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Dan Ryckert's Top 10 Games of 2012

Guinness World Record holder, published author, and Game Informer associate editor Dan Ryckert shares his top 10 games of 2012.

Associate editor at Game Informer. Two-time Guinness World Record holder. Esteemed author of Air Force Gator.

10. Trials Evolution

Whether it's NASCAR, F1, or Fast and Furious crap, I could not give less of a shit about racing if it doesn't involve turtle shells or have the word Burnout in its name. If you're giving Trials a passing glance, it may look like a generic dirt bike racing game. Thirty seconds of playing this fantastic downloadable title (or its predecessor) is enough to change anyone's tune. Few games consistently engage me like Trials, as I'm either thrilled about a perfect gold medal run, furious at myself over a dumb mistake, or cracking up at a spectacular wipeout or ridiculous end-level animation. When it comes to pure, dumb fun, few gaming experiences nail it as perfectly as Trials Evolution.

9. Soulcalibur V

I've long considered the original Soul Calibur to be the best fighting game ever made. That said, I felt subsequent installments maintained a certain level of quality but failed to recreate the experience I had with the original. This fifth entry doesn't top the Dreamcast classic, but it's the next best thing. Namco Bandai omitted some of the awkward features from IV and introduced numerous new characters to the already-beefy roster. Coupled with solid online play and the best visuals in the series to date, it's the best fighting game I played this year.

8. Dishonored

As a guy that sucks at stealth games, I didn't know how much I'd enjoy Arkane's ambitious new IP. Playing on PC, I quickly realized that quick saves and quick loads work perfectly with the wide variety of approaches Corvo can take when stalking his prey. Dorking around with elaborate and violent kills is a blast when you know you can simply hop back with a quick load and take your objective seriously. Nailing that perfect kill is a rush, but failing in spectacular and hilarious fashion is often just as entertaining.

7. Hero Academy

Asynchronous gameplay can be great if done correctly, and Robot Entertainment's Hero Academy does it better than any other game I've played. Every time I see the little badge on my iPhone tell me that I've got a turn to play, I can't wait to jump in and obsess over the perfect five-move approach to whatever situation I'm currently in. I typically don't dabble much in microtransactions, but I immediately drain a couple of bucks from my Apple Store wallet every time a new team is introduced. Almost a year after its release, I still find myself excited at the outset of each new match.

6. Mass Effect 3

I've never been much of a video game lore guy, unless you wanna talk about Metal Gear Solid or the sweet endings in Twisted Metal 2. That said, I thoroughly enjoyed learning the fate of Shepard, the Reapers, and whatever crew lived through my reckless decisions in the last two games. I even loved the original ending, so I'm glad that the internet has finally shut up about it.

5. WWE ‘13

As anyone who knows me or follows me on Twitter is well aware, I've wavered between different phases of obsession regarding pro wrestling for my entire life. The height of my obsession happened during the industry's greatest time period, the Attitude Era. THQ did an amazing job of capturing what made the late 90s such a thrilling time, taking gamers through recreations of Steve Austin, The Rock, Mick Foley, and others' most memorable moments. When you factor in its endless WWE Universe mode, unmatched creation suite, and the best roster of any wrestling game to date, this is the most fun a wrestling game has been since the Nintendo 64 glory days.

4. Fez

I went into Fez fairly blind, knowing only that it was an indie labor of love that had been in development for several years. Running around its world, shifting perspective, and collecting the basic cubes was fun enough at first, but what really hooked me were the elaborate puzzles required for the anti-cubes. No other game in recent memory had me scribbling clues and symbols on notebook paper like a damn crazy person, and I loved every second of it.

3. New Super Mario Bros. U

Nintendo could keep crapping out 2D Mario games every couple of years until the day I die, and I'd probably love every one of them. I'm certainly not alone when I say that I grew up on classic Mario platforming, and it's a joy to be able to relive it with the New series. As long as Nintendo continues to innovate with its stellar 3D Mario series, I'm completely fine with an unapologetically nostalgic side series that pays tributes to gaming's most consistent franchise.

