Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Destroyed Controller's Best of 2012 Awards

The 4th annual Destroyed Controller "Best of" results are in! 

::two months late::

Wait, what?

With two major hardware releases last year, the introduction of a new generation of gaming is afoot. While it's a handheld with little support to-date, and Nintendo's newest system with about a 30+ deep catalogue, we still had a hell of a year. We saw the valiant return of Master Chief, a new ancestor for Desmond Miles, the new strain of a no-so-quite-zombie-creating virus, a new contender for "Badass Assassin", and many others.


Which games were the ones worth playing? Let's find out, shall we?

As before, here's the rules:
  • GOTY for a specific platform must be a system exclusive title
  • With the aforementioned, multiplatform titles have their own category to keep bitching to a minimum
  • With the addition of remakes/revivals and their own section, these games cannot be awarded, nor are eligible, for a GOTY award for a platform or genre
  • If a system was not played, a GOTY award will not be awarded (derp)
  • 2012's Eligible platforms: Xbox 360PS3, Wii U, PC/Mac, 3DS, and Vita.
  • You'll notice the absence of a downloadable platform (ex: XBLA, PSN). This is all merged into one: Best Downloadable
  • Runners-up will be listed in the order of how well they performed; the higher up the list, the more of a fight they put up.

Most of the categories introduced remain as well:
  • Biggest Surprise - Something that completely floored me that it has to be mentioned...and given it's own award.
  • Don't Bother Releasing It - This is for those demos that were so damned bad, the game itself fell off of my radar.
  • Worst Game of the Year - This ain't just for the best game of the year, but I'm awarding a Razzie to the worst game of the year.
  • Most Anticipated for 2013 - Self explanatory.
  • Best and Worst Idea - Essentially, things that came from people's thought-processing pool of thoughts that either were awesomely epic, or epically horrendous.
  • Action/AdventureFirst and Third Person Shooters, and Platformers are all under the whole "Genre" moniker.
  • Best HD Compilation - With an abundance of these little fuckers making a larger appearance, they've gotten their own section.
  • Most Underrated Game - Working retail, you try your goddamned hardest to get people to listen to your recommendations, but all they want is the same fucking thing over and over. People are afraid of change, so this is where I give recognition to those games that were overlooked, and shouldn't have been.
Ed. Note: Page formatting got all janky on me before publishing. Considering how blogger works, my resources are limited, and, simply put, shit's all fucked up.

Action/Adventure



Winner: Dishonored


Dishonored is a fantastic experience, thanks to some of the brighter minds in the industry. The way your choices in the karma system reflect not upon you, like in Infamous, but in the world itself is astounding, and pretty shocking no one has gone to this length before. Kill a guy? That's cool, hide the body. Kill a hundred guys? Tough shit, the world is infested with plague-carrying, meat-consuming trains of destruction known as rats. The story is a little bonkers, but what story isn't? 


Notable MentionsAssassin's Creed III, Darksiders II, Uncharted: Golden Abyss

Platformer


Winner: Fez

Fez is a remarkable game. It's a simple concept of 2D platformers, but that is completely skewed by the fact that your world is manipulated by your perception of the current view, being able to rotate the world 90 degrees at a time. By doing this, each "room" has 4 faces, and you must navigate those faces to be able to explore the world. It doesn't sound fun, but holy fucking shit, this game was an absolute mind-blast.

Notable Mentions: New Super Mario Bros. U, Deadlight

First-Person Shooter



Winner: Halo 4

When time comes for a new trilogy, there are fans who are incredibly skeptical. Look what happened with the J.J. Abrams announcement that he's going to be directing Star Wars: Episode VII. Smart-minded people are holding judgment, some are content, while a lot are pissed. However, look at what happened with Halo 4. Bungie left Microsoft, 343 Industries took its place, they hired some fantastic people, and cranked out the start of a new trilogy. Jason Behr and Kynan Pearson, lead level designers for Metroid Prime when they served for Retro, are now the lead mission and lead designer - respectively - over at 343. When your new antagonists start reminding you of Space Pirates, and your suit augmentations are reminiscent of Samus', you're in for a hell of a ride.

Notable Mentions: Far Cry 3

Third-Person Shooter



WinnerMax Payne 3

Xbox 360



WinnerHalo 4

Halo 4 almost wins by default. It was the only system-exclusive title I played on the system, but damn, was it fun. The story, while convoluting in parts, was fun. The environments felt like they were pull from Halo: CE, but I'm not sure which way to go with that. Campaign aside, Spartan Ops is probably my favorite addition to the franchise, with the episodic approach that The Walking Dead nearly mastered. 

Best Downloadable


WinnerThe Walking Dead: Season One

You only need to read my review of Episode 5 to see the epitome of the season's outcome. By far, The Walking Dead is the highlight of what downloadable games should be. Storytelling, character involvement, and the emotional buildup of the final episode is what made the whole ride memorable. This is what episodic delivery should be like.


