By ArbitraryWater 24 Comments
Best Games of 2012 (that didn't come out in 2012)
Ah, it's december, is it not? A time to reflect, a time to spend with family, and a time to wallow in self-loathing whilst studying for finals. It's also the time when people order games in a numerical fashion and declare them as having significant qualitative merit. For my part, I have always stood by this trend as something I do as well, but in order to prove to the world that I am cool and unique and different, as well as to give a nod to my old-game blogging practice, I also make a list of my top 10 games of the year... that didn't come out this year. As per usual, the criteria is that I hadn't played these games in years prior, because otherwise Heroes of Might and Magic III would be my game of the year every year. Or something. Either way, games marked with an asterisk (*) have additional commentary, and the ones that don't probably don't because I already wrote lengthy blogs about them.
|1. League of Legends|
Technically, while League of Legends was on my list last year, I spent far, far, far more time and far, far, far too much time with this game this year to not give it the top spot, for as occasionally regretful as it makes me.*
|2. Saints Row: The Third|
The number one purveyor of absurd, self-aware insanity wrapped up in what is also a totally competent open world action game. No other game released last year made me go: "The part where I am murdering people with a dildo as a naked cockney-accented gentleman is absurd!"*
|3. Dead Space 2|
Isaac Clark's second adventure succeeds at being no worse than his first one, which is to say that the game starts and ends strongly despite some dragging around the middle. Really, if I had a complaint to levy, it would be that the plot is kind of terrible and Isaac doesn't need to talk because he's such a generic ActionBro that I don't even care*
|4. The Witcher|
The Witcher is an unique beast of a RPG that combines great writing and storytelling with a well realized world... and also some kinda boring combat and it takes a few hours to really get up to speed. Either way, you should probably play it, and I should probably play the second one.
|5. Conker: Live & Reloaded|
Rare's attempt at making a more scripted, linear platformer is incredibly successful from both a gameplay and a writing perspective, though the second is subjectively based on how funny you find poop and 11-year-old popular culture references.
|6. Suikoden III|
A JRPG that succeeds not only at being a JRPG, but also a JRPG that I can play free of irony (as opposed to last year's surprise picking of Final Fantasy X-2). Suikoden III is the kind of game that I endorse with very few qualms other than the part where it's long and it takes a while for the combat to get hard.
|7. Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II|
The reason I like Dawn of War II, at least as far as the single-player campaign is concerned, mostly stems from the part where it is barely a RTS. SPAYCE MUHREENS! *
|8. Fire Emblem: Shin Monshou no Nazo - Hikari to Kage no Eiyuu|
It's more than a little tragic that this never came out in the US, considering how absurdly superior it is to the other DS Fire Emblem game, Shadow Dragon. Don't confuse that for thinking that this is necessarily a fantastic Fire Emblem game. Had I not put them on previous lists, Thracia 776 and Seisen no Keifu would have ranked very highly on this one. *
|9. Icewind Dale II|
Probably my least favorite of the 5 games made with the Infinity Engine, but to say that IWD2 isn't a good game is much further than I am willing to go. Because it's a good game, with its multitude of character building options and varied combat encounters. Just not as good as the first one, or Baldur's Gate, or Baldur's Gate 2, or even maybe Planescape. That's right , I said it. Icewind Dale II is no Icewind Dale, and it's certainly no Temple of Elemental Evil. I DARE YOU TO CHALLENGE THIS ASSERTION.
|10. Fortune Street|
I commend this game with very little irony, and while its length and lack of flash doesn't necessarily lend it to being a great party game, it's totally fantastic with the right group of people. Because it's like monopoly, but with a stock market and Mario.
Now onto categorical awards!
Best games I would have put on this list had I not put them on previous lists:SNES Fire Emblem
Yo guys, Fire Emblem is pretty good. Thus, I'd like to tell you that the 4th and 5th installments of the franchise are also pretty good, and I actually finished them this year. You can find my write ups on them a few pages back for specifics, but if you like yourself some sadimasochistic turn based tactical action, there's still no better place to turn than the only Nintendo series I won't complain about being pretty much the exact same game every time. Ok, actually, XCOM is pretty good for that too, but I still like Fire Emblem better because it somehow seems less bullshit when I screw up. In any case, we'll talk more about XCOM once my other list gets finalized, and for that list to get finalized I would have to play some more Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning and some more Halo 4, both of which I've played enough to tell you I like, but not enough to feel comfortable giving full endorsements to.
Another game that I played: Shadows of the Damned
Shadows of the Damned is not a great game. Despite the whole part where it is Suda51 and therefore totally insane and kind of hilarious, the actual shooting is... pretty crummy, actually, and then there's the part where most of the tricks the game throws at you come in the first 90 minutes and are repeated ad-nauseum through the rest of the game. I could go on, about how it's basically a crummier version of Resident Evil 4 that can get you some easy achievements, or how there's a really bad turret sequence that lasts far, far, far too long, but it will suffice to say that I liked the game in spite of its flaws, but not enough for it to earn a place on the list. Worth a look if the idea of really dumb, juvenile humor and passable 3rd person shooting appeal to you.
