GregHorrorShow’s Guide To Gaming – Part 4: The Parent Edition

Guide Vol 4 Parents Main

So your kids are getting bigger, becoming small people with personalities and tastes of their own ๐Ÿ™‚ All of a sudden they are asking about games… all their friends are playing games… can we get a console… can I play on the iPad… and so on and so forth. There is a hell of a lot of misinformation and misunderstanding out there with regards to games so we are going to discuss some of the stigmas around games and bust a few myths while we are at it.

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PEGI RATINGS

Guide Vol 4 Parents Ratings

So first things first, the most basic of all the information I have to share but also the most commonly misinterpreted. Most games aren’t made for children. That’s the best thing to get your head around. The average age of gamers is now 31. Unless itโ€™s a game aimed at children, presume this was intended for adults to play. PEGI (Pan European Game Information) are the game equivalent of the BBFC (British Board of Film Classification) for films. The age rating on the box of a game is the same as it would be for Film or TV. It is NOT a guide to the ability of your child like a puzzle or board game. These ratings are content based, not skill based. I once overheard a lady in a shop who had made this mistake and was considering buying her 10 year old son a copy of an 18+ rated game because ‘he is really good at games.’ Thankfully the shop assistant explained. So always check these ratings before allowing your child to play a game. Of course there is nothing to stop you allowing your child to play a higher rated game if you feel they are mature enough to handle it, that’s your call – my 4 year old daughter often played Skylanders with her bigger sister which was rated as 7+ and we had no issues. However, it should be a decision you make rather than just getting whatever game they ask for.

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PLAY TIME

Guide Vol 4 Parents Time

Gaming is no different to any other medium; a child should not be sitting down and playing their console all day. To be honest, adults shouldn’t be doing that but they are old enough to look after themselves! I wouldn’t recommend a child sits and watches TV all day, or just sits in a room reading a book all day. I’d also strongly advise against having a console in their bedroom so you can keep an eye on what they are playing but again that’s a personal parental decision. Most things in moderation are ok and gaming is no different. Make sure you explain to them what time you’re allowing (45 mins or an hour etc.) and then stick to it. You should allow a little leeway; say 5 minutes to get to a suitable stopping point. Most games now auto-save very regularly so don’t let them fob you off with tales of having to get to a save point. If they insist try googling the game to see if doesn’t have auto-save, just in case.

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IPAD / TABLET GAMING

Guide Vol 4 Parents IPad

My area of expertise is console gaming and I don’t have a lot of experience with iPad/Tablet games so my main advice is to be super vigilant. On consoles you would need to have a credit card linked to your PlayStation or XBox to buy anything. On phones it’s a lot easier for kids to accidentally rack up costs (often without realising it). Sadly the mobile gaming space is full of titles made with the aim of getting you to pay money. Beware of Free To Play titles, they are specifically designed to prey on people susceptible to gambling/addiction by making the game ramp up in difficulty or locking things behind a timer – “Wait two days to play again or just pay 79p to jump straight back in.” These games can be very dangerous to the wrong personalities (adults included) and can often be as bad as fruit machines. Best thing to do would be to check around online and see which games are rated highly for kids. Having said that even that can’t protect you from the stream of ads running alongside the game… a well-known kids app called Talking Tom (with a cute speaking cat you interact with) hit the headlines for running hard-core porn video ads in the game while children were playing. This thing is mainly avoidable on consoles as most products don’t have random ads running in the background.

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CONSOLES

So you’ve been beaten into submission and now you’re looking to get a console! But which one? Well fortunately you only really have three choices and two of them are very similar.

Nintendo Wii-U

Guide Vol 4 Parents Wii U

Nintendo are often kidโ€™s first game experiences as they are very family friendly. Games like Mario Kart, Donkey Kong and Legend Of Zelda have great heritage and with new titles like Splatoon, they are still delivering solid kids content. The only issue you may have here is that a lot of other companies have stopped making games for it so it is mainly just those Nintendo games you’ll be playing.

