Most every gaming site puts out a game of the year list once all the major releases are accounted for and most every gaming site gets it hopelessly, horribly wrong.
But that’s half the fun, isn’t it? Ask five random gamers and you’re not going to get the same answer out of all five and the same applies when it’s five separate groups of ill informed clowns.
Of course some places are objectively wrong, and you should absolutely tell them that. Loudly. And often!
But in the spirit of flailing a hand in the air and begging for attention, here’s my not at all comprehensive list of games I thought were really pretty great in 2012.
– Overall Game of the Year: Mass Effect 3
As if it could be anything else. The conclusion to an epic storyline that has played out over the course of three games. So many of the loose threads from the previous two games (and even some of the DLC) were tied up neatly before the end and the fate of the galaxy was decided. Commander Shepard’s tale will likely remain unmatched in gaming for a long time.
And even the multiplayer, that I had dismissed prior to release, proved to be one of the most fun experiences of the year.
– Shooter-y RPG-y Game of the Year: Borderlands 2 (My review for Player Attack)
A bazillion guns and dozens of skills combined with a fun storyline and a bunch of memorable characters make this an obvious choice for any shooty/rpg award once Mass Effect 3 is taken out of the equation. I’ve yet to dip into the various bits of downloadable content (including an entirely new character to play) but I have lost countless hours exploring Pandora and I’m sure I’ll be going back, despite having finished the main storyline. A shooter with replayability! Such a novelty.
– Honourable Mention: Sniper Elite V2
Creep your way behind enemy lines with just a handful of explosives and a sniper rifle and change the course of World War II. But make sure you switch the “realistic” bullet physics on, so you have to account for bullet drop over distance and wind direction. It turns the game from a fairly boring stealthy snipe-em-up to a really fun, challenging experience.
– MMO Game of the Year: Guild Wars 2 (My review for Player Attack)
Not a lot of competition in the field this year, surprisingly. Excluding expansion packs for existing games it really comes down to two, Guild Wars 2 and The Secret World. And anyone putting The Secret World on a game of the year list clearly has poop instead of brains. Guild Wars 2’s cooperative open world gameplay and questing along with the lack of a subscription fee make it a surprisingly fun experience. At least until you get bored of grinding out level after level after level…
– Adventure/Indie/Strategy Game of the Year: FTL
Both a delight and a dastardly plot to ruin lives, FTL gives you a starship, a crew to fly her and sets an overwhelming force to chasing you through the galaxy. And even if you make it through the various jump gates you still have to face the extremely tough command ship at the end, putting all the weaponry and ship upgrades you’ve accrued to the ultimate test. Most don’t succeed on their first attempt. Many don’t by their tenth. I’ve still not beaten the darn game but I will not give up!
– Open World Game of the Year: Far Cry 3
Whilst certain areas were inaccessible without completing story missions and the real open world bits don’t start until you’ve completed a lengthy tutorial, once you get past those caveats the islands of Far Cry 3 have been the most fun.
– Strategy Game of the Year: XCOM: Enemy Unknown
Went from being announced to release in under a year, a pattern more games should adhere to. A reboot of a game from the 90s that didn’t try to reinvent itself too much… unlike the now-delayed shooter based on the same game. Combines old school turn based strategy with modern graphics and gameplay concepts like a perks system for your troops. One of the most pleasant surprises of 2012.
– Mobile Game of the Year: Hill Climb
Drive a jeep, motorbike, monster truck or race car over various kinds of terrain to collect coins and upgrade your vehicle to better drive over the terrain and collect more coins… Simple but insanely addictive. Have already upgraded all my vehicles and am hoping the guys at Fingersoft will release a few more in 2013…
– Facebook Game of the Year: Marvel: Avengers Alliance (My preview for Player Attack)
Remarkably similar to many other social games, but with all the Marvel heroes and villains to play with. Does ultimately fall to the curse of requiring willing friends to further your advancement in the game, but a fun combat system and a good roster of famous faces make this a lot of fun for a week or two.
– Disappointment of the Year: The Secret World (My review for Player Attack)
Fascinating lore and clever social marketing can’t save a poorly conceived quest system and a rushed release. Simple things like fall damage didn’t make it into the final game so it shouldn’t be surprising the game is a horribly unbalanced and bug riddled mess. Announced a switch to free to play, rather than subscription based, just months after release but it may be too little, too late. With the giant World of Warcraft still looming over everything in the MMO space companies must learn patience and only release their games when they are truly ready.
Here endeth the list. At least until I remember some other amazing game, invent a category to put it in and edit this post accordingly. :-)