Just wanted to reflect on my last year playing games and make this list. 2012 had it's disappointments for sure but it also had some great moments for me.
SPOILERS FOR MASS EFFECT 3, MAX PAYNE 3 (sort of), WALKING DEAD, SPEC OPS: THE LINE FOLLOW
Without further ado:
10. FTL - Death by Asphyxiation
I took this fight for granted. I was already looking ahead, trying to save my missiles for the Flagship. This was just a pirate.
So he hits me with his first volley, bypassing my shield with a missile and taking out my oxygen. Then my engine. Now I can't power my weapons to actually fire some missiles I was saving, so I start sending the crew to the engine room. The shield gets taken out. The ship catches fire. I send my last crewman in and he gets part way toward repairs before the lox oxygen in the room due to hull breaches kills him.
My ship drifts off into the eternity of space. Don't take oxygen for granted, and don't take any fight in FTL either.
9. Max Payne 3 - TEARS
In the tradition of the series, Max Payne 3's environments are rather limited. So when Max Payne 3 opened up into a large, open terminal area near the plot's climax, enemies started flooding in, and HEALTH's track "TEARS" kicked in, it was a very badass moment.
Rockstar has become a studio that does very special work with music, both internally and bringing in external artists. HEALTH was a risk for the soundtrack but it worked incredibly well. Bravo to both parties.
8. Dragons Dogma - Fighting Monsters
Alright, I am cheating a bit here. You did this a lot. Regardless, there is something special about the dynamic nature and spectacle of Dragon Dogma's combat.
Dragons Dogma reminded me of Rockstar's The Warriors in the way in which that game captured the dynamic feel of a hand to hand rumble, Capcom captured the scale and chaos of fantasy battles that we have read about in book or seen in films like Lord of the Rings. Climbing monsters is so satisfying. For any of the game's other failings, this is very impressive.
7. Walking Dead - Holy Shit Lee Cuts Off His Own Arm
I remember seeing the option on the screen. One button to sever my own arm, one to walk away. I couldn't turn it down.
If you weren't alone in the basement at the start of episode 5 and you didn't cut off your arm, you missed out. Well you missed out on one of the most brutal moments in any game. Actually looking at the interaction points on the screen was difficult. I am far from squeamish.
And showing back up to the group after lying about being bitten with a stump. "Hey guys... about that"
6. Mass Effect 3 - The Genophage
I know many of us had our issues with the game. One area where it didn't disappoint was the Genophage conclusion. For me, it was the most compelling plot thread in the series as it had both wide implications and shades of gray in which way you choose to go that are more interesting than most of the series' Paragon vs Renegade dichotomy.
So I went Paragon here. Wrex was my boy, he proved a strong leader, and I need the Krogan. I could see the other side to using the Genophage but the game didn't really present it to the play in an immediate way in the games. Mordin made his sacrifice. RIP. A great wrap up to his character and it was great to have the Krogan by my side.
Now, the Renegade option is what really makes this so great, and I didn't play it. Wow, Shepard is a cold mother fucker. It's beautiful how you have to play that and how Wrex shows up later. My only complaint is that Wrex goes down to a few pistol shots instead of a hail of C-Sec gunfire, Sonny Corleone style.
5. Max Payne 3 - The Stadium
The best level in my favorite game from last year.
First, it's a classic action movie set piece that I've been waiting for in a game. It's about damn time
Second, the way it was crafted. Moving through the locker rooms to the stands to the luxury boxes you feel like you are in a real place. Max Payne 3's levels must have been designed partially by architects because they are completely convincing. The detail is incredible.
Finally, it was a great callback to my favorite level from Max Payne 2, the construction site. Covering Passos and him covering me brought back great memories of doing the same with Mona Sax in the second game.
4. Spec Ops: The Line - White Phosphorus
We've done this type of sequence in a military shooter. The birds eye camera, the small enemies below, the destruction.
Walking through the carnage afterwards, feeling compelled to put enemies out of their misery as they crawled toward me? The collateral damage in innocent lives? This was different.
My favorite touch was how Walker's face becomes more visible reflected in the screen as the sequence goes on. There is a man behind that destruction that seems so inhuman and technical, don't forget that.
3. Spec Ops: The Line - The Downward Spiral
Cheating again, a bit. Somewhere near the end though it hits you: we are way past the point of no return and these dudes are really fucked.
The once tactical squad commands ("take out that sniper on the balcony") became barbaric ("Kill him!", "Drop him!", "Kill Confirmed Motherfucker").
4th wall breaking elements like the loading screens near the end that actively told me to stop playing the game.
And then the ending where I can kill the US soldiers sent to rescue me? Wow.
2. Walking Dead - "Carley will remember that"
The moment that followed was great. But Walking Dead threw a pump fake right before it and I bit, hard.
Using the game's notification system to so clearly fuck with me was my favorite non-digetic moment of the year in games, and I am a sucker for those. The inevitability of the moment that follows is great in itself but that extra touch is what really made this so special. I had an inkling the moment was coming if not for that.
1. Walking Dead: The End
What is there to say? I teared up here and I teared up again watching my sister finish it.
A game that was in large part about raising a child really drove it home here, watching her go and not knowing how it would turn out. In a way it was a fucked up version of sending your kid off to college.
The beautiful part was that I made Clem put a bullet in my head so I could try to make her tough as nails, but the other side was just as well thought out and just as compelling with the aim of making Clem compassionate. Endings do not get any better than this.
And that's my list. Hope you guys liked reading it. Let me know what you think and what your top moments from last year were.