Dec 26 2012

The Beardies 2012! HalfBeard’s HUD’s Game of the Year Awards

hudlogo2 (1)Alright time for the brief respite all us games journalists get when we put up awards in lieu of doing real work for the last week of the year. This year we’ve kind of given up all pretense of even being serious about this shit and instead of a bunch of boring genre awards we essentially just spit-balled dumb award ideas for two and a half hours (listen to that whole mess on our special GOTY podcast). Sure we have a few serious awards and real discussions of quality and the future of the medium were had but we also spent a lot of time making really dumb awards like our first one….


Best Douchebags: The Racers in Forza Horizon (Runner Up: COD’s multiplayer community)

Forza HorizonThis was a year with a lot of fun representations of just totally brotastic douchebags. Lovers of terrible music and slamming brews, we can all appreciate a good funny d-bag running through a game’s cast and generally making other’s hate them. Far Cry 3 was a strong contender but the fact that almost everyone in Forza Horizon is a dub-step listening, crocs wearing, moron pushed it over the top. Experience levels in that game are literally counted in coloured wristbands. Also the COD multiplayer community gets runner-up because even after like 6 years of this shit they are still rocking almost all the d-bag stereotypes.



Best Pretentious Asshole: Hitler, for Only Being DLC in Sniper Elite V2 (Runner Up: HalfBeard’s HUD for Doing These Awards Like Total Assholes)

Sniper Elite V2Okay I’ll be honest we just really wanted a way to make fun of Hitler on this list and by locking him up as a DLC mission, Rebellion makes it really easy to paint him as skinny jeans wearing hipster who finds being in the main game just too “mainstream”. The runner-up is us because we decided to be too cool for school and make up all these dumb ass awards off the cuff rather than do regular genre awards like a sensible site. Maybe next year we’ll act like professionals but for this year…well we’re sorry everybody…


Best New Character: Vaas Montenegro (Runner Up: Handsome Jack)

Far Cry 3Yay, time for a real award! This was a year of both incredible stories and characters and we had a lot to choose from in this category but the winners were pretty clear right from the beginning. Far Cry 3’s Vaas Montenegro is the best representation of crazy since the Joker and the game’s great subtle yet distinctive character design and top-notch performances from all their actors makes him the most memorable presence of the year. Runner up goes to the funniest voice to blast from my computer this year, Handsome Jack from Borderlands 2, all I need to say is “Butt Stallion” and all should be understood. 


Best Bow: Chivalry: Medieval Warfare (Runner Up: Far Cry 3)

ChivalryAs Giantbomb has been happy to remind us, this is in fact the year of the bow. Far Cry 3, Assassin’s Creed 3, Dishonored, and various other games have all featured our favorite of medieval armaments so we figured we might as well highlight the best. Our winner is Chivalry: Medieval Warfare but not for having a bow that is particularly fun to fire, no, it wins because it is fun to be killed by it. When you die by bow strike in Chivalry you hear a sound that could best be described as sickening; a THUNK CRUNCH SQUELCH as the arrow punctures your helmet, crushes your skull and then pierces your brain; this sound actually makes getting killed by the bow more awesome than being the one who does the killing. Runner up is Far Cry 3 I guess but really it’s Binary Domain because they have the best character ever, Big Bo. BBIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIiIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIGG BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!


Best “2” game: Torchlight 2 (Runner Up: Darkness 2)

Torchlight 2There were a lot of sequels this year, a lot of big steaming piles of “2” but that’s not always a bad thing. A good sequel fleshes out and fixes the original and makes what was a good experience great. The winner was clear-cut here as well, Torchlight 2 is the utter refinement and perfection of everything Torchlight 1 was trying to do, if it wasn’t it wouldn’t have absorbed so damn much of all our time. Darkness 2 gets runner-up, while it’s not as good a game as Torchlight 2 it really shows why the occasional sequel is necessary, it made a fun but somewhat middling and nigh forgotten 360 launch title into a bombastic bloody gangster adventure that was more fun than anybody was expecting.


Most disappointing franchise entry: Assassin’s Creed 3 (Runner Up: Resident Evil 6)

Assassin's Creed 3We live in a world of sequels and franchises, that’s just something we have to live with. Sometimes like with our last award this is a good thing but sometimes all it does is make things stagnate and create unfair expectations. We all wanted Assassin’s Creed 3 to be good and objectively it technically is but taken as part of a series and compared against Assassin’s Creed 2 and Brotherhood it is an utter disappointment. Uninteresting characters, poorly implemented mechanics, glacially paced beginning chapters, and the shoehorning in of the protagonist into pretty much every important historical event during the American revolution takes so much away from what the series had been doing. Resident Evil 6 on the other hand is just plain bad, we were hoping for more but to be honest I wasn’t a big fan of 5 so expectations from me were low. 


