours for a task to complete. But somehow the concept, aesthetic, and charm make me overlook all of that easily. I don't think it's objectively one of the best games of the year, but it hits a ton of my personal weak points.

9. Pokemon White 2 ; For all the effort Nintendo/Game Freak made to make this game seem like it transcended the whole "third game cash-in" thing... it sure did feel like one of the laziest entries in the main series yet. But it's still a Pokemon game, so I still liked it.

x. Paper Mario: Sticker Star ; This was a competent, well made video game. But the near-complete stripping of what defines Paper Mario to me makes it hard to give it any sort of ranking that would net it points.

Holy crap I ended up complaining a LOT. I had fun this year, I promise!

I didn't get around to playing Journey or Walking Dead (though I do own both), maybe one of them will be my 2012 game of 2013.
 

Rapstah

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Jul 20, 2009
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Is the parser going to go through all these posts, say "There's no game called [b]Mass Effect 3[/b]" and ignore 40% of the lists for that reason?

Edit: No, it would read the posts as they end up if anything, right? Parsable text, not the code that generates the HTML code that generates the text.
 

jim-jam bongs

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Dec 5, 2008
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Is the parser going to go through all these posts, say "There's no game called [b]Mass Effect 3[/b]" and ignore 40% of the lists for that reason?

Edit: No, it would read the posts as they end up if anything, right? Parsable text, not the code that generates the HTML code that generates the text.
That's BBCode, not HTML. If I had to guess the parser is written in PHP so they'll use a regular expression after passing the output through striptags() or whatever it's called, so yeah it'll just be text.
 

Omikaru

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May 28, 2006
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Is the parser going to go through all these posts, say "There's no game called [b]Mass Effect 3[/b]" and ignore 40% of the lists for that reason?

Edit: No, it would read the posts as they end up if anything, right? Parsable text, not the code that generates the HTML code that generates the text.
So long as the post is formatted as the OT stated, it's fine. I'm sure if bolding our game titles was a problem then timetokill or Cheesemeister would've mentioned it by now. I don't think it can see the BBCode at any rate...
 

timetokill

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Oct 19, 2004
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Is the parser going to go through all these posts, say "There's no game called [b]Mass Effect 3[/b]" and ignore 40% of the lists for that reason?

Edit: No, it would read the posts as they end up if anything, right? Parsable text, not the code that generates the HTML code that generates the text.
It counts them correctly, don't worry about it. :) This ain't the first rodeo for the parser. BBcode is fine, and in fact we use the quote blocks to ignore text so that people can comment on other lists if they want to.
 

timetokill

Banned
Oct 19, 2004
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1. The Walking Dead ; First off, this game has a lot of problems. The framerate is iffy, it has a lot of bugs, the things you're supposed to do aren't always clear. A lot of the choices you would want to make are oftentimes not present at all. And the game pretty much lies to you about your choices really affecting the story; truthfully, your choices do matter, but they're on a much smaller, more personal level than you would imagine. For instance, after I finished the game, I really was distrought about one of the final lines I had my character say to another. I felt that I should have made another choice, and it nagged at me for days. All this, despite knowing that these aren't real people, and of all the choices you make in the series, what you say at the end changes the least in the game itself. I felt a real sense of regret, of wishing I could do more to help Clementine. And that I think was the true power and meaning of choice in The Walking Dead. Looking back, though, it's easy for me to set the technical aspects aside. In a year when I was depressed from Journey and the reaction it was getting, when I feared for the direction the industry might go, The Walking Dead actually gave me hope and excitement about how things might improve. And they did it via the hopeless world of The Walking Dead. Go figure.

2. New Super Mario Bros. U ; The culmination of the "New" series, and the best one on offer, making it one of the best 2D platformers ever. I actually put this game off for a while, and when I came back to it in December and January I found that it was the absolute perfect game to play after a day of work. It's so mechanically sound that every level is a joy to play through. The harder it gets, the better you get at the game, and it can be put down at any time. Mario is still the most fun character to move in a videogame world ever, and this game takes that and runs with it, with some actually challenging levels, hidden exits, and the feeling of discovery that has been missing from 2D Mario since Super Mario World. If this is a swan song for the "New" series (and I hope it is), I couldn't imagine a more fitting or pleasureable one.

3. Spelunky ; I never played the freeware form of this game, so the punishing yet enjoyable world of Spelunky was new to me. More than any other game this year, this gave me the "one more try" feeling along with the feeling of true improvement. I remember starting the game, feeling like it was too punishing, too hard, that I was too awful at the game. I remember finally beating the game, and feeling like I had just made it through a treacherous world, thankful for my good fortune and confident in my abilities to exploit it. It's a game that creates stories completely out of the randomness of the levels and the game you decide to play. The discovery of each environment, the way you have to react to them, and the fact that you're not memorizing the levels but truly delving into them is what makes this game such a winner. An absolute gem.

4. Trials Evolution ; I feel like you either love Trials or you haven't played it yet. Another game where you feel yourself improving, getting better, truly understanding your character and his platforming abilities (the bike) and taking immense pleasure in the results. The awful title music makes me laugh every time, too.

5. Nintendoland ; I really wasn't expecting anything from this, and as a single-player affair it's mostly forgettable. But where it shines is in reminding you that there is nothing better than local couch co-op. Whereas most games nowadays either forget about it or actively shun the possibility of - *gasp* - having other people in the same room as you, Nintendoland embraces it and brings you together with people in the most fun way possible. Not all of the games are top-tier. But I will say that I have never laughed as hard this year as I did playing the Animal Crossing fruit stealing game. I'm talking teary-eyed, red-faced, tired-cheek-muscles laughter. That kind of joy is hard to produce, and should be recognized.

6. Hotline Miami ; The roughest game on my list, in that it's really mechanically kind of unsound. Sometimes your attacks miss for seemingly no reason, the controls remain awkward the entire way through the game, and there are bugs all over the place, whether it's the "no sound/steam cloud" bug or bugs where an enemy glitches out, leaving you stuck on the last floor of a building you painstakingly fought your way to the top of. All of that said, it's a brave, wild sort of game, with a presentation that seeps into your blood much like the blood of your victims seeps into your soul. A lot of games have you do a lot of killing and feel awesome for it. This game makes you feel awesome for killing, and then feel terrible for feeling awesome.

