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Top 10 Most Anticipated Games of 2015

1. Fallout 4

Oh how the wait is killing me and I know I'm definitely not alone! I really expected Bethesda to drop a world exclusive teaser at The Video Game Awards last December (considering they premiered Skyrim at the formerly VGX a few years earlier). Despite that disappointment, my gut still tells me Fallout 4 will be coming out in 2015. They've been working on it for a bare minimum of 2.5 years already; it's been over 4 years since New Vegas, and over 6 since Fallout 3! My prediction now - Bethesda will tease it around April, the big unveiling will be at E3, and it'll finally come out of the vault in October. Fingers crossed.

2. The Order: 1886

When it was first announced, The Order had me quickly intrigued and excited: steampunk setting, accurate recreation of Victorian era London, Tesla-inspired weaponry, and the possibility of ties to Jack the Ripper. My interest remained high only until Gamespot fairly recently started reporting on how the game could mostly be comprised of QTEs. While that had me worried for a bit, the more recent pure gameplay trailer put most of those concerns to rest. Can't wait to hunt me some werewolves and twirl that fancy mustache.

3. Star Wars Battlefront

Star Wars. DICE. Enough said.

4. Hyper Light Drifter

The main teaser for this stylish indie title features my favorite song for a trailer from last year. While I do like some of the 80s/90s retro-inspired indie games, I am very picky about them; there's too many that feel like they're a lot more style over substance. Hopefully, HLD will be gameplay and story-wise as impactful as that awesome trailer song.

5. No Man's Sky

6. Final Fantasy XV

Anyone who knows me knows that I have never been a Final Fantasy fan. I've only tried playing one of the numerous releases over the years (think it was XII) and quit very early on. Turned-based strategy games - OK, I can play that. But I just can't get into turned-based RPGs. But with XVs combat being real-time/action-focused, the world containing more futuristic elements, and the darker-looking story, I am surprisingly looking forward to this. :D

7. Bloodborne

8. Hellraid

9. Until Dawn

I’m a little on the fence about this one, mainly due to possible sketchy controls, but otherwise, I’m very intrigued. The horror theme coupled with countless ways of shaping the story along the way, and permadeath all sound great. It kind of scares me Until Dawn is in the top 10. ;)

10. Enter the Gungeon

A slick-looking shooter set in a more traditional fantasy underworld?! Sold!

What are You Waiting for?!! The Best Games of 2014

Throughout last year, I frequently heard or read about lots of gamers wanting to wait to purchase a next gen system till 2015, or even later. This occurred even around the holidays when of course the best deals were available. As I was putting my annual end of the year awards together for 2014, I kept thinking about this - why were so many people wanting to wait, and more significantly, did they really need to? While financial reasons are understandable, a lot of these gamers had the money...they just felt there "weren't enough really good games out for the new systems" to warrant a purchase. Well, in my case, I did wait to buy (a PS4) till March of 2014, but I definitely wouldn't have waited any longer. Why? Because for me, 2014 had more than enough beautiful, exciting, and innovative next gen games to warrant picking up a new console, even enough by the middle of the year. Keeping in mind it is mostly based on games I personally played, and in a few cases, ones I watched and/or read a lot about, here's my list of the worst, and especially the best games that 2014 had to offer.

Let's get the less than stellar ones out of the way first ;)...

Dubious Honors

Worst Box Art

Nominees:

  1. Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII
  2. Nascar '14
  3. Stronghold Crusaders II

Winner: Nascar '14

This one's the most painful to look at because he's standing in the middle of the track with no one in the stands, no CARS anywhere in sight, and he even looks like he doesn't want to be in the shot. Ouch.

Most Overlooked

Nominees:

  1. Lords of the Fallen
  2. Bound By Flame
  3. Murdered: Soul Suspect

Winner: Murdered: Soul Suspect

Most Over-hyped

  1. Destiny
  2. Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeros
  3. The Elder Scrolls Online

Winner: Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeros

I almost gave this to Destiny, but after thinking about the price point aspects of Ground Zeros, it was a no-brainer. Charging $30 for about 2 hours of gameplay - even if there's some replayability - is in my book not only the epitome of cash-grabbing, but also of colossal over-hype.

Most Frustrating/Disappointing

  1. The Crew
  2. Prey 2
  3. The Evil Within

Winner: Prey 2

Yes, Prey 2 didn't actually come out last year and that's in part why it won this category. The main reason - I was super stoked for it, and after multiple delays, starting over, and years of waiting, it gets canceled altogether. Moving on.....

