Errant Signal – Hotline Miami

 By Shamus Dec 28, 2012 138 comments

Rutskarn, Chris and I talked about Hotline Miami quite a bit when we were making our way through it. They had wildly different interpretations of the game and it made for an interesting conversation. I should pitch the idea to them of doing a podcast together. I can’t believe Josh hasn’t suggested something like this yet.


Link (YouTube)

Either I have had amazing luck in acquiring titles recently, or this has been a banner year for games. Heck, FTL and Dishonored were probably the “worst” I played, and both were still good games in many respects. A year where my worst two games are a retro space-roguelike and a slightly tepid mechanical successor to Thief? Can we just keep having more years like this, forever? Is that too much to ask? Heck, if Dishonored had come out two or three years ago it might have made one of my “best of” lists.

As Chris points out, this had been the year for games talking about games. Spec Ops, Hotline Miami, and (purportedly) Far Cry 3 all discuss the medium. Chris is tired of it, but I kind of like all the super-meta analysis.

I’m going to see if I can get some sort of wrap-up posts done before the end of the year.

EDIT: Ah. I’d forgotten that Mass Effect 3 was THIS year. I had it in my head that it was a Christmas 2011 release. But it came out in 2012, which sort of re-calibrates my whole 2012 scale. Also, this was a huge disappointment.

Mass Effect 3 was the reader’s choice for 2012 over at the Escapist. Now, I’m glad people enjoyed the game and I don’t begrudge anyone their good time. (My grudge-making is aimed at the writing at at BioWare.) But that’s such a sad choice for “favorite”. I don’t expect the masses to nominate stuff like Hotline Miami, Journey, or X-Com. But didn’t anyone play the Walking Dead? Borderlands 2? Dishonored? Spec Ops? There were a lot of games that were more polished, more mechanically sound, and took more chances than Mass Effect 3. And just about everything had a stronger and more well-executed art style.

Ah well. You can’t argue with the masses.


A Hundred!2018There are 138 comments here. I really hope you like reading.


  1. Infinitron says:

    Hmmm. What were the good games you played this year, then?

    • Irridium says:

      Probably Walking Dead, Spec Ops, XCOM, Dishonored, FTL, and Far Cry 3, to name a few of the games he listed above.

      • Peter H. Coffin says:

        Guild Wars 2 is probably on that list…

        GW2 getting a whopping 5% on EscapistMag’s list is… a little surprising considering it’s been GOTY for a lot of other lists.

        • Steve C says:

          Ah Walking Dead and Guild Wars 2…

          I did not like Walking Dead. I enjoyed it up until the halfway mark then I started to hate it. In the end it felt like a chore to finish.

          Guild Wars 2 was a great game that was flavored with horrible choices that undermined it. I say “was” because they didn’t fix those problems fast enough. Now it’s losing critical mass and becoming a dying MMO. If you haven’t started playing it yet it will be hard to interest your friends at this point. Either they are done with it or they have no interest in starting. Still a great game to play if you like MMO solo play.

          • Aldowyn says:

            The nice thing about the GW model is that it’s single-buy, so it gets a much bigger reawakening percentage wise when the expansions come out, I imagine. And they sold quite a few copies, I’m sure.

            I just can’t handle giving GW2 GotY, though. It’s not THAT much better than the current model..

            Oh look another topic for me to write about!

            • Maldeus says:

              Yes, the population of the original Guild Wars has reliably exploded whenever anything new is about to come out. I don’t see why it would be different for GW2.

              • Galad says:

                I bought it some three days ago after taking a while with deciding whether it can screw up my studies or not (the answer is no, it doesnt develop the kind of addiction far cry 3 did). Well, it doesn’t really escape from the general issue with most MMOs, that feel like a chore, and I don’t like how teleporting gets more expensive the higher level you are. Still, I like how most quests have a variety of activities you can do to finish them, and it’s far from a ghost town. Nearly all the time there’s been at least one other player in my immediate vicinity, which helped a few times get to a vista/skill point/point of interest.

                I currently have a guild but wouldn’t mind eventually joining the twenty-sided guild..if it’s still a thing?

  2. baseless research says:

    This is hardly topical, sorry about that, but are any of you going to be doing something on new year? I’m thinking about the saints row 3 stream Josh did last year, is anything similar planned for 2012?

  3. Karthik says:

    It has been a banner year for games, hasn’t it?

    I just finished Dishonored, and I’ve got to say it would be towering above most other games I’ve played this year if I had a penchant for making best-of lists. And that is despite the plaintive and rather weak main story (that wasn’t really about anything in the end) and the occasionally opaque stealth mechanics. Mark of the Ninja did stealth much better, but I did find Dishonored’s world fascinating and the worldbuilding well beyond adequate. Dunwall was just wonderfully realized, even if Arkane often forgot to show, not tell. That Heart alone makes the game for me.

    Actually, I’m not quite seeing the comparisons with Thief. Unlike it, Dishonored was basically a superhero game, and the only real problem I had with its design was there was a “right” way to play it; a trap its peer Human Revolution fell into as well.

    Of course, I usually have an inflated opinion of every game the day after I finish it, so time will tell.

    As for Hotline Miami, turns out I can’t play that game because the constantly flashing background gives me a headache after a while. And that’s just from its Youtube videos.

    • Karthik says:

      Also, here’s Robert Yang’s interesting piece (DISHONORED SPOILERS!) on what a delightfully deceptive piece of design that Heart was. I’ll withhold further comment (and another rambling paragraph or two) because this thread is ostensibly about Hotline Miami!

