golden claymore, game of the year, front towards gamer, day 1

The year 2013 has been huge for gaming. We got sequels, originals, remakes, revamps, and everything in between. In fact, this year has been one of the most debated since the beginning of Front Towards Gamer – so much came out, and so much deserves recognition.

To manage the sheer amount of awards we have to give this year, the 2013 Golden Claymore Awards are being spread out over the course of seven days. To start off, today’s awards will be personal picks from the staff. Basically, we all have games we want to see credited, but don’t see taking any of the main categories. Today’s awards honors those titles.

Best Stealth Game Starring an Anthropomorphic Raccoon – Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time

golden claymore, game of the year, front towards gamer, sly cooper: thieves in time

I’ve been a fan of the Sly Cooper series since the beginning. I watched it evolve from a straight platformer to a semi-open world, mission-based classic. Then I watched – or rather, didn’t watch – as the series disappeared for a decade. When the Sly Collection released, I was happy to revisit a trilogy I had enjoyed so much during the PS2 era, but I also knew something big was coming. And come it did – Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time brought the stealthy marsupial to a whole new generation of hardware and gamers. And you know what? It was the best follow-up it could have possibly been. Sly got to travel the globe again, but this time, he stepped through time as well, finally coming face to face with those ancestors we learned about way back in the first game. If you play one game from 2013 that sports a team of stealthy critters, make it this one.

– Tony Wilson, Reviews Editor

Best Video Game to Ever Video Game – Saints Row IV

golden claymore, game of the year, front towards gamer, saints row IV

Oh, you’re back in the same town, most of side activities return, and it’s Saints Row: The Third with super powers and aliens. Oh, it’s – shut up. Volition wanted you fully experience their creation. Yeah, you felt overpowered and never ran across much difficulty, but that’s the whole point. You land back in Steelport to see how much those powers make a difference and how bath-salts insane the series is today. Saints Row IV captures the self-indulgent game aspect of open-world games, knowing what’s fun to do in running around in a city and capitalizing on it. That’s just one of the many bullet points; I left out the diverse cast, freedom of sexual and physical expression, sharp comedic pacing, and self-awareness. Oh, and Matrix and Mass Effect 2 parodies.

– Robert Beach, News Editor

Best Use of Paper – Tearaway

golden claymore, game of the year, front towards gamer, tearaway

The gorgeous design of Media Molecule’s underrated gem makes it stand out from the crowd of decent platformers. The entire game is about how you, the player, mold and create the protagonist to look like whatever you want, and will feature you as the man behind the machine. Everything is paper. Trees, people, squirrels, trampolines – all of them have a unique aesthetic not seen in games. Period. No other game in 2013 has put paper to as good of a use.

– Dylan Tierney, Features Editor

Best Space Ninja Simulator (in Space with Ninjas in It) – Warframe

golden claymore, game of the year, front towards gamer, warframe

I took a break from playing Warframe to write this entry, and I’m going to have to take another break later to get my final word on the game out to the public. In the meantime, I’m going to tell you why my personal game of the year is the premiere space ninja simulator (as I’ve taken to calling it). Part third-person shooter, part third-person action game, part co-op, part PvP, part Monster Hunter, and part everything else, Warframe is an extremely unique experience that can be summed up with four words: “that was f*cking awesome”.

You’re a Tenno, a (supposed) human trained in the art of the gun and blade, a wearer of a bio-organic “warframe,” a sleek looking space suit with unique superpowers designed to go hand-in-hand with the three weapons you choose to bring along. You’ll warp the matter around you to turn enemies into walking bombs, cause pillars of flame to spawn beneath the ground you tread, and just get the urge to punch. More. Things. Basically: ninjas, space, enemies, swords, superpowers, it’s free, it’s on PC and PS4 – go play it.

– Rhys Egner, Associate Editor

Biggest Atrocity Laden with Tropes – Deadfall Adventures

golden claymore, game of the year, front towards gamer, deadfall adventures

Never have I experienced a game more laden with hackneyed tropes than this Indiana Jones ripoff. Though I will admit the actual gameplay began to become enjoyable at the end, the whole experience will be remembered as a tragedy of gaming, thanks to the awful attempts at comedy mixed with periodic visits to TV Tropes. Playing Deadfall Adventures made me mad more times than I count, and I quickly became very tired of being informed by the main character’s “Well, that was fun” catchphrase. It wasn’t. It wasn’t fun.

– Sam Eskenazi, Associate Editor

Best Game with 15 or More Endings and a Sassy British Narrator – The Stanley Parable

golden claymore, game of the year, front towards gamer, the stanley parable

The Stanley Parable is one of those games that you play for an hour or two and realize that you’ve had a smile on your face the entire time. The number of surprises contained within this game is so great that even after playing to “the end” over a dozen times, you can still easily find things that you missed. This is all enhanced by the amazing writing and the fantastic voice work done by the narrator. The true joy of The Stanley Parable is in realizing what it has to say about games as an art form; this game will be discussed and debated for years to come. While it might not have the gameplay of The Last of Us or the emotional impact of Gone Home, The Stanley Parable stands out as one of the best games of this year due to being one of the most enjoyable experiences you can have with a video game.

