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A look back at the "Game of the Year" Winners (Part 2 of 2) 2000-2014

(this is Part 2 of my blog. Here is a link to Part 1:

2000 Game of the Year: Deus Ex on PC and Mac

2000 was another year where many publications declared many different winners. But a slim majority sided with Deus Ex and I think it was a fine choice. After all, We'd never seen such an open ended FPS/RPG hybrid that allowed for such customization. It was very hard to just play the game once.

2000 Honorable Mentions:
The Sims, Perfect Dark, Diablo II, Marvel vs. Capcom 2, Chrono Cross, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2, Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn, The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, Shenmue, Final Fantasy IX, The Longest Journey
2001 Game of the Year: Grand Theft Auto III on PS2

What more can be said about this game? Just the mere rumor of the next GTA sets the internet on fire. One of the single highest selling series in gaming history and it's largely due to the massive sandbox gameplay where you may never actually complete the main story. GTA existed before this game, but the phenomenon of GTA began with GTA III.

2001 Honorable Mentions:
Paper Mario, Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec, Max Payne, Ico, Silent Hill 2, Devil May Cry, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3, Sid Meier's Civilization III, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, Halo: Combat Evolved, Super Smash Bros. Melee, Final Fantasy X, Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader
2002 Game of the Year: Metroid Prime on the GameCube

I suspect that Prime won so many GotY awards due more to shock of how good it was. We have to remember that Metroid fans were NOT happy about a first person Metroid game at all. They wanted more 2D Metroid and so many fans were more interested in Metroid Fusion on the GBA. But Prime was truly a surprise in the best possible way.

2002 Honorable Mentions:
Virtua Fighter 4, Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast, The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, Neverwinter Nights, Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos, Battlefield 1942, Kingdom Hearts, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell, Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem
2003 Game of the Year: The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker on GameCube

A truly timeless game thanks to it's cartoon-ish art style. But, like in 2002, fans once again reacted poorly to Nintendo's decisions, calling it "Cell-da" due to the cell shaded graphics. I personally consider it my favorite Zelda game and learning that it was actually a direct sequel to "Ocarina" was mind blowing. I really do hope Nintendo returns to this style of Zelda game one day soon.

2003 Honorable Mentions:
Panzer Dragoon Orta, Dark Cloud 2, Amplitude, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, F-Zero GX, SoulCalibur II, Viewtiful Joe, Call of Duty, SOCOM II: U.S. Navy SEALs, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, SSX 3
2004 Game of the Year: Half Life 2 on PC

The hype for Half Life 2 was overwhelming. I remember thinking that it couldn't possibly live up to my expectations. But that gravity gun... Yep, there's a reason that the hype for HL3 is through the roof now. There were lots of great games in 2004 but none so innovative and forward thinking as HL2.

2004 Honorable Mentions:
Ninja Gaiden (2004), Far Cry, City of Heroes, The Cronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay, Tales of Symphonia, Doom 3, The Sims 2, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, World of Warcraft
2005 Game of the Year: Resident Evil 4 on the GameCube and PS2

Originally a GameCube exclusive, RE4 was a game changer for the franchise and influenced so many action games to follow. There are a lot of fans who miss the old survival horror style of the early RE games but there's no denying that Capcom had something special on their hands with RE4.

2005 Honorable Mentions:
Gran Turismo 4, God of War, Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, Jade Empire, Guild Wars, Forza Motorsport, Battlefield 2, Shadow of the Colossus, Sid Meier's Civilization IV, Call of Duty 2, Guitar Hero, Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King
2006 Game of the Year: The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess on the GameCube and Wii

Launching alongside the Wii, Nintendo gave us two versions of the same game. My personal opinion is that the GameCube version is superior but it seems 90% of gamers played it on the Wii. Finally, Nintendo gave us a "dark and gritty" Zelda game that we had been craving and, for the most part, it was amazing. 2006 was a very disappointing year in gaming but Twilight Princess was JUST what we needed.

2006 Honorable Mentions:
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Company of Heroes, Okami, Bully, Final Fantasy XII, Guitar Hero II, Gears of War
2007 Game of the Year: Super Mario Galaxy on the Wii

What a surprise this was. Easily the best Mario game in a decade and for a sub HD game, it looked better than 95% of what other consoles could do. And that soundtrack! Lots of people bought their Wii for Zelda but they kept it for Super Mario Galaxy. 2007 also marks the last time that Nintendo dominated the GotY awards as third party games became more important and gamers stopped supporting Nintendo home consoles to the same degree.