    • Nick says:

      A “right” way? By that do you mean that you found stealth overpowered as opposed to going in guns blazing, or that the game had a good/bad ending depending on your choices?

      I’d more or less agree with the former, but I thought that the ending was sold pretty well through mechanics in Dishonoured at least. The more you kill people off, spread plague and panic throughout the city, the worse off the city is and the worse the impression you leave on Emily. Yeah, it’s a bit simplistic but look at this from the complete anarchist point of view – you still wind up in charge (via Emily) of a society that’s constantly changing and vying for place in a murderous society. That may not be conventionally good, but why shouldn’t that appeal to the player who’s been mowing down guards like there’s no tomorrow?

      • Karthik says:

        “do you mean that you found stealth overpowered as opposed to going in guns blazing, or that the game had a good/bad ending depending on your choices?”

        The latter. The game goes out of its way to incentivize stealthy, non-lethal play, but all of its tools (powers, moves, gadgets) bar two produce lethal effects.

  4. FYI, I would totally listen the hell out of this podcast.

  5. silver Harloe says:

    Ahhh, but you CAN argue with the masses. It is possible for one person to have a correct fact that no one else accepts as true (usually, “yet” goes here). Of course, “best game” is matter of opinion rather than fact, so the previous sentence doesn’t actually apply, and you’re back to being unable to argue with the masses.

  6. Jokerman says:

    I have seen a few places with The Walking Dead as there readers choice, destructoid did. I suppose the demographic of the sites are different.

  7. KremlinLaptop says:

    I wholeheartedly endorse the single tag used for this post.

  8. krellen says:

    The Escapist called their “Community Game of the Year” based on less than 14% of the vote – six out of seven people voted AGAINST Mass Effect 3 as Game of the Year. I don’t think it’s really fair to say that ME3 “won”.

    A single-choice poll with so many options is rarely going to yield anything like a conclusive choice. They should have done a ranking system instead.

    • Artur CalDazar says:

      Not only did it only get 14% of the vote, but it was less than one percent more than the next in line. Still, I don’t expect a preferential voting system for these popularity contests.

      • James says:

        can i be all hipster and claim i was one of the 4% that voted for FTL,

        the thing is i don’t think ME3 is a “bad” game, but it was the most disappointing game i have ever played, ever, and thats just sad

        • Zombie says:

          Heck, I would have voted for The Secret World, but then I thought, “You know what, the Walking Dead was better”, so I voted for that. Mass Effect isn’t a bad game, but is it REALLY better than The Walking Dead, Borderlands 2, The Secret World, Guild Wars 2, or X-Com?

          • Zagzag says:

            Since we’re sharing our votes now, I voted for Guild Wars 2. It’s one of the best games I’ve ever seen, and I put an order of magnitude more time into it than any other game that came out this year (possibly even all of them together…), so how could I not give it Game of the Year. It did about as well as I expected in the overall contest though.

            • Zukhramm says:

              I really wish I could share that opinion but I have never lost interest in an MMO so quickly, which is strange because the first 20 levels were really fun, but after that, I just don’t know what happened.

              • Aldowyn says:

                My argument would be a lack of progressive depth. After you unlock all the skills for all the weapons… It gets more complicated REALLY slowly. I’ve actually been enjoying TOR more mechanically as well as story-wise, although the dodge roll and lack of auto-aim are both big marks in GW2′s favor. (Although those have their own issues)

          • StashAugustine says:

            It’s the only shooter up there except Borderlands. Someone without knowledge of strategy games and without the patience for an MMO would basically choose between ME3, Borderlands, and TWD. TWD had no real gameplay (I still liked it, but lots of people would disagree) and I can very easily see someone pick ME3 over Borderlands- plot, less repetition, etc.

            • Zombie says:

              BLOPS II was on the list to, so was Halo 4 and Far Cry 3. So it wasn’t the only shooter in the list. So why is one repetitive shooter better than the others?

              • StashAugustine says:

                If I’m looking for a shooter with decent writing, your choices this year were Spec Ops, ME3, and FC3. (Possibly Halo, but I’ve no interest unless it’s out on PC.) I haven’t gotten too far into FC3, but I’m not terribly impressed and most reviews just say the writing gets worse. Spec Ops has a better story than ME3, but has worse gameplay, and I could easily see someone voting for ME3 over Spec Ops because they prefer a light, funny buddy game to a soul-crushing look at human depravity.
                EDIT: Should have made clear that I was only unimpressed with the writing in FC3, the game is still pretty good.
                FURTHER EDIT: Forgot Max Payne 3, but so did everyone else apparently.

        • X2-Eliah says:

          I didn’t vote at all.. It’s the Escapist. I know Shamus & Josh have gigs in it, so I’ll withhold elaborate commentary, but I currently refuse to give that cesspit any traffic for my part.

          • Bubble181 says:

            The Escapist started out as something great – a gamer-run (sort of) alternative to the big gaming sites like IGN, Gamespot, etc which are complete commercia lvehicles for the publishers.
            Unfortunately, while that’s still somewhat the case, the type of people who make up the Escapist community, as well as the editor’s views and the way the site is built up/structured these days, mmake me flee for the hills.

      • MrGuy says:

        And the next two in line were Walking Dead and SpecOps, respectively. I say it’s truly a banner year when those two games are even in the same conversation with a bland AAA FPS for Game of the Year.

        Oh, and Halo 4? 12th place, with barely over 2% of the vote, and behind games like Journey, Persona 4, FTL, and XCom. Insert Freddy Mercury here.

        • Aldowyn says:

          The Escapist has a WEIRD fanbase. There are a TON of minecraft fanboys on the site, and Bioware is SUPER popular. What was the next AAA game after ME3? Surely not Halo 4?

