GregHorrorShow: Game Awards 2013

GameAwards2013Main

Well what a year it’s been for gaming! With the arrival of new consoles in the Autumn we were left wondering whether the support would still be there for the PS3 and if you needed convincing you only had to look at The Last Of Us, Beyond: Two Souls and Gran Turismo 6 to see there is life in the old dog yet.

As the PS4 didn’t arrive until November 29th (and I didn’t receive mine until early December) nothing for that platform will be eligible for this year’s awards (as they run November to November). Also there were a few games I held off of so I could get the superior PS4 version, namely Assassin’s Creed IV and Battlefield 4, so they also won’t feature.

We start with a new award, that recognizes the fact that I simply can’t play every game within the year. The ‘Missed Gem’ award goes to a game from the previous year that I didn’t play until this year but feel would’ve warranted a mention last time out if I had played it in time.

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MISSED GEM OF 2012

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WINNER: Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead (Season 1)

Everyone has rightfully raved about The Walking Dead. I’m one of them (check out my review) and I can safely say it was a fantastic experience. It’s a point and click adventure game, which wouldn’t normally be my cup of tea but the story here is soooo good. Highly recommended.

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BEST GAME INNOVATION

GameAwards2013Innovation

Winner: Grand Theft Auto V (Multi Character Selection)

GTA V was a trend setter in many ways but one of the most impressive aspects of the game was the way you could switch between the main characters at will. With a button press you would be pulled to an overhead view of the map, moved across to wherever the other character was and then plonked down to them. This in itself isn’t a completely original idea, Driver: San Francisco had a similar mechanic that allowed you to swap between vehicles. The difference here are the little character vignettes when you land with a new character; Franklin pulling his friend away from a fight, Michael finishing a coffee and tossing the cup away or Trevor… well God knows what Trevor will be doing! This small touch gives you a real feeling that the world of GTA V is continuing around you at all times. It’s a very nice mechanic.

RUNNERS UP:

  • Crysis 3 (Multiplayer Highlights)
  • Bioshock Infinite (Skyhooks)
  • Metal Gear Rising (Precision Cutting)

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BEST DLC (CONTENT)

GameAwards2013DLC

WINNER: Mass Effect 3: Citadel

The ending of Mass Effect 3 left a bad taste in many people’s mouths, even with the update Bioware released. If that was the case for you, or if you just loved the game/series then give the Citadel DLC a spin. This is the ‘Christmas Special’ of Mass Effect, a set of side missions that see you fighting off enemies, carrying out a heist and planning a party for your crew… Yes, that’s right organizing and hosting a party :smile: It. Is. Awesome. And great fan service. The Walking Dead: 400 Days also deserves a mention as it carried on with the hard choices of season 1 straight off the bat, even if the characters were new. Soul Sacrifice on Vita was supported with a ridiculous amount of free DLC post launch which was all really cool so make sure you check that out as well.

RUNNERS UP:

  • Battlefield 3 – End Game
  • The Walking Dead – 400 Days
  • Soul Sacrifice – Various Free DLC Packs

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BEST DOWNLOAD ONLY GAME

Hotline Miami 1

WINNER: Hotline Miami (Vita)

Enough people were raving about it on PC last year but 2013 was the year I finally got my hands on Hotline Miami – the super fast, super violent and super challenging top down kill fest. I absolutely loved this game and don’t know anyone who played it that didn’t get hooked. The Vita version looks super crisp and the soundtrack is awesome. Most of the games in this category I played on Vita (though all of these were on PS3 as well) with some great titles like Guacamelee, Thomas Was Alone and Lone Survivor. Another pleasant surprise was Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon – it had Robocop’s gun in it! ROBOCOP’S GUN!! :smile:

RUNNERS UP:

  • Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon
  • Guacamelee (Vita)
  • Thomas Was Alone (Vita)

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MOST ANTICIPATED GAME OF 2014

GameAwards2013MostWanted

WINNER: Infamous: Second Son

Well, the clear winner for this in my eyes was Cyberpunk 2077 but it turns out that isn’t arriving until 2015 so I had to have a rethink! A new Uncharted has me interested but so little is known about it at this stage, same goes for Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture. The Witcher 3 and The Order: 1886 are definitely on my radar and No Man’s Sky looked awesome at VGX earlier this month. For me, at the moment, it has to be Infamous: Second Son. The game looks so damn good up close (I wasn’t allowed to play it but watched a hands off level playthrough) I could barely believe it. I’m hyped for this one, roll on March.

