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Game of the Year 2012

The Underdogs Of 2012 | Top Ten Games You Didn't Buy

Author:
Jonathan Lester
Category:
Features
Tags:
Derrick The Deathfin, Dragon's Dogma, Game of the Year 2012, GOTY 2012, Hybrid, The Secret World, Underdogs, Vessel

The Underdogs Of 2012 | Top Ten Games You Didn't Buy

2012 has brought us some massive games and shattered sales records with merry abandon, but the fact is that plenty of deserving titles managed to slip under our gaming radar into pitiful ignominy. It's time that we championed the underdogs: the games you probably didn't buy - or even notice - throughout the last twelve months.

Before we begin, you need to understand that this list is not an objective measure of raw quality. Instead, we passed these games though a hungover discussion on New Year's Day totally amazing top-secret algorithm that also takes sales figures and how little a splash they made in the mainstream gaming consciousness into account.

10: Hybrid

The Underdogs Of 2012 | Top Ten Games You Didn't Buy

Confused art direction aside, 5th Cell's multiplayer shooter had a lot going for it. Jetpacks. Boomsticks. A persistent war fought through multiple seasons. What's not to like?

Sadly, Hybrid spectacularly failed to light up the Summer Of Arcade... perhaps because it came out scant weeks before Counter-Strike: GO. Whoops.

9: Dragon's Dogma

The Underdogs Of 2012 | Top Ten Games You Didn't Buy

Dragon's Dogma gave us everything we've been missing from JRPGs: meaningful customisation that lets us truly become the main character. Then it added responsive combat mechanics, the deep Pawn NPC system and mythical creatures to stab up like nobody's business.

It charted well enough in Japan to warrant a sequel, but we feel that Dragon's Dogma deserved more recognition and sales over here.

Click here to read more...

Readers' Choice: Vote For Your Best Game Of 2012

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Features
Tags:
Game of the Year 2012, GOTY 2012, Readers' Choice, Readers' Choice: Game of the Year 2012

Readers' Choice: Vote For Your Best Game Of 2012

Well, it took some doing, but our part in this year's Game of the Year season  is now complete - now we'd like to hear from you. You can catch up with our shout for Game of the Year right here, but right here, right now, it's time to cast your own votes. Which game wowed you this year? Which game kept you coming back time and time again? With which game did you have the most fun? Or sink yourself into the most? Which of the following grabbed hold this year, and wouldn't let go?

As per usual, we've compiled an extensive list of twenty or so games that have featured thus far and we'd love to see what our community thought was the best game to come along in 2012.

We'll keep the poll running until next week and announce the winner, along with a roundup of all of our other awards in the New Year.

Cast your votes ladies and gentlemen, for this year's Readers' Choice: Game of the Year Award 2012:


Dealspwn's Game of the Year 2012

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Features
Tags:
Borderlands 2, Dishonored, Far Cry 3, Game of the Year 2012, GOTY 2012, Guild Wars 2, Halo 4, Sleeping Dogs, The Walking Dead, Uncharted: Golden Abyss, XCOM: Enemy Unknown

Dealspwn's Game of the Year 2012

Typically, with our small staff size, there's simply no way we get to play all of the best games each in a given year, there's simply too much reviewing to be done. It can often make these end of year debates rather personal, with individual writers championing games that have had a personal effect on them, and the shortlists get longer and longer. There came a point where I was worried there'd be no overlap, that the internal voting process would yield only singular choices, rather than clear frontrunners.

Of course, all that really means is that the true winners of 2012 have been the consumers. We've seen genres busted wide open, brave new approaches to distribution and development, new ways to get projects off of the ground and in front of an audiences, new IPs when "experts" declared there'd be none. There have been mechanical marvels, fresh waves of indie innovation, sublime storytelling, wondrous worlds in which to wander.

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Description

Dealspwn's Game of the Year 2012

Borderlands 2

We described Borderlands 2 as "the best co-op shooter of its generation" and it still holds true to that accolade. Outstanding AI, superlative scripting, one of this generation's finest villains in Handsome Jack, and more loot than we knew what to do with, Borderlands 2 was a huge step up from its predecessor. Not that Borderlands 1 wasn't great, it's just that its bigger, badder, bolder brother was so very pleasing.

Dealspwn's Game of the Year 2012

Dishonored

Dishonored did better than simply revive the stealth genre, it made us wonder why the hell it went away in the first place. Arkane delivered a blank canvas in Corvo Attano, with a commendably mature approach to player freedom that asked much of you, and delivered ultimate gameplay satisfaction in return. In Dunwall, we had one of the finest video game worlds of this generation. Nothing short of astonishing.

Dealspwn's Game of the Year 2012

Dragon's Dogma

It was broken in places, and Gransys was one of the more forgettable worlds we've seen from an RPG, but Dragon's Dogma was one hell of an endearing game. Breathtaking combat, an innovative Pawn mechanic, and deep customisation options made it a firm favourite in spite of its flaws. Plus, the opportunity to take down a hole bunch of mythical beasts made it all the sweeter. Refreshingly mature.

Dealspwn's Game of the Year 2012

Far Cry 3

Far Cry 3 undoubtedly takes took the SP crown in the shooter category this year. Magnificently epic in scale, stuffed with things to do, and set in a living, breathing jungle, Far Cry 3 empowered the player to become the ultimate tropical predator, with a cracking story and lashings of immersion.

Dealspwn's Game of the Year 2012

Guild Wars 2

It touted a rather bold MMO manifesto in the run up to its release, and while it didn’t quite match all the claims they were hoping for, what they did deliver provided the biggest shake-up to the genre in years. With a huge world that was an explorers paradise, personal stories that went in the direction the player wished, a scaling system that meant no content ever got out-levelled, and more PvP options than you could shake a Quaggan at, it gave players a complete MMO experience, all without an subscription.

Dealspwn's Game of the Year 2012

Halo 4

343 Industries were up against it, the pressure must have been huge. Yet, with Microsoft's biggest frnachise in their hands, they pulled off the incredible: not only did the match up to Bungie's predecessors, they even managed to surpass some of them. Halo 4's campaign was excellent, but it was in the multiplayer modes that 343 really pulled out all of the stops. War Games is still giving us tons of fun, with expanded loadouts and greater gameplay variety than ever before. And then there was Spartan Ops: yes, there were examples of some lazy content recycling, but we've simply been having too much fun to care. An utter blast.

Dealspwn's Game of the Year 2012

Journey

Gloriously life-affirming, utterly transcendental, Journey was one of those few games that not only provided a thoroughly unique experience, but also deeply personal one too. It didn't matter whether or not you considered it art, or even if you defined it as a "game", one thing was for sure: it was absolutely unmissable.

Dealspwn's Game of the Year 2012

Sleeping Dogs

Sleeping Dogs was this year's little-big game that could. Dropped by Activision whilst it was still True Crime: Hong Kong, Square Enix snapped it up after a year in the wilderness and dropped it over the summer. Wei Shen's adventures provided the perfect antidote to the traditional sunny lull. Perfectly sized, utterly OTT, United Front Games refused to take themselves too seriously, instead providing an immaculately balanced open world game, stuffed with things to do, and supported with a near endless stream of cracking DLC.

Dealspwn's Game of the Year 2012

The Walking Dead

Telltale could perhaps have structured their releases with a little more organisatiion, and maybe fixed that infuriating cross-platform savegame bug, but otherwise there was little to complain about from The Standout Storytelling Experience of the Year. A cracking adventure game, with some utterly fantastic scripting and voice work, Telltale's take on Kirkman and co.'s zombie-ridden franchise was miles ahead of the TV series, and showed BioWare that it's possible to pull off a brave ending without compromise. There were tears. So many tears.

Dealspwn's Game of the Year 2012

Uncharted Golden Abyss

A staggering technical achievement, and undoubtedly the lead launch title for the Vita, Golden Abyss carried on the series’ tradition of excellent adventure games with all the familiar elements working fantastically on the new handheld. The list of collectibles had us replaying it obsessively, the Vita’s unique control features were used to fantastic effect, and the bar was set incredibly high.

