Published on December 31st, 2012 | by GAMINGtruth Staff
GAMINGtruth: Game of the Year Edition
The year 2012 was monumental for gaming, with a plethora of many AAA titles and a few surprising indie greats. Now that the year is winding down, and 2013 is just on the horizon, we take a look back at some of our favorite gaming moments and which titles made the most impact on each of the editors at GAMINGtruth.
[Derek] – Halo 4
Developer: 343 Industries
Platform: Xbox 360
My game of the year would have to be Halo 4 … surprise, surprise. I’m sure that it comes to no shock that I’d pick Halo, yet this is a title that I have been looking forward to — along with countless other million fans — ever since it was announced during last year’s E3 show.
To me, Halo 4 represents the evolution of the series, and I was extremely eager to see how 343 Industries would carry on Bungie’s iconic franchise. Would 343i be able to live up to the immense hype and deliver an adequate product? With Halo 4, 343i made all of us proud, bringing one of the most visually impressive releases to the Xbox 360.
For me, Halo 4‘s story arc was the best part of the game. I’m a huge fan of the Halo books and I’m still catching up on the newish releases like Greg Bear’s Forerunner Trilogy, so the campaign has much more meaning to me than it does to the average gamer. To see the Didact and the master Lifeworker, the Librarian, in actual 3-D rendering, it was an amazing experience.
Not only does Halo 4 bring a multitude of amazingly fun multiplayer gameplay with Spartan Ops and War Games, the campaign chronicles the beginning of a brand new trilogy that will take gamers even deeper into the Halo universe. 343i’s latest chapter in the saga is definitely my top choice for Game of the Year, and it is a title that gamers can play for years to come.
[Cam] – Halo 4
Throughout the year we have witnessed the end of Commander Shepard’s remarkable adventure, we have crossed the desert never uttering a sound yet telling an entire story, we have made hard decisions in a world ravaged by the undead and we have saved our friends and battled cold-blooded pirates while sporting some pretty killer ink.
Yet in the end, out of all the impressive efforts this year, I have to tip my bonnet to 343 Industries. Even I find it a little perplexing giving my game of the year vote to what is essentially another Halo. I’m sure there will be those who disagree and offer their own opinion on my mental capacity, my sexual preferences and the appearance of my mother. But I stand firm by 343i and I do so for what I believe to be a valid reason.
We, as gamers and conveyors of anything entertaining, are familiar with “tried and true” franchises that we’ll enjoy for a while. We love seeing our favorite hero learn, grow and some of the times, kick some serious ass. Yet there is a time when we must let go and move on.
It’s definitely not typical to see the series make a return and be accepted with the same fanfare as before. Many companies have tried to revive older franchises only to watch as the world shrugs its collective shoulder at their efforts. Capcom’s Bionic Commando couldn’t swing its way back into gamer’s hearts, and Alone in the Dark should have stayed in the shadows. For many, Halo, though the break between Halo 3 and 4 wasn’t nearly as long as the prior examples, was one of those franchises that needed to be put to rest.
The fact that many of the gaming populous was moving on to other things didn’t deter 343i from coming out with the best Halo experience since the original took the world by surprise.
While Halo 4 didn’t leave us as surprised as we were with Halo: Combat Evolved, the game is no less amazing. You see, 343i did something that we didn’t see coming: it made us care about Halo again. Not only that, but Halo 4 turned out to be the most important in the series. It took a critical look at Master Chief, a man who one day found himself in a universe he was no longer needed in, and his relationship with Cortana became the focal point of the story. Her attenuating life and sanity weighed heavily on John-117. The struggle for her life juxtaposed his search for his own humanity which, to this point, Cortana existed as its proxy. This made the incredible, yet bittersweet, ending only more gut-wrenching. What we know about the Chief changes when he decides to follow his own heart instead of the direct order of a superior.
The company could have stopped there and I would have been happy, but 343i kept going. Halo 4 modernized the franchise, bringing with it stunning graphics (the best yet on the aging Xbox 360) and a stellar multiplayer experience.
My award, really, goes more to 343i, for Halo 4 represents what a company can do when it really cares as much for a franchise as its most loyal fans do. After more than a decade, Halo is once more a part of the lexicon of in-house gamer language. And by making Halo important in a world that was ready to move on, I can see no other reason why I would regret giving my GOTY award to 343i and Halo 4.
[Shawn] – Resident Evil: Revelations
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
The game of the year is always tough for me to decide, and this year was no different with the influx of quality titles. Since I have to pick one, I will go with the game that I gave my highest review score to, which is Resident Evil: Revelations for the Nintendo 3DS.
I had grown sour of the action-orientated direction that Capcom was taking with the Resident Evil franchise, but Revelations showed me that there is hope at the end of the day. The game was broken up into action and survival horror segments, which I felt were genius. The game is beautiful, the soundtrack is great, and overall it just flowed so well that it was hard to come to the realization that it was on a handheld.
Coupled with the fact that the game had an awesome online multiplayer experience, it was such a well-rounded package that it’s a shame Capcom didn’t just try to make this a numbered series instead of a side story still canon to the franchise. At the end of the day though, this game was a system seller and the best Resident Evil in a long time, and in my opinion, ever.
[Greg] – Far Cry 3
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Platform: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC
Many outlets usually don’t take into account games that release towards the end of the fiscal quarter. This is usually due to the end of the fiscal year closing sometime around mid-January. This still isn’t going to keep me from keeping Far Cry 3 off my GOTY list.