RUNNERS UP:

  • The Witcher 3
  • The Order: 1886
  • No Man’s Sky

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BEST GAME TRAILER

*Warning Contains Strong Language*

WINNER: Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon

I’m not sure I need many words here, as someone who grew up in the 1980’s… just watch the Blood Dragon trailer to see why it won :smile: GTA always has great trailers and the below is no exception, super use of music as well. Love this Last Of Us one, not always a fan of live action stuff but this is clever. And Killzone always looks amazing, Shadow Fall is no different.

RUNNERS UP:

GTA V

Last Of Us

Killzone Shadow Fall

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BEST PS VITA GAME

GameAwards2013VitaGame

WINNER: Persona 4 The Golden

If you’d told me a year ago that a Japanese RPG would win my Vita Game Of The Year in a year when a Killzone title came to Vita, I would’ve called you a liar. I haven’t really ever played a JRPG before but then again Persona 4: The Golden isn’t like other JRPG’s. Like The Walking Dead this is a game all about your relationships with characters (Oh Chie) and P4G grabbed me from the start and didn’t let go. Don’t let the fact Killzone: Mercenary didn’t pick up GOTY deter you from grabbing it if you have a Vita – it’s the best handheld shooter ever made. Soul Sacrifice was another title I might not have played on a home console but it just seems like a great fit on Vita and it’s really fun in short bursts. Tearaway was a beautiful game that put you in a superbly realized papercraft world and utilised all of the best Vita features. A charming game.

RUNNERS UP:

  • Soul Sacrifice
  • Tearaway
  • Killzone: Mercenary

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BEST GRAPHICS

GameAwards2013Graphics

WINNER: Beyond: Two Souls

It was a pretty close run race in this category with four superb looking games. The Last Of Us probably came closest to nabbing this with it’s fully realized, if grim, world and characters but while the animation of Beyond: Two Souls might’ve been off at times, graphically the game was stunning. Especially impressive considering they were using actors that people recognize and could more easily spot any faults. Also the fire/flame effects were majorly impressive. Los Santos in GTA V was such a wonder to look at sometimes I would just stop and admire the view – I can’t wait to see what Rockstar deliver on PS4. And while it was stylized, Bioshock Infinite created a beautiful world in Columbia and then filled it with dark, interesting people. Definitely a world to be explored and experienced.

RUNNERS UP:

  • Bioshock Infinite
  • GTA V
  • The Last Of Us

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BEST STORYLINE

GameAwards2013Story

WINNER: Bioshock Infinite

There have been some great stories to play through this year and again The Last Of Us came very close to taking this award but this year’s winner is Bioshock Infinite. A title that had me guessing throughout and while I thought I had the twist sussed it turned out to be one of many that, by the time the credits rolled, left me reeling. As I uncovered more and more clues while playing through it was satisfying to put the pieces together. I thought Crystal Dynamics did a great job with the Tomb Raider reboot but the story was strongest in those opening few hours and fell away a bit beyond that. Those few hours though… what a ride. DmC was one of my more pleasant surprises this year (all round in fact) and I enjoyed the game’s story of greed and corruption and thought the world they’d created was very fleshed out.

RUNNERS UP:

  • The Last Of Us
  • Tomb Raider
  • DmC

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BEST SOUNDTRACK (SCORE)

GameAwards2013Score

WINNER: Persona 4: The Golden (Vita)

This was a really difficult category to decide on – all four of these are great scores that you should definitely check out. GTA V was the surprise for me as I didn’t expect the score to be so awesome and well suited to the heist aspect of the game. The Last Of Us and Bioshock Infinite were more subtle but packed a big punch when necessary. However the award goes to Persona 4: The Golden for it’s crazy, fun and memorable score, which includes a few songs written for the game that are used during battles. There were plenty of other great scores worth checking out from this year, I’d also recommend Tomb Raider, Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon and Beyond: Two Souls.

RUNNERS UP:

  • GTA V
  • Bioshock Infinite
  • The Last Of Us

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BEST SOUNDTRACK (LICENSED)

Hotline Miami 3

WINNER: Hotline Miami (Vita)

I mentioned Hotline Miami last year because I’d heard the soundtrack but hadn’t played the game. Nothing can quite prepare you for what is one of the most powerful collections of tracks in gaming. The songs here perfectly capture the feel of the game and lend a kind of hypnotic vibe to proceedings. Absolutely brilliant. The Grand Theft Auto games always have stellar licensed material and GTA V is no different, featuring great songs across lots of different radio stations. Bioshock Infinite‘s use of tears to play songs was inspired, especially as it also featured ‘Columbia’ versions of them all in game as well. And Far Cry 3, well that M.I.A use was brilliant and the Skrillex track fitted so well with the mission it was used on – just good solid choices.

