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Cheryll Del Rosario: When I first saw footage of this game during the Microsoft event at E3 this year I wanted to hate all over it. I was ready to turn my dance floor enthusiast’s nose up to the ceiling and come up with creative ways to say “this thing sucks” in as many ways possible. Of course, as soon as I created a list of synonyms for “asstacular” I played it and saw the light. Now it’s safe to say that I’m one of the biggest, most unashamed Dance Central nerds ever.
From their creative, and sometimes hilarious, titles for moves to legitimate original choreography to unexpected favorites on their song list there have been more than a few nights after work where I found myself sweating up a storm perfecting my Om Nom Nom or Sexy Jerk. I love this game so much that if I could put a ring on it I would. In the meantime, I’ll just wait till Harmonix releases “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)” through DLC.
Brett Elston: Mass Effect 2 is a game about space people who save the galaxy from evil aliens. Well they’re not really evil I guess but they do want to kill us all, which sounds like evil but maybe if they have a good reason I could understand. There is a lot of talking in this game and as you talk you learn more about your friends. After you talk to them for a long time you can have sex with them. There are also better guns in this game than the first game.
Henry Gilbert: This honor nearly belonged to Super Mario Galaxy 2, but that all changed in mid-October when I started up my review copy of Super Meat Boy. Once I began jumping over buzzsaws to save Bandage Girl from Dr. Fetus, the fragile pile of red meat was all I could think about. I’ve never been one for masochistic games that involve dying literally thousands of times to beat, but SMB’s increasingly challenging level design struck a perfect balance with the super-tight controls. I was hooked, trying over and over to beat just one more level before going to sleep.
SMB’s amazing soundtrack, humor, and retro-love were just gravy on the addicting indie title. By the time I, with very sore fingers, bested the demanding, final Light World stage, I knew I had just experienced something really extraordinary. While a few games this year may be superior in a technical sense, nothing can match Super Meat Boy’s raw heart.
Michael Grimm: I know what you’re thinking: “Mike! You fool! This is just an expansion of SF4! How could you waste your coveted Game of the Year accolade on this? Surely some other game deserves it.” Not so fast, scooter. While Mass Effect 2, Heavy Rain and Red Dead Redemption are all fine games, I generally only play through them once. At a couple evenings a pop I enjoy them, but I rarely go back to them once they're finished. SSFIV, despite its goofy plots and hour long "campaign," draws me back in almost every night. When I lose it’s a personal assault, unequivocal proof that I’m a scrub who’s terrible and should go back to the day care center, but when I win I’m filled with the knowledge that my superior skills have crushed my opponent; I have seen into his soul, read him like a book and reduced him to a simpering child.
So why is SSFIV my GOTY? Well at $29.99 the game has one of the best dollar to fun ratios out there, especially if you catch the bug and become hopelessly addicted to getting better like myself. And while the game’s 10 new characters may not seem like a lot, that number means there’s 600 new character match ups you’re going to have to get familiar with. Factor in the game’s balance tweaks and one of the most active and intense communities in gaming, and SSFIV is easily my personal game of the year. It may not resonate with you, but if it does be prepared for one of the purest and most gratifying competitive gaming experiences available.
Carolyn Gudmundson: If you're into science fiction literature, it's often disappointing when your favorite science fiction games don't have the same fully-realized worlds and stories as your favorite books. Mass Effect 1 and 2 are the only games I've played with a universe, story, and characters as rich as a good novel. The feeling of actually playing an epic space opera instead of just reading it brought back a level of pure childlike excitement I haven't felt with any other games this console generation. Most importantly, there's no tradeoff between gameplay and story – both aspects of Mass Effect are equally strong.
Mass Effect 2 built upon everything I loved from the original, especially in terms of its characters. Can we talk about Garrus for a second? I felt a rush of pride whenever Garrus praised my headshot skills because he's just so intensely cool. You know a character Is fully realized when you start regarding them as if they were a real person – I respect Garrus to the point that I hesitated to read his dossier at the end of the Lair of the Shadow Broker DLC because it felt like an invasion of privacy.