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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.

95 Comments
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Posted by Delta_Ass

"Emotionally satisfying and mature, it’s the rare trilogy that fully satisfies."

what.

Posted by ripelivejam

@Delta_Ass said:

"Emotionally satisfying and mature, it’s the rare trilogy that fully satisfies."

what.

maybe he had a similar experience to what brad had.

also, opinions.

Posted by Darkstorn

@huser said:

@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.

I mainly hear Jeff perpetuating the anti-intellectualism bit.

Both Brad and Ryan (see GOTY 2008 podcast - MGS4 discussion) have had their moments at odds with Jeff over the 'deeper criticism' of games.

Posted by Darkstorn

@Branthog said:

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.

Agreed.

I tried Dishonored (didn't finish it) and it didn't click with me. The art style and setting were awesome (I especially liked the darker, more abstract stuff like the Outsider's realm and that beating heart thing) but the gameplay just wasn't there. And the level design confused me more than anything else.

I really wanted to like it but just couldn't bring myself to power through it.

Posted by dr_mantas

Great List. Love to see Mass Effect 3 on as many lists as possible. Also Sleeping Dogs.

Posted by Fascismo

"10. Far Cry 3 is the pinnacle of open world shooters

9. Borderlands 2..."

Wait.

Edited by Matoyak

Hmm. Never beat ME3. Though I spent over 300+ hrs between ME1 and ME2 and the multiple multiple playthroughs I did between the two, I just...didn't find ME3 compelling. I will beat it, eventually, because that's a LOT of time to invest in something you never complete. I just...I didn't like the gameplay. It was so bland to me. Combine that with how narrow the story path felt, and how lackluster the individual story beats were to me...nothing made me want to come back to that game.

EDIT: I should mention that ME2's gameplay was also bland to me, it was the cast of characters and the hope of seeing some ME1 choices come back that kept me going.

Posted by phrosnite

Feel the Sess!

Posted by kidman

I should give Unfinished Swan a try after I got it with Journey.

Posted by Smokey_Earhole

Good choices (although Dishonored is not first place material in my opinion, it belongs lower on the list).

A small criticism: what a drab and dry list, text wise. Why bother with putting together these things, if you can't commit to it? I love the Sess, but this list was hacked together in 4 minutes, and I gotta admit, I was pretty stoked before I clicked the link as he is usually so eloquent.

Posted by nomorehalfmeasuresdoctor

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.

These are not words that I would use to form a sentence to describe the ending of Mass Effect 3 or it's subsequent place in gaming history.

Posted by smokyexe

People thing they are so edgy for liking ME3 now i guess.

Posted by dropabombonit

Solid list, I need to get Dishonered in the sales

Posted by hollitz

I used to think Sessler was such a joke back when I first saw him on Xplay when Tech TV was still a thing. Years later I realized that being a TV personality really did him a disservice. It first hit me when I saw his Sessler's Soapbox on the MW2 FAGS campaign that I realized what a bright, thoughtful dude the Sess really was.

I still think it deserves to be watched, especially since the gaming community seems to hurl about slurs with idiotic abandon. So well argued that he made a lifelong fan out of me. I'll even let the ME3 praise slide.

http://www.g4tv.com/videos/42535/sesslers-soapbox-adam-calls-infinity-ward-out/

Posted by BBQBram

Ah, Dishonored, 'tis surely the Game of the Year. The Sess knows. Some editors should play more games before deciding on the best one.

Posted by onan

Much love for Sess, but someone please get the man a thesaurus, STAT.

Posted by fisk0

@huser said:

@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.

I may not have read the right sites, but I can't recall anyone throwing around death threats to people who've written a gender analysis of Rambo. Even among people who aren't interested in movie criticism, I think many are intrigued rather than dismissive when they hear someone has written a paper on The Matrix or whatever, the same doesn't seem true when it comes to video games.

Posted by Annath

Huh, I liked Dishonored, but definitely not GOTY for me. Oh well, Cheers!

Posted by phrosnite

@nomorehalfmeasures said:

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.

These are not words that I would use to form a sentence to describe the ending of Mass Effect 3 or it's subsequent place in gaming history.

That's because you are a child.

Posted by Scotto

@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.

While I quite like Patrick, and think he can fit in quite well with the vibe of the other guys (See: The Fortune Street TNT), I think this pretty perfectly encapsulates what can sometimes be bothersome about him.

He can suck up all the oxygen in a room very quickly for himself, and often to just make incredibly banal observations - observations which are just restating something someone just said, or what someone was in the process of saying before he interrupted to finish their thought for them.

And often it's clear he's just kind of talking nonsense, or using words incorrectly - y'know, being obtusely verbose with his language, but not really saying anything. But when you get down to it, the other guys have a tendency to talk a lot of uninformed nonsense from time to time, too. (Apparently some people were going nuts at the factual inaccuracies Ryan was casually throwing out about ME3's multiplayer during the recent TNT). It personally doesn't really bother me, because I don't listen to these guys for their ironclad expertise on every game ever released - but it's a little different when a guy is loudly interjecting, and killing the flow of the conversation, to do it.