XBox / Playstation

Guide Vol 4 Parents XB-PS

For younger kids you might be able to get away with giving them the older consoles (XBox 360 and PlayStation 3) which both have a wealth of back catalogue games and, while not quite up to the standard of the latest titles, will be great for playing lots of awesome games. However as they get older and need to keep up with the Jones’s, you’ll be looking more at the XBox One or PlayStation 4. These two are fairly similar and it will probably come down to what your kids friends are playing on. I’ve always preferred PlayStation, which also has the benefit of being market leader and getting the best versions of most games. Also there’s LittleBigPlanet, but more on that later!

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TOYS TO LIFE

Guide Vol 4 Parents Toys

There is a new kid on the block in terms of games for youngsters – Toys To Life. This genre encompasses heavyweights like Skylanders, Disney Infinity and the newly announced Lego Dimensions. These games are played like others with a gamepad but the difference is that they come with a little portal. You pop the toys on top of the portal and then they appear in game for you to control. It’s pretty awesome actually, I would’ve loved this for my He-Man or Ghostbusters back in the day! My (gentle) warning on these games is not the content – they are definitely kid friendly – but more the fact of knowing what you are investing in. These games are full price (usually with a toy or two) and then further toy figures are around ยฃ10 each. Some (optional) areas of the game can only be accessed by specific characters and as you can imagine the cost can escalate quickly, especially if your kids have more than one of these titles!

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SUITABLE GAMES

Guide Vol 4 Parents Tearaway

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of games out there that your kids could play. Make sure you research titles before allowing them to play. Here are a few titles that Iโ€™d recommend.

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Under 5’s

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  • Joe Danger
  • Super Rub A Dub
  • Katamari
  • Skylanders
  • Disney Infinity
  • Octodad (this is actually really difficult but the kids love the comedy element)

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These games should always be simple and not too complicated so the child doesnโ€™t get too frustrated โ€“ Iโ€™d strongly recommend Joe Danger (video above) and Katamari from this list as they can be played on a basic level with just one or two buttons. And both are great fun!

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5-12 Years

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  • Skylanders
  • Disney Infinity
  • Minecraft (more on that below)
  • FIFA Soccer
  • LittleBigPlanet
  • Various Lego Titles (Batman/Avengers etc.)
  • DriveClub
  • Child Of Light
  • Tearaway

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There are some wonderful games in this list โ€“ LittleBigPlanet is shown above but Tearaway is also amazing and for something a little deeper Child Of Light is unbelievably good. These are games that both children and adults can enjoy (together if youโ€™d like!)

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The ‘Teens’ .

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  • Destiny
  • Uncharted
  • Need For Speed
  • Mass Effect
  • Journey

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So included here are a bunch of game series that are higher rated age-wise and deal with violence but with a more sci-fi slant that isn’t going for realism. Another series in this vein is Uncharted, which is more like Indiana Jones than anything else. Also worth noting that Mass Effect contains (non-explicit) sexual content as you can romance a member of your crew, just in case that influences your decision.

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BIG NAMES

Guide Vol 4 Parents Minecraft

And now we come to the big names, the ones the kids will be begging to play.

PLEASE NOTE SOME OF THE VIDEOS BELOW CONTAIN EXTREMELY VIOLENT GRAPHIC CONTENT – I AM EMBEDDING THEM BELOW TO HIGHLIGHT POTENTIAL GAME CONTENT BUT CLICK AT YOUR OWN DISCRETION. .

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Minecraft

Minecraft is great for most children, it encourages building and exploration. Some of the enemies might be too much for very young children but I’d say this one is generally ok for most age groups.

