GAF Games of the Year 2013 - Voting Thread - VOTING CLOSED

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Oct 19, 2004
Los Angeles, CA
It's time! Voting for GAF's Games of the Year 2013 has begun.

Your hosts are Cheesemeister and I. The rules are basically the same as usual: vote for your top 10, along with optional honorable mentions, and one "LTTP" vote for your favorite game of last year that you only got to play this year. The official rules and sample ballot are below. If you do not follow the rules, your vote may not be counted. You have been warned.

2013 Voting Rules
  • You may list up to 10 games for your ballot.
  • The games must be numbered, and consecutively listed (no gaps) in numerical order from 1 to 10, or however long your list is.
  • No ties are allowed. Giving the same rank to two or more titles will disqualify your entire ballot.
  • Comments on games must begin on the same line as the game title itself, following a semicolon (;). Do not use hyphens, periods, or any other delimiter between titles and comments.
  • You must have at least one comment in your ballot or it will not be counted. The comment must be more substantial than "GOTF lol" or what have you.
  • Honorable mentions may be listed in your ballot, and must be indicated by an "x."
  • You may vote for ONE (1) game from last year as a "LTTP" (late to the party) type of vote. These are games you would have put on your ballot last year had you played it in time. To vote for a "LTTP" game, number it "2012."
  • Multiple votes for the same title will disqualify your entire ballot.
  • You may vote only once, but you can edit your ballot as often as you like until the deadline.
  • Discussion is encouraged! Want to talk about another poster’s list? Quote it. Any unquoted ballots (those outside a quote block) will overwrite your own previous vote.
Voting Ends: Saturday, January 18th, 2014 at 8:59:00 pm PST / 11:59:00 pm EST. No extensions. No exceptions. Here’s a countdown clock.

Sample Ballot
Ready to vote? Get started quickly by copying and pasting the ballot below into your reply.
To ensure the parser correctly tabulates your ballot, please follow this format exactly, wise guys.

1. Game A ; Your thoughts on Game A.
2. Game B ; Your thoughts on Game B.
3. Game C ; Your thoughts on Game C.
4. Game D ; Your thoughts on Game D.
5. Game E ; Your thoughts on Game E.
6. Game F ; Your thoughts on Game F.
7. Game G ; Your thoughts on Game G.
8. Game H ; Your thoughts on Game H.
9. Game I ; Your thoughts on Game I.
10. Game J ; Your thoughts on Game J.
x. Game K ; Your thoughts on Honorable Mention Game K.
x. Game L ; Your thoughts on Honorable Mention Game L.
2012. Game M ; Your thoughts on Game M from 2012.

"But I want to make my ballot look beautiful!"
You can! Images are totally allowed within the confines of the ballot formatting rules. For examples, take a look at a random sampling of beautiful ballots from last year's voting thread: zyklon, megalowho, TheVisualizer, Haunted, Lissar

----- MORE INFO -----

About LTTP Voting
You may vote for ONE title from 2012 that you would have to vote for last year but didn’t get a chance to because you played it in 2013. You must not have voted for this game last year. Important: this game must have appeared on the Nominations List from 2012: (Part 1, Part 2). Format these picks by using the number “2012.” before your vote. See the sample ballot above for an example.

Game Selection
The parser will automatically tabulate name variations, so you can list your games pretty freely, as long as you avoid confusing abbreviations. If there is an ambiguous title listed, it will not be counted! Use the full name of the game to avoid confusion. Don't do what Donny Don't does!
  • Donny Do: Bit.Trip Presents Runner 2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien, Doritos Crash Course 2, Rugby Challenge 2: The Lions Tour Edition
  • Donny Don't: BTPR2:FLoRA, DCC2, RC2:TLTE

Ballot Scoring
1. Game A ; 4 points
2. Game B ; 3 points
3. Game C ; 3 points
4. Game D ; 2 points
5. Game E ; 2 points
6. Game F ; 2 points
7. Game G ; 1 point
8. Game H ; 1 point
9. Game I ; 1 point
10. Game J ; 1 point
x. Game K ; 0 points
x. Game L ; 0 points
2012. Game M ; 1 point for LTTP Bracket

Honorable mentions will not receive points, but they will be tracked, assuming you list them appropriately. They will also be used as tiebreakers for games receiving equal points.
LTTP votes will be counted separately and will each receive 1 point for the LTTP results.

Game Eligibility

Eligible games:
  • Games localized for your region and released this calendar year (can be retail only or downloadable), as long as it follows the "Port Rule," detailed below
  • Voting for imported titles is allowed. If you list an import game, please mention which country you are from. Otherwise I will assume you didn’t read the rules and the vote will not count.
  • Remakes and significant upgrades to previously released games
  • New expansion packs to MMOs and other games, but not the original game unless it too was released in your region this year
  • Mods of PC games that officially support modding
  • PORT RULE: Games that released in your region in 2012 BUT NO EARLIER and have been brought to a new platform in 2013 are eligible, as long as you didn't vote on it last year.

