Video Game Auxiliary Awards for 2013

Game of the year awards? Yeah those are fun. But in a year as full as 2013, I didn’t feel satisfied with the amount of games I got to talk about in that mere top ten collection.

As such, I’ve created a number of auxiliary awards in an effort to cover more ground. Some are good, some are bad, and some are so specific they could only be dreamed up after a six beer self medication session following another traumatic Dallas Cowboys loss on Sunday. These are those awards.

Game That Proves You Can Turn Anything Into a Videogame – Viscera Cleanup Detail

Viscera

Are games about farming and driving a truck across Europe weird? Yeah but at least there is some potential for excitement in those scenarios, as they allow you to do something you may not otherwise get to in real life.

It’s “Viscera Cleanup Detail” that proves that no topic is incapable of being gameified, though. In it you play a janitor tasked with cleaning up the aftermath of video game levels, with gameplay consisting largely of mopping. At this rate I wouldn’t be surprised if we get a game about data entry where you are actually doing data entry for a company, but pay them to do it.

Most Overrated Game – Tomb Raider

TombRaider

I tend to shy away from this topic, as by its very nature it requires you to take shots at a game that’s generally well liked. It’s difficult to not sound like kind of an ass in the process.

However, the love train for “Tomb Raider” is getting a little too crowded this awards season. It’s by far the best “Tomb Raider” game made in years, but is also burdened by uneven action sequences, a meandering plot, a host of half implemented ideas, and not enough platforming, puzzle solving, and actual tomb raiding. It’s a very good game, but certainly not a great one.

Best System of The Year – Nintendo 3DS

3DS

Hey believe me, I’m just as shocked as you are.

The 3DS has still yet to really prove that its 3D capabilities are worthwhile, but when you look at the system’s murder row  lineup this year (“Fire Emblem,” “Pokemon,” “Zelda,” “Animal Crossing,” etc.) its hard to deny that the handheld provided better exclusive entertainment than any other platform in 2013.

Most Intriguing Developer Not Getting Enough Attention – Simogo

YearWalk

Mobile gaming is, by and large, bastardized by the “hardcore” gaming community. As such, many great mobile games tend to go unnoticed and unappreciated by that particular contingent.

In the case of Simogo that’s an incredible shame. From the entertainingly inventive “Beat Sneak Bandit” to genre, and even medium, defying experiences like “Year Walk” and “Device 6,” Simogo is proving to be one of the most inventive and original studios in all of gaming. It’s a crime that they aren’t getting more attention.

Best Crowdfunded Game – Risk of Rain

RoR

It seemed like every week in 2013 we were hearing about another crowdfunded gaming success. Where once the concept was something of a running joke, it is now becoming an exciting source for fresh ideas and worthwhile games.

Of the ones that came out this year, none entertained me more than “Risk of Rain.” It’s a top to bottom well designed rouge-like that features one of the best combat systems the genre has to offer, and a soundtrack that may be the year’s best. Unbelievably addictive, “Risk of Rain” will have you saying one more try until the early morning.

THE BEST GAME EVER! (That Hasn’t Been Released Yet) – Star Citizen

StarCitizen

Speaking of crowdfunded successes, there have been none bigger than “Star Citizen.” With over $30 million in funds raised so far, all eyes seem to be on “Star Citizen” and its lofty goal of becoming the ultimate interstellar experience.

The hype surrounding this project couldn’t be higher, making the chances it’ll meet its oddly appropriate out of this world expectations slimmer every day. That being said, trying not to get caught up in the possibilities of “Star Citizen” gets harder with every new detail revealed.

Best Game With Serious Problems – Battlefield 4

BF4

Ask anyone who plays “Battlefield 4” a question about it that doesn’t have to do with it’s technical aspects, and you’re likely to hear gushing praise for its continuation and expansion of the “Battlfield” franchse.

Nah I’m kidding. They’ll only tell you about the technical problems. It’s hard to blame them, considering that the issues are so prevalent even EA has decided to back off of development on future DLC content until the game is fixed. Considering the source, that’s saying something.

Worst Game With Really Good Ideas – Ride to Hell: Retribution

RideToHell

On the spiritually opposite end of the “Battlefield 4” situation comes “Ride to Hell.” One of the most broken works of programming ever disguised as a video game, “Ride to Hell” is so bad it can cause you to involuntarily shudder just by walking by a copy of it.

Still the idea of a biker gang game set in a grindhouse film style atmosphere is a very interesting one, and could have easily served as the foundation of a good title if the development process had been more thorough. With the attention “Ride to Hell” got this year (even if it was for all the wrong reasons) don’t be surprised to see its set up used again in the near future.

Most Divisive Game – Beyond: Two Souls

Beyond

Pick two people at random who played “Beyond: Two Souls” and you’ll be extremely lucky to get the same opinion on it from each.

That’s pretty standard for a David Cage game, but “Beyond” really had players split into camps of those who claimed it to be a brilliant work of cinematic excellence, and those who thought it was a laughable farce that’s among the year’s worst. Honestly, they may all be right.

Biggest Game With The Quietest Release – Gran Turismo 6

GT6

There was a time when “Gran Turismo” was the best racing series in gaming, and a legitimate system seller to boot. Now it’s lucky to get a YouTube commercial you skip five seconds in.

