Feature

2012 Shooter Of The Year Awards

by Matt Bertz on Dec 28, 2012 at 05:30 AM

With premier titles like Halo 4 and Borderlands 2 garnering headlines and the revenue juggernaut Call of Duty dominating the sales charts once again, the shooter genre turned in an impressive 2012. Naysayers view the category as lacking innovation or surprises, but nobody predicted the open-world greatness of Far Cry 3 or that the narrative of Spec Ops: The Line would stick with you long after you turned off the game. Which games stood out the most? Read on to find out.

Best Story: Spec Ops: The Line

Most military shooters walk the same straight and narrow line: the world needs saving, and your trigger finger is the key to victory. Not Spec Ops. When Captain Walker and his Delta squad enter the Dubai disaster zone after a cataclysmic sandstorm to find out what happened to Colonel John Konrad, they come face to face with the horrors of war and they’ll never be the same.

Best Campaign: Far Cry 3

No setting left a better impression on the shooter fans in the office this year than the islands of Far Cry 3. We’re not fans of the trust-fund protagonist Jason Brody, but scouring the island to find his friends, joining the native Rakyat in an effort to drive the drug and slave traders from their homelands, and interacting with the many crazy inhabitants of the island was an unforgettable experience we encourage all shooter fans to seek.

Best Multiplayer Map: Exile – Halo 4

Combining high-octane vehicular battles with close-quarters infantry combat, the large-scale Exile map offers something for everyone. The donut-shaped map allows vehicles to patrol the periphery, but drive too slow and someone will pop out of a trench and commandeer your ride. Those who prefer infantry combat can stick to cover in the outer edges and use tunnels to make their way indoors without getting run over by a Warthog.

Best Progression System: Borderlands 2

No matter which class you select, Borderlands 2 offers three intriguing upgrade paths that urge you to keep racking up kills and exploring Pandora. Unlocking them all isn’t feasible in a single playthrough, so many of us signed up for the season pass just to keep plugging toward becoming the ultimate weaponized human. 

Best Audio: Halo 4

Miller said it best: From the forceful gun bursts that pop out of your speakers to the revving propulsion drive of alien vehicles careening toward your position, Halo 4 drags players into the game by their ears. The dramatic score and top-notch voice acting also deserve accolades.

Best Enemy AI: Halo 4

Halo 4 rises above the sea of military shooters thanks to its varied enemies. While many scoffed at fighting the Covenant yet again, once the Prometheans arrived on the scene the Master Chiefs of the world have to bring a different tactical approach to the battles. The enemies carefully coordinate their attacks, with Watchers repairing Knights, and Crawlers swarming the attackers if a Knight’s health gets too low.

Best Graphics: Halo 4

From the opening cutscene of Halo 4, 343 Industries proved it has the mettle to stand alongside the best technical studios in the business. The detailed facial animations are eerily realistic, lips sync well with the voice-overs, and even the hair looks good. When you jump into the gameplay, the graphical fidelity stays at the peak thanks to stellar use of high dynamic range lighting.

Best Cooperative Multiplayer: Borderlands 2

With its complementary character classes, infinite loot drops, and scaling difficulty, Borderlands 2 ranks among the elite cooperative games ever created. If a selfish loot hog is ruining your experience by grabbing all the good weapons before you have a chance to check out the drops, you can always challenge them to a duel. 

Best Competitive Multiplayer: Halo 4

Rather than stick you in another plain menu, Halo 4 houses all of its multiplayer interactions on the ship USNC Infinity. The popular gameplay didn’t change drastically from other entries outside of adding ordnance drops, but the new specialization and loadout systems allow players to bring customized kits into battle, and the Forge gives them the tools to customize their own combat arenas.

Shooter of the Year: Halo 4

Silencing the naysayers who believed no one besides Bungie could make a great Halo game, 343 Industries knocks its debut out of the park. The stunning visuals and sound are the best seen on consoles this year. Master Chief and Cortana's story on planet Requiem is the most compelling and clear of the series. Multiplayer's new modes, weapons, maps, points-based scoring, and rewarding progression system put it at the top of the competitive heap this year. It’s tough to find a more convincing package than that.