I know I'm generalizing to a certain extent here but I've been getting the impression that a lot of people have found this year to be disappointing and/or weak for games. Sure I wished that Mass Effect 3 turned out better than I expected and the same can be said for Resident Evil 6 which I hated to admit was just too bad for me to continue playing. Hell even Assassin's Creed 3 and Darksiders 2 (I wanted more "zeldaness") could be considered "disappointing" but don't let that drag down a whole year that hasn't been so bad at all.
Enough of that sad sack shit, how about taking a look at some of the surprises of 2012
The Year of The Downloadable
I think the number of downloadables from this year that I ended up really digging have finally outnumbered the amount of retail releases that I've enjoyed. Let's not forget Trials Evolution which made me want to hurl my controller at the wall numerous times but I always managed to convince myself to hit retry one more time. Hotline Miami is another game that comes to mind when I think of great downloadables. That game is dripping with style and has tight violent gameplay that forces you to form a plan of attack and execute that plan as fast and accurate as possible (plus the soundtrack is just too fucking good). Also don't forget about the fantastic Crashmo for the 3DS, if you're a fan of Pushmo then you know why you need to hurry the hell up and play this. The changes they brought to that puzzle game are refreshing and will keep me coming back to solve more puzzles. On top of that I'm about to jump into Journey and eventually Dust: An Elysian Tail which both have received their fair share of critical praise.
I wonder how many people forgot this came out this year because this game just barely flew under my radar. Despite looking like a basic third-person shooter, Binary Domain has some solid gunplay filled with enemies that are just too fun to shoot at. There's an extreme satisfaction you get when you watch the robots break down and fall apart as you rip them apart with bullets. The story also went a long way in keeping me engaged and wanting to see it through to the end. Adding what might seem to be a minor mechanic of choosing dialogue options when talking to your squad mates and increasing/decreasing their preference towards you helped me to care more about them. Now I would be a piece of shit if I continued on without mentioning two very special characters, Big Bo and Cain. A french robot armed with a pistol and stylish neckerchief teamed up with a hulking, overly-enthusiastic mass of muscle shooting the shit outta bots is nothing short of pure joy in my book.
I'm not exactly sure where to start with this
game interactive anime. I could have easily written this game off because of its dependence on QTE's and cutscenes but I'm glad I gave it a chance. You may have to wade through some mediocre gameplay but witnessing the ludicrous events that unfold are easily worth the price of admission. I'm fighting myself to stop listing the crazy shit that happens but that would just be robbing you from a worthwhile trip through this insane game that is simply stupid fun. Asura's Wrath gets some serious mileage out of its QTE dependent gameplay and manages to throw in just enough surprises that will keep you tapping the shit out of that controller till it breaks.
I already went into some detail as to why I seriously like Sleeping Dogs so I'm going to try to talk about it without just copying/pasting from my last blog. This game probably shouldn't have happened and it seemed like luck that it managed to hit store shelves, but the huge surprise for me is how solid the end product turned out to be. Made up of recognizable mechanics from other games, Sleeping Dogs blends together familiar components and a richly detailed rendition of Hong Kong all into one outstanding package. The melee combat is what got me hooked to the point that I would go out of my way to search for fight club side missions just so I could break more arms and faces. It's no wonder that Vinny just can't help but attack innocent NPC's. Play this game.
Far Cry 3
This game is more of a personal surprise for me than a general one because I didn't care for the first game and the second one fell completely flat for me. I needed an excuse to push my new video card so I saw no reason to not give Far Cry 3 a chance. First off the visual fidelity on PC has been a joy to look at, there are times where I can't help but get overly excited at just how good the environments look in this game and it's a good thing that the world is filled with tons of great content to give plenty of reason to explore this tropical "paradise". I would be shocked if someone told me I would be hunting animals (take that AC 3) and raiding pirate camps just for the fun of it. Now it obviously seems like the story won't go in the direction that I would have hoped it would but that doesn't matter because I'm too busy happily setting this pot field on fire.
What are your surprises for this year?