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GameCritics.com Podcast Episode 84: Fifth Annual Holiday Awards Spectacular

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Awards, contest winners, and Dan Weissenberger? This can only be our Fifth Annual Holiday Awards Spectacular! We dish on the best and worst of 2012, Brad's son drops in to share his best and worst of the year, and we give out some fabulous prizes based on a really cool random number generator. Featuring Dylan Collins, Brad Gallaway, Mike Bracken, Dan Weissenberger, Richard "It's not really a spoiler" Naik, and Tim "The Brett Farve thing is getting old" Spaeth.

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Category Tags
Platform(s): Xbox 360   Vita   PS3   3DS   PSP   PC   iPhone   iPad  
Developer(s): Ubisoft   Telltale Games  
Series: XCOM   The Walking Dead  
Genre(s): Horror   Adventure/Explore  
Articles: Podcasts  

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Great show, guys. Other than

Great show, guys. Other than the Asura's Wrath hate, I enjoyed every minute. :)

Walking Dead is my WTF of the year and gaming life...

I just can't relate to Walking Dead winning Game of the Year. Horrible maddening mechanics, trite and meaningless dialog branching, no good built in way to play different branches out and when I did, most choices led to the same outcome. AND, no skip scene (which should be standard in a game that is supposed to encourage playing out dialog choices) and no controller inversion. I didn't, as a player, feel welcomed. I just don't get how everyone thinks this game is well written. I did like some of the choices you are presented with and really liked some of the characters but they were not strung together is a cohesive way throughout. I couldn't wait to finish this game and decided to finish it cause of all the rave reviews made me feel like I must be missing something. All in all, I've never played a game that I so wished I had that time back.

SO, even though I feel this way and can't relate to this game, I love yawls show and one of the highlights for me every year is to listen to the game of the year podcast. You guys make my world better! thanks!!!


Great end of year podcast guys. I think it was one of the best shows for expressing rationalisations for why each person liked or disliked a game. For that reason and a few others I saw it as one of the better podcasts that you guys have done.

Having Tim Speath as a guest is always an excellent idea. More Speath, more of the time and more often is what everyone really wants.

It was Dylan's first end of year podcast which is always tough to manage and he did great and still doing a superb job.

Btw I'm the Halo 4 hater that was first on the list of worst/disappointments list that Brad put out seperate from the podcast. Glad to see one other person out there who knows what's what.

Thanks to Brad all all the rest of the staff that keep good churning out the goods.

Also Sparky Clarkson has to be on a future podcast.

Jurassic Park...

Props to Weissenberger for standing up for the underrated and misunderstood Jurassic Park. Nima! Little Fish!

GOTY podcast thougts

Great podcast, guys.

I'm glad Tim Spaeth and Dan Weissenberger were able to join. They added some important and insightful dissenting voices. My biggest criticism of the podcast is the "echo chamber" that tends to form around certain games and franchises, like Diablo.

To that end, Spaeth admirably stood up for Diablo III. Personally, I loved it and found it to be extremely polished and exciting. I'm not a huge fan of the "loot-whore RPG" genre, but Diablo III brought enough new ideas to the table to make it worth playing. I respect Mike Bracken's differing opinion. But his criticisms of Diablo III exemplify the kind of silliness that is all too common among Diablo III detractors. Only an obsessive Diablo II fan would criticize Diablo III's at-will respec system as a drawback, and not a welcome feature. Inversely, only an obsessive Diablo II fan would call Torchlight's lack of a flexible respec framework as a feature, and not an ugly relic of a bygone generation of RPG game design.

Far Cry 3 continues to be an immensely controversial topic among gamers. I've heard an equal number of gamers praise it for its nonlinear combat as I have heard gamers decry its horrible plot. I'm not that anxious to play it, but I will have to try it one of these days to make up my own mind. I loved the original Crysis, and this game reminds me of it in some ways. I'll wait for a Steam sale on this one. I would like to hear Brad or Mike or someone give a more detailed and nuanced discussion of the game.

I'm a little perplexed why The Walking Dead is getting so much GOTY talk. I haven't played it yet. I understand the writing is good. But good writing is not enough to elevate to GOTY what even the Gamecritics agree is a glorified visual novel. Especially one with as many compatibility problems and game-breaking bugs as this one.

no consensus?

could you guys not agree on a GOTY and so picked Walking Dead as a suitable underdog that everyone could agree on? I don't get how a point-and-click adventure with quicktime events ranked as year's best, just because it had good writing. And as Daniel said, they did the same game last year with Jurassic Park, which was great, and everyone hated it. And they did the same game before that with Back to the Future, and it was another sleeper, or dissed because it was a point and click adventure with quicktime events.

So I found that choice really strange.

The forum chose X-Com: Enemy Unknown, pretty strongly, btw.

Otherwise, good show. Cheers and Happy New Year!

There was complete consensus

There was complete consensus on TWD as Game of the Year -- all of us had it as our top pick. Doesn't get much more consensus than that.

It's a bit of an oversimplification to suggest it only won because it had "good writing." We've done 5 entire shows devoted to the game which chronicled everything that worked about it. Yeah, it's got great writing -- which is something sorely lacking in today's narrative-driven games. It's also able to create scenarios that actually cause gamers to think about their choices and the repercussions of them, gameplay that works in service of the game's narrative vision, and countless other things. TWD isn't perfect, but I'm pretty comfortable saying it was the most engaging thing any of us on the show played this year.

Sleev -- I wish we'd been able to do a Far Cry 3 show in full before doing the End of Year Awards. I think the game deserves more discussion too. It's got an awful story but there are some gameplay elements that work in it (mainly the ability to take over enemy camps -- although they needed to add more variety to those scenarios.) I'll be interested in hearing what you think of it when you do get around to playing it.

