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ZAM Game of the Year Awards

ZAM bestows honors on the best and most beloved games of 2012. Part Two.

In the process of deciding what games we lost sleep over for all the right reasons this year, we reached out to the community and the staff at ZAM, Wowhead, LolKing, Guildhead, Torhead, BL2DB and all the other sites that make up the marvelous ZAM Network.

Congratulations to the winners and the runners up for ZAM's final awards for 2012,

FPS of the Year

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Winner: PlanetSide 2

Developer: Sony Online Entertainment

You may point to some other sensational FPS games that have been released this year as worthy winners, but in the end none of them can deliver action on the scale that regularly occurs in PlanetSide 2.

A player opponent will always offer more of a challenge, more stories and more teeth-gnashing rivalry than even the most finely etched NPC. With up to 2,000 players screeching across the land and skies of Auraxis, the potential for mayhem and thrills is unmatched.

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Few other games this year have given such an itch to log in and even fewer have had the ability to keep you in their thrall for hour after hour. The gameplay is deceptively deep. What at first appears to be a straightforward shooter, blossoms into a tactical, social and utterly engaging experience as soon as you join up with a good outfit.

One of my top two MMOs of the year, PlanetSide 2 is a breath of fresh air that is sorely needed, with incredible scope for expansion in the years ahead.

As Bill “Lethality” Leonard of ZAM.com stated, “While I'm typically not a first-person shooter type of guy, PlanetSide 2 has my attention. Not just for the game play, which provides heart-pounding action with really great RPG progression systems, but also the technology. The game uses a Sony-developed custom engine called Forge Light and the performance is impressive. Never have I seen such huge battles with so many things on screen at one time in an MMO. This is the same engine they're going to use for EverQuest Next, and I absolutely cannot wait to see what they do with it.”

The best FPS of 2012 has a lot to look forward to in 2013.

 

Strategy Game of the Year

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Winner: XCOM: Enemy Unknown

Developer: Firaxis Games

 

Firaxis had an incredible challenge in delivering XCOM: Enemy Unknown. The remake of the 1994 classic had big boots to fill and a lot of expectation from gamers to appease.

Firaxis completed the task with aplomb, delivering an adrenaline charged yet intelligent turn based strategy game that enraptured critics and the public alike.

Not shy of providing a real challenge, XCOM caused wails of agonized delight as your favorite toons were ripped apart by the invading alien hordes. How many soldiers with your friends’ names fell at the final hurdle?

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Fiendish and absorbing, XCOM refused to patronize players and set challenges that inspired unfettered fun along with a profound sense of achievement.

As Julian “Mirai” Williams of ZAM.com said, “XCOM is hands-down the best reboot of a franchise in the last decade, it just got everything right.”

 

RPG of the Year

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Winner: Guild Wars 2

Developer: ArenaNet

Already our Game of the Year and Readers’ Choice of the year it would be churlish to look past Guild Wars 2 as the best RPG because it is an MMO – plus having already won twice, those award hogs!

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From the wide eyed wonderment of the Sylvari to the brusque yet endearing belligerence of the Norn, ArenaNet created a world full of cultures to get lost in. A leveling experience which is the best of any MMO on the market due to its lush, rich world, Guild Wars 2 set the pace for the industry this year and deserves its many accolades.

 

Honorable Mentions:

Borderlands 2

Developer: Gearbox Software

Simply a tremendous game both solo and multiplayer, Borderlands 2 explodes with dark, dry wit and absurd brilliance. With belly laughs provided by everything from the fantastic NPC design to the vast array of items, BL2 is as pure a form of entertainment as you can find.

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As Michael “Ragar” Branham commented, “The first Borderlands was one of my favorite games ever, so much so that I bought it on 360 and then bought it again on PC so I could use a keyboard and mouse.

I was looking forward to the sequel, but wasn't sure if they could really improve on the first game. That concern was misplaced – BL2 is every bit as good as the first game, if not more. The story is more filled out with a great villain, there's noticeable variety in the different gun manufacturers now in both style and how their weapons work. And unlike BL1, the sequel actually has an ending.”

 

Torchlight 2

Developer: Runic Games

With the behemoth of Diablo 3 being released in the same year, Torchlight 2 needed to hit the ground running. Runic provided a game that demands repeated play with a phenomenal focus on pure enjoyment.

As Gareth “Gazimoff” Harmer said, “I love Torchlight 2. For me, it's a much better dungeon crawler than Diablo 3. It might not be as polished, but the pure fun and great loot setup makes it much more rewarding.”

Michael “Ragar” Branham added, “I loved Torchlight 1 since it scratched that itch I've had since Diablo 2 came out. This year we got both Diablo 3 and Torchlight 2. After playing both, TL2 is the one I'll be going back to and replaying. TL2 lets me run around as an Engineer with a giant cannon and an army of robots. When the choice is going into the Inferno meat grinder as a Barbarian or playing my Engineer, there's no contest.”

 

Most Anticipated Game of 2013

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Winner: The Elder Scrolls Online

Developer: ZeniMax Online

 

When the plan to bring the sprawling, rich world of the Elder Scrolls into an MMO was announced, there was a feverish response. Some clamored for its arrival, some were very wary of what it would mean to their beloved franchise, particularly after the spectacular success of Skyrim.

As details have emerged from the steady stream of releases during its development, ESO has reassured fans that something special is going to land in 2013.

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I was full of the same trepidation when I sat down to play the game in early November, yet my concerns were very quickly dispelled as the absorbing game play and familiar world combined to make a reassuringly authentic experience.

Not content with just slapping together a standard MMO inside a shiny Tamriel, ZeniMax is looking to innovate and raise the bar as Guild Wars 2 has in 2012; particularly with the intriguing use of phasing in ways that could set a new standard for the industry.

The ZeniMax team seems to have struck on the alchemical formula to make an excellent MMO that is still unmistakably “Elder Scrolls.”

Congrats to all the winners and stay tuned to ZAM for all your PC gaming news.

Scott "Jarimor" Hawkes, Editor in Chief

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