7. Dear Esther ; This is a game unlike any I've played, and for that it's a good thing. It feels somewhat like a poem, with one of the most beautiful aural experiences I've had in gaming. I feel like it's unfortunate that the game takes control from you as the last minute, as it would've been braver to let the player take those last steps to the conclusion. But I enjoyed it anyway, and found myself inspired by it, despite what little gameplay it had.

8. Kid Icarus: Uprising ; Nobody packs content into a game like Sakurai, and this is no exception. I have no love for the old Kid Icarus game, which I found to be mostly frustrating and repetitive. This game is different, with fantastic flying sections, sufficiently fun ground sections, amazing music and perfect voice acting. I think having the "right" amount of cheesiness to be both silly and yet lovable is one of the hardest things to pull off, and it's done perfectly here. I wanted to roll my eyes but found myself laughing instead. It's just so damn good-natured that you can't hate on it. Even the menus in this game are fun. That's Sakurai for you.

9. Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward ; I love this series, but this game wasn't as good as 999 in the story department, which is the most critical component. It doesn't do anything to justify the hardware like 999 did, which may be because it was multiplatform this time. This game did improve on the gameplay side of things, which is greatly appreciated, but in the end it couldn't live up to the immense hype I had after absolutely adoring 999 on DS. I'm still in for the next chapter in the saga, of course, with tempered expectations.

10. Halo 4 ; I don't really enjoy the Halo campaigns generally, though I certainly like them more than the corridor-shooters it competes with. That said, the more corridor-like aspects of this campaign were disappointing. The multiplayer takes some missteps with some sort of baffling map designs, questionable weapon balance, and the frustrating ordinance system. That said, it's a million times better than Reach's multiplayer, and is enough to keep me entertained even today. The terrible steps made with Forge made me drop this to the bottom of my list. Forge is perhaps my favorite thing about the games nowadays and the way it's treated by 343i is shameful at best.


Honorable mentions:
x. Zombi U ; A wonderful take on the zombie genre, with characters that feel appropriately weak and vulnerable, and the perfect amount of tension as you sneak by zombies, or, wailingly take one out with a cricket bat. I wish more games would explore this kind of vulerability as opposed to making you a singular badass hero.

x. Resident Evil: Revelations ; Best Resident Evil since the fourth one. It's not saying much but I hope a lot more people give this a try, especially once it comes to consoles. I think they'll be surprised at the quality of the game and how good it was on 3DS.

x. Xenoblade Chronicles ; I would've voted for this had I not played it last year. Best JRPG since FF12 and one of my favorites ever. now it's Reyn time!



2011. Deus Ex: Human Revolution ; Picked this one up this year after it's strong showing in last year's GAF GOTY voting and found it to be wonderfully enjoyable. The world and the questions it raises about augmentation, something that is coming to be a real-life topic in the coming decades, was fascinating and something I still think about today.
 

Dark Schala

Eloquent Princess
Mar 2, 2010
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The Land of Bagged Milk
Is Duffyside going to wait until the last minute like last year?


These last-minute lists have been really good so far!

Acquiescence, again, your Gravity Rush writeup is why I like reading lists for games that I otherwise thought were somewhat flawed. Other people see things that I don't really see. Almost makes me feel like I'm too harsh towards some games sometimes.
 
Dec 7, 2008
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My post ended up being just over 24,000 characters, so I've split it into two posts. All the stuff with the extended comments is purposefully not formatted correctly. The final list below is properly formatted for the parser...I think?

Disclaimer: There are so many 2012 games I haven't gotten around to. I had a whole rant about how much of a mistake it was to choose to spend my last moments before the vote with Kid Icarus over Dishonored, but I'll keep this thread positive by omitting all of that.

PART ONE!

I) Trials Evolution- Not just my Game of the Year, but my favorite game of the generation. I knew after playing Trials HD that Evo was going to be something special, but even that didn't prepare me for this. There's something very addictive about continually restarting a track (as simple and swift as pressing the Back button) so you can shave off the couple milliseconds you need to get a platinum medal or beat a rival's record. As in Trials HD, the on-screen leaderboard is a brilliant way to always show how you're faring on a track in realtime against your friends, providing constant motivation to come up with new tricks and techniques to get ahead. RedLynx went the extra mile (pun not intended?) with the sequel, designing varied environments and track concepts that take you outside of HD's warehouse.

Beyond the base game's content, I am continually astounded by the community's creativity when I check out the best user-generated tracks on the new Track Central hub (even if some of them are absurdly demanding tracks meant for motorbike ninjas). I've seen a Mirror's Edge track, a track where you play as a shadow, an underwater track with an Oxygen bar, an arctic track, a track where you race a giant robot in the background, a track inside a giant's kitchen, and so on.

If you have a 360, you should try this game. Assuming the upcoming PC port is good, you should play this game. Trials Evolution is pure gameplay bliss.

II) Borderlands 2- The "cel-shaded" art style is impressive and the writing/humor is often quite funny (despite some missteps like Tiny Tina and "[bullet] to the knee" meme references).

But those are peripheral to the main reason why this is my second favorite game this year: the gunplay and the combat encounters. A large part of this has to do with the variety of enemies you encounter and their attack behaviors. You've got giant simian "bullymongs" throwing rocks at you, masked psychos making kamikaze grenade runs at you, crysalisks that can only be damaged from aiming at their legs, bulky Constructors summoning loaders, cloaking stalkers, etc. I love the flow of combat here- switching between your four weapons to do effective damage against each enemy type, throwing out a turret or a grenade to deal with a group, the frantic rush to kill an enemy when you've been downed so you can get a Second Wind revival, and finally the calm moments as you survey the resulting carnage for useful loot. Rinse and repeat. It hasn't worn out its welcome yet.

The abundant sidequests are also surprisingly in-depth. I only played the vanilla game as a commando, so I'm very eager to return in a year or so to try out a different class once all the DLC quests are out.

III) Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy- Sorry if I mangle the name. It's "theater rhythm," right? No? However it's pronounced, Trythatmeat is a fantastic rhythm game that focuses on the Final Fantasy series' most agreeable aspect: its soundtrack. Admittedly, I don't know how someone who hasn't played most of the FFs would feel about this, but for me, this was a fond look back at the series I used to be crazy about. Nostalgia aside, Thathermyth has a lot of content between three difficulty levels, Series mode, unlockable tracks and characters, the RPG elements, and a Behemoth-sized load of DLC. I just wish the Chaos Shrine used more than 20 tracks. Another 10-20 more would have been perfect. Regardless, Rhyteatmilk is currently my favorite 3DS game, with my total playtime within striking distance of MK7. I fully endorse this Thetarhythm: Final Fantasy product.