Ineligible games:
  • Ports that amount to “ROM dumps”, i.e., ports with no additional content or significant changes
  • Ports that are basically “HD ports” of existing games with no changes besides upscaling the game
  • "GOTY Editions" that simply collect previously-released content into a single package
  • Games that have not officially been released, such as demos or "alphas" and "betas"
  • Games that are incomplete, such as episodic games that have not yet had their final episode released
  • Games localized for your region and released on any platform in 2011 or earlier
  • Games released on PC in a previous year and released on Steam or other sales portals this year
  • Fan translations or other projects making unauthorized use of IP

Quote for a link to the spreadsheet listing known eligible titles. Corrections to any of the information listed are welcome.

Not sure? If you’re unsure about a game, just ask in this thread and state why you think the game should be eligible. If you’re voting for a game originally released in 2013, go ahead and vote for it, and we’ll add it to the list.

Confirmed eligible games: Wii Sports Club, Bravely Default (EU/AU), Puzzle and Dragons (IOS/AND in EU/AU), Race the Sun, Fjords, Neptune's Pride II: Triton, Donkey Kong Country Returns 3DS

Confirmed ineligible games: Earthbound (Mother 2), Puzzle and Dragons (IOS/AND in NA/JP, valid for LTTP), King of Fighters XIII (PC), Mortal Kombat (PC), Final Fantasy VII (Steam), Final Fantasy VIII (Steam), Super House of Dead Ninjas (Steam), Super Puzzle Platformer, The Castle Doctrine, The Walking Dead Season 2, The Wolf Among Us, Kentucky Route Zero, Hearthstone

Happy voting, everyone!


I love Pokken!
Jan 23, 2013

1. GTA V ; A beautiful open world full of details, an excellent story, memorable characters, tons of things to do besides the main story. The best GTA of this generation.
2. Metal Gear Rising Revengeance ; A extremely good action game, great replay value, good gameplay, boss battles are insanely fun, story is okay.
3. Bioshock Infinite ; Combat is standard, but the art of Columbia is stunning and the story is great.
4. DOTA 2 ; The best MOBA currently out there, F2P, all heroes are available, balanced gameplay, great fun.
5. The Last of Us ; Story is okay besides being filled with clichés typically found in post-apocalyptic media, gameplay is good. Overall is a good game but not the masterpiece several people claim it to be.
6. Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 ; As a Naruto fan, this game pleases me, combat is okay but the graphics and art are really top-notch.
7. Dead Space 3 ; It was satisfying to see the trilogy complete, but this could had be a so much better game if it wasn't so focused on action.
8. Tomb Raider ; Good gameplay, story was okay for the most part.
9. Splinter Cell: Blacklist; Gamepaly was okay, story okay-ish, but still better game than Conviction.
10. Path of Exile ; A good rogue-like with interesting mechanics.

I'm an expert

Formerly worldrevolution. The only reason I am nice to anyone else is to avoid being banned.
Nov 26, 2008
1. DOTA 2 ; There can be no other objective choice.
2. Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen ; Only the Souls games are better than this game
3. Angry Birds Star Wars
Sep 28, 2010
Let's do this.

1. The Last of Us ; The brutal reality that Naughty Dog brought to life in this game was one of my favorite experiences this generation. The combat was so violent and in your face, but it worked perfectly in the world. Played on the harder difficulties, you really have to prioritize your supplies and make sure to plan how to tackle each scenario before diving in. The world felt alive, but it was both the awesome attention to detail coupled with the outstanding acting from Troy Baker (Joel) and Ashley Johnson (Ellie) that came together to create the perfect mix. Seeing the two characters develop and their fondness to each other grow felt almost unmatched in any other game. I can’t wait for a sequel.

2. Grand Theft Auto V ; I think Rockstar outdid themselves here. It's magnitudes larger than GTAIV. There are a ton of side activities to participate in, tennis, triathlons, hunting, racing, etc that all feel like their own games. The 360 and PS3 were pushed to their technical limits, and the main story was heaps of fun due to mission variety and excellent writing and voice acting.

3. Tomb Raider ; I felt like this game showed me a harsh reality of struggling to survive on a remote island. From wildlife, to weather, to hostile natives, I felt like the odds were against me. Though the writing needed some work and there was some questionable voice acting, I think Crystal Dynamics did a great job developing Lara from the vulnerable woman she is at the beginning of the game into the fighter she becomes. I loved the down and dirty gameplay. Gunfights felt serious, and some of the later enemies really made me run for cover and move about the environment to take them on. Great, great gameplay.

4. Bioshock: Infinite ; Irrational had another winner in this one. Columbia was very unique, and felt like a fresh change from the dank and decrepit atmosphere of Rapture in the first two games. I also liked Booker T and Elizabeth. The city felt alive, and I loved exploring little side sections of it as much as I could. They relied a little too heavily on combat, but it helped that the combat was fun in itself. Rolling off and on to skyhooks was really a welcome addition too.

5. Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag ; I was glad to finally see Ubisoft go open world with Assassin's Creed. Edward Kenway is probably my favorite of the protagonists in the series so far, and the caribbean region they built in the game is downright gorgeous, especially on the PS4. Tons of side activities to partake in, though some are more worthwhile than others. I didn't care to collect hundreds of animus fragments or totem poles, but I loved hunting for whales and sharks, taking on powerful enemy forts and battling against formidable legendary warships. Sailing the open seas was a lot of fun, especially when you have badass pirate shanty songs to listen to. Probably the best game in the franchise for me.
Dec 20, 2012
1. Grand Theft Auto V ; Overall, a simply brilliant game. Engaging and interesting characters, refined and intuitive shooting mechanics, slick driving mechanics, tons of extra missions and mini-games to partake in. Its clear Rockstar North went the extra mile to make sure if facet of GTA V worked and boy did they nail it. It's a once-in-a-generation type of game.
2. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
3. Tomb Raider
4. Bioshock Infinite
5. Guacamelee! ; Man, I really enjoyed this game. Its takes the best elements from games like Metroid and Castlevania (Metroidvania) and throws in a surprisingly deep combat mechanics, a great art style, and an awesome soundtrack to boot.
Feb 14, 2005
Kyoto, Japan
Let's do this.

  1. The Last of Us The brutal reality that Naughty Dog brought to life in this game was one of my favorite experiences this generation. The combat was so violent and in your face, but it worked perfectly in the world. The world felt alive, but it was both the awesome attention to detail in this world coupled with the outstanding acting from Troy Baker (Joel) and Ashley Johnson (Ellie) to create the perfect mix. Seeing the two characters develop and their fondness to each other grow felt almost unmatched in any other game. I can’t wait for a sequel.
  2. Grand Theft Auto V
  3. Tomb Raider
  4. Bioshock: Infinite
  5. Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
Already not reading the rules, I see. Use a semicolon to separate titles and comments.


Oct 3, 2012
Getting my list together. First time participating in this, eager to see what's #1. Some tough calls to make.

All done:

1. Starcraft 2: Heart of the Swarm ; I don't think there is a finer example of 1v1 competition in gaming than Starcraft. Heart of the Swarm expanded on the brilliant Wings of Liberty release with new units, maps and a new campaign to play through. The depth of gameplay and rewarding feeling of improvement make this game something special. Starcraft remains my favorite competitive game both to play and watch and, for that, Heart of the Swarm is my #1 pick.

2. Fire Emblem Awakening ; I don't typically enjoy JRPGs and had never played a Fire Emblem game prior to this one. That's going to be changing from now on. Fire Emblem combined my love for strategy with a good story and compelling gameplay.

3. Super Mario 3D World ; This was a real return to form for Mario in my eyes. Before 3D World I hadn't enjoyed a Mario title since Sunshine. Super fun gameplay, charming characters and absolutely gorgeous art direction.

4. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds ; A new feel for the classic Zelda gameplay had me loving this sequel from start to finish. The dungeons were excellent, the difficulty was there (a particular complaint I've had with the recent Zelda titles is that they've been too easy), the plot was solid and the new features such as renting were welcome additions to the series.

5. Ni No Kuni ; This one caught me completely off-guard when my roommate had me try it. It's a gorgeous and imaginative world filled with memorable characters, hilarious dialogue, an excellent soundtrack and engaging story. My biggest surprise of the year.

6. Dota 2 ; A more refined take on the standard MOBA formula. I applaud Valve for making anything directly affecting gameplay completely free. In my opinion, this is the premier game for team-based competition. Unfortunately it's brought down by a generally horrible community. In the future I'd like to see some more variety in the form of new maps and game types.

7. Rayman Legends ; This one is pure fun. I found myself grinning at least a dozen times while playing through it. Fantastic game.

8. Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs ; A bit of a disappointment after its great predecessor. The Dark Descent is my favorite horror game to this day. A Machine for Pigs delivers a stronger storyline with more level variety, but I couldn't help feeling the atmospheric sense of dread fell short this time around. Still an enjoyable experience and one of the best horror games available.

9. The Last of Us ; The best story and character development of the year, no doubt about that. What fell short for me was the gameplay. Throughout my time with it, the controls felt like they were getting in the way of the experience instead of enhancing it. Still a wholly engaging and unforgettable game.

10. Grand Theft Auto V ; Another solid entry into the GTA series, but gotta say I'm getting tired of the formula.

x. The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD ; Wind Waker is my all-time favorite Zelda game and it was great to play through an updated version. Still, its remake status knocks it out of my top ten.

2012. Far Cry 3 ; A quality return to form for the series after #2. I think I'll always enjoy a return trip to Crytek's island.
Feb 14, 2005
Kyoto, Japan
I really liked the countdown from 10 to 1 like some posters did last year. Makes sense in a way.

Was that never allowed in the first place?
Order does not matter, but you cannot have any gaps in the sequence. The title ranked at #1 will be evaluated as your GOTY.

