We have now come to the end of the year and we have seen the best the industry has had to offer. Now, we must decide, what were the games this year that really pushed the industry forward, what made us say wow, what will we still be playing for years to come. Ladies and gentleman, let us begin.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
In gameplay you can actually use the sounds in the game to locate bad guys, make yourself harder to find, make enemies investigate curious noises, and identify what’s running toward you, trying to eat you (bears and wolves announce themselves from a ways off, dragons shout challenges, skeletons rattle like old bones should) . All this plus weapons unsheathing have different sounds (which change based on which enchantments you place on them), arrow’s impacts sound differently based on what they hit, and no loud annoying click announcing that you just scrolled through a menu. Games like this are the reason people bother to hook their consoles up to surround sound.
If you really read the above description, you would have to know why this game had to win this award. The facial motion capture improvements used in this game really put people to shame. This was the first time that a game really fooled me into believing that what was moving on the screen wasn’t just normal mapping and pixels, but human flesh, muscle, and skin. There were prettier games this year (Battlefield 3, Uncharted 3, arguably Crysis 2) but this game has now reset the bar for facial animation in engine (that is to say, not a cutscene) and their advances will no doubt disseminate into the rest of the industry.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Multiple main storylines, interesting NPCs, almost unlimited builds and play styles possible, and more enemies than you can shake a six foot glass warhammer at. This game is quite possibly going to be the Final Fantasy VII of its console generation, the new official heavyweight champion of RPGs. And its not from Japan! Bad news though: not that many hot chicks to cosplay as (except Aela).
Super Street Street Fighter 4 AE 2012 Ed
Yeah, I went there. Call me a fanboy, but when you look out over that room, and all you see are faces of people who paid through the nose, and waited forever in line just to sit (or mostly stand) and watch people play a game, you have to give props. Ask yourself this, have you ever cheered while watching someone play a FPS like this roomful of people cheer while watching Daigo play?
Don’t get me wrong, Mortal Kombat 9 has more players, and lets not even talk about MW3, but the design of Street fighter really does allow for great multiplayer fun through the integration of big comeback moves (Ultras), enhanced moves that significantly change the characters abilities for a moment, the ability to save your online matches to watch again in the future, spectator mode, and mostly lag free online. Plus, at high level, the game is still fun to watch: not just who gets first hit wins, or who picks Bob first, or who has the best near-infinite combo. Now that Yun, Yang, and Fei have been put in their places after the new update, we should have some great matches for the next year.
Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
Think of a big Hollywood movie. Got it? This game made more money than it. How about a book? Still more money. Game? Same answer. CD or record of your favorite artist or group? Not Even close. In the first day of sales, MW3 sold $400 million plus, and in a week, blew right past $1 billion. And guess what, the game ain't bad either. Kinda settled the MW3 vs. Battlefield argument right there, huh?
Best Fighting Game
While Street Fighter is traditionally always the better gameplay-wise, Mortal Kombat has been more fun. And while Mortal Kombat once again borrowed heavily from its fighting game counterparts (Ultra vs X-ray, Enhanced vs Ex, 2d gameplay with 3d characters, Tekken juggle system and four limb control…), the package they came up with is well, fun. With the challenge tower, and deep story mode, Mortal Kombat even added value for people who didn’t have friends. Granted, at high levels, the game basically becomes less about fun, and more about meter management, first hits, and 40 to 60% combos (yeah, really); but really, who didn’t want to watch Kratos fight Freddy Kruger?
Game of the Year
The game of the year is not the game that had the best graphics, although they were pretty good. It’s not the game that sold the most copies, although it did ship more than $450 million worth of copies in the first week. It’s not the game with the best multiplayer or co-op, because it has neither of them. If there was an award for most ridiculous glitches, it would win easily. This is game of the year, because it exceeded what we at J1 Studios thought was possible to do in a game. It won because there will never be a good reason to trade it in. It won because it simply blew everything out of the water as far as sound design, attention to detail, story, and depth of gameplay.
Our Game of the Year is The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.
Here’s how it broke down for the top ten list of 2011 GOTY Nominees (and conveniently, the last ten games for 25 Days of Begging)