          • Zombie says:

            The Next AAA game was…. is The Walking Dead AAA?, If it is, then the Walking Dead in 2nd place, if not it was Dishonored in 4th place. I think that’s a AAA game.

            • Aldowyn says:

              I certainly wouldn’t call TWD AAA. Telltale games are usually pretty niche. Dishonored is… close, but I’d probably call it AA. It wasn’t a massive blockbuster release, although Bethesda did put a lot of marketing behind it.

              • Zombie says:

                The only games far up the list that I think are true AAA games are Borderlands 2 in 7th place, and Far Cry 3 in 8th place. Halo Four comes in 12th place and CoD comes in last. If X-Com in AAA then it’s in 5th place.

    • Ofermod says:

      Isn’t Persona 4: The Golden just an updated re-release? If so… couldn’t Baldur’s Gate Enhanced Edition technically have been an option?

      • Winter says:

        I’d definitely put P4G and Dark Souls: PTD at the top of my list. (Both of them are enhanced, but i guess so is Baldur’s Gate?)

        • Zukhramm says:

          I’d put P4G on mine to, but because of Atlus’ outright hatred for Europe it’s not out here yet.

          • Trix2000 says:

            I’ve only played the ps2 original, but even just that would put it on the list for me. One of the few single player jrpgs that I clocked in 200+ hours on (though simply calling it a jrpg maligns the title really).

            Now if only I could convince myself to get a Vita just for Golden…

            • Irridium says:

              I’m wrestling with that myself.

              I don’t buy systems for one game. Then again, it is a handheld, and all I use my DS for is Pokemon and Kirby, so the precedent is there.

              Hm…

              • Hydralysk says:

                Doing my 3rd playthrough of P4G since I missed it on PS2 (175 hours in atm).

                Re-release or not it’s the second best game I’ve played this year behind The Walking Dead. I especially liked how they turn character development into a fleshed out gameplay mechanic, and the amount of quality voice work is astounding.

                Spec Ops The Line might of edged it out, but sadly my PS3 chose the night after I bought it to stop reading or ejecting discs so I only played the first 3 missions. Now I need to send it in and hope they’ll give me back my Spec Ops copy when I get a refurbished unit…

            • Daimbert says:

              I did just that. It’s worth it. It’s a lot enhanced from the PS2 version while keeping all of the same style and most of the gameplay. I can see myself playing that game again and again … and that’s before I even think about getting any other Vita games (there have to be a few that are decent [grin]).

    • Warrax says:

      I have a feeling the only reason ME3 won is because there were just far more people that played it. If only 5% of the bazillion people that played it liked it enough to give it their personal GOTY, that’s still a bigger number than 50% of the smaller pie the other games had.

      • Tzeneth says:

        There is also the issue of the total % of the vote. 13.48% is not that much when looking at the context of 100%. I wanted to vote for multiple games. I ended up voting for Dishonored because I had enjoyed the gameplay the most and I haven’t bought TWD, even though I considered voting for it. I also considered voting for XCOM. Combine any 2 of the three I would have voted for and their total is greater than ME3. Heck if you combine any of the top 10 with one of the top 5 and you get a greater percentage of the vote than ME3.

        • Zombie says:

          The Walking Dead combined with any game in the top 15 goes right over Mass Effect 3. So I can’t take the whole “It’s the GotY, look how much better it is than all the other games!” when it just barely won.

  9. Dreadjaws says:

    What? Why didn’t you like Dishonored?

    Also, I agree with Krellen. That voting system means that 86% of the people didn’t think Mass Effect 3 deserved the GOTY award. So I think it’s wrong to just call it Game of the Year.

    • Bubble181 says:

      And the games Shamus listed are all in the top 5 with reasonable numbers.

      I think Diablo III is clearly the biggest “loser” of the year. Alongside ME3, perhaps the most anticipated game of 2012 – yet already almost forgotten by most.

      That said, I’ve somehow been able to play exactly 0 games of the top 15 as posted by the Escapist. DIII is the only game released 2012 that I played….Man, I need to change my gaming methods :p

    • Jokerman says:

      I can see poor brilliant Dishonored being torn apart in a future spoiler warning :(. I can’t wait to see how Josh plays that game.

      • karthik says:

        They were reasonably kind to Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Dishonored does many things better than that game.

        I don’t think it will be torn apart. Frayed a little, maybe.

        • Jokerman says:

          Gameplay was better, but Deus ex held up better story wise.

          • BlackmoreKnight says:

            I have to disagree. HR fell apart storywise when I tried a ‘kill everything’ playthrough. Because it didn’t acknowledge it. Dishonored did, and it felt like all my approaches had an impact to the world itself. The last mission with high Chaos was awesome because I knew the world was only this way because I was systematically destabilizing and destroying it. And that’s more than HR managed to make me feel. No response after killing an entire police precinct does not good storytelling make.

            • Aldowyn says:

              The chaos system and how it influences the game is by FAR the most interesting and innovative part about Dishonored, to me. I’m terrible at making my own fun, so I spent the entire game blinking and stabbing (still fairly fun), and the story and setting were very meh to me (although the heart was fantastic)

              Dishonored or TWD would probably be my two picks for a critical ‘GotY’, since they both took considerable risks, but in IMO TWD executed better. That’s entirely different from which one I enjoyed most or would have most regretted not buying.

              • Khizan says:

                I’d argue that with TWD, honestly. It’s a great -story-, but as a game, I find it rather lacking.