Notable Mentions: FezPenny Arcade: On The Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness: Episode 3Deadlight



PS3




WinnerPlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale


Yes, it's a Smash Bros. knock-off, but it's damned fun. There are a lot of criticisms with the game: lack of anything to do (all characters/stages unlocked from the get-go; unlockables are only for your icon/character alternate outfits; what should be legitimate unlockable content is PDLC), poor storytelling for campaign mode (art-stills, albeit with original, yet dubbed, voicework from respective VO actors), some characters just don't seem like they should belong (Fat Princess, PaRappa, Toro), and having to utilize the AP meter as the only way to KO an opponent. Despite this, PSASBR is a fun game. Being able to knock nine shades of shit out of Kratos as Dante is fulfilling. Watching the stages morph with destruction - Hades being overtaken by Patapon is adorable - is actually a nice take on the stages, although some could say it's a cop-out to not giving each character their own stage.


This is starting to sound like a review, since I haven't done so formally, but know this: PSASBR may be a Smash Bros. clone, but it's a fun game. Sony may be a decade late to the game, but it's a valiant effort.



Wii U





WinnerNew Super Mario Bros. U


Notable Mentions: Nintendo Land

PC/Mac


Winner: Diablo III

Say what you will with Blizzard's direction of the game, Diablo III was a great game. It may be a linear dungeon crawler, but it has a level of pizzazz that is matched only by it's brother-from-another-father, Torchlight

3DS


WinnerNew Super Mario Bros. 2

Notable Mentions: Resident Evil: Revelations, Paper Mario: Sticker Star

Vita


Winner: Gravity Rush

There weren't too many releases last year on the Vita, all things considered. Sony's boss is disappointed by the lack of third-party support, but there are still a few gems for the system. Case in point: Gravity Rush. After tying with Uncharted in our review, it was tough, but Gravity Rush offers an experience that should not be missed, especially during a drought in the system's library.

Notable MentionsPlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale; Assassin's Creed III: Liberation; Uncharted: Golden Abyss

Multiplatform (Console)


WinnerDishonored

Notable MentionsAssassin's Creed III, The Walking Dead, Max Payne 3, Darksiders II

Best Remake/Revival



WinnerBlack Mesa

For the better part of a decade, a group of 40 volunteers have been dedicated to remaking Half-Life from (almost) the ground up. They're not just throwing new textures at it, but the biggest enhancement is bringing in Source engine's physics, creating more dynamic gameplay that what Valve did with the first game. Just the trolley ride at the beginning shows what these fine craftsmen have done visually, but once the action starts to pick up, does the true wonders of their labor begin to shine through.

Notable Mentions: Okami HD, Ratchet & Clank HD

Biggest Disappointment 


WinnerGhost Recon: Future Soldier

Dear god, why? Why, oh fucking why, was this game even released? Looking back since it's unveiling with Kinect support on the Gunsmith feature, I feel that Ubisoft put too much time into Kinect features, and really dropped the ball overall. This was not a worthy successor of Advanced Warfighter, a game I felt that helped usher in the feeling of "next-gen gaming". Future Soldier wavers as I try to find something good with the game, but dear god, I was so disappointed. 

Notable MentionsResident Evil 6; BioShock Infinite's Delay; Nintendo @ E3 2012; Syndicate; Devil May Cry HD; Kinect Star Wars; The Last Story

Biggest Surprise



Winner: Nintendo Announces 3DS XL, Nobody Asked for It

When rumors began circulating on Nintendo announcing a new 3DS, people were excited and stunned, all at the same time. It was released around the 1-year anniversary of the 3DS's price drop; historically, the XL was released in-line with how Nintendo usually does things, about a year and a half. The shocking part of the announcement is no one asked for the goddamned thing. Everyone was anticipating a 3DS lite: thinner, lighter, easier to hold, and easier on the eyes. But Nintendo turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to the wants of gamers everywhere, and released the XL. Reviews praised it, except for two glaring omissions on the new system: the bigger screens had the same resolution as the 3DS's smaller ones, and there was no secondary thumbstick. Nintendo chalks it up to the system needing to be "bigger" to accomodate it, but I call bullshit on that statement. It's Nintendo trying to find a solution to a problem that does not exist.

Notable Mentions: Black Mesa Released; Wii U Priced, Not That Bad; Sony Redesigns PS3 One Year Before PS4

Best Idea



Winner: Sony's Cross Buy


Despite some terrible business decisions, Sony has won some serious brownie points with a lot of gamers. Simply put: if you buy a qualifying title, pop in the disc to your PS3, activate the Vita copy, and download the game to your handheld. I've only experienced the service with PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, but being able to play the same game on two different systems while only paying for one copy - why this has never been done in the past is laughable - is fantastic, especially when you can use your free Vita copy to play multiplayer with the PS3 version. A good handful of other games either have the service now, will have it later down the road, or launch with it outright. 