Dealspwn's Game of the Year 2012

XCOM: Enemy Unknown

XCOM: Enemy Unknown was a sensational game and a truly exquisite reboot. We fell in love with the series all over again, even as Firaxis blew the classic turn-based formula wide open for new players to consume and enjoy. Sid Meier and co. gave us the freedom to make many terrible choices over the course of countless non-linear campaigns, but the first one was simple: buy the damn thing!

Previously in this year's season of Game of the Year awards, we've dealt with difficult decisions by looking at the nature of the genre in question, searching for innovation from the games in question, forward-thinking approaches to development and distribution, value and longevity in content and effect, and how the games in question might define, or in some cases redefine, those genres.

But when it came to Game of the Year, presented with a clipped shortlist of Dishonored, XCOM: Enemy Unknown, Far Cry 3, Journey, and The Walking Dead, we had to cross genre boundaries. There were games on the shortlist that didn't play by the book, so we threw the book out of the window.

Click here to read more...

Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best Action/Adventure Game

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Features
Tags:
Best Action/Adventure 2012, Darksiders II, Dishonored, Game of the Year 2012, GOTY 2012, Journey, Sleeping Dogs, The Walking Dead, Uncharted: Golden Abyss

Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best Action/Adventure Game

Ah, the problem genre. Action/Adventure is that broad spectrum zone for shooters that also dabble in platforming and puzzling, for hack'n'slashers, point'n'clickers, open world expanses, daredevil blockbuster action, and indie darlings that aren't necessarily obvious enough to have a home elsewhere.

As such, it's been an utter bastard to call...

NB. Click on the thumbnails for price comparisons and the game's title for the relevant review where available.

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Description

Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best Action/Adventure Game

Darksiders II

Darksiders II did pretty much everything right. It built upon its predecessor in terms of combat, presentation, longevity, replayability, and fat mounds of loot. Unfortunately, the only misstep was releasing within days of Sleeping Dogs, which was also awesome.

Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best Action/Adventure Game

Dishonored

Dishonored did better than simply revive the stealth genre, it made us wonder why the hell it went away in the first place. Arkane delivered a blank canvas in Corvo Attano, with a commendably mature approach to player freedom that asked much of you, and delivered ultimate gameplay satisfaction in return. In Dunwall, we had one of the finest video game worlds of this generation. Nothing short of astonishing.

Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best Action/Adventure Game

Dragon's Dogma

It was broken in places, and Gransys was one of the more forgettable worlds we've seen from an RPG, but Dragon's Dogma was one hell of an endearing game. Breathtaking combat, an innovative Pawn mechanic, and deep customisation options made it a firm favourite in spite of its flaws. Plus, the opportunity to take down a hole bunch of mythical beasts made it all the sweeter. Refreshingly mature.

Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best Action/Adventure Game

Journey

Gloriously life-affirming, utterly transcendental, Journey was one of those few games that not only provided a thoroughly unique experience, but also deeply personal one too. It didn't matter whether or not you considered it art, or even if you defined it as a "game", one thing was for sure: it was absolutely unmissable.

Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best Action/Adventure Game

Sleeping Dogs

Sleeping Dogs was this year's little-big game that could. Dropped by Activision whilst it was still True Crime: Hong Kong, Square Enix snapped it up after a year in the wilderness and dropped it over the summer. Wei Shen's adventures provided the perfect antidote to the traditional sunny lull. Perfectly sized, utterly OTT, United Front Games refused to take themselves too seriously, instead providing an immaculately balanced open world game, stuffed with things to do, and supported with a near endless stream of cracking DLC.

Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best Action/Adventure Game

The Walking Dead

Telltale could perhaps have structured their releases a little better, and maybe fixed that infuriating cross-platform savegame bug, but otherwise there was little to complain about from The Standout Storytelling Experience of the Year. A cracking adventure game, with some utterly fantastic scripting and voice work, Telltale's take on Kirkman and co.'s zombie-ridden franchise was miles ahead of the TV series, and showed BioWare that it's possible to pull off a brave ending without compromise. There were tears. So many tears.

Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best Action/Adventure Game

Uncharted Golden Abyss

A staggering technical achievement, and undoubtedly the lead launch title for the Vita, Golden Abyss carried on the series’ tradition of excellent adventure games with all the familiar elements working fantastically on the new handheld. The list of collectibles had us replaying it obsessively, the Vita’s unique control features were used to fantastic effect, and the bar was set incredibly high.

Click here to read more...

Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best Shooter

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Features
Tags:
Best Shooter 2012, Binary Domain, Black Ops 2, Borderlands 2, Far Cry 3, Game of the Year 2012, GOTY 2012, Halo 4, Spec Ops: The Line

Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best Shooter

It didn't matter if you wanted to play with or without company; if you were looking for an expansive, open-world bundle of gunplay, or a tightly focused corridor shooter; it didn't matter if you preferred your MP co-operative or competitive; whether you were a fan of the super-serious, or the terrifically tongue-in-cheek...2012 had what you needed, and it had it in swathes.

NB. Click on the thumbnails for price comparisons and the game's title for the relevant review where available.

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Description

Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best Shooter

Binary Domain

Like the very best mad scientists, Binary Domain proved incredibly entertaining, stuffed with smart ideas, and occasionally got things wrong. But the very fact that it tried to innovate in such a relatively lazy genre was worthy of applause. Boasting some incredible boss battles, slick gunplay, and a cracking story, Binary Domain threw off any Gears-clone tag it might have attracted and became a barnstorming title that married the best East and West had to offer.

Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best Shooter

Black Ops II

As usual, Call of Duty delivered another comprehensive content package this year, with Treyarch making tweaks here and there to expand and enhance rather than overhauling. Reliably excellent fun as always, the simple -yet brilliant- revolution of giving players total freedom to tailor their loadout made Black Ops II a joy to play. Not many new modes to speak of, but existing party favourites, deathmatch options and shiny futuristic boomsticks made it a surefire online MP hit, with an excellent singleplayer campaign to boot. Another stunning content offering that saw Treyarch step out of Infinity Ward's shadow and become COD's premier dev team.

Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best Shooter

Borderlands 2

We described Borderlands 2 as "the best co-op shooter of its generation" and it still holds true to that accolade. Outstanding AI, superlative scripting, one of this generation's finest villains in Handsome Jack, and more loot than we knew what to do with, Borderlands 2 was a huge step up from its predecessor. Not that Borderlands 1 wasn't great, it's just that its bigger, badder, bolder brother was so very pleasing.

Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best Shooter

Far Cry 3

Far Cry 3 undoubtedly takes took the SP crown in the shooter category this year. Magnificently epic in scale, stuffed with things to do, and set in a living, breathing jungle, Far Cry 3 empowered the player to become the ultimate tropical predator, with a cracking story and lashings of immersion.

Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best Shooter

Halo 4

343 Industries were up against it, the pressure must have been huge. Yet, with Microsoft's biggest frnachise in their hands, they pulled off the incredible: not only did the match up to Bungie's predecessors, they even managed to surpass some of them. Halo 4's campaign was excellent, but it was in the multiplayer modes that 343 really pulled out all of the stops. War Games is still giving us tons of fun, with expanded loadouts and greater gameplay variety than ever before. And then there was Spartan Ops: yes, there were examples of some lazy content recycling, but we've simply been having too much fun to care. An utter blast.

Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best Shooter

Spec Ops: The Line

Providing probably the most striking narrative we've seen in the shooter genre for some time, Spec Ops: The Line was Conrad's Heart of Darkness and Coppola's Apocalypse Now relocated to a seemingly post-apocalyptic Dubai. As a pure shooter it was admittedly lacking, but excellent presentation, a storming Vietnam-era soundtrack, thought-provoking writing, and a barnstorming performance from a nearly unrecognisable Nolan North rendered it one of the greatest surprise packages of the year.

Click here to read more...

Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best RPG

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Features
Tags:
Best RPG 2012, Borderlands 2, Dragon's Dogma, Final Fantasy XIII-2, Game of the Year 2012, GOTY 2012, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, Mass Effect 3, Torchlight II

Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best RPG

It didn't matter if you were a Western RPG fan, or a connoisseur of JRPGs; whether you were in it for the story, the combat, the epic loot, or all of the above, there was an RPG for you this year. Many of them were hybrids, many had taken on elements from other genres in a bid to grow and expand, many of them were franchised entities, building on games that had come before in evolutionary manner. Projects went abandoned, revision left untouched, there were timesinks aplenty - too many worlds to save, characters to get to know, destinies to fulfil, and legacies to forge.

And loot. So much awesome loot.

NB. Click on the thumbnails for price comparisons and the game's title for the relevant review where available.

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Description

Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best RPG

Borderlands 2

We described Borderlands 2 as "the best co-op shooter of its generation" and it still holds true to that accolade. Outstanding AI, superlative scripting, one of this generation's finest villains in Handsome Jack, persistent RPG mechanics and upgrades, and more loot than we knew what to do with, Borderlands 2 was a huge step up from its predecessor. Not that Borderlands 1 wasn't great, it's just that its bigger, badder, bolder brother was so very pleasing.

Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best RPG

Dragon's Dogma

It was broken in places, and Gransys was one of the more forgettable worlds we've seen from an RPG, but Dragon's Dogma was one hell of an endearing game. Breathtaking combat, an innovative Pawn mechanic, and deep customisation options made it a firm favourite in spite of its flaws. Plus, the opportunity to take down a hole bunch of mythical beasts made it all the sweeter. Refreshingly mature.

Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best RPG

Final Fantasy XIII-2

Square delivered a game that built upon, and corrected a number of the mistakes of, its predecessor, whilst sacrificing none of what made FFXIII an attractive proposition in the first place. This was a game that made few concessions to genre unbelievers, preferring to reward the faithful with some fine examples of fan service. It wasn't perfect, and it doesn't quite stand on its own two feet, but rather made a bid to be the game that FFXIII should have been...and it largely succeeded.

Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best RPG

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning

Big Huge Games made a big huge game, and one that was good for hundreds of hours of addictive questing. The brilliant combat and compelling skill system deserved stronger characters and a more imaginative, less insipid setting, but Kingdoms Of Amalur: Reckoning absolutely nailed the 'Playing Game' aspect of RPGs. With gameplay this good, we were willing to forgive the compromise in the 'Role' department.

Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best RPG

Mass Effect 3

The third and final entry in the Mass Effect trilogy was a stunning achievement. The combat systems were better than ever, the multiplayer hugely enjoyable, and there was a sense of scale and heightened emotion that drove everything. But it was the excellent pacing and wonderful writing that rung out, providing us with some of the most memorable moments in videogaming. It's just a shame that BioWare rushed and ruined the ending. The journey was sublime; the destination found utterly wanting.

Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best RPG

The Last Story

If last year's JRPG spectacular - Xenoblade Chronicles - gave us forward-thinking genre pinnacle for our times, this year's The Last Story sought to create the definitive traditional JRPG. Sakaguchi's opus was beautiful, and gave the Wii a fittingly epic swansong.

Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best RPG

Torchlight II

Runic Games may have less than 40 developers on staff, but they delivered what was perhaps the best loot grinder since Diablo II. Practically perfect in every way, it shamed Blizzard's third effort in the aforementioned franchise through comprehensive content and exquisite execution.

Click here to read more...

Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best Portable Game

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Features
Tags:
Best Portable Game 2012, Game of the Year 2012, GOTY 2012, Gravity Rush, LittleBigPlanet Vita, Motorstorm RC, Pokemon Black/White 2, Resident Evil Revelations, Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy, Uncharted: Golden Abyss, Wipeout 2048

Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best Portable Game

With Nintendo's 3DS  hitting its stride just  in time for Christmas last year , and with Sony prepped to come out swinging with the Vita early this year, handheld fans we salivating over the prospects that 2012 seemed to hold. The reality? Well, the Vita has had one or two stellar titles, though nothing perhaps that's really come to define the platform, not at a premium level anyway. In all honesty, too, the titles we've most been excited for on the 3DS ended up getting pushed back into 2013, with Fire Emblem, Luigi's Mansion 2, Animal Crossing,  and Castlevania all due to hit in the next few months.

That said, there have been a few standouts for portable fans this year...

NB. Click on the thumbnails for price comparisons and the game's title for the relevant review where available.

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Description

Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best Portable Game

Gravity Rush

By setting you down in a strikingly rendered game world and giving you an incredibly unique way to explore it, Gravity Rush joined the select handful of games that occupied us for hours on the basis of mechanics alone. Toyama's decision to move away from survival horror resulted in a game of dazzling beauty in both function and form. It wasn't perfect, but it was pretty darn special.

Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best Portable Game

LittleBigPlanet Vita

LittleBigPlanet Vita was a triumph of handheld development, an unprecedented creative outlet that will remain relevant, varied and important throughout the console's lifespan. The campaign was great fun while it lasted, and once the community got into full swing, it literally became the last Vita game you'd ever need.

Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best Portable Game

MotorStorm RC

The cheapest of the Vita's launch titles turned out to be the most enjoyable, and the one we'd find ourselves constantly returning to over the course of the year. A fantastic retro-flavoured racer with some wonderfully futuristic elements, MotorStorm RC proved that the Vita can carry off sub-£5 games with aplomb, and paved the way for some very interesting cross-platform opportunities to come, even if that potential for the platform was questionably fulfilled.

Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best Portable Game

Pokemon Black/White 2

Black & White version 2 refined Pokemon's gameplay into its most capable and enjoyable shape to date. Despite several issues in the disbelief department, these were two fantastic timesinks, with the series' best rival to date, a huge array of Pokemon to collect and train up, and an impressive array of MP options. Shame Nintendo couldn't quite bring themselves to fully slap it on the 3DS.

Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best Portable Game

Resident Evil: Revelations

Resident Evil: Revelations was a sensational portable title that made full use of the 3DS' capabilities, and proved a great addition to the franchise in its own right. Impressive value and a masterful multiplayer mode elevated Capcom's latest to the upper echelons of handheld gaming this year.

Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best Portable Game

Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy

Theatrhythm Final Fantasy succeeded on every level, as a point attack rhythm game, nostalgia trip, persistent RPG, and inescapable addiction. It was an utterly essential purchase and killer app for 3DS-owning Final Fantasy fans, and well worth checking out even if you're just looking for a quirky new experience. We'd love a sequel, if only to give Theatrhythm the only thing it lacked: its own voice.

Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best Portable Game

Uncharted Golden Abyss

A staggering technical achievement, and undoubtedly the lead launch title for the Vita, Golden Abyss carried on the series’ tradition of excellent adventure games with all the familiar elements working fantastically on the new handheld. The list of collectibles had us replaying it obsessively, the Vita’s unique control features were used to fantastic effect, and the bar was set incredibly high.

Click here to read more...

Game Of The Year Awards 2012 | Best Indie Game

Author:
Jonathan Lester
Category:
Features
Tags:
A Valley Without Wind, Best Indie Game 2012, Dear Esther, Defender's Quest, FTL: Faster Than Light, Game of the Year 2012, GOTY 2012, Hotline Miami, Lone Survivor, Thomas Was Alone, Torchlight II, Vessel

Game Of The Year Awards 2012 | Best Indie Game

Selecting the best indie game of 2012 is no easy task, and not just because there are so many fantastic titles to choose from. As independent and boutique gaming continues its meteoric rise, it's getting harder and harder to define what the word 'indie' really means. Is it one man in his bedroom or garage? A relatively large team with a multi-game deal from a major publisher? What was once an ostracised segment of games development has become a massive part of the mainstream market, and a force to be reckoned with over the coming years.

We've taken the decision to include Fez and Journey in 'Best Download/Marketplace Game', which went live earlier today, simply because the competition is more relevant in that category.

So, down to business... and Merry Christmas!
NB. Click on the thumbnails for price comparisons and the game's title for the relevant review where available.

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Description

Game Of The Year Awards 2012 | Best Indie Game

A Valley Without Wind

A Valley Without Wind is enormous, life-affirming and brilliant. Enormous randomised worlds, tight platforming gameplay and infinite scope for exploration made for an addictive indie classic.