Most Epic Fail

  1. NHL '15
  2. Assassin's Creed: Unity
  3. Driveclub

Winner: NHL '15

Special Achievements

Best Achievement Art Style

  1. Thief
  2. Sherlock Holmes: Crime and Punishments
  3. Titanfall

Winner: Titanfall

Best Box Art

  1. Far Cry 4
  2. Lords of the Fallen
  3. Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn (PS4 version)

Winner: Lords of the Fallen

Best Trailer

  1. The Division
  2. Magicka 2
  3. Dead Island 2

Winner: The Division

Most Memorable Moment

  1. Seeing Shangri la for the 1st time - Far Cry 4
  2. The havoc launcher explosion and aftermath scene - Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare
  3. The 1st encounter with the Xenomorph - Alien: Isolation

Winner: Far Cry 4

Main Game I Wish I had played

  1. Lords of the Fallen
  2. Sunset Overdrive
  3. Starwhal: Just the Tip

Winner: Sunset Overdrive

Design Awards and GOTY

Best Graphics - Technical

  1. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare
  2. Watch Dogs
  3. Infamous: Second Son

Winner: Infamous: Second Son

AW clearly had the better cut scenes, but as far as in game graphics and cinematics, to me, nothing beat Delsin and shiny virtual Seattle.

Best Graphics - Artistic

  1. Sunset Overdrive
  2. Far Cry 4
  3. Guilty Gear Xrd -Sign-

Winner: Sunset Overdrive

This was actually the 2nd hardest category for me to decide on. It was mainly between SO and Far Cry 4 (2 words: Shangri la). But while certain areas of Far Cry 4 exhibited truly stand-out artistic flair, and Guilty Gear consistently looked great but did very little new, Sunset had it goin on all throughout the game - the varied colors, text-filled explosions, and the super stylish HUD, are but a few examples.

Best Level/World Design

  1. Alien: Isolation
  2. The Crew
  3. Far Cry 4

Winner: Alien: Isolation

This one was also hard as Far Cry 4, again, was/is an absolute pleasure to explore and has tons of great side activities. But the picture perfect re-creation of so much iconic architecture from the movie, coupled with the awesome retro hardware aesthetic, made Isolation the clear winner.

Best Sound Design

  1. Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor
  2. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare
  3. Alien: Isolation

Winner: Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare

It's no so much about the sound of the guns firing; just listen to the spatial and impact qualities of the shots. So perfect.

Best Music

  1. Far Cry 4
  2. Alien: Isolation
  3. Destiny

Winner: Destiny

Best Voice Acting

  1. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare
  2. Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor
  3. Alien Isolation

Winner: Alien Isolation

Isolation won for me really because of one person - Andrea Deck. Her performance of Amanda Ripley couldn't have felt more real and in the moment. She even got the genuinely scared breathing/nervousness down (difficult indeed). Major props.

Most Humorous

  1. Goat Simulator
  2. Super T.I.M.E. Force
  3. Sunset Overdrive

Winner: Goat Simulator

Best Characters

  1. Watch Dogs
  2. Dragon Age: Inquisition
  3. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare

Winner: Dragon Age: Inquisition

Best Story

  1. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare
  2. Watch Dogs
  3. Dragon Age: Inquisition

Winner: Dragon Age: Inquisition

Best Gameplay

  1. Alien: Isloation
  2. Far Cry 4
  3. Watch Dogs

Winner: Watch Dogs

And the granddaddy of them all...

Game of the Year

  1. Watch Dogs
  2. Dragon Age: Inquisition
  3. Alien: Isolation
  4. Far Cry 4
  5. Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor

Winner: Watch Dogs

Super high end graphics do not make a video game. I know some people wrote Watch Dogs off because the final product didn't "appear" like the fancy E3 sizzle from a couple years ago, but they're all seriously missing out. The game is chock full of innovation in so many other areas, especially where it counts most - gameplay. Where other titles with a hacking mechanic assign it to a side activity, Watch Dogs lets you hack almost everything and everywhere in the game. Plus, the story's quite compelling, and most of the online modes are very unique, especially the CTOS mobile challenge. That one will knock your socks off.

Jinx? The Worst and Best of 2013

The number 13. Long considered a harbinger of bad luck for athletes, astronauts, hotel occupants, and especially sexually-charged teens camping near lakes, its wingspan of terror definitely seams formidable. But could 13's cold touch also affect the release of video games?

At the end of every year since 2010, I have posted my annual best games of the year awards (along with a few dubious accolades). But this time around, I struggled to find that spark, that excitement that's usually there for me during "awards season." Last year, to me, was overall a very disappointing year in the history of video games. Maybe it was just bad luck to release a game in a year ending in 13; perhaps it had more to do marketing "over hype" of key titles; or in the end, it could also be chalked up to console fatigue. Regardless of the reasons, there were games I thought I was going to love - especially Aliens: Colonial Marines - that turned out to be not even playable. Others I was excited to try and wholly expected to be great - namely Bioshock Infinite and The Last of Us - had stories that were so surprisingly and painfully slow that it took them half their length to get even somewhat interesting. And I have yet to return to finish them. Finally, though it inevitably happens every year, the delays and cancellations of 2013 were among the most disappointing of recent memory. Prey 2, of special note, was my 2nd most anticipated game of the year (1st in 2012), and then the bomb was dropped towards the end of the year that the publisher needed to start over with a new developer, and the release date floated away into the who know's region of space and time!