Good Guy Sony.


Notable Mentions: Nintendo Telling EA to Fuck Off

Worst Idea

Winner: Too Many to Choose From

2012 was a terrible year for business decisions. 


Nintendo had quite a few. For starters, they half-assed the Wii U's launch, unnecessarily redesigned the 3DS XL without a secondary thumbstick or higher-res screens, and launched Kid Icarus: Uprising with a fucking stand for the 3DS, which made the game unplayable otherwise. 


SquareEnix has a terrible idea when it comes to their mobile pricing. Final Fantasy games on iOS devices are expensive, and more expensive than Windows Phone 8 counterparts. Final Fantasy Dimensions is free to begin with, but in order to have the full game, you have to pay damn near well $40 for the full game when it launched (they've recently dropped the prices of chapters 2-4, plus the BGM pack, to $7 each, down from $10; now you're only paying $31!). Most of their games aren't even "universal" apps (buy it for iPhone, play it on iPad), forcing you to pay for the same game more than once for different devices that run the same OS. 


Blizzard made a horrible decision by making Diablo III online-only. If you didn't have an internet connection, you couldn't even play single-player. This was done to avoid people screwing up the Auction House, but here's a simple fix: any loot earned while offline cannot be sold in the Auction House. Better yet, don't even do the Auction House.


EA's horribly stripped-down free-to-play version of Star Wars: The Old Republic and botched Wii U ports of Madden 13 and Mass Effect 3.


Sony fucked up the Vita by launching weak, and not doing anything to keep it strong. Some games - Uncharted and Assassin's Creed - felt forced onto the system.


2012 may be the worst year in recent memory, so 2013 can only go up from here.


Most Underrated Game


Winner: The Walking Dead

For those who looked to this as some Left 4 Dead clone were immediately disappointed, as the game is a choose-your-own-adventure in comic book form. You get to experience a story, told across 5 episodes, with a cast that span more than 40 members. The Walking Dead was not only a fantastic story, but it proves that digital, episodic content is completely fathomable, and should not be underwritten. 

Notable Mentions: Gravity Rush

Don't Bother Releasing It




Winner: Resident Evil 6

Holy. Fuck. This game. Good Thor, this game. 


I was psyched for this game, really. I've been clamoring for an entry that had Chris and Leon star as playable characters, and once this was announced, I peed a little. Then came the logo. Then the box art. Then the demo.


The demo was so fucking horrible, and it reaffirms my notion for Capcom to reboot Resident Evil. The series has long jumped the shark, thanks in part to Resident Evil 5, three years ago. I wrote the game off, cancelled my pre-order, and ignored it. I still had it in my GameFly queue, so I played it. 


I got 20 minutes in and gave up. 

Worst Game of the Year



WinnerResident Evil 6


Just see the above entry for a viable reason why.


Notable Mentions: Syndicate; Ghost Recon: Future Soldier

Game of the Year



WinnerThe Walking Dead: Season One


The Walking Dead was a fantastic game. You may not like your point-and-click adventure games, but this is a comic book brought to life, one that is a "choose your own adventure", albeit a linear one. Your choices don't have a huge, clearly-defined result, but you see your group's members teeter on the brink of life and death. Do you choose to save the chick who can handle a gun, or the techie who eventually rigs traps? Do you allow the nazi in the group to board your only means of transportation after decimating the group? Will you sever a leg to save a life? Will you hide an utterly devastating secret from the group? 


The story of the Walking Dead is great, and one that tugs at your heart strings come the end. The deliverance of the episodes was spot-on, and something that should not be ignored; Valve may have brought the idea into the limelight, but Telltale showed them how to execute it. The Walking Dead: Season One was a fantastic game, and it comes recommended to everyone I meet. This is not a shooter. You're not surviving. You're interacting with your group. You are living in this world through Lee, and creating friendships or severing ties with those you meet. 


And goddamnit, someone please look after Clementine.


Notable Mentions: Dishonored, Fez, Halo 4

Most Anticipated Game of 2013


TieWatch DogsRemember Me

It's hard to choose between these two. Both games, when unveiled at E3 this year, were incredibly captivating. Each game have stunning visuals, yes, which may lead credence to the idea that these aren't meant for current-gen systems. Remember Me has elements of System Shock and Assassin's Creed, while Watch Dogs blends Grand Theft Auto, Assassin's Creed (again), Deus Ex, and Splinter Cell. These games are incredible to watch in action, and had me frothing at the mouth. Sure, BioShock Infinite may have been my most anticipated for 2012 (which was delayed into this year), so you would think that it would automatically win. Both of these games have such incredible ideas behind them, they are the two games to look forward to later this year.

Notable MentionsBioShock Infinite; Tomb Raider; Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time; Splinter Cell: Blacklist