Rather than writing a top ten list of last year’s best games, I made my own award categories. You won’t find the ordinary best multiplayer, soundtrack, graphics, and game of the year awards here. Instead, this article is meant to recognize the most memorable gaming experiences I had from last year. Now let the awards begin!
Most charming game -Journey
I couldn’t believe IGN named Journey their game of the year, but now that I’ve played it, I understand why it resonated so strongly with so many people. Everything from the gorgeous graphics to the amazing soundtrack and the way your character gracefully slides in the sand is emotionally gripping. Journey is unlike anything I’ve ever played and is something everyone even non- gamers should experience to remind us why we love this medium.
Best new style of gameplay- Gravity Rush
If I had to describe Gravity Rush in one word, I’d choose exhilarating. Using the game’s gravity controls to send the main character Kat soaring through the sky and catching her right before she falls face down on the floor is incredibly exciting. The story mode is pretty generic, but I never got tired of collecting hidden orbs around the city, walking upside down buildings or what other ways I could defy gravity. Here’s hoping Sony greenlights a sequel.
Game with the most WTF moments – Lolipop Chainsaw
Leave it to crazy game designer Suda 51 to create one of the stupidest, hilarious, and creative games I’ve ever played. You just can’t help but chuckle when slicing up zombies with a chainsaw while the song “Mickey” plays in the background. Also, what other game lets you shoot zombies down during a softball game, control a corpse with your dead boyfriend’s head, or has a boss that attacks you with swear words? LPC is overly repetitive and flawed, but it never stops being outrageously entertaining.
Most improved genre- fighting games
Mortal Kombat’s story mode raised the standards for what gamers expect from fighting games and now other titles like Dead or Alive 5 and Soul Calibur 5 story modes are following MK’s lead. While there’s still need for improvement in those game, it’s something I want to see continue. Having an actual plot to a fighting game gives players more motivation to play and gives other characters more time in the spotlight that I wouldn’t have tried otherwise. It’s much more interesting than the standard arcade modes in most fighters, and it’s a chance for game developers to be more creative with their franchises.
Most happy game- Rayman Origins for PlayStation Vita
Rayman Origins is one of the freshest and fun platformers I’ve played in years not involving an Italian plumber. The cartoony graphics are gorgeous, and this game has a lot of depth to its gameplay along with some great replay value. I also love the silly character designs, like the chili pepper taking a bath in hot lava and gasping at the mouth when Rayman uses him as a stepping stone. Best of all is the phenomenal soundtrack with catching music that helps make RO a joy to play.
Best intro hook- Far Cry 3
I didn’t think I could play another shooter after Call of Duty Black Ops 2, 007 Legends, and Halo 4, but Far Cry 3 proved me wrong. What started as a pleasant vacation on a beautiful island turned into a desperate escape from terrorists for survival. After playing the intro, I was hooked and eager to rescue the main character’s friends and get even with my captive. FC3 has Grand Theft Auto’s open world design, Red Dead Redemption hunting style, and Skyrim’s leveling up system that all blend cohesively to form one of the most creative shooters on the market.
Most creative game- NintendoLand
Wii Sports didn’t impress me, and I was surprised when NintendoLand turned out to be more then just another forgettable mini game collection. While not all the mini-games are winners, NL makes full use of the GamePad and shows me the potential of the Wii U. All the games offer something different such as the Pikmin, Metroid, Zelda attractions that feel like full on games with multiple levels to conquer.
Multiplayer feels balanced in the Mario, Luigh, and Animal Crossing modes and F-Zero, Ninja Star, Ballon Fight, and Yoshi play like classic arcade Nintendo games where getting the highest score is your main objective. Like the DS Nintendo has crafted something incredibly unique compared to other system.
Best fresh take on aging franchise – Call of Duty Black Ops 2
I enjoy the single player campaigns in Call of Duty games, but they’re starting to get repetitive. Luckily, Treyarch decided to take some risks with Call of Duty Black Ops 2 instead of playing it safe, and the game is all the better for it. The alternating between past and present is exciting, and the fact that I can shape the storyline through my choices give the game a lot of replay value to me that most shooters don’t have.
Best reboot- Kid Icarus Uprising
The original Kid Icarus was a frustratingly hard game that I almost didn’t finish, but it had an interesting concept. With Kid Icarus Uprising, Nintendo has taken the best part of the original game, (the final flying level) and modernized the 2D platforming into 3D to create the best original game on the 3DS. Seriously, it will blow your mind how much content this game has.
Also, this game has the largest roster of boss characters I’ve seen in a Nintendo game along with a staggering amount of unlockable content similar to Super Smash Brothers. Add the best production values seen from the big N since Metroid Other M and you got a winner. Play it if you missed it the first time.
Game with the most kick ass presentation- Max Payne 3
The way Max Payne 3 seamlessly blends its gameplay, story, and audio is astounding. I watched in awe listening to Payne narrate his past in New York then witness an effortless transition into a modern day scene of him on a ship. Other standout moments include the nightclub scenes where words flash across the screen and the shootout in the mall featuring an electric soundtrack. The production values are another huge leap for Rockstar after LA. Noire and I’m eager to see what they do next with Grand Theft Auto V.
So there you have it my list. I missed out on a lot of big titles from last year like Dishonored, Resident Evil 6, The Walking Dead, and Xenoblade Chronicles so I’d be interested to know what you guys and gals think. Leave them in the comments.