Game of the Year 2012: Staff Picks

By Jonathan Barnes, 3 years ago
As a community site, we're always excited to hand out TA's official "Game of the Year" awards to the games that you, our community, see as the most worthy. Now that the great battle is over we'd like to shed some light on a few staff picks for excellence in 2012.

This process started with a PM to the 64 (public) members of the TA Staff that asked a simple question:

What was your favorite game of 2012 and why?

As you can imagine, with 64 staff members, nominations came in fast and furious... or slow and polite... or in Esperanto (lookin' at you, Beanpotter). After the initial polling went out, I was horrified pleased to see that no less than 19 games were nominated for "Game of the Year" with nine of those games receiving multiple nominations.

Before we get into those nine games to receive semi-final excellence, let's take a look at a few of the interesting picks that failed to make the cut.

Assassin's Creed III
(as nominated by LitaOsiris)
Ok, it wasn't perfect with the amount of bugs it had but the story and additions to the game were brilliant and made up for it - at least for me wink I enjoyed every moment of it.
(as nominated by Nighthawk205)
It was pretty quickly forgotten a few months after release, but I can't remember any other games in the past couple of years that made me want to keep going back to replay levels over and over and over again just to beat my own score. When I first picked it up, it was impossibly hard with a steep learning curve, but once I worked on my skills, it was impossibly hard for me to put it down.
Hitman: Absolution
(as nominated by Shadow Enz)
Hitman Absolution had a lot to live up to with its legacy, and with keeping up to the hype of the "Run for your Life" gameplay video. Thankfully, it succeeded in delivering a fantastic stealth-action experience and a remarkable game, flexible enough to accommodate different levels of skill and difficulty preference. I haven't been this excited while playing a stealth game since Manhunt (Rockstar Games) for the original XBox.
XCOM: Enemy Unknown
(as nominated by Dog of Thunder)
Gun Bros (WP)
(as nominated by Musquito)
I really love playing this game. It is one a the few games I continued to play even after finishing all the achievements. It was released far from perfect. Sent Glu a lot of questions. laugh Although it was not perfect I enjoyed playing it.
While some of the "one-and-dones" may be on your list, let's take a look at the games that all received two nominations apiece but did not end up making the final cut.

Happy Wars
(quote from xPut Name Herex)
It's fast, it's furious. It can pit you and 14 of your friends against an army of players or challenging AI. It's got a giant chicken statue that shoots bolts of energy at your opponents. What's not to love about this free addition to the catalogue of superb XBLA titles?
Halo 4
(quote from MuddyAmoeba)
Halo 4 is a must have game. The graphics are easily the best in the series, and the new enemies and weapons keep it fresh. For achievement hunters the original 1000 GS is also the easiest to get out of the series. After the stress I had with, I thought 343 was going to make it hard.
Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition
(quote by Ergo Me Smart)
When I first got Minecraft, I planned to play it for 15-20 minutes to see what all the fuss was about. In the end, it was the only game I played for a good two weeks solid. When I wasn't playing it, I was thinking about what I could do next.
Far Cry 3
(quote by SgtDigglesworth)
Ubisoft dropped what could be considered not only one of the best games this year, but also one of the best games of this generation. Don't feel like killing the drugged out pirates? Then dive into the deep blue sea and hunt yourself a shark. Want to take a break from the story? Hop in a jeep and roam this luxerious island, digest some of the scenerary, equip your weapon of choice and reak havoc.

Featuring an excellent story, flawless gameplay, amazing dialogue and sound, Far Cry 3 should be a guarantee buy for anyone.
At the end of the initial polling, FIVE games were all named three or four times. This necessitated a second round of voting. Staff members who didn't initially vote for one of these five games were given the chance to cast a secondary ballot to break the logjam. This gave us the following results: our top five!

5. Mass Effect 3
(quote by me, osubluejacket)
Going into 2012, no game had higher stakes riding upon it than Mass Effect 3. Millions of gamers were aching to see how their Shepard ended their story. While the ending may not have been as individualized and satisfying as every gamer wanted, the story and experience leading up to that climactic moment most-certainly were. Story qualms aside, the experience of playing Mass Effect 3 was one of the best in 2012. The addictive (better than it had any right to be) multiplayer mode and the incredible support that BioWare put behind it are the cherry on top.
4. Dishonored
(quote by Nexus Grunt)
For me this was a simple decision, GoTY had to be Dishonored. This is possibly the best new IP since BioShock (Xbox 360) from a few years back. The title had so many surprising and stunning points, too many to summarise here. However, the main point was not so much the amount of choice that was given to the player, but in the way it was presented. The game was never obvious in any of its choices or routes, the player was left to discover these for themselves. The player would have to spot that open window, that odd balcony, that sewer entrance, or even the small gap in an air-brick where a mind-possessed rat could squeeze through. This discovery was both the challenge and the ultimate reward from the title. This title is simply stunning and will no doubt be considered a classic in the future.

From the top five, we're down to the top three and


We have a three-way tie for the Staff's 2012 "Game of the Year"!

Each of these games received four nominations in the initial round AND an equal number of votes in the secondary round. In no particular order, here are the winners:

Sleeping Dogs
(quote by TrueAchievement)
The awesome fighting controls of Batman mashed up with the open world fun and games of GTA and Just Cause. The best game I've played in years!
Borderlands 2
(quote by DaveKinetic)
Borderlands 2 because of the number of hours worth of gameplay it has. I've played through the story a number of times with different characters, on different difficulties and with different people in co-op.

It's great to share the experience with other players, and the number of hours I've spent in Pandora makes it best value I've had from a game this year.
The Walking Dead
(quote by N0T PENNYS B0AT)
The Walking Dead is my Game of the Year because it proves more than perhaps any other game to date just how powerful the video game medium can be as a storytelling device. Every choice weighs heavily on you as people die, abandon your group, or betray you, but you can't let it affect you for too long because you have to stay focused on what's important: protecting Clementine. Though the gameplay rarely challenges you, there's no easy way to the story's conclusion. Just like the source material demonstrates so well, you'll find the real 'walking dead'... is you.
Congratulations go out to United Front Games, Gearbox Software, and Telltale Games for developing this year's "Games of the Year" as picked by the TA staff!

Be sure to stay tuned as we reveal the staff picks for Top Achievements of 2012!
Jonathan Barnes
Written by Jonathan Barnes
Jonathan has been a news/views contributor since 2010. When he's not writing reviews, features, and opinion pieces, he spends his days working as an informal science educator and his nights as an international man of mystery.