RUNNERS UP:

  • Far Cry 3
  • GTA V
  • Bioshock Infinite

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BEST VOICE ACTING

GameAwards2013Voice

WINNER: The Last Of Us

This was another tough category this year as so many games delivered massive performances in terms of acting. The Last Of Us though is a deserving winner, with Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson bringing most to the table with solid support from, among others, Nolan North. Baker delivered another fantastic performance as Booker DeWitt in Bioshock Infinite alongside the excellent Courtnee Draper. Steven Ogg as Trevor gets GTA V a mention just on his own and alongside his other cast members helped to make our stay in Los Santos a memorable one. I suppose when you hire big name actors like Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe you expect big things but as we’ve seen in the past bringing Hollywood to games doesn’t always work out. Luckily for us with Beyond: Two Souls it did this time and Page’s delivery and commitment to the role added real depth to her character Jodie Holmes.

RUNNERS UP:

  • Bioshock Infinite
  • GTA V
  • Beyond: Two Souls

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SINGLE PLAYER GAME OF THE YEAR

GameAwards2013Single

WINNER: The Last Of Us

The Last Of Us is one of those games that has to be played to be believed. Titles such as Uncharted 2 and Journey carry the same gravitas and The Last Of Us can be added to that list of games that anyone with a PS3 should play. The journey of Ellie and Joel during the game is astounding and the world is a brutal, beautiful place to (carefully) explore. The Clickers were hideous enemies and the fact they could kill you in one hit just made things worse. Everything works here – the scarcity of ammo/supplies, the confined spaces you’d find yourself in and also little touches like finding the after effects of horrific events and finding out the mini storylines contained within. While GTA V and Persona 4: The Golden are totally different styles of game I stuck almost 60 hours into each of their single player offerings this year, which is a testament to their quality. And while the combat did drag at times in Bioshock Infinite, overall it was just such a great game that you can’t do anything but recommend it.

RUNNERS UP:

  • GTA V
  • Bioshock Infinite
  • Persona 4 The Golden (Vita)

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MULTIPLAYER GAME OF THE YEAR

GameAwards2013Online

WINNER: GTA Online

It says a lot about the opening 6 months of 2013 that during that time my most played online games were Killzone 3 (2011), Mass Effect 3 (2012) and Battlefield 3 (2011). The one new thing I played in this time was Far Cry 3, which had a nice co-op online mode and handled really well, in terms of feel of weapons etc. Then June hit and The Last Of Us arrived, with it’s new and fresh idea of what multiplayer could be. Run and gun was out, scavenge and hide was in. I had some very tense rounds of this immensely underrated online offering. Killzone: Mercenary offered Vita owners a glimpse of what an FPS title could do online and it was very fun, despite a few issues with spawn point locations. But the award this year goes to GTA Online. Finally released in October it was… well, broken to be honest. But now that it’s (mainly) fixed it is an absolute blast. Whether doing scripted missions or just messing about with friends it has been some of my most memorable online gaming in the last few years.

RUNNERS UP:

  • The Last Of Us
  • Far Cry 3
  • Killzone Mercenary (Vita)

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GAME OF THE YEAR

TheLastOfUs 2

WINNER: The Last Of Us

The Last Of Us takes this year’s award – a combination of it’s superlative single player and fantastic online offering is more than enough to justify it’s win. All four nominees are outrageously great games and well worth playing. Bioshock Infinite‘s mix of bright, vibrant colours, stylised graphics and dark, sinister undercurrent make for a compelling game and while Persona 4: The Golden shares some characteristics with Irrational Game’s title it also has a wealth of depth that left me stunned. In GTA V Rockstar have created a living, breathing love/hate letter to L.A that will keep you gripped and amazed both online and offline.

RUNNERS UP:

  • GTA V
  • Bioshock Infinite
  • Persona 4 The Golden (Vita)

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So there you have it!

There were plenty of other decent games that didn’t get nominated but I’d still recommend. Titles like Call Of Juarez: Gunslinger, Splinter Cell: Blacklist, Rain and Puppeteer to name a few.

It’s also been a good year for Vita owners with titles like Retro City Rampage, Guacamelee, Hotline Miami, Thomas Was Alone, Stealth Inc., Lone Survivor and Spluenky making the jump over, along with exclusives like Persona 4 : The Golden, Soul Sacrifice, Killzone: Mercenary and Tearaway. It was nice to see a Vita game crack the nominees list for Game Of The Year for the first time as well.

So what have you guys been playing? What have I missed? What was your favourite game this year?

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Persona 4 Golden – Review (Vita)

Persona 4 Main

As someone who has never played, or been interested in playing, a Japanese Role Playing Game (JRPG), such as Final Fantasy or Valkyria Chronicles, I was intrigued to see Persona 4 Golden essentially clear up the Vita Game Of The Year awards at most gaming sites last year.