                My points against it:
                1) The actual gameplay segments, as opposed to the walk-and-talk segments, are mostly “Do It Again, Stupid” style quick-time events. Click the zombie or die

                2) Once you hit a certain point, the rails become pretty visible, imo, even on the first playthrough. While the first few episodes had me feeling that every choice was substantial and weighty, the later episodes had me feeling that my choices were less “This man’s life is in my hands!” and more “So how am I going to feed this guy to the zombies?”

                3) Once you try and replay it, imo, the illusion is broken. When you try it again with different choices, it becomes clear how little of an effect you actually have on the progression of the game. Which is understandable, but it breaks the spell nonetheless.

                TWD was a mediocre game, but it was an amazing interactive storybook.

                • Aldowyn says:

                  1: MOST of them aren’t actually that HARD, and you can predict what they are ahead of time, usually. Very intuitive, unlike most QTEs. And there were a few clever uses – like being able to smash the hammer into the babysitter’s face more than you had to. Those are just mitigating factors and don’t actually solve your problem, though.

                  2: Meh, yeah. It wasn’t too hard to PREDICT, either. It depends on how immersed you are at that point – I played the entire game in 3 days, which IMO probably made for a better experience. (1 a day for a week would be pretty good too)

                  3: Definitely. I’m actually planning on writing a blog post about TWD’s ‘false choice’ today… Planning on it, anyway.

                  • Khizan says:

                    As far as the QTEs go:
                    Most of them aren’t that hard, but I actually found them to be relatively immersion breaking. Nothing really breaks the mood like “Hahaha, our intentionally sloppy controls made you misclick the circle! Try harder to not get shot!”

                    Episode II spoiler:
                    The worse offender this way was in Episode II, when Danny had the gun in your face when you were hiding in the stall. I took maybe 3-4 attempts at this one, which took me maybe 45-60 seconds. That minute or so, though, was enough to break the spell and ruin immersion, right square in the middle of a dramatic “oh shit!” moment where the crazy cannibal had got the jump on you. This is horrible design, imo, in a game where the gameplay always takes a second seat to the story.

            • Jokerman says:

              I think there is a difference between a game reacting to what you do and having a good story. Some of the best stories in gaming have been a straight line to the finish, no choices storywise, everything happening one way no matter what.

              • Loonyyy says:

                Herein “React to your actions” meaning “Did you kill more than 1/5 people you met?

                That my friends, is moral choice. A choice so moral, and such a deep example of story telling. Choose the White Ending, or the Black Ending.

                Sorry, Binary Moral Choice systems changing cutscenes and (Slightly) the enemies in an area doesn’t get any points for a game mechanic. Especially when it’s one which more often than not prevents the player from using the wonderful toys, which, along with the world building, are the only two things Dishonored did right.

                • Jokerman says:

                  I wasn’t commenting on dishonored’s level of reactivity, just pointing out that it having it did not make for a better story than Deus ex….which had even less.

      • Eric says:

        Dishonored was an extremely frustrating game because it did so much so well (level design, art direction) but also had a ton of weak points. The writing mostly sucked (functional, but very poor at getting me emotionally interested in anything going on), the morality system was far too binary and poorly implemented (kill people = evil = you’re an asshole = THUNDERCLOUDS IN THE LAST LEVEL), there weren’t enough non-lethal gameplay options, the mission-based scoring system did not work with the “play how you want” style at all, and I think the economy was balanced poorly (too many overpowered abilities you get too early on).

        I can see someone really liking it. I can also see someone thinking it missed a lot of its potential, compared to its inspirations (Deus Ex and Thief). Ultimately it is a good game, one of the best of the year, but it’s not an instant classic that I think people will be going back to talk about and play 10 years later.

        • Loonyyy says:

          It’s poseur stealth. Heck, even on a top end PC, running at full specs, turn your back at the wrong moment and the bodies disappear. No rats, just, stops rendering them.

          Such a hardcore stealth game, including, of course, the option to have enemies dissolve into ash when you kill them.

          I really hope they make another game in the series that takes advantage of the world building, updates their shoddy engine (I laughed at how silly the bit where you walk on corpses looks), and implements some fixes to the gameplay, preferably some that turn it into a stealth game.

          I really wanted to like it, but for a game that goes out of it’s way to give you options, it also goes out of its way to make sure that only one is “Good”. So I said screw it, killed everyone, hid all the bodies, and put up with the game telling me I was a monster for killing them (I didn’t kill quite everyone. If the heart said they were good, I saved them). And the story… blergh. I knew I was going to be betrayed, yet my stupid silent protagonist drank the Kool Aid. Like a fool. I mean, really.

          • Eric says:

            Yeah the stealth is also quite weak compared to games like Thief. The issue is more that Arkane obviously wanted to make a stealth action game… that punishes you for the “action” part of it. Playing lethally, it’s actually a lot of fun, very fast and fluid to take enemies out, but also far too easy and of course you get the bad ending for having fun.

            Playing it as pure stealth, well, the respawning guards in some levels gave me more trouble than the level design itself, which had almost every challenge made trivial by the second-level Blink ability. It’s silly that the most difficulty you will have in the game is by self-imposed limitations and the scoring system. The one feature I did like was the semi-randomized patrol routes, where guards would do things differently upon reloads to prevent save scumming abuse.

            I approached it more from the direction of Deus Ex than Thief, so maybe that’s why I wasn’t quite so disappointed with it. Compared to most games, the stealth is pretty decent, it’s just the lack of options and the ease at which many obvious challenges are bypassed that wreck it if you are a long-time Thief fan. It’s a shame, if you play completely non-lethally, with no upgrades or powers bought or used, the potential of it really starts to come out.