At the end of the day, I quite like Patrick. The people who hate on him for being a "hipster", or because he likes "indie" games, or whatever, can eat a dick. The guy is always super-nice and gracious with the community, too. He just needs to chill out and find his place in the flow of the conversation, rather than talking over people.

I'm confident it'll happen. I think some of it is just overcompensation due to feeling a bit intimidated by Ryan and Jeff's "stature" in the industry. And we can't forget he's also several years younger than the other four of them.

Posted by Taborcarn

Oh man I'm so ready for SessFest '13

Posted by probablytuna

I guess I kinda knew the top five for Sessler's list from his GOTY video, still it's nice to see him contributing to the GB GOTY week. Keep making cool videos Sess!

Posted by pweidman

What generic comments Sessler. These come off like excerpts from someone's reviews. Only Dishonored got any ingame reference. Sounds like he has heard of these games, not that he actually played them.

Posted by mrfluke
@phrosnite said:

@nomorehalfmeasures said:

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.

These are not words that I would use to form a sentence to describe the ending of Mass Effect 3 or it's subsequent place in gaming history.

That's because you are a child.

nah hes right
Posted by MeatSim

Sessler giving Dishonored some needed recognition on here.

Posted by fuzzypumpkin

@LarcenousLaugh said:

@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.

haha.....fuck it

Posted by bybeach

I'm not hearing much about Dishonored in these lists.....Mass effect 3 appparantly needs ALL the DLC to turn it from the crap it was threatening to end up as, and back into a coherent and even amazing Sci FI story. Just waiting for all of that to show up on PC...especiallly the DLC.

Posted by Cold_Wolven

I did enjoy Dishonored on the 360 and will have to pick up again on Steam.

Posted by LegendaryChopChop

Great list! I love Adam Sessler.

Posted by WiqidBritt

why did I even bother to scroll down to the comments.

too many people apparently still think that the last half hour is all that matters in a game, and that the twenty plus hours before that are meaningless.

Posted by huser

@fisk0 said:

@huser said:

@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.

I may not have read the right sites, but I can't recall anyone throwing around death threats to people who've written a gender analysis of Rambo. Even among people who aren't interested in movie criticism, I think many are intrigued rather than dismissive when they hear someone has written a paper on The Matrix or whatever, the same doesn't seem true when it comes to video games.

Well that goes to what I said in this being a relatively nascent medium both in production and consumption. And of course regardless of how much more money video games now make than Hollywood, more people care and more importantly HAVE cared about movies than video games so the depths that are going to be plumbed are going to be deeper and more widely accepted.

Posted by morrelloman

I knew sess would stick to the big ones. That is what he is used to Coverivg from all those years on TV. My favorite list so far.

Posted by nomorehalfmeasuresdoctor

@mrfluke said:

@phrosnite said:

@nomorehalfmeasures said:

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.

These are not words that I would use to form a sentence to describe the ending of Mass Effect 3 or it's subsequent place in gaming history.

That's because you are a child.

nah hes right

Says the guy who resorts to personal attacks when faced with an opinion that differs from his own. But hey if it makes you feel better about yourself we are all children. Keep enjoying that emotionally satisfying and mature content Duder. I am obviously not capable of appreciating the intricacies of ME3's mature and emotional content.

Posted by bybeach

I'm glad to see Dishonored get it'd due. This and X-com are thr 2 big games I need to get..then I wil try Hotline Miami. The 80's always knows it 's own, I tried hard to resist...

Posted by SatelliteOfLove

A game that knew just how to conclude itself

Even Bioware doesn't say this.

Posted by amp_1986

Nice to see Unfinished Swan get some love.

Posted by Haruko

@nomorehalfmeasures:

Posted by Slab64

@gladspooky said:

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."

looooooooooool

Posted by Nyhus

Great list, I agree with much of it.

Posted by connerthekewlkid

@nomorehalfmeasures said:

@mrfluke said:

@phrosnite said:

@nomorehalfmeasures said:

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.

These are not words that I would use to form a sentence to describe the ending of Mass Effect 3 or it's subsequent place in gaming history.

That's because you are a child.

nah hes right

Says the guy who resorts to personal attacks when faced with an opinion that differs from his own. But hey if it makes you feel better about yourself we are all children. Keep enjoying that emotionally satisfying and mature content Duder. I am obviously not capable of appreciating the intricacies of ME3's mature and emotional content.

OPINIONS OPINIONS OPINIONS OPINIONS OPINIONS OPINIONS OPINIONS OPINIONS OPINIONS OPINIONS OPINIONS OPINIONS OPINIONS OPINIONS OPINIONS OPINIONS OPINIONS OPINIONS OPINIONS OPINIONS OPINIONS

Edited by connerthekewlkid

fixed it

@Haruko said:

@nomorehalfmeasures:

Posted by RecSpec

The only words I can use to describe that picture is that "cha-ching" sound effect. 

Posted by Coldbrand

Not particularly well written and unsurprisingly overwhelmingly mainstream.

Posted by nomorehalfmeasuresdoctor

@Haruko: who's mad bro? you jelly of my inadequacies.