Best GPA ruining experience/Old Game of the Year by default: League of Legends
If there's a hole in the games I've blogged about vs the games I've played an extensive amount of, there's probably no more obvious a discrepancy than that with League of Legends, which is easily the game I've played the most of this year and spoken very little about on these forums. I couldn't tell you why, other than that talking about the strategies required to be good to a person who hasn't played the game makes you sound like a lunatic, and I was probably busy... talking about The Witcher or something. The Witcher is pretty good. In any case, being that I was in a freshman dorm at the time, I was able to rope several other people into playing with me, including my roommate, and we thus created a 5 man team of death and destruction. Lemme tell you: playing that game with friends was some of the most fun I have ever had playing a video game. Ever. Being able to coordinate by just yelling at someone to stop being a stupid feeder instead of typing it is a pretty great experience, and the way the game flow works and the various abilities of all the champions are expertly designed. The obvious corollary to that is that playing with random people is inherently frustrating because they're unpredictable, often rude, and quite possibly capable of killing your entire team. Thus, when summer rolled around and we all went home, I played far less until I got a job, at which point I quit cold turkey because I had other stuff to play (namely Suikoden) and also it's difficult coordinating buddies when everyone is in a different time zone and junk. This has continued into the fall where I figured I may as well try to get a good GPA this semester, so I uninstalled it. Good grades didn't happen, but at least I can't blame it on me trying to perfect my strategies for jungling Sejuani (who is a great jungling champ, BTW). Maybe some day I'll go back, but tomorrow is not that day.
Best game that didn't result in me getting a lot of Cs in classes that I could've gotten a B in or something: Saints Row: the Third
At this point, I can understand Team Jeff's argument that Saints Row should've been Game of the Year last year. I would still probably pick Skyrim, if only because I feel that is probably a better game and the culmination of everything Bethesda learned from everything they made before. But I digress. Playing Saints Row this year was a great experience, because Saints Row is probably one of the funniest games I have ever played, with its weird, self-aware tone combined with all of the insanity that is present throughout. Burt Reynolds! That part where you are naked and on a bunch of drugs! The Ending! The Bad Ending! If there's a place where it falls apart, I think the side missions are kind of bad and I ignored most of them because (let's face it) the story is really the glue that binds the experience together. The shooting and driving are competent, but not especially noteworthy, and what I played of the DLC wasn't all that great either. Still, much like the ringing endorsement of the Giant Bomb crew, I must conclude that you should probably play Saints Row, and I'm really interested to see where the franchise goes next... assuming THQ even exists by then.
Best game to be pretty much the same as its predecessor, but that still being entirely ok: Dead Space 2
Dead Space 2 is not a risk-taker. It sticks to what worked in the last game, which is to say that you fight horrible monsters by shooting off their various limbs, and at some points they will jump out of ducts and you will flinch a little. To be fair, it is a somewhat faster moving game and I really like the harpoon gun's alternate fire of ELECTROCUTION DOOM. Does the flamethrower still suck? Yes. Does the assault rifle still suck? No. Which is great. Does their attempt at making a more involved story suck? Yeah. They really didn't need to make Isaac talk, and the flow of the story is still "YO ISAAC GO HERE OH NOES THERE IS SOMETHING IN YOUR WAY SO YOU HAVE TO GO HERE TO GO THERE". I'm willing to excuse it, however, if only because I think the game is dope and because Dead Space 3 is kind of bumming me and hopefully that will change once it comes out.
Best RTS that is barely a RTS: Warhammer 40K: Dawn of War II
This is a pretty late addition to this list, considering that I only finished Dawn of War II's original campaign yesterday. Thus, I can't say to have played any multiplayer, I've only done the first mission of Chaos Rising, and I haven't even thought about touching Retribution yet. But basically, Dawn of War II's single-player is a more tactical, micromanagement heavy version of Diablo. While I like Diablo, or at least I used to like Diablo (you will not be seeing Diablo III in my other list, except as an extraneous mention), I wouldn't mind a bit of Baldur's Gate esque tactical managment on the side, which is exactly what this game delivers. Have your heavy guys suppress your enemies and then have your rocketjump melee guys rocket jump in to finish them off? Yes. That is fun and enjoyable. My qualms mostly relate to every map ending in a boss battle of some kind, along with the part where you tend to see a lot of the maps repeat, things that are apparently addressed in the expansion. If someone wants to play Chaos Rising or Retribution Co-Op, or maybe that survival mode, I am very much willing to do so. Also I hear the multiplayer is good, but I doubt anyone is playing it at this point.
Best Fire Emblem game that I didn't put on another list: New Mystery of the Emblem
Fire Emblem Shin Monshou no Nazo recently got itself a translation patch, something that I haven't tried out yet because I played the game sans translation, in Japanese. This was during the beginning of summer, when I was kind of bored and in need of a strategy RPG fix as fast as possible. The game follows the continuing adventures of Prince Marth as he continues to be sort of bland and uninteresting, but with the added twist that everyone actually has good stats so using that class change mechanic actually makes sense, as opposed to how utterly useless it was in Shadow Dragon for all but a few units. I know enough of the story from the SNES original to tell you that it's still pretty simple and basic (although the addition of support conversations is not to be forgotten), but on a mechanical level it's a much more interesting (and difficult) game. Still a DS Fire Emblem, so it's still kind of ugly, but at least the new one is coming out in February. Oh wait. I don't have a 3DS. Crap.
And thus ends half of my Game of the Year junk for this year. You can expect my next list sometime next week. Have fun?