But wait, it’s 2012 you say. Hey, it’s never too early to look ahead, right? Through the magic of a dubious teleporter I found at the town fair, I have seen the nominees for next year’s Game of the Year award. Not all of the games released this year were homeruns (ah Dead Space 3, what could have been…), but a few have definitely risen to the top. With next-gen on the horizon, these could be some of the last high-profile this-gen titles. Without further ado, here are the nominees for the 2013 Game of the Year award.
(Disclaimer: I don’t actually have access to a time machine, nor can I see the future. I don’t think…)
Grand Theft Auto V: I wasn’t as enamored with GTA IV as the rest of the world seemingly was, but I recognized it for what it was: an excellent game. I also recognize GTA V for what it is: a cinematic experience that shouldn’t be missed by anybody. Man, I’m in the middle of my second playthrough (about 35 hours) and I’m already formulating how I’m going to approach certain missions my third time through. Driving the getaway car as Trevor was fun (the driving is up there with any pure racing game), but I had a blast shooting bad guys out of the front window with Micheal. I switched to the sniping segment sparingly during both playthroughs, but I think I’ll stick with it in its entirety next time. The expert camera work and the sublime sound design compliment the experience perfectly. Blurring the line between movie and game, GTA V is an evolution of the medium in almost every way.
Rayman Legends: I was completely and utterly charmed by Rayman Origins, and Rayman Legends picked right up where that incredible title left off. Expounding on the simple, but stellar, formula established in Origins, Rayman Legends exceeded even my expectations with its gorgeous visuals, top-notch controls and fun (and often hilarious) multiplayer action. Any naysayers condemning the Wii U for its less-than-mindblowing graphics just officially became wrong (sorry!), because this is one of the most stunning titles I’ve ever laid eyes on. I would have liked to see some evolution on the story front, but Rayman Legends is an incredible gameplay-centric experience that, while not perfect, is easily my Wii U game of the year, and makes a legitimate claim at being the best overall. The fantastic audio and visuals, pitch-perfect platforming and offbeat humor form quite an incredible package.
Beyond: Two Souls: Wow. That’s all I could say after my time with Beyond: Two Souls was finished. Utilizing some of the lessons learned from Heavy Rain, Quantic Dream finally delivered a successful gameplay module to accompany the fantastic storytelling. I’ve been waiting for the talented developer to finally mesh all the great ideas they have into a cohesive experience, and to say they did that is an embarrassing understatement. Ellen Page delivers a stellar performance as Jodie, a young girl with some rather unusual abilities, and the writing team at Quantic Dream has penned one of the most gripping, emotional and downright shocking tales I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing. This is an ending that people will be talking about for years. The smart action set-pieces are clear of the QTE overload that has plagued the developer’s recent titles, and the insane graphical detail is jaw-dropping. This is a game I won’t soon forget.
BioShock: Infinite: BioShock is easily one of my top 10 games of all time, and my expectations were super high for the sequel. (BioShock 2 was a bad dream, right?) I don’t even know where to begin describing how awesome this game is. I’ll start with the amazing level design. If you thought Rapture was an entertaining place, Columbia will blow your socks off. The politically-charged commentary is just as explosive as BioShock’s Ayn Rand-inspired vision, and the controversial decision to place a protagonist in the spotlight turned out to be a good one. This is story-telling of the highest level, folks. The gunplay (not BioShock’s strongest point) has been amped up considerably, and the story consistently kept me guessing right up until the explosive reveal as shocking as “would you, kindly.” There is a reason that it received a perfect 10 from a number of major review outlets.