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OnlySP’s Game of the Year 2012 nominations

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Welcome ladies, gentlemen and everyone in between! 2012 has been an interesting year, filled with the usual lows but also sporting remarkable highs. Genuine risks were taken, great stories were told, and tight gameplay was had.

Of course, all good things must come to an end, and years are not exempt from such a saying. This month, we’ll be holding our very first Game of the Year awards. We’ve been working hard (read: hardly working) at our nominations list for the past two weeks, and without further ado, here it is. Feel free to take a glance at each nomination category and see who made the top five in each. What are your picks for certain categories? Let us know!

Stay tuned for our GOTY awards ceremony very soon. We’ll now be collaborating in an attempt to figure out out a winner for each category. Sparks will fly, profanities will be spewed, and mothers will be the focus of very crude jokes, but rest assured we’ll work it out somehow. Until then, happy holidays and happy gaming, single-players!

Worst Game

Before you can get to the best, you must start at the worst. This category is for those games that are so utterly appalling that no-one in their right minds should want to play them and, indeed, they are best reserved for use as torture for criminals of the worst sort. Okay, maybe not, but they’re all still pretty bad and we have no idea how they were allowed to see the light of day:

  • Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City
  • Amy
  • 007 Legends
  • Men in Black: Alien Crisis
  • Battleship

Most Disappointing Game

Keeping in the same vein, this is for those games that should have been good but, for whatever reason, failed to live up to their promise. They let people down and made them wonder how they could ever have conceived them as having the potential to be truly great:

  • Medal of Honor: Warfighter
  • Resident Evil 6
  • Ninja Gaiden 3
  • Inversion
  • Syndicate

Most Surprising Game

These are the games that either flew under the radar, or were expected to underwhelm, yet managed to punch above the weight of expectation. They were the sleeper hits of the year, showing us what a development team could manage without the massive teams or AAA budgets, rising above what was expected and delivering a strong gameplay experience:

  • Spec Ops: The Line
  • Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams
  • Sniper Elite V2
  • Hotline Miami
  • Dust:An Elysian Tail

Best Voice Acting

A game can have a brilliantly written script, but to convey truly engaging dialogue, it needs enthusiastic actors capable of displaying emotional range. These nominees have presented outstanding vocal performances from talented actors, making their characters more relatable and their narratives more interesting:

  • Spec Ops: The Line
  • The Walking Dead
  • Sleeping Dogs
  • Transformers: Fall of Cybertron
  • Far Cry 3

Best OST

The importance of soundtracks is often ignored or understated by critics, but it can’t be denied that a fitting OST can help to elevate a game to another level of immersion. These are the games that we felt featured the music that best matched up with the intended tone:

  • Journey
  • Hotline Miami
  • Of Orcs and Men
  • Dear Esther
  • Darksiders 2

Best Visuals – Technical

The graphics is often the first thing that is noticed when you fire up a new game and can sometimes be utterly jawdropping. This first subcategory is for those games that strive for photorealism:

  • Halo 4
  • Assassin’s Creed III
  • Medal of Honor: Warfighter
  • Resident Evil 6
  • Far Cry 3

Best Visuals – Artistic

It is a commonly accepted doctrine that the closer technology comes to being able to generate realistic images, the less necessary it is for true artistry to shine. We do not subscribe to this belief, and this category is to celebrate those games that have a distinct and inspired visual feel:

  • The Darkness II
  • Borderlands 2
  • Journey
  • Darksiders 2
  • Dust: An Elysian Tail

Best Villain

2012 has been host to countless memorable villains ranging from the refined to the insane. These antagonists are the best of the bunch, having displayed enough personality and complexity to rival and in some ways surpass the entertaining nature of their protagonist counterparts:

  • Raul Menendez (Black Ops II)
  • Handsome Jack (Borderlands 2)
  • John Conrad (Spec Ops: The Line)
  • Vaas (Far Cry 3)
  • Yoji Amada (Binary Domain)

Best Protagonist

At the heart of every story is its hero. It’s not easy to craft a protagonist that is both capable enough to overcome the game’s challenges but also flawed enough to provide depth and become relatable. These playable characters embarked on intense personal journeys that were deeply affecting, physically taxing and perspective-changing:

  • Lee Everett (The Walking Dead)
  • Master Chief (Halo 4)
  • Death (Darksiders II)
  • Max Payne (Max Payne 3)
  • Captain Walker (Spec Ops: The Line)

Best Story Setting

Something that games have been doing well since the beginning were settings. We’ve seen many rich and interesting gameworlds in our time, and these contenders are no exception. Whether they were inviting fantastical realms or troubled oppressive dystopias, they all provided interesting sights to see and important thematic concepts to consider:

