Day 3 of DCM’s 2012 Editors Choice Game of the Year: Brandon

Taking every game that I played this year and narrowing the list down to produce one solitary winner that stands above the rest is no easy task. Granted, the scant amount of truly great games released in 2012 makes the task a little easier, but still… one puts a lot on the line when tossing everyone else’s favorites aside and saying “No, no… mine is clearly better than yours.”

So what exactly does a “Game of the Year” contender need to bring to the table, anyway? In my opinion, a GOTY hopeful should move you… You know, get something stirring on the inside. A truly worthy “Game of the Year” should be an ambitious endeavor that makes us stand back at the end of it all and say “Holy crap. That was great.” Hell, maybe even cause a tear or two to drop.

Sure Halo 4, Borderlands 2 and Dishonored were great titles, but that’s a given. Every Joe writing for a gaming website is gonna throw GOTY honors at those heavy hitters (whether a publisher pays them off or not.) I really wanted to see Diablo 3 at the top of my list for GOTY at the end of 2012, but we all know that dream fizzled out and died earlier this year. There were a few other games on my radar though. One being Guild Wars 2. Of course it has its problems, but it’s a refreshing departure from the average MMO and no one can deny that the world ArenaNet created is breathtakingly beautiful, and a joy to play in with others. Legend of Grimrock is also high up on the list for me with its nostalgic nod to classic dungeon crawlers that I knew and loved as a kid. And let’s not forget Hawken; a game that’s incredibly addictive and fun to play based not only on its gameplay alone, but also its sound direction and artistic style. And as a racing fan, Codemasters’ most recent entry in the open-wheeled racing genre was also a huge hit for me, with F1 2012 being one of the best F1 titles, if not best all-around racing titles I’ve played it quite some time. Compared to recent licensed F1 games released over the past few years, F1 2012 delivers numerous small yet effective improvements over previous entries to make for a solid, sophisticated racing sim.

Those were some of the frontrunners for me, but at the end of the day I can only pick one. That game, for me, is SpecOps: The Line.

Over the past 10 to 15 years, I’ve played through countless hours of shooters. Quake, Counter-Strike, Halo, Battlefield, Unreal, Medal of Honor… God knows shooters are where I spent the better part of my teenage years. Over these past several years though, they’ve really all sort of melded into one huge subgenre of “modern military shoot ’em up,” haven’t they? They’re a dime a dozen and they all revolve around mindlessly blowing sh*t up and conditioning every new wave of gamer-bro initiates to be completely okay with nonchalantly slaughtering countless others while consuming their limited edition Doritos and/or cans of Mountain Dew. And let’s be honest… few games venture beyond these bounds for fear of missing out millions and millions of dollars shelled out by the masses who thrive on that sort of thing year after year.

SO-02And if that’s your bag, I’ve got nothing against it… but in my opinion, the state of shooters is a very bland and stale affair. I think that’s why SpecOps: The Line interested me so much. It takes place in a ruined Dubai, and you’d expect things to be extremely bland and boring, given the desert setting. However, the developers’ rendition of Dubai-in-ruins is actually pretty inspiring. The environmental design is some of the most believable I’ve seen in any game, taking the once pristine landscape of Dubai and transforming it with sweeping dunes and sandy canyons into a treacherous yet beautiful wasteland. Trapped by an apocalyptic sandstorm that left the city in ruins, citizens are forced to create makeshift shelters among what’s left of the towering skyscrapers and infrastructure, improvising with settlements of shantys built within the luxurious wreckage. This dynamic creates a perfect juxtaposition of makeshift walls and dirty sheets cast on a backdrop of beautiful statues and luxurious mosaics.

The game does have some obviously clunky shortcomings in the gameplay and cover department, but the real selling point is the story. The Line’s presentation is outstanding, with voice acting that’s solid from the get-go, and there are quite a few memorable characters whose personalities develop as the game progresses. Another great element that deserves a nod is the musical score. It definitely adds to the feel and emotion of the story with some well-placed tracks at key points in the campaign.

SO-01

I’ve got no interest in ruining the story for you with spoilers, and to be completely honest, the campaign deserves to be played in order to be fully appreciated. But without giving too much away, the guys at Yager/2K really nailed it. SpecOps: The Line is a tale of heroism caught up in a web of clouded morality, and while it does sort of force your hand to make “choices” that ultimately don’t change the brutal outcome, at the end of the day it manages to stick it to the military shooter genre in a very powerful and provocative way. Some of the themes in this game are what I’d expect from a big-time motion picture… not a modern military shooter. Not in a million years.

It isn’t the most polished looking game this year, but SpecOps: The Line is a genuinely moving and emotional experience that has a clear message and actually does a phenomenal job at delivering it. It changed the way I’ll look at military shooters forever, and that’s why it gets my pick for Game of the Year.

To enter this 12 Days of Giveaway Contest (Comment Below):  Do you solely purchase shooters for nothing but online play, or do you still value a great, well-written campaign? 

