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Adam Sessler's Top 10 Games of 2012

Sess-Money steps down from his soapbox and just talks to us like *human beings* about his top 10 games of 2012.

Adam Sessler is the Executive Producer and Editor-in-Chief at Revision3 Games. Known for his 14 years hosting television about videogames, Adam has made a name for himself with outspoken opinions, irreverence and a deep aversion to ever wanting to hear about Kingdom Hearts 3.

10. Far Cry 3

The ever-elusive open-world shooter finally has its high-water mark with this game. This absurdly expansive game maintains its momentum with enough breadth in play style and character growth to make it compelling and fun through to the end.

9. Borderlands 2

Gearbox clearly understood what made the original such a success and favorite and doubled down. Improved skill trees, hysterical writing and the same compulsive combat make this the most compulsively satisfying game of the year.

8. Sleeping Dogs

Perhaps the most surprising game of the year for me. The addition of complex melee combat with accessible driving controls make this game the GTA clone that improves the formula and distinguishes itself in the right ways.

7. Halo 4

343 Industries took the reins and delivered the most satisfying Halo entry since the first. Dead-on pacing, carefully constructed combat environments and accessible storytelling all work together to reinvigorate the franchise.

6. The Unfinished Swan

A mediation on mortality and regret seen through the eyes of a child naïf, not your standard gaming fare. This beautiful, thoughtful game with compelling mechanics had me completely enchanted; again, not a typical gaming adjective.

5. The Walking Dead

Through exceptional writing and characterizations The Walking Dead somehow manages to upend the conventional wisdom of what a game needs to succeed and pulls off an emotionally devastating experience.

4. Mass Effect 3

A game that knew just how to conclude itself (yeah…I said it). 25 hours that summates one’s path in a virtual life that cannot escape the inexorable pull of finality. Emotionally satisfying and mature, it’s the rare trilogy that fully satisfies.

3. Journey

Simply put: A thing of beauty. Journey sublimates the concept of game into pure experience and is a love letter for everyone who wanted something a little more from their time playing on a console.

2. XCOM: Enemy Unknown

This game is a thing of beauty, perfectly structured and balanced and easily (if not preferably) playable with a controller. XCOM rewards the patient player and, despite being turn-based strategy, is the most harrowing game of the year.

1. Dishonored

This game just plain hit my sweet spot and brought back memories of playing Deus Ex for the first time but was able to apply the design philosophy to numerous instances of exceptional level design. The world of Dunwall, explicated with exquisite Art Direction, was filled with such mystery that the game has yet to leave my head.

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Posted by Staff

Adam Sessler is the Executive Producer and Editor-in-Chief at Revision3 Games. Known for his 14 years hosting television about videogames, Adam has made a name for himself with outspoken opinions, irreverence and a deep aversion to ever wanting to hear about Kingdom Hearts 3.

10. Far Cry 3

The ever-elusive open-world shooter finally has its high-water mark with this game. This absurdly expansive game maintains its momentum with enough breadth in play style and character growth to make it compelling and fun through to the end.

9. Borderlands 2

Gearbox clearly understood what made the original such a success and favorite and doubled down. Improved skill trees, hysterical writing and the same compulsive combat make this the most compulsively satisfying game of the year.

8. Sleeping Dogs

Perhaps the most surprising game of the year for me. The addition of complex melee combat with accessible driving controls make this game the GTA clone that improves the formula and distinguishes itself in the right ways.

7. Halo 4

343 Industries took the reins and delivered the most satisfying Halo entry since the first. Dead-on pacing, carefully constructed combat environments and accessible storytelling all work together to reinvigorate the franchise.

6. The Unfinished Swan

A mediation on mortality and regret seen through the eyes of a child naïf, not your standard gaming fare. This beautiful, thoughtful game with compelling mechanics had me completely enchanted; again, not a typical gaming adjective.

5. The Walking Dead

Through exceptional writing and characterizations The Walking Dead somehow manages to upend the conventional wisdom of what a game needs to succeed and pulls off an emotionally devastating experience.

