It’s an annual tradition here at IncGamers to hand out some Alternative Awards. Last year we stuck to games that we’d still broadly recommend as “good,” and handed out several prestigious trophies that included “Best Surreptitious Re-Release of Dungeon Master” and “Best Homicidal Tramp Tutorial.”
This year we’ve extended the net. 2013’s Alternative Awards have been given out to the overlooked, the unconventional, and just downright stupid gaming moments of the year. It’s our way of celebrating and highlighting a few of the things that standard “Best Of” or rigid genre lists can’t really address properly, and, in certain wretched cases, getting some closure.
Don’t consider every title mentioned here to be a recommendation by any means. A few of them are terrible. All are award-worthy.
Best Game We Totally Forgot About When Drafting The Readers’ Award Lists: Card Hunter
Tim: I’m glad we’re starting off with this one, because I’m an idiot. Despite going on about it constantly throughout the year, despite doing a gargantuan interview with developers Blue Manchu, and despite it distracting me from work far too often throughout the year, Card Hunter completely slipped my mind when we were drafting out the list for our Readers’ Awards. Blue Manchu, I sincerely apologise. Happily, the readers didn’t all make the same mistake as me – it got a number of write-in votes in the free-to-play category, and it absolutely deserves them. Hell, it deserves more. So, one last time: if you haven’t played Card Hunter, hop on over to the official site and sign up. It’s a near-flawless piece of game design, and it’s totally free.
Best Game Tim (Wrongly) Thought He’d Have Forgotten By Now: DmC Devil May Cry
Tim: I’m far too lazy to actually go back and look at the review in question, but I seem to recall penning something about how DmC Devil May Cry wasn’t the sort of thing that’d be overly likely to get nominations for Game of the Year, but is nonetheless a solid, entertaining hack-and-slasher that’s probably better than it has any right to be. Despite writing that (or something similar) it was pretty close to the shortlist for my individual picks, and I reinstalled it recently because I really want to swagger my way through it again. I stand by what I said – it’s not an exceptional game that’ll be lauded throughout the ages and held aloft with Civilization and Doom. However, that barely matters. It’s very, very good at what it does, and what it does is “make it fun to beat up demons in the most stylish way you can manage.” It’s unashamedly a popcorn game, but it’s a really bloody good one.
Best Game They Named Twice for Some Reason: DmC Devil May Cry
Peter: To be clear, I’ve never played DmC Devil May Cry. This award is based purely on the fact that I still find it hilarious Ninja Theory called the game Devil May Cry Devil May Cry.
Tim: I look forward to the inevitable Resident Evil reboot, RE: Resident Evil. Which makes it sound like an email. A scary email.
Most Worthy Attempt to Molyneux-ify Football: Lords of Football
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Tim: I approve of this category. I can but hope that this will encourage developers to try to Molyneux-ify other genres, too.
Peter: Sure, Football Manager is great for the more po-faced aspects of the sport. Picking teams, dealing with agents, learning what the hell a ‘False Nine’ is and the like. But what if you want to watch players stumble through tyre-based training exercises and get too fat to play properly from gorging themselves on booze and chocolate fountains? Well, for that you’ll need Lords of Football. A bizarre and not entirely successful attempt to mix the majestic pleasures of football with some of Peter Molyneux’s “little Sims-like people going about their business in odd ways” titles (The Movies, Theme Park), Lords of Football is nonetheless quite unlike any other football title out there. It deserves some credit for that, at least.
