The festive period is nearing an end, Christmas has been and gone and the new year is nearly upon us. Oh and the world didn’t end with that whole ‘Mayan Apocalypse’ which is good. Anyway, it is that time of the year when everyone talks about their various Game of the Year’s, but here at Reticule Towers we like to do things slightly different to normal. So rather than coming together to decide on one definitive Game of the Year, or going through various ambiguous genre based honours, a few of us here are just talking about our own ideas. We each have two titles which didn’t quite make it to being our own Game of the Year along with one game which earns that title. Bear in mind that Nick cheats a little bit with one of his choices, but why not hit the jump to see what we all thought.
The Runners Up:
Mass Effect 3
Mass Effect, unlike so many other games, let me screw up.
I lost a great many friends through the series, and many of their deaths could have been prevented had I made my choices differently. Whereas many games would slap you on the wrist and make you try again, Mass Effect pats you on the shoulder and politely reminds you there’s a galaxy that needs saving.
Whilst there’s been much written about the controversial ending to Mass Effect 3, I was under no illusions that I’d ever see a happy ending. Mass Effect reminded me on a constant basis that sometimes the decisions you make don’t always turn out the way you wanted, but sometimes in life you encounter decisions you just have to make, regardless of their outcome.
Reaching the end of the trilogy was a moment of relief. Now Shepard could finally rest, and after the hell I put her through, frankly she deserves it.
Despite technically being a late 2011 release, Skyrim only came into its own with Bethesda’s release of the Creation Kit in early 2012. Since then, hundreds of unique, remarkable and in places absolutely hilarious mods have arisen, each one altering the base game in often surprising directions.
I have sailed oceans and traveled to alternate dimensions. I have fought monsters that towered over a hundred feet tall, and I have been shrunk to the size of a coffee mug and been chased by crabs wearing monocles.
Whilst it’s not my chosen ‘game of the year’, it’s certainly my favourite game of the year. Skyrim is not a game, it’s a place. It’s a place where things, often crazy things, often remarkable and unbelievable things happen. Above all, it’s a place I’ll be visiting for a very long time to come.
Game of the Year:
X-Com: Enemy Unknown
EA demonstrated what a disaster rebooting an antique franchise can be after utterly botching their re-imagining of Syndicate. The pen-pushers and bean-counters figured what every gamer wanted was yet another FPS, so EA forced the square RTS franchise into the round hole of a FPS, where neither it nor its fans wanted it to be. We were left with a soulless husk where we’d been hoping for a faithful reminder of past times, and at a stroke one of the most remarkable franchises of the past has been, perhaps irrevocably, killed.
With X-Com, we’ve finally seen how it can be done right. A reboot doesn’t have to mean a duplicate of the original with fancier graphics. X-Com takes the idea of turn-based alien-slaying and runs with it. As a result, we’ve been left with a faithful reminder of the game we used to love, but one which is not afraid to try and improve upon problems with the original.
I’ve chosen my game of the year for its impact. Every day on Twitter I read dozens of remarkable stories of heroism and dumb luck, of soldiers saved or slain through the roll of Fate’s dice. Few FPSs could create those stories, but X-Com manages to do it without even breaking a sweat.
The Runners Up:
Deponia was probably so good because it took me by total surprise at how much I actually enjoyed it. Point and click has never been my thing but Deponia kept me interested with comical characters and story lines and some fairly solid puzzles. In fact I enjoyed it so much that it’s changed how I feel about the genre all together. I have even gone as far as adding some adventure games to my massive Steam backlog in the hope that I will some day get around to them.
The three part story of Deponia has not concluded but from what I’ve played so far the world that has been created by Deadelic is hilarious and interesting, well designed and engaging. Everything I never would have expected from such a game.
The Witcher 2 Enhanced Edition
Based on the stories of Polish writer Sapkowski, The Witcher 2 is set in a rough world where sorcery thrives and mystical creatures actually exist and feast on young children for breakfast. The reason this is so high on my list of games this year is the fact that CD Projekt Red have managed to translate the books of Sapkowski onto the TV screen so well. They have stayed true to the characters, the world and have created a rich and deep story to rival any other game released this year.
Another reason I liked this game so much is that very early on in the story you have to make a choice that essentially splits the whole game down the middle. This is almost unheard of in gaming, where choices don’t tend to affect the world all that much in the long run. The Witcher 2 has great RPG elements, stunning graphics and a great storyline.