Luckily, there were a few bright spots that were able to poke through the shroud of gloom. So here is my ultra trimmed and pruned list of the best, and worst games of 2013. (Note: Awards are based only on played console titles (my PC needs upgrading). Additionally, I didn't pick up a next gen system till February of this year. So out of fairness, I have not included next gen games here).

Dubious Honors

1. Worst Box Art - Bioshock Infinite.

While there were certainly other covers that were more poorly designed technically speaking, Infinite still easily wins this award as its box art blatantly catered to the gaming masses and severely lacked distinctive Bioshock-esque or even Infinite-based (uh, hello...where's Elizabeth?) themes.

2. Most Over hyped - Aliens: Colonial Marines

3. Most Frustrating - Beyond: Two Souls

4. Most Epic Fail - Aliens: Colonial Marines

Special Achievements

1. Best Graphics - Technical - Remember Me / Artistic - Bioshock Infinite

2. Best Sound Design - Dead Space 3

3. Best Music - Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag

4. Best Voice Acting - Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag

5. Best Gameplay - Dead Space 3

6. Best New IP - Remember Me

7. Most Overlooked - Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel

8. Best Box Art - Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon

9. Best Achievement Art Style - Bioshock Infinite

10. Most Memorable Moment - The amazing and perfect ending of Dead Space 3

GOTY

1. Game of the Year - Dead Space 3

Runners-up (in order of preference): Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, Metro: Last Light, and Saints Row IV

2. Main Game I Wish I had Played - Lost Planet 3

Top 10 Most Wanted Games of 2014

After recently finishing my annual best and worst games of the previous year post, it's time to declare my personal most wanted games of the current year. Yes 2014 is a few months in, but with a lot of next gen titles being delayed, and some (big) games slated for this year only recently getting an announcement, I felt it necessary to wait a little before locking in my selections. But the outlook is clearer now, so here's my top 10 list for 2014:

1. Alien: Isolation

2. Watch Dogs

3. Murdered: Soul Suspect

4. Thief

5. The Crew

6. Infamous: Second Son

7. Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor

8. Super T.I.M.E. Force

9. Dragon Age: Inquisition

10. Far Cry 4

What are your most wanted games this year? Has your list changed with any recent announcements (Batman: Arkham Knight)? Comments welcome.

Best of 2012 - Genre Awards and GOTY

Best Action/Adventure

1.Sleeping Dogs 2.Deadlight3.Dishonored4.Hitman: Absolution

Winner -Dishonored

Best Shooter

1. Syndicate2.Max Payne 33.Spec Ops: The Line4.Halo 45.Far Cry 3

Winner -Far Cry 3

Best RPG

1. Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning 2. Mass Effect 3 3.Dragon's Dogma 4.Darksiders 2 5.Borderlands 2

Winner -Borderlands 2

Game of the Year

1.Mass Effect 3 2.Spec Ops: The Line 3.Borderlands 2 4.Dishonored 5.Far Cry 3

Winner -Dishonored

Main Game I Wish I Had Played/More of

1.Trials: Evolution 2.The Walking Dead 3.Dragon's Dogma 4.Sleeping Dogs 5.Mark of the Ninja

Winner -Dragon's Dogma

Best of 2012 - Dubious Honors

Lamest Box Art

1.BinaryDomain2. Blades of Time3.One Million Taps4.Winehead5.Avatar Fart!!

Winner -Winehead

Most Loathable Character

1.The Ilusive Man - Mass Effect 32.Handsome Jack - Borderlands 23.Lord Regent - Dishonored4.Dexter - Hitman: Absolution 5.Wade - Hitman: Absolution

Winner -Wade

Most Frustrating

1.Max Payne 3 2. Darksiders 23.Resident Evil 64.Assassin's Creed III5.Hitman: Absolution

Winner -Assassin's Creed III

Most Disappointing (epic fail)

1.The Darkness 22.Resident Evil: ORC3.Assassin's Creed III

Winner -Assassin's Creed III

Special Achievements (Part 2)

