2012 was another great year for video games. We saw a good amount of big releases, and even more announcements for future big releases. New installments in the BioShock, Gears of War, and Metal Gear franchises are just a few of the releases we can expect for 2013 and, thanks to the Mayans being wrong and nobody being able to predict God yet, the world did not end and another year of gaming is coming. This past year, we had some surprises, we had some good and bad performances, and another batch of new entries in long-running series, as well as some new IP's stepping up to do battle with the industry's giants. Thank you God, for another great year of gaming has gone, spreading wide the gates for another great year to come. Power to the Players (don't sue me, GameStop!).

Surprise of the Year    -    Mass Effect 3      
It wasn’t just the ending that made me step back and think for a little bit. The entire game was full of moments that filled your mind with awe. It took characters that we had grown to love over the course of an entire game (and in some cases, the entire franchise) and made them fresh again. The majority of Mass Effect 2’s cast surprised me in the third installment with what they had made of themselves. I can’t even choose a favorite, because they were all not what I was expecting, but it also fit most of them perfectly. The way the game was able to keep me on my toes, despite playing through two earlier entries multiple times, warrants Mass Effect 3 for Surprise of the Year.

Best Sports Game    -    WWE '13
I’m a little biased in this category, not only because I’m a huge wrestling fan, but also because I don’t particularly play sports games. Out of pure instinct, I bought WWE ’13with my newly reimbursed checking account, and for the next few days, I was hooked. Despite poor reviews for it’s predecessor, WWE ’13 did not let that bring it down, as it boasted a pretty in depth story mode in WWE Universe, where the game would make up storylines for you, whether you decided to follow one individual superstar or go match by match, no matter the participants. Plus, the game was a love letter to the renowned Attitude Era (the time of The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin, an Degeneration-X, among others) which is by far the best era in the business’ history, with it’s Attitude Mode. Attitude Mode let you relive the journey of several of the big names of the Era, including the ones I mentioned above. Bravo, Vince McMahon. Your company put out a great sports game, and it fittingly wins TheGamerDrive’s Best Sports Game.

Most Notably Absent    -    Half Life 3
Screw you, Valve.

Most Anticipated Game    -    Dead Space 3
Trudging through the corridors of whatever-Necromorph-infested-ship-was-next with Isaac was always an entertaining experience. One reason was that wherever I expected something to happen, it didn’t. Silence was the enemy’s worst weapon. The other reason was when it did happen, I laughed so hard at myself screaming that I had to tell my friend about it. Now, with Dead Space 3only a month away, the hype is built up to a maximum. With the third installment, instead of laughing at myself for screaming, I’ll also hear my buddy on the other line screaming as well, thanks to the added co-op feature that is on its way. Isaac Clarke will be joined by John Carver, as they embark upon an epic fight to eradicate the Necromorph infestation once and for all. What a fitting way to increase the intensity by adding co-op. You and your buddy have talked about your shared love of the series; now, you can finally experience the epic (final?) chapter together. With no other contestants even on the radar, Dead Space 3 easily takes my Most Anticipated Game for 2013.

Sleeper Hit    -    The Walking Dead
Starting off with a little honesty, I just began my foray into The Walking Dead; I believe I’m still on Episode 1. I decided to give it a try after this random XBLA game (based off a television series I don’t even watch) won SpikeTV’s Game of the Year at the Video Game Awards. Like a few other gamers who had never even heard of the game, I was a little bit agitated. So far, however, I’m enjoying the game quite thoroughly. Its choice-based gameplay rivals that of the original Mass Effect and, quite frankly, I’ve learned to trust other gamer’s words when it came to a great game. Despite other efforts for relatively new studios (Dishonored,for instance), The Walking Dead must take home my Sleeper Hit award.

Worst Character    -    Diana Allers (Mass Effect 3)
Never, ever, EVER have I hated a fictional character with such malice as I do Diana Allers. Basically a cameo in video game form, Allers is voiced (and modeled?) after Jessica Chobot, who is a host of something, somewhere, far far away. Who cares?! Her character, to me, was an insult to the rest of the cast of Mass Effect 3, as she served absolutely no purpose, had a short, dreadful, uninspired romance subplot, and plus, Chobot’s acting was so bad, it made Meer’s monotone male Commander Shepard look like Heath Ledger’s Joker (R.I.P. Heath) in comparison. No question, Diana Allers is stuck with my Worst Character award. Good riddance.

Performance of the Year (Female)    -    Jen Taylor (Cortana, Halo 4)
As our voyages with the Master Chief has gone on, we’ve seen his relationship with Cortana deepen, from a partnership, to a trust, and ultimately, a love story between the two; however, we’ve also seen Cortana’s sanity begin to decline rapidly, as she nears the end of her lifespan. Taylor’s emotional performance keeps up with the increasing complexity of her character. Moments in Halo 4’s campaign had me caring more for Cortana than any previous entries in the series. Taylor’s performance trumps all other candidates, and is an easy choice for Female Performance of the Year.

Performance of the Year (Male)    -    Kamar de los Reyes (Raul Menendez, Call of Duty: Black Ops II)
Now, if anyone else is like me, you HATED Raul Menendez with a passion. Yeah, we know, we’re sorry about your sister, but goddess, just get over it already! He is a villain, however, so, he was doing his job by being an absolute ass, and even I have to give props to Kamar de los Reyes, who provided motion capture and the voice. A phenomenal performance, especially for someone who I had never heard of prior to this role. Thanks to Reyes’ obvious enthusiasm for the character and powerful acting ability, he takes home the Male Performance of the Year.


Studio of the Year    -    Arkane Studios
I never played Dishonored, though it’s definitely first on my list of games to be played. The guys at Arkane Studios first broke into the mainstream gaming market with their title Dark Messiah of Might and Magic, which they co-developed with Floodgate Entertainment. Their first major solo effort, 2012’s Dishonored, released in October, and received major pre-release attention thanks to the well-known publisher, Bethesda (Oblivion, Fallout 3,and Skyrim). Upon release, the game received universal acclaim, receiving a nomination for Game of the Year at the SpikeTV VGA’s. Now, a studio who can make a game of that quality for their first major solo effort has definitely earned TheGamerDrive’s respect. A shoe-in for Studio of the Year.

Best RPG    -    Mass Effect 3
The finale of the Mass Effect trilogy, despite the ending controversy, was an amazing game. The content of the game itself wasn’t the only thing that made it great; it was its predecessors and the choices you made in them that further elevated the final chapter. I saw every decision I made have a major impact on the battle against the Reapers, from the reclaiming of the Quarian homeworld to the battle for Earth. Every character I loved returned, and they actually remembered every choice I had made, even if I didn’t. BioWare doesn’t really have any competition in this genre anymore, and they take home Best RPG.

Best Shooter    -    Call of Duty: Black Ops II
Of course, Call of Duty wins best shooter! Everyone gives that ward to them…Not True. I’m one of the few who is actually against Call of Duty stealing awards from other great games; however, even I can’t deny how great Treyarch’s Black Ops II is. Despite commonly being seen as the more inferior of CoD’s two primary developers, Treyarch has done something never before seen the series; the power of choice is brought to the annualized franchise. The variation in endings thanks to the choices I made in this game is astounding. Also, the return of Hudson, Mason, and Woods, and the introduction of Harper and David Mason gave us some of the coolest characters of the year. Yeah, yeah, yeah, the multiplayer was alright, too. There you go, CoD, another Best Shooter award.

Character of the Year    -    Mike Harper (Call of Duty: Black Ops II)
One of the new additions to the Call of Duty roster, Mike Harper is introduced as a member of David Mason’s SEAL Team Six, being called “dipshit” by the beloved Frank Woods. From then on, Harper embodies Call of Duty; he’s loyal, he’s fearless, and he gets the job done. Towards the end of the game, he becomes the most reliable companion of the player, though his survival comes with a cost. So far, every playthrough, I’ve been willing to pay that cost; I just gotta’ have Harper with me. Providing motion capture, modeling, and voiceover for him is Michael Rooker, who gives the best performance as the badass SEAL. No question, Harper is my Character of the Year.

Game of the Year    -    Mass Effect 3
This game wins the big one, not necessarily for what it is, but for what it represents; an epic space opera, crafted solely by my choices. Taking each of my Shepards through the final chapter (I have about five or six of them) was exciting throughout the entire experience. Each one, despite all of them being primarily Paragon, took on a personality of their own thanks to the choices I had made, in regards to companion loyalties, romance, and who was lucky enough to survive through all three games. BioWare received harsh criticism and outright insults from fans and critics alike for the ending (which has since been corrected with the Extended Cut DLC), but they really did deliver a complete package for the finale. Adding multiplayer to one of their games for the first time, the gameplay felt like the studio had done it before and to a great end. Tying the multiplayer into the single player campaign and leaving the status of the universe solely in the players hands, each individual gamer will have a different story to tell of their universe once Mass Effect 4 rolls around. BioWare, I am behind you 100%, and as a motion of good faith, take home this Game of the Year award.

1/6/2013 09:08:51 am

How Ironic that the worse game of the year ended up getting so many wins.

1/11/2013 12:51:01 pm

Behind you 100% on Valve. Must disagree with ME3 as GOTY. George Lucas and Hayden Christensen proved with the ROTJ SE that a terrible last five minutes can indeed ruin something that would otherwise be a classic.

Here's to hoping that Bioware's All-Hands-On-Deck DLC is titled "Indoctrination."


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