2. XCOM: Enemy Unknown

Since I never had a PC capable of running much more than the original Doom, I don't have the strongest background in the strategy genre. When I heard Firaxis had made XCOM: Enemy Unknown accessible to newcomers as well as veterans of the genre, I was intrigued. It only took a few alien encounters to fall in love with the tense combat and engaging strategic layer of the game. I loved it so much, I restarted from scratch after spending a dozen hours in a desperate, satellite-starved first run.

1. Borderlands 2

After pumping well over 100 hours into the first Borderlands, I knew Gearbox would have to really knock the sequel out of the park if it was going to grab me as much as the original. They went above and beyond, with four (later, five) fantastic new classes featuring skill trees stocked with entertaining and useful abilities. Fleshing out an actual story with a defined antagonist also helped put it above its already-great predecessor. It takes a special game to keep me hooked long after I've reviewed it, and I still find myself loving my time in Pandora months later.

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Posted by Ryan

Associate editor at Game Informer. Two-time Guinness World Record holder. Esteemed author of Air Force Gator.

10. Trials Evolution

Whether it's NASCAR, F1, or Fast and Furious crap, I could not give less of a shit about racing if it doesn't involve turtle shells or have the word Burnout in its name. If you're giving Trials a passing glance, it may look like a generic dirt bike racing game. Thirty seconds of playing this fantastic downloadable title (or its predecessor) is enough to change anyone's tune. Few games consistently engage me like Trials, as I'm either thrilled about a perfect gold medal run, furious at myself over a dumb mistake, or cracking up at a spectacular wipeout or ridiculous end-level animation. When it comes to pure, dumb fun, few gaming experiences nail it as perfectly as Trials Evolution.

9. Soulcalibur V

I've long considered the original Soul Calibur to be the best fighting game ever made. That said, I felt subsequent installments maintained a certain level of quality but failed to recreate the experience I had with the original. This fifth entry doesn't top the Dreamcast classic, but it's the next best thing. Namco Bandai omitted some of the awkward features from IV and introduced numerous new characters to the already-beefy roster. Coupled with solid online play and the best visuals in the series to date, it's the best fighting game I played this year.

8. Dishonored

As a guy that sucks at stealth games, I didn't know how much I'd enjoy Arkane's ambitious new IP. Playing on PC, I quickly realized that quick saves and quick loads work perfectly with the wide variety of approaches Corvo can take when stalking his prey. Dorking around with elaborate and violent kills is a blast when you know you can simply hop back with a quick load and take your objective seriously. Nailing that perfect kill is a rush, but failing in spectacular and hilarious fashion is often just as entertaining.

7. Hero Academy

Asynchronous gameplay can be great if done correctly, and Robot Entertainment's Hero Academy does it better than any other game I've played. Every time I see the little badge on my iPhone tell me that I've got a turn to play, I can't wait to jump in and obsess over the perfect five-move approach to whatever situation I'm currently in. I typically don't dabble much in microtransactions, but I immediately drain a couple of bucks from my Apple Store wallet every time a new team is introduced. Almost a year after its release, I still find myself excited at the outset of each new match.

6. Mass Effect 3

I've never been much of a video game lore guy, unless you wanna talk about Metal Gear Solid or the sweet endings in Twisted Metal 2. That said, I thoroughly enjoyed learning the fate of Shepard, the Reapers, and whatever crew lived through my reckless decisions in the last two games. I even loved the original ending, so I'm glad that the internet has finally shut up about it.

5. WWE ‘13

As anyone who knows me or follows me on Twitter is well aware, I've wavered between different phases of obsession regarding pro wrestling for my entire life. The height of my obsession happened during the industry's greatest time period, the Attitude Era. THQ did an amazing job of capturing what made the late 90s such a thrilling time, taking gamers through recreations of Steve Austin, The Rock, Mick Foley, and others' most memorable moments. When you factor in its endless WWE Universe mode, unmatched creation suite, and the best roster of any wrestling game to date, this is the most fun a wrestling game has been since the Nintendo 64 glory days.