Most Improved Sequel

1. Mass Effect 32. Borderlands 2 3. Halo 4 4. Far Cry 3

Winner - Far Cry 3

Most Overlooked

1. Neverdead 2. The Darkness II 3. Syndicate 4. Spec Ops: The Line 5. Deadlight

Winner - Neverdead

Best Original Game Mechanic

1. Self-dismemberment combat - Neverdead 2.2D-3D environment switching - Fez 3. Pawns - Dragon's Dogma 4. Blink - Dishonored 5. Contracts - Hitman: Absolution

Winner - Dragon's Dogma

Best Co-op

1.Syndicate 2.Borderlands 2 3. Resident Evil 6 4.Halo 4

Winner -Borderlands 2

Best Competitive Multiplayer

1.Twisted Metal2.Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City3.Max Payne 3 4.Spec Ops: The Line

Winner -Max Payne 3

Best Arsenal

1. Darksiders 22.Borderlands 2 3.Dishonored 4.Hitman: Absolution 5.Far Cry 3

Winner -Dishonored

Best Trailer/Commercial (for 2012 releases)

1. Resident Evil: ORC 2.Darsiders 2 3.Borderlands 2 4.Assassin's Creed III 5.Hitman: Absolution

Winner-Borderlands 2

Best Box Art

1. The Darkness 22.Sleeping Dogs3.Darksiders 24.Assassin's Creed III5.Far Cry 3

Winner -Assassin's Creed III

Best Achievement Art Style

1.Syndicate2.Deadlight 3.Borderlands 24.Dishonored5.Hitman: Absolution

Winner -Hitman: Absolution

Funniest Game

1.Neverdead2.Twisted Metal 3.Borderlands 24.Hitman: Absolution5.Far Cry 3

Winner -Borderlands 2

Most Memorable Moment

1.Leaving Admiral Anderson & young boy behind - beginning of Mass Effect 3 2.The Ending - Spec Ops: The Line 3.2nd Betrayal - Dishonored4.Character Easter eggs - Hitman: Absolution5.Opening set piece - Far Cry 3

Winner -Spec Ops: The Line

Best of 2012 - Intro and Special Achievements

2012. A year in gaming that was characterized by fan empowerment but also an increase in federal and public involvement. With the watershed moment that was fans bringing about the change in Mass Effect 3's ending and crowd-sourcing really taking off, it was clear throughout the year that the development rule book had changed. But with the controversy that was the collapse of 38 Studios/Big Huge Games and the political fallout of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, the door for curtailing freedoms within game development and game playing also widened. As far as the games themselves, well, it was definitely no 2011. Still, this last year saw some great releases highlighted by a solid showing of new IPs, both big and small, and a rebirth of the the elusive stealth genre. Concerning my nominations and awards, please bare in mind they are only based on the games I was able to play. Here are my personal picks for the best video games of 2012. Enjoy.

Special Achievements

Best Graphics - Technical

1. Mass Effect 3 2. Max Payne 3 3. Deadlight 4. Resident Evil 6 5. Hitman: Absolution

Winner - Hitman: Absolution

Best Graphics - Artistic

1. The Darkness 2 2. Darksiders 2 3. Dishonored 4. Hitman: Absolution 5. Black Knight Sword

Winner - Hitman: Absolution

Best Level Design

1. Max Payne 3 2. Dishonored 3. Halo 4 4.Hitman: Absolution 5. Far Cry 3

Winner - Hitman: Absolution

Best Atmosphere

1.Fez 2. Max Payne 3 3.Deadlight 4. Dishonored 5. Far Cry 3

Winner - Max Payne 3

Best Sound Design

1. Mass Effect 3 2.Sniper Elite 2 3.Darksiders 2 4.Dishonored 5. Hitman: Absolution

Winner - Dishonored

Best Music

1. Mass Effect 3 2. Fez 3. Deadlight 4. Hitman: Absolution 5. Black Knight Sword

Winner - Black Knight Sword

Best Voice Acting

1. Mass Effect 3 2.Max Payne 3 3. Spec Ops: The Line 4. Borderlands 2 5. Hitman: Absolution

Winner - Spec Ops: The Line

Best Writing/Dialogue

1. Mass Effect 3 2. Max Payne 3 3. Spec Ops: The Line 4. Borderlands 2 5. Hitman: Absolution

Winner - Borderlands 2

Best Story

1. Max Payne 3 2.Spec Ops: The Line 3. Resident Evil 6 4. Hitman: Absolution 5. Far Cry 3

Winner - Spec Ops: The Line

Best New Character

1. Capt. Martin Walker - Spec Ops: The Line 2. Handsome Jack - Borderlands 2 3. Jake Muller - Resident Evil 6 4.Dexter - Hitman: Absolution 5. Vaas - Far Cry 3

Winner - Vaas

Best New IP

1. Fez 2. Dragon's Dogma 3. Deadlight 4.Mark of the Ninja 5. Dishonored

Winner - Dishonored