Were you wondering where our obligatory “Game of the Year” opinion piece was? Every website under the sun uses the standardised annual format for evaluating game awards and we wanted to be a little different so we use the anniversary of the Vita – February 22nd 2012 – as the marker for ours. This means that anything that is released from February to February is considered rather than the usual format and that we may offer slightly different verdicts than can be found elsewhere, but then again we don’t like being the same as everyone else!
So, the third year of the Vita was certainly a challenging one, mainly because of the sheer number of outstanding games that arrived on the system. Being a vehement supporter of the system, you know that already, right? But what did we actually make of the games, and what did we vote as the best examples?
Whilst its fair to say that the Vita suffers from a large collection of exclusives – which probably doesn’t help its situation in the market – to say it doesn’t have any is false. It was blessed with a few excellent titles that can’t be found anywhere else, and we decided that Freedom Wars was the best exclusive on the Vita. Whether it’s playing solo or with others, the presentation and action in the title will give you many hours of enjoyment and is a perfect fit for the Vita. The silver goes to Soul Sacrifice Delta, which is of course the enhanced version of Soul Sacrifice. With tons of additional content, this is as much of a sequel as a 1.5 can be and well worth its spot on the list and in your collection. Our bronze trophy is awarded to Senran Kagura: Shionovi Versus, which offers some titillating action to say the least.
The Vita has received a large number of ports over the years and the third year was no exception with many excellent titles making their way over from other systems, and arguably the most notable of these was Mojang’s Minecraft. It’s on most other systems already but aside from reduced draw distance and a few frame rate issues it’s practically the same as the console version. Taking Minecraft anywhere and playing anytime is an incredible achievement and rightly takes the top honour here. The silver award goes to Rogue Legacy and bronze goes to Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair.
Most Replay Value
Not content with nabbing the best port trophy, Minecraft comes out on top again in terms of replay value. The only limit to what can be achieved is your imagination and with so many things to inspire you (and no doubt many youtube videos) you can expect to be playing this for a very long time. With a multitude of levels and challenges, we felt that Velocity2X was worthy of the silver award and with the large amount of content (not to mention a significant sentence to serve and a healthy online community), Freedom Wars gets the bronze.
Best Casual Play
We define something in this category as something that is easy to play and affordable and Minecraft once again fits the bill and comes out on top. Easy to play but difficult to master, it can be enjoyed by anyone and everyone. Velocity2X just misses out here, once again grabbing a silver (which is very much like my experiences playing) and Housemarque’s brilliant shooter Resogun grabs itself the third place.
The shortlist was dominated by titles from Telltale Games and we had a clear winner with The Wolf Among Us. With a fantastic story and great characters it was out favourite action/adventure game from the previous year, but was run close by The Walking Dead: Season Two, which we gave silver. Our third place goes to Danganrona 2: Goodbye Despair, which simply couldn’t help but to be mentioned by anyone who played it.
In a category with few nominations Messhof’s Nidhogg dominated our voting process with its sharp gameplay and was the clear winner. Senran Kagura: Shionovi Versus gets the silver here with excellent frantic-style combat, and Invizimals: The Resistance finished up the top three with the bronze.
This was a very difficult vote to call because of the sheer number of quality indie titles released in the last year, but we felt that there was one standout winner. With extremely high production values, a tremendous amount of challenge and content and for simply raising the bar to a new level for all games we felt that Velocity2X is the clear winner. In any other year Rogue Legacy would probably have won with it’s addictive and fiendishly challenging ways, but Cellar Door Games will have to make do with the silver. Special mention should also go to Dynamighty’s Counterspy, which managed to get our third place vote and secure the bronze.
This was as close to unanimous as you could get, with Polytron’s Fez the clear winner. With clever puzzles, great design and the distinction of being an absolute pleasure to play, we couldn’t help but think that it’s a worthy winner. The platforming elements from Velocity2X earn it the silver trophy in the platform category and although technically three games, we award the bronze trophy to the Ratchet and Clank Trilogy.
There were a few quality role playing games on the Vita in the last year, but our vote for the best goes to Freedom Wars. Special mention must go to Ubisoft’s Child of Light which we give the silver trophy to because of RPG-lite style of the game making it perfect for those that cannot commit 40+ hours into an RPG. Finally, the third place is reserved for Borderlands 2.
We’ve already mentioned the fantastic qualities of Velocity2X a few categories above, but as well as being incredible in almost all aspects, it’s actually a pretty god shooter too – rightfully takeing the gold in this category. Also a pretty good shooter in its own right, we give the silver award to Pixeljunk Shooter – and again missing out on the top honours, we awarded the bronze to Borderlands 2.
Another category that struggled for nominations, but thankfully those here were of a high standard. Tabletop Racing from Playrise Digital was a brilliant little racer and gave us so much for the little it cost. We all felt that it should be the winner here, and thus made it so. A racer won our second place award too, with the very challenging but equally brilliant Jet Car Stunts getting our silver award. You don’t get a trophy for finishing third in the Premier League but you (sort of) get one here from us and a special mention has to go to Sport’s Interactive and Football Manager Classic 2014. Doing well to cram the majority of the PC version onto the Vita as well as having cross save with the PC, all football fans should have this.