IV) Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown- Ever since VF4, this is one of the few fighting game series I care about. I love how you're able to pull off a massive set of moves simply with combos of punch, kick and grab. Despite the appearance of limited options, every character feels quite distinct. Not only that, but two players using the same character could bring completely different playstyles to the table. Much like VF4, VF5FS features an impressive suite of tutorial options to help you get better. Unfortunately, I would have liked more options to view your replays (i.e. slow down, rewind, or pause) and VF4's Kumite mode is missed, but it's a necessary sacrifice for the $15 price tag and 2 gig size. A shame that more people aren't playing this, since it means running into the same small group of players when I go online. Also, I suck at this, but that's not Sega's fault.

V) Halo 4- Apparently the MP sucks in this? I wouldn't know, as this gets my vote for its campaign mode. The story sucks? Eh, I glanced over a wiki shortly before the release and had no problem understanding what was going on (granted, that's not the ideal solution, but why are you playing a Halo game for the story?*). The campaign kept me enthralled for its duration, despite a couple frustrating Banshee sections and out-of-nowhere deaths from power weapons.

So while I can't tell you whether you should play this for its multiplayer or its coherent plot, I can tell you that if you want a campaign against some fairly wily (albeit mostly familiar) opponents with an array of slick sci-fi weaponry (which feels very satisfying to shoot) on a grand alien landscape, you should try this. Grand is the best word to describe it, really; some of these structures and battlefields are huge compared with other FPS**, and the upgraded graphics certainly help.

*although I appreciated that the story had a greater sense of urgency than the plot in Reach.
**I am not suggesting that there aren't bigger battlefields in other shooters out there

VI) Spelunky- I still haven't beaten this game due to its difficult progression (even using shortcuts), but I will say that discovering the
secret entrance from World 2 to the worm's intestinal level
was my gaming moment of the year. Sometimes it's funny seeing how quickly a run can end. This game does not hold your hand and will not hesitate to punish your greed for more treasure with grave consequences. Oh you want this golden statue? Fuck you, here's a boulder. Great soundtrack too.

VII) Sonic and All-Stars Racing Transformed- Some of it's nostalgia as a Genesis kid, but the actual kart racing here is really good. I've seen the comparison to Diddy Kong Racing elsewhere, and I have to agree. Like that aforementioned game, the single-player here is quite meaty and generally harder than you'd expect from a game like this.
 
Dec 7, 2008
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THE THRILLING CONCLUSION TO MY BALLOT!

VIII) Sleeping Dogs- The strengths of this game are the slow-motion shooting mechanics, its brutal environmental kills (that is not how you use a car door!), and the gorgeous recreation of Hong Kong. The story is nothing special, but the main character is extremely likable. The melee combat and the counter system (make sure you get the upgrade for a reduced lagtime after a failed counter) isn't quite as snappy or responsive as the Batman games but it's a good enough facsimile. Oh yeah, and hijacking a car from another vehicle in motion is a great addition to the genre.

This would have ranked higher, but the main quest suffers from the same problem of "follow the quest marker and follow directions" mission design that so many modern open-world games have. Copy its strengths, not its faults, other game devs.

IX) Pokemon Black and White 2- (I played Black 2). Pokemon White was my 2011 GOTY. I don't think the sequel's main quest is as good (ugh, a sewer dungeon? Really, Gamefreak?). The pacing is all messed up (most of the Team Plasma plot is backloaded and set after Gym 7 and 8), there are more caves and required HMs than before, the way Gamefreak implemented difficulty settings is bizarre and unwieldy, and the world is no longer fresh and new. On the other hand, this is still a Pokemon game and the postgame (which I unfortunately haven't had time to delve into) is better than before. I kind of wish Gen V wasn't ending this October as I would've liked more time with this one.

X) Rhythm Heaven Fever- This is the best game about feline vs. canine aerial badminton that you will ever play. It's also a good rhythm game, but judging by the game's price bomba, you don't care about that.

My LTTP 2011 vote: Batman: Arkham City- It was a toss-up between this and Radiant Historia, but I sided with AC. Just know that Radiant Historia is nearly equally awesome. This game is jam-packed with Batverse enemies, allies and lore. Rocksteady added a bit more depth to the combat with the quick gadget options and special moves, and I really loved gliding across the city solving all the Riddler challenges. The combat still isn't particularly deep or challenging compared with the top-tier third-person action games, but the developers do an impressive job with all of the contextual attack animations and Batman's hits have a very satisfying impact to them. There's a very simple pleasure I get from seeing the combo counter rise and glow yellow. For what it is, it's really good. I am extremely eager to see a next-gen follow-up. Just imagine a Firefly fight with UE4.

-----------------------------------------------------------------

The actual list for computers to read:

1. Trials Evolution; I had fun with this game.
2. Borderlands 2;
3. Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy;
4. Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown;
5. Halo 4;
6. Spelunky;
7. Sonic and All-Stars Racing Transformed;
8. Sleeping Dogs;
9. Pokemon Black and White 2;
10. Rhythm Heaven Fever;
x. Gravity Rush;
x. Botanicula;

2011. Batman: Arkham City;
 

Mr. Furlong

Neo Member
Sep 12, 2012
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1. Borderlands 2 ; After playing Borderlands 1 this year too, it was a big improvement. Literally cannot get enough. Am I a bad person for loving the dlc so much?

2. Pokemon Conquest ; I clocked in at over 100 hours with this game and I finished all post game content (like 80 hours). The formula somehow worked, and it was very easy to pick up for an hour while watching tv.

3. Pokemon Black 2 ; I can't explain why I love these games so much. I've never disliked a mainstream entry into the pokemon series and I don't think I will anytime soon.

4. Resident evil 6 ; Haters be damned. Probably wasn't the best game to come out this year, but it was one I had alot of fun with, even though it's primarily action these days.

5. FarCry 3 ; Bought this on a whim and enjoyed it alot. The only thing I disliked were how hunting becomes irrelevant after a while and the horrible netcode. Ubisoft should be doing better.

6. Resident evil Revelations ; Great handheld title. My only gripe with the title was that enemies don't drop items, which makes the combat less rewarding. I suppose that's going back to RE's root, however.