            • AJax says:

              Let’s not forget the immersion breaking disappearing bodies. Probably the worst thing you can have in a stealth game. I get why they implemented it because I probably think it has something to do the with consoles’ RAM limitations but at least give us the option to toggle it on the PC.

  10. AJax says:

    As much as I loved what Spec Ops tried to do with its story, I hated how they screwed up the setting so much. As an Emirati, playing this game was so infuriating! So much Arabic spelling and grammatical errors, locations of key Dubai areas and buildings in the wrong place and apparently we speak Farsi instead of Arabic even though the road signs and advertisements are in Arabic. The heck Yager…

    Also, I’m really interested in why Shamus didn’t like Dishonored so much. I mean the game has a lot of flaws especially in the story and stealth aspects but it handles its world building and art style so well.

    • Zombie says:

      You know, I never thought of that. I wonder what its like for the Germans who play WWII games: NO, NO, NO, NO, NO,NO,NO! You conjugate that verb differently, and no one would say that! That would be spoken in an idiom! It must be spoken in the proper….um….um…. (Idiom sir) YES! my idiom!

      • X2-Eliah says:

        It’s pretty much how it is with games that have (bad/inaccurate) Russian in them. Especially when the pronunciations are so completely out of whack.

        A notable offender was GTA4, where the protagonist’s supposed slavic (don’t remember which country’s language specifically it was meant to be.. bulgarian?) accent and interjections were so pitifully contrived and fake. It was a massive immersion-killer.

        Plus, you know, there’s the angle that devs often include german/russian enemies to get a sense of strangeness, other-place-ness in the game. Something not too dissimilar from exiticism, I suppose. Which doesn’t really work if it very much represents details that have been familiar from childhood in the real world.

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          He was supposed to be serbian.Which is why I simply couldnt play gta4.And I really dont understand why they didnt get an actual serb(or someone close)to voice him.Its not like there is a shortage of them in the usa.

          • 4th Dimension says:

            I allways got that he was supposed to be an ex-YU guy, but it was undefined on which side was he on. Also they named his cousin Roman, which is a rare name around these parts.

    • NihilCredo says:

      I had always assumed the Farsi-speaking civilians were supposed to be the notorious immigrant worker underclass of Dubai. Though Bengali or Tamil would have been more appropriate in that case.

      I mean, since all the ‘official’ writing is in Arabic, using Farsi voice lines must have been a conscious choice, although a puzzling one.

      • drkeiscool says:

        Maybe Cpt. Walker just heard it as Farsi? He fought in Afghanistan…

        On the other hand, I read that from TvTropes the other day, so I have no idea if that’s a good justification.

  11. TMTVL says:

    I really liked Gravity Rush, the only good game to come out on the PS Vita in Europe (Dynasty Warriors was surprisingly underwhelming for a DW game).

    I wonder if different release zones (EU, NA, JP, AU, …) make a difference in which games get voted up on different websites?

    • Ringwraith says:

      Persona 4 Golden hasn’t been released in Europe yet, and seeing as the original is a fantastic game, and the port only adds more stuff, I’d bet more people would’ve voted for it if it was out.

      • Ofermod says:

        My problem is that I *really* want to play Persona 4, but unfortunately don’t own a console. Whereas I think all the other games on The Escapist’s list had a PC version.

        • tengokujin says:

          Well, assuming you can find a copy of the original PS2 version, and your computer can handle it, why not emulate it?

          • Daemian Lucifer says:

            I tried mulating ps2 once.Its not very good unless you have an actual controller.And I dont want to buy that for a single game.

            So Im in the same situation as Ofermod:Id really like to play persona,but Im not too keen on getting a console for a single game.

            • Daimbert says:

              I’ve put over 500 hours into Persona 3, Persona 3 FES, and Persona 4 on the PS2 (through multiple replays). Playing Persona 4 Golden on the Vita, I could see myself playing it for a few hundred hours itself if I don’t get distracted with other games. You can’t really beat that ratio of hours of entertainment per dollar.

              Note that I’m the sort of person who doesn’t finish games that often. I had finished something like three games in my life before Persona 3 (which included both Knights of the Old Republic games) and yet have finished the Persona games multiple times.

        • Peter H. Coffin says:

          More stuff.. Wow. The Geek has sunk about 150 hours into the regular one and she’s not even into December.

  12. Robyrt says:

    Remember, most people don’t finish video games. If you stopped halfway through Mass Effect 3 it was awesome!

    • Ofermod says:

      I don’t know about that… I was complaining about it from the opening cutscene and “We fight or we die!”

      • Alexander The 1st says:

        Still better than “The Reapers are my solution.”

        So relatively it’s good up until Thessia.

        Then…

        • ehlijen says:

          You think that because the game got worse after, but it wasn’t truly good at any point. Before Thessia you got:
          -Kai Leng
          -Dragging the Turian primarch from palaven to go help save earth(A kid died there!)
          -The rachni queen (back from the dead)
          -’Cerberus gunnning down innocent civilians isn’t their MO’
          -The quarians launching the stupidest war in history
          -Deus Ex Mars
          -’We fight or we die’
          -Sexbot
          - Cerberus forces outnumbering AND outclassing the alliance AND outspying the Salarians without anyone having noticed that they were building all this stuff.

          The parts you actually get to play are fun enough; they hit enough of the kill and loot notes RPG players like while the gunplay is decent enough to keep shooter fans unbored. But in between all of that you get (at least partially) unskippable cutscenes full of drudge and stupidity. “You are about to destroy a Cerberus lab/camp/cantina, let me tell you about that for 2 minutes while you don’t care until the shuttle lands”.