4. Mass Effect 3

A game that knew just how to conclude itself (yeah…I said it). 25 hours that summates one’s path in a virtual life that cannot escape the inexorable pull of finality. Emotionally satisfying and mature, it’s the rare trilogy that fully satisfies.

3. Journey

Simply put: A thing of beauty. Journey sublimates the concept of game into pure experience and is a love letter for everyone who wanted something a little more from their time playing on a console.

2. XCOM: Enemy Unknown

This game is a thing of beauty, perfectly structured and balanced and easily (if not preferably) playable with a controller. XCOM rewards the patient player and, despite being turn-based strategy, is the most harrowing game of the year.

1. Dishonored

This game just plain hit my sweet spot and brought back memories of playing Deus Ex for the first time but was able to apply the design philosophy to numerous instances of exceptional level design. The world of Dunwall, explicated with exquisite Art Direction, was filled with such mystery that the game has yet to leave my head.

Edited by AzuriaZyfire

cool stuff and a merry Christmas to everyone

Posted by Animasta

READY FOR THE SESSPOOL

Posted by IanBear

Decent list of AAA (or stuff that ended up being, despite itself) titles.

Posted by KaneRobot

This seems like the "safest" list of all the guests so far, but I don't have any problem with it.

Posted by GreyFoxV1

Good picks and insightful, succinct reasoning. Well done Sessler.

Posted by beard_of_zeus

@Animasta said:

READY FOR THE SESSPOOL

Well, now I feel dirty after reading this list.

Posted by Oldirtybearon

oh man. That picture of Sessler with a gun. I need to know where the hell that came from.

Posted by joshthebear

#E3MYSTERIES

Posted by Superfriend

In before assholes start complaining about this list being not indie or artsy enough.

"How dare you like triple A games?! To hell with you Sessleeeeeeeeerrr!"

Posted by FourWude

Sessler has invalidated his list by mouthing off about Mass Effect 3 (yeah I went there, so what, wanna fight about it?) Mass Effect games are enjoyable each on their merits. When viewed as individual stories in an overarching thread. But as a trilogy, they never once come together. They do not fit each other to create a cohesive whole. As a trilogy they're unsatisfying. A culinary cuisine of conflicting tastes which leaves a bitterness which is hard to swallow.

Posted by Bulby33

This list is most in line with my opinion of this year's games. Great list.

Posted by JoeyRavn

Dishonored is a really, really good game... until you get to those endings. It looks like 2012 is the year of "great games that utterly crumble to pieces in the last 15 minutes".

@Superfriend said:

In before assholes start complaining about this list being not indie or artsy enough.

"How dare you like triple A games?! To hell with you Sessleeeeeeeeerrr!"

Wait, what? Really? You're making it sound a lot worse than it really is. If anything, there's a strong anti-artsy feeling among the Giant Bomb community. How many people look down on Patrick because he usually prefers indie (or indier) games to AAA titles?

Edited by andrew2696

@Oldirtybearon: There you go, 1:41 in. Also it`s his Twitter photo.

Posted by SeanFoster

Nice list. Makes me think I need to give Dishonored another try.

Posted by LarcenousLaugh

@FourWude: so his opinion is invalidated by your opinion. Video Games!

Nice list, Sess. Enjoying all the new vids as well. Glad to see you back to old form.

Posted by Devise22

Yes! A person I respect also has Dishonored as his number one. Pretty good list here though. As most could agree it all comes down to what games hit what spots for each of us. The love that Mass Effect 3 has gotten from a few people now though makes me happy. Some of the best games this year other than ME3 weren't perfect either, just because ME3 had so much hype and was ending a series doesn't mean the great things in that game didn't happen.

Posted by kennybaese

I was distracted from Dishonored with something else... Need for Speed I think, and I haven't yet gone back to it, but I really need to. What I played of it was rad as hell.

Posted by TheHT

Damn. Maybe I should seriously look into Dishonored some more.

Online
Posted by Droop

Great list, Sess. And I love your stuff on Rev3.