  • Dunwall City (Dishonored)
  • Tokyo – 2080 (Binary Domain)
  • Brazil (Max Payne 3)
  • Amalur (Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning)
  • The Southern Lands/Empire of Men(Of Orcs and Men)

Best Story

Games are beginning to be touted as a great storytelling medium, though as the best writers know, crafting a great story is not easy. It’s even harder in a game, where it must coexist with gameplay elements that can often conflict with central story ideas. These games managed to tell satisfying and thoughtful narratives that didn’t burden the gameplay or vice versa, but rather worked with it to create truly memorable tales:

  • Spec Ops: The Line
  • Halo 4
  • The Walking Dead
  • Assassin’s Creed III
  • Dear Esther

Best HD Remaster

2012 may also be considered the year of the repackaged game. This year, in addition to all the obligatory GOTy editions, there were a lot of classic titles remastered in HD, and the ones on this list proved to be well done conversions while retaining the core essence of what made those games fun in years past:

  • Zone of the Enders Collection
  • Ratchet and Clank Trilogy
  • Devil May Cry Collection
  • Jak and Daxter Trilogy
  • Jet Set Radio HD

Best Unique Gameplay

It’s always refreshing to see wholly original gameplay concepts crop up every now and then. However, it’s even more refreshing when those concepts are executed well and fit seamlessly into the overall game, creating a unique and innovative gameplay experience. These games managed to just that by successfully incorporating fresh ideas that ended up being fully realized and capitalized on:

  • XCOM: Enemy Unknown
  • Dishonored
  • Far Cry 3
  • Journey
  • Fez

Best DLC

A lot of downloadable content simply exists to quickly cash in on a popular game. The best ones, however, are well-crafted experiences in their own right that serve to truly enhance a game. These add-ons did just that, and made for an enticing reason to return to their respective games:

  • Skyrim: Dragonborn
  • Batman Arkham City: Harley Quinn’s Revenge
  • Borderlands 2: Captain Scarlett
  • Mass Effect 3: Extended Cut
  • Dark Souls: Artorias of the Abyss

Best Downloadable Game

The increasingly popular landscape of downloadable games have been a great way to expose gaming culture to smaller and riskier projects that in any other industry would have a much harder time getting out there. These contenders provided outstanding and more unrestrained experiences that used the innovative downloadable format to their advantage:

  • Sine Mora
  • The Walking Dead
  • Journey
  • Mark of the Ninja
  • Dust: An Elysian Tail

Best Family Game

Gaming has definitely grown up in recent years, but it’s always important not to leave out the young’uns. The games on this list were not just appropriate for kids, they were entertaining games in their own right that were capable of making even the most cynical gamer turn their head while passing the living room and ask to join in the fun:

  • Dance Central 3
  • Lego Batman 2
  • Skylanders: Giants
  • Dust: An Elysian Tail
  • LittleBigPlanet Karting

Best Vehicle-Based Game

The following candidates are composed of outstanding racers and car combat games that, like a carefully owned Lamborghini, were polished to a gleam, well-constructed, and able to maintain terrific sense of speed:

  • Forza Horizon
  • Twisted Metal
  • Need For Speed: Most Wanted
  • Sonic & Sega All Stars Racing Transformed
  • Motorstorm RC

Best Sandbox Game

This list pertains to games that gave players a tremendous amount of freedom to explore and wreak havoc upon large, detailed worlds. Amazingly, all of these manged to allow players to roam freely while still maintaining a focused narrative:

  • Assassin’s Creed III
  • Sleeping Dogs
  • Far Cry 3
  • Prototype 2
  • Borderlands 2

Best “Thinking Man’s Game”

These are games in which the focus is on flexing your brain rather than your biceps. All of the following candidates have demonstrated outstanding examples of tactical and/or strategic gameplay that required players to make creative use of their mechanics and think outside the box:

  • XCOM: Enemy Unknown
  • Tropico 4
  • Testament of Sherlock Holmes
  • Shogun: Total War
  • Tokyo Jungle

Best Stealth

Some day, 2012 will be known as the year where stealth games made a comeback. The titles on this list demonstrated outstanding stealth gameplay that made sneaking past enemies fair and rewarding. It also helps that they gave the player a variety of options with which to achieve their goals, and allowed for stealth to flow seamlessly into combat:

  • Dishonored
  • Assassin’s Creed III
  • Hitman: Absolution
  • Mark of the Ninja
  • Sniper Elite V2