Best New IP: Dishonored (Runner Up: Hotline Miami)

DishonoredFinally we get to talk about that which was new this year, the freshest of cuts from the gaming industry. New IP’s are becoming all the more rare and even when they aren’t the best games of the year the fact that they’re there at all makes a world of difference. Dishonored is our pick this year not because it was a particularly good game (it was a lot of fun but it certainly had its flaws) but because it was one of the most interesting new worlds we got to experience. It was a universe rich with back story and character, something we all can’t wait to explore again, truly what a new IP should be. Hotline Miami grabs runner-up for similar reasons, put simply we want to brutally murder more gangsters(?) while wearing Letterman jackets and animal masks and not understanding a damn thing.


Most Frustrating Game: Cypher: Cyberpunk text adventure (Runner Up: Death Rally)


(Bad text adventures and bad top down racers are bad, for elaboration listen to our GOTY podcast.)


Best Open World: Day Z (Runner Up: Far Cry 3)

DayZNothing like roaming the wilds from the comfort of your computer chair, of course the quality of said wilds can vary from game to game. The thing that defined our favorite open worlds this year was the presence of life in all its chaotic forms. Our winner Day Z had it in having other players run around generally screwing things up for you. It made a good zombie game a great zombie game and made for fun true emergent gameplay. Far Cry 3 did the same but on a smaller scale with its animal AI. Watching a group of guards pull over to shoot a boar and then get murdered by a bunch of komodo dragons never gets old.


Best F2P: Planetside 2 (Runner Up: Guns of Icarus Online)

Planetside 2Planetside 2 is a game that puts the massive back into the MMO. The rest of the genre’s obsession with instancing makes it seem that most have long forgotten what that first M actually stands for but Planetside 2 remembers well the importance of actual mass player interaction driving a multiplayer experience. Huge battles, including hordes of player controlled infantry and land and air vehicles all vying for the control of three persistent land masses make this an online FPS experience in a league of its own. Considering its a F2P game may make Planetside 2 seem too good to be true, but it’s F2P approach is one that doesn’t treat the consumer like the retarded owner of a never-ending money pit and represent’s a considered and reasonable value proposition. Plus, it’s entirely possible to play the game happily without spending a cent, but you will be having so much fun you would feel bad not throwing SOE a couple of extra bucks.


Best Diablo clone: Torchlight 2 (Runner Up: Diablo 3)

Torchlight 2Fucking wrist doctors must have just been raking it in this year with all the click-tastic dungeon crawlers released. Games like R.A.W., Silent Hill: Book of Memories, and Krater all came out with somewhat different takes on the idea but nothing drastic. The ultimate in addictive wrist strain simulators was Torchlight 2, a total refinement of the dungeon crawler mindset. Gobs of interesting loot, abilities, enemies, and quests all drove us forward one click at a time. Even the sequel to this award’s namesake didn’t hold to the Diablolic dungeon crawler ideals as well as Torchlight 2 did.


Best Stealth Game: Mark of the Ninja (Runner Up: Hitman Absolution)

MotNJust like dungeon crawlers, stealth games were also on the rise this year. Dishonored, Hitman, and Ghost Recon all tried their best to make you a super sneaky ninja man but only the game with ninja in the title did it perfectly. Yeah you heard me not best stealth, perfect stealth; Mark of the Ninja is as close to perfect stealth gameplay as you’re going to get. All the information you need to know is presented to you in intuitive but subtle visual cues, executions are visceral and brutal, and you have a wide range of tools and abilities that allow you to play however you need. Basically if you think you can pull it off, you probably can and I can’t think of a single other stealth game this year that was true for.


Best reboot: XCOM: Enemy Unknown (Runners Up: Double Dragon Neon)

XCOMAt this point we kind of just have to accept reboots are a thing, ideas are hard I guess. That said some have been exactly the kick in the ass the franchises needed balancing reverence and good ideas to create an experience well suited to veterans and new comers alike. XCOM: Enemy Unknown is a perfect example, streamlining yet sticking close to the original gameplay and ideas of the classic series. Fact of the matter is those old XCOM games are almost impossible to get into nowadays without a guide and a ton of patience, Enemy Unknown manages to emulate all the best parts of that experience without becoming impenetrable, for that they deserve a medal. As for Double Dragon Neon, there is literally no purer expression of ’80s awesome around. The gameplay is classic but just enhanced enough to be current and the music and visuals will wrap your mind in a incandescent pink haze you’ll never want to escape.