A new category that we introduced this year was for those games that challenge the grey matter somewhat and our choice for best strategy/puzzle game goes to Counterspy. Gameplay was very enjoyable, and with a great art style you should definitely pick this up if you get the chance. Special mention goes out to Frozen Synapse Prime, which deservedly grabs itself a silver award – and the bronze goes to Eiconic Games and Final Horizon.
We all love a strong and atmospheric tune to accompany our gaming experiences (if you don’t play with the sound off) but there were a few games with exceptional music in the last year and the standout was Velocity2X, which more than suits the game. Also worth of a mention (and our silver prize) are Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair and Child of Light, with an outstanding soundtrack composed by Canadian artist Coeur de Pirate.
There were many games that really stood out for us last year in terms of visuals, but the clear winner has to be Freedom Wars. Unfinished Swan gained more than a few mentions and deservedly gains the silver as the locations are a joy to behold. And finally, a special mention (again) goes to Velocity2X which gains the third choice and the bronze in for it’s fantastic art style.
Games are more often a lot more entertaining when played with others and this is certainly true of Freedom Wars. Not only is it great fun taking down enemy abductors with your friends, it’s nigh a necessity when facing the late-game enemies due to the incompetence of the AI in comparison to a real person. It’s for these reasons, we award the game our gold medal. Worthy of another mention is Minecraft, as block building and creating is much more fun with friends. Our bronze trophy goes to Senran Kagura: Shionovi Versus, which packs quite a punch with its panty collection, strip battle and straight up deathmatch style multiplayer modes.
There were a few pieces of additional content for Vita games which good out last year, but we felt that that the Botzone addition to Killzone: Mercenarywas the stand out enhancement. Freedom Wars also gained a fair bit of additional content and grabs our runner-up prize. Our third votes goes to Minecraft and the “horse update”, which brought the handheld version closer to the PC experience.
Being the devilish fiends that we are, we saved the discussion on our best game from year three all the way down here, making you read through everything that came before it or making you scroll. Either way, this is the bit that everyone wants to read the most and arguably the most difficult to score as there were so many amazing games in the last year – and we shortlisted ten different games between us all! There does have to be a winner in this process though and we collectively decided that the best game over the last year is Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair. The sequel to Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc pulled players back in as we wondered just what they could throw at us after the rollercoaster ride of emotions and plot they put us through the first time, and then realized they still had something up their sleeves. Offering dozens of hours of gameplay, a fantastic story which not only builds upon the first but enhances it, and a cast of characters you just can’t help but get attached to – this is one of those games people will be talking about for a long time to come.
It wasn’t a simple decision though and our runner up is more than worth in the form of Velocity2X. To be our second best title in year three shows exactly how talented those guys and girls at Futurlab really are, and we cannot wait to see what they have planned next!
Rounding off the top three is Freedom Wars, which could easily have won the top honour too, and is more than worthy of a place in your collection.
So that was the awards! What do you think? Do you agree with our choices? Did we overlook anything?
To recap the winning games:
Danganronpa 2: Game of the Year
Freedom Wars: Best Exclusive, Best RPG, Best Visuals, Best Multiplayer
Minecraft: Best Port, Most Replay Value, Best Casual Play
Velocity 2X: Best Indie, Best Shooter, Best Soundtrack
The Wolf Among Us: Best Action/Adventure
Nidhogg: Best Fighter
Fez: Best Platformer
Table Top Racing: Best Sports/Racing
Counterspy: Best Strategy/Puzzle
Killzone Mercenary: Best DLC (Botzone mode)
Velocity2X: Silver Best Replay Value, Silver Best Casual Play, Silver Best Platformer, Bronze Best Visuals, Silver GOTY
Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair: Bronze Best Port, Bronze Best Action/Adventure, Silver Best Soundtrack
Freedom Wars: Bronze Best Replay Value, Silver Best Visuals, Silver Best DLC, Bronze GOTY
Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus: Bronze Best Exclusive, Silver Best Fighter, Bronze Best Multiplayer
Rogue Legacy: Silver Best Port, Silver Best Indie Minecraft: Silver Best Multiplayer, Silver Best DLC
Borderlands 2: Bronze Best RPG, Bronze Best Shooter
Soul Sacrifice Delta: Silver Best Exclusive
Resogun: Bronze Best Casual Play
The Walking Dead: Season Two: Silver Best Action/Adventure
Invizimals: The Resistance: Bronze Best Fighter
Counterspy: Bronze Best Indie
Ratchet and Clank Trilogy: Bronze Best Platformer
Child of Light: Silver Best RPG
Pixeljunk Shooter: Silver Best Shooter
Jet Car Stunts: Silver Best Sports/Racing
Football Manager Classic 2014: Bronze Best Sports/Racing
Frozen Synapse Prime: Silver Best Strategy/Puzzle
Final Horizon: Bronze Best Strategy/Puzzle
Unfinished Swan: Silver Best Visuals