2011. Dark Souls ; This game was a real eye-opener for me. Made me realise that I enjoy games with harder difficulties, and I have played most games on hard since I finished this. Everything was great about it. Even when I finished and platinumed the game, thinking I was a master, the dlc put me back in my place once again. Can't wait for Dark souls 2, although I lament the name (was hoping for dead souls).

I really thought I bought more new games this year. The woes of being a student. I just don't see the appeal of buying new games when I can buy ones that game out a year or two ago for a third of the price.
 

icecream

Public Health Threat
Jan 9, 2006
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1. White Album 2 -The other side of happiness- ; While one may be dismayed at how much the game takes from White Album music-wise, the story, cast of characters, drama, and visuals combined definitely set a new bar for romance ADVs. Whether it is utilizing novel ways to blend audio and text, or Motion Portrait, or the simple yet efficient GUI, Sting and Aquaplus should be applauded once again for another masterpiece.

2. Ore no Imōto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai Portable ga Tsuzuku Wake ga Nai ; While unable to trump the first game, still a strong game that is worth playing for any Oreimo fan.

3. Asura's Wrath ; While it's unfortunate that DLC is necessary for the full experience, you'll never regret it once throughout the entire crazy ride.

4. Borderlands 2;

5. The Walking Dead;

6. Sleeping Dogs;

7. Virtue's Last Reward;
 

CSX

Member
Jan 16, 2011
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700
1. Persona 4 Golden ; I really didn't want to put this as my number 1. Afterall I played the original when it came out years ago. But then, I saw that I spent 130 hours playing this game. With that level of commitment, I think it's ok for me to say that it's my GOTY. Plus, it justified my Vita purchase :)

2. Sleeping Dogs ; Just plain fun. It did the rare thing for me that many sandbox games are unable to do...making collectible hunting fun. Adding on that was a fast pace gun combat system and challenging hand to hand combat. Understanding the canton was a little plus for me too.

3. Tekken Tag 2 ; Great netcode and ridculous large cast of fighters.

4. Far Cry 3 ; So much to do. So much to shoot. So much to see. So much insanity.

5. Dishonored ; Very unique game. Really fun to experiment with different weapons and powers.

6. Gravity Rush ; really really love the look to this game. Camera got a little annoying but you eventually get used to it

7. Journey ; If it was another 3 hours long, it will probably be my number 2.

8. Max Payne 3 ; Great visuals. Great gunplay. Me likey

9. Lumines Electronic Symphony ; Great music and visual and now on the Vita's OLED. Fun stuff

10. Uncharted Golden Abyss ; Not the best Uncharted and I kinda had to be reminded I played it. But nevertheless, I still had a fun time with it.

2011 game - To The Moon ; I shall wait till the end of time for the sequel. Can't fukking wait.

Might add more info and detail later. But list will probably stay the same
 

Andrew J.

Member
Apr 18, 2007
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1. Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward. Whenever I had a spare moment I would think about this game and what I was going to do next, something true of all my top favorites. VLR took the conceit of 999's big plot twist and expanded it into a core gameplay and narrative mechanic that illuminates and contextualizes the characters and events beyond what a purely linear story would have been able to.

Plus some of those puzzles were hard, son.

2. New Super Mario Bros. U.

3. New Super Mario Bros. 2.

4. Persona 4 Golden.

5. Xenoblade Chronicles.

6. Kid Icarus Uprising.

7. Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask.

8. The Last Story.

9. Katawa Shoujo.

10. Devil Survivor 2.
 

MrDaravon

Member
Mar 24, 2005
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1. Borderlands 2 ; Not flawless, and the DLC has been a bit of a bust, but still amazing.
2. Theathrhythm Final Fantasy ; Went from being "this game looks like shit and should be a $2 app" pre-release to playing the fucking shit out if it, and wishing that more DLC was coming out that I could buy.
3. Asura's Wrath ; BURST
4. Trials Evolution ; So much rage that lasts for as long as it takes to hit the Checkpoint button.
5. Xenoblade ; Currently about 45 hours into this, and honestly would probably wind up being higher if I had finished it in time. Only real downsides are that it looks like ass on an HDTV, and the slight lag/load when accessing menus is annoying.
6. Diablo 3 ; The patches made significant improvements to the game, and I spent several hundred hours on it from that. Dropped a bit for me though because it doesn't look like they're going to take it all the way to the finish line of fixing it completely until at least the next expansion, which kind of kills my drive.
7. Final Fantasy XIII-2 ; Battle system and music is amazing. Story and characters are absolute fucking nonsense though.
8. Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition ; Only didn't place higher due to the extremely small world size, which has also kept me from going back to it.
9. Dust An Elysian Tail ;
10. Mark of the Ninja ;




And for my personal reference, games that I didn't get to that may have possibly made the list:
Tokyo Jungle
Assassins Creed III
The Walking Dead
Kid Icarus Uprising
Paper Mario: Sticker Star
Persona 4 Arena
Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 (didn’t play Campaign so don’t feel like I can make a call on this)
Far Cry 3
X-COM
Persona 4 Golden
Resident Evil 6 (post patch)
Torchlight 2
 

Korigama

Member
Jul 10, 2009
12,469
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1. Xenoblade Chronicles ; For the longest time, I had lamented the likelihood that this game wouldn't release in North America. However, when Nintendo of America made the decision to release the game in limited quantities, I saw to pre-ordering it as soon as I could. What I got in Xenoblade was quite possibly the best game I've played on the Wii, and one of the best JRPGs I've played in any gen. Beautiful art direction, brilliant soundtrack, and the first MMO-esque combat system I've truly enjoyed, it comes as no surprise that I wound up spending well over 200 hours on just one playthrough alone. I won't tout Xenoblade as the savior of the genre, but I will certainly acknowledge it as embodying so much of what made RPGs special, what so many other such games have lost as of late.

2. Resident Evil: Revelations ; After being disappointed with the recent console offerings from the Resident Evil series, I was genuinely surprised by Revelations. Both one of the best-looking and best-playing games on the 3DS, it successfully combines aspects of both old-school and modern RE, albeit favoring action toward the end of the game and in the non-Jill segments. In spite of this, however, a clear focus is apparent throughout the narrative in its episodic structure. Though still short of a return to the level of achievement marked by RE4, I was glad to make this the first RE that I had chosen to buy in the seven years since that game's release.

