GamingBolt’s 4th Annual Game of the Year Awards

Find out which games we thought were the best of the best in 2012.

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gamingbolt game of the year 2012

So, 2012 has come and gone. The year that was supposed to end the world is bidding us farewell, and with that we prepare ourselves for 2013. But now is the time when we start looking back on what sort of a year 2012 was- in every way, yes, but for now, we look at how it was when it comes to the one thing that matters so much to almost all of us- gaming.

2011 was an absolute cracker of a year, and we expected ’12 to be no less. It had some big names to boast of. But many of them disappointed. Many of them didn’t, and there were a few surprise hits, but ultimately, 2012 turned out to be more of a transitional year for the industry, and due to that, the quality of releases of 2010 and 2011 was lost.

But out of the entire lot that was released in these twelve months, there were a few games that stood out amongst the pack. Games that defined this year. There were a few big names that spring to mind- Far Cry 3, Halo 4, Mass Effect 4, Journey. And then there are others that were equally remarkable- Kid Icarus: Uprising. Hotline Miami. The Walking Dead. It wasn’t the best year in gaming, but it was a pretty good one.

But out of all those games, which ones managed to impress us the most? Which were the games that had the quality that made them worth these awards? This year, in our fourth annual Game of the Year awards, we have 56 categories looking at everything from genres to platforms to dubious honours to general categories. We’ve got pretty much everything covered.

The staff of GamingBolt together decided on the games we thought were the most worthy, and here are the final winners for you.

Do you agree with our choices? Tell us what games would be your personal favourites for this year in the comments section below.

Click on the winners’ names to read their reviews.

GENERAL AWARDS

Best Developer of the Year

TellTale

This category was a real surprise for us. At the beginning of the year, we could have bet any amount of money that developers such as Ubisoft Montreal, BioWare or 343 Industries would claim this award, but while they all made some truly outstanding games, it was Telltale that came up top with the surprisingly moving adventure called The Walking Dead. Not only did they make a great game, they released it in an excellent episodic format, priced it greatly, listened to their fans, and more or less revived the adventure genre. And for that, they deserve this award more than any other developer this year.

RUNNER UP- Arkane Studios

Best Publisher of the Year

Ubisoft

With games like Assassin’s Creed 3, I Am Alive, Trials: Evolution, ZombiU and Far Cry 3 and ports such as Rayman Origin and Rocksmith all released in the same year under the banner of Ubisoft, we could not have given this award to any other publisher even if we wanted to.

RUNNER UP- 2K Games

Most Highly Anticipated 2013 Game

Grand Theft Auto V

Ever since we saw the debut trailer for Grand Theft Auto V a year ago, we knew that whichever year the game did come out in, it’d overshadow all other releases. But considering the lineup we’ve got coming our way in the first half of 2013 itself, which looks like the best two quarters in gaming since 2011’s last two quarters, that’s a huge ask. But somehow, GTA 5 still manages to be our most anticipated game of 2013. We can’t wait to see how much Los Santos has changed since our visit back in 2004.

RUNNER UP- The Last of Us

Best Competitive Multiplayer

Halo 4

 It was always going to be a toss-up between Halo, Call of Duty and the other odd multiplayer success for us, and surprisingly, both Halo and CoD made plenty of changes to the way they tackled online play. However, Halo 4 with its excellent maps, innovative weapons designs and addictive leveling system proved to be the best game in the category.

RUNNER UP- Call of Duty: Black Ops 2

Best Co-op

Borderlands 2

There’s no joy equal to that of blowing shotguns in the faces of your enemies with your friend while you sit on the same couch and shout at the screen together. Borderlands 2 doubles that enjoyment, being the awesome game that it is as it is, and then adding co-op mayhem to that adventure. If you have two controllers and the game itself, playing co-op should not even be optional for you. Just go ahead and do it.

RUNNER UP- Syndicate

Best Indie Game

Journey

There was no real competition here, was there? Journey was just such a wonderful game- it’s beautiful style of storytelling without actually telling a story in the conventional sense, its wonderful visuals, its addictive gameplay, its absolutely amazing soundtrack. There’s more than just a few things to like about Journey. In fact, there’s too many of them to list.

RUNNER UP- Mark of the Ninja

Best Downloadable Title

The Walking Dead

This was a no-brainer (har!). Sure, it had some tough, fierce competitors in its way, but ultimately, we had to go with this wonderful experience. With its tense moments of zombie killing and poignant, silent ones with lovely, memorable characters, The Walking Dead tugged at more than one string in all our hearts, and will be remembered as not only the best downloadable game of the year, but one of the finest games of the generation.

RUNNER UP- Journey

Best DLC

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim- Dragonborn

You get to fly around the world atop a dragon! What more do you want? Dragon mounted combat? Well, you get that too, you greedy bastards.