Game Of The Year Awards 2012 | Best Indie Game

Dear Esther

Though only a 'game' in the most tenuous of senses, this interactive oddity still gives us pause for thought and introspection. Dear Esther may be maddeningly surreal and abstract, but we'd urge you to give it a go.

Game Of The Year Awards 2012 | Best Indie Game

Defender's Quest

One of the very first indie games of 2012 proved to be one of the very best. Defender's Quest managed to perfectly fuse RPG and tower defence mechanics into a gloriously compelling experience, which we're still dipping into eleven months after launch.

Game Of The Year Awards 2012 | Best Indie Game

FTL: Faster Than Light

If you love roguelikes, space operas and always dreamt of being the one in the big chair saying "Make it so!" then this is the game for you. FTL is massively replayable, hugely rewarding and genuinely thrilling at times. Engage!

Game Of The Year Awards 2012 | Best Indie Game

Hotline Miami

Hotline Miami is a sleazy, shocking, often unpleasant and thoroughly worthwhile use of a few hours. Dennaton Games' "f*ck 'em up' is as compelling and exhilarating as it is brutally raw.

Game Of The Year Awards 2012 | Best Indie Game

Lone Survivor

A one-man masterclass in effective survival horror design. Utterly tense, disturbing and unforgettable despite its two-dimensional trappings.

Game Of The Year Awards 2012 | Best Indie Game

Thomas Was Alone

Thomas Was Alone is a bona fide indie masterpiece that reminds us that you don't need glitzy graphics to create relateable characters with meaningful depth. A minimalist triumph.

Game Of The Year Awards 2012 | Best Indie Game

Torchlight II

Runic Games may have less than 40 developers on staff, but they delivered what is perhaps the best loot grinder since Diablo II. Practically perfect in every way.

Game Of The Year Awards 2012 | Best Indie Game

Vessel

A truly superior puzzler and one of 2012's most cruelly under-rated games. Massive quantity and exceptional quality made for a truly wonderful purchase, brought home with exquisite art direction and liquid modelling.

Click here to read more...

Game Of The Year Awards 2012 | Best Download/Marketplace Game

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Features
Tags:
Best Download/Marketplace Game 2012, Fez, Game of the Year 2012, GOTY 2012, Journey, Mark of the Ninja, Minecraft: 360 Edition, The Unfinished Swan, The Walking Dead, Trials Evolution

Game Of The Year Awards 2012 | Best Download/Marketplace Game

Once again, the virtual marketplaces had an absolutely barnstorming year. Even if you never bought a boxed game in 2012, you would have found yourself with an overwhelming array of quality to keep you entertained this year. One again, the highest of bars in this category can be recognised from those that didn't quite make the cut to the final shortlist. Exceptional honourable mentions must go to Alan Wake's American Nightmare, Joe Danger: The Movie, Papo & Yo, Sine Mora, Sound Shapes I Am Alive, Pid, and Awesomenauts.

It was a hard job, be it had to be done. Eventually we whittled down the shortlist to eight:

NB. Click on the thumbnails for price comparisons and the game's title for the relevant review where available.

Title

Description

Game Of The Year Awards 2012 | Best Download/Marketplace Game

Dust: An Elysian Tail

Dust: An Elysian Tail may have taken more than three years for Dodrill to create, but the result was truly time well spent. The great thing about indie games is that they don't follow convention and they refuse to be pigeonholed... but let's do it anyway in the broadest possible terms. If Fez was 2012's Braid, then Dust: An Elysian Tail was quite possibly its Bastion.

Game Of The Year Awards 2012 | Best Download/Marketplace Game

Fez

In many ways, Fez reminded us of Portal. Both create moments of supreme frustration in the player at the limits of knowledge and understanding, and both provide exceptional payoffs when the player finally overcomes those hurdles. If you were willing to play the game and truly get involved, Fez rewarded you time and time again. With its simple conceit (and fantastic execution), Fez took a commendably mature approach to letting you discover things for yourself. It was a flawed work of brilliance to be sure (*cough* patches), but brilliance nonetheless.

Game Of The Year Awards 2012 | Best Download/Marketplace Game

Journey

Gloriously life-affirming, utterly transcendental, Journey was one of those few games that not only provided a thoroughly unique experience, but also deeply personal one too. It didn't matter whether or not you considered it art, or even if you defined it as a "game", one thing was for sure: it was absolutely unmissable.

Game Of The Year Awards 2012 | Best Download/Marketplace Game

Mark of the Ninja

Shank was good, Mark of the Ninja was better. In ditching OTT action for graceful, shadowy stealth, Klei made a great game, not just a good one. It's rare to see true stealth embraced in such emphatic fashion these days, with publishers impressing on all parts of the industry that we gamers must be constantly stimulated and can't possibly appreciate games that require patience or, god forbid, thought. But this was a title that thrilled us with its clandestine delights. It's a bold, brave game to have placed so many of its eggs in one stealthy, shadowy basket, but it was undoubtedly one of the finest XBLA games of the year, and a stunning end to a somewhat flat Summer of Arcade because of it.

Game Of The Year Awards 2012 | Best Download/Marketplace Game

Minecraft: 360 Edition

It's Minecraft, opptimised for 360. And it was brilliant, but then, what did you expect?!

Game Of The Year Awards 2012 | Best Download/Marketplace Game

The Unfinished Swan

Who would have thought that you'd be able to produce a thoroughly compelling, utterly unique storytelling experience, with motion control at the very core. Well, that's exactly what The Unfinished Swan achieved this year. Dazzlingly original, The Unfinished Swan was a modern classic - a delightful interactive fairytale that finally gave us a resounding reason to pick up a Move controller.

Game Of The Year Awards 2012 | Best Download/Marketplace Game

The Walking Dead

Telltale could perhaps have structured their releases a little better, and maybe fixed that infuriating cross-platform savegame bug, but otherwise there was little to complain about from The Standout Storytelling Experience of the Year. A cracking adventure game, with some utterly fantastic scripting and voice work, Telltale's take on Kirkman and co.'s zombie-ridden franchise was miles ahead of the TV series, and showed BioWare that it's possible to pull off a brave ending without compromise. There were tears. So many tears.

Game Of The Year Awards 2012 | Best Download/Marketplace Game

Trials Evolution

As well as being bastard hard, Trials Evolution was also enormous fun. Whether shaving nanoseconds off of your times, or enjoying the pick-up-and-play appeal of the multiplayer modes and racing your friends, Trials Evolution delivered ultimate satisfaction and boundless entertainment. Better yet, RedLynx took a leaf out of Media Molecule's book, providing a comprehensive level editor that has ensured that there's not been a week gone by this year without having engaged in some fast and furious motorcross platforming. Unmissable.

Click here to read more...

Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best Sports Game

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Features
Tags:
Best Sports Game 2012, FIFA 13, Football Manager 2013, Game of the Year 2012, GOTY 2012, NBA 2K13, PES 2013, Sport Champions 2, SSX

Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best Sports Game

EA came out of the blocks very strongly this year, with cracking iterations of Madden, NHL, and FIFA, with the latter impressing us greatly with its brave gameplay tweaks and comprehensive content offering. They were still hammered off of the park completely when it came to basketball, though, cancelling a game this year in the face of sheer dominance once again from 2K. Elsewhere, Sports Interactive and Konami's PES Team had good years too, though for different reasons...

NB. Click on the thumbnails for price comparisons and the game's title for the relevant review where available.

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Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best Sports Game

FIFA 13

If Konami got everything right on the pitch this year, EA Canada got everything bang on elsewhere. The presentation was, once again, spot on (though still not quite NBA 2K standard), the sheer wealth of offline and online game modes meant we were never short of playing options, and further social integration and regular EASFC challenges meant there was always weekly content to keep us engaged. The on-pitch tweaks made it a better prospect than last year's effort too. Fearsome in its breadth and depth, the lack of control might have proved offputting for some, but for others FIFA 13 delivered the ultimate footballing content package this year.

Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best Sports Game

Football Manager 2013

Sports Interactive got fed up with folks saying that the FM series was a little too impenetrable for some...so they released two games for the price of one. On one hand you had the full fat FM2013 experience, which gave us a simulation experience with (somehow) even greater depth than ever before. But then there was Classic Mode, stripped back and harking back to the glory days of Championship Manager. With new multiplayer components and challenges infueced by the mobile game's success, SI delivered the most comprehensive FM package we'd ever seen.

Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best Sports Game

NBA 2K13

Let's get this out of the way right now: the NBA 2K franchise has consistently delivered the best sports games for years. But it's easy to get a bit complacent when you get things right so early on. NBA 2K13 once again delivered the finest career mode you'll find in the genre, but it was somewhat undersupported elsewhere. On the one hand it was utterly triumphant, but those laurels were beginning to look well worn this year.

Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best Sports Game

PES 2013

Slick menus, effortless matchmaking, and all of the official licenses in the world don't make a difference without exceptional gameplay, and thankfully PES 2013 had the last feature in spades. Even if it wasn't quite the full package yet, with a number of quirks still to iron out, PES 2013 was the finest PES title Konami had produced in years, with arguably the most satisfying footballing mechanics in terms of player control and unparalleled freedom that this generation had to offer.

Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best Sports Game

Sports Champions 2

Sports Champions 2 gave us another reason to dust off our PS Moves this year, serving up another barrage of sporting minigames, much in the same manner as its predecessor. This sequel brought more polish, more modes, and more fun than its older sibling, though.

Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best Sports Game

SSX

Even if it had lost some of the goofy charm that had endeared us to the series in the first place, SSX's return was still a cause for celebration. It needed more Run-DMC, but hitting the powder and bagging some ridiculously sick air was still as fun as ever, helped out by slaloming down some of the world's greatest peaks.

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Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best Strategy Game

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Features
Tags:
Best Strategy Game 2012, Crusader Kings II, Defender's Quest, Endless Space, FTL: Faster Than Light, Game of the Year 2012, GOTY 2012, Orc Must Die 2, XCOM: Enemy Unknown

Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best Strategy Game

Whether you were a hardcore fighting fan, or a more casual gamer who simply liked the genre, 2012 was a good year for flying fists. Namco and Capcom were on fine form, with their supreme mashup serving up a union that fans had been hungering after for years, with Tecmo Koei and Reverge Labs also providing cracking tournament support. PSASBR and Anarchy Reigns gave us some high-octane brawler action this year. It's just a shame that Persona Arena didn't reach us in time, really.

NB. Click on the thumbnails for price comparisons and the game's title for the relevant review where available.

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Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best Strategy Game

Crusader Kings 2

Crusader Kings II ws an utter delight. Criticised in some quarters for a lack of accessibility in their traditionally highly-beardy strategy titles, Paradox delivered a game with a lower entry point for no compromise o depth in CK2. Machiavellian dynasty-building was the order of the day, with a much greater emphasis placed on diplomacy, espionage, tactical wedlock and political intrigue. Kickstarting a family in the Middle Ages had never been so much fun, nor so deeply engrossing.

Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best Strategy Game

Defender's Quest

Defender's Quest was magnificent. Like Puzzle Quest and Runespell: Overture before it, Level Up Labs' creation took an already-popular genre to glittering new heights while refusing to compromise on the core gameplay. An unexpected indie gem, DQ provided near-perfect tower-defence mechanics alongside a deep and compelling set of RPG features too.

Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best Strategy Game

Endless Space

A sensational 4X title, Endless Space was absolutely epic in scope, but packed with dense, enjoyable features and boasted an intuitive, palatable GUI. Its infinitely customisable sandbox gave us plenty of toys and things to occupy your time, providing profound choice and variety at every gameplay level. As Douglas Adams said: "you just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is."

Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best Strategy Game

FTL: Faster Than Light

A bona fide Kickstarter success, FTL allowed us to take control of our own ship and live out our fantasies of become Captain Kirk/Picard/Reynolds/Hunt. In fact, the mod tools meant you could pilot the Enterprise, or Serenity if you really wanted. A little repetitive, and frequently punishing, FTL was nonetheless a genuinely thrilling, hugely rewarding, and deeply satisfying management sim. The bridge is yours, Captain.

Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best Strategy Game

Orcs Must Die! 2

Orcs Must Die! 2 is the game Robot Entertainment wanted the original to be. More importantly, it's the game we all wanted it to be. Despite only nine months in development, this effortlessly superior sequel delivered addictive depth, massive content and sensational co-op multiplayer. Basically, Orcs Must Die! 2 was a must-buy if you had even the vaguest shred of interest in cooperative action, tower defence or RPGs.

Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best Strategy Game

XCOM: Enemy Unknown

XCOM: Enemy Unknown was a sensational game and a truly exquisite reboot. We fell in love with the series all over again, even as Firaxis blew the classic turn-based formula wide open for new players to consume and enjoy. Sid Meier and co. gave us the freedom to make many terrible choices over the course of countless non-linear campaigns, but the first one was simple: buy the damn thing!

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PWNCAST | Season 2: Episode 13 - The Alternative Awards

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Features
Tags:
Game of the Year 2012, GOTY 2012, Podcast, PWNCAST, The Alternative Awards 2012

PWNCAST | Season 2: Episode 13 - The Alternative Awards

We're well into our Game of the Year 2012 season, so it's time for a few alternative awards. We work out who the best characters f the year have been, we pick out the year's biggest scandal, determine the recipient of 2012's Skyrim award for innovative use of fish, and we decide whether the Fox Engine's Executive Horse is a match for Butt Stallion.

PWNCAST | Season 2: Episode 13 - The Alternative Awards, Recorded: December 19th, 2012

Parental Advisory: We've tried to keep it as conversational and informal as possible, and you should be warned that there may be quite a few instances of strong language.

Click the banner at the top to play the file, or right click and select 'Save Link As' to download the file onto your hard drive.

Want more? Check out the rest of our PWNCAST posts onsite, hit us up on iTunes, or subscribe to the PWNCAST Feed here.

PWNCAST | Season 2: Episode 13 - The Alternative Awards PWNCAST | Season 2: Episode 13 - The Alternative AwardsPWNCAST | Season 2: Episode 13 - The Alternative AwardsPWNCAST | Season 2: Episode 13 - The Alternative AwardsPWNCAST | Season 2: Episode 13 - The Alternative Awards

Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best Fighting Game

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Features
Tags:
Anarchy Reigns, Best Fighter 2012, DOA 5, Game of the Year 2012, GOTY 2012, Skullgirls, SoulCalibur V, Street Fighter X Tekken, Tekken Tag 2, UFC Undisputed 3

Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best Fighting Game

Whether you were a hardcore fighting fan, or a more casual gamer who simply liked the genre, 2012 was a good year for flying fists. Namco and Capcom were on fine form, with their supreme mashup serving up a union that fans had been hungering after for years, with Tecmo Koei and Reverge Labs also providing cracking tournament support. PSASBR and Anarchy Reigns gave us some high-octane brawler action this year. It's just a shame that Persona Arena didn't reach us in time, really.

NB. Click on the thumbnails for price comparisons and the game's title for the relevant review where available.

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Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best Fighting Game

Anarchy Reigns

Now, admittedly, we don't normally do this. But with SEGA quite literally having no good reason whatsoever to have held Anarchy Reigns back, the fact it's out right at the start of the new year, and considering that we've played the import version which works perfectly and is fully localised we're sticking Platinum's brawler in our 2012 list. Utterly barmy, deliciously slick, furiously addictive, Platinum once again wiped the floor with all competitors to present a multiplayer brawler the likes of which we've not seen in many a year.

Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best Fighting Game

Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale

Now, just because Matt and Brendan had an allergic reaction to this game doesn't necessarily mean it was bad. We've included it here in the list out of respect for our peers, who appear to have deemed it the second coming. There is certainly a chance that we might be fallible; after all, it can't be that bad, because lots of people apparently like it. Allegedly.

Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best Fighting Game

Skullgirls

Reverge Labs knocked it out of the park with Skullgirls this year. It packed more profound balance, greater flexibility and smoother animations than most games thrice its price, and the developers wholeheartedly succeeded in their bid to craft one of the finest competition fighters in recent memory. No, it wasn't for the casual fighting fan, but if you played hard, and fought to win, this was probably your new favourite game.

Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best Fighting Game

Street Fighter x Tekken

It's one of those mashups you dream about in the throes of a fever or a whisky-soaked haze...what if Tekken and Street Fighter came together?! Yet it happened, and it was awesome! Holding something for both casual fans and hardcore tournament fighters alike, SFxT proved to be an exceptional fighter...apart from that whole on-disc DLC mess.

Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best Fighting Game

Tekken Tag Tournament 2

Boasting a truly packed roster, serving up a neat liytle tutorial in the form of the Combot and the Fight Lab, Tekken threw its doors wide open for TTT2. The fast-paced tag action was back, and now with online stat tracking you could make sure you were nudging ahead of your friends. Oh, and le's ot forget the largely free post-game content shall we?

Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best Fighting Game

UFC Undisputed 3

Probably the definitive MMA game out there right now. Boasting improved presentation, ramped-up content offerings, greater accessibility, an awesome new Pride mode, and a revamped submission system, Yuke's made sure that this was the best in the series, and a triumphant title with which to say farewell, with the developers underlining why it might be a crying shame that the franchise now lies in EA's hands.

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Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best Platform/Puzzle Game

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Features
Tags:
Best Platform/Puzzle Game 2012, Fez, Game of the Year 2012, GOTY 2012, LEGO Lord of the Rings, LittleBigPlanet Vita, New Super Mario Bros. U, Quantum Conundrum, Stealth Bastard Deluxe, Thomas Was Alone, Trials Evolution, Vessel

Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best Platform/Puzzle Game

We've been blessed with some utterly cracking games in the platform/puzzle genres this year, so much so that, again, the shortlist is notable for its many absences - not because those games were bad, but simply because there just wasn't any room. Both LEGO and Mario had double returns this year, with NSMB2 and LEGO Batman 2 narrowly missing out on slots in the table below. We could have counted Journey amongst the contenders in this category but ultimately felt that there were finer exponents of "pure" platforming and puzzling - though the unbridled joy with which we glided and floated across the desert provided some of the most striking and unforgettable memories of the year. Fantastic marketplace titles such as Quantum Conundrum, Mark of the Ninja, The Splatters and Vessel didn't quite make the cut, though that says more about the abundance of quality this year rather than anything particularly disparaging about those two games.

It should be noted, too,  that two of the very best platformers of the year arrived on iOS of all places. Written off in some quarters as a platform that would never be able to provide quality platformers, iOS served up the delicious double whammy of Beat Sneak Bandit and Rayman Jungle Run this year to silence detractors.

Put simply, if you were a platform/puzzle fan, 2012 was stuffed with win...

NB. Click on the thumbnails for price comparisons and the game's title for the relevant review where available.

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Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best Platform/Puzzle Game

Fez

In many ways, Fez reminded us of Portal. Both create moments of supreme frustration in the player at the limits of knowledge and understanding, and both provide exceptional payoffs when the player finally overcomes those hurdles. If you were willing to play the game and truly get involved, Fez rewarded you time and time again. With its simple conceit (and fantastic execution), Fez took a commendably mature approach to letting you discover things for yourself. It was a flawed work of brilliance to be sure (*cough* patches), but brilliance nonetheless.

Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best Platform/Puzzle Game

LittleBigPlanet Vita

LittleBigPlanet Vita was a triumph of handheld development, an unprecedented creative outlet that will remain relevant, varied and important throughout the console's lifespan. The campaign was great fun while it lasted, and once the community got into full swing, it literally became the last Vita game you'd ever need.

Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best Platform/Puzzle Game

LEGO Lord of the Rings

LEGO Lord of the Rings was charming and delightful, as all of Traveller's Tales' LEGO games have been. But it was also phenomenally authentic, with a humourous irreverence that proved simultaneously both utterly LEGO and absolutely LOTR. Superb fun with a friend, with some wonderfully cracking setpieces, it narrowly edged out LEGO Batman 2 to make this list. Made unmissable by having TT's LEGO pranks set to the RSC tones of Ian McKellen. And Boromir being killed with a banana.

Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best Platform/Puzzle Game

New Super Mario Bros. U

New Super Mario Bros. U might not have proven to be a revolution, but its tight level design, unpredictability, new features and thoughtful MiiVerse implementation made it one of the most enjoyable Mario games in years. A nigh-essential purchase for early Wii U adopters despite not being a perfect ambassador for the new system.

Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best Platform/Puzzle Game

Stealth Bastard Deluxe

A triumphant fusion of pure stealth, cerebral puzzling and technical platforming, Stealth Bastard Deluxe finally let us shower Curve Studios in money as they built upon their fantastic, free, retro-tinged stealth-em-up, making it an essential purchase for fans of both genres and one of the most exciting indie games of 2012.

Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best Platform/Puzzle Game

Thomas Was Alone

Mike Bithell's Thomas Was Alone delivered a bona fide indie masterpiece that reminded us just how powerful, engaging and ambitious videogames could be...all via the medium of geometric shapes. But even if you didn't buy into that, perhaps it was "just" a really neat puzzle game with great voice acting and a killer soundtrack. Either way, you owed it to yourself to play Thomas Was Alone this year.

Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best Platform/Puzzle Game

Trials Evolution

As well as being bastard hard, Trials Evolution was also enormous fun. Whether shaving nanoseconds off of your times, or enjoying the pick-up-and-play appeal of the multiplayer modes and racing your friends, Trials Evolution delivered ultimate satisfaction and boundless entertainment. Better yet, RedLynx took a leaf out of Media Molecule's book, providing a comprehensive level editor that has ensured that there's not been a week gone by this year without having engaged in some fast and furious motorcross platforming. Unmissable.

Click here to read more...

Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best Driving/Racing Game

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Features
Tags:
Best Driving/Racing Game 2012, F1 2012, Forza Horizon, Game of the Year 2012, GOTY 2012, LittleBigPlanet Karting, Motorstorm RC, Need for Speed: Most Wanted, Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed, Wipeout 2048

Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best Driving/Racing Game

There's still life in the racing genre yet, as this year proved, but we saw well established franchises taking risks with spinoffs in new directions. The likes of DiRT and Forza took on new challenges to  try, particularly in the case of the latter, to blow the restrictive pigeonholes of "arcade" and "simulation" wide open. Criterion re-emerged once again at the head of EA's premier racing series to deliver a typically frenetic and engaging experience, and there were a fair few titles to please the more casual racing fans, with F1 Race Stars, LBPK, and SEGA's fantastic Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed delivering karting goodness towards the end of the year.

Start your engines please...

NB. Click on the thumbnails for price comparisons and the game's title for the relevant review where available.

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Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best Driving/Racing Game

F1 2012

Still furiously addictive, still wholly engrossing, this year's F1 underlined the need for an overhaul to the career mode, but in providing a superb tutorial and expanding a few of the game modes, Codemasters proved that their still the finest exponents of the Formula One experience.

Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best Driving/Racing Game

Forza Horizon

orza Horizon is what you'd get if you crossed a Sunday afternoon drive with Project Gotham Racing. At its best, Forza Horizon approaches being one of the purest embodiments of the sense of wellbeing that driving can instil - be that from the thrill or the serenity of being behind the wheel - that gaming has produced. Ever. Just bring your own soundtrack to the party.

Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best Driving/Racing Game

LittleBigPlanet Karting

United Front Games teamed up with Media Molecule to give PS3 fans something we'd secretly been craving for some time. Sackboy's racer might not quite have been mechanically perfect when it came to the art racing itself, but the sheer magnitude of the creation suite and the simple joys of tearing it up as Sackboy and chums gave us plenty to rejoice in and return to time and time again.

Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best Driving/Racing Game

Motorstorm RC

The cheapest of the Vita's launch titles turned out to be one of the most enjoyable. A fantastic retro-flavoured racer with some wonderfully futuristic elements, MotorStorm RC proved that Sony's handheld could carry off sub-£5 games with aplomb, and pointed towards some very interesting cross-platform opportunities to come.

Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best Driving/Racing Game

Need For Speed: Most Wanted

Combining the fun and frivolity of Burnout with the slightly more discerning reflection of reality that the Need For Speed name brings with it, Criterion served up another huge playground and a truly impressive range of vehicles to muck about in this year, combined with a fantastic UI that ensured we never had to abandon the merriment for a second, and a multiplayer component that was built for party fun, both locally and online.

Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best Driving/Racing Game

Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed

With no Mario Kart out this year, and LBPK proving a little disappointing for some, SEGA stepped up to the plate to deliver some anarchic karting fun this year, building upon the success of Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing, and giving it the Diddy Kong treatment. Taking to the skies and diving onto the waterways, SASRT produced a thoroughly engrossing party racing title that served up some fine SEGA fan service too.

Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best Driving/Racing Game

WipEout 2048

The Vita played home to a number of utterly cracking racers this year, not least WipEout 2048, which brought the blistering speed for which SCE Liverpool had been renowned to Sony's shiny new handheld. Dazzling visuals, a great sense of progrossion, more vehicles than before, and a wealth of online modes meant that WipEout became a firm favourite for Vita racers.

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Game Of The Year Awards 2012 | Best MMO

Author:
Carl Phillips
Category:
Features
Tags:
Best MMO 2012, Game of the Year 2012, GOTY 2012, Guild Wars 2, Planetside 2, Star Wars The Old Republic, The Secret World, World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria

Game Of The Year Awards 2012 | Best MMO

The last twelve months has seen some rather bold attempts to mix up the Massively Multiplayer Online genre after years of titles attempting to emulate the success of a certain Blizzard juggernaut. Some have seen more success than others in terms of sales, but each one has brought something different to the table, giving gamers the most varied choice in how to enter a virtual world than we've had in some time, and each of them (mostly) enjoyable games in their own right. However, only one can be crowned the best MMO of the year, and we've got the big hitters all lined up for the big occasion.

All that's left to say is "GL+HF".

NB. Click on the thumbnails for price comparisons and the game's title for the relevant review where available.

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Game Of The Year Awards 2012 | Best MMO

Guild Wars 2

It touted a rather bold MMO manifesto in the run up to its release, and while it didn’t quite match all the claims they were hoping for, what they did deliver provided the biggest shake-up to the genre in years. With a huge world that was an explorers paradise, personal stories that went in the direction the player wished, a scaling system that meant no content ever got out-levelled, and more PvP options than you could shake a Quaggan at, it gave players a complete MMO experience, all without an subscription.

Game Of The Year Awards 2012 | Best MMO

PlanetSide 2

Proving that Free To Play could provide Triple-A gameplay, Sony Online Entertainment unleashed an online battlefield like no other with PlanetSide 2. With hundreds of players split into three factions fighting against each other, the online skirmishes not only never stop, but are some of the most intense in the FPS genre. Although the game does somewhat encourage players to spend a little on the microtransaction store, you can play for free if you wish to and still participate cinematic battles filled with soldiers, tanks and aircraft.

Game Of The Year Awards 2012 | Best MMO

Star Wars: The Old Republic

Although technically released last year, 2012 has seen almost all of SWTOR’s life span. The enjoyable storylines and solid base game were not enough to cover the broken PvP, poor initial optimization, and horribly slow content updates, culminating in a free-to-play option emerging at the end of the year. With it not living up to the potential it clearly could have achieved, its initial year hasn’t ended the way BioWare would have hoped.

Game Of The Year Awards 2012 | Best MMO

The Secret World

It’s a bold move to go with a niche concept in a niche market (niche-ception, if you will) but Funcom absolutely delivered the goods with The Secret World. Although its deck system provided the freedom to build a character with the powers they wanted, the grind to keep up with the content was still there. However, exciting combat and the need to think whilst doing missions was a refreshing change for the genre, and now that the game has removed the need for subscriptions things are looking up (despite the end of the world.)

Game Of The Year Awards 2012 | Best MMO

World Of Warcraft: Mists Of Pandaria

The latest expansion unleashed the new continent of Pandaria, providing the most varied and colourful addition to Azeroth yet. Story took a huge focus this time around, demonstrating just how entertaining the Warcraft series can be … but it came at the cost of some rather questionable changes to some of the mechanics. Still, Pet Battles gave us the Pokemon MMO we’ll never see, and it was one of the better expansions Blizzard have released for its behemoth online game.

Click here to read more...

Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best Multiplayer Game

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Features
Tags:
Best Multiplayer Game 2012, Borderlands 2, Call of Duty: Black Ops II, Game of the Year 2012, GOTY 2012, Halo 4, Journey, Nintendo Land, PES 2013, Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed, War of the Roses

Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best Multiplayer Game

There were too many games to count that offered up a superlative multiplayer component this year, particularly with persistent social MP features proving ubiquitous. There was an overwhelming barrage of titles to choose from for this list, with the process made even harder by the advent of the Wii U and its asynchronous delights. That the likes of Need For Speed: Most Wanted, Forza Horizon, FIFA 13, Far Cry 3, Assassin's Creed 3, and Mass Effect 3, New Super Mario Bros. U could only muster Honourable Mentions serves to show just how packed this category was with quality.

Any of the following would have made worthy winners, albeit perhaps for different reasons. Again, the sheer variety in multiplayer offerings this year only further underlined how brilliantly we gamers have had it this past twelve months...

NB. Click on the thumbnails for price comparisons and the game's title for the relevant review where available.

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Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best Multiplayer Game

Black Ops II

As usual, Call of Duty delivered another comprehensive multiplayer component this year, with Treyarch making tweaks here and there to expand ad enhance rather than overhauling. Reliably excellent fun as always, the simple -yet brilliant- revolution of giving players total freedom to tailor their loadout made Black Ops II a joy to play. Not many new modes to speak of, but existing party favourites, deathmatch options and shiny futuristic boomsticks will made it a surefire online MP hit.

Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best Multiplayer Game

Borderlands 2

We described Borderlands 2 as "the best co-op shooter of its generation" and it still holds true to that accolade. Outstanding AI, superlative scripting, one of this generation's finest villains in Handsome Jack, and more loot than we knew what to do with, Borderlands 2 was a huge step up from its predecessor. Not that Borderlands 1 wasn't great, it's just that its bigger, badder, bolder brother was so very pleasing.

Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best Multiplayer Game

Halo 4

343 Industries were up against it, the pressure must have been huge. Yet, with Microsoft's biggest frnachise in their hands, they pulled off the incredible: not only did the match up to Bungie's predecessors, they even managed to surpass some of them. Halo 4's campaign was excellent, but it was in the multiplayer modes that 343 really pulled out all of the stops. War Games is still giving us tons of fun, with expanded loadouts and greater gameplay variety than ever before. And then there was Spartan Ops: yes, there were examples of some lazy content recycling, but we've simply been having too much fun to care. An utter blast.

Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best Multiplayer Game

Journey

Thatgamecompany provided us with something utterly unique this year: a game with completely anonymous, completely non-violent, non-communicative, barely interactive multiplayer. It sounds like it shouldn't make sense, and there might well be many for whom Journey was something of a throwaway experience. But for us, it was something truly special, unlike anything else this year, with shared expeditions to the mountains summit providing some of the very best gaming memories of all time. Yes, we just said that.

Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best Multiplayer Game

Nintendo Land

As a collection of minigames, Nintendo Land was never going to be groundbreaking. But what it is, is a game that is inviting, engaging, rewarding and so full of polish that it sets a very high benchmark for this type of game. What it set out to do was showcase the WiiU potential. What it provided was not only a glimpse into a future for a console which most definitely has potential, but it also reminded us where some of gaming's finest moments lie, and brought local MP back with emphatic delight.

Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best Multiplayer Game

PES 2013

PES 2013 mkes the list over FIFA 3 because it gave complete control over to the player, meaning that when you played another human being, you knew absolutely that it was a hardcore test of skill, dexterity, strategy and execution. With FIFA feeling a little too fast, and a little too slick this year, PES was on hand to deliver a footballing experience that revelled in the tiny details, resulting in supremely tight games, furiously addictive grudge matches, and moments of sheer beauty.

Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best Multiplayer Game

Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed

With no Mario Kart out this year, and LBPK proving a little disappointing, SEGA stepped up to the plate to deliver some anarchic karting fun this year, building upon the success of Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing, and giving it the Diddy Kong treatment. Taking to the skies and diving onto the waterways, SASRT produced a thoroughly engrossing party racing title that served up some fine SEGA fan service too.

Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best Multiplayer Game

War of the Roses

A gloriously chaotic 64-player experience predicated on pure skill and brutal swordplay, War of the Roses gave us a fresh take on deathmatch combat, by taking us back in time.

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Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best New IP

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Features
Tags:
Best New IP 2012, Binary Domain, Dishonored, Dragon's Dogma, Endless Space, FTL: Faster Than Light, Game of the Year 2012, GOTY 2012, Journey, Sleeping Dogs, The Secret World, Vessel

Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best New IP

We saw a number of franchises return this year, some older than others, with many taking risks to refresh and revitalise their good names. With the middle ground dissipating, and the current console cycle slowly entering its twilight years, it might have perhaps been understandable to worry a little over new IPs. Thankfully, once again, an indie sector blessed with even more ways of getting games in front of an audience delivered wholeheartedly.

And they weren't the only ones.

NB. Click on the thumbnails for price comparisons and the game's title for the relevant review where available.

Title

Description

Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best New IP

Binary Domain

Like the very best mad scientists, Binary Domain proved incredibly entertaining, stuffed with smart ideas, and occasionally got things wrong. But the very fact that it tried to innovate in such a relatively lazy genre was worthy of applause. Boasting some incredible boss battles, slick gunplay, and a cracking story, Binary Domain threw off any Gears-clone tag it might have attracted and became a barnstorming title that married the best East and West had to offer.

Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best New IP

Dishonored

Dishonored did better than simply revive the stealth genre, it made us wonder why the hell it went away in the first place. Arkane delivered a blank canvas in Corvo Attano, with a commendably mature approach to player freedom that asked much of you, and delivered ultimate gameplay satisfaction in return. In Dunwall, we had one of the finest video game worlds of this generation. Nothing short of astonishing.

Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best New IP

Dragon's Dogma

It was broken in places, and Gransys was one of the more forgettable worlds we've seen from an RPG, but Dragon's Dogma was one hell of an endearing game. Breathtaking combat, an innovative Pawn mechanic, and deep customisation options made it a firm favourite in spite of its flaws. Plus, the opportunity to take down a hole bunch of mythical beasts made it all the sweeter. Refreshingly mature.

Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best New IP

Endless Space

A sensational 4X title, Endless Space was absolutely epic in scope, but packed with dense, enjoyable features and boasted an intuitive, palatable GUI. Its infinitely customisable sandbox gave us plenty of toys and things to occupy your time, providing profound choice and variety at every gameplay level. As Douglas Adams said: "you just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is."

Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best New IP

FTL: Faster Than Light

A bona fide Kickstarter success, FTL allowed us to take control of our own ship and live out our fantasies of become Captain Kirk/Picard/Reynolds/Hunt. In fact, the mod tools meant you could pilot the Enterprise, or Serenity if you really wanted. A little repetitive, and frequently punishing, FTL was nonetheless genuinely thrilling, hugely rewarding, and deeply satisfying.

Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best New IP

Journey

Gloriously life-affirming, utterly transcendental, Journey was one of those few games that not only provided a thoroughly unique experience, but also deeply personal one too. It didn't matter whether or not you considered it art, or even if you defined it as a "game", one thing was for sure: it was absolutely unmissable.

Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best New IP

Sleeping Dogs

Sleeping Dogs was this year's little-big game that could. Dropped by Activision whilst it was still True Crime: Hong Kong, Square Enix snapped it up after a year in the wilderness and dropped it over the summer. Wei Shen's adventures provided the perfect antidote to the traditional sunny lull. Perfectly sized, utterly OTT, United Front Games refused to take themselves too seriously, instead providing an immaculately balanced open world game, stuffed with things to do, and supported with a near endless stream of cracking DLC.

Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best New IP

The Secret World

Funcom's loyalty to an archaic subscription model might have proven unwise, but that shouldn't take away from the fact that The Secret World was an outstanding game. Smart scripting, hugely imaginative world-building, cracking combat, and compelling content made TSW an attractive prospect...until you factored in the system requirements and the monthly payments, and a little game called Guild Wars 2.

Game of the Year Awards 2012 | Best New IP

Vessel

Vessel was a truly superior puzzler and one of 2012's biggest indie hitters. Boasting quality, quantity, innovation, and impressive competence abound, as StrangeLoop provided one of the finest puzzlers we've seen since the original Portal emerged from Valve's vaults.

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Game of the Year Awards 2012 | The Plan

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Features
Tags:
Game of the Year 2012, GOTY 2012, The Plan

Game of the Year Awards 2012 | The Plan

It's that time of year again, folks! As the rumour mill and PR trains slow to a halt, it gives us a chance to reflect upon the last twelve months and pick out a few highlights.

We've already run our season of individual staff picks, and now it's time to go out on a limb and select the finest games that 2012 has had to offer. From now until the end of the month, you can expect at least one award to be announced per day, with Readers' Choice voting for your game of the year opening on the 31st.

You can keep up with the entirety of our Game of the Year 2012 season right here.

It's been a year of ups and downs, but we've unarguably seen more risk-taking, more of a desire to swerve (however slightly) from the well-worn track. We've seen big franchises see significant change, new IPs galore, risky restorations and reboots, and an even greater variety of ways for creatives to get their games in front of audiences.

As usual, there'll be a ranging editorial looking back over 2012 at the end of the month, and you can be sure that we'll be podcasting expansively on the year in review. But for now, check out the awards timetable below, stick that debating cap on, grab a mince pie and some mulled wine, and get ready to plunge into some serious discussions in the comments section. It's GOTY 2012 time and, in the words of Run-DMC, it'll go a little something like this...

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Thunderdome! Set out your stalls, step up to your soapboxes, it's time to champion your games of  the year too. Get stuck in with some double-barrelled rhetoric and scorchingly nuclear opinion. It's been a year of quality over quantity, and we've all been winners when all's said and done. But with the icy wind whipping through the streets, let's warm ourselves by the fires of opinionated smack talk and a lot of hot fuss.

Game on!

Game of the Year 2012 | Staff Highlights – Brendan Griffiths

Author:
Brendan Griffiths
Category:
Features
Tags:
Far Cry 3, GAME, Game of the Year 2012, GOTY 2012, Max Payne 3, Staff Picks 2012, The Last Of Us, Uncharted: Golden Abyss

Game of the Year 2012 | Staff Highlights – Brendan Griffiths

What with the gaming industry still being keen to strangle itself every year by releasing all the good games at once, I’m going to be playing catch up on some of the great titles long into next year. This might even give me something to do next summer if the lineup for the ‘sunny’ bit of the year is as grossly thin as it was this year.

I’ve played some great stuff this year though, many of them get a mention below, but a few other honourable shouts go out to Dishonored, Sonic and All-Stars Racing Transformed, Black Ops II, Sports Champions 2 and WipEout 2048 and Virtua Tennis 4 on the Vita.

The lows of the year include a few bum releases from games we expected so much more from, troubles on the high street retail market for the gaming industry and a frankly lacklustre launch from the new console, the Wii U. But when you look at the games we’re getting in the first quarter of next year (aka Xmas 2), 2013 is looking hella strong. I think the Wii U will start to gain some legs and if it doesn’t, who gives a damn? As with any luck, next Christmas will see stores tearing each other to pieces get our money for the new consoles from Sony and Microsoft.

So here are my picks for 2012 and we’ll do it all again next year. Unless the Mayans turn out to be right. In which case, I’m totally not paying this gas bill.

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