3. The Last Story ; A JRPG with very unconventional real-time combat, taking cues from modern TPS titles, The Last Story was one of the more overlooked games last year. One of the best casts I've encountered in an RPG, part of the fun was watching the party interact throughout the game, both in and out of battle. If I were to complain about anything, I would say that the game felt too short. Nobuo Uematsu's work on the soundtrack was also enjoyable, especially the late-game boss themes.

4. Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward ; The follow-up to 999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors, VLR is an intriguing visual novel that, while playable on its own, carries far more meaning to people who've played 999 before it. The soundtrack (composed once again by Shinji Hosoe) remains great, and features both returning tracks from the original game and new songs alike, and the addition of voice acting adds to rather than detracts from the experience (the quality of Zero III's English performance standing out in particular in leaving the greatest impression). At the same time, however, while well worth playing, the experience (in respect to cast, scenario, plot, and arguably puzzles) ultimately doesn't have the same impact as 999.

5. Liberation Maiden ; The title I was most interested in as part of the games associated with Guild01. Fun shooter with great production values, ranging from the art direction, soundtrack, and voice acting, to the opening animated by Bones. If I were to nitpick one thing, it would be the unfriendliness of the controls to left-handed players.

2011. Hard Corps: Uprising ; An excellent downloadable title, and easily one of the best games in the Contra series.
 

Korigama

Member
Jul 10, 2009
12,469
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I am going to be a negative voice on this one; 999 is the better game in almost every respect, and while VLR has more puzzles, they mostly aren't better. Many of them are bigger and longer, but often not deeper. VLR is great, and totally worth playing, and would rank in my top 10 (near the top) if I did do a ranking this year, but 999 is the better game.
Pretty much how I look at it.
 

LiveFromKyoto

Member
Jul 19, 2006
25,249
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0
Kyoto, Japan
1. ZombiU ; It created a new kind of tension in a survival horror game that we've never seen before by using the negative space between the two screens. Loved the whole thing about John Dee and the use of locations like Buckingham Palace. And the fact that dying forces you to track down and kill your former self - and that failure to do so rams up the game's difficulty considerably.

2. New Super Mario Bros U ; Say what you want about this, it's the only game this year that I had three separate saves going at once. Multiplayer was a lot of fun, and boost mode was a way better feature than I had anticipated. I also dug the challenge modes a lot more than I thought I would. I know I'll be coming back to this for months, something I can't say about many games.

3. Nintendo Land ; Yes, this list is very U heavy, but I make no apologies - I've had a blast with it and I think it's the most fun and innovative hardware design since the Dreamcast. As for Nintendo Land, what looked like a gimmicky tech demo with simple games actually turned out to be Nintendo's surprise return to its hardcore score-based arcade roots. The balance between gameplay, challenge, use of the system's features and fantastic local multiplayer that went from simple and fun (Animal Crossing, Pikmin) to surprisingly hardcore (Metroid). They did a good job designing a core game for the system to ship with that you can go back to again and again for years. Looking forward to Nintendo World, with online play!

4. Call of Duty: Black Ops II ; I'm not usually into games this brotastic, but the way they used real world events and people really worked for me. Fighting through the streets during the invasion of Panama, with an asshole Manuel Noriega by your side? Charging through the Angolan civil war with Jonas Savimbi shouting orders? Fighting alongside the same Mujahadeen who would eventually become the Taliban? And that sniper twist at the end - great, great campaign, I had a blast. Multiplayer was addictive too.

5. Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown ; There's still a lot of life left in this game. I will never master it, but its endless depth keeps me coming back for quick matches again and again. Another game that I can see myself still picking up a year from now.

6. Metal Gear Solid HD Collection ; Not purely new, but Peacewalker was new to me, and the chance to play it in hi def was great. It was great going through the Metal Gear saga again, and the high quality of the art made the transition to HD a beautiful one. One of the more memorable gaming experiences I had this year.

7. Batman - Arkham City Armored Edition ; This version was my first exposure to the game, and it's really quite spectacular. That one moment where I was flying around the city and found myself standing on a rooftop framed by the moon - they nailed it. Playing on the game pad and using the touch features was an absolute pleasure. Well worth owning.

8. Tekken Tag Tournament 2 ; This game is freaking awesome on any system, but for me the U version brought things to another level. Taking one of the 2 best 3D fighters out there and adding the party fun of mushroom mode (if you're not in a room full of people playing this and they're not laughing their asses off, you're in a morgue) and the return of Tekken Ball made this the most enjoyable version of a fantastic game for me.

9. Daytona USA HD ; This game was a revelation in HD, so perfect and clean with a flawless frame rate, Sega did a really good job with this. It was just like the old hi res promotional shots for it they released back then. And it plays as good as ever. On top of all that, the trophies led me to a bunch of secrets that after owning two previous versions and playing it plenty in the arcade I never knew it had (flipping the Jeffrey statue??).

10. Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward ; I never would have given this series a chance were it not for the internet buzz, but it became an instant favourite and had me happily plowing through to get all the endings, something I would usually find a chore.

X. Honourable Mention 1: Trine 2: Director's Cut ; This storybook sidescroller plays like it was built to be on the pad, drawing spells on the screen with a wave of your finger. Great game, great port with new content.

X. Honourable Mention 2: Assassin's Creed III ; If only for the awesome opera and ship battle scenes. Plus, I always thought this era was kind of silly looking, but they really sold it as cool.

2011. Deus Ex: Human Revolution ; Playing this game at max settings on my retina Macbook Pro and it's just fantastic, drawing from all the best cyberpunk sources (Blade Runner, Shadowrun, Gibson).

Wish I had played: Far Cry 3 and Xenoblade. Next year's LTTP games, I guess!
 

Zissou

Member
Feb 1, 2007
5,611
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1. FTL ; The OT’s title description of ‘Oregon Trail in space’ is spot on and this game really reminds me of being in the elementary school computer lab (in a good way!). There are enough random elements that the game keeps from getting stale and though it feels like luck plays a large role in your success, ultimately it’s down to you, and I’m still learning new things all the time that I can do better. A great example of how the story that emerges organically from gameplay is more powerful and interesting than anything a cutscene could possibly deliver.

2. Super Hexagon ; An extremely simple game that goes to show that you don’t need layers and layers of complexity to be great. A fantastic example of a game that creates a sense of flow where you completely lose yourself and all perception of time and the world around you (unlike the actual game titled ‘Flow,’ which was terrible at inducing this feeling!). The combination of psychedelic visuals and the great soundtrack work perfectly to immerse you in the game. Maybe the best proof yet that phones can be legitimate gaming devices when properly developed for. It’s certainly better than anything I’ve played on my recently bought Vita. It was very difficult to decide between this and FTL for my GoTY.

3. Hotline Miami ; Not much to say that others haven’t already touched on. The presentation works very well with the mechanics in a synergistic way that most games can’t really hope to achieve. Scratches the same itch the Super Meat Boy did- intensity and precision presented in a way which encourages creative play and experimentation. It’s slightly different from Meat Boy in that you deal with small variations and seeming bits of randomization after each death, so it’s let about constructing a perfect plan and more about adapting on the fly (or so it seems so far). Good in it’s own way, but it’s definitely tripped me up because I occasionally slip back into that mindset and style of play.

4. Gravity Rush ; An interesting take on the open world traversal genre (if that is a genre?), it reminds me in many ways of Crackdown (a good thing!). Gravity Rush is a more ambitious game though, and suffers in some ways as a result. The Crackdown devs simply had an easier task because they were building things in a large open somewhat realistic city (something fairly well-explored by that point) on top of a third person shooter- a well established genre with plenty of games to look to for guidance and well-accepted standardized controls. Gravity Rush started from scratch with it’s original gravity shifting mechanic as your primary method of locomotion, and then having to tie that together with their original combat system. Actually traversing the world by shifting gravity can be really fun, but the combat is pretty terrible- it often feels like jousting while blindfolded. The game is also held back by poor leveling progression (you get too powerful too fast, so even fairly early on, being able to shift gravity for longer and longer periods of time etc. doesn’t let you do anything you couldn’t already do), unlike Crackdown, where every time your agility leveled up, you really felt it, and it opened up new opportunities each and every time it bumped up. It also has the issues that come along with being a first party Vita launch game, namely having to shoehorn in stupid features involving motion control and the touch screen to the detriment of the game. The motion control bits are extremely clumsy (but at least you can largely ignore them), and the touch screen stuff is terrible and should’ve been done with buttons somehow instead. An interesting and ambitious game, but deeply flawed.

x. Dead or Alive 5 ; After dismissing the series for years, I gave it a try due to a friend wanting to play and the supposed overhaul it received making it more of a focus on being made into a competent competitive fighter. It was actually pretty good! I just felt that I couldn’t put it on my list proper because it feels like the game ultimately boils down to playing a bunch of matches of Rock-Paper-Scissors with the odds stacked various ways depending on you and your opponent’s situation.

2011 ; Hidden in Plain Sight ; This game is fucking genius. Another great example of how great gameplay (and here, it’s coupled with social interaction) creates it’s own narrative. Incredibly simple, but more evidence that budget has nearly nothing to do with to the quality of a game.


Games that interest me that I haven’t had a chance to play yet:
Mark of the Ninja
XCOM: Enemy Unknown
Endless Space
Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion
Akai Katana
Max Payne 3
Dyad
Retro City Rampage


Disappointments:
ME3
- The ending was fucking horrendous. At least we’ve come to understand why, as the writing team was excluded from having input on the ending and it was largely a result of a single person’s misguided vision. The game also felt rushed in different ways, but I would have been able to excuse it if it didn’t end so badly. None of your choices mattered at all in a way that retroactively will damage my enjoyment if I decide to go back and play either of the first two games again. When I chose to save the Rachni queen in ME1, it was implied that while it didn’t have an actual impact in that game, in a future game, it would. In this way, the decision, at the time, felt like it had weight to it. Now I know it absolutely doesn’t fucking matter, along with pretty much every other decision you ever make in the previous games. That I can’t play and enjoy ME1 and ME2 now in the same way I used to due to how ME3 was handled really shows how far Bioware has fallen.

Bioware used to be a developer I kept a close eye on, looking forward to their future projects (I thought Mass Effect 1 and Dragon Age: Origins were both enjoyable). In a very short span of time they’ve become largely irrelevant to me. I don’t know if it was the EA acquisition or just due to internal changes already in motion at Bioware, but somehow things went to shit, unfortunately.

Fez- Having looked forward to this for a long time, I was sad to finally play the game and realize that underneath the amazing art style and great music, it is just a pretty bad 2D platformer. Stylish, but very little substance. I’ve seen people mention some amazing puzzles and cryptography later in the game, but I couldn’t get that far- I was just bored out of my mind shitty collectathon nonsense.

Sound Shapes- Another game I was looking forward to, having loved Mak’s previous game (Everyday Shooter), I was ultimately disappointed by Sound Shapes. Like I mentioned above regarding Fez, it has a very nice presentation and the intertwining of graphics and sound (a concept also explored in Everyday Shooter) is a novel idea, but mechanically the game just doesn’t come through. It is a lot like Little Big Planet- great presentation and an excellent well-integrated level editor for what is ultimately a mediocre game.

Kid Icarus: Uprising- I honestly was fairly ambivalent to the game, but when I tried it, I was appalled at how terrible the controls are, especially for the ground-based portions, and especially for left-handed people like myself. Whatever story was occurring was terrible. Unlike many games I don’t like, where I at least understand the appeal even if it’s just not for me personally, I cannot understand how a sane person could even begin to like this game. I have adapted to a great many control methods and can enjoy games from a bunch of different genres, but I could get nowhere with the control scheme they implemented, and even it’s something that you can eventually force yourself to get used to enough to play through the game, why put yourself through the pain?

Game I’m Still Playing Constantly
Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3- Fucking amazing game. I find myself, as I get older, being less and less interested in story-driven amusement park-style ‘AAA’ games. I want interaction, I want my mind fully engaged with the game at a mechanical level, and I don’t want to waste my time. UMvC3 might have become my favorite game of all time at this point, and it is a constant benchmark for fun and engagement that I compare with anything else I attempt to play, and honestly it makes it difficult to enjoy a great many games. Any time I’m playing anything else, I’m constantly thinking, ‘Should I just stop this and play Marvel instead?’ Usually, the answer is yes. The minute a shitty unskippable cutscene starts, I just turn off a game half of the time. If I play a game for ten minutes but haven’t been allowed to do anything interesting, I turn it off. If I play a game and it seems to have to no semblance of depth (this isn’t a statement condemning simplicity, see Super Hexagon above), I turn it off. If I haven’t been allowed to control my character within the first few minutes of a game, I turn it off. If I can’t skip a tutorial, I say fuck it. I play games to actively do things, not to passively watch things.
 

thepotatoman

Member
Jul 17, 2006
11,518
0
0
Denver, CO
1. XCOM Enemy Unknown ; I never ever expected this to be my Game of the Year, but here it is. I think its more from lack of great competition than it is for its own merits as the actual best game of the year, but either way its still a very good game.