Worst reboot: Syndicate (Runner Up: Baldur’s Gate Enhanced Edition)

SyndicateOf course not every time a company takes a second whack at a franchise is a home run, sometimes it becomes a muddled mess that only makes you forget why you cared about the series in the first place. Syndicate was this for us here at the HUD; gameplay was decidedly not that of a turn based strategy game, dystopian societies really shouldn’t feature that much bloom lighting, and the story was kind of meh at best. While it is objectively not the worst game of the year (we’ll talk about that soon enough) it does seemingly turn against all Syndicate originally was and at that point you should really just call it something else. As for Baldur’s Gate, the entire issue is that it is pretty completely non-functional for a large set of graphics cards. Re-releases and reboots are meant to bring the classics to a larger audience, the fact a major market segment missed out on this release, regardless of quality, means the game failed in its mission. 


Most Emotionally Touching Game: Cargo Commander (Runner Up: Botanicula)

Cargo CommanderWe’ll talk best story in a sec but first we need to talk about feels and how we know them, or to be more apt how certain games made us know them. A truly emotional story is rare, especially in our medium, but few things tugged at my heart-strings this year like Cargo Commander did. A story of a dad forgoing all human contact just to provide for his family, not even knowing if his efforts are actually helping is a woeful and beautifully tragic premise. You’ll ruminate on that idea while you brave the rigors of space but it’s when the game brings it up that your heart breaks; all the evidence I need is in this picture. Botanicula simply brings joy, pure unadulterated joy, the kind rarely seen outside childhood cartoons. Seriously I dare you to play a half hour of either of these games and not crack a smile or roll a tear.


Best Story: Sleeping Dogs (Runner Up: Walking Dead)

Sleeping DogsWhat can I say, I’m a total sucker for gangster stories. That said Sleeping Dogs is a classic tale of felonious intrigue and an interesting take on the archetypal crime story. It takes the typical back room drama of a mafia story and blends it with the rich and clandestine traditions of the Hong Kong triads and shows a culture of ancient traditions butting up against a wave a young brash westernization, in short it balances themes in ways you can’t help but enjoy. Walking Dead is great for the choices you make and how they don’t change the story but change the tone of that story.


Best Ending: Mark of the Ninja (Runner Up: Hotline Miami)

MotNAren’t we all just fucking sick of moral choice systems at this point. Nothing is gray, just binary good and bad endings, well Mark of the Ninja said fuck that and made sure that both its ending had repercussions beyond “You’re the Asshole” and “You’re not the Asshole”. Thanks to the game’s central yet subtle theme of perception and what it means, the ending is more layered than any other this year. Hotline Miami’s ending is also layered but less in subtlety and more in bat shit craziness, it’s so nuts that Michael had to make a plot analysis when he wrote his review, it required a separate article within the article.


Worst Ending: Mass Effect 3 (Runner Up: Mass Effect 3)

Mass Effect 3Yes Mass Effect 3 wins this award twice but with good reason. The reason it takes runner-up is because the ending was a poorly conceived let down that didn’t quite do the series’ legacy justice. The reason it takes winner is because they chose to bow to pressure and change the ending. To be absolutely honest I actually liked the ending I chose, synthesis, sure it wasn’t perfect but it made sense for the way I played my Shepard and I was satisfied with my conclusion. Bioware essentially saying my ending was wrong and going in and adding the extended ending made me feel like my time with not only Mass Effect 3 was invalid but the series as a whole and if that doesn’t qualify it for worst ending of the year I don’t know what does.


Best Sports Game: NBA 2K13 (Runner Up: NHL 13)

NBA 2K13Scott picked all these, the rest of us have no fucking clue when it comes to sports games. He says NBA 2K13 is pretty good so I’m inclined to believe him. That said being Canadian and all, pretty much everyone I know plays NHL 13 and they seem to like it. so making it runner-up makes seems only right.


Best Replayability: FTL (Runner Up: Conquest of Elysium 3)

FTLWhat could be more repayable than a game that as soon as you lose horribly in a fiery inferno of doom you instantly reboot a new game without a care in the world. FTL is a simple, yet addictive spaceship crew member simulator that has you managing from a top down view the little people who make intergalactic battle possible. It’s a graphical rogue like in space, with all the randomness that entails. On top of that, the unlockable’s will have you continuing to play even when the simple act of dying starts losing its lustre. Conquest of Elysium on the other hand is a whimsical, magical and amazing fantasy turn based strategy game with some seriously well done old school aesthetics.