Can we doctor up our list with image cards for funsies or is that not allowed? ( provided our text is in the proper format)
You can, provided the text is formatted properly.
Apr 14, 2010
1. The Last of Us ; Memorable because it always defied my expectations. The graphics were better than expected, there was more gameplay available and buildings I expected to be solid blocks could be entered and had great touches inside. Amazing game.
2. Grand Theft Auto V ; Seems to get a bit of hate now, but was still an amazing experience to me. It was only Trevor and the lack of heists that stopped it from taking the number one spot. Despite the low number of in-depth missions, those available were still some of the best gaming I've had.
3. Don’t Starve ; What started as a simple survival game has grown and grown into an amazing time killing experience. Now with mod support, it just keeps getting better and better.
4. Spelunky ; Addictive gameplay that reveals more the longer you play.
5. Rogue Legacy ; A pure joy to play from start to finish. You are always making progress and always having fun.
6. Volgarr the Viking ; Not just an old-school title, but an expertly crafted example of a lost genre. Frustrating as hell to play, but still in a joyful way.
7. BlazBlue: Chronophantasma ; Fixed most if not all the issues I had with the series and has the best online lobby system of any fighting game ever.
8. Papers Please ; A terribly depressing game that is more interesting than fun. But what they achieved with the atmosphere and immersion makes it one of the best titles of the year.
9. Europa Universalis 4 ; Easier to get into and doesn't take 40 minutes to load up. What is not to love?
10. Cook, Serve, Delicious ; Defied my expectations to deliver an addictive casual experience with a lot more meat to it than expected.
May 28, 2012
one more question, multi paragraphs are fine right? Don't want it to be a wall of text for an entry.

edit: seems it should be okay as long as the order is properly formatted. Back to writing, will post tomorrow.
Feb 14, 2005
Kyoto, Japan
Hmmm, could I actually make Danganronpa work since the Vita enhanced re-release of both games came out this year in Japan, even though I played the original PSP version from 2010?
What were the enhancements, and did you play that version?

AFAI remember, as long as one of your posts has a properly formatted list of games, it doesn't matter what you do.
Correct. Just be careful not to overwrite your properly-formatted ballot.

Donkey Kong Country Returns 3DS is eligible right?
Yes, it has a new gameplay mode.


you speak so well
Feb 27, 2008
I'm trying to cut down my top 10 now, this is always a fun time of the year.

I have an unopened copy of ALBW that I have a feeling would be in consideration but I don't think I have the time to beat it. Hmmmm.
Jun 6, 2011

1. Fire Emblem: Awakening ; (3DS) My Game of the Year is Fire Emblem Awakening. I really had a hard time deciding between this and my number 2 game. It’s interesting to attach the label to either of them because I actually did have quite a list of issues with each. I guess it’s a testament to the fact that I didn’t really fall in love with any specific game this year. But at the end of the day, I felt that a highly regarded entry in potentially my favorite series is more deserving of the nod. My perception is that Fire Emblem Awakening introduced many new people to the series, which is excellent news. I was introduced to Fire Emblem through the introduction of Marth and Roy in Super Smash Brothers: Melee, and started with the simply named “Fire Emblem” for GBA. However, it seems many others had managed to remain uninitiated as it were. For this I am very thankful to Awakening, despite the changes it presents to the series.

The core gameplay is still there. While I am not a fan of the world map and random battle mechanics, individual map clears still function as they should. Especially on higher difficulties, gameplay involves a high degree of strategizing, planning, positioning, and a bit of luck. Any mistake can result in permanent death, which has the possibility of weakening your army significantly, and it ensures the stakes are always high. While the game offers a game mode where death is not permanent, I guess I am more of a purist where I actually find this mode less fun to play. Some might argue that since most players might always restart upon a character’s death anyway that it doesn’t matter; I argue that having such a penalty forces a player to tackle a map much more carefully and cautiously. Being able to simply waste a unit as a distraction, knowing that they will be available in the next battle, significantly changes the amount of freedom you have when it comes to clearing the map. I am eternally grateful that it at least remains an option and not a forced gameplay change.

The open map and ability to ‘grind’ does induce a forced gameplay change even if you decide to not really utilize that. This basically means the developers can assume the availability of the grind when designing the later maps, especially on the higher difficulties. It’s not a bad gameplay style, just not one I expect or desire from Fire Emblem. Gone is the tight, more highly polished nature of the earlier games where the only extra exp came from a smattering of arenas or bonus exp. Instead of learning to readjust one’s tactics, you can always just grind or re-adjust your classes. Having the open map also limits my desire to replay it, since you can just utilize every unit every playthrough. Without the ability to vary the playthrough significantly, it simply leaves no reason to work on leveling your units again. Secondly, the Pair Up mechanic is another addition that I found unneeded. While pairing units through Supports has been a series staple, requiring units to act as one reduces a bit how much freedom you have and how you can utilize those units. The fact that it becomes essentially a required mechanic is good because it doesn’t become meaningless or gimmicky, but it basically means you must really commit to your pairings, whereas in previous games having a maxed support still offered the flexibilities of having two distinct units with a benefit for keeping them close. Pair Up feels like a penalty for keeping them separate.

While the story is unremarkable, it’s enough to motivate the game and many of the character interactions, support or not, do feel genuine and are a pleasure to read. Many characters might be a little flat when it comes to only identifying via a singular trait without much depth, but the game doesn’t really suffer for it. Even the player avatar, only present in a few of the earlier titles, plays a role in the story. While this addition is a little disputed, I enjoyed having one character that you could really call your own.