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Call Of Duty

Call Of Duty is a huge franchise in which you play as a soldier killing other people. There are two elements to the game, single player and online. The online multiplayer is where they will likely be playing, in modes where killing the other players is the name of the game (literally, it’s called Deathmatch!). This tends to not be too graphic, although bear in mind you will be shooting and stabbing people. The other issue is online chat, although I’ll go more into that below. The other side of the game is the campaign in which you would play through the story. Known for its shocking violence these can sometimes be tough to watch as an adult – for example an interrogation scene in which you put glass into a man’s mouth and then crush it by punching him in the face. It’s probably most infamous for its ‘No Russian’ that sees you take part in a terrorist attack at an airport, shooting civilians. Footage below so you can see for yourself…

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Assassin’s Creed

The Assassin’s Creed games all take place in different eras of history (1400’s Italy, 1700’s Paris and 1800’s London for example). This means they can give a feel for those places at that time and you can visit recreated landmarks and go inside (Notre Dame was particularly impressive!). However, as the name suggests you will be tasked with killing targets as part of an overall Templar/Assassin storyline. Usually using blades, although guns do feature, this is probably the least graphic of the biggest games but still I wouldn’t really recommend for kids younger than 15, depending on the child of course.

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Mortal Kombat

And now I’m afraid I’m going to be really hypocritical. Let me explain. The original Mortal Kombat came out in 1993, when I was just 13. And we played it for hours at friend’s houses. While not quite as graphically impressive as games nowadays it still allowed you to perform brutal finishing moves on opponents and was, no doubt, not suitable for a 13 year old. Having said that it didn’t seem to do me any harm but I digress… The latest installment of Mortal Kombat is the tenth in the series and the games have leaned even more into the gross-out over the top finishing moves than ever before. As an adult I can differentiate between this type of ‘video-nasty’ horror/violence and real life, knowing that these moves are displayed tongue in cheek. However parents should be aware that although this verges on satire, they are still extremely, graphically, violent. Again, here’s a video showing a few of the moves in the latest game.

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Grand Theft Auto

Ah Grand Theft Auto – the bane of game headlines around the world! First let’s bust a few myths.

‘This game makes you sleep with a prostitute and then kill her to get your money back’

While this is possible in the game it is never requested as part of a mission nor are you asked to do so. The logistics of that statement are correct but this is player agency, you aren’t asked to do this.

‘Playing this game turned this kid into a killer.’

From all of the research I’ve read there has never been a proven link between games and real life killing. I strongly suspect playing GTA all day every day is going to do the player no favours, in the same way sitting and watching video nasties would potentially warp someone’s perception of the real world.

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The Grand Theft Auto games are violent, involve crime and come with a lot of baggage in terms of cultural experience. This means a whole lot of swearing (including the c-word) and possibly the most racial slurs/slang I’ve ever heard in a game. The most recent game also includes a torture scene in which you select which ‘instrument’ (pliers, wrench etc.) to use for most damage. Here’s the scene below, again it’s a tough watch but you should know what you’re letting your children get involved in.

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The irony of all this is that Grand Theft Auto is a superb game. It has furthered the media in so many ways. For all of the above negative points it is unrivaled in creating a lifelike vibrant city with an endless stream of things to do for the player. You can go to the cinema, play golf… even get a haircut or tattoo. The radio stations in the game allow players to discover new types of music and bands they may never have heard before. This game, all of the games in this section are great games. I’ve enjoyed playing them but as an adult. Not a child.

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ONLINE GAMING

Guide Vol 4 Parents Headset

Another thing parents should be aware of is online gaming in general. Gamers are able to communicate with game headsets so that they can talk to other players while in game. This can be a good thing, socially especially, and is a helpful feature when playing with friends. However you need to bear in mind that if your child is using a headset to talk to other gamers they could, literally, be talking to anyone. They could (and sadly probably will) hear abusive phrases thrown around casually. Racist slurs, homophobic slurs. It’s the same as being on the internet – if you let your child visit whatever sites are available and talk to people they don’t know there is a chance they could end up talking with some quite unsavoury characters. This isn’t a reason to panic but try to ensure they understand the dangers and, if possible, only use a headset to talk to people they know.

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So that’s pretty much it, I know it’s a *long* piece but I’ve been asked by enough people that it felt something like this could be helpful to fellow parents who aren’t as aware of games.