Posted by fisk0

@JoeyRavn said:

Dishonored is a really, really good game... until you get to those endings. It looks like 2012 is the year of "great games that utterly crumble to pieces in the last 15 minutes".

@Superfriend said:

In before assholes start complaining about this list being not indie or artsy enough.

"How dare you like triple A games?! To hell with you Sessleeeeeeeeerrr!"

Wait, what? Really? You're making it sound a lot worse than it really is. If anything, there's a strong anti-artsy feeling among the Giant Bomb community. How many people look down on Patrick because he usually prefers indie (or indier) games to AAA titles?

I agree, on most of the larger gaming sites (of which Giant Bomb is one, whether you think so or not) there's some very vocal anti-intellectualism going on. They get angry when Ebert doesn't think games are art, but when there's any attempt at deeper criticism of games (or within them), the "it's just a game/I just want to have fun" stuff invariably comes up.

Posted by oueddy

As I understand the internet, liking or even condoning the original ending of mass effect 3 immediately makes all your opinions invalid, even though I agree with you. A shame because its a good list.

Posted by SuperJoe

Two things of beauty...and a partridge in a pear tree.

Posted by staticMethod

Why isn't Sess at Giant Bomb!?!* He seems to have way better chemistry with the Bomb crew than the Rev3 gang.

* I realize there probably wasn't a spot for him on the GB team, but a man can dream.

Edited by granderojo

AAAdam Sesler drops his list off at the Bomb. Just kidding Adam, these are all good games.

Posted by Tesla

The Sess and I have very similar taste in games it seems.

Posted by BD_Mr_Bubbles

Pretty good list

Posted by prestonhedges
perfectly structured and balanced and easily (if not preferably) playable with a controller.

Oh, right, the hallmarks of all great games. "It fits into your console and the menus feels real good."

Posted by beeryayghost

I HAATEE OPINIONS THAT ARE NOT MINE. DFMSAFJOADFNSJDHBFIASBBDFHIADPFASYFAI

Posted by steelknight2000

I give this list a 4........out of 5.

Online
Posted by Gregomasta

Simply put: This list is a thing of beauty.

Edited by Toug

Sess-Money knows what the fuck is up with Mass Effect. Keep reppin' Adam. Rep hard!

Posted by Luck702

@staticMethod said:

Why isn't Sess at Giant Bomb!?!* He seems to have way better chemistry with the Bomb crew than the Rev3 gang.

* I realize there probably wasn't a spot for him on the GB team, but a man can dream.

I was crossing my fingers for months hoping Adam would end up at GB.

Posted by StarvingGamer

Yeah ME3 WOO!

Posted by Bladefire

@fisk0: I tend to prefer AAA titles over smaller games because I prioritize mechanics over anything else in choosing games (though a game is always better with a worthwhile story) but that doesn't mean I'm anti-intellectual. Anti-intellectualism is a larger societal problem, like having Santorum tell his supporters that "smart people will never be on our side." People play games for different reasons, implying that not liking indie titles makes you anti-intellectual is ridiculous. I love Hotline Miami, enjoyed Journey and got bored with The Walking Dead (I've never found adventure gameplay engaging and the story did nothing for me, but that's kind of irrelevant to this), people like games that fit their tastes indie or not.

Edited by Gildermershina

I have a dream, that one day someone can say something about Lost, Battlestar Galactica, Prometheus or Mass Effect 3, and not be immediately followed by a bunch of people screaming "IT WAS SHIT AND WRITER X IS A HACK AND YOU'RE AN IDIOT AND YOUR OPINION IS INVALID WAA WAA WAA"

Posted by Subjugation

Can't wait for this to devolve into people trying to argue that their opinion is somehow more correct than Sessler's. Come on internet, I know you're just waiting to do it.

Posted by huser

@fisk0 said:

@JoeyRavn said:

Dishonored is a really, really good game... until you get to those endings. It looks like 2012 is the year of "great games that utterly crumble to pieces in the last 15 minutes".

