BEST OPEN WORLD GAME
FAR CRY 3
The games nominated for this category aren’t necessarily being viewed as wholes. This award is about open worlds, and what a single game can do with that single aspect. In that regard, giving this award to Far Cry 3 is a forgone conclusion. The amount of systems in play, from hunting and scavenging, to skill trees and weapon upgrades, make tearing around the game’s island paradise a joy. Even the most cynical of players would have a hard time not wanting to clear out every single outpost, and discover every single radio tower. Also: sharks.
Runner-ups: Assassin’s Creed III, Sleeping Dogs
BEST RPG MECHANICS IN A NON-RPG GAME
RPGs are everywhere now. The genre has become so prevalent that things like Madden and Call of Duty have serious RPG undertones. This category was created because we wanted to honor the best implementation of that sort of genre-crossing. This year, no game quite handled morality as interestingly or subtly as Dishonored. Your play-style directly affects the world around you, and by not surfacing that information in an obtrusive way, the game manages to keep the player fully involved. The way the player’s actions are reflected in the state and healthiness of Dunwall is worth remembering as the right way to handle morality.
Runner-ups: The Walking Dead, XCOM: Enemy Unknown
TINY TINA – BORDERLANDS 2
Good lord. In a game filled with hit-or-miss comedy, Tiny Tina stands out as the wildest miss. Her “hey look I’m like 10 but I use words like badonkadonk” shtick wears thin before it even starts, and the missions based around her aren’t even that fun. Her voice work was especially grating, but I’m not going to sit here and tell you her character would work with a different actress. Within moments of meeting her, a good chunk of people on staff wanted to get away from anything involving her. Far away. And fast.
Runner-ups: Resident Evil 6 – “Not a fan of sewers, huh?”, Prototype 2 – The computer monologue
SQUAD DYNAMICS – SPEC OPS: THE LINE
There are a lot of subtle things that Spec Ops: The Line does in service of its narrative. One of the better decisions was to have the stock military-man chatter (things like “enemy down” and “reloading!”) deteriorate as the characters fall apart, evolving to little more than exasperated grunts (things like “fuck!” and “fuck!”). It’s not banter in a traditional sense, but it’s more original and meaningful than anything of its kind in video games this year. Spec Ops: The Line is a very thoughtful game, and it would be a shame for that to go entirely unnoticed.
Runner-ups: Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes – Batman/Robin/Superman Relationship, Paper Mario: Sticker Star – Cynicism
MOST FINE AND DECENT GAME
NEW SUPER MARIO BROS. U
Even coming from Nintendo, a developer now famous for recycling their popular franchises, New Super Mario Bros. U is an injustice. It came out around 3 months after the previous “New” entry, and very little has changed. In fact, very little has changed since the first one of these slapdash, cheap-feeling games. The fact that this game is the headlining launch title for a new console is especially unfortunate, because it’s one of Nintendo’s least imaginative efforts. We’re approaching three years since the last proper 3D Mario game, and we here at Error! are growing pretty damn fatigued. This series deserves to be mentioned in the same annualized, resentful breath as Call of Duty, or Assassin’s Creed.
Runner-ups: Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, Spec Ops: The Line
BEST (WORST) USE OF FMV
Is Intel Discovered a game? You get achievement points for it. It’s free. You, uh, “play” it with Kinect. It’s also about fifteen minutes long. And it’s an advertisement for Intel. So yeah, not a game in the conventional sense, but it’s still the best (worst) use of FMV this year. Ever wanted to guest DJ for LMFAO? No? Did I mention this thing is free and spits out achievement points?
Runner-ups: Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, Alan Wake’s American Nightmare
On the next page, best in genre, but not necessarily best in class…