The long road to Game of the Year 2012 is almost over, as we cover Part 4 in our weeklong decision-making process. 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 4 of Press Play’s Game of the Year 2012 Awards!
Halo is the rare franchise that got through the console generation jump relatively unscathed. Not only was it the poster boy for the Xbox and among the top 360 franchises, but it’s likely to continue its reign on Microsoft’s next hardware unhindered. For as iconic as the Master Chief is, Halo’s real staying power comes from the millions of nameless Spartans dying on its multiplayer battlegrounds each day. Halo 4 continues the tradition of insanely polished online gameplay and unprecedented levels of map & mode customization that the series has become known for. Like the Call of Duty-style meta-games or not, they definitely add a lot more reason to continue grinding through slayer matches than we’ve seen in previous games. Though some relatively radical changes have been made to gameplay like allowing all Spartans to sprint or use their own loadouts, it still feels as precise and balanced as ever. Daily and weekly challenges from series newcomer 343 Industries keep the moment-to-moment gameplay fresh and encourage departures from your comfort zone. And of course, all the file sharing and theater dynamics that made Halo 3 the epitome of internet-age gaming are all here as well. Try as you might, you’re just not going to find a more polished or full-featured multiplayer experience than Halo 4, and that’s why it takes our Best Multiplayer of the Year award.EDITORS’ PICKS: Nick: Halo 4 Chris: Assassin’s Creed III Andrew: Halo 4
As the cliché goes, time is of the essence, and no studio knows that better than Robot Entertainment. Responsible for the highly involving and entertaining Orcs Must Die! 2, the game only gets better when you add another player. Whether you have time for a single round or venture into the timeless void to play the game’s Endless Mode, when you bring a friend along the game becomes even more enthralling and strategic. There’s something about communicating with your partner about what limb-severing traps you’ll bring that never fails to materialize a smile on our faces. Orcs Must Die! 2 earns our Best Co-Op of the Year award!EDITORS’ PICKS: Nick: Syndicate Chris: Orcs Must Die! 2 Andrew: Orcs Must Die! 2
Running through the candidates for Scariest Game of 2012, we realized how many truly terrifying experiences we had this year. It just goes to show that graphics aren’t half as important to a horror game as a compelling atmosphere and creepy story, as Half-Life 1 mod Cry of Fear scared us more than any other title. It feels like a first person Silent Hill, boasting the kind of psychological fear in its first 15 minutes that you couldn’t get in the entire campaign of Dead Space. Offering a hefty campaign and separate cooperative storyline that takes Resident Evil co-op efforts to school, you’d be getting your money’s worth if this game cost you a single cent. Do you hate having dry trousers enough to play Cry of Fear, our Scariest Game of 2012?EDITORS’ PICKS: Nick: Slender Chris: Cry of Fear Andrew: Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition
Naming a game isn’t an easy process and more often than not, companies play it safe to communicate a familiarity with players. Arcen Games defied that thought process and instead crafted the coolest sounding game title we’ve heard all year: A Valley Without Wind. What does it mean? Is not having wind a good thing? What valley are we talking about? Is it a supernatural romance? The name could mean anything, but it sounds so incredibly important that it’s hard to think that anything could beat it. With that said, A Valley Without Wind runs away with our Best Game Title of the Year award!EDITORS’ PICKS: Nick: Shoot Many Robots Chris: Shank 2 Andrew: A Valley Without Wind
There are plenty of sequels that have numbered titles, but we can’t let Pokémon Black & White 2 slide like the others. All the people at Pokémon Naming HQ had to do was take out a color wheel and put their finger ANYWHERE to come up with another title in their naming tradition, but they couldn’t be bothered. There’s is no cutesy “Soul,” “Fire,” or “Leaf” descriptor either. It’s a truly sad day when the same people who have painstakingly named 600+ fictional animals have run out of original titles, and that’s why Pokémon Black & White 2 win our Worst Game Title of 2012 award.EDITORS’ PICKS: Nick: Medal of Honor Warfighter Chris: Pokémon Black & White 2 Andrew: Spec Ops: The Line
After the highs and lows of our best and worst game titles this year, we wanted to take a little detour with the Best/Worst Game Title of 2012. That is, the name that’s so bad it’s immediately awesome and should be incorporated into everything and anything fantastical. After deliberating for a time, we couldn’t resist Touch My Katamari. Sounding wildly inappropriate and completely nonsensical, we can’t imagine a game more deserving of Best/Worst Game Title of 2012 than Touch My Katamari. So go on. Touch it!EDITORS’ PICKS: Nick: Guilty Gear XX Λ Core Plus Chris: Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit Andrew: Touch My Katamari
It sounds great that a Kinect game would let players use a controller for important tasks and save the hand-waving for gimmicky stuff. Even better, you’re allowed to sit down while you play! So where did Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor go wrong? Well, not only was it sometimes ridiculously hard just to figure out your objective, but the motion controlled aspects were unresponsive and punishing. When you fail a mission for missing a post-battle high five, that’s a good indicator that your game isn’t very good. For making several hardcore gamers lose whatever shred of hope they had in Kinect, Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor takes our Worst Use of Motion Control award.EDITORS’ PICKS: Nick: Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor Chris: Kinect Star Wars Andrew: Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor
Additional content and the patching process are, for better or worse, a very real part of our contemporary video gaming world. On one hand, patching allows companies to fix problems they might have overlooked or even provide more content to the masses. Sometimes however, these tools are neglected, and game-breaking issues are allowed to run rampant far too long. Silent Hill HD Collection fell into this chasm of torment by taking forever to fix obvious problems with its porting process. Their tardiness was only magnified though, when Konami said that they were outright canceling the Xbox 360 patch, just because. We’re sorry Xbox 360 players, you shouldn’t have to deal with this kind of product and that’s why Silent Hill HD Collection wins the award for the Patch That Came Too Little, Too Late.EDITORS’ PICKS: Nick: Silent Hill HD Collection Chris: Assassin’s Creed III Andrew: Silent Hill HD Collection
When it comes down to it, you don’t do much more straight-up shooting in a game than you do in Borderlands 2. There are plenty of shooters where the guns are known quantities and you choose them because they’re the best for your play-style, but Borderlands 2 offers so many options so frequently that we’ve found ourselves acting like kids in a candy store. It’s an absolute delight to march across Pandora firing different brands and configurations of guns, comparing notes with friends about which element is effective on what enemy, and that factor of the unknown is what allows the game to stay so fresh. Even with our endgame characters when we’ve settled into our favorite time-tested loadouts, the game will sprinkle an even better gun into a trash can or Skag here and there, just to turn our strategies on their heads. The X factors of class abilities, shields and upgrade trees make fighting tough battles in this game feel like a real team effort in cooperative play, and after some of us have clocked over 80 hours in Borderlands 2‘s world, we never seem to get tired of shooting. For that, Borderlands 2 is the clear choice for Best Shooter of 2012.EDITORS’ PICKS: Nick: Halo 4 Chris: Borderlands 2 Andrew: Borderlands 2
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