Released back in 2012 in the US/Japan the game finally arrived to Europe in February. Having read from practically every gaming site I trust/respect that this was the best Vita game out and one of the best JRPG’s around I felt obliged to give it a try.

The jazzy intro left me with a smile on my face but also a quizzically raised eyebrow as I wondered exactly what I had let myself in for.

Persona 4 1

The game is a year in the life of Yu Narukami as he transers schools to spend a year living with his Uncle in a small town called Inaba. You have control over his life, from schoolwork to making friends and even deciding on where to work part time. While the story doesn’t change your decisions do affect your relationships throughout the game.

And Persona 4 Golden is all about relationships. Whether it’s your friends or relatives, everything you do has a knock on effect on what the game calls your ‘Social Links’. The better your social links the more powerful your (and your allies) Personas can become when fighting shadows.

Oh, did I forget to mention as well as Yu Narukami’s daily life of school and work you also FALL INTO TV’s AND BATTLE SHADOW MONSTERS :lol:

Persona 4 2

Without getting too spoilerific, you discover that you can access this other world through the TV. After a spate of murders in Inaba, you realise they are tied to the other world. You and your friends decide to try and save whoever might be the next victim.

Because I hadn’t played a game like this before I put Persona 4 Golden on ‘Very Easy’ and to be honest this was probably a wise move. I died in battle only a handful of times and when I did was able to revive on the spot with full health. While this reduced the challenge of combat it enabled me to get to grips with the game without becoming frustrated. It also meant I was free to concentrate on the social side of the game and just enjoy the story.

And what a story it is. Traditionally Japanese games have been a bit more ‘out there’ than Western titles (see Bayonetta/Vanquish/Metal Gear Solid) and Persona 4 Golden is no different but the game also deals with some interesting themes – loneliness, responsibility and even coming to terms with one’s masculinity. It might be wrapped up in J-Pop gloss but Persona is definitely full of great character arcs.

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The characters are well written and by the end of the game I genuinely cared about them. It’s not often that happens with game characters – probably The Walking Dead, Mass Effect and Uncharted games are the most recent examples I can think of.

As you build relationships with the other characters you’ll get different options in terms of who to spend time with and the game often gives you a few options when you only have time for one. You may even eventually get a girlfriend (or several if that’s more your ‘style’) and the game does a good job of conveying the slightly embarrassing beginnings of a school relationship at that age.

The difference between this and other games with social options is that Persona 4 Golden isn’t just a case of ‘this person likes/dislikes you’ it’s that in forging and building these relationships you are effectively levelling up. Even studying and doing well at school gives you bonuses. It means that of all the 41 hours I ploughed into the game not a minute was wasted. There was no filler.

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The combat is based around fighting monsters in dungeons that are themed around various thoughts/fears of the townspeople. You have the ability to call on monsters of your own (Personas) to aid you and you’ll always be with a few of your friends (another difficult choice, who do you take with you?). You walk around the dungeon freely in third person and once an encounter is initiated the action moves to a turn based setting.

I won’t go into story details beyond the above but I enjoyed it and thought it did a good job of maintaining the mystery of events until the reveal. One word of advice though, keep 3 or 4 rolling saves because it is VERY easy to miss the real ending of the game. First time out I got a disappointing ending that skipped 3 months of in-game time (around 8/10 hours of gameplay) so keep a spare save ready to go back if needed.

Even going back and getting the proper ending I still missed a part of the game and didn’t have a back up (thinking I’d finished) so I will have try and get to that on my next playthrough. Yep I plan to go back through the game again, this time on a more competitive setting.

Persona 4 3

I didn’t imagine Persona 4 Golden would grab me so hard if I’m honest – as I said at the outset I’ve never been interested in this type of game before but I’ll be keeping an eye on the genre now and hopefully might find some other great experiences for my Vita.

If you have a Vita then I can’t recommend this enough, Persona 4 Golden is a fantastic game that offers a lot more than just turn based combat and will leave you wanting more at each turn.

Rating: 10/10

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The Walking Dead – Review (PS3)

WalkingDeadMain

I watched the first TV series of The Walking Dead and really enjoyed it. I liked Telltale Games ‘Back To The Future‘ games but their form has been patchy (their Jurassic Park game was widely panned) so I wasn’t sure what to expect from this game.

Firstly this *isn’t* based on the TV series although it does take place in the same Walking Dead universe as the comics which the TV show is based on. Slightly confusing but the main thing is that this is an entirely different set of characters.

