I saw this video on IGN yesterday and it struck me as a little sad. 6 months left in 2013, and IGN has GOTY nominations locked already between Bioshock Infinite and The Last of Us (really they're pretty transparent about favoring The Last of Us at this point).
There's a whole lot of time left in 2013, and I see lots of GOTY contenders that aren't even out yet.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Two Worlds
A sequel to one of the most beloved games of all time, built to take advantage of the 3D screen like few other games. New puzzles involving height, where seeing the height differences is actually possible in 3D. New puzzles with Link becoming a flat painting that can move around 3D objects - and these are just two of the many items in the game. If it's anything like Link to the Past, it'll have around 20 items.
They've also already confirmed that the game has a light and a dark world, like the original game (if the title and the dual triforces in the logo didn't give it away already). I think this is really one to watch for GOTY, for bringing new gameplay ideas, fresh puzzles, and wrapping it up in a great overall package.
Mario & Luigi: Dream Team
I'm going to just let the trailer speak for itself. This game looks absolutely bananas. There are so many interesting things going on, and so many original ideas. Who actually thinks of manipulating someone's face while they're asleep on the bottom screen to impact how they imagine in their dreams on the top screen ... and makes it actually work flawlessly and intuitively in a game? That's pretty remarkable in and of itself. The game looks hilarious, and fun, and it's definitely one I'm going to be keeping an eye on.
Super Mario 3D World
Any student of history would be wise to not name GOTY early when a mainline Mario title is coming out before the end of the year. They're consistently among the highest rated games of all time.
While this doesn't look like the huge leap forward that I was hoping for, it certainly looks like an extremely fun, polished platformer. And really, the cat suit looks pretty damn amazing.
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
If you played Donkey Kong Country Returns, or the 3D release on 3DS, you know that it's literally one of the best platformers ever made. Extremely polished, and challenging, with fantastic level design and rock solid gameplay throughout. It had the challenge of living up to one of the most beloved game series in gaming history, and succeeded with flying colors.
This time, Retro wanted to just perfect what they started. Does that not sound like GOTY material to anyone else? Swimming levels, 3D panning camera, HD graphics, David Wise is back to compose the music like he did in the original 3 ... I don't know how any serious gamer can write this off without even playing it yet. Retro's track record is pretty much impeccable, and if they felt like they had more to contribute to DKC, I definitely want to see it.
Grand Theft Auto V
To be perfectly honest with you, it pains me to have to post this because I'm not a fan of these games. But it'll be in the running, or will likely win GOTY. That's just how it is these days. Anyone deciding GOTY before this is out is really prematurely running their mouth off.
In Miyamoto's words, this is the perfection of his original vision of what Pikmin should be. He also said it's extremely fun. Coming from the best game designer of all time ... I think I'll give it a shot before I write it off.
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2
This is one of my most anticipated games of the year, and of the generation. The first one blew me away in every category: art, graphics, music, voice acting, story, menu design (that book was GORGEOUS), and most importantly combat and platforming. Who would have thought at the beginning of this gen that a 3D Castlevania would have far more solid combat than Ninja Gaiden 3? But it's true. Smart use of light and dark magic, puzzles, and whip platforming sealed the deal. And now, you've got tons more powers that I can't even imagine. And this is going to be the conclusion to the Lords of Shadow storyline, so expect an ending even more shocking than the first. I cannot wait.
Gorgeous, charming, and original. The idea of stages moving around you like a play just seems amazing to me. Definitely getting this day 1, and I don't see any reason why it wouldn't be in the running for GOTY for anyone interested in gaming.
Beyond: Two Souls
I thought Heavy Rain was pretty great, and this looks far better. It looks better than some next gen games I've seen, and I'm sure the story will be pretty captivating if they got Willem Dafoe and Ellen Paige to sign off on the script. Definitely getting it day 1, and I'm sure it'll be something extremely interesting to see.
The Wonderful 101
Sonic: Lost World
Splinter Cell: Blacklist
Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn
Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII
Killer is Dead
So I implore you, keep an open mind and try and look at everything out there before settling in on The Last of Us for GOTY - a zombie TPS without anything innovative in the gameplay department at all, but with great production values and above average story.
There's a lot of other stuff out there, and a lot of it is better than what Naughty Dog is doing, more original, more polished as far as gameplay, and very possibly even better story too.
There's a whole six months to go. Don't let me down people. Journey winning last year was depressing enough. Do we need two years in a row where we worship designers who strip gameplay down to the bare minimum for the sake of "maturity?" Let's reward innovative gameplay, or game concepts for once. Let's not reward fungus zombie TPS games with good cutscenes.