Well it’s that time of year, again. The last possible moment to post a best of 2012 list has come. Thankfully, I played enough games in 2012 to make some good picks. So let’s get to it, let’s start the show with the showstopper.
#1 XCOM: Enemy Unknown
This is the closest I have ever come to the times I used to play with action figures. I get so fussy with my soldiers and their equipment, I stress over banging them up, and I dread every time a UFO is spotted. Still, I kept playing (and still want to play, as I haven’t finished it at the time of this writing) XCOM: Enemy Unknown and am still having a complete blast blasting apart alien invaders.
Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, I thought Journey was pretentious Oscar bait, too. Funny thing though, it’s actually a really great social experiment/experience. The idea of playing with another human player who can’t strategize and coordinate using voice chat made me a little skeptical at first, but the moment when you’re sliding down the slope with your buddy is a moment of sublime playfulness that I haven’t experienced in any other game this year. Or in forever even.
#3 The Walking Dead
Walkind Dead puts normal people into the shoes of an everyman that still has some backstory. As a player, it’s up to you to determine the fate of several people in your group, including the doe-eyed 9 year old Clementine. Clementine is a driving force behind most of the game, but what stood out for me was how they integrated a protagonist that allowed for player moulding, while still having a decent backstory. Props to the men and women at Telltale.
#4 Hotline Miami
Hotline Miami is the best and worst fever dream you’ll have all year. Tight controls, good music, instant respawns, demand for exact and precise timing all make it feel like an even bloodier version of Meat Boy. And this game sure is bloody, it’s got more 8-bit gore than you can shake a entrail spattered stick at. I was a little disappointed with the ending, but I’m still itching to go and get those secrets to unlock the true ending.
#5 Alan Wake
So, yes, this game actually came out in 2010 for the Xbox 360. But it wasn’t until this year that I decided to pick up it’s release on the PC, which version did come out this year. Now that the qualification’s out of the way, I would like to say that Alan Wake is one of the best third-person shooters to come along in a while. It’s story is the star with Sam Lake’s writing taking writer Alan Wake on a crazy journey through the town of Bright Falls and into the beyond, as well. It’s gameplay is good, but it’s really the writing writer who writes about writers that write about Alan Wake that really steals the show.
#6 Darkness II
I hadn’t heard of the Darkness II until about a month ago. It came up during GOTY talks with some folk on giant bomb, and I was so pleased with talk about it that I immediately went and ordered a copy. I was not disappointed when it arrived, but it was definitely shorter than I maybe would have wanted. Still there’s plenty of co-op campaigns that still need doing. Anybody up for that?
#7 Max Payne 3
I wanted a good Max Payne game, but what I got was a phenomenal Die Hard game. I wanted to dive in slow motion more than you get to in Max Payne 3, but that is not the game that Rockstar made. I understand that Rockstar could not do justice to the Max Payne Remedy once crafted, but that still doesn’t excuse this awesome game Rockstar made that inexplicably has the Max Payne name on it. That part in the bar where some punks are insulting Max’s wife? He would’ve stone-cold murdered them right on the spot if they were true to the comic book nature of the first two Max Payne’s
#8 Borderlands 2
I like what they’ve done with Borderlands 2. It feels like an old familiar place with some new trappings, and an awesome new game room. It’s a game that takes what the first one did well, ports that wholesale, and then takes what it didn’t do well back to the drawing board. While the story in Borderlands 2 can be hit or miss but it definitely knows its strengths, delivering monologues via radio is a great way to keep a player informed while he is bounding away from the questgiver to start that next mission. I still want to jump back in for a second playthrough.
#9 Diablo III/Torchlight II
Two sides to the same coin, and while I only played the walled garden side to completion, I still enjoy and want to enjoy Torchlight II. However, Diablo III was somewhat of a zeitgeist at my place of employment. My supervisor even got way into it, how could I not play this game? So I played it...once...and I’ve not touched it since. Still those first ~34 levels were something special that I won’t soon forget. I’ve heard that a lot of balance changes have been made to make the game better. I may check back in again to see what the fuss is all about.
#10 Darksiders II
The most disappointing game of the year, and while it’s not bad, it’s definitely a game that made me want to play the first one again. In fact, you could say that this game is an inferior version of the first one because they both have the same ending. Sure, how you get there is different, but usually a sequel builds on the ending of the first not steal it wholesale. Still, riding around and fighting boss monsters is made more fun with a loot system that should be stolen by more games. Possessed weapons are weapons that get “fed” what is usually vendor trash, and way more games need to steal that idea.
So, I definitely missed a good number of games that I’d love to play. Sleeping Dogs is one I’m currently playing through, and I’m having a blast with it. FTL is another one on my now playing list. I’ve still got to finish XCOM. Still trucking through Mass Effect 3. I want to buy and play Far Cry 3. Still got Dustforce to playthrough, that came out this year. Seems I’ve got a fun-filled 2013 to look forward to.