Many games this year were great to play, relieving stress and simply allowing players to get away for a while. Although it didn’t see much praise, games like Medal of Honor: Warfighter deserve a honorable mention due to its tenacity in the multiplayer realm and praiseworthy storyline. Even so, Far Cry 3 brought players into an intense island survival situation, further minding the gap of graphics, storyline and multiplayer.
Jason Brody, the main protagonist, had his friends stolen and was now expelling every last dying breath to rid the world from the brutality of his new enemy, Vaas. In the journey for revenge and self-discovery, Jason finds out that there is more to the human psyche, along with the island inhabitants.
While on the surface the game was a voluptuous watering hole of graphical splendor, below it was filled with stealthy hunting tactics, inventory crafting and a large enough skill tree to keep RPG fans content. The game cost me numerous hours, but it was the first time in a long time that these ticks on the clock didn’t feel like I was grinding away just to level-up. It felt natural, and gave nature the opportunity to bite back every once and a while.
Far Cry 3 wraps up a first-person shooter and survival game into one. There is no reason why you shouldn’t play this game. The multiplayer and co-op offer similarly fun experiences, further adding to the overall satisfaction in its gameplay.
[Kyle] – The Walking Dead: The Game
Developer: Telltale Games
Publisher: Telltale Games
Platform: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC and Mobile.
2012 was an interesting year. We had a lot of very solid games, many of which I will remember for many years to come. Mass Effect 3 comes to mind, as well as Far Cry 3. However, there was no other game this year that made me fall for the characters more than I did for Clementine in Telltale’s The Walking Dead: The Game.
Many of my peers will ask me whether or not I feel this way because of what the VGA’s did to honor the game, but I have to be honest, ever since the first episode I knew I was playing something very special.
I didn’t wait for all five episodes to come out and play them in order over the span of a couple nights, I actually bought each episode on the day they were released and played them within 24 hours. I had to wait at least a month to get into the next episode. If you’ve played through each, one-after-another, then you can only imagine how intense it made me feel at the end of a segment. I fell into the roles of the characters and cared about who did what, and who lived or died.
I cared how Clementine was being brought up in the world of death. I cared about how she looked at me and the decisions made. Not many games this year did that, but Telltale has a knack for tugging those heart chords.
[Mark]-Mass Effect 3
Release Date: March 6, 2012
Developer: BioWare (Straight Right Wii U)
Platform: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii U and PC
Yes, it sparked controversy, and I would have to agree that the ending left me unsatisfied. However, the reason why Mass Effect 3 is my Game of The Year is for the simple fact that this game did what great games should do: Make passionate fans outcry. I have never seen so many people argue over the ending of a game. This can only mean that ME3 had such an effect on people that it drove them to make BioWare create a whole new set of endings. People even sent a petition that included cupcakes as incentive. (Yeah, that really happened.)
Aside from the controversy, the game itself if a work of art. Never have I felt so emotional while playing a video game. My attachment to the characters was unlike anything I have experienced. I took a Commander Shepherd that I built to my likeness and molded him into something that made ME3 a very emotional experience. Let’s not forget the amazing soundtrack as well. The piano work is simple, elegant sad, and fits perfectly with the game.
The emotion and the controversy combined is what makes Mass Effect 3 my Game of the Year. Whether you are satisfied with the ending or not, it’s a must play RPG that will be a bench mark for future titles.
[D’Juan] – Guild Wars 2
Release Date: August 28, 2012
2012 has been a fantastic year for gaming all around. Great games have been common, but I wanted my Game of the Year pick to be a game that was truly groundbreaking for it’s genre. I’m fully aware that there are other games worthy of such a title. Minecraft and The Walking Dead are two that come to mind immediately – and were strong front-runners in my opinion, but my choice ended being Guild Wars 2.
What’s so genre-defining about this game that makes me rank it so highly? The fact that it combines ideas used in other MMOs in a unique way. If I were to sit here and list out each individual thing that I like about the game, this would be more of a review.
To give a taste though, there’s a ton of content. Five individual races, each with its own fully-voice acted storyline, which uses individual player instances to feed you the key parts of your tale of legend. Eight classes to choose from, each with different play style and abilities. Newbie-friendly gameplay that adjusts higher level characters’ levels based on the region that character is in, which allows you to play alongside a friend who just started the game using a level 80 character – without making the game mind-bogglingly easy in the process. PvP combat that pits server vs. server that levels everyone to 80 (you don’t get access to those spells/armor/weapons you would’ve unlocked on the way though), which lets everyone get their hands wet in PvP gameplay if they’ve never done so before.
All that is fine and dandy (and there’s a lot more I could get into), but the biggest thing that Guild Wars 2 has going for it is that once you buy the game, you pay no monthly fee.
In a year that many an MMO either bit the dust or went free-to-play because they took too long to develop or didn’t draw in the amount of subscriber base, Guild Wars 2 beats them all to the punch by providing nearly all the staples of the genre without requiring you to pay every month. It’s a fully-fledged massively multiplayer RPG that’s free-to-play out of the box – which has forever changed the genre.
It takes a rare game to take me away from the likes of games I’ve been a fan of for years. Since picking up GW2, I’ve played much less of games I otherwise wouldn’t put down, while retaining the social aspects of gameplay that keep me gaming with my friends. A title that can pull me away from Halo 4, Mass Effect 3 and Assassin’s Creed 3 deserves much respect.
From all of us here at GAMINGtruth, we wish you the best in all of your endeavors into the New Year! We enjoy video games and look to provide the honest and most open truth possible. We thank you for taking the time to read this and appreciate your shares.
May you have a great new year, live long… and game hard.