It’s time for Part 2 of our Game of the Year Awards here at Press Play! This time we go all the way from Best MMO to Most Bastardized Sequel, so check it out and let us know your Game of the Year thoughts in the comments below!
We will be releasing five lists over the course of this week, each covering genres or facets of gaming that we think are important to our industry, culminating with the final “Game of the Year” decision. In the interest of full disclosure, we at Press Play have made the conscious decision to abstain from any “Best of Console” awards, as we would prefer not to encourage discussions we believe to be detrimental to the gaming community. With each ultimate choice, you can also see the individual choices of our three judges, Senior Producer Nick Hawryluk, Web Producer Andrew Whipple III, and guest judge Chris Nagy. We have tried to be as impartial as possible, and in the interest of full transparency, you can listen to our entire deliberations process in the embedded podcast as well.
That said, get ready for Part 2 of Press Play’s Game of the Year 2012 Awards!
Already vanquishing the competition and nabbing our Best RPG of the Year award, Guild Wars 2 again surfaces and scoops up our prestigious award for the Best MMO of the Year. It’s not easy being an MMO nowadays, especially when you see how a multi-million dollar project like Star Wars: The Old Republic was received. Even still, ArenaNet braved the critical masses and delivered an experience that completely reinvents how MMOs will be developed from here on out. Whether you’re a seasoned MMO veteran, a novice to the genre or even a devout hater of anything close, Guild Wars 2 has something for everybody. Once you dive in you’ll witness the innovation for yourself and perhaps you’ll understand why Guild Wars 2 has emerged our grand champion of MMOs this year.EDITORS’ PICKS: Nick: Planetside 2 Chris: Guild Wars 2 Andrew: Guild Wars 2
Traditionally when you talk about Free to Play games, you’re usually referring to a full-fledged MMO that ran out of money, or a ‘free’ game that encourages slimy ‘pay-to-win’ strategies. Planetside 2 is neither of those, it’s just a damn good game that happens to be free! To the uninitiated it looks like a larger, science-fiction version of Battlefield, but when you’ve spent a few hours learning its dynamics it becomes so much more than that. The idea of three constantly warring factions fighting on one massive server may sound like chaos, but it’s really a perfect blend of high-level tactics and action-packed first-person shooting. The sieges in this game put Saving Private Ryan to shame, and this game has produced some of the most thrilling battles of our entire gaming lives. The levels of excitement this game creates have to be experienced to be believed, and luckily for you there’s no barrier to entry! Planetside 2 takes the crown for Best Free to Play Game of 2012.EDITORS’ PICKS: Nick: Planetside 2 Chris: Planetside 2 Andrew: Dota 2
When you think of a game with the best combat in previous years, titles like Devil May Cry, Batman: Arkham City and God of War immediately spring to mind. 2012 had plenty of this brand of adrenaline-fueled combat, but a challenger appeared from left field in XCOM: Enemy Unknown. While it isn’t the ‘Yamato Cannon’ of in your face action games, XCOM delivers tactical combat with style and control that others can’t hope to match. Sure it’s a turn-based endeavor, but when your assault troops appraised with a 20% chance to hit lower their weapons and unload into the alien scum standing before you, the feeling of satisfaction is unprecedented. Did we mention the emotional drain of losing a leveled-up soldier to permadeath because of a clumsy scouting maneuver? Never did we think something so slowly paced could feel so violently intense- and with this dynamic, it’s almost impossible to stop playing! X-COM, for making us fear for the lives of fictional troopers more than we ever thought we could, you’re quite deserving of our Best Combat of the Year Award!EDITORS’ PICKS: Nick: Sleeping Dogs Chris: XCOM: Enemy Unknown Andrew: XCOM: Enemy Unknown
OONTZ OONTZ OONTZ OONTZ OONTZ OO– “What’s this? Holy- look at all these bodies littered across the floor! I didn’t feel so conflicted a second ago when I was murdering all these pixelated gangsters, why do I feel like a terrible person now ?” There are a lot of soundtracks that fit very well with their games’ settings, but by the time you’re done with a level in Hotline Miami, you’ll feel like you’ve been brainwashed! Perfectly gelling with the subject matter of the 8-bit existential shoot-em-up, the thumping tones of Hotline are so catchy that they throw you for a loop every time the game pulls a bait-and-switch with its pacing. For making us feel simultaneously empowered and absolutely filthy through its music, Hotline Miami takes our Best Soundtrack of 2012 Award!EDITORS’ PICKS: Nick: Hotline Miami Chris: Hotline Miami Andrew: FTL: Faster Than Light
The stealth genre has some of the most frustrating mechanics in video games. Most of the time playing a stealth title either involves wrestling with the controls or not understanding why you’ve been spotted. 2D platformer Mark of the Ninja has solved these problems with a few extremely smart choices, and has subsequently ushered in a new era in stealth gaming. You’re no longer held down by limited amounts of time to throw items or make decisions- Mark of the Ninja freezes time for as long as you need to make actual tactical choices. Similarly, every time you or an enemy makes a sound, a ring appears, representing the exact distance that sound carries. It all may sound like hand-holding to grizzled veterans, but Mark of the Ninja is a game about tactics and precise movement. Once you’ve played a level of this game, you’ll wonder how you ever got through the arbitrary constraints of stealth titles past, and that’s exactly why Mark of the Ninja is our Best Stealth Game of the Year.EDITORS’ PICKS: Nick: Mark of the Ninja Chris: Mark of the Ninja Andrew: Mark of the Ninja
One of the best aspects of the video game industry is how a successful series can spawn multiple games, whether they be sequels or prequels, which in many cases are better than the originals! In the wrong hands however, this so called ‘best aspect’ can sometimes become a terrible curse. Enter Ninja Gaiden 3, which offers wildly contrasting worlds, weird narrative and some very questionable game design decisions. It’s clear that without Gaiden reboot creator Tomonobu Itagaki, Team Ninja lost their way, and hopefully the studio will look to its past to understand how a true Ninja Gaiden should be made. But until then, Ninja Gaiden 3 will be our Most Bastardized Sequel of the Year.EDITORS’ PICKS: Nick: Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor Chris: Ninja Gaiden 3 Andrew: Ninja Gaiden 3
In one of our longest battles for ultra supreme supremacy, the award for Best Remake/Re-imagining of the Year was by no means an easy choice. When the final horn sounded and the fields of justice cleared, Double Dragon Neon was ruler of all the land. Bringing back a legendary franchise in such an exaggerated and humorous way, Double Dragon Neon is the epitome of how you reinvigorate a forgotten gem. Keeping the core of what made Double Dragon work fully intact, WayForward successfully blended old-school and contemporary game design to make a great (albeit brief) trip down nostalgia lane. If you don’t immediately laugh when a dojo you enter blasts off into space or when antagonist Skullmageddon greets you with high-pitched Skeletor-esque voice-overs, check your pulse to make sure you aren’t dead. For being totally rad and more than a little bodacious, Double Dragon Neon is our choice for Best Remake/Re-imagining of the Year, bro!EDITORS’ PICKS: Nick: Max Payne 3 Chris: Double Dragon Neon Andrew: XCOM: Enemy Unknown
The Game of the Year 2012 Awards were judged by two Press Play staff editors and a guest judge as tie breaker. Don’t think we made the right choices in a category? Let us know what you think should have won in the comments below!
Trophy from The Noun Project