Best Game Tim Didn’t Put On His List Despite Going On About It For Years:Spelunky
Tim: I had a hell of a time deciding on a shortlist for my picks, and Spelunky was one of the many that didn’t make the cut. This will probably surprise long-time site readers and podcast listeners, because Spelunky is a game I’ve been raving about for… oh, forever. I probably mentioned it sometime around when the free PC version hit in 2009. I definitely mentioned it when the Xbox version got released in mid-2012. I’m sure I’ve gone on about how much I was looking forward to Spelunky‘s HD re-release on PC, which happened earlier this year. Aaaand then we didn’t review it and I didn’t put it on my list. I didn’t want to review it – I’ve got enough history with the damn game to write school textbooks on it – and, as we never got review code in, Peter couldn’t do it. As for why it didn’t make my list… well, I’ve played the game to death over the last few years, so the PC re-release is something I haven’t spent a great amount of time with when compared to everything else I picked. As such, I didn’t feel too comfortable specifically pointing it out with such stiff competition. Nonetheless, it’s exceptional. Here’s hoping this makes up somewhat for that omission.
Worst Game That Still Provided Moments of Unintentional Hilarity: Star Trek
Tim: Off-hand, I don’t think I played a worse game this year than Namco’s Star Trek tie-in. At its absolute shining best it was boring and generic, and at its worst (which was most of the time) it was a hodge-podge of broken and unfinished mechanics, areas, and ideas, with AI that couldn’t be trusted to get a bowl of cereal without setting fire to the house. It’s so bad that Peter and I had a brief discussion about whether it or the infamously terrible Aliens: Colonial Marines was a worse game and a worse use of an excellent license. The plus side? It gave me the opportunity to make this video.
Best Game Peter is (Probably) Never Going to Understand: Dominions 4
Peter: Oh, Dominions 4. Review code came in for this back in October, when I was on holiday in the UK. In theory, that should have been perfect. It would run on the non-gaming laptop I had with me, filling in time between gallivanting around the country of my birth. Except Football Manager 2014 came in around the same time, had a far more pressing deadline, and also worked on the laptop. Cue Dominions 4 being pushed back indefinitely and the likelihood of my ever getting to grips with its fearsome depth of options diminishing at pace. It’s (probably) a great strategy game. People swear by it (and predecessor Dominions 3) in multiplayer. But unless I magically get a free week’s worth of spare time in the near future, I’m unlikely to ever figure out whether it’s better to put spider cavalry backed up by blood magic on the front lines, or opt for late age mermen and voodoo instead. I pretty much just made that sentence up, but I’ve no doubt Dominions 4 would find a way to make it possible. It’s that kind of game.
Most Feeble Attempt to Prevent War Crimes: Sniper Ghost Warrior 2
Peter: Sniper Ghost Warrior 2 is a game about blowing people’s heads off from as far away as possible. Well … that’s not strictly true, it’s also about following AI snipers and having them tell you want to do all the time. The point is, they usually tell you to blow people’s heads off. Except, that is, when it comes to preventing actual war crimes. Ghost Warrior 2 thinks it’s fine for you to judge and execute every single mercenary you come across, even if they were just taking that patrol job at the drug smuggler’s compound for an easy pay cheque. But when it takes you on a trip back in time to 1990s Sarajevo, the one person you aren’t allowed to kill is the fellow in the middle of topping up a mass grave before your very eyes. Instead, you’re supposed to take some holiday snaps and I guess expose his crimes so that someone else can … kill him later? Inevitably it all goes wrong, and the plan to expose the war criminal goes out of the window. Guess what? You end up having to shoot him in the head after all.
Game Most Likely to Uphold the Geneva Convention: Arma 3
Peter:Arma 3, AKA the game that confirmed I was guilty of attempted war crimes. When we were recording our first IncGamers Plays session with the Arma 3 beta, the game was still a little buggy. Taking off bits of your uniform would work fine, but replacing them was far more hit-and-miss, resulting in the IncGamers crew running around an island in their pants. When we came across the body of an enemy solider, I had the bright idea of nabbing his uniform to wear as a disguise (after all, the mission objective wanted us to escape undetected.) It didn’t work, and we assumed it was an extension of the “dress-up” bug we’d already encountered. In actual fact, wearing the uniforms of enemy combatants is against the rules of the Geneva Convention. Arma 3 wasn’t bugged at all, it was just trying to save me from myself and prevent a costly court case at The Hague.