I've never been more let

I've never been more let down in buying a game. I gave it an hour or two and then uninstalled it. Complete waste of time and money. To call this a game is a stretch. Feels like a cartoon you sort of have a role in. The Walking Dead video game was a waste of money, time and I was extremely disappointed all around. Buyer Beware, don't waste your money. PC gamer for 20+ years here. This game sucks.

The podcast ends the year in beauty

Too bad Chi was not there. It's like the wise old man is gone and the kids can go mad.

Thanks and ramblings

Thanks for an enjoyable year end wrap up. So fun to listen to the diversity of everyone's thoughts and thoughtfulness, I had the best time hanging out with you all. Interesting comments about Far Cry 3. I was going to play it and what I've seen of it so far when my husband is playing ... well I think I'm going to give it a miss and play Sleeping Dogs instead. Or maybe Jurassic Park ;) Some games I enjoyed and unless I missed their mention in the podcast a few I felt were worthy this year were The Witcher 2, Fez and when I got past the cuteness, Dust:An Elysian Tale. My biggest disappointment: Kingdoms of Amalur. I tried. I couldn't. I'll try again some day. Most hours I spent in a game and had rollicking time: Dragons Dogma. Most alarming DLC wtf of the year that should have been included in the game and not tagged on due to internets pressure, ME3: Leviathan. ME3 is my GoTY. Immersed myself in Dishonored and am on my second playthrough to figure out why. Game I wanted to play most of all this year and was too afraid to try: Dark Souls. It mocks me from the shelf. Can't wait for Castlevania LOS 2, Ni no Kuni, Bioshock Infinite and Fuse for this year. Thanks and wishing you all a Happy and Healthy 2013.

It seems like a lot of the

It seems like a lot of the Walking Dead hate is stemming from people who either haven't played the game or are coming at it from a traditional "gamer" mentality. To the poster who claimed that it doesn't adequately support "playing out different dialog options": what does that even mean? I would suggest that if you're trying to "100%" the game, then you have missed the point, sir. The Walking Dead isn't a game about collecting things or experiencing every possible branching path; it is simply about making difficult choices in a harsh environment and living with those choices. That is what the game largely succeeds at, and what I believe most people are praising it for.

Oh, and Jurassic Park: I can't agree with Dan that it's on the level of TWD. It probably had the best writing and voice acting of last year, but its horrible quicktime events and lack of any real choice system made it merely a nice proof-of-concept for me.

Hi Dan, Maybe I was

Hi Dan,

Maybe I was imagining a different game when I bought TWD. Of course when you make really difficult decisions, you might be curious about how things would play out if you kept a couple games running "parallel" so to speak. So I was running off of 3 saves and making different choices and seeing what happened. In my opinion (only), this is where the game breaks down. The outcomes didn't seem to ring true and were often shallow and contrived and most often led to the same place. And dialog decisions before the last one that determines a specific branching were often meaningless. It was fun playing the scenarios over and over with different dialog choices except that it was excruciating to have to reload and be forced to watch the lengthy cut scenes all over again.

I take your point about the game not being intended to be played that way. I feel a little foolish for having tried. I guess it makes sense what you say. I probably projected my own idea onto it or something. But I can easily imagine that if a game could be played the way I did and still be engaging, it would be all that much better for it. Just my opinion but nearly all the game felt contrived and glued inside this stodgy framework that made me feel constrained. I think the writing was "ok". Not a lot of depth or nuance. I could not get a clear sense about what some of the dialog choices meant either. Some were ambiguous regarding the character's intent or tone so it was frustrating to imagine playing out the whole game after making one bad choice that someone down the line is going to remember and make my life difficult... Maybe this says more about me than the game!!

I don't mean to hate on the game, i just hated my experience playing it. I really felt quite sympathetic to several characters and at times had a strong sense of being in that place but just can't see what others find so great about it. For me it was mediocre and sloppy with nice art at times. I feel like everyone is holding it up a pedestal for reasons I can't comprehend even after listening to the Walking Dead Poscast.

Misc comments

Ejoyed that podcast as always.

Torchlight II vs Diablo III ... I found the D3 demo to be boring, which is pretty bad since the beginning often the most engaging part of an ARPG. I have played and enjoyed T2 a lot and am on my second character. I don't vehemently hate D3; from what I can tell its just not for me and not going to risk $50 on it. Much of the internet's problems with D3 are based on the peripheral stuff such as the delays and the always on line and it could not possibly live up to expectations of Diablo fans. Nothing could. Side note : I have had a blast in beta for PathToExile a soon to be FreeToPLay ARPG; however be warned the skill "tree" plus lack of respec might cause certain folks' head to explode.

Re Desmond hate ... I don't get it either' granted the Revelations island stuff was really, really bad. Haven't played AC3 yet; and despite your warnings I will.

You should change you "I'm a Human button to get a confirmation code" verification to state: "I'm 'Too Human' button to get a confirmation code" with the button changed accordingly.

Hi Terese, Witcher 2 got

Hi Terese,

Witcher 2 got lost in the shuffle this year. I played and loved the 360 version and really wish I'd brought it up more when talking about Walking Dead's writing. Witcher 2's writing is equally interesting -- and I spent lots of time agonizing over choices in that game too. This is the hard thing about an awards show -- good games either get overshadowed, or just get missed. I still regret not having a chance to play Journey, for example.

I made it all the way through Amalur -- there's not much to see there. It's a serviceable ARPG, but with so many great games out there it's hard to justify dumping 40+ hours into something that is marginal at best. I don't regret playing it, but I'll never touch it again.

You really need to jump on Dark Souls. I haven't played it yet, but I finally got around to Demon's Souls this year and loved it. I can only imagine that Dark Souls will be equally awesome.

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