If you’ll do us the kindness of remembering, you’ll recall that GamerSushi does the annual recap a bit differently than most places. Sure, we’ll do our Top 10 Games of 2012 list within the next week, but before that we bring you the Sushis, our roast, celebration and general send-up of the previous year’s highs and lows.
In the 2012 Sushis, we mock the disappointments, high five the best multiplayer experiences and give solos to the unsung heroes of one of the generation’s most interesting years yet.
Winner: Mass Effect 3
Another year, another franchise wrapping up its blockbuster trilogy. Sure, everyone uses terms like swan song, finale and conclusion, but Mass Effect 3 delivered some breathtaking character send-offs in a way unparalleled in modern or classic gaming. We watched the sun set on so many faces we’d come to know and care about, saw their final moments and even got to say teary goodbyes before the final credits.
Yes, there was a bit of a fuss over the ending, but that just goes to show what a grip this game had over its audience. Love or hate the ending, players just wanted more of this fantastic universe. We only wish more games would treat their characters with this much respect.
The Opposite of This: Final Fantasy XIII-2
Winner: Hero Academy
Few things bring out the competitive spirit like a rousing bout of what is essentially wizard chess. As an iPhone game, Hero Academy is one of the most perfect ways to trash talk your friends, even when you’re on the go. Stomp their wizards with your ninja, cut down a dwarf priestess with an orc chieftain or watch a strategy fall to pieces, all on a device you can take with you anywhere.
Hero Academy provided us with hours of frustration, snark, emasculation and entertainment this year, and some bitter rivalries are still brewing over the complete cheapness of using certain Team Fortress 2 teams with ridiculously overpowered abilities… ahem.
Runner Up: Trials Evolution
Game You Forgot Existed
Winner: Twisted Metal
One of the most surprising things about 2012? The sheer amount of truly excellent games, spread throughout the year. When you think back through the fog of recent games that shroud our present, it’s easy to forget that the likes of Twisted Metal came out earlier in the year, and actually did a great job of updating a classic into a new generation.
Twisted Metal wasn’t a perfect game, and maybe wasn’t even a phenomenal game — but it gave you everything it promised, and brought back that feeling of wanton vehicular destruction. Unfortunately, it just got lost in the deluge.
Runner Up: Diablo 3
One More Turn
Winner: XCOM: Enemy Unknown
It’s midnight. You know that it’s time to go to bed. You’ve got work tomorrow. Or homework. Or a kid that’s going to wake up early. Or all of those things. And you’ll get to all that, but first you just have to do one more turn of XCOM: Enemy Unknown, because the battle is precariously balanced, and you might lose Childish Gambino to enemy fire if Ripley doesn’t get her act together and kill some alien scum.
XCOM was one of the most surprisingly addictive games of the year, constantly making us stay up far later than we meant to or miss critical social obligations. Sometimes the ability to save at any time is just as big of a curse as it is a blessing, meaning you know that “one more turn” can always be saved for later — but you still can’t bring yourself to do it.
Runner Up: Counter-Strike: GO
Most Fun Yelling with Friends
Winner: Halo 4
Between multiplayer, Spartan Ops and harrowing, skull-filled Legendary playthroughs, Halo 4 provided gamers with many opportunities to yell at and with their friends than almost ever before. 343 took a game known for its multiplayer component, and made just the right amount of changes to keep it fresh while still maintaining that classic Halo feel.
The end result? Shouting at your fellow Spartans to give you some backup while you drive the warthog right into enemy fire. And boy, is it fun.
Runner up: Borderlands 2
Failure to Launch
Winner: The War Z
Sometimes it’s hard to get your thing up. It sounds like a Cialis commercial, but it’s just as true for the gaming industry. Whether it’s a multiplayer component of a big game or a console, it’s not always easy to get your product off the ground. Especially if you’re a rushed-to-market MMO based on one of the industry’s hottest and most talked about zombie mods.
The War Z bungled nearly every aspect of its buggy, hurried and complete clusterfrack of a launch, resulting not only in universal derision and a souring of the War Z brand, but a removal from Steam and an issue of refunds from Valve just to keep their customers happy. It’s hard to believe that in the days of social media and viral word of mouth that a company would try to pull this — and now their game is a shambling corpse as a result.
See? I worked a zombie pun in there.
Runner Ups: PS Vita, Wii U
Winner: PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale
By this time in the life of gaming, we’re getting pretty used to clones and copy cats. Heck, every shooter for the last five years has copied either Gears of War in terms of cover mechanics or Call of Duty in terms of an incremental multiplayer reward system — but sometimes it’s hard not to sit back and laugh at the absurdity of it, as is the case for PlayStation All Stars Battle Royale, a game that is way more ridiculous to say than Smash Bros for PlayStation, which is essentially what it is.
Not that that’s a bad thing. I mean, Smash Bros is awesome, so why not include all of the characters we love from our favorite PlayStation games. Beat people up with Drake, PaRappa, Sweet Tooth or Kratos. What’s not to love?
Also Copied Nintendo Games: New Super Mario Bros 2 and U
Most Freemium Game
Winner: Planetside 2
Sometimes a game is so much fun that it’s hard to believe you didn’t have to pay a dime for it. Freemium is one of the new buzzwords in the industry, particularly with PC and mobile devices. And while that used to symbolize a product lacking in quality, 2012 marked the year that we saw some truly great free titles that managed to have depth and replayability.
Planetside 2 surprised us all with the pace of its combat, the way it structured its rewards and even its shiny coat of paint. Best of all? It’s mostly on the house.
Runner Up: Tribes Ascend
Quentin Tarantino Award for Bloodiest Narrative
Winner: Spec Ops: The Line
We’re getting used to video games being bloody, but Spec Ops: The Line’s “violence with a purpose” mandate takes things to a new level. When you graduate to shooting other Americans, the game always seems to up the gore, making you wonder if you’re even doing the right thing. And then some true atrocities start as the protagonists get lead deeper and deeper into the dark recesses of a war-torn Dubai.
Fortunately, the game’s violence is handled with a skillful stroke, leaving us with one of the more mature takes on war we’ve ever seen from our beloved medium.
Runner Up: Hotline Miami
Rotten Sushi Award
Winner: Assassin’s Creed 3
Some games land with a boom, and others just flop around lifelessly like a fish out of water. Assassin’s Creed 3 leaped off from the fantastic Brotherhood and less-fantastic Revelation and somehow ended up as the worst Assassin’s Creed game since the first entry in the series. Connor isn’t exactly a likable hero, the gameplay mechanics barely work, and the hyped wilderness barely even factors into the game in a meaningful way. It’s a shame that the franchise has moved in such a backwards direction. Maybe it’s time to toss this rotten sushi in the garbage, Ubisoft.
Runner Up: RE6
And that’s the Sushis, everyone. Tell us what you think of these awards, how you felt about 2012 and any other awards you would have added to the list!