The games themselves may have seen better days, but this feels closer to an example of bad marketing.

The “Duke Nukem Forever” Award for Game that Is Shockingly Still in Development – The Last Guardian

TLG

Honestly, I’m stunned that this is still actually in the works. It’s becoming morbidly amusing to hear the developers refer to its lengthy development cycle as mere delays.

We all knew it would be hard to follow up “ICO” and “Shadow of the Colossus,” and the continuing “delays” that haunt “The Last Guardian” only serve to reinforce that belief.

Game That Makes You Want to High Five Someone – Blood Dragon

BloodDragon

“Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon” is a game with the romanticized image of 80s pop culture running through its veins and seeping out its pores. It’s ready to explode at any moment and create a river of references in its wake.

It’s also incredibly awesome. You’d better hope you’ve got someone around to high five when you first man the turret of a helicopter while “Long Tall Sally” plays on the radio, or you’ll be left tragically hanging.

Best YouTube Gamer of the Year – John Bain (AKA TotalBiscuit)

John Bain does things a little differently than most YouTubers.

He doesn’t aim for the younger and more easily entertained audiences of YouTube by yelling and acting childish like so many of his contemporaries. Instead he is an honest to god game critic, and a damn good one at that. His “WTF Is:” series is one of the most reliable and entertaining sources for game reviews, and the man himself exerts a level of professionalism that is unusual for users of that format. He’s an all around great personality to have in the world of gaming.

Biggest Disappointment of 2013 – The Delay of Watch Dogs/South Park Stick of Truth

watch_dogs_ss2_99852

There were some games I looked forward to this year that let me down, but the biggest disappointment of the year to me were actually two games that didn’t come out.

Both “Watch Dogs” and “Stick of Truth” looked to be genuinely interesting properties that got delayed to next year at the 11th hour. While “Stick of Truth” had been playing footsies with a release date for some time, its the delay of “Watch Dogs” that’s the most shocking as the game was so near to completion it was being sold as a bundle with the PS4. We’ll probably get these games eventually, but their last minute delays really stung.

Best Game Worth Going Out of Your Way to Play – Artemis (LAN Party)

Artemis

What is “Artemis?” It’s a spaceship bridge simulator in the style of “Star Trek” where six players get together and take on various roles on a spaceship that include weapons, engineer, navigation, and of course captain. Each has their own role to perform, their own computer screen to manage (except for the captain who gives all orders) and a main screen to view that largely serves as the bridge window.

To really get the full “Artemis” experience, you’ll need six people in the same room, with six copies of the game, and six computers. It’s no easy arrangement to make, but doing so yields one of the most inventive and enjoyable party games of all time.

Best Game That More People Really Should Play – Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons

Brothers

There’s no getting around the fact that “Brothers” biggest weakness is it’s length. Clocking in at a generous 3 hours, even at its reduced price there isn’t necessarily a lot of “value” here.

However, if you’re a fan of truly exceptional storytelling and creative platforming then “Brothers” is essential. It’s certainly not the biggest bang for your buck  in gaming, but the overall experience does justify the price point.

Free to Play Game That’s Better Than Most Full Priced Games – Path of Exile

PoE

I did a write up on “PoE” when it first launched as a full release free to play on Steam and found it to be extremely derivative of the “Diablo” series, but in a very good way.

Some time later I feel largely the same, but with almost a hundred hours of the game under my belt without a dollar spent, I find myself feeling guilty for having knocked it at all. In every respect “PoE” is free to play done right.

Game That Was Ridiculously Ahead of It’s Time Achievement Award – Rogue

Rogue

Remember how I mentioned it seemed like every week we were getting another crowdfunding success? Of those games, it seemed like every other one was a rouge-like. A genre built around permant death, randomization, and the 1980 PC game “Rogue.”

While the rouge-like has been around for awhile, its the last year or two that has seen the genre explode onto the indie scene with a number of high quality entrants. With every great game the rouge-like produces, we should all take time to thank a 1980 title with ambition that would inspire over decades.

The Best Case for Video Games as Art 2013 Edition – Kentucky Route Zero

KR0

We’ve been extremely lucky to get a host of games in recent years that have really explored the artistic abilities of gaming, and pushed the limits of the medium in an attempt to mature our expectations of game design.

Of them, “Kentucky Route Zero” may be the best yet. It’s a new American folk tale in gaming form, and its graphical style and storytelling methods really know no peer. Revolutions have been started from lesser works, and should “Kentucky Route Zero” maintain this level of quality throughout its remaining episodes, it could very well ascend to a higher level of gaming greatness.

The Bar None, Absolute, No Questions Asked, Worst Game of the Year – Final Fantasy: All the Bravest

FF

Where do you possibly start with this one? Featuring the most blatant in-app purchase fishing scheme of any video game to date and gameplay so basic you don’t have to look at the screen for the entirety of its duration, “All the Bravest” is best viewed as a parody of bad mobile games if you hope to maintain any respect for the “Final Fantasy” franchise.

I’ve seen honest-to-god scam games on the app store with more design integrity than this irredeemable embarrassment to a once proud name, and gaming in general.

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