Click "Sleep" for a dark background.
Click "sleep" again if text isn't dark.



GOTY: Gotta Have One

Many approach the subject of Game of the Year with great caution and even trepidation. Others have dismissed it altogether claiming that it's a meaningless popularity contest. Some sites put up electronic polls in order to discover how the gamers feel. Still others stick to in house voting, perhaps giving every editor a limited number votes. Regardless of how legitimately or artificially a game of the year is chosen, every gamer (especially a critical one) should have a game of the year.
BioShock (PC, 360; 2K Games)
Super Mario Galaxy (Wii; Nintendo)
Halo 3 (360; Microsoft)
The Orange Box (PC, 360, PS3; EA)
Ratchet & Clank: Future-Tools of Destruction (PS3; Sony)
Mass Effect (360; Microsoft)
NBA Street Homecourt (PS3, 360; EA Sports)
Unreal Tournament 3 (PC, PS3; Midway)
Uncharted: Drake's Fortune (PS3; Sony)
The Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar (PC; Midway)
NHL 08 (PS3, 360; EA Sports)
Rock Crysis (PC; EA)
Persona 3 (PS2; Atlus)
Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock (PS3, 360, Wii, PS2; Activision)
MotorStorm (PS3; Sony)
Assassin's Creed (PS3, 360; Ubisoft)
Warhawk (PS3; Sony)
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (PC, 360, PS3; Activision)
Super Paper Mario (Wii; Nintendo)
World in Conflict (PC; Sierra)
Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure (Wii; Capcom)
Skate (PS3, 360; EA)
Metroid Prime 3: Corruption (Wii; Nintendo)
The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass (DS; Nintendo)
World of WarCraft: Burning Crusade (PC; Blizzard)
Planet Puzzle League (DS; Nintendo)
God of War II (PS2; Sony)
Heavenly Sword (PS3; Sony)
Virtua Fighter 5 (PS3, 360; Sega)

I've lifted the list of nominees from 1up. Though this list is a tad excessive, the variety is noteworthy and the list will serve our purposes. Let's assume that as a critical-gamer you have seriously played and digested each of these titles (though the notion is absurd as even game reviewers don't have time to thoroughly play through the entire roster), and by doing so, you are aware of each game's pros and cons. Now all you need to do is pick one. As simple as it may seem, many shy away from committing to a game choosing it above all the others. Choosing a game of the year is more complicated than measuring how much "good" and "bad" are in various games. Due to the large variety of genres and platforms represented on this list, at some point you're going to have to make the call between two unlike games. In the end, apples and oranges can be compared. Choosing one over the other doesn't necessarily mean that one is superior, but that you prioritize and value some quality of your choice above all other factors.

In essence, choosing a game of the year says more about you than how good the game is. And when networks like 1up or IGN pick a game of the year, it means even more. Besides being a rough estimate to the ratio of PC-360-PS3-PSP-DS-Wii reviewers there are on staff, a major network's game of the year speaks to what values they support and what shorting comings and draw backs they're willing to forgive, overlook, and even ignore in their assessment of games. Ideally, the editors and staff would deliberate over their choice in an discussion or debate so that they may consider their options from as many view points as possible. Any consensus reached thereafter represents their network views that would, in a general sense, frame and color their game bias throughout the next year.

To give you a better idea of the kind of values that can be extrapolated from a GOTY choice, I'll give as many examples as possible from games that I have experience with. As you read them, imagine each game in 2008 to have all of the same qualities. If you're not satisfied with every game having poor frame rate, for example, then perhaps Zack & Wiki isn't your game of the year. Keep in mind, I am still in the process of assessing these games. These comments are subject to change.

Super Mario Galaxy

  • Privileges Classical Game design
  • Privileges forms that fit their function
  • Highest levels of polish (no glitches, consistent frame rate)
  • Reinventing the genre
  • Fun and accessible for all gamers of all ages
  • Hight amount of variety

Halo 3

  • Polished/refined game sequel
  • Large volume of features (, vidoc, forge, online support)
  • integrated community


  • Lack of any significant/consequential design or structure
  • Privileges the game experience over the gameplay
  • Ideas and ambitious are more important than execution

Mass Effect

  • Privileges story and story telling over gameplay
  • Terrible frame rate and loading issues
  • Excellent writing and voice work
  • Lackluster combat
  • Lack of variety

The Orange Box

  • Value is a factor when judging the overall quality of a game
  • Privileges Classical Game Design (Portal)

Guitar Hero 3

  • Marginally improved sequel
  • New modes add little additional value (online versus, battle mode)
  • Represents a very successful multiplatform game
  • Developers can get away with needlessly adding material that is degrading to women (groupies, etc.)

Heavenly Sword

  • Presentation and production values are privileged over gameplay and story
  • Games that can be beaten in a sitting
  • Lackluster fighting mechanics and level design
  • Lack of Variety

Planet Puzzle League

  • Repackaging great games with online support
  • Adding to the touch generation's library with top-notch titles
  • bridging the gap between gamers/nongamers & hardcore games/nongames.
  • Privileges gameplay and functionality over presentation

Assassin's Creed

  • Privileges presentation and graphics over gameplay
  • Forced and shallow game mechanics
  • Vast Game worlds
  • Excellent animation
  • Extreme lack of variety

God of War II

  • Privileges the roller coaster experience over components of its gameplay
  • individual parts are basic
  • projects that don't intend on innovating
  • High level of polish
  • Pushing the ESRB line through questionable material

Super Paper Mario

  • Privileges nostalgia and canon over substance, style, and gameplay
  • Represents a failure of two genres (platforming/RPG)
  • Gameplay gimmicks


« Bioshock Defense Review | Main | Critical Casts ->12/05/07 »

Reader Comments (1)

FYI dude, I hate the whole GOTY thing. Really, it doesn't serve to do anything but fill Feature pages and in many cases help push any decent, yet not quite AAA title into the shadows for the year.

Generally the GOTY is also biased towards games released towards the end of the year. Heck, in Australia Okami and God Hand were released beginning last year and I sunk more hours into both of those than I have in CoD4.

February 10, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDaniel Purvis

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>