Carefully balancing keeping yourself well covered with some soldiers on overwatch while the other soldiers puzzled their way around to the perfect flanking position was an absolute joy. And balancing getting enough satellites up and going while still giving yourself enough stuff to survive the next mission just strikes the exact itch that I need from a true strategy game.

There was a brief stretch where I questioned if the game was too based on chance, before I started to learn how to keep my soldiers completely out of the line of fire before springing the trap and killing the bad guys before they even got a shot at me.

What surprised me the most was that the atmosphere the game had was intense. There was a real heavy feeling in some of the ambient dialog of the scientists. Just the overall lack of knowledge you have about the aliens really makes the invasion really feel real.

The best thing is you don't get to see games do those things well very often. I've never seen a first contact battle done great in video games outside of Half Life, and I rarely play strategy games where I don't just quit caring halfway through because I've figured out the one strategy that I can easily use over and over again. Just the fact that I made a new game right after I beat it shows me all I need to know to make this my game of the year.

2. Sleeping Dogs ; Open world games are really difficult to get right. There are just so many elements that could go wrong. The city, the driving, the fighting, the side quests, the progression, the main story, the mission structure. And somehow Sleeping Dogs does it all just right.

Sleeping Dogs was a game where I could spend all night just playing story mission after story mission and learning about the very interesting and well acted characters that Wei meets in the triad, or where i could spend all night just doing extremely well animated kung fu fights with great crowd control, or where I could spend all night busting criminals and helping out random people on the side of the street, or where I could just drive around the city, and get lost listening to the music of hong kong and appreciating the abosulte beauty of the city. The originality of Xcom gave that the edge, but Sleeping Dogs was a very very strong contender.

3. Journey ; This is a game full of amazing moments. I can't really say more than that without going into spoilers.

4. Mass Effect 3 ; I totally understand all the problems people have with this game, but I guess a combination of lowered expectations and the Leviathen and fixed ending dlc helped a lot.

5. Binary Domain ; I was extremely surprised by this game. I only really rented it because I wanted to laugh at how silly the whole thing is. In the end I actually loved the enemy design. Blowing robots apart limb by limb never got old for me, and I am so happy to play a game with actual bosses again after the entire industry has mostly abandoned the boss concept.

The story was silly all the way through, and yet I still really cared about what was happening in it.

6. Final Fantasy XIII-2 ; I really loved Final Fantasy XIII's battle system, and I was totally up for another game full of that. Only this time they made all the stuff around the battle system.

7. Kid Icuras ; I'm wierd in the sense that I really love trying out brand new control schemes, so I really enjoyed playing this. The Sakari style of filling the game to the brim with unlockables and the cool cinematics and dialog helped a lot.

8. Gravity Rush ; The sense of style is amazing in this game, and the gravity mechanic is really good as well. I spent a lot of time just flying around the city not doing anything but relaxing and enjoying the experience. It's a shame that the mission design holds this back from being higher on this list.

9. Tokyo Jungle ; I never expected to spend so many hours playing this game. The geometry may never change, but every time playing through the game was a true adventure.

10. Kingdoms of Amular Reckoning ; I really appreciated the huge amount of genuinely interesting dialog in this game. There's so much it's actually overwhelming.
 

vitaminwateryum

corporate swill
May 28, 2009
5,550
0
0
Florida
1. Sleeping Dogs: Taking cues from Arkham Asylum's combat system, Sleeping Dogs manages to reinvigorate the open world genre with beautiful visuals and gripping hand to hand combat.

2. The Walking Dead: One of the most compelling and emotionally gripping stories I've ever experienced in a game. It must be played.

3. Hotline Miami: I've seen it referred to as a "Top Down Fuck'em-Up" and that's probably the best way to describe it. Oh, and it has one of the best soundtracks in recent memory.

4. Spec-Ops: The Line: With a compelling story that turns the third person shooter genre on its head, Spec-Ops manages to craft an experience that will leave you a bit confused, if not wanting to go back and explore the game's story.

5. Dragons Dogma: After seeing the video of the player grabbing onto a gryphon and flying around on its back as he stabbed at it repeatedly, I knew I would love this game. After playing it, I love it even more.

6. XCOM: My first play through XCOM was one of the most chaotic nerve racking things I've done in a videogame all year. The character progression system gives you a real sense of personal investment in each of your squadmates as they gain in ranks.

7. FTL: Being a big fan of of the new "Sort of Roguelike" genre that's become popular, I went into FTL expecting to like it. I didn't expect to like it as much as I did. With its copious amounts of unlockables, FTL will leave you wanting more and more and more.

8. Binary Domain: Binary Domain contains a few of my favorite characters of the year. An interesting story and gunplay that gives you a real sense of progression makes this stand out.

9. Max Payne 3: Despite having issues with Max Payne's unskippable cutscenes, it offered up some of the most visceral shooting that I can think of in recent times.

10. Asura's Wrath: Asura's Wrath is a game that straddles the line between game and interactive movie. However, what it lacks in gameplay it more than makes up for with insane moments that leave you standing up with your fists raised above your head.
 

Zeona

Neo Member
Jan 23, 2009
125
0
0
1. XCOM: Enemy Unknown ; I do not even know where to begin my laudatio... or if I even want to get into specifics at all. Sometimes when a game is really good I start playing, lose track of time and all of a sudden I notice that it is already 3am and I have to rush to bed. The difference between most of those games and XCOM is that at that moment I consciously choose to skip sleep that night to continue playing. This is the first game in years that has that effect on me and as such it is my Game of 2012.

2. Borderlands 2 ; As a single-player experience I would probably rank it lower, but as a co-op experience it was immensely entertaining. The humor is hit and miss but with this years crop of games this is the one that made me laugh the most by a landslide. Borderlands is RPG-injected FPS and co-op done right, augmented by a nice dosage of humor. This grants it the #2 spot on my list.