You play as Lee Everett, a university professor. As the game opens you are in the back of the Sheriff’s car on your way to prison for the murder of your wife’s lover. Thankfully for Lee the zombie apocalypse comes at just the right time and you end up having to escape from the cop car to survive.

WalkingDead1

Soon afterwards Lee meets a 9-year-old girl, Clementine, who is alone because her parents are out of town and her babysitter… well I won’t say any more :smile: . Lee takes her under his wing and they try to get somewhere safe and work out what the hell is going on.

The Walking Dead is a point and click adventure game, which means while you’ll have some freedom of movement you’re limited to small areas and different object to interact with.

Mainly you’ll be talking to the other characters and learning about the group of people you’ve ended up banded together with. And this is where the game shines.

WalkingDead4

Firstly it’s a cast of well written and acted characters. And secondly the writers aren’t afraid to put you in some very difficult situations, usually ending in you having to make a choice that will alienate one of the group. It’s tense stuff and because most the choices have a timer running down, you’ll often feel a sense of panic because you’re being forced to make a call on something quickly when you’d love more time to think it over.

The game has lots of different ways to play out, although the overall narrative remains the same regardless of how you play. At the end of each episode you also get a breakdown of what percentage of other players made the same choices as you. This is a real eye opener at times! Certainly on one choice I presumed everyone would do the same only to discover at the end of the episode I was in a 12% minority!

The biggest compliment I can pay the game is that Clementine is a believable representation of a child. I’ve never seen a child character in a game before that had so many of the nuances and speech patterns of a real child. And I strongly believe that is the reason so many people had such a strong emotional reaction to this game.

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Telltale set up the relationship between Lee and Clementine in an identical way to the relationship you have when you have your own child in real life. What I mean by that is that when you bring home your newborn child it can’t fend for itself. It needs your help and support until it becomes strong enough to start looking after itself. Of course the real life bond is much more than can be conveyed in a game but I genuinely believe Telltale have given a lot of people a little taste of what being a parent is like. If you don’t believe me (and have finished the game – beware spoilers if not) check out the huge amounts of #ForClementine hashtags on Twitter!

The game was released in episode format over the course of months rather than weeks. I picked up the bundle before Christmas and I’d recommend doing the same at this stage – I believe the first episode is available free as a demo. If you haven’t played it you should definitely check it out. I would’ve loved to have experienced it spread out, for season two I will do just that.

The Walking Dead isn’t perfect. I encountered a glitch at one stage whereby I couldn’t continue the game. My character essentially fell through the train he was supposed to be on every time I went through a specific door. Thankfully a reset and reload solved the problem but I’ve heard of some people having other problems as well. Nothing major though and when the story is this good it’s easy to forgive the odd issue here and there.

WalkingDead3

Overall, I can’t praise this game enough. It’s a different style of game to the stuff I would usually play but through the excellent characters and writing, Telltale have delivered an emotionally charged and superbly crafted story that will likely leave you with a lot more emotional baggage than when you started. Play it. Now.

Rating: 10/10

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GregHorrorShow: Game Awards 2012

GOTYMain

So another fantastic year of gaming draws to a close and it’s time to look back to see what’s impressed in 2012:

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BEST GAME INNOVATION

GOTYInnovation

WINNER: Spec Ops ‘Degradation Of Characters’

It’s crazy to think that this has never been done before. In Spec Ops: The Line as well as physical changes, you and your squad also take a psychological beating. Later in the game as your character starts screaming his orders instead of calmly giving them it makes a huge difference. Even reloading calls are shouted through gritted teeth. It just makes the game feel incredibly visceral. Big shout outs to both Dishonored and Hitman: Absolution for bringing some new, inventive mechanics to the stealth genre. I expect both Blink and Instinct will turn up in other games at some stage.

RUNNERS UP:

  • Dishonored – Blink
  • Max Payne 3 – Bullet Time in Online Matches
  • Hitman: Absolution – Instinct

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BEST DLC (CONTENT)

GOTYDLCCon

WINNER: Battlefield 3 – Close Quarters

While Borderlands 2 gave us a substantial chunk of gameplay with Captain Scarlett’s Booty and Uncharted 3 delivered some clever, new maps, for sheer awesomeness this award has to go to Battlefield 3 for Close Quarters. This map pack with two new game modes was a brilliant addition to the Battlefield package. The maps in here are some of my favourite in the entire game’s roster – Operation 925 and Ziba Tower are so well designed it hurts. Sure these maps slightly favour a shotgun but when has that ever been a problem :smile:

RUNNERS UP:

  • Uncharted 3 – Map Pack
  • Mass Effect 3 – From Ashes
  • Borderlands 2 – Captain Scarlett’s Booty

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BEST DOWNLOADABLE GAME

Journey 1

WINNER: Journey

Journey is unlike anything I’ve ever played – it truly is a game that needs to be experienced rather than discussed but if you’d like to read more, check out my review from earlier in the year. A truly stunning game. Also have to congratulate the guys at Evolution on Motorstorm RC – when I first saw the reveal I wasn’t hugely impressed but the game turned out to be fantastic.