          If you don’t value the story, it was a passable game. But at no point was it great.

          • Indy says:

            Before Thessia, though, I was still giving the authors the benefit of the doubt. I figured they knew where they were going and that they knew the basic guidelines of storywriting. I can definitely see how not finishing this game is a bonus in its score.

          • Hydralysk says:

            I’d say the Tuchanka arc was great, but that’s really the only part where my suspension of disbelief wasn’t broken at one point. Legion’s “I have to go now, my people need me.” moment was incredibly stupid on it’s own… It’s almost like they modeled that scene after that one Simpsons episode.

            On the plus side, ME3 did give us smudboy’s ending analyses videos which are extremely entertaining in the same vindictive way the Plinkett Star Wars reviews are.

  13. Khizan says:

    I was really impressed with the Walking Dead, but a lot of that fell apart when I tried to play it a second time and realized that it was just very good at giving me the illusion of choice, rather than actual choices.

    Don’t get me wrong, the story was amazingly good and I understand why they can’t give you more meaningful choices. But the story was all it had; the gameplay was merely adequate, and even approached irritating in some places. Too many of the actual gameplay moments(as opposed to the run around and see the story moments) were basically just DIAS quick-time events with laggy/unresponsive controls to make it harder(or ‘more realistic’).

    It was the best story of the year, imo, but not even close to a contender for best game of the year. Story’s not enough for that.

    • Indy says:

      In terms of gameplay, the Walking Dead wasn’t so amazing but with its gameplay it DID get the emotional response from the player. Just in the first episode, beating the crap out of the babysitter was amazingly cathartic, more in line with what I needed than what I wanted. You could have stopped beating her whenever you wanted, but I don’t know anybody who did before her eyes popped out. I didn’t feel that rewarded for gameplay in any other 2012 release.

      • SyrusRayne says:

        I stopped as soon as it would let me. (I don’t remember exactly what she looked like at the time.)

        But honestly it /did/ feel cathartic, and I had to actually make the effort to stop. If Clementine hadn’t been there watching I’d probably have kept going. Very satisfying scene.

  14. MrGuy says:

    Every system for measuring “best” based on asking humans is flawed. As noted by others, the “choose only one!” approach in the escapist poll will likely result in a “winner” most people voted against.

    Some people will say “approval voting” (i.e. vote for as many as you want) will “fix” that, but it introduces a different problem – it will reward unoffensive mediocrity – a game where everyone played it and thought “Yeah, I played that, it was good” (e.g. Halo Reach) will likely beat out a game where some people thought “OMG best game every totally caused me to see gaming in a new light!” and others thought “Meh. Not what I was looking for” (e.g. Psychonauts). There was a contest a few years back to determine “the world’s funniest joke” where you could vote liked/didn’t for each joke. The winner…wasn’t funny, and it’s likely because the most screamingly funny jokes also offended enough people to drive up negatives.

    Also, you have an electorate that probably hasn’t played all the games, so they tend to skew towards “games that more people have played,” which tends to correlate to “most aggressively marketed AAA titles” (which is why I’m amazed Walking Dead is in ME3′s neighborhood). Few people are going to vote for games they haven’t played.

    An interesting approach would be to “weight” the votes by reported sales of the game – each vote for a game that sold 10,000,000 copies only counts for 1/10th as much as a vote for game that sold 1,000,000 copies (I might try this with the Escapist results later if I can be bothered and can find an easy source for sales numbers). Even that’s suspect – a game that has a very limited appeal to a very strong fanbase (perhaps EVE Online) will do amazingly due to strong votes on weak sales – is it an undiscovered gem or something most people stayed away from deliberately?

    While I appreciate an online poll as much as anyone, and I’m mildly interested in the results, I just can’t get worked up over them (whether I agree or don’t). Give me a thoughtful retrospective by someone whose opinions I respect over a poll of the masses any day (which is why I’m more interested by the Escapist’s Staff Top 5′s than the Comminuty Poll)

    • Hal says:

      “Also, you have an electorate that probably hasn’t played all the games . . .”

      Gotta agree with this sentiment. Even just accounting for the top 10 games on the list results in a rather pricey investment, probably more than most people will spend on gaming in a given year.

    • Aldowyn says:

      Games are subjective. A title is meaningless without an explanation, which is why staff top 5s or whatever are always interesting.

      Gameinformer has been doing round table discussions on why some games are some of the best of the year – so far, TWD, XCOM, and ME3, and those discussions were cool I though.

    • Sabrdance (Matthew H) says:

      Let me geek a little bit: you’ve discovered Arrow’s Paradox.

      Voting for a single solution is a terrible way to establish merit or preferences of a diverse body -it’s only saving grace is that it is better than many alternatives.

      Then again, there are dictators in the “Game of the Year” votes too -reviewers.

  15. rayen says:

    i get more and more cynical about the escapist. They seem to be falling into that trap that i went to them to get out of. The ad-fests of IGN and gamespot, and kotaku, The escapist seemed to stand out among them. Yahtzee drew me in but i discovered other fun stuff stolen pixels, moviebob, unskippable, this very blog, and their game reviews seemed more in line with my thoughts on games rather just another 4/5 machine.

    This has changed in recent times. The cringe inducing glorification review of Mass Effect 3, the more and more joke article reporting, yahtzee seems to have lost his touch, jim sterling and moviebob keep drifting into non game (or even nerd) realms. And “No Comment on Extra Credits.” Also having not joined the publishers club the Ads are out of control.

    Oh i still like some stuff. extra punctuation tends to be insightful, No right answer is alot of fun, Critical miss is awesome, the occasional gem of a news article comes out, their columns haven’t lost their way, and the Escapist Expo was lots of fun. But eh, it seems to have drifted downhill.