3. The Walking Dead ; It is tense, at times shocking. It has great writing and fully utilizes the advantages that the episodic format offers. It tackles choice in a very interesting way: in other games you want more choice and more powerful choices while in The Walking Dead sometimes you would rather not have to decide the outcome of a situation at all. A great game that should not be missed.

4. New Super Mario Bros. U ; I had not played a 2D Mario since SMW and, well, while it is "just" Mario that's enough to have a really great time. I also enjoyed the boost mode that let my girlfriend help me or kill me, depending on the situation.

5. Fez ; The perspective-shift is a neat puzzle-mechanic that builds upon a solid platforming foundation. I really enjoyed traversing the game world and unraveling its mysteries.

6. Mass Effect 3 ; This is the "The Return of the King" of my list. As an isolated title it would not be here, but in the context of ending the trilogy this is where it belongs. For me this game shines when you are concluding story arcs opened up by the 2 predecessors and getting the galaxy ready for the (anti-)climax. The highs in this game are really high for me, for example
Mordin's end, taking down a reaper on foot or the final rush on earth
. None of these would have worked without the previous entries in the series and that is fine, it is a trilogy after all. They answered most questions and even the explanation for
the humanoid reaper at the end of ME2
is bearable in the context of the overall story around the reapers and the harvest. The way they end the whole thing is inexcusable, the fetch-quests are shoehorned in like it's going out of style and the combat is pretty fun but nothing special. All things considered this is where it belongs on this list.

7. Spec Ops: The Line ; A really interesting game that offers a critical perspective onto its genre. Captain Walker's
slow descent into madness runs parallel to the deconstruction of the genre itself
and I am glad to have crossed the line with him.

8. Journey ; This game looks and sounds gorgeous and cannot receive enough technical awards. From the moment I started the "experience" I felt the warm grip of an aesthetically pleasing yet deeply intriguing world, so foreign and barren yet so welcoming and rich. From the desert to the
mountaintop
I had a great time and met fellow travelers along the way, some of them very helpful and social while others wanted to go their own way - all of them memorable.

9. Hotline Miami ; The violence, the pace, the visual style, the challenge, the soundtrack...oh god the soundtrack.

10. FIFA 13 ; It's been years since I spent as much time with a football game as I did with the latest FIFA and therefor it deserves a spot on this list.

x. Rayman Origins ;


Due to time constraints I could not yet play everything I wanted to. I think Dark Souls, Far Cry 3, FTL, Sleeping Dogs and ZombiU could make it onto this list, but the deadline is here and out of the games I did play this is my top 10 plus one honorable mention.
 

Riposte

Member
Sep 21, 2010
27,718
0
640
videogames?
twitter.com
Kid Icarus: Uprising- I honestly was fairly ambivalent to the game, but when I tried it, I was appalled at how terrible the controls are, especially for the ground-based portions, and especially for left-handed people like myself. Whatever story was occurring was terrible. Unlike many games I don’t like, where I at least understand the appeal even if it’s just not for me personally, I cannot understand how a sane person could even begin to like this game. I have adapted to a great many control methods and can enjoy games from a bunch of different genres, but I could get nowhere with the control scheme they implemented, and even it’s something that you can eventually force yourself to get used to enough to play through the game, why put yourself through the pain?
I honestly don't get what prevents you from understanding why people would like it. I mean you plainly express not getting the controls. What if people learned them and easily at that?
 

Neiteio

Member
Nov 10, 2007
54,439
5
0
Kid Icarus Uprising is incredible and frankly the game I'm most interested to see rank high. Hopefully it has a strong showing.
 

GitarooMan

Member
Jul 12, 2005
15,250
0
0
1. Sleeping Dogs ; This is a game that exemplifies the idea of the sum being greater than all the parts. Everything blends together so well in this game. The fighting, the driving, the on-foot chases, the exploration, the graphics, the sound, it’s just a memorable experience. It takes itself just seriously enough, but on its next beat something crazy happens. My favorite open-world game since the original Mafia on PC, which this game shares a lot of characteristics with.
2. The Pinball Arcade ; Farsight is a bit bumbling when it comes to everything but the pinball but they get the tables so right these problems can be overlooked. Whether playing on console or tablet, the game feels right. Playing Star Trek: TNG at the end of the year was a treat.
3. Forza Horizon ; I love it when racing games still give a shit about the single-player experience. This game has a great and varied campaign, and really creates a world that is just fun to drive around in along with the races.
4. Halo 4 ;
5. Max Payne 3 ;
6. Sega & All-Stars Racing Transformed ;
7. Syndicate ;
8. Call of Duty: Black Ops II ;
9. Binary Domain ;
10. Double Dragon Neon ;

2011. Driver: San Francisco ; One of the most bizarre premises for a game ever, but it’s tons of fun and looks and plays great.
 

timetokill

Banned
Oct 19, 2004
32,837
0
0
Los Angeles, CA
Bu- but the voting deadline hasn't closed yet.

This vote is rigged!!!
Well, we won't have the final results until midnight obviously, but based on preliminary results there's nothing stopping me from getting the appropriate images and things prepared ahead of time :)

When will the results thread be available?
We're hoping for a very quick turnaround this time. Hopefully within hours of the deadline itself, and if not it will definitely be on Sunday regardless, as long as there aren't any massive problems. Which is why I'm doing a lot of prep work today. And there's more than you'd imagine :p
 

Mr. Fix

Member
Nov 14, 2011
5,856
0
0
We're hoping for a very quick turnaround this time. Hopefully within hours of the deadline itself, and definitely on Sunday as long as there aren't any massive problems. Which is why I'm doing a lot of prep work today. And there's more than you'd imagine :p
Awesome! This weekend still has something left to look forward to.
 

ohlawd

Member
May 28, 2012
21,819
0
530
www.neogaf.com
We're hoping for a very quick turnaround this time. Hopefully within hours of the deadline itself, and if not it will definitely be on Sunday regardless, as long as there aren't any massive problems. Which is why I'm doing a lot of prep work today. And there's more than you'd imagine :p
I can't wait.

Is the last sentence about Kid Icarus? Awesome if it is.
 

SteveWinwood

Member
Aug 10, 2010
41,145
0
0
We're hoping for a very quick turnaround this time. Hopefully within hours of the deadline itself, and if not it will definitely be on Sunday regardless, as long as there aren't any massive problems. Which is why I'm doing a lot of prep work today. And there's more than you'd imagine :p
Oh wow. I'm excited, although after some quick skimming I'm pretty sure I already know who won...