RUNNER UP- Borderlands 2: Captain Scarlett and Her Pirate’s Booty

Best Story

Mass Effect 3

With the themes of sacrifice, love and camaraderie spearheading the emotional charge that was Mass Effect 3, the story turned out to be a thrilling and oftentimes unpredictable experience. Keeping all the galactic and personal issues that have developed over the last two games in play while keeping the focus on the fight against Reapers was expertly handled, and moments pivotal to both, characters and entire races altogether were ingeniously written.

RUNNER UP- The Walking Dead

Best Writing

The Walking Dead

This was a tough one for us, since there have been plenty of games with excellent writing this year, but Telltale’s The Walking Dead ultimately took the cake. The characters were wonderfully written, and the story was an enthralling one, set in an atmospheric world. And the silent moments between Lee and Clem or Lee and Kenny or Lee and Ben were just excellent.

RUNNER UP- Mass Effect 3

Game With Best Characters

Mass Effect 3

With games like Garrus Vakarian, Mordin Solus, Liara T’Soni and Tali Zorah all in the same cast, you cannot really even think about handing this particular award out to any other game. Supporting characters like Joker and EDI and Admiral Anderson were just as captivating and likeable as the main cast. You felt happy when they laughed, and mourned when they were lost. The character cast of Mass Effect 3 was truly an unforgettable one.

RUNNER UP- The Walking Dead

Best Antagonist

Vaas (Far Cry 3)

Right from the moment we first saw Vaas in the trailers themselves, we were hooked. Everything about him was unique. Right from his unhinged rants about insanity to his macabre  tendencies, he captivated us all and didn’t let go until the end. He was real, an actual character, and of the best antagonists in recent years across across all forms of storytelling.

RUNNER UP- Haytham Kenway (Assassin’s Creed 3)

Best Protagonist

Commander Shepard (Mass Effect 3)

No competition. Commander Shepard was the high point in Mass Effect 3- him and his emotional journey and him coming to terms with his losses and the losses of the entire galaxy. It wasn’t really a personal story on face value, Mass Effect 3. But it was. It really was. And Shepard’s blend of badassery and kind-heartedness made him the perfect character to carry this riveting tale to its end.

RUNNER UP- Max Payne (Max Payne 3)

Best Visuals- Technical

Far Cry 3

The world of Far Cry 3 is beautiful, there’s no doubt about that. From the lighting to the particle effects to the animations to the attention paid by the devs to the tiny little detail, the visuals of Far Cry 3 are so technically proficient, sometimes they border on photorealism. And when you’re gliding over the islands and beholding the sun setting on the horizon, you’ll start agreeing with us if you don’t already.

RUNNER UP- Hitman: Absolution

Best Visuals- Artistic

Journey

There was no competition in this category, as far as we are concerned. Journey is just such a beautiful game, with its impeccable lighting, beautiful and desolate world that will actually bring tears to your eyes. It may not be set in space or an expansive island, but it’s still is one of the most beautiful games to have been released this year.

RUNNER UP- Assassin’s Creed 3

Best Soundtrack

Mass Effect 3

Whether you’re on Earth, trying to get a scared boy out of an air duct so you can help him or on the Krogan home planet of Tuchanka, fighting hordes of Reaper forces with friendlies and foes shooting at each other everywhere while the entire world gets blown to bits, the music in Mass Effect 3 is always with you, punctuating the action and poignant moments of the story and the gameplay perfectly.

RUNNER UP- Journey

Best Sound Design

Far Cry 3

The hum of the engine, the roar of the leopard, the thumb of a fist, the swish of a blade, the drumming of a machine gun- Far Cry 3 hits all the sweet spots when it comes to the sound effects. Go swimming, go hiking, go skydiving, and you’ll hear Brody’s panting. Get shot at, you hear his grunts. It’s really something, and adds a great deal to the experience.

RUNNER UP- Mass Effect 3

Best Voice Acting

Mass Effect 3

Be in Grunt’s guttural yet friendly voice, or Miranda’s sexy, understated character, or Liara’s calm and composed manner or Garrus’ oh-so-cool behavior, the voice actors of Mass Effect 3 convey the emotional high and lows of the characters across a striking variety with indisputable quality. The lip syncing and facial animations do the voice work justice, and at the end of the day, you actually feel like you’re speaking to all those crewmates.

We’ll bang, okay?

RUNNER UP- Far Cry 3

Best Voice Acting

The Walking Dead

This award’s value is twofold this year, considering how horrible endgames have been in videogames in the past twelve months. The Walking Dead really has only one ending, but the way the emotional and breathtaking journey comes to an end just tears away at your heart. It leaves a few doors open for the players to keep playing the guessing game, and yet gives enough closure- personally and in the larger scheme of things- for it to feel like a complete experience.

RUNNER UP- Dear Esther

Most Atmospheric Game

The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead is known to be a pretty atmospheric franchise, but not in the video game genre. We never expected the game to grab hold of us the way it did, and that was largely due to how well it portrayed the world created by Robert Kirkman, and how you felt the fear of other survivors, the horror of the walkers and the isolation of the world in yourself as much as you did in the game.