Best RPG

The number of role-playing games released this year was surprisingly small, but we still played through some excellent ones nonetheless. The following games provided great opportunities for player choice and created intricate worlds and characters that were worth delving into:

  • Dragon’s Dogma
  • Mass Effect 3
  • Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning
  • Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition
  • Final Fantasy XIII-2

Best Action/Adventure

Yahtzee from Zero Punctuation once said that Action/Adventure is often used as a label for games that are difficult to pin down to one specific genre. That analogy may hold merit, since many of the following games are mish-mashes of various gamplay styles. More than that though, they’re the BEST mish-mashes we’ve seen this year, juggling various genres and combining them into delightful casseroles of gaming goodness:

  • Assassin’s Creed III
  • Darksiders 2
  • Diablo III
  • Asura’s Wrath
  • Lollipop Chainsaw

Best Third-Person Shooter

Turd-person shooters, these are not. These games demonstrated outstanding examples of the third-person shooter formula by presenting gameplay that was both polished and varied, often incorporating elements from other genres such as stealth (Ghost Recon) and RPGs (Binary Domain). It helps that all these games took place in unique settings that were visually spectacular to behold:

  • Max Payne 3
  • Spec Ops: The Line
  • Ghost Recon: Future Soldier
  • Binary Domain
  • Transformers: Fall of Cybertron

Best First-Person Shooter

These days, shooters are a dime a dozen. After being bombarded for the past few years by countless games in which explosions fill the screen and iron sights must be looked through, it now takes quite a bit to impress us. The games on this list managed to do just that by putting a spin on the well-worn formula, keeping the immersive nature that makes this genre a hit while making advances in both gameplay and story delivery:

  • Halo 4
  • The Darkness II
  • Borderlands 2
  • Far Cry 3
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops II

Game of the Year

At last, we come to the big one. The creme-de-la-creme. The grand slam. The prestigious partisan. The venerable valedictorian.

That’s right, mortals: Game of the Year.

There were no shortage of amazing games this year, so you can rest assured we had a tough time boiling this list down to just five nominees. However, the deed has been done, and these are the games that stood above the intense competition in our eyes. Finely crafted, tightly polished, and infused with oodles of personality, these games will be remembered for years to come. But which one will win our ultimate Game of the Year award? You’ll have to stay tuned for our awards ceremony to find out!

  • The Walking Dead
  • Dishonored
  • Far Cry 3
  • Journey
  • Borderlands 2

 

Now an occasional contributer, Michael Urban is the former Editor-in-Chief at OnlySP and has the nickname "Breadcrab" for reasons his therapist still doesn't understand. From the moment he first got hacked in Runescape, he's been uninterested in multiplayer games and has pursued the beauty of the single-player experience, especially in terms of story and creative design. His hobbies include reading, writing, singing in the shower, pretending to be productive, and providing info and feedback regarding the games industry. It is an industry, right? You can ask him a question or send him spam at michaelurban@www.onlysp.com. Also, follow him on Twitter or the terrorists win. (@MichaelUrban1)

Site News

OnlySP Site Update — We’ve Got A New Look Again

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OnlySP Site Update

Hey folks,

You may have noticed that over the past month we’ve significantly increased the output of our content here on OnlySP again. We’ve been working behind the scenes on some internal changes here at OnlySP and as we prepare for some upcoming changes in the near term, we’ve updated the look and feel of the site to prepare for this.

The general layout you’ve come to expect from our content is still the same as it always has been so you should be able to find everything just as easily as you could in the past. In fact, the home page is probably a bit more organized and easier to follow now compared to what it looked like previously. This new theme on the backend is quite a bit more streamlined than the last one and gives the website a bit more of a magazine feel to it. This new theme is also the best looking site we’ve ever had on mobile, so be sure to check it out there for an incredibly smooth and fast loading experience.

There’s currently no advertisements on the site, but we’ll be adding them back in the near future which will update the format just a tiny bit, but nothing that will be in the way of reading our content. Mainly you’ll see a couple big ads on the homepage and the typical ads we’ve always had in the sidebars. We won’t be adding any ads within the actual content of the site. They’ll be responsive and unobtrusive on mobile platforms as well, so we’d very much appreciate you whitelisting the site in anticipation for the return of our advertisements if you do enjoy reading our content.

We have a few little technical things to hammer out on the site, including making sure the comment links work correctly up in the metadata of posts, and if you go back to older content you may find some formatting errors, but most everything should be in working order. If you spot errors or encounter bugs, please do let us know!

Hope you enjoy the updated look of OnlySP. We’ll be working hard over the next couple months to continue increasing the content output here and providing you with coverage of all the hottest upcoming single player video games.

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