Recently, GameSpot celebrated 20 years with a series of articles including "Every GameSpot Game of the Year--20 Years." While reading the list I was filled with nostalgia for a lot of old games but began to realise that a lot of my favourites were missing! So, I decided to look back over the past ten years at every game released and create this list the games I would award the Bonnie Mager GOTY from 2005 to 2015.
2005: Fahrenheit / Indigo Prophecy (PC, PlayStation 2, Xbox)
Fahrenheit (known as Indigo Prophecy in North America) had me hooked. I loved this game so much that I recently began replaying it and it is still awesome. Described as an "interactive drama action-adventure game" this was my first introduction to quick-time events (QTEs), which I've grown to love.
The story was amazing. I am a sucker for a crime-solving game and love to uncover secrets in order to understand the mysteries of games I play. I also love adventure games, and, at the time, Fahrenheit was an awesome new take on the genre.
Notable Mention: Civilization IV (PC)
2005 was a hard year for me to decide on just one game, and it was such a close call between Fahrenheit and Civilization IV. Arguably the best game of the series, I have spent hundreds, if not thousands, of hours playing Civ IV — the gameplay is just so addictive! The addition of religion to the series was one of my favourite new game aspects and, all in all, the fourth installation is still my favourite Civilization game to date.
2005 GOTY Award Winners
- GameSpot, GameFAQs, and Game Informer: Resident Evil 4
- IGN: God of War
2006: The Godfather (PC, Xbox, Xbox 360, PS2, PS3)
Controversial, I know, but I adore this game. Am I biased because it's based on my favourite book and favourite movie? Sure! But that doesn't change the fact that I love a good Mafia game. I'm not sure what I love so much about the Mafia, but as a teenager I was obsessed. I played every Mafia game, watched every Mafia movie and read every Mafia book. Looking Back, Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven and The Godfather stand out as two of my favourite Mafia games of all time.
Featuring an open world map, The Godfather let you play as new character in the popular series. The goal is to rise through the Corleone family ranks and as you progress through the game you end up being involved in some of the scenes from the movie. The best? When you get to deliver that special horse-related package.
2006 GOTY Award Winners
- GameSpot: Gears of War
- GameFAQS and Game Informer: The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
- IGN: Ōkami
2007: Pokémon Diamond and Pearl (Nintendo DS)
Everyone has a favourite Pokémon game and for me that game is Pokémon Red; however, Pokémon Pearl holds a very dear place in my heart. It was the first Pokémon game I actually owned rather than played on an emulator. My grandmother gave my brother and me some money to help us with our studies and, naturally, we each spent the money on a DS and a copy of the new Pokémon games — a copy of Pearl for me and Diamond for him.
The most exciting thing about Pearl for me? Trading Pokémon over WiFi. This new feature was the best. My favourite pastime was to put a random Pokémon up for trade and come back to see what random Pokémon I had received in exchange. The thrill of getting a legendary or super-rare Pokémon made it as addictive as gambling.
2007 GOTY Award Winners:
- GameSpot, IGN and GameFAQS: Super Mario Galaxy
- Game Informer: BioShock
2008: Fallout 3 (PC, PS3, Xbox 360)
Fallout 3 is hands down my favourite game of all time. When I am feeling down, I will pick it up and replay it again and again — I never tire of it. From the very beginning, I was immersed. It may not sound like a big deal to most but getting to choose my gender? Awesome! Then, getting to sculpt my face? I was a proper part of this game, and that was exciting.
I am a huge sucker for apocalyptic scenarios, and I loved being a lone wanderer exploring this strange new world. My favourite way to play is with full-on bad karma — the ultimate bad guy. Stealing from the poor, blowing up Megaton, and showing no mercy to anyone. The massive open world with quests a-plenty ticks all the right boxes for me.
2008 GOTY Award Winners
- Game Spot: Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots
- GameFAQS: Super Smash Bros. Brawl
- Game Informer: Grand Theft Auto IV
- IGN: Fallout 3
2009: Assassin's Creed II (PC, PS3, Xbox 360)
Assassin's Creed II was the first in the series I played and is still one of my favourites. For starters, it looked beautiful; the old Italian buildings and time-appropriate costumes were a visual delight. What's more, I love the gameplay of the Assassin's Creed games, especially the Ezio trilogy. Running up the sides of buildings and assassinating bad guys from stealth is just so much fun!
2009 GOTY Award Winners
- GameSpot: Demon's Soul
- GameFAQS: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
- Game Informer and IGN: Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
2010: Red Dead Redemption (PS3, Xbox 360)
Another hard year to pick a winner, with many amazing games released that I love. I finally decided on Red Dead Redemption due to its amazing replayability. Firstly, I adore the setting. Who doesn't want to play a game as a cowboy in the Wild West? Secondly, the protagonist John Martson is a cool badass who can slay bears with nothing but a knife! Thirdly, the story is equal parts amazing, devastating, and addicting. Finally, the gameplay is top notch; it has horse riding, gun slinging, card playing, bounty hunting and more. Red Dead Redemption has an expansive open world with so many side quests and mini games to keep you busy for hours on end.