RUNNER UP- Journey

Funniest Game

Borderlands 2

With characters like Handsome Jack and Claptrap and the excellent, witty writers at Gearbox writing them all coming together to back Borderlands 2, it was pretty much clear to everyone that it would be a hilarious game. Right from the excellent, cracking dialogue to the downright absurd missions (shoot this guy in the face), Borderlands 2 just never let up on the laughing gas.

RUNNER UP- Kid Icarus: Uprising

Most Difficult Game

I Am Alive

With games getting more and more streamlined and “casualized” now, games that actually challenge you are a rarity, but surprisingly enough, we got a few of them this year. I Am Alive, with its unique mechanics and blend of genres was the one that came across as the most difficult of them all, sometimes even getting a bit unfair towards the player. All things said, I Am Alive balanced it difficulty pretty well, for the most part, and hence deserves to win this category.

RUNNER UP- ZombiU

Best New IP

Dishonored

Let’s face it- the past few years have been all about the sequels. Some franchises have gotten revivals, but we’ve rarely seen notable new franchises in months. We got to see a few this year, and it was Dishonored that impressed up and got us excited about its potential and what the future might hold for it.

RUNNER UP- Dragon’s Dogma

Best Sequel

Far Cry 3

Far Cry 2 was, in many ways, a disappointment, compared to the original, so of course, after its announcement, people were initially a big cautious of whether or not to get hyped for Far Cry 3. However, the first person shooter improved on its predecessors on so many ways, and turned a previously enjoyable yet flawed game into an unforgettable experience.

RUNNER UP- Mass Effect 3

Best Boss Fights

Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition

With boss fights becoming rarer and rarer in video games these days, we cherish the ones we get even more, especially when they’re as high quality as the ones in Dark Souls. Even though it was released last year, we did get to experience Dark Souls on the PC in 2012, and the boss fights were as enjoyable as ever. Of course, there wasn’t much competition in this particular category, other than a few notable games, but that doesn’t, in any way possible, undermine the great boss fights of Dark Souls.

RUNNER UP- Kid Icarus: Uprising

Best Cutscenes

Mass Effect 3

You often forget while playing Mass Effect 3 that the cutscenes are even going on- they feel so organic, and as a result, you may end up going a full 30 minutes just picking dialogue choices, without doing any shooting, and realize that you still had as much fun as you would shooting the reapers. The cutscenes are so completely capable of delivering a range of emotions and thrilling stories, it’s ridiculous.

RUNNER UP- Far Cry 3

Best Intro to a Game

Mass Effect 3

Shepard is being held, relieved of his duty for killing 50,000 Batarians when an entire freaking fleet of Reapers just emerges out of the skies and starts wreaking havoc everywhere. You see dreadnoughts exploding and sending shockwaves everywhere like Lord of the Rings, and little children trying to escape but sadly not being able to make it out alive. The first twenty minutes of Mass Effect 3 are the perfect mixture of emotional and action-packed storytelling that represents the entire game.

RUNNER UP- Far Cry 3

Most ‘value for money’

Guild Wars 2

It’s an MMO, of course it was going to win! Well, not exactly. Sure, Guild Wars 2 offers content that could keep you coming back to it for well over 500 years, no exaggeration. But the thing that makes it so much of a worthy winner in this category is this- you don’t have to pay a monthly subscription- just buy the game and enjoy its awesomeness forever.

RUNNER UP- FIFA 13

Most Addictive Game

XCOM: Enemy Unknown

Rarely do strategy games come our way that get it right on consoles and the PC, both, but XCOM: Enemy Unknown did it with flying colours. It’s combat, awesome strategy mechanics and the multiplayer all came together to deliver an addictive experience that could keep you hooked for months, if not years.

RUNNER UP- Far Cry 3

Best ‘WTH’ Moment of the Year

Assassin’s Creed 3- Haytham’s Revelation

Without giving away any spoilers- you all know which part I’m talking about. Charles Lee’s induction. There they are, doing stuff that makes us think they’re dome some other stuff, and for reasons that may or may not be the ones we’re under the impression of, but then BAM- the induction. They’re what, now?!

RUNNER UP- The Walking Dead- Ending

Most Surprisingly  Good Game

The Walking Dead

A game based on a comic book about zombies? No way! It cannot get the feeling and the atmosphere of the comics right. And it’s zombies. And it’s being developed by Telltale. It’ll be a half-decent game about killing drooling freaks. Well, you know what? We were all wrong. The Walking Dead turned out to be a dream game for any fan of the series- and others- and became the most emotionally riveting experience to have come out of the industry in some time.

RUNNER UP- Spec Ops: The Line

Platform Awards | Dubious Honors | Game of the Year

Go over to the next page for the Platform Awards

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