My Top 10 Games of 2012 in no particular order

Hi all,

I've composed a list of my top 10 games of 2012, in no particular order (but if you're interested, XCOM Enemy Unknown is hands-down my game of 2012). Most of them are on PC but I've thrown in a couple of console games for the little ones.

  • XCOM Enemy Unknown - I've lost more whole days and nights to this game than any other in years, with its' utterly compulsive 'just one more mission' gameplay and just-enough overarching strategic campaign map. Bold in the right ways with plenty of very brave diversions from the 1994 original while still staying true to the core themes of that game - the careful, at times desperate defense of earth against foes with minds and means immeasurably superior to ours. Can't recommend highly enough. Also available on Xbox 360
  • Black Mesa - worthy of mention as a very ambitious fan project which delivered a polished and enjoyable experience. Felt great to tread the halls and canyons of the Black Mesa Research Facility in Gordon Freeman's shoes again
  • Faster Than Light - ingeniously designed and bastard hard, delivers fun emergent gameplay and some cracking war stories from deep space - ever wanted to knock out the enemy's life support, set fire to the med bay, and watch the crew panic and suffocate before salvaging the silent wreck of their ship and continuing on your way? Divert power to the shields!
  • Max Payne 3 - enjoyed this thoroughly from beginning to end. One of gaming's most enjoyable clichés returns in a fresh new setting delivering the same stupid lines ("I've got a hole in my second favourite drinking arm") and the same genre-defining slo-mo gunplay. When you've finished, skip over the multiplayer and try to beat the game on 'New York Minute' mode. No restarts, no continues, no saves, just you, your guns, and the clock. Also available on Xbox 360
  • Alan Wake's American Nightmare - i've loved this property since the unarguably flawed 2010 original, and this bite-sized episodic entry tied off the plot a bit and provided a good future direction for the character and the series; I've definitely got an appetite for more, anyway. Also available on console toys
  • Spec Ops: The Line - a game that manages to enthrall and disappoint pretty much in equal measure. Very few military shooters chart such an original course through the subject matter or provide as interesting a backdrop for the workaday face-shooting action they peddle; it's just a shame that action was so workaday and forgettable. More people should play it for the narrative tack alone but it's a bit of a slog, really
  • Hotline Miami - oh my god, this. Compulsive guilty popcorn fun with that indie edge and bleary neon surrealism, oozing style and confidence from every orifice. Criminally good fun, and all for the price of a pint. Evocative of my memories of the first Grand Theft Auto game, but even more violent and narcissistic
  • Halo 4 - very strong rejuvenation of the series with far more gripping writing than any of its series forebears and some very neat new features and adversaries to strategically overcome. The game delivers big themes and big setpieces without compromising on the core combat-as-puzzle gameplay that made the original game the killer app on Xbox. If you own an Xbox 360 you've most likely already played and loved this. My main criticism is that they've (understandably) played it safe with the competitive multiplayer; that side of it's definitely feeling dated and stale to me now
  • Far Cry 3 - admittedly, I haven't made a huge dent in this yet - I've clocked up maybe six hours - but the visuals are absolutely gorgeous. The game delivers a truly immersive island paradise for you to blow into little bits, and it's on the list on that basis alone. Check it out. Also available on 360/PS3
  • Uncharted: Golden Abyss - great thrilling action and trademark witty dialogue and globetrotting adventure yarn, all on a handheld - a remarkable achievement. The touch mechanics are a bit hit and miss - great, gimmicky fun for solving puzzles etc, much less fun for 3D navigation (think climbing a ladder by dragging your index fingers on the rear touchpad) or combat (tapping to throw grenades, reload, etc). Very worthwhile if you're one of the select few of us that owns a PS Vita

Happy new year and here's to a great 2013!

Bill

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