A randomly picked commenter will be chosen at the end of each day and announced below. Prize must be claimed within 5 days please.

Todays Winner: Deposition!

Please shoot us an email to dontcritme@gmail.com or message on Facebook to redeem!

Today’s Giveaway: Dead Space!

Dead-Space-Issac-Wallpaper

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21 responses to “Day 3 of DCM’s 2012 Editors Choice Game of the Year: Brandon

  1. I purchase shooter for their campaign and rarely for their multiplayer because multiplayer ussually have little kids screaming things and I hate that.

  2. I buy shooters because of the campaing. I se it as a bonus if the game have a fun multiplayer but i dont buy a shooter because its multiplayer.

  3. I am honestly not into FPS but Borderlands caught my attention simply because of the RPG features. Upon reading your review of SpecOps, it prompted me to check it out on Steam…

    So to answer your question.. I don’t really purchase shooter games (I dunno if you can call Skyrim a shooter if I shoot fireballs all the time or Dishonored because Corvo uses a gun. Just kidding of course) but for me, STORY will always go first – Graphics, Gameplay, Online Access, all these come second. Why, if you would ask me to name my GOTY it’s to be To The Moon even though I am not sure if it was just released this year.

  4. Well you told us to comment below so here I am, I purchase shooters for online game play only. This is very dependant though on the series. CoD series, as disgusting as it is, I regretfully bought for online play. halo series, offline and online. Borderlands 2, story 😛 my list could go on and on. So regardless, I am in a happy medium 😀

  5. I haven’t purchased a lot of shooters and never even played any CS, CoD or BF games (I will). But yes, when I do, I will be looking for a good storyline and not just good multiplayer. Unless the game is a dedicated multiplayer one, the single-player mode is always the ‘primary game’ in my mind.

  6. Honestly, the only shooters I play are ones like Borderlands, Mass Effect, Dead Space, Bioshock, etc. I’m not really one for playing online against other people. So yeah, I guess I do purchase them solely for the campaign and story. But then again, all the ones I do play don’t really have a heavy multiplayer element to them.

  7. I buy it for both the campaign and the multiplayer as i find that with friends multiplayer is a fun experience even in FPS. but for me every game must have a good story to be good game in my book.

  8. After the MMORPG phase of my life, I only play Co-Op with my friends or play online. But if there’s a well-written campaign, I can’t say no.

  9. Given the fact that games like Half-Life 2 number among my all-time favourites, I defeinitely value a good shooter campaign above multiplayer, I just dislike a lot of the linear tropes present in most modern military shooters.

  10. Depends on the price. What I expect from a 60$ game is entertaining campaign and balanced multiplayer. Not being finished with singleplayer after 4 hours, to go online and listening to kids flame each other about prestiges and stuff.

  11. Shooters are more often co-op games that I want to play with my friends in my opinion. However, if they’re going to put in a campaign, make it good! And hopefully, it ties in some of the things you see on the multiplayer siade, like the maps, weapons, and maybe voice overs.

  12. Usually for the campaign. I rarely buy shooters because I feel the genre has gotten stale, but when I do it’s because I’d heard it had a good story. A good multiplayer helps though, but it’s not the deciding factor, which is why I haven’t bought a CoD game since CoD 3.

  13. I already have Dead Space, so pass me up. But I love a well written campaign over online multiplayer any day. That’s what I liked about Borderlands 2, you could still enjoy the same campaign as you would play in single-player, but you can enjoy it with friends too.

  14. I purchase shooters not for being a shooter i itself but for the story and the envirorment it brings. I can relate to playing a game that moves you, I look for it in all my purchases now. Journey was a great game that made me appreciate the direction games can take. As far as shooters go the only one that has really grabbed me and made me believe I was part of its world is Metro 2033. The game is brutal and gorgeous and makes you feel like you are really there. In all honesty I dont think I have purchased many games just for the mp, the only one that pops into mind is Battlefield 3. Even with that one I enjoyed the story. Braking out of my restraints and running down the street and jumping on a moving subway train was amazing.

  15. well-written campaign hands down! to be honest i don’t like most of the people that play online. I would say well over 50% are rude/annoying. I will play with my friends from time to time but that’s about it. I get enough rude/annoying when playing league of legends.

  16. For me, singleplayer is as important as multiplayer, I rarely buy games focused on one of those categories.

  17. Personally I would only get a shooter if it has a decent story line, I don’t get games for the online capabilities only. As a matter of fact I would buy a shooter with a good story and no multiplayer over a shooter with basically no story but had tons of multiplayer action. It’s all about disappearing into a new world and becoming part of it, to experience things that get your heart racing and your blood pumping! A good story can do all that and more.

  18. I’d say that depends heavily on the price they’re asking. If you want $50-60 you damn well better have a single player campaign and it better be good. That said, I’ve sprung $15-20 for games that are just online multi-player, and gladly so. Section 8 Prejudice is a great example of a very fun online FPS at an appropriate price. I bought that right when it came out and was glad to support a smaller developer who made a good game and asked a very appropriate price given what it was.

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