Best Visuals (artistic): Primordia (Runner Up: Hotline Miami)

PrimordiaOf god damn course we choose a bunch of indie games for this category, they’re pretty much made entirely by artists. The winner is Primordia because while the actual adventure game part of it is kind of crappy the awesome crazy Discworld meets Bladerunner meets Monkey Island art style is anything but. It conveys humanity in non-human forms far better than most games and it’s world made of twisted metal and utter ruin is something that sticks with you. As for Hotline Miami, it’s just  so neon and bloody you can’t not be enthused by it. The visuals are crack for your eyes with constantly pulsing lights and pooling gore that appeal to the primal lizard brain tucked into the back everyone’s skull.


Best Visuals (technical): Far Cry 3 (Runner Up: Planetside 2 & Sniper Elite V2)

Far Cry 3So rather than even try to explain why Far Cry is the winner for shiniest shiny things, here’s a video of some one playing the game on the highest settings. Also Michael would like me to say that Planetside 2 looks real purdy and Scott would like me to say the same about Sniper Elite V2.


Best Soundtrack (original): Double Dragon Neon (Runner Up: Botanicula)

Double Dragon Neonbuh duh duh da duh…buh duh da…GLAD I AM… Oh I’m sorry what were we talking about? I was too busy listening to the Double Dragon Neon soundtrack for the 10,000th time. Seriously, even if you don’t play Double Dragon Neon (though you should because it’s great) you need to download the soundtrack. It’s funny but also actually good, it takes every ’80’s music trope and style and takes it off in a way that will have you bopping your head along and belting out lyrics with nothing that even resembles shame. The ending song is this years Still Alive, if you don’t believe me then go grab the soundtrack, it’s still free (well pay what you want but you can pay nothing). The runner-up is Botanicula because damn if its nonsense lyrics and happy little mouth harp instrumentals didn’t put a smile on my face.


Best Soundtrack (licensed): Hotline Miami (Runner Up: Sleeping Dogs)

Hotline MiamiPicking good music is almost as good as writing good music and putting together a good playlist can really set the atmosphere. The off the wall Eastern European rock totally set the scene for Hotline Miami, the maniacally violent neon nonsense scene. Michael seems to really like it, enough so he convinced us to make it the winner. The runner-up is Sleeping Dogs because you haven’t lived till you’ve heard Cantonese rap music, it is a thing of oddly rhymed beauty.


Worst Game of the Year: DeadEnd: Cerebral Vortex (Runner Up: Postal 3)

DeadendDeadEnd is a maze game, why any one would think releasing a maze game in 2012 is a good idea is beyond me. But simply being a maze game is not enough to make DeadEnd the worst game of 2012, DeadEnd receives this honor due to the completely baffling design choice to reduce the view distance of the game to a couple of blocks ahead. A maze game where you can barely see ahead of you. So if you can’t see, cant plot out the map because you can’t see, you’re simply blindly bumping through a completely incomprehensible environment.  From this truly terrible starting point DeadEnd adds no incentives whatsoever to continue this blind bumping process and I would know because I spent the whole hour required to finish it. DeadEnd is the worst game of 2012, but also one of the most appropriately named.  


Game of the Year: XCOM: Enemy Unknown (Runner Up: Double Dragon Neon)

XCOMDouble Dragon NeonSo take that best reboot section above and just throw it down here but also add in the fact that both XCOM and Double Dragon are just insane amounts of fun. XCOM has gameplay that is beyond addicting and will keep you enraptured for days on end. Double Dragon Neon has writing that is fresh and funny and a style that does nostalgia better than anyone else. XCOM is your depth and Double Dragon is your flash, between the two all your bases are covered. These two games were the games I had the most fun with this year and there is no better reason than that to give XCOM: Enemy Unknown Game of the Year and Double Dragon Neon runner-up.

Also as promised in our GOTY podcast, here’s a link to the ending of Double Dragon Neon, watch it and enjoy…


Well that’s the awards for this year, we hope you enjoyed them as they are all you’re getting this week. We’ll be back next week after our vacation is over but until then thanks for reading HalfBeard’s HUD and we look forward to sharing another awesome year of gaming with you.HBHUD holiday card 2011

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