It’s Day 3 of our Game of the Year deliberations, and we’re already going insane. You’ll see this from our discussions and ultimate choices on Best New Character to #yearofthebow Bow of the Year, and there are some great categories to check out today! Make sure to let us know what you think should win 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 3 of Press Play’s Game of the Year 2012 Awards!
When we think of the platforming genre, ninjas are the ideal choice for stars. Why then have there been so few ninja-focused titles with great platforming? Mark of the Ninja manages to make its players feel like badass assassins by slowing down the pace of the action and taking away useless time constraints, in a liberating way that feels similar to 2008′s Prince of Persia reboot. When scaling walls, players aren’t forced to make precisely timed ‘wall-jumps’ and face certain death with each climb. Your character just sticks to the wall and climbs it. Why? Because you’re a freaking ninja. When grappling to a metal bar you don’t have to precisely aim your grappling hook and face certain death with each swing. Why is it so easy for your character to make these jumps? BECAUSE YOU’RE A FREAKING NINJA. By taking away the unfortunate arcade-era tropes that have hindered the playability of so many otherwise fun platformers, Mark of the Ninja lets players focus on the parts of a ninja game that should be fun, like throwing ninja smoke bombs and stabbing guys with your ninja sword. Did we mention you’re a freaking ninja in this game? Yeah, Mark of the Ninja takes our Best Platformer of the Year award.EDITORS’ PICKS: Nick: Mark of the Ninja Chris: They Bleed Pixels Andrew: Mark of the Ninja
There’s a lot to be said for sticking to your guns. With Borderlands 2, Gearbox Software set out to create a character who was evil to his core, and that’s exactly what they did with Handsome Jack. As soon as you meet this maniacal bigwig, you know he’s a total douche, but the writers at Gearbox had fun throughout the game teasing players with potential depth in his character, only to laugh in your face for believing in him each time. As human beings we want to understand a villain, but with Jack the intention is to stop us from doing so, and the constant quips he throws your way don’t hurt his ‘love-to-hate’ qualities either. Handsome Jack, for making us jaded gamers chuckle at a joke involving a horse named “Butt Stallion,” you’re our Best New Character of the Year.EDITORS’ PICKS: Nick: Tiny Tina (Borderlands 2) Chris: Handsome Jack (Borderlands 2) Andrew: Javik (Mass Effect 3 DLC)
It’s often said that a game is only as good as its narrative. Alright, alright, not every game needs an elaborate tale, but with a sea of derivative stories out there it’s important to be able to stick out from the crowd. Surprisingly, our Best Original Story of the Year award went to a third-person shooter… you heard me right. Although we didn’t see it coming, Spec Ops: The Line offers an intriguing tale of emotion that throws out the typical stereotypes the genre is known for. Cutting deep and ending on an absolutely incredible note, Spec Ops is one of the few third-person shooters we’d recommend playing for story over gameplay, and that’s why it’s our Best Original Story of 2012.EDITORS’ PICKS: Nick: Max Payne 3 Chris: Dust: An Elysian Tail Andrew: Spec Ops: The Line
Have you ever been such a hardcore fan of something that when the product just flat out wasn’t any good, you still refused to admit to its shoddiness? Well, if you had the displeasure of firing up Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City, you already understand where we’re going with this. While it’s by no means the worst game in the series, fans who continually went back to it again and again, hoping they’d finally have a good time were continually let down. Resident Evil 6 was released this year as well, creating a double whammy of sub-par console offerings for the series. It could almost be forgiven that the spin-off be lackluster if the “true sequel” ends up lifting spirits, but the only small respite for RE fans in 2012 was the handheld Revelations. Unfortunately that one was outweighed by two colossal disappointments. This is what our Abusive Relationship of the Year award looks like and quite frankly, we’ve had enough to call it quits.EDITORS’ PICKS: Nick: Super Hexagon Chris: Resident Evil (Series) Andrew: Diablo III
Wait… This Game Came Out? We think this award explains itself, and it perfectly described our reaction to Inversion, a game that was hyped pretty well during development but launched straight into obscurity. Protip, Namco Bandai: Try playing up the release a little more than the development next time if we’re going to see an Inversion 2.EDITORS’ PICKS: Nick: Inversion Chris: I Am Alive Andrew: Armored Core 5
2012 could also be known as “The Year of the High-Profile Studio Closures.” It’s never an easy time to witness any kind of studio shutting their doors for good, but the one that made the most impact for us was the infamous 38 Studios. Known for underappreciated RPG Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, the up-and-coming development house got into a lot of trouble, and quickly. Unfortunately, due to poor management and the squandering of precious resources, there was nothing the studio could do to remain fully functioning. It’s a shame too, because Amalur actually had great sales numbers and their MMO, codenamed Project Copernicus looked to be equally enthralling. What remains to be seen of the future of both these franchises is largely unknown. 38 Studios, it’s regrettable but you’re the Studio We’ll Miss the Most in 2012. All we can do is hope some skilled developer scoops up the license for your games and continues the excellent work that’s already been done.EDITORS’ PICKS: Nick: Ray Muzyka & Greg Zeschuk (Bioware) Chris: 38 Studios Andrew: Radical Entertainment
After E3 2012, it became apparent that the ensuing year in video games (which encompasses the second half of this year and the first half of 2013) was truly “The Year of the Bow.” With so many titles utilizing old-school shooting technology, we felt it important to name one bow victor. Unfortunately, nothing can beat the majesty and unintentional hilarity that is Binary Domain’s Big Bo from earlier this year. Whether he’s screaming orders during covert stealth missions, too shy to hire Japanese prostitutes, or punctuating sentences with “yo,” “brotha,” and “flip side” as if the collar around his neck will explode if he doesn’t meet a quota, one thing’s for certain: WE LOVE BIG BO. For all these reasons and more, Roy Boateng, against all odds, you’re our #yearofthebow Bow of the Year in 2012.EDITORS’ PICKS: Nick: Big Bo (Binary Domain) Chris: Corvo’s Crossbow (Dishonored) Andrew: Corvo’s Crossbow (Dishonored)
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