If you do have any other questions feel free to drop them in the comments or, of course, e-mail or tweet me. In the meantime feel free to share among fellow parents and anyone who might appreciate a heads up.

The main takeaway should be that games are not made exclusively for children but that they aren’t inherently bad for kids either. Be aware of what they are playing and monitor their progress.

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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

GameAwards2013Gem

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 ๐Ÿ™‚ 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!! ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚ 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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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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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) –ย 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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Most Wanted 2012

Following on from a fairly muted E3, that only held a few unknown announcements, I thought it’d be worth updated the games I’m keeping an eye on.

The list is pretty large so I’ll start with the ones I’m most excited for:

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1) WATCH DOGS – Release Date TBC

This one blew me away at E3 and was easily the most impressive thing I saw. Just watch the video and this one will explain for itself. Hopefully it’ll look that good and deliver that immersive an experience when the game arrives.

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2) BORDERLANDS 2 – September 2012

The first Borderlands was a great game, which delivered so much more than was expected of it. (Seriously it’s cheap now so check it out!) The sequel looks set to live up to and maybe even exceed what came before – guns galore and exquisite cell shaded graphics combine for a brilliant experience. And it’s 4 player co-op! ๐Ÿ™‚

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3) BEYOND – TBC

Heavy Rain was one of my favourite games this generation, so anything new from developer Quantic Dream is always welcome. After showing us a tech demo called ‘Kara‘ earlier this year, Quantic blew the lid off Beyond at E3 – revealing the casting of Ellen Page and showing off the above trailer. Definitely one to watch.

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4) GRAND THEFT AUTO V – TBC

It’s a new Grand Theft Auto – what more do I need to say? ๐Ÿ˜† Looks amazing and you can always count on Rockstar to deliver something special. Expect the hype train to begin very shortly.

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5) BIOSHOCK INFINITE – February 2013

This made the last list I did and has now, unfortunately, been pushed back to 2013 so here it is again. The prequel to the original Bioshock title sees you out of the water and up in the sky – check out the footage above to refresh your memory.

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6) THE LAST OF US – 2013

The Last Of Us is the next game from developer Naughty Dog, whose Uncharted franchise has gone from strength to strength. Telling the story of Joel and Ellie, two survivors of global pandemic that have teamed up, this looks like it could be something totally different. A game with a change of pace is always nice and this one looks gritty to boot.

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7) RETRO CITY RAMPAGE (VITA) – Imminent!

Oh yes! ๐Ÿ™‚ Can you feel the force of a new title based around all your old favourite 8 Bit titles? There are even nods to newer games thrown in. This looks so good and a perfect fit to the Vita’s pick up and play type gaming. Believe it or not this is the work of ONE MAN! Brian Provinciano take a bow… and then get straight back to work on finishing the game ๐Ÿ˜†

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8) HITMAN ABSOLUTION – November 2012

I still can’t believe we haven’t had any sort of Hitman title on the PS3 so far! This looks like it could be fantastic. IO have been shaky in the last few years with the Kane and Lynch franchise but hopefully this will be a return to form.

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9) KILLZONE (VITA) – TBC

I love the Killzone universe and having seen the initial potential of a FPS on the Vita with Resistance Burning Skies, I’m hopeful we’ll get a great handheld version of the franchise. We’ve barely seen anything (see above) but I still can’t wait for this. And this time we play as the Helghast… right Studio Cambridge? RIGHT? ๐Ÿ˜‰

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10) ASSASSIN’S CREED III – October 2012

Ezio Auditore has finally taken a bow and Assassin’s Creed heads to a new time period in the third fully fledged game in the series. This time you’re slap bang in the middle of the War of Independence between the US and England. This looks absolutely stunning and the change in main character/setting adds to the excitement.

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11) DISHONORED – October 2012

Steampunk is on the agenda for Dishonored – set in an alternative universe in which steam powered machinery is the norm, the game sees you fighting to clear your name by taking on (and killing) various powerful political figures. It’s all in the first person and the time manipulation mechanic (among others) looks really interesting.