That’s a fair bit of negativity, but it is simply out of love for the series. Like I said, the core gameplay is great, and both overwhelming a map with unstoppable force or winning by the skin of your teeth at the mercy of lady luck are rewarding experiences. The mechanics at their core are very simple but there is enough to it that there is enough going on to keep the player thinking. The added layer of giving each unit a unique personality fleshed out through the cutscenes and support conversations, along with the permadeath mechanic, gives a level of empathy to the series that can sometimes be lacking in other grid-based strategy games.

2. Ys: Memories of Celceta ; (Vita) This was probably my most anticipated game of the year after enjoying Ys: Origin and Ys: The Oath in Felghana last year; I was really excited to participate in the OT and discuss the game at release, and while it lived up to most of my expectations it fell short in many others. Still, on average, it managed to be more enjoyable than not and retained a high ranking relative to other games I played this year.

Ys has always been a high octane, low bloat action jrpg series. No slow menu-based battle systems, no melodramatic story proceedings, just an awesome soundtrack and fast paced battles. However, it seems that this newest entry tends to lean back in the direction that leaves it less remarkable than it should be. A heavier emphasis on story, a party full of archetypal characters, and a soundtrack less sterling than other entries in the series leaves a game that fails to impress but also doesn’t offend. The gameplay, luckily, remains largely intact otherwise. A fast paced battle system best experienced on hard or nightmare difficulty requires the player to learn enemy tells and master the guarding and dodging techniques in order to win the various encounters. The game rewards good timing instead of just soaking up the damage and outlasting your enemy. In this way the game becomes very much an experience in finesse, something that many cumbersome or slower jrpg battle systems may lack.

The main hindrance to this is the performance of the game itself. The game struggles to maintain 30fps and chugs during any particularly hectic moments. While not unplayable, it puts a damper on the excitement felt during the battles relative to Origin or Oath. To make matters worse, the game runs at below native res, resulting in a blurry image quality that disappoints. This means that there’s not really any tradeoff for any of the performance shortcomings. It’s just blurry and runs poorly.

The boss fights are fairly challenging, and even normal enemies encountered in the world are usually peppered with tougher foes that require you to commit to fighting them with the entirety of your focus or return when you’ve leveled up a few times. Being able to play as multiple characters also afford the player the decision to either learn one or two playstyles very well or dabble a little bit in all of them. Most of the characters play very differently, keeping the gameplay fresh as you add the playstyles to your roster as you progress. The characters’ motivations seem a little bit hackneyed as they are required to follow the protagonist throughout the entire game as expected in a jrpg, but the dialogue and writing is believable enough to not really make it as issue. Characters are generally well rounded with a few layers to their opinions and beliefs that keep them interesting and keep the player wanting to round out their individual story arcs. It is a bit weird, however, to have such a factor in a Ys game.

The exploration mechanic is a great strength of the game. As you explore the forest that acts as the overworld of the game, your map percentage is constantly updated, letting you know exactly how much of the map you’ve explored. While this may not seem terribly exciting when stated, it becomes increasingly more addicting to find one or two more percent before ending a play session, or doubling back and exploring every nook and cranny for the secrets that they hide. I was lucky enough to not have to really go back and do any map edge scraping to reach 100%, which I suppose leaves me more fond of the mechanic that one who may have had to go back and do such. You are rewarded in game with gold and powerful relics for the completion of the map giving an extra, tangible incentive for being a bit OCD.

All in all, it’s a good game that avoids the issues that many jrpgs run into that keep people away from the genre. However, heavy story focus and average soundtrack means there is less setting it apart from any other action jrpg series to put it as my GotY or even my recommended Ys game. Performance issues also are disappointing. I do suggest it for anyone looking for a familiar feeling but well-constructed action jrpg.

3. Soul Sacrifice ; (Vita) Soul Sacrifice is a game I truly have PS+ to thank. Somehow or another, my perception of this game was locked into the idea that it was "like monster hunter". I guess the idea was that Sony no longer was seeing those games and thus of course this would be a knock off. However, outside of some base similarities, it really isn't like Monster Hunter at all. It is very much its own thing and a game that I suggest to anyone looking for an efficient, truly "pick up and play" of game design. It's perfectly suited for the Vita.

The game unfolds as a series of missions, with the story relevant ones bookended by some art and dialogue. Each mission is self contained, where you are given an arena and a set of foes to fight. There is very little bullshit. The menu tells you what you will fight, and you gear up accordingly and go fight it. The way that the skill and level system is set up allows for a lot of freedom in how you design your character. There are 5 different elements and skills of 5 different types, along with augments of a specific type that you can equip, all on top of a system where you must choose between high defense or stronger damage. It sounds complicated but every is neat and organized so that nothing seems overwhelming. If gets to the point where you eventually have favorite loadouts for a specific enemy as well as an "ol' reliable" in case you are encountering a new foe and are yet unsure of the needed tactics.

The shortcomings of the game are its soundtrack and sometimes the feeling of lack of variety. There are a lot of reskined monsters which act identically and only differ in their elemental weakness. A lot of the zones you fight in seem a bit samey and none are truly memorable, though I do like some of the indoor areas quite a bit. The soundtrack is also unremarkable. There's also a large large cast of recruitable allies when I think less would be more. It's nice that they don't have to really think up actual characters for each of them, they act purely as a gameplay mechanic, but since they level up when you use them, I found myself rotating the same handful and leaving a bunch on the bench. It just seemed a bit unneeded. However, aside from these shortcoming in trimmings, the core gameplay is still pretty damn remarkable. Lots of tense moments and close calls, as well as a few ass whoopings as well.

4. Metro: Last Light ; (PC) I lucked into Metro: 2033 with the THQ Humble Bundle and into Last Light with the Best Buy penny “giveaway”. Thus I really went into the two games with no real expectations, so I can say I came out pleasantly surprised. This was also one of the very first games that I played with a high end computer set up so it was enjoyable to push my hardware with a very good looking game. Anyone looking for a single player FPS with a drop of survival horror should give both of these games an extended look.

While post-apocalyptic settings are a dime a dozen these days, something about the setting of Metro really sticks with me. The blending of the supernatural with the typical survival trimmings of the dilapidated old Russian metro environment keeps the player feeling constrained and handcuffed. Having limited ammo stores and gas-mask timer mechanics during excursions to the surface keep this feeling of unease present in many facets as you continue throughout the game. There’s also significant about of variety to the gunplay with many weapon types at the player’s disposal and each being able to be upgraded in various ways. The game also is friendly to stealthy or non-lethal approaches to the encounters and in fact rewards the player with an alternate ending should you focus on this type of method. However, there are some cases, especially at the very end, where it can feel a bit manufactured to avoid trying to kill in clearly life-threatening situations simply because you want to preserve your morality score and ensure the unique ending. While the game does a great job in being highly immersive with great visuals, good voice acting, and unique settings, it’s little nuances like the morality meter that remind you that you’re playing a game.

Metro Last Light has a slightly stronger focus on secondary characters compared to 2033, which benefits the game, I feel. The safety and survival of other characters becomes something I found myself sympathetic to. The single player campaign is also quite lengthy, and while I did not replay the game, the dual endings and possibility to using a more or less stealthy approach as well as a small amount of collectables does give a few reasons to replay the game.

5. Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen ; (PS3) This was a game I was always interested in but never got a chance to try, and as a new IP I guess I wasn't really willing to gamble. I'm glad I didn't have to! Dark Arisen is an ambitious game, and while it doesn't seem to be unique in any fashion from a first glance, there's really nothing quite else like it that I've experienced. The artstyle used for this game is not very memorable and doesn't really offer much of interest, which I can see being a turnoff if you aren't willing to look past that. The performance of the game itself is also quite atrocious, with framerates likely dipping below 20 during many encounters. But the mechanics and gameplay ideas are fantastic.

The pawn system seems clumsy at first glance, but after switching out pawns just a few times, the appeal is immediately obvious. Effectively, you have unlimited possibilities for your party composition, and the ability to create and share your own creation is a great motivator for making sure your pawn is given its due diligence when it comes to being combat viable. There would be nothing more embarrassing than your pawn going out into the world and bring dropped because it's a terrible unit. The game does a fantastic job of putting your friends' pawns first, and I have put a few of them through their paces without even knowing it. The combat is highly varied too. SotC type enemy scaling, counter play melee classes, there's a lot of ways to play the game and while I didn't experiment with all of them, there doesn't seem to be any redundancy in the classes available. My only gripe is that magic seems highly essential late game, meaning that if you did not spec into a magic class yourself, then you are at the mercy of your pawns and, thus, the erratic-at-times AI.

6. Bioshock Infinite ; (PC) Bioshock Infinite is a hard game to judge. The game has absolutely no consensus; on one page it’s the best game of all time on the other it’s a mess of nonsensical drivel and terrible mechanics. I was drawn to Bioshock because of its interesting setting and environment, and while I found the universe of Columbia maybe the most interesting of the generation. I enjoyed the game more than I didn't, and it was good enough that I went and bought the first two games of the series after finishing it. In ways, it was my favorite of the three but it others it was also the least remarkable.

Columbia is a very unique setting whose appeal is very hard to describe. The color and artstyle choices of Infinite grabbed me in a way unique from Metro, which was well realized but perhaps more derivative. The Vigor system was interesting to me and provided a unique level of depth early on. However, I felt that they were a little underpowered to be truly useful. I found I was often better off just playing the game like a normal shooter, going for headshots, utilizing cover, and letting Elizabeth restock my ammo and health. I’m unsure if this would be made better or worse on a higher difficulty. Vigors compliment the gameplay well but being made more difficult might have leaned me to simply focusing on the gunplay entirely. Maybe playing the game on easy would have opened up the playbook so to speak, but then there would be literally no penalty to just running and gunning with the shotgun. Maybe a system where the vigors were significantly more powerful but placed on a cooldown instead of a mana meter would have been smarter.

The game is pretty story heavy and there is more than enough motivation given to keep the playing wanting to continue on. It’s too bad that the gameplay itself doesn't really accomplish the same thing. I found myself playing from cutscene to cutscene and not really enjoying the gameplay in between. The mini bosses of the hulking ogres and the machine statues and the ghost didn’t really click with me nor did they really change up the mechanics much. Just felt like a lot of running and gunning and soaking up hits with the recharging shield and going into and out of cover. The ending twist was enjoyable and I’m surprised that I was able to go into the game several months late without being spoiled. I enjoyed the twist more than I didn’t. The lacking nature of the gameplay stuck with me more than any absurdities of the story telling.

7. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD ; (Wii U) While it feels a little silly to put an HD re-release as an entrant on my top ten, I still enjoyed the game greatly. Wind Waker still has my favorite incarnation of Link and Ganondorf ever, one the more unique artstyles in games today and the second best Zelda world after Majora’s Mask. Playing as a hero not destined by the gods fighting a Ganon that actually manages to be imposing in an artstyle not emulated anywhere else is enough for me to happily include this re-release on this list. While the game may be a little bit thin on the core areas on dungeon crawling and memorable boss fights, the open nature of the world is something that I hope returns to the console Zelda games in future entries. I prefer the wide open Great Sea, even if it is a bit thin, to the segmented chambers of Skyward Sword. One thing that prevents this from ranking higher is the fact that the core gameplay is limited compared to the slightly deeper systems present in TP or the motion gameplay of SS. Simple dungeons along with cut content and unremarkable boss fights leave you wanting more. Great visual design, gameplay freedom, and music hold the game up fairly well, however.

8. Batman: Arkham Origins ; (PC) Batman Arkham Origins is basically an expansion pack to Arkham City. In that way, if you enjoyed that, you'll enjoy this, provided you aren't already burnt out on the whole thing. Combat is a bit arcade-y which is kind of nice for people who seek to score high. Additional multipliers for not being hit, varying your attacks, I can see the draw to the challenge modes that further this goal. The shock gauntlets kind of cheese the difficulty by being able to override shields and foes that typically have to be stunned, so it feels like a bit of depth is lost once you have those. Perhaps alleviated when played on a higher difficulty.

The stealth sections or room clears didn't gel with me. Particularly because I guess I was not great at them. Clearly them silently seems to require extensive patience since any stealth take down typically results in the enemies finding the body and them all being near each other until you wait for them to spread out again. Plus it's easy enough to just to knock out who you want and then retreat to the rafters and repeat. Story is forgettable. There’s no real interesting variations to the boss fights. Just lots of enemy hoards or sneaking around. For the most part.

People who seek collectibles and enjoy filling bars will find plenty to do. Clearing optional villian based objectives or performing combat challenges. I'd enjoyed clearing the map and the Most Wanted but Enigma Trophies are too numerous and same-y for me to drop the time required to gather those up. I can see the draw, though.

9. Papers, Please ; (PC) Papers, Please is described as a “A Dystopian Document Thriller", which introduces the general setting but doesn't tell me much at all about how the game plays. Basically you are a new worker at a border checkpoint, responsible for maintaining security for your nation within the small role you have. At first you are just checking for minor discrepancies for incoming foreigners and returning natives, allowing those in who check out and turning those away who don't have everything in line. Meanwhile, you have a small family to bring home your wages to, making sure to keep on top of rent and heat and food so that they can at least survive in a not-ideal situation. The game is segmented into days over the course of a month, allowing for bite-size play sessions, and each serves as a savepoint from which you can retry in case you don't care for a certain outcome.

However, for each day that passes, the layers of complexity multiply, at first slowly and then the gameplay becomes increasingly more complex as the month heads towards its conclusion. While the first and most obvious way this manifests itself is the degree to which you have to use the information (documents) available to identify good and bad immigrants, the underlying "dystopian" going-ons come further and further into the light until the game's sudden conclusion, which highly varies depending on your in-game decisions. Throughout the month you'll have to make moral judgments about whether to aid people who earnestly require you to bend the rules, or whether to take no nonsense and abide to the letter of the law while forsaking the goodwill (and generous bribes) of those you figuratively crush under your unrelenting bureaucratic boots. The end result is a lot of decision making, in which the right answer is not immediately obvious. It does allow you to roleplay to some degree, whether you make decisions as you yourself would, or whether you shoot for the fewest citations possible, or getting away with as many bribes as possible. Needless to say, the game suits itself to many, many replays.

It's quite astonishing how quickly and strongly this game sucked me in. "Just one more day" became quite the excuse to keep playing regardless of how late it got or whether I originally intended to do something else. Before I knew it I had a couple family members sitting in front of the monitor, lending their eyeballs to double check what I might have missed

10. The Last of Us ; (PS3) This game I felt obligated to play due to this thread mostly. I am out of space though. My opinion is pretty boring. The game is good, great even, but I just don't see it as consensus GotY like some seem to think it is. Factors that I merely liked must have been loved by many, and the few annoyances I had must have not registered to others. Great game just no real WOW factor.
Do you have any idea how many times I've had to edit my post just to fit it in one single post and include pictures at the same time? Haha.

