Halfway through the year I was just about ready to write 2012 off as a weak year overall for games but it was great to realize that I was having trouble narrowing down my list of favorite games down to 10.
I did miss out on playing some games that I’ll probably get to later like Journey and Far Cry 3 (I know this one isn't out but I lost interest in buying it day 1). Here's a list of all the games I did play this year. One major thing that caught me by surprise is the amount of retail box copy games I cut from the list in favor of some downloadables. The year of the downloadable couldn't be more true and without further ado, let's start with a 2011 game before going into my favorite 2012 games.
2012's 2011 Game of The Year
This game is the reason why I occasionally turn on my 360. Recently my consoles have fallen to the wayside because of my shift to the PC realm but the amount of fun I derive out of the multiplayer is just too much for me to ignore. This game kept me coming back for more thanks to the solid season pass that was chockful of great multiplayer maps that also became more maps for Horde and Beast Mode. I’m not sure if Judgement will pull me in like all of the past Gears games did but I do know Gears 3 will continue to stay in the disc tray for many more months to come.
Now onto my top ten...
10) The Darkness 2
I picked this up for cheap on PC at Amazon and I got my money's worth and more. Although this game went for a more linear path than the last game it still retained a good amount of the last game's personality plus adding solid gunplay with some visually-striking, over the top gory darkness attacks. It was a blast working my way through the game and the more linear nature of it all didn't bother me because of how engaging the gameplay was.
9) Asura's Wrath
This game is stupid...in the best way possible. Ludicrous cinematics would be an understatement in describing just how ridiculous all of the shit that happens in this game is. The gameplay may have only ranged from simple to tedious but damn this game has heart. Also say what you will about Capcom cutting the "true ending" into DLC but the outrageous events in that ending DLC still remain fresh in my mind and I’m glad I played it.
8) Persona 4: Golden
OK, I haven't finished this yet so placing it here is somewhat unfair in some respect but being able to play Persona 4 plus a lot of new content is more than enough reason for it to sit here on my list. Enough said.
7) Halo 4
Here's my second reason to keep my Gold and 360 plugged in. This game would be sitting a lot higher on my list if it managed to truly shake things up in the campaign and manage to keep the narrative compelling as it was in the first third of the game...unfortunately I think 343 dropped the ball on the story shortly after revealing the main antagonist (I can’t go into specifics because of spoilers). I honestly didn't expect to like this game as much as I did because I was worried about being all "Halo'd out" but I think Halo 4 was able to keep me engaged just enough to not be turned off. The enemy AI is as sharp as ever here, I never had this much joy from the challenge of playing Halo 4 on Heroic than any other Halo game and the new high level of visual flair that 343 added is a nice bonus. After stopping with Halo multiplayer shortly after the launch of Reach it was refreshing to jump online with the new changes that 343 brought. I know some people don't like the changes but a faster paced Halo game is fine by me. One thing's for sure though, if I have to fight more Covenant in Halo 5 then I'm done with Halo.
It’s not too often that you see a big retail release that is also a new IP. This game was a nice surprise and well worth the price (got it off GMG for about $40). You may stumble at first as you figure out the mechanics and enemy AI but once you hit your stride and get comfortable this game is truly something else. The level of freedom that you have to accomplish your goal in so many ways is what kept me coming back to retry a level and get a more perfect playthrough. You can’t beat that badass feeling you get when you pull off an elaborate plan with the fun powers at your disposal, accomplish your task, and leave the scene like nothing happened.
5) Diablo IIII
I never played any of the past Diablo games (but I did play Torchlight) so this was a fairly new experience for me that I enjoyed immensely. I think I just hit 60 with my monk somewhere in Act III on Hell difficulty and once I catch up some more on my backlog I think I’ll revisit the game. I loved grinding dungeons and the pace of the game was perfect for me because I could boot it up grind for 30 minutes and then hop off and play later. My only problem with the game was the always online requirement that it has but it didn't give me that many issues.
4) Lumines: Electronic Symphony
I think one of the reasons why I adore this game so much is because I basically skipped all of the past games in this franchise so I was able to avoid the feeling that I've done this all before. I did play a bit of the 360 version (I know that’s a weaker version) and it didn't pull me in like the way Electronic Symphony did. This game is the reason why I bought a Vita (getting the device for like $40 after selling stuff did help though) and why I don’t care about just using the Vita to play more Lumines. The soundtrack and visuals are top notch and still manage to entertain me as I cruise through the Voyage mode for the 500th time.
