It’s that time of year again, and we are just barely starting to recover from E3 2012. There seems to be a lot of grumbling that this year’s show wasn’t impressive and managed to disappoint all around. Well, we say “Nay!” There were plenty of amazing things on display, and we had a hard time choosing our picks for awards. Sure, we might be entering the twilight year of this generation, but with the games coming over the next 12 months or so, you won’t mind. Trust us.

So, with that, we present RipTen’s Best of E3 2012 Awards. Congrats to the winners…

Winner: Borderlands 2

Why we picked it: This was actually the third time we’ve had our hands on Gearbox’s masterful sequel to 2009′s Borderlands. The new characters, mission types and charmingly evil antagonist help create some truly stunning shootouts across the vastly diverse landscapes of Pandora. It doesn’t hurt that the weapons are even more diverse, with unique properties for each of the different in-game manufacturers. Now, a disposable Tediore weapon feels completely different than an elementally-charged Maliwan or insane bullet-ejecting Vladof. Borderlands 2 is the shooter for loot whores and the loot whoring game for shooter fans.

 

Winner: The Last of Us

Why we picked it: The Last of Us is undoubtedly a Naughty Dog game, but with the demo at this year’s Sony press conference, the studio is offering quite the different experience from its Uncharted franchise.  The Last of Us nails combat like we’ve rarely seen before.  Every punch and gunshot looks like it hurts, and there’s a reason behind each one of those actions.  Say good-bye to the days of Nathan Drake gunning down hundreds of men – the battles Joel finds himself in look to be true hardships.  Joel has to get up close and personal with his enemies, at one moment struggling over a gun that will determine who lives and who dies.  Little touches like Ellie’s assistance in combat and Joel’s decision to incapacitate and not outright kill foes impress enough, but the game effectively captures the threat and danger of a post-apocalyptic world.  With Naughty Dog’s penchant for interesting characters and the promise of brutal combat, we cannot wait to get our hands on the rest of Joel and Ellie’s adventures.

 

Winner: Injustice: Gods Among Us

Why we picked it: When we heard that NetherRealm, the minds behind the fantastic reboot of Mortal Kombat last year, were taking on the DC Universe, we had mixed feelings. On one hand, it’s NetherRealm; these guys know how to make a fun, exciting and accessible fighting game. On the other hand, we saw what happened with Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe. The whole experience felt a bit neutered. Given the iconic nature of these characters and vast power differences among them, how could this possibly work? If the theatre demonstration wasn’t going to be enough to allay our concerns (it was, by the way), the hands-on time with got with the tile was more than enough to bolster our confidence. Injustice is a stunningly beautiful, no holds barred smack down featuring characters that we’ve never seen go at it like this off the pages of a comic book. The smart integration of the background, cyclical multi-tiered stages and the “summer blockbuster” fear all make this one we can’t wait to play again.

 

Winner: XCOM: Enemy Unknown

Why we picked it: Most tactical strategy games follow a very simple formula: move, act, wait. Even in games that require a detailed interplay of skills among characters, there is often a very static, unapproachable feel to them, as if you are moving chess pieces on a board. Firaxis and 2K Games have gone in the opposite direction, creating an organic battlefield that doesn’t abandon the tropes of smart turn-based games. The cinematic quality, fantastic art designs and active animations (even when a unit is waiting for its next turn) create a more engaging visual presence. Most importantly, Firaxis has managed to create tension in a genre that doesn’t always manage to heighten emotions in that way.

 

Winner: Need for Speed: Most Wanted

Why we picked it: Criterion is the studio behind some of the best racing games of all time. They’ve never shied away from brutal crashes and breakneck speeds. This time out is no different. Need for Speed: Most Wanted isn’t a sequel (because, as we were told, they don’t make sequels to other studios’ games). Instead, it’s a brand new experience with a familiar name. The multiplayer is ambitious, doing away with lobbies in favor of an open world playlist style of game play. In addition, Autolog 2.0 will serve as even more incentive to best your friends (and rub it in their faces).  Oh, and did we mention that you can totally wreck a Porsche 911 and a Lamborghini? Yeah, you should do that.

More awards await you…