@Superfriend said:

In before assholes start complaining about this list being not indie or artsy enough.

"How dare you like triple A games?! To hell with you Sessleeeeeeeeerrr!"

Wait, what? Really? You're making it sound a lot worse than it really is. If anything, there's a strong anti-artsy feeling among the Giant Bomb community. How many people look down on Patrick because he usually prefers indie (or indier) games to AAA titles?

I agree, on most of the larger gaming sites (of which Giant Bomb is one, whether you think so or not) there's some very vocal anti-intellectualism going on. They get angry when Ebert doesn't think games are art, but when there's any attempt at deeper criticism of games (or within them), the "it's just a game/I just want to have fun" stuff invariably comes up.

Admittedly there are folks that defend mindless movies as popcorn films just for fun. I think there's just a subset (majority or not) of any audience that is in it for the escapist. Just a sign that the relatively nascent discourse of the internet and maturity of video games hasn't quite gotten there yet.

Posted by AssInAss

Where is that image from?! Man, the Sess would be killer in Giant Bomb videos.

Great list, the only game I haven't checked out is Unfinished Swan, so consider me sold (even after Brad slagging it for not having more mechanics).

Posted by jillsandwich

This list is a thing of beauty.

Posted by Manlyzar

A good list Mr. Sessler.

Edited by Mystyr_E

@JoeyRavn said:

Dishonored is a really, really good game... until you get to those endings. It looks like 2012 is the year of "great games that utterly crumble to pieces in the last 15 minutes".

@Superfriend said:

In before assholes start complaining about this list being not indie or artsy enough.

"How dare you like triple A games?! To hell with you Sessleeeeeeeeerrr!"

Wait, what? Really? You're making it sound a lot worse than it really is. If anything, there's a strong anti-artsy feeling among the Giant Bomb community. How many people look down on Patrick because he usually prefers indie (or indier) games to AAA titles?

I think most people look down on him because he's "always inherently trying to identify key and fundamental gameplay mechanics that will create enough interesting or legitimately good synergies between various" etc etc in podcasts....plus he interrupts. Like a lot.

Posted by DrLove

@Mystyr_E said:

@JoeyRavn said:

Dishonored is a really, really good game... until you get to those endings. It looks like 2012 is the year of "great games that utterly crumble to pieces in the last 15 minutes".

@Superfriend said:

In before assholes start complaining about this list being not indie or artsy enough.

"How dare you like triple A games?! To hell with you Sessleeeeeeeeerrr!"

Wait, what? Really? You're making it sound a lot worse than it really is. If anything, there's a strong anti-artsy feeling among the Giant Bomb community. How many people look down on Patrick because he usually prefers indie (or indier) games to AAA titles?

I think most people look down on him because he's "always inherently trying to identify key and fundamental gameplay mechanics that will create enough interesting or legitimately good synergies between various" etc etc in podcasts....plus he interrupts. Like a lot.

that quote summed up Patrick better then anything I have seen on this site yet.

Posted by triviaman09

Sessler is such a boss. This is a great list with great, concise explanations.

Posted by JordanK85

@Gildermershina said:

I have a dream, that one day someone can say something about Lost, Battlestar Galactica, Prometheus or Mass Effect 3, and not be immediately followed by a bunch of people screaming "IT WAS SHIT AND WRITER X IS A HACK AND YOU'RE AN IDIOT AND YOUR OPINION IS INVALID WAA WAA WAA"

I didn't watch Battlestar Galactica or play Mass Effect but I liked both Lost and Prometheus.

Lost had great suspense and characters and while the mysteries of the island are what drew me in I eventually cared more about the characters. Also, anyone who thought that all the questions and mysteries were going to be tied up nicely in the finale was delusional.

Prometheus was a decent movie and half the criticisms I've heard of it are nitpicks that can be levied against most movies.

(Side rant: Why did they just run in a straight line from the rolling space ship? Right, because we all perfectly understand the physics of a somewhat, but not perfectly, round skyscraper-sized space ship rolling and know exactly when it would stop rolling so we know it wouldn't start to tip to one side just as we decide to change direction. That was probably the dumbest criticism I heard. End side rant.)