RUNNERS UP:

  • Motorstorm RC
  • Sound Shapes
  • When Vikings Attack!

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MOST ANTICIPATED GAME OF 2013

GOTYMostAnt

WINNER: Grand Theft Auto V

Rockstar continue to deliver top quality games – since the last GTA we’ve had L.A Noire, Max Payne 3 and the superlative Red Dead Redemption. Grand Theft Auto V looks set to continue that (check out the trailer in the next section) and I can’t wait to see what advances have been made since the last game back in 2008.

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BEST GAME TRAILER

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WINNER: Borderlands 2

I love this trailer. It completely sums up the game and when Claptrap… well I won’t spoil it but check it out.

I’ve also included the runners up below so you can check them out as well.

RUNNERS UP:

  • Grand Theft Auto V
  • Beyond: Two Souls
  • Bioshock Infinite

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BEST PS VITA GAME

GOTYVita

WINNER: Motorstorm RC

There have been some fantastic games for the Vita in it’s first year and I certainly don’t think the console is lacking in titles. Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation came close to making this list but was edged out by the excellent Need For Speed: Most Wanted. Sony Bend Studios delivered a great Uncharted game and Gravity Rush was a blast, despite some frustrating combat issues. However the award in 2012 goes to Motorstorm RC, a completely addictive racer that took up far too much of my time. Beating friend’s scores on the tracks gave everything a competitive edge and I enjoyed it so much I bought all the DLC to get more tracks. In my opinion a perfect title for the Vita.

RUNNERS UP:

  • Uncharted: Golden Abyss
  • Need For Speed: Most Wanted
  • Gravity Rush

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BEST GRAPHICS

GOTYGraphics

WINNER: Max Payne 3

Usually best graphics is one of those categories where you can immediately arrive at a shortlist and the tough part is narrowing that down to a winner. But this year we’ve had a number of games that shone in various different styles. It’s been extremely difficult and titles like The Darkness II, Need For Speed: Most Wanted, Hitman Absolution and Gravity Rush have all failed to make the cut. For me, although it was a linear experience, Max Payne 3 really delivered a mix of great technical work and graphical style to create a fairly unique and stunning looking game.

RUNNERS UP:

  • Journey
  • Assassin’s Creed III
  • Borderlands II

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BEST STORYLINE

GOTYStory

WINNER: Spec Ops: The Line

I had been keeping an eye on Spec Ops: The Line ever since it’s first reveal back at the Video Game Awards in 2009, so I was most pleased to see it finally get released in the summer. Promising tough moral choices, an interesting story and some good use of desert sand to trap enemies it looked like Spec Ops might dominate the barren Summer release schedule. It didn’t quite work out that way but Spec Ops: The Line tells one of the more engrossing stories in games of the last few years. The way things unfold is well choreographed and having seen some of the conversations with the writers of the game it seems almost everything in the game was planned that way from the beginning. It’s a slow start but well worth sticking with – one of the best storylines for a while.

RUNNERS UP:

  • Max Payne 3
  • The Darkness II
  • Dishonored

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BEST SOUNDTRACK (SCORE)

GOTYScore

WINNER: Max Payne 3 – Health

There have been some fantastic scores this year, from the usual military bombast of Call Of Duty: Black Ops II through to the quirky and lovable Sound Shapes on Vita. But most would be hard pressed to match Health‘s score for Max Payne 3, which fitted the game so well it was pretty much another aspect of Max’s character. Journey probably ran it closest, the sweeping joy and sorrow of Austin Wintory’s music really bringing a depth of emotion to the game. Big shout out as well to Hotline Miami, I haven’t even played that game but the soundtrack is fantastic in it’s own right.

RUNNERS UP:

  • Journey – Austin Wintory
  • Gravity Rush (Vita) – Kohei Tanaka
  • Sound Shapes (Vita) – Various

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BEST SOUNDTRACK (LICENSED)

GOTYLicensed

WINNER: The Darkness II

It’s also been a great year for licensed music uses in games – in fact it’s the first year I’ve truly struggled to get a shortlist, never mind a winner. FIFA continues to impress by delving into indie territory and Sleeping Dogs ‘Grand Theft Auto-esque’ radio station approach threw up some great tunes to cause carnage to. Eventually it was a two horse race for this award and despite a few excellent choices (Martha Reeves and the Vandellas – “Nowhere to Run” and Deep Purple – “Hush” in particular) by Spec Ops: The Line, The Darkness II steals it with tracks like Ram Jam – “Black Betty”, Metallica “Some Kind Of Monster”, Stereo MCs – “Connected”, The Flamingos – “I Only Have Eyes for You”, Dean Martin – “In the Chapel in the Moonlight”, The Offspring – “Self-Esteem” and of course, Tone Loc – “Wild Thing”. Fantastic stuff.

RUNNERS UP:

  • FIFA 13
  • Sleeping Dogs
  • Spec Ops: The Line

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BEST VOICE ACTING

SleepingDogs 3

WINNER: Sleeping Dogs

Square Enix assembled an all star cast including Hong Kong actor Will Yun Lee, Tom Wilkinson, Lucy Liu and Emma Stone to bring the characters of Sleeping Dogs to life. They do a great job and really help to pull you into the world the game creates. Nolan North again pulls a Nate Drake performance out of the bag, this time on the small(er) screen of the Vita. He also took on the main role of Martin Walker in Spec Ops: The Line – you can see why he’s one of the most in demand, and best, voice actors in gaming.

RUNNERS UP:

  • Uncharted: Golden Abyss
  • Max Payne 3
  • Spec Ops: The Line

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SINGLE PLAYER GAME OF THE YEAR

Journey Main

WINNER: Journey

Journey is a gaming experience like no other. As you make your way across desolate, sandy dunes the game will run you through a gamut of emotions. It’s such a wonderful game, play it online and in one sitting (it’s 2-3 hours long) – you won’t regret it. While in some respects Mass Effect 3 was disappointing, overall I thought it was a solid, enjoyable game. There were some interesting missions and choices you could make that meant, while the ending might not have been different, how you got to the conclusion of the story varied depending on your actions. Sleeping Dogs was so much fun I think I played almost the entire thing with a smile on my face but the dark horse in this race, sneaking up on the others with a fibre wire, is Hitman: Absolution. After a mis-step with Kane and Lynch 2, IO Interactive really delivered with Hitman. Accessible and challenging – definitely one of the best single player games out there this year.

RUNNERS UP:

  • Hitman: Absolution
  • Mass Effect 3
  • Sleeping Dogs

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MULTIPLAYER GAME OF THE YEAR

GOTYMulti

WINNER: Borderlands 2

It hasn’t really been a great year for online multiplayer in my opinion – too few new games grabbed our attention and it was far too easy to jump back into titles like Battlefield 3 or Uncharted 3. However Borderlands 2 would be a worthy winner any year. Getting online with 3 of your friends and blasting through madcap missions was insane fun and the dash for spilled loot only added to the comedy. Mass Effect 3 successfully introduced multiplayer, it was only a horde mode of sorts but most enjoyable and the added depth of different character races gives it some longevity. Call Of Duty: Black Ops II was the most accessible and flexible yet, with some really great maps to boot. Max Payne 3 adds something different with modes like ‘Payne Killer’ and ‘Gang Wars’ but stands up as a third person action shooter in standard modes like Team Deathmatch as well. I was quite impressed with Max Payne’s online, especially the way the developer factored in bullet time but it didn’t seem like that many people were playing it beyond the first couple of weeks of release.

RUNNERS UP:

  • Mass Effect 3
  • Max Payne 3
  • Call Of Duty: Black Ops II

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GAME OF THE YEAR

GOTYGame

WINNER: Borderlands 2

If you’ve been keeping up with the blog or following me on Twitter it’s probably not too hard to guess this year’s winner. For Borderlands 2, Gearbox Software ramped up the game and refined it to such an extent that it is genuinely hard to find fault with it. It’s fun on your own but truly comes to life in online co-op. Memorable characters compliment the game’s wicked sense of humour and an outrageous amount of classes, guns, shields, mods and relics just add to the chaos. Borderlands 2 is a huge game that you will love playing through.

RUNNERS UP:

  • Sleeping Dogs
  • Hitman: Absolution
  • Journey

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So there you have it, another great year for gaming and the above is only the tip of iceberg. There were some great titles that didn’t make the shortlists but are still worth checking out. Things like Syndicate, Binary Domain, X-Com: Enemy Unknown and Need For Speed: Most Wanted for a start. Or how about Unit 13, Everybody’s Golf and LittleBigPlanet for the Vita.

I never got around to playing a few of the big games from this year, most notably The Walking Dead and Resident Evil 6 but I’ll hopefully get a chance to experience those soon.

There’s been plenty to play this year and 2013 looks interesting, especially with new hardware on the horizon.

What is your game of the year? Let me know what you agree/disagree with in the above and what titles you would’ve had in there.

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GregHorrorShow TV Awards 2011

We’re closing in on the final few award posts – TV now and then Games to follow shortly.

My biggest disappointment when compiling the TV Awards this year was the lack of great new shows – I only started watching two new programmes in 2011, which is down quite a bit from recent years.

So let’s get going…

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BEST NEW SHOW

WINNER: Bored To Death

Although there haven’t been many new shows ‘Bored To Death’ is one of the better ones to come along in the last few years. A fresh, natural feeling, semi-dark comedy about a struggling writer who becomes a private detective on the side, this is a show full of laughs and awkward moments. With a fantastic supporting cast, including Zach Galifianakis (of The Hangover fame) and Ted Danson, it’s well worth checking out.

RUNNER UP:

Alphas

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BEST COMEDY SHOW

WINNER: The Middle

Well The Middle takes the title of Best Comedy for the second year in a row. Telling the tales of the Heck family in middle America, this is one of those US imports that presses all the right buttons. As I mentioned last year the chemistry between the actors is great and you could easily believe they are a real family. Great stuff. A mention must also go out to Raising Hope, which continues to improve all the time.

RUNNERS UP:

Bored To Death

Raising Hope

How I Met Your Mother

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BEST FACTUAL SHOW

WINNER: Hairy Biker’s ‘Meals On Wheels’

While this programme might not mean much to folks outside of the UK, The Hairy Bikers mission to get our old people some decent, freshly cooked food was a moving and, at times, hilarious show. As they battled on different fronts to things changed for the better, you couldn’t help but wish that they succeed. Very enjoyable and gave a good insight into the issues the older generations can face.

RUNNERS UP:

The Football League Show

An Idiot Abroad 2

.

BEST SOUNDTRACK

WINNER: Castle

This was a tough category to choose a winner for and Glee loses it’s title from last year to Castle. Some great use of music with appropriate lyrics relevent to crimes as well as some cool background stuff sees Castle edge it this year.

RUNNERS UP:

The Middle

Raising Hope

Glee

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ACTOR OF THE YEAR

WINNER: Nathan Fillion – ‘Richard Castle’ (Castle)

This is the first year that Philip Glenister of Ashes To Ashes hasn’t been around to scoop the gong but he might’ve been hard pressed to snatch it from Nathan Fillion in 2011. Fillion’s performance as Richard Castle, whether it’s his easy charm or his vulnerable moments, shone through this season. I have to make a special mention to Bored To Death’s Ted Danson though, he really is truly outstanding as stoner magazine editor George Christopher.

RUNNERS UP:

Eric Balfour – ‘Duke Crocker’ (Haven)

Eddie McClintock – ‘Pete Latimer’ (Warehouse 13)

Ted Danson – ‘George Christopher’ (Bored To Death)

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ACTRESS OF THE YEAR

WINNER: Emily Rose – ‘Audrey Parker’ (Haven)

Unfortunately for Haven it started so late in 2010 that I only got a chance to see 3 or 4 episodes before compiling the awards for the year. If we’d seen the entire season Emily Rose (of Uncharted game fame) might have found herself nominated or winning this category then. Not to worry as her performance as Haven’s Audrey Parker is unmatched in 2011. The twist at the end of season 1 saw some brilliant acting and she’s carried it over into the second season as well. Eden Sher deserves a nod for her fantastic portrayal as Sue Heck, her comic timing and expressive mannerisms feel just right for Sue.

RUNNERS UP:

Eden Sher – ‘Sue Heck’ (The Middle)

Joanne Kelly – ‘Myka Bering’ (Warehouse 13)

Stana Katic – ‘Kate Beckett’ (Castle)

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TV SHOW OF THE YEAR

WINNER: Haven

Wow. This was so difficult to call as all of the nominated shows have been fantastic this year. In the end Haven takes the plaudits but it was extremely close. The closest, in fact, it has ever been for these awards. Both Warehouse 13 and Castle were superb but Haven’s supernatural rollercoaster of a ride kept me glued to the screen and wishing I had more episodes stacked up to watch back to back. I’m very happy that new seasons of all of the nominated shows have been confirmed for next year!

RUNNERS UP:

Warehouse 13

Castle

The Middle

So there we go. There were a few shows that I also enjoyed but didn’t make the cut – True Blood and Bones (Season 2) being the most prominent. Those are definitely worth checking out.

As for 2012, well I’m looking forward to more of the same with the addition of The New Girl in January and the return of The Walking Dead as well. Hopefully some more new great shows will pop up or you guys can suggest some stuff I may have missed.

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