2007 Honorable Mentions:
God of War II, BioShock, Halo 3, The Orange Box, The Witcher, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, Crysis, Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, Mass Effect, Rock Band, Persona 3
2008 Game of the Year: Grand Theft Auto IV on PC, 360 and PS3

I personally hated this game. Rockstar games had removed most of what I loved about Vice City and San Andreas and what's left was a very mediocre GTA game. I would have given the award to Fallout 3, Valkyria Chronicles or one of the Personas but even I can't deny the hype for GTA 4 was an order of magnitude greater than most games ever receive. And I think hype played a very significant part in the awards that year.

2008 Honorable Mentions:
Sins of a Solar Empire, Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, Dead Space, LittleBigPlanet, Fallout 3, Valkyria Chronicles, Left 4 Dead, Persona 3 FES & 4
2009 Game of the Year: Uncharted 2: Among Thieves on PS3

Good old Naughty Dog! After their success with the Crash and Jak games, I was beginning to think they'd never receive any GotY awards. Uncharted 2 was almost unanimously declared the GotY with it's slick polish, vibrant graphics, excellent story and performances and it's amazing soundtrack.

2009 Honorable Mentions:
Street Fighter IV, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Demon’s Souls, Forza Motorsport 3, Dragon Age: Origins, Assassin’s Creed II, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
2010 Game of the Year: Red Dead Redemption and Mass Effect 2

Another year with dual winners. For my money, RDR was the stronger candidate with it's old west setting, masterful soundtrack, and endless sandbox of things to do. And that ending! Rockstar did good. But that's not to disparage ME2 which I consider the best of the ME trilogy by a country mile. The awesome cast of like-able characters and epic suicide mission storyline was just what Mass Effect needed. I was a little disappointed in the lack of RPG mechanics compared with the first game, but ME2 is easily one of the best games of last gen.

2010 Honorable Mentions:
Bayonetta, Heavy Rain, God of War III, Super Mario Galaxy 2, StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty, Sid Meier's Civilization V, Donkey Kong Country Returns, Halo: Reach, Fallout: New Vegas
2011 Game of the Year: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

One word: Wanderlust. It perfectly describes this game. With an epic theme song and truly endless things to do and see and fight, Skyrim became a cultural phenomenon. Bethesda was already famous before Skyrim but after... it would become legendary. Which is why the hype for Fallout 4 was so great earlier this year. If you see the Bethesda logo, it means your free time just disappeared.

2011 Honorable Mentions:
LittleBigPlanet 2, Portal 2, The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Dark Souls, Batman: Arkham City, Battlefield 3, Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception, Minecraft, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
2012 Game of the Year: 3 way tie between Dishonored, Journey and XCOM: Enemy Unknown

Another contentious year. This time, strategy and multiplayer fans voted for XCOM EU, the FPS and single player fans picked Dishonored and indy & artistic gaming fans went with Journey. I loved both Dishonored and XCOM but I thought Journey was too short and shallow gameplay-wise. But I won't deny it's a beautiful game. But I am EAGERLY awaiting the sequels to XCOM and Dishonored.

2012 Honorable Mentions:
Xenoblade Chronicles, Mass Effect 3, Fez, Max Payne 3, Diablo III, Guild Wars 2, Mark of the Ninja, Borderlands 2, The Walking Dead: Season One, Far Cry 3
2013 Game of the Year: The Last of Us on PS3

Naughty Dog once again floored us with a tale so tragic and powerful that even the most cold hearted gamers would get misty-eyed. The opening few minutes alone hit me so hard in the feels, it left me traumatized for the rest of the day. Truly a masterpiece of modern gaming. TLoU sent the PS3 out on a high note we won't soon forget.

2013 Honorable Mentions:
Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch, Tomb Raider (2013), BioShock Infinite, The Swapper, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, Grand Theft Auto V, Super Mario 3D World, Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
2014 Game of the Year: Dragon Age Inquisition

A fine return for this franchise as the 2nd game had left many fans wanting more. With an excellent cast (especially Iron Bull), an epic plot, tons of missions and choices and a fantastic soundtrack this game easily grabbed the top honors last year.

2014 honorable Mentions:
South Park: The Stick of Truth, Mario Kart 8, Shovel Knight, Divinity: Original Sin, Bayonetta 2, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, Dark Souls II, Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft
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And now we come to 2015's Game of the Year possibilities. Using the best of my abilities, I believe the following games are likely nominees:

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Fallout 4
Ori and the Blind Forest
Pillars of Eternity
Rocket League
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
Xenoblade Chronicles X
Super Mario Maker

Out of that line up, I would say Witcher 3 is the favorite to win and here's why:
1. Its a multiplatform release
2. It's probably the best looking game of the year (although MGSV is close).
3. The Witcher Series has yet to win a GotY but the other games (save Mario) can say that too.
4. TW3's story is very bold and quests like "The bloody Baron" are some of the best writing ever seen in a game.
5. CD Projekt RED's pro-consumer policies deserve to be rewarded in this day and age. Never has so much good DLC been free.
6. Out of all the open worlds in games this year, TW3's world is by far the most memorable (though XCX is not far behind).

My only real complaint with TW3 is that Geralt is kinda one-note and you can't create you own character to play as. Taken together, The Witcher 3 stands a cut above the rest and I wouldn't be surprised if the vote is unanimous this year.

Thanks for reading this very long blog as it was very exhausting researching and typing all this up. Did you get nostalgic reading this? Do you agree with my conclusion? If not, what do you think deserves this year's top honor? Let me know in the comments below.

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Elwenil1739d ago

No mention of Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon in 2001? It was named GOTY by IGN and PC Gamer for '01 and was huge on PC back then.

gamejediben1739d ago

It received the fewest GotY awards that year but I probably should have placed it under Honorable Mentions. While Ghost Recon was a great game, it didn't alter the gaming industry in any noticeable way compared to the others, especially Halo CE, Ico and Super Smash Bros Melee. And certainly not as much as GTA III.

But still, I should have included it.

Bansai1734d ago

You spelled Bloodborne wrong, there's no U in the title.

DivineAssault 1731d ago (Edited 1731d ago )

@ bansai,
Wheres bloodborne in his comment?

mikeslemonade1730d ago (Edited 1730d ago )

2007 is Call of Duty 4, not Mario Galaxy. You're dumb if you think otherwise.

gamejediben1730d ago


I might even agree with you but this isn't a list of what I thought should be given game of the year. This is a list of what the gaming press declared Game of the Year. CoD4 certainly altered the gaming industry in enormous ways.

Having said that, Mario Galaxy is probably the best 3D Mario game ever and even though it was outsold by CoD4, it definitely deserves it's praise.

mikeslemonade1728d ago

I'm pretty sure COD4 got more votes.

In fact COD4 is game of the generation, not just for 2007.

+ Show (2) more repliesLast reply 1728d ago
gamejediben1739d ago

Couldn't agree more.

I couldn't believe that GTA4 won over Fallout 3, MGS4, Persona 4 or Valkyria Chronicles. It certainly sold more copies but what exactly did it contribute to the industry?

DefenderOfDoom21738d ago (Edited 1738d ago )

No honorable mention of "Destiny" in 2014 ? Almost half the writers from "Game Informer" had Destiny as their favorite game of 2014 . Also Brad Shoemaker was fighting hard for "Destiny" to be the best game for "Giant Bomb" in 2014 .

gamejediben1738d ago

"Multiplayer only" titles always have a hard time at the Game of the Year awards. That's part of it... but Destiny also was on many "most disappointing" lists in 2014 as well. In the end, both Destiny and Titanfall were mostly overlooked during the awards season.

DefenderOfDoom21735d ago (Edited 1735d ago )

I understand that 2014 "vanilla" Destiny recieved a lot complaints . It did win a Bafta award for "best video game of the year 2014" in the UK.

I do think that it cool that the Bafta awards give some awards to people in the video game industry . Does the Golden Globe Award show give any awards for the video game industry ?

DefenderOfDoom21726d ago

"Destiny Taken King" just won "Old Game of the Year 2015" award by "Giant Bomb" yesterday.

BillytheBarbarian1735d ago

No Halo 2 in 2004? That game basically launched xbox live.

No Gears 2 in 2008? Horde mode kept that game in a ton of people's 360s.

gamejediben1734d ago

While Halo 2 was a very significant game in 2004, it was a pebble compared to the mountains that were GTA San Andreas, World of Warcraft and especially Half-Life 2. Also, Xbox Live was around for 2 years before Halo 2 released... you just probably didn't notice.

Gears 2? Seriously? Look, I'm sure 360 fanboys thought it was amazing but now it's mostly forgotten. I'm sure the Sony fans will complain that Resistance or Starhawk wasn't on this list too.

Spurg1733d ago

Im sorry but Gears 2 was the best Gears and was nominated several times by mutiple sites...Horde mode easily the second most copied idea of last gen. Resistance should be on the list but not starhawk.

BillytheBarbarian1730d ago (Edited 1730d ago )

Gears 2 also had 4 player simultaneous co-op campaign. Just because it's Xbox doesn't mean it wasn't good. A good game is a good game. Gears 2 just pushed some barriers which others then copied. It's a good game.

Xbox live wasn't talking off until Halo 2 hit. That's why I said it basically launched Xbox live.

Jurat1732d ago

great blog; thanks for taking the time to compile this list.

I've gotten heavily into the retro gaming scene this year and I feel privileged to live in an age where we can still experience these games of old (through emulation or original hardware) relatively easily.

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