The biggest criticism I have is that many of the moments in the plot don't seem to carry the weight that they were intended to and I think much the of the movie must have been cut to make a 2 hour runtime instead of going for a Watchmen-esque runtime and risk the audience feeling the movie had over stayed its welcome. I'm actually really looking forward to seeing the director's cut to see if the quality dramatically increases as you see with some other movies. Oh wait, I just looked it up and Ridley Scott has refused to make a director's cut...Oh well, I guess he's happy with a decent movie and not a good one.

Posted by michaelfossbakk

@JordanK85 said:

@Gildermershina said:

I have a dream, that one day someone can say something about Lost, Battlestar Galactica, Prometheus or Mass Effect 3, and not be immediately followed by a bunch of people screaming "IT WAS SHIT AND WRITER X IS A HACK AND YOU'RE AN IDIOT AND YOUR OPINION IS INVALID WAA WAA WAA"

I didn't watch Battlestar Galactica or play Mass Effect but I liked both Lost and Prometheus.

Lost had great suspense and characters and while the mysteries of the island are what drew me in I eventually cared more about the characters. Also, anyone who thought that all the questions and mysteries were going to be tied up nicely in the finale was delusional.

Prometheus was a decent movie and half the criticisms I've heard of it are nitpicks that can be levied against most movies.

(Side rant: Why did they just run in a straight line from the rolling space ship? Right, because we all perfectly understand the physics of a somewhat, but not perfectly, round skyscraper-sized space ship rolling and know exactly when it would stop rolling so we know it wouldn't start to tip to one side just as we decide to change direction. That was probably the dumbest criticism I heard. End side rant.)

The biggest criticism I have is that many of the moments in the plot don't seem to carry the weight that they were intended to and I think much the of the movie must have been cut to make a 2 hour runtime instead of going for a Watchmen-esque runtime and risk the audience feeling the movie had over stayed its welcome. I'm actually really looking forward to seeing the director's cut to see if the quality dramatically increases as you see with some other movies. Oh wait, I just looked it up and Ridley Scott has refused to make a director's cut...Oh well, I guess he's happy with a decent movie and not a good one.

Thumbs up for Lost. I love Damon, but Prometheus failed in my book. How does the geologist mapping the caves get lost and why is the biologist scared of a dead head on the ground, but wants to be best friends with the eye stalk that came out of the strange black goo?

Posted by JuggaloAcidman

Good to see Adam around here again

Posted by Grimluck343

Still pissed Giant Bomb couldn't sign the Sess.

Posted by Branthog

I don't quite get everyone's love for Dishonored. An enjoyable game, but not particularly innovative and doesn't do anything in a way that is particularly exceptional. It clocks in, for me, as a "pretty good game"; nothing more.

But I generally have to agree with the rest of the list. I haven't gotten to Halo 4 (meh), but will soon. Am going to eventually play Sleeping Dogs. I didn't expect anything at all from it, but it is starting to sound like a real sleeper hit.

Really glad this year's lists included both Justin and Adam. Would love to hear more of both guesting on the bombcast now and then, too.

Posted by ripelivejam

Sweet list $e$$m0n3y

@Gildermershina said:

I have a dream, that one day someone can say something about Lost, Battlestar Galactica, Prometheus or Mass Effect 3, and not be immediately followed by a bunch of people screaming "IT WAS SHIT AND WRITER X IS A HACK AND YOU'RE AN IDIOT AND YOUR OPINION IS INVALID WAA WAA WAA"

hey i loved Battlestar to the very fucking end!!! >:(

(LOST could've ended @season 5 finale and i would've been happy as a clam even with a complete lack of resolution. from what i know about it i dig the ending of ME3 but i need to play through it myself to have a really honest, founded opinion. never saw prometheus and i know next to nothing about it but it's a wretched piece of crap and ridley scott should burn in the 7th level of hell :) )

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