Game of the Year:
Mass Effect 3
Quite simply put, no game has come close to beating Mass Effect 3 as an all round game this year. The graphics are stunning. The music is atmospheric. Characters are well written and well voiced. The game world itself is larger than any other I have played by a long shot and the background behind every race, character and story related moment is deeper and more meaningful. The main story itself is pretty lengthy and can have numerable outcomes depending on play style and choices made in previous games.
But I could go on forever about how great Mass Effect 3 is and the truth of it is that this game was most likely always going to be my game of the year. The reason I fell in love with Mass Effect 3 and its universe was the fact that it had a universe in the first place. Far too many games seem to think that creating a big world with flashy graphics, half baked characters, some big guns or the odd moment of comedy is all that’s needed. Mass Effect 3 just takes everything that one step further. Of course it does have its flaws but these are few and far between and very easy to overlook.
The Runners Up:
There are few games that can provide the adrenaline rush of Hotline Miami. Rushing into a room, knocking an enemy down with the door, grabbing a pistol and taking down a guy on a sofa before getting brained by a guy with a lead pipe is a likely scenario in the game. It’s a challenge working out how to take down all the enemies on a level and you will die, and die, and die. But with instant respawns, with not even the music skipping a beat, Hotline Miami is an adrenaline fuelled arcade romp.
Journey is beautiful. There’s something special about the simplicity of the game, the sparcity of the desert lands and, at times, the loneliness of the gameplay. It’s one of those games that you really need to play to understand fully. I could go on about how it tells a better story than most games without speaking a word or how it allows you to create a connection with people despite not being able to talk to them but to understand Journey you really need to play it. And if you do, you wont regret it.
Game of the Year
Spec Ops: The Line
From a narrative stand point Spec Ops: The Line is one of the finest games I have ever played. While it could be criticised as just a more modern retelling of Heart of Darkness and Apocalypse Now, Specs Ops provides an arguably more intense experience than these two because it forces you to be complicit with the character’s actions. You become one with the protagonist and at the end are left questioning who is the real monster. It’s a wonderfully subversive game, appearing at first like a generic 3rd person shooter but Spec Ops grows into something much greater. It’s just a shame this first impression may have caused many people to overlook what I believe to be the best game of 2012.
The Runners Up
Guild Wars 2
I have never been much of a fan of MMO’s, the closest I have got in the past has been with The Lord of the Rings Online, but I didn’t persevere with that past the open beta phase, and have only briefly revisited it since it went free-to-play. I had always heard good things about the first Guild Wars though, and as the release of the second game neared, the more I read and the more interested I became, especially the promise of no monthly subscriptions.
What has kept me entertained by the game even now a few months after release is the ability to jump in and either follow my own personal story quest or randomly explore the world and taking part in massive events that I’m not forced to join into a group to take part in. For an MMO to get me to play for any length of time is surely worthy of being on my Game of the Year list, even if it doesn’t quite take the top spot.
I absolutely love Dishonored, and the only reason it isn’t my Game of the Year is that the title which occupies that spot has entertained me ever so slightly more. Don’t get me wrong though, Dishonored is a very close runner up. It does so many things really well, the world of Dunwall is lavish, the powers are extremely gratifying to use and I really connected with the various characters.
Sneaking around the backstreets of Dunwall and figuring out how to complete each mission provided a really immersive experience, one that capture my attention to a much greater extent than Deus Ex did last year. Honestly, I think 90% of games would be improved with the addition of the Blink ability. I will admit though that the ending wasn’t quite what it could have been. A little bit of a let-down after the glories that went before it.
Game of the Year
Far Cry 3
This is the one that steals it for me, I personally think that Far Cry 3 absolutely nails the open world environment and delivers with it a largely compelling story. The tale it tells might not be as strong as that in Dishonored, but thus is the nature of open world games. What really makes Far Cry 3 stand out though, apart from the amazing world, is Vaas Montenegro. There are few antagonists in gaming which have captured my attention as much as the deranged man did. The character works so well because of the actor Michael Mando who really brings Vaas to life.
Elsewhere, there is so much to do on the islands from hunting bears with a shotgun to attacking camps with the aid of a tiger to flying around with the hang glider or wingsuit. I have probably spent just as much time driving around and exploring as I have actually taking part in the various missions. It is a magnificent example of what can be done with an open world setting.