Dude this is the fucking sequel to Pushmo, I don’t think I need to say more than that but if you insist...Pushmo is one of my favorite 3DS games that I can easily pick up, solve a couple puzzles, and then put down again. The new mechanics in the sequel are enough to keep the experience for me fresh and engaging and I’m just glad to be able to have new puzzles to solve whenever I have some downtime. Buy this game.
2) The Walking Dead
I think I regret not paying full price for this (got it in a Steam Sale) because of the enormous value that I personally derived from this game. The gameplay mechanics range from mediocre to simple and the “illusion of choice” still exists here to a certain extent. With that said, none of those issues have stopped me from being emotionally invested on such a level that I can’t remember any other game that has made me feel this way. If the narrative wasn't so compelling and sharp as it was then I probably would have fallen off the fan train a long time ago. I know this game will be topping a lot of other user’s lists here and I’ll support them because this game provides a unique emotional ride that more people need to experience.
1) Sleeping Dogs
OK, even I’m a little confused...how did this happen? Here’s a game that nearly flew under my radar and barely caught my attention when it was released. A competently made open world game set in Hong Kong? Yeah I’ll get around to playing it sometime....then Amazon had the PC version for $18...I guess it was time to figure out why some people are really liking this and why Vinny can’t stop violently attacking the NPC’s.
First off I want to highlight the visuals. This game looks great and I can’t wait for my GTX 660 ti to arrive so I can play it again with some more bells and whistles on but even with my GTX 555, this game runs so damn smoothly at 1080p. Kudos to United Front for putting out a solid PC port and thank you Square Enix for making sure this game reached the finish line.
I think that the setting and melee combat was what blew me away. I know that this game wouldn't be first in line when it comes to being called original but that doesn’t stop it from having solid gameplay mechanics, detailed environments, and a somewhat engrossing story that all blend together to form a game world that I want to dive headfirst and lose myself in. The setting and story allows the game to highlight the well made melee focused combat that takes plenty of cues from the Batman games, which isn't a bad thing. You can fuck up dudes badly in this game and the audio and visuals reinforce that fact superbly. Once I got a good grasp on the combat I went out of my way to seek fight club side missions to complete because it was just fun to fight dudes. Driving was also a blast to do in this game and I’m glad that United took a page from Just Cause’s book and added a similar “stunt position” mechanic so you can jack other vehicles while driving. As for the gunplay....yeah it’s a little weak. Shooting guys is manageable but it’s not a highlight for me so I was disappointed when the game started to shift towards more shooting focused missions but I was grateful that beating the shit out of dudes with your fists was a not so distant priority in the last hours of the game.
Now I've noticed that I haven’t really talked about the story. It’s not because it’s bad, it's just that I got most of my enjoyment out of playing the game than just watching the cutscenes which I can’t say for many other open world games. I’m not gonna go into story details because you can find that out elsewhere but it’s just a basic undercover cop story of a guy who is trying to toe the line between being a cop and a thug and while I personally thought it was good enough to keep me interested in what was happening, unfortunately there was a huge amount of dissonance in the narrative that still calling Wei Shen a cop was pretty ridiculous because of all of the over the top shit that happens.
In summary though, I simply had a lot of fun with this game. United Fronts’s version of Hong Kong is a place that I wanted to sink hours into exploring and I’m glad that I did just that. After listing all of my favorite games for this year and beginning to rank them I was surprised to see how high I was moving Sleeping Dogs up the list until it hit #1 and you know what? I’m feeling pretty good at where it’s at on my list and calling it my game of the year.
I do have a couple of honorable mentions which go to The Witcher 2 and Trials Evolution. It’s a shame that Trials couldn't make the cut but that didn’t mean that I regretted my purchase, I may have wanted to throw my controller at the wall but I still kept coming back to try that track over and over. As for Witcher 2...I’m only mentioning it because the 360 version allowed me to finally experience this fantastic game until I got a desktop to run it. This game would be in the running for 1st place with Sleeping Dogs but it is technically a 2011 game so I had to remove it.
If you made it this far, thanks for reading.