– Kyle Hanson, Associate Editor

Best MMO That Sucked 100+ Hours of My Life – Marvel Heroes

golden claymore, game of the year, front towards gamer, marvel heroes

The Marvel Universe is ripe with story and characters, so it’s no wonder Gazillion Entertainment wanted to use this fantastical setting in their MMO, Marvel Heroes. The characters and world just ooze Marvel novelty, with little nods and lore from many of the worlds favorite superheroes. Like a world-shattering crossover, Marvel Heroes manages to give each character his own personality to shine alone and on a team, featuring many locations and villains from all over the vast history of Marvel. It’s not just the feeling of empowerment that comes with calling down thunder as Thor, smashing everything as The Hulk is want to do, or even web-swinging through halls of Asgard: in the end, it’s the small details found seemingly every minute that add spice to the world and a smile to comic book fans. With over a hundred hours invested in Marvel Heroes (with no monetary investment…yet) they continue to add new features, story, characters, and challenges to keep this previously avid anti-MMO player a true believer.

– Paul Neafsey, Associate Editor

Best Game about Shooting Cowboys in the Head – Call of Juarez: Gunslinger

golden claymore, game of the year, front towards gamer, call of juarez: gunslinger

Call of Juarez: Gunslinger is probably the best game that seemingly no one played. If anything, I think its definitely the best shooter of this year. Gunslinger comes in the wake of the Call of Juarez franchise, one that has never risen above mediocrity. The Cartel, the predecessor to Gunslinger, was especially bad, all but tarnishing the Call of Juarez name as a whole. But seemingly out of nowhere, came Gunslinger, a downloadable adventure that returns to the series’ western roots. Gunslinger tells its story through the recounting of Cylus Greeves, and uses his narration to great effect. The way Greeves will correct something he says in real-time adds an extra flare to the gameplay. But apart from that, Gunslinger boasts excellent shooting mechanics and a satisfying amount of variety in level design. It’s a shooter that innovates way more than it has to, and costs way less than it should.

– Morgan Park, Associate Editor

Best “Do Anything in a Sandbox” Game – Grand Theft Auto V

golden claymore, game of the year, front towards gamer, GTA V

Let’s face it. You spend a ton of time with your character robbing convenience stores, playing golf, stealing cars, playing tennis, hang gliding, gathering facts about a murder, looking for UFO’s, buying property, getting shot down by a fighter jet, and hanging out at your friend’s penthouse. That’s not even scratching the surface of Grand Theft Auto V, and that’s just the online part. The single player is just as engaging and fun to play as the multiplayer, and there are not a whole lot of games that can say that this year. This just had to top my list of the best of 2013.

– Brandon Parker, Associate Editor

Best JRPG of the Last Seven Years – Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch

golden claymore, game of the year, front towards gamer, ni no kuni

Yeah, sorry Final Fantasy IV remake(s), Lost Odyssey, and Last Remnant, Ni no Kuni was the best JRPG to release in 2013, and the best JRPG of the entire generation. Despite what our Golden Claymore tally may say was the best RPG/JRPG this year, these plebes do not realize the charm and beauty Ni no Kuni contained in its 60-hour adventure. Helmed by Level-5 with artwork and art direction of Studio Ghibli, JRPG fans were treated with a modest, adorable game that not only tugged at the heartstrings, but made us care about JRPGs again. Even though the second game was a Japanese-only DS release, the PS3’s Wrath of the White Witch is more than worthy of its already stupidly low introductory price, and a must-play for JRPG fans and PS3 owners. Spend your winter with the best JRPG this generation, and I guarantee you will not regret it!

– Curtis Stone, Associate Editor

Most Saintly Game – Saints Row IV

golden claymore, game of the year, front towards gamer, saints row IV

I’ve been sitting here thinking about this for over an hour now, and much like the movie industry, comedy is often excluded from any nominations when it comes to the end of the year award ceremonies. Just because a game is sad and depressing doesn’t make it the game I had the most fun with. The narrative in The Last of Us was great, but it definitely had its flaws in the mechanical part of game. Gone Home was an excellent take on narrative in games, along with The Stanley Parable, and let’s not get started on the questioning moral dilemma that Papers, Please causes you. But, the fact remains that none of them put a stupid smile on my face from beginning to end like Saints Row IV did.

Not only did the narrative of Saints Row IV make me laugh so hard that I had to put my controller down at some parts, but the Crackdown-riffing gameplay also never got old. Jumping the height of a 1500 ft. building and then barreling down to the ground to a group full of enemies with the force of an atomic bomb is oddly satisfying. The parodies of other games like Call of Duty and Mass Effect add to the comedic element: the fact that you can romance everybody, including the horny robot, is a clear satirical take on the Mass Effect romance options that were prevalent in all iterations of the franchise. Saints Row IV is a game for gamers. You probably won’t understand the humor if you’ve never played the games that it makes fun of, but there are still plenty of moments – in both the gameplay and narrative- that add to the enjoyment factor. Plus, who else could rock “Opposites Attract” like the Saints? Only Paula, my friends, only Paula.

– Quinn Sullivan, Contributing Editor