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12) DEAD SPACE 3 – February 2013

I’m still a touch concerned that co-op play may ruin the atmosphere that the Dead Space series has crafted but I’m willing to give it a chance based on how good the last two games were. This time Isaac is tackling theย frozen planet Tau Volantis, I’m looking forward to seeing what they can do with some more open environments.

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13) SPLINTER CELL: BLACKLIST – 2013

The last few Splinter Cell games have skipped the PS3 so it’s nice to see Sam Fisher returning to our screens. 3rd Echelon have been disbanded by order of the President. Never fear though, Sam’s set up 4th Echelon in secret ๐Ÿ˜† so the adventures can continue. Looks really cool and will be interested to see more on this one.

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14) RESIDENT EVIL 6 – OCTOBER 2012

A lot of people didn’t but I actually enjoyed Resident Evil 5. Sure it wasn’t the best game in the series but it was still decent enough to play through and I liked the different setting. 6 goes back to Resi’s roots a bit and features several stories that cross over. This could be a dark horse for Game Of The Year if they get it right.

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15) ASSASSIN’S CREED: LIBERATION (VITA) – October 2012

Yes it’s *another* Assassin’s Creed game but but there are some differences here – firstly a female lead character (and a realistic, non sexualised one at that ๐Ÿ˜ฏ ), secondly a new time period to mess around in and finally the game looks like it’s taking full advantage of the Vita’s power to provide an open world experience on the go. Great stuff.

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So those are my ‘most’ Most Wanted ๐Ÿ™‚ But there are still a whole host of other games on the horizon that are worth checking out – here are some more that it’s worth looking out for this year and next:

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16) METAL GEAR RISING: REVENGANCE – 2013

Dropping the ‘Solid’ from it’s title and shifting developers to Platinum Games (who made the totally insane and great Bayonetta) might be the smartest move this title made. Raiden is the star here as you control a CYBORG NINJA with a SAMURAI SWORD. That is all.

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17) SLEEPING DOGS – August 2012

Rescued from the dumpster of Activision, Sleeping Dogs is in fact True Crime Hong Kong – except with a new title and more development time. Influenced by Hong Kong cinema, this looks like a lot of fun.

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18) RAINBOW SIX: PATRIOTS – 2013

For goodness sake Ubisoft give me my Rainbow Six! It’s been 4 years! The two Vegas games were great and I expect this to be just as good – don’t let me down!

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19) TOMB RAIDER – 2013

Finally XBox 360 owners will get to play Uncharted… Oh sorry I meant, look it’s a new Tomb Raider game! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Eidos are giving Lara Croft a reboot ‘Dark Knight’ style and this looks like it could be really good. And it’s some climbing, treasure based action to tide us over until Uncharted 4.

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20) NEED FOR SPEED: MOST WANTED (VITA) – November 2012

The Vita really needs a top draw driving game in my opinion. As it appears there are no plans for a Gran Turismo on the handheld the mantle falls to Criterion (of Burnout fame) who will be bringing Need For Speed to Vita alongside it’s PS3 brother. Should be great.

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21) FAR CRY 3 – September 2012

Unfortunately Far Cry 2 was one of those games that I started but ended up getting lost in a deluge of other great titles. The third instalment certainly looks great, hopefully the gameplay will be smooth as well.

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22) ALIENS: COLONIAL MARINES – 2013

Another game that’s been pushed back to next year is Gearbox’s love letter to the film ‘Aliens’. This one could go either way I feel, I’m hoping it veers towards the action based set pieces of the film and does the universe justice.

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23) DUST 514 – TBC

Dust 514 is a free to play FPS that will hit the PSN later this year. It ties in with a PC title called Eve Online – some missions in Dust will be given by people playing the PC game. Interesting idea, will be keeping an eye on how this one does.

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24) CALL OF DUTY BLACK OPS: DECLASSIFIED (VITA) – November 2012

Rumour has it this will be the missions that were made for Black Ops but that didn’t make it into the final game. Sounds cool to me – I enjoyed Black Ops but please Treyach, no poorly implemented exploding barrel sequences this time ok?

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25) PREY 2 – 2013

I don’t know much about the first Prey as I never played it but the trailer for the second game (which you can see here) looks pretty sweet. I’m looking forward to hearing more about this one in the upcoming months.

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So there you go – 25 games to keep on your radar. Anything I’ve missed? What games are you guys most excited about?

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GregHorrorShow Game Awards 2011

Well I’ve been saying this every Christmas for the past few years but I honestly don’t think there has ever been a better time to be a gamer.

Once again we’ve been spoilt with a wealth of fantastic titles both in terms of first party content and third party.

As well as the big triple A exclusives, the level and standard of DLC and downloadable games has risen – giving gamers even more reason to keep playing older games, or to take a punt on a new downloadable title.

So without further ado – let’s kick things off!

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BEST GAME INNOVATION

WINNER: L.A. Noireย –ย ‘Facial Capture’

I have to say it was pretty tough to pick between these as in their own way they could help move the industry forward. FIFA’s real time physics, while occasionally leading to comedy ‘bundles’, does add another dimension of realism to the game. Fight Night Champion gave us a great, enjoyable story mode *in a sports game*! ‘Operations’ Mode from Killzone 3 brings a touch of co-op style story to main multiplayer (shame there was only a few of them available) but looking back the innovation that stands out as something truly special was Team Bondi’s superb work at facial capture in L.A Noire. Just think, one day maybe faces in all games will look this good.

RUNNERS UP:

‘Operations’ Mode (Killzone 3)

‘Champion Mode’ (Fight Night Champion)

‘Real Physics Engine’ (FIFA 12)

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BEST DLC (CONTENT)

WINNER: Killzone 3 – From The Ashes Map Pack

While the L.A Noire and Mass Effect 2 DLC gave us more content I felt that the job Guerrilla Games did on revisiting the Killzone 2 maps for the third game was outstanding. The maps were recognisable but for the most part completely different – whether it was the crumbling Radec Academy or the overgrown Blood Gracht. Great stuff.

RUNNERS UP:

Mass Effect 2 – Arrival DLC

L.A Noire – Extra Cases

Battlefield 3: Back To Karkand

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BEST DOWNLOADABLE GAME

WINNER: Infamous: Festival Of Blood

Sucker Punch delivered an inspired slice of downloadable goodness with Infamous: Festival Of Blood – a completely stand alone game that requires no knowledge of the Infamous games or indeed no copy of Infamous 2 to play. Infamous’ hero/anti-hero Cole McGrath has been turned into a vampire by Bloody Mary and has until sunrise to save himself. While the main story is pretty short there is enough here to keep you well entertained, especially at the price. Sadly Payday: The Heist was a bit of a disappointment, which may have had more to do with a badly timed delay that meant it’s release slipped even closer to Battlefield 3 and Modern Warfare 3. However if you get the chance definitely check out Stacking, which is a wonderfully charming puzzle game.

RUNNERS UP:

Back To The Future – The Game: Part 1

Payday: The Heist

Stacking

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MOST ANTICIPATED GAME OF 2012

WINNER: Mass Effect 3

This was between Mass Effect 3 and Bioshock Infinite – it was a very close call. While I love the Bioshock games the attachment that formed for my own Shepherd in Mass Effect 2 means that I can’t wait to see her get back into action. Hopefully she’ll be able to avenge those from our team that didn’t make it ๐Ÿ˜ฆ as the Reaper’s turn their attention to Earth.

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BEST GAME TRAILER

WINNER: Dead Island

There couldn’t really be a different winner could there? ๐Ÿ˜† This trailer came out of nowhere and had one of the biggest, and quickest, en masse responses I’ve ever seen. It’s cleverly made and pulls at the heart strings, while also boasting an amazing piano piece to accompany it. Sadly it didn’t *really* represent the game because from what I’ve seen (I’m yet to pick it up) there isn’t much of an emotional aspect to Dead Island. Nevertheless, one of the best trailers for a while.

RUNNERS UP:

Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception

Assassin’s Creed: Revelations

GTA V

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BEST PSP GAME

WINNER: The 3rd Birthday

There hasn’t been a wealth of new games for the PSP (the fact that one of the nominees was a Mini title says it all) but there was one title in particular that stood out. While The 3rd Birthday is heavily Japanese influenced (crazy story/really hard etc) it’s not too inaccessible and the gunplay itself is very nicely handled. Despite all this I do have say I’m looking forward to the arrival of the dual analogue sticks on the PS Vita!

RUNNERS UP:

Speedball 2 (Mini)

PES 2011

Football Manager 2012

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BEST SPORTS GAME

WINNER: FIFA 12

FIFA takes the title again and this year justifies it more than ever. With a revamped physics engine that means collisions take place in real-time (as opposed to triggering standard animations) and a bold overhaul of the tackling mechanic, EA have taken football games to the next level. Dirt 3 ran this close as it’s a superb game and PES 2012 deserves a mention as it’s a big improvement on last year’s title but FIFA wins this one.

RUNNERS UP:

PES 2012

Dirt 3

Fight Night Champion

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BEST GRAPHICS

WINNER: Battlefield 3

While you’d think (looking at Battlefield’s gorgeous single player and (to a lesser extent) multiplayer) that this would be an easy decision, take a peek at the Runners Up in this category. Killzone 3, Dead Space 2 and Uncharted 3 have some of the best graphics I’ve seen. And that’s not to mention countless others (Batman: Arkham City/Portal 2/L.A. Noire/Resistance 3 and Assassin’s Creed: Revelations to name… well, quite a few actually) that looked great but didn’t make the nominations. However when all is said and done Battlefield 3 impressed me the most. At one stage I found myself ignoring my objective to watch the rain fall on the neon bathed rooftop I was standing on – simply awe inspiring.

RUNNERS UP:

Killzone 3

Dead Space 2

Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception

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BEST STORYLINE

WINNER: Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception

Whereas Uncharted 2: Among Thieves focused mainly on Drake’s relationship with Elena and Chloe, the third instalment in the series shines the spotlight on his bond with Victor ‘Sully’ Sullivan. That’s a plus for me as Sully is probably my favourite character in the game’s universe. In amongst this Drake is, once more, jet setting around the world trying to beat a villianous opponent to the (archeological) punch. With a story packed full of great characters Uncharted 3 continues the high standard of story telling set by the previous titles and I found myself with goosebumps at it’s conclusion.

RUNNERS UP:

Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Killzone 3

Infamous 2

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BEST SOUNDTRACK (SCORE)

WINNER: Killzone 3 – Joris De Man

Joris De Man once again works his magic following the superb Killzone 2 score. Where the second game had the grand scale that accompanied the ISA’s invasion of Helghast, this score – with it’s lamenting strings and intense highs & lows – gives you a feel for the game’s theme of retreat/surrender. Revisiting a couple of pieces from the last game with a different twist is a great touch and really adds to the depth of the music. Special mention to both Uncharted 3 (Greg Edmonson) and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Jeremy Soule) which were both also amazing scores.

RUNNERS UP:

SOCOM 4

Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

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BEST SOUNDTRACK (LICENSED)

WINNER: L.A Noire

While FIFA 12 delivered it’s usual mix of current flavour tracks, Dirt 3 hit some high points with a few great choices and LittleBigPlanet 2 was close to taking this award with it’s whimsical selection, it was Team Bondi’s ill fated (for them unfortunately, they no longer exist – despite the game being a roaring success) Noir project that snags the award. Featuring the awesome talents of legends like Billie Holiday, Dizzy Gillespie, Louis Armstrong and Peggy Lee you were never short of great music to accompany you as you travelled around L.A in the shoes of Cole Phelps.

RUNNERS UP:

Dirt3

LittleBigPlanet 2

FIFA 12

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BEST VOICE ACTING

WINNER: Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception

There just isn’t another series out there like Uncharted when it comes to voice acting. The guys and girls at Naughty Dog do a fantasic job of bringing the best out of the actors involved and as the series has gone on the actors have become more and more comfortable ad libbing and bouncing ideas off of each other. It shows in some of the wonderful moments the characters share. Everyone involved deserves a pat on the back for another job well done – hopefully going forward more and more games will try and bring more characters to life rather than just getting someone to come in a booth and read lines alone.

RUNNERS UP:

Portal 2

Killzone 3

Batman: Arkham City

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SINGLE PLAYER GAME OF THE YEAR

WINNER: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Mass Effect 2 was nailed on to win this right up until the moment I fired up The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, created a character and set off into the massive world Bethesda have made for you to shape your own story. I don’t think I have ever played a game that feels so organic before. Everything you do feels like a part of the story, indeed there is scope here for you to barely touch the main missions and just create a story of your own to play through. If you’re someone that enjoys single player games and is happy to get lost within a game for hours upon end, this was the title for you in 2011. I also have to give a nod to Resistance 3, which had – in my opinion – the best story of the entire series and seems to have be sadly overlooked by the public at large.

RUNNERS UP:

Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception

Resistance 3

Mass Effect 2

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MULTIPLAYER GAME OF THE YEAR

WINNER: Battlefield 3

As much as I’ve loved the online for Uncharted 3 and Killzone 3 the sheer unpredictability of Battlefield 3 sees it secure the award for best multiplayer. Assassin’s Creed: Revelations deserves praise for managing to refine enough from last year to make a positive difference to the gameplay. However, nothing can touch Battlefield 3 at it’s best. When in a squad with friends… rushing the objective under a hail of debris from multiple explosions… as a fighter jet ploughs into the ground alongside you, the resulting ‘bang’ knocking the sound from the game as bullets come from all directions… as you creep up on an unsuspecting opponent and knife him to steal his dog tags… shooting enemies through walls that would be impervious to bullets on other shooters… the list is endless. It’s been a great year for multiplayer games on the PS3 what with Killzone 3, Uncharted 3, Resistance 3, SOCOM 4 and, for some less serious fun, LittleBigPlanet 2.

RUNNERS UP:

Killzone 3

Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception

Assassin’s Creed: Revelations

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GAME OF THE YEAR

WINNER: Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception

As an overall gaming experience I don’t feel Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception can be touched this year. Despite being runner up for both the single player and mulitplayer awards, the combination of the two sides of Uncharted 3 give it the edge. While Skyrim is outstanding as a single player experience I don’t feel it can compare with the variety of gameplay that Uncharted 3 can provide. Sadly for Battlefield 3 it’s campiagn was a let down and in fact it was Killzone 3 that came closest to Uncharted 3 in my opinion. Guerrilla Games third instalment in the futuristic first person shooter, had a great story and an impressive multiplayer. Uncharted 3’s ย stellar campaign that, while similar to second game, provided plenty of new exposition and a few new gameplay surprises alongside a vastly improved and much deeper multiplayer offering means that for me that this is the complete gaming package for 2011.

RUNNERS UP:

Killzone 3

Battlefield 3

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

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So there we go – it’s been a challenge to get through enough of the big titles that arrived in October/November to form an opinion but the job was done in the end.

It’s crazy to think of the games that missed out on nominations – Rage, Bulletstorm, Crysis 2, Mortal Kombat, Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and Dragon Age II to name a few. In another year games like Dead Space 2, Batman: Arkham City, Portal 2, Resistance 3 and Infamous 2 would probably have walked away with awards and it’s a testament to the high standard of games this year that they have gone home empty handed.

What are your thoughts? Would be great to hear what your picks for the year were!

Thanks for reading through the year and contributing in the comment sections – it’s always appreciated. See you in 2012! ๐Ÿ™‚

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