4. Fez

I went into Fez fairly blind, knowing only that it was an indie labor of love that had been in development for several years. Running around its world, shifting perspective, and collecting the basic cubes was fun enough at first, but what really hooked me were the elaborate puzzles required for the anti-cubes. No other game in recent memory had me scribbling clues and symbols on notebook paper like a damn crazy person, and I loved every second of it.

3. New Super Mario Bros. U

Nintendo could keep crapping out 2D Mario games every couple of years until the day I die, and I'd probably love every one of them. I'm certainly not alone when I say that I grew up on classic Mario platforming, and it's a joy to be able to relive it with the New series. As long as Nintendo continues to innovate with its stellar 3D Mario series, I'm completely fine with an unapologetically nostalgic side series that pays tributes to gaming's most consistent franchise.

2. XCOM: Enemy Unknown

Since I never had a PC capable of running much more than the original Doom, I don't have the strongest background in the strategy genre. When I heard Firaxis had made XCOM: Enemy Unknown accessible to newcomers as well as veterans of the genre, I was intrigued. It only took a few alien encounters to fall in love with the tense combat and engaging strategic layer of the game. I loved it so much, I restarted from scratch after spending a dozen hours in a desperate, satellite-starved first run.

1. Borderlands 2

After pumping well over 100 hours into the first Borderlands, I knew Gearbox would have to really knock the sequel out of the park if it was going to grab me as much as the original. They went above and beyond, with four (later, five) fantastic new classes featuring skill trees stocked with entertaining and useful abilities. Fleshing out an actual story with a defined antagonist also helped put it above its already-great predecessor. It takes a special game to keep me hooked long after I've reviewed it, and I still find myself loving my time in Pandora months later.

Posted by Bleshoo

Neat

Posted by phrosnite

Bordomlands more like it. AMIRITE?

Posted by BaconGames

Wah wah.

Posted by billmcneal

world record holder

Posted by sprode

#0 - AIR FORCE GATOR

Posted by MjHealy

I'm surprised it's not just ten wrestling games. YEAH THAT'S RIGHT, I FOLLOW YOU ON TWITTER DAN RYCKERT! Your sign on that episode of Monday Night Raw amused me.

Posted by PerfidiousSinn

This might be the first and last time Soul Calibur V pops up on any of these lists. I'd put it in my top 10 too despite the lack of single player content.

Posted by warxsnake

Ugh Hoarderlands. 

Posted by 2HeadedNinja

@phrosnite: nope, you are not

Edited by Sooty

Soul Calibur can nevar be the best fighting game ever made, even if you take into account whether you enjoyed the game or not the sheer influence Street Fighter II had (while continuing to be played competitively) just makes it unbeatable for that title!

Posted by Chango

I was expecting a surprise twist involving The Walking Dead being number one.

Posted by MosaicM80

"I even loved the original ending" to ME3... ummm, wow. I didn't think anyone actually enjoyed the original ending. Come to terms with it, but actually enjoy it?

Posted by LegendaryChopChop

The internet has NOT shut up about the ME3 ending.

Posted by I_smell

His world record is Longest Fighting Game marathon, which was 30 hours of Super Smash Bros Brawl. 
 
YOU'RE WELCOME!

Posted by samhead5

The Borderlands!

Posted by dezvous

Why do so many people suck at stealth games?

Posted by MadLaughter

This is the guy that hates Walking Dead. That said, decent list.

Posted by Phatmac

Yay, Dan made a list on here!

Posted by JackG100

If he liked the original ME3-ending his entire list is void.

Posted by skyebaron

@phrosnite: NO!

Posted by DG991

List invalid. Liked original ME3 ending.

Posted by papercut

I came here to read Dan Ryckert talk about WWE 13

Posted by Seroth

I want to know Paul Ryckert's Top 10 Games of 2012. Dan's dad is hilarious.