I know a few people like Riposte has multiposted in the past (and I did that kind of last year), but I don't think it's allowed anymore.
Oh, I'd be very sad if that were true. I was under the impression that if you had a proper tally at the end of the second post, it would be ok, like Riposte's from last couple years.
Feb 14, 2005
Kyoto, Japan
Oh, I'd be very sad if that were true. I was under the impression that if you had a proper tally at the end of the second post, it would be ok, like Riposte's from last couple years.
If you want to go on and on about your favorite titles for post after post, go right ahead. Just post your properly-formatted ballot afterwards, including summarizing comments.
Feb 28, 2009
What were the enhancements, and did you play that version?
I think there was some extra content outside of the main game, but I'm not entirely sure about that. I'm having trouble finding any information about it though, so I could be wrong. I'm fairly certain it's 99% the same game based on the little I've heard.

The thing is Danganronpa Reload includes both games and not just the first one, which is what I played. And no, I did not play the 2013 Vita version, I played the 2010 PSP version since that's what the translation patch was for.

So I'm guessing that means it's not eligible? :(
Oct 25, 2013
1. The Last of Us ; Don't have much to say about it. Kept me hooked from beginning to end the ending felt like such a punch in the gut after everything that had happened throughout the course of the game. Winter was also one of the most memorable sections I have ever played through in any video game.

2. Grand Theft Auto 5 ; Didn't have enough missions imo but it was a great game.

3. Beyond Two Souls ; I actually cared for Jodie and the game had some amazing music/graphics.

4. Tearaway ; I haven't actually beaten this yet but it's GOTY material

5. BioShock Infinite ; I actually enjoyed the combat unlike a lot of people on Gaf. Story was pretty good too but I didn't really care about Booker or Elizabeth too much.

2012. Persona 4 Golden ; Huge improvement over Persona 3 just because it didn't have Tartarus which is what kept me from ever completing that game.
Aug 2, 2010

1. Fire Emblem: Awakening ; While most war games just feel like a bunch of random battles, this is one of the few games I’ve played that captivated a feeling of fighting in a real war (and losing). I loved the drama, I loved the characters. The rain level is one of the greatest moments I've experienced in a game. “Don’t speak her name.”

2. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds ; 60 FPS, beautiful OST, a fantastic game that packs a punch. I enjoyed this more than LTTP. This game was so refined that even the mediocre art style couldn’t hold me back from enjoying it.

3. Blood Dragon ; The soundtrack, setting, gameplay, art style, and compact main story-line come together to create something no game has ever done for me before. I'm not even an 80's baby. Mark Style 4, Motherfucker.

4. Call of Juarez: Gunslinger ; Yee-haw. Action-packed, no filler, incredible story telling, great RPG mechanics, and refined bullet time. This is what RDR should have been. My sleeper hit of the year.

5. Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons ; The game felt like a brilliant combination of Harry Potter and Alice in Wonderland. Short, sweet, and magical.

6. Pokemon X/Y ; A pokemon game with Charmander, Bulbasaur, and Squirtle.

7. Spelunky ; A great game I played for the first time year.

Honorable Mentions:
x GTA V ; The novelty wore off quickly. I was holding it up to the standard of San Andreas, and it did not match it. The online fiasco topped off my disappointment. Still, plenty of highlights in the game, so it deserves a mention
x Battleblock Theater ; Some of the best multiplayer fun I’ve ever had. Couch co-op created some priceless times with my buddy.

2012. Dishonored ; Great story with some fantastic supernatural stealth.
Dec 5, 2008
Thames Ditton, UK
1. Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons ; Brothers isn't just the best game of the year, for me, it's also the most important. I could talk about the graphics or the controls or THAT ONE BIT but it's more than that. It represents three perfect hours of gaming, and is important because it has received so much criticism for that. Three hours, for ten pounds? For fifteen dollars? That's just not worth it! We as gamers really REALLY need to get out of this mindset. Why is it only us? No one ever reads a book and says "yeah, it was an amazing read but it only had 300 pages so it was pretty shit." "Yeah, I saw this brilliant film but it was only 90 minutes long so it wasn't really very good value for money."

It's the reason we can't have nice things. It's the reason games like Brothers come around so rarely. Everything has to last 40 hours now. Everything has to offer "value for money" because there's some weird need for the perception of it from consumers when it comes to games. Fuck value for money. What about the value of my time? I'd much rather 20 games like Brothers than play a three-hour campaign which has been stretched to 40 by forcing you to level up or collect 100 trinkets from all over the world or both. Games don't need to have a lot of hours to be worth paying for and the way gamers base purchasing decisions on this arbitrary "number of hours:cost of game" ratio alone is almost depressing when a game like this comes along and gets ignored because you can't spend 25 hours grinding.

The game does everything it needs to do in the space of three hours, it tells everything it needs to tell, makes you experience everything it needs you to experience, makes you feel everything it needs you to feel. It's not going to be a better game with another five hours of content, it's just going to be a longer game.

Brothers is brave enough to be the game it wants to be without worrying about the consumer, and if more games were made like this then AAA gaming would be so much better.

2. Animal Crossing: New Leaf ; I've played this for a silly amount of hours, 150 or so, and that's nothing compared to others. Has absolutely the best music in a video game ever. The little variations on its tunes depending on the weather are just a wonderful touch in a game of wonderful touches. Bliss.

3. Fire Emblem: Awakening
4. One Finger Death Punch
5. BattleBlock Theatre
6. Resogun
7. The Typing of the Dead: Overkill
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