    Sorry thats been building for awhile apparently. Didn’t mean to post a ranting screed about your former associates on your personal site…

    Anyway yes good year for games. I haven’t acquired many new releases but super hexagon is so addictive i fear opening my steam library, FTL ate a couple months of my life, i started really playing shogun 2 and got a really fun time out of it. And while Worms Revolution didn’t exactly catch the spirit of the old games it doesn’t matter because i preordered it and got original Worms Armageddon with it, still as funny and awesome as i remember. Look forward to eventually getting dishonored, XCOM and Farcry 3. don’t know if i ever will but i want to right now.

    • Elilupe says:

      I agree with you on your opinion of the Escapist now(except Yahtzee, I still greatly enjoy his work). Something has happened, and they are no longer the bastion of hope in gaming journalism they once were. They’re still better than most, like the ones you pointed out, IGN, Gamespot, but they are declining.

      • rayen says:

        Yahtzee is still good. I wasn’t saying ZP isn’t good anymore. It just isn’t as good as it once was. There’s like this streak of videos from when he really got a handle on what he was doing to when he just kinda ran out of jokes. I usually think of it from Condemned 2 to left 4 dead. He had a few good ones after that, Duke nukem Forever (the joke one), Sims 3, infamous 2, silent hill 2, minecraft, and Wolfenstien, but those are too few and too far in between. He actually explained this to me at the expo as being a problem with games being adequate and bland in a way that he can’t get angry about because they aren’t bad, just boring and he can’t do limericks every week.

    • Zukhramm says:

      I have no opinion on The Escapist because the design of the site just seems to want to keep me from reading anything. It seems the site is made to actively keep away after I’ve watched whatever video I came for.

    • Minnow says:

      “The cringe inducing glorification review of Mass Effect 3″

      Their Dragon Age 2 review is legendary – “Dragon Age II is what videogames are meant to be.”

      I recall seeing that posted a fair few times in the “worst professional reviews” thread on Neogaf…

  16. McNutcase says:

    I bought Walking Dead based on the enthusiasm of those here; and frankly, I wish I hadn’t. I found the savegame system fundamentally broken before I even finished Episode 1, because it silently threw away an indeterminate but significant amount of my actions. I now can’t trust it, and want the thing GONE. I actually asked Steam for a refund, because for me the game is broken in a way that makes it unplayable, and I would never have bought it had I been aware of the issue going in.

    • MadTinkerer says:

      It threw away your decisions before the end of episode 1? Did it suddenly switch which character you had chosen to save?

      It might have been a glitch with the Steam Cloud saves. It happened to me once with Plants vs. Zombies that I had 100%ed.

      • McNutcase says:

        Not decisions as such, but actions. I know I did the radio puzzle, walked around talking to people, handed out candy… and when I started the game again, Carley was staring at a radio with no batteries in it, candy was scattered all around the store, and I told the broken game it could leave my hard drive forthwith, and kindly allow the door to smack it in the behind on its way out.

        It’s a shame, because I was thoroughly engaged by it, but I simply have no tolerance for a save system that will pull that sort of thing. It threw away about a quarter hour of doing things – and when I’ve got an hour in the game, that’s significant. I very much doubt it could have been a Steam cloud glitch, given that I’ve had precisely zero problems with that on any of the numerous other games I own.

        • Khizan says:

          It autosaves only at certain points. So when you loaded it, it went back to the last save. It’s not a bug, it’s just how it works.

          • McNutcase says:

            Then it needs to make those autosaves happen more often. Or it needs a self-deleting savestate option, for when I don’t have time to grind to a functionally invisible savepoint just so I can stop playing and have things I’ve done remain done (spoiler: this is all the time).

            “That’s just how it works” is perhaps not the best response to “how it works is refund broken”.

            • Hydralysk says:

              Well to be fair it’s broken up into around 8 chapters per episode, so it’s far from “functionally invisible”. Also, one of the points of episodic releases is also that it’s supposed to be small enough to beat in one sitting.

              The developers seem to have designed the game to played in a certain way, which doesn’t jive with the concept of spreading an episode out over multiple sessions.

              Also the manual saving might work, but then how many people would just quicksave before a big decision to see how both play out? The way it saves now may be inconvenient if you quit mid scene, but it helps push you to stick with your decisions.

      • StashAugustine says:

        It had problems with checkpoints, which I averted by playing episodes whole.

        • krellen says:

          The games are clearly designed this way, but with episodes running two to three hours, there is a very large segment of people that would be unable to do that, and a better design would allow for that. Even just an “Ironman” save-and-delete system allowing for perfect pausing would be an improvement.

          I do wonder how much this choice is design philosophy and how much is just technological, though. It’s entirely possible that someone decided the number of states and choices required to be stored in order to save at any point would simply be prohibitive, especially considering the otherwise small-scale of the game.

          • Khizan says:

            I think it was to discourage people from save-scumming through conversations to get ‘optimal’ responses.

            It’s a lot less tempting to do that when can’t just f5 before speaking with everybody.

          • AyeGill says:

            The save games for the walking dead would not have had to be very big. It would be entirely possible to go through an entire episode and save every single conversation option the player picked, the exact degree to which the succeeded/failed on a quicktime event, everything they clicked on, the order in which they did, and still keep the file inside the kilobytes.

            Seriously, try to compare the amount of things that must be saved in TWD with the amount of states that must be saved in, say, New Vegas.

  17. MadTinkerer says:

    “But didn’t anyone play the Walking Dead? Borderlands 2? Dishonored? Spec Ops?”