Notable Mention: Heavy Rain (PS3)
Oh man, I loved this game, and I have played it too many times to keep count — each time trying to get the perfect ending (which I did get...eventually.) I love the story, the characters, the crime solving, and, most of all, how my actions have a meaningful effect — be it good or bad — on the game.
2010 GOTY Award Winners
- GameSpot and Game Informer: Red Dead Redemption
- GameFAQS and IGN: Mass Effect 2
2011: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (PC, PS3, Xbox 360)
There was no way I could leave Skyrim off my list, a game so memorable that I just spent all weekend playing it. A newbie to the Elder Scrolls series, I have only ever played Skyrim. I love a good RPG and Skyrim encompasses everything I love about them. Customisable characters meant I could make myself a tough Nord woman wielding a massive sword. The skill leveling is one of my favourites; I love that the game upgrades skills as you use them, thus customising your character in line with your gameplay style!
While the story was okay, the world and the side quests were more for me. I loved slaying dragons, joining factions, and seeking dungeons. I actually can't think of a quest I didn't enjoy!
2011 GOTY Award Winners
- GameSpot, Game Informer and GameFAQS: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
- IGN: Portal 2
2012: Dishonored (PC, PS3, Xbox 360)
I am starting to see a wee trend here as another Bethesda game makes my list. I received Dishonored as a Christmas gift, not knowing much about it. By New Years Eve I had already played through the game twice. I am a huge fan of the silent protagonist and this game featuring one such protagonist was a big bonus for me. The world looks amazing and I love the concept of this steam-punk, plague-ridden world. The powers are new, unique, and a lot of fun to unlock and use, plus the story is really really good.
The best part was being able to choose how to play. Killing or sparing lives? Stealth actions or full-on combat? I played through my first time emphasizing stealth and not killing people, and on my second time, I ran through with my powers killing everyone in sight in epic battles. Both playstyles were really fun to do in their own amazing, unique way.
2012 GOTY Award Winners
- GameSpot and IGN: Journey
- GameFAQS: Borderlands 2
- Game Informer: Mass Effect 3
2013: Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen (PC, PS3, Xbox 360)
If you haven't already picked up on it, I love RPGs! Dragon's Dogma is one of my favourites. It's a fantasy-themed open world with hack-n-slash combat, a customisable protagonist (both in appearance and combat specialties), and dragons. While I normally play games without companions if possible, the pawns in this game were actually helpful!
I love how big and detailed the world is, and how the gameplay is different between day and night (when it actually gets a bit scary)! The combat style is one of the highlights as well and really makes the game shine. It's a game a lot of people haven't heard of that I'm always recommending to people. If you haven't played it, go play it now. Seriously.
2013 GOTY Award Winners
- Gamespot and GameFAQS: The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
- Game Informer and IGN: The Last of Us
2014: South Park: The Stick of Truth (PC, PS3, Xbox 360)
I'm a huge South Park fan and, while I was excited about this game, I was worried about how the turn-based combat would be. However, this game delivered! It was just so good. With its animation style and cutscenes, it was like watching a giant episode of South Park — so much fun! The character creation was really cool, although I was a bit annoyed that I couldn't play as a girl — there seemed no reason for it. The classes you could choose from made me play the game three times as I just had to try out each one. The story was like a crazy South Park episode, and I actually really enjoyed the combat, which they pulled off surprisingly well. All in all, this was an addictive game that I played many times as I just needed to see what would happen if I chose a different character to side with.
2014 GOTY Award Winners
- Gamespot: Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
- GameFAQS: Super Smash Bros
- Game Informer and IGN: Dragon Age: Inquisition
2015: Dying Light (PC, PS4, Xbox One)
Fallout 3 may be my favourite game but Dying Light is a close second. When it was finally released I was worried it would be all hype — but I can tell you now it definitely wasn't! Dying Light features many of my favourite things about games: an extensive open world, lots of fun and meaningful side quests, and customisable weapons and zombies.
I really enjoyed the rarity of guns and the reliance on melee weapons throughout the game. As someone who lives in a country where no one really owns guns, this apocalyptic scenario is much more realistic to me. It is also great when the junk you collect throughout the game — and as a hoarder I collect everything I see! — has a meaningful purpose. Having skills upgrade based on their usage was also a great feature, and it motivated me to really delve in to the parkour side of the game which I may not have taken advantage of otherwise. And that would have been a shame, as it really does make travelling around the world much more enjoyable.
The highlight for me was the option of playing the entire game, campaign included, in cooperative mode. I love playing with, not against, my friends, and Dying Light was so much more fun with buddies. The setting of the game made the cooperative gameplay just make sense. Surely, if you were in the zombie-infested environment you would like to have people with you to help trap, evade, and kill hordes of zombies!
2015 GOTY Award Winners
- Gamespot, GameFAQS, IGN and Game Infomer: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt