Surprise of the Year    -    Borderlands 2     
There was a lot of anticipation leading up to the release of this sequel. The first of the Borderlands family was well reviewed and received, and its shoot-and-loot gameplay quickly took the title of “best” within the category. But early looks at its predecessor suggested something that plagues many sequels within the industry to date: stagnation. A sequel without progress from the first game leaves us as gamers will little to sink our creative teeth with short attention spans into. Yet Borderlands 2 surprised us all with a sense of evolution that put its name up there with the best games of the year. And, somehow, Claptrap got interesting. Shocker.

Best Sports Game    -    NBA 2K13
Now, I’m not a basketball guy, per say. I enjoy playing the sport, but I haven’t really been interested in its video game installments for years, and my first instinct was to give this award to Madden 13 (God bless football). But the visuals alone shoot this game above any other sports game of the year, and when coupled with its gameplay and mechanics, consider hours upon hours of your life gone. Bye bye.

Most Notably Absent    -    Skyrim DLC for PS3
AAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!!! How long do I have to sit here and watch Ben Saffle dive into Dawnguard and Hearthfire on his Xbox 360 without the ability to do the same?! Do I own an Xbox? Yes. But when you’re on a college budget, free online play looks wonderful. So hustle up, Sony! Skyrim is screaming my name!

Most Anticipated Game (2013)    -    The Phantom Pain
Like everybody else, all I know about this game is what I saw in the trailer. But there is a hope in me that runs deep, and that stems from sheer speculation: NEW METAL GEAR!!!!!! Being that there is, indeed, a bias that pumps through my blood when it comes to this franchise, this may be more of a personal award than a popular one. But if this does turn out to be the next installment in Hideo Kojima’s legendary franchise, this award is a no brainer

Sleeper Hit    -    The Walking Dead
There just seems to be a consistent trait among games based directly on TV shows that turns me away. They just never seem to live up to the content they’re based on (Game of Thrones, anyone?). Apparently, the fellas behind The Walking Dead were ready to change that. Of course, the recent craze surrounding a zombie apocalypse fueled the success of this particular title, but its integration of RPG elements and decent voice acting was pleasantly unexpected.

Worst Character (Female)    -    Kaniehtiio (Assassin's Creed III)
Sure, she’s the big momma of the main character and she doesn’t meet a nice end, but this lady had zero personality. Apart from that, she was supposed to be somewhat attractive as she catches the eye of good ole Haythum in order to make Conner. Was she hott? NO! So, in conclusion, she didn’t actually fulfill much of her characters purpose. Plus, she never wore much clothing in the snow. Are Indians immune to coldness? That’s

Worst Character (Male)    -    Geralt of Rivia (The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings)
One thing that this franchise did succeed in was making the protagonist look really badass in the promotions and game art for its latest installment. Buddy G here really did look awesome, and we were looking forward to taking on a part of that as we played through his journey. Unfortunately, that fell short. The game was interesting, and it caught a lot of attention for pushing the envelope on video game sex scenes. Unfortunately, making him a hit with video game ladies wasn’t enough to convince gamers that Geralt was cool….

Performance of the Year (Female)    -    Faye Kingslee (Citra, Far Cry 3)
Ubisoft went ten extra miles when getting the best out of their voice actors for Farcry 3. For the first time ever, I felt like these people were real. Citra was an excellent example of that. She commanded the scenes that she was in and there was a sense of power within her voice and movements that is uncharacteristic of video game females. It was a masterpiece of the craft of voice acting, and did exactly what it is supposed to do for the gamer: enhanced the experience immensely.

Performance of the Year (Male)    -    Michael Mando (Vaas, Far Cry 3)
Although Citra was great, Vaas exemplified vocal talent and acting within video games. Apart from the voice, Vaas was modeled after Mando’s appearance and movement, so the amount of time this actor put into creating Vaas was well used. Each reaction was organic and the insanity that is Vaas came out in every comment he made without becoming redundant. This is without a doubt the performance of the year.

Studio of the Year    -    Ubisoft
Every studio in the industry that has achieved notoriety releases their big project from October to December. This is their pride and glory, their moneymaker. These are the games that establish these studios as big dogs within an increasingly competitive industry. The amount of success that they have in that “hotspot” within the year determines whether or not they can remain on top. This year, Ubisoft did this. Twice.

Best RPG    -    Mass Effect 3
This game was textbook. Role-playing games call for just that: an experience that the gamer can change and morph the game depending on the role they choose to fill. Mass Effect 3 just built on the player’s ability
to achieve countless outcomes in countless instances of the game, which has been a great staple of the franchise. Granted, the ending left many upset, but the DLC fixed that problem for the most part. As far as achieving the goal that RPG’s have set out to achieve from the dawn of their existence, though, Mass Effect 3 pushed the mark further. Who’s the next contender?

Best Shooter    -    Call of Duty: Black Ops II
Up until the original Black Ops, Infinity Ward seemed to produce the better installments of the franchise. Modern Warfare 1 & 2 took the industry by storm and clearly took the cake over World at War. Treyarch changed that with the Black Ops storyline. And to further accent the great
storytelling abilities and action sequences, they integrated RPG elements that changed the ending as well as the fate of multiple beloved characters. Great achievement, Treyarch. I’m ready for the next one.

Character of the Year    -    Vaas (Far Cry 3)
What a badass. Vaas made you hate him while loving him simultaneously. He brought the Joker effect into video gaming better than any character to date. He embodied the insanity that characterized your experience on Rook Island, and what you would become if the island took you. Vaas had no limitations and he created an atmosphere of evil that, for some reason, left you wanting more and more of him. It was wise of Ubisoft to choose him as the games posterboy. Jason is kinda whimpy…

Game of the Year    -    Far Cry 3
This. Is. Gaming. Farcry 3 couldn’t be placed into a single category because it is a perfect marriage of all of them. It was an RPG when it needed to be. It was a shooter in its nature. There was sport within its side quests. It approached storytelling in a very realistic fashion. We watched as Jason Brody morphed from a terrified and helpless victim into a bloodthirsty and powerful warrior that enjoys each and every kill. He becomes who the island wants to him to become. Add these elements with the customization features and the voice acting and you have yourself a gaming masterpiece.


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