    But replace “Borderlands 2″ with XCOM and you have the list of runners-up. The Walking Dead is only behind ME3 by less than 1%. A freaking adventure game comes less than 1% close to toppling EA’s grand third person space opera. But adventure games are dead, you know.

    But the really nice thing I find about that poll is the fact that FTL and Journey beat Halo 4, AC3, Mists of Pandaria, Diablo 3, and CODBlops 2. In fact, CODBlops 2 almost doesn’t make the honorable mentions list with 0.33%. That is absolutely hilarious.

    • Khizan says:

      The Walking Dead wasn’t an adventure game in the sense that most people think of it, imo. Aside from getting the pharmacy key in episode 1, there’s not very many puzzley/problemy things I can think of that aren’t pretty clearly spelled out for you.

      When people talk about the Death of the Adventure Game, they’re almost always talking about things like Gabriel Knight 3 or The babelfish of the Hitchhiker’s Guide game.

      IMO, The Walking Dead is less ‘adventure game’ and more ‘interactive storybook’.

    • Aldowyn says:

      It’s the Escapist. Little games like FTL and even AA titles like XCOM are relatively popular. Shooters definitely aren’t, what with all the satire on the site.

      They DO love Bioware though, even still.

  18. Daemian Lucifer says:

    And many people like the transformers movies,and the twilight saga.Which is why I never go for “the most read/viewed/played of the year”.

  19. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Also,Shamoose,you really should get the enhanced edition of baldurs gate,to complete this year.Go back to the good old days of bioware,only with a polished interface and stretchier graphics.

    • MadTinkerer says:

      And also try the original version (from GoG if you don’t have the old discs) updated with fan patches to hi res &etc. Some prefer that to the Enhanced Edition.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        I prefer it because of original movies,and because of lack of bugs.Though the bugs are constantly being weeded out from the enhanced edition,the movies are what kept me with the original.

        But the enhanced edition is still better for new players.Pause in the inventory,more ammo allowed in slots,more info in the inventory screen,better description of classes and numerous effects,etc,all of those allow new players to get into the game.

  20. Eljacko says:

    For me, I’d say the biggest disappointment of this whole year was Hitman: Absolution. It had this one chance to revitalize the franchise and return it to the glory of Blood Money, and instead we got a title that just barely manages to be better than Codename 47. I’m surprised it hasn’t been mentioned here or on Chocolate Hammer, especially considering how thoroughly Rutskarn has explored Blood Money.

  21. Cybron says:

    I think the whole ‘games talking about games’ aspect of 2012 may be a sign of our medium a certain critical mass of relevance. Games are now more mainstream than ever before. We now rival movies as a blockbuster, AAA industry (could you have imagined something like that in the 90s?) and, as we grow in relevance, gaming has become a ‘worthy’ topic of conversation. And, naturally, no medium cares about gaming more than games. It’s only natural that’s where the dialogue about what gaming means would be held.

    I don’t really play enough games to comment one way or another (I came here back when this was about pen and paper RPGs – remember that?), but I don’t really see anything wrong with it. I’d imagine movies went through a similar period (though I’m not a film buff, so I couldn’t tell you when).

  22. Aldowyn says:

    Okay. So… I haven’t watched the Errant Signal, I’ll do that tomorrow, but I wanted to comment on the GotY thing.

    I would honestly probably pick ME3 as my GotY. It’s the game I enjoyed the most and that I’ve gotten the most discussion out of (although to be fair it doesn’t deserve it as much as Dishonored, TWD, or even XCOM to some extent).

    You guys spent hours and hours smashing the game, most of which I didn’t watch, but it was the kind of thing I didn’t (and don’t) care about when I’m playing. I accepted a lot of the game’s premise that you guys didn’t, namely the “Save Earth” thing… and needing the Krogan… and the Geth-Quarian war reigniting… and most of the game was absolutely spectacular for me, because I can ignore those issues that many people can’t. (Also sci-fi action-RPG with interesting characters? Basically designed for me)

    Kai Leng and Cerberus are still dumb, but the only really terrible thing for me personally was the Catalyst, and they made it a LOT better (not perfect, but better). Although the Reapers are still ruined as a decent antagonist >.> (Not that I won’t enjoy replaying them again)

    As far as innovation, I’ve mentioned up above that I would either pick Dishonored or TWD. Both made INTELLIGENT risks and were rewarded for it. That’s the best thing possible, more devs should try to do that.

  23. Eric says:

    2012 was a decent year for gaming, certainly better than 2011, but a crap year for RPGs. The best we got was… Legend of Grimrock? What the hell? Looking forward to Wasteland 2 in 2013, though, and hopefully Shadowrun and Project Eternity also get off their feet by the end of next year too.

  24. Ravens Cry says:

    Wow, that vote was like a Canadian election. Sure, Mass Effect 3 won, but other games, including a couple of those mentioned, combined to have a far greater total sum of the votes than ME3.
    The sheer awesome this year split the vote! ;)

  25. Zombie says:

    Is it just me, or was this a great year for video game villains? Off the top of my head I can think of Vaas (Far Cry 3) and Handsome Jack (Borderlands 2) as great villains who were well written and didn’t take a dive off the stupid end of the stupid pool *cough*Reapers*cough*. Here’s to 2013, filled with more well written villains and awesome strategy games! Rome II and Europa Universalis IV!

  26. KremlinLaptop says:

    I’ve been talking about it to everyone I know:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oKD-MVfC9Ag

    The full soundtrack to Hotline Miami. Seriously. This game has some of the most fantastic electronic music.

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