Mixed bag of a year

I wrote a blog post around this time last year called "Disappointing year?" and listed the major releases that I felt had been a let-down. My timing on that post was poor as I then played my two favourite games of the year (Skyrim & Portal 2) and also played a bunch of very enjoyable ones (Saints Row 3, Gears 3, etc). It drew a lot of conversation (with most people telling me I was mad) and I picked up a few good game suggestions from it. This time I would like to know what games people have thought have really stood out.

To explain, every year for as long as I can remember (certainly in this console generation) there have been 2 games that have stood head & shoulders above the rest (2009 : Arkham City & Uncharted 2; 2010 : Mass Effect 2 & Red Dead Redemption) but this year there has been only one : Journey. There have been lots of games I have thoroughly enjoyed (as well as far too many that have disappointed) but nothing that has blown me away.

What has been interesting to me is that almost all of the standouts have been games that I wouldn't necessarily have expected to enjoy at the start of the year. games like X-Com, Syndicate & Hitman have all been very enjoyable for different reasons. The flipside to that is every sequel to games I have loved have been disappointing. Minorly in the case of Mass Effect 3 (uninteresting new characters & poor ending) & majorly in the cases of Diablo 3 (too much emphasis on loot & nowhere near enough depth re. abilities & skill trees) & AC 3 (frustrating mission structure).

So, my question is : what is the elusive second game that I have missed so far? I was planning on picking up Walking Dead & Far Cry 3 before the end of the year but might have the time & cash to pick up one or two more (or at least put them on a Xmas wishlist).

Thanks in advance.

Update: Thanks for all the suggestions guys. I think I'm going to try Far Cry 3 and Walking Dead before end of the year, put Sleeping Dogs & Dishonored on my Xmas list and then play Mark of the Ninja and Dust in the new year before all the Feb/Mar releases. I will try and check out Spec Ops & Dust sometime next year as well (although I expect the Spec Ops story will be spoiled in the GOTY podcasts - part of the reason why I want to play Walking Dead before year's end).

34 Comments
35 Comments
Posted by NipCrip66

I wrote a blog post around this time last year called "Disappointing year?" and listed the major releases that I felt had been a let-down. My timing on that post was poor as I then played my two favourite games of the year (Skyrim & Portal 2) and also played a bunch of very enjoyable ones (Saints Row 3, Gears 3, etc). It drew a lot of conversation (with most people telling me I was mad) and I picked up a few good game suggestions from it. This time I would like to know what games people have thought have really stood out.

To explain, every year for as long as I can remember (certainly in this console generation) there have been 2 games that have stood head & shoulders above the rest (2009 : Arkham City & Uncharted 2; 2010 : Mass Effect 2 & Red Dead Redemption) but this year there has been only one : Journey. There have been lots of games I have thoroughly enjoyed (as well as far too many that have disappointed) but nothing that has blown me away.

What has been interesting to me is that almost all of the standouts have been games that I wouldn't necessarily have expected to enjoy at the start of the year. games like X-Com, Syndicate & Hitman have all been very enjoyable for different reasons. The flipside to that is every sequel to games I have loved have been disappointing. Minorly in the case of Mass Effect 3 (uninteresting new characters & poor ending) & majorly in the cases of Diablo 3 (too much emphasis on loot & nowhere near enough depth re. abilities & skill trees) & AC 3 (frustrating mission structure).

So, my question is : what is the elusive second game that I have missed so far? I was planning on picking up Walking Dead & Far Cry 3 before the end of the year but might have the time & cash to pick up one or two more (or at least put them on a Xmas wishlist).

Thanks in advance.

Update: Thanks for all the suggestions guys. I think I'm going to try Far Cry 3 and Walking Dead before end of the year, put Sleeping Dogs & Dishonored on my Xmas list and then play Mark of the Ninja and Dust in the new year before all the Feb/Mar releases. I will try and check out Spec Ops & Dust sometime next year as well (although I expect the Spec Ops story will be spoiled in the GOTY podcasts - part of the reason why I want to play Walking Dead before year's end).

Posted by Kidavenger

A man who never plays Sleeping Dogs is never a whole man.

Posted by believer258
@Kidavenger

A man who never plays Sleeping Dogs is never a whole man.

This.
Yes, it's a GTA like game when you boil it down, but that doesn't stop it from being a great game. Seriously, you can't make a 2012 GOTY list without considering Sleeping Dogs.
Posted by natedawg_kz

Yeah, Mass Effect 3 gives the year a bad reputation

Posted by AssInAss

@NipCrip66 said:

To explain, every year for as long as I can remember (certainly in this console generation) there have been 2 games that have stood head & shoulders above the rest (2009 : Arkham City & Uncharted 2; 2010 : Mass Effect 2 & Red Dead Redemption) but this year there has been only one : Journey. There have been lots of games I have thoroughly enjoyed (as well as far too many that have disappointed) but nothing that has blown me away.

You missed out on Spec Ops: The Line?! Best story and protagonist in a game this year. Alongside Walking Dead, the game that's provided the most discussion. Turned the whole shooter genre and violent games on their head.

Mark of the Ninja, one of the best stealth games ever.

The Walking Dead, one of the most emotionally affecting games.

Dishonored, all about choice of how you want to do things. So many creative ways to kill. A better assassin game than AssCreed could ever hope to be. Freedom even if it isn't open world.

Resonance is the best adventure game this year.

Lone Survivor is 2D Silent Hill. That's all that needs to be said.

Dust An Elysian Tail, the best 2D action game and has cool metroidvania layout.

I haven't even gotten around to Hotline Miami, which seems to be more about than just the soundtrack.

Posted by Nonused

You should've gotten Walking Dead when it was cheap, man. You should've.

For me, this was a good year. Spec Ops: The Line, Borderlands 2, Mark of the Ninja, Walking Dead (see above) and Dark Souls were some of the standouts.

Yeah, maybe the last one doesn't count, but I've only played the PC edition so it counts for me.

Posted by NipCrip66

@believer258: It was a toss-up between Borderlands 2 and Sleeping Dogