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Game of the Year Awards 2012

New Game Network staff make their annual selections for the best video games of the year!

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Introduction  |  Gameplay Awards  |  Special Awards  |  Genre Awards  |  GOTY

Best Story
best story 2012 The Walking Dead Season 1 game

"One of the most fascinating aspects of the story is the relationship between the two main characters as it evolves through each episode; we see Lee start to genuinely care for Clementine, protecting her and eventually turning into a sort of father figure for the little girl. The story progresses as Lee and Clementine meet other survivors, some friendly and others not so much. Much like the series and the comics, the game’s story is less about the undead and the threat they pose, and more about the people and how each of them reacts to the situation." - Annie H

Honorable Mentions:

Mass Effect 3, Spec Ops: The Line, Sleeping Dogs, Max Payne 3


Best Graphics (Art)
best graphics art 2012 Journey

"Your retinas are consistently pleasured by the minimalistic and cleanly cell shaded landscapes of Journey. Its sand dunes glitter and flow in the wind with the texture of a viscous liquid and caverns of large upright cloth structures gently sway as underwater seaweed would. At once awe inspiringly grand and ethereal, yet invitingly simplistic and warm." - Matthew Sawrey

Honorable Mentions:

Dear Esther, Darksiders 2, Fez, Dishonored


Best Graphics (Technical)
best graphics tech 2012 Far Cry 3

"This open world game has lush vegetation and great lighting effects – along with immersive day/night and weather cycles. The title has no loading screens, yet a vast world to explore that looks great from the highest peaks to the lowest river beds. It is one of the better looking games of 2012 thanks to the impressive tech powering the engine and its distant views." - Alex V

Honorable Mentions:

Hitman Absolution, Halo 4, Dishonored, Assassin's Creed 3


Best Original Music
best original music 2012 Journey

"Elegant and understated, Journey is never anything short of a mesmerizing audio-visual presence. Throughout, Journey is a visual majesty to behold, and when combined with an orchestral soundtrack that aches with elegiac sadness and elates buoyant joy with perfect timing, Journey conveys the kind of ambiance you would expect from a spiritual experience." - Matthew Sawrey

Honorable Mentions:

Hotline Miami, Dear Esther, Darksiders 2, Forza Horizon


Best Voice Acting
best voice acting 2012 The Walking Dead

"The characters that we meet are everyday people who respond realistically to the ‘apocalypse’ that they are facing. They are human, therefore flawed; they get frustrated, they freak out, they get angry at each other, and they are often overwhelmed by the circumstances surrounding them. Moreover, we will meet characters that have resorted to all kinds of extremes in order to survive, having actually become way more dangerous than the walkers." - Annie H

Honorable Mentions:

Borderlands 2, Mass Effect 3, Far Cry 3, Max Payne 3


Most Memorable Character
best character 2012 Far Cry 3 Vaas

"You’ll meet a variety of strange individuals during the story as you rescue your friends. Vaas is a particular highlight, stealing the spotlight every time he’s on screen which is never long enough. He acts in crazy and menacing ways, pushing the game’s insanity theme. The inhabitants of the island are the real stars." - Alex V

Honorable Mentions:

Lee - The Walking Dead, Clementine - The Walking Dead, Max Payne - Max Payne 3, Jack - Borderlands 2


Best Atmosphere
best atmosphere 2012 Dear Esther

"The environment sets a new standard for quality, and the writing in the game is some of the best in the industry. Interesting ideas, stunning visuals, and a clear dramatic progression as the player traverses the island keep you emotionally invested in the game. Traversing the island is mostly restricted to well-worn, intimate paths through the landscape, but as you walk along these paths the dips, turns, and hills seem deliberately crafted, sometimes revealing visual focal points suddenly, with the turn of a corner, or cresting the top of a hill, and sometimes letting you see your destination long before you can actually arrive at it. Progress through the island is mirrored by a progression in the weather, and in the conflict and revelations of the prose." - Evan Witt

Honorable Mentions:

Hotline Miami, I Am Alive, Sleeping Dogs, Dishonored


Best Singleplayer
best single player 2012 Dishonored

"Dishonored attempts to follow the Deus Ex school of gameplay design by letting you choose how you want to play, and provides the tools for multiple play styles. Dishonored is largely successful in letting you play as you wish, a feat which has not been pulled off so successfully since last year's Deus Ex: Human Revolution. It is possible to play through the game in a decent variety of different ways. Non-lethal avoidance, silent-but-deadly assassinations, or balls-to-the wall, swash-buckling sword fighting and pistol dueling are all entirely possible and equally effective ways of getting through the game. While the campaign is not terribly long at anywhere from 10-20 hours depending on your play style, the flexibility of the gameplay, intricate levels and upgradable powers means there is a lot of incentive to go back for multiple runs through the game." - Tim Reid

Honorable Mentions:

Mass Effect 3, Far Cry 3, Max Payne 3, The Walking Dead: Season 1


Best Multiplayer
best multiplayer 2012 Borderlands 2

"If you get a good game together with a few friends, multiplayer in Borderlands 2 is simply a ton of fun. You can revive fallen team-mates, certain class-mods will buff the entire team, and one class eventually gains the ability to heal teammates by shooting them. Co-op is definitely the way to go, especially if you get a team together of people you know and trust. Enemies increase in number and become much tougher, you get more experience points, and better loot becomes more common." - Tim Reid

Honorable Mentions:

Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, Tribes: Ascend, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Guild Wars 2


Best Gameplay
best gameplay 2012 Mark of the Ninja

"The central idea of visual cues relaying information to the player is Mark of the Ninja’s defining feature. Want to throw a dart and destroy a street lamp? The game pauses the action as you select your target and clearly displays a yellow ring around the lamp showing how far the sound of the lamp breaking will travel and which, if any, guards will notice it. Similarly, the vision cones of guards, the sound of your footsteps, the smelling range of guard dogs and more are all cleanly and effectively displayed onscreen at all times. Giving the player all of this information up front allows for you to not only execute awesome maneuvers befitting of an actual ninja but avoid so many of the frustrating trial-and-error situations that seem to plague most stealth games." - Christian Sorrell

Honorable Mentions:

Dishonored, Far Cry 3, Sleeping Dogs, Xcom: Enemy Unknown


Most Original Gameplay
most original gameplay 2012 Mark of the Ninja

"Stealth games tend to be all about mechanics, and Mark of the Ninja is no different. While factors such as noise, visibility and the surrounding environment are all still prominent within the game, it is the unique way in which the player is informed of this surrounding and the effect of any actions he may take that set Mark of the Ninja apart from other games in the genre. The game’s most noticeable difference is that it's 2D with a look much more similar to that of a traditional platformer than something like Metal Gear Solid or Splinter Cell. This literal lack of depth allows for the player to really take in every possible option, enemy and angle of attack all at once. While you may miss a guard around a corner or not be sure where exactly a certain vent leads to in many stealth games, all of this information is easily accessible to the player here simply by looking at the screen." - Christian Sorrell

Honorable Mentions:

Journey, Dishonored, I Am Alive, Fez


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