This was kind of an odd year for gaming. You'd expect the likes of Halo 4, Assassin's Creed 3, and/or Mass Effect 3 to top everyone's list - but instead, most people are putting the likes of Journey and The Walking Dead in their number 1 spots.
If you would have told me at the beginning of the year that my top games would have been these, I'd have probably laughed at you. In fact, I didn't have much interest in actually playing any of them, but I eventually did and they are all great. But before I really start, I have to give props to the biggest surprise of all, and that is a little JRPG called Chrono Trigger. I don't even generally like JRPG's a whole lot - I usually get five hours or so into one before I get tired of something and give up - but this one was different. It has become one of my favorite games of all time now that I've finished it, but since neither it nor its DS rerelease were released this year, I can't really put it on this list. I also can't make this blog post without mentioning that game. Play Chrono Trigger at some point!
One last thing - there are some games this year that were kinda disappointing, but still did some interesting things that I wanted to give mention to. That section of this post eventually became too long to fit in here, so I made a different blog post and it is here if you have any interest in it.
And, without further ado, I present to you Believer258's Top Five Games of 2012.
Number 5: Journey
Between the shockingly creative thread title and the under-mentioned pick that is Journey, you must be reeling from all the originality here, which is a shame, because Journey deserves a whole lot of attention. It’s not so much a game as it is an audio-visual treat that you interact with, and boy is it wondrous. Gorgeous vistas, excellent sand and lighting effects, and some great set pieces that do not at all rely on quick time events are what make this what it is. Well, that and one other thing – the co-op. Now, this game could stand on its own without the co-op, but its inclusion makes it even better. It’s hard to describe why it’s such a great addition. You’re walking along this desert and suddenly someone else who looks very similar to you starts beeping and you begin looking around and exploring together. Really, there’s not much reason to except to find things that extend your scarf, but I found myself doing it all the same. Certainly it’s short, at only an hour and a half, but that’s because you’re supposed to play it in one sitting. And when you do play it, make sure it’s at a time when it can have your full and undivided attention for that whole hour and a half.
I’m actually going to recommend waiting the least amount of time possible to play this game despite it being number 5 on my list. I seriously doubt that its co-op is going to have any sort of real longevity and if you wait too long, that part of the game simply won’t be active due to everyone with an interest in it already having played it and moved on. Again, the co-op isn’t necessary to make Journey what it is – but it does do a fair bit to improve the experience so get it now if you have a PS3 on hand.
Number 4: Forza Horizon
I’m not big into racing games. Occasionally I’ll get an itch to go ‘round and ‘round a track and get first place, but that’s usually something that goes away after a few races in something. But this was a bit different. Forza Horizon does a good job of giving the goings-on some context and it’s more than just one sentence, too. It isn’t a story, per se, at least not a good one, but the whole game feels like a racing festival is going on. There are actual characters running it, there are actual characters in the races (though they're pretty flat), and your racer is referenced sometimes (though he’s never given a name, just a generic face). It’s just enough context and story to give it a summer party-like feeling, but not so much that it ever gets in the way of actual racing, and the racing itself feels really good most of the time. Meaty cars like classic American muscle feel heavy and like they could take a beating, light and quick to accelerate cars really feel pretty quick, and the class designations do a pretty good job of making sure you don’t take an old, heavy Mustang into a race with a lot of tight corners. If I have any real complaints about the game, it’s that there’s a ton of loading. Otherwise? Nothing much bad to say about it.
Number 3: Torchlight 2
I’ll admit, I’ve never really gotten into loot games. You just do a whole lot of clicking on things and often have to go back to town and sell most of the junk you’ve collected. But Torchlight 1 was a game that I liked for a longer amount of time than I expected, and Torchlight 2 is a game that I’ve really liked, and I’m not entirely certain what they do different from other ones. Granted, I haven’t played many, but it must be something other than the loot. Maybe it’s the generally soothing music, or the consistently colorful and cartoony look and tone of things, or the way the combat feels whenever I blast a giant cannon or smash something with a massive wrench and they gib. And the things I dislike about loot games weren’t gone, but in both games they are greatly alleviated, most importantly the inventory, which in this game is pretty big. When that inventory gets full, you can fill up your pet with all of the stuff you don’t want and send him back to sell it, as well as send him back to town to buy a bunch of potions and scrolls in case you’re low on either.
There’s still no single thing that Torchlight 2 does to really differentiate itself from other click-y Diablolikes, but I do know this – I had to tear myself away from three and four hour sessions of Torchlight 2 multiple times, something I haven’t had to do with any other game this year.
Number 2: Doom 3 BFG
Whoa, wait – this game is 8 years old? What is it doing here? Well, honestly, there’s only one game this year that I enjoyed more and I can’t help but give this game a high spot. Some people really don’t like it, and I can see why, but man, I did. I was never truly terrified, but the atmosphere and the enemies really kept me on my virtual toes. The game design holds up pretty well for me in pretty much every respect – the shooting is satisfying, the levels feel natural and easy to navigate without needing a waypoint, and that lighting is still pretty good. It’s a little too easy, granted, and the Cyberdemon is definitely way too easy, but Doom 3 is a fantastic game as far as I’m concerned; not quite flawless but I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of all of this game – Doom 1, 2, and the Doom 3 expansions included.
Note - yes, I know about the Chrono Trigger thing above. But this particular rerelease actually came out this year, and this is the version that I played. I also played the Xbox version to completion this year, making this the only game on here that I have completed twice.
Number 1: Sleeping Dogs
No single game this year impressed me as much as this one. Obviously, that’s why it’s my number one pick. It doesn't do anything wholly original, but everything here is interesting and worth doing for some reason or another. It’s a refinement of many ideas rather than an original concept, and those refinements are things that other games should pay attention to (*ahem* Rockstar and their controls in any game). The fighting that makes up most of the game feels refreshing when put against the melee of most open world games, the story is one you’ve heard before but its presentation and the characters within are easy to care about and, in some cases, feel really sorry for. Really, I won’t list off the game’s entire list of good features because, well, all of them are very well done and worth seeing. Play this game!