Posted by xMEGADETHxSLY

No Walking Dead, good list

Posted by fjor

great list Dan......hurry with that blue stinger super replay .......

Posted by TopSteer

@Seroth: It'd be just Mario Kart Wii and Resident Evil 4 over and over again.

Posted by Sergio

@phrosnite: You are correct, sir.

Posted by zachary

dan ryckert is a goddamn crazy person

Edited by csl316

"Unless you wanna talk about Metal Gear Solid or the sweet endings in Twisted Metal 2."
 
Statements like these make me proud that Dan's a video game representative of America.  Also, this:

Posted by Zamir

i hope this isn't one of Dan's crazy pranks again

Posted by Village_Guy

PIIIIPOOOOOOO!!!

Edited by smitty86
I've long considered the original Soul Calibur to be the best fighting game ever made...

I'm just going to consider this a typo...

I mean, Soul Calibur is not even the best Soul Calibur ever. That would be Soul Calibur 2.

Posted by GodlyOne

Don't forget Dan Ryckert's greatest accomplishment: his head was in an episode of Monday Night Raw.

Posted by connerthekewlkid

@LegendaryChopChop said:

The internet has NOT shut up about the ME3 ending.

@JackG100 said:

If he liked the original ME3-ending his entire list is void.

DG991on Dec. 24, 2012 at 3:48 p.m.

"List invalid. Liked original ME3 ending."

SHIGGIDY DIGGIDY DOO

Posted by Tesla

I feel the same way about the Soul Calibur series as Mr. Ryckert here, but I never bothered with 5. Maybe I should give it a go.

Posted by steelerzfan101

Ahh Dan Ryckert, what a guy! I kinda found it funny how much Dan seems to hate the Walking Dead. I was listening to an episode of the Gameinformer Show and he just wouldn't let it go! He is definitely interesting...

Posted by steelerzfan101

Also, I am really surprised that New Super Mario Bros U made it so high in his list! But then again, it seems that he likes the series a lot.

Posted by Christoffer

Hero Academy ay? hmm... I will look into it, maybe.

Posted by eloj

Imagine a world where "Borderlands 2" actually was the best game of the year. I would give up on gaming.

Posted by NedsHead

God forbid some one like Mass Effect 3 's ending. I for one thought the ending was fine and its my game of the year by a mile. Great list Dan! Love all the work you do at Game Informer !

Posted by SatelliteOfLove

I've long considered the original Soul Calibur to be the best fighting game ever made.

Fuck, I like this guy already.

Posted by mems1224

Im more interested in Dan's top 10 Wrestlemanias

Posted by evanbower
@MosaicM80

"I even loved the original ending" to ME3... ummm, wow. I didn't think anyone actually enjoyed the original ending. Come to terms with it, but actually enjoy it?

Pretty sure Arther gave that game a 10 on Polygon.. Don't let the loudest Internet minority have the final say on the game's ending.
Posted by maskedarcstrike

@Zamir said:

i hope this isn't one of Dan's crazy pranks again

good lord that still cracks me up

Posted by kalibr

Borderlands 2 and ME3 are great games if you disagree than make your own top 10 list and stop dismissing someone else's choices. Keep the internet out of giantbomb.

Posted by PlaydohCutter

BRODERLANDS!

Edited by MeatSim

Where is the Air Force Gator video game adaptation?

Posted by shadowwolf9

@evanbower: Exactly. I found it quite enjoyable as well.

Posted by JackG100

People who enjoyed the first ME3 ending are the kind of people who enables companies to chicken out on doing great things. Instead we get the "room with buttons"-ending on all games with "multiple ending" instead of having endings actually play out according to choices we actually make by playing the game we get to the theatre of endings and if we been acting a certain way we got to press certain buttons. But we still got the choices ofc. and they will all be the same with different colors or two different words in a dialogue. How people can enjoy the original ending will forever be a big fat questionmark in my mind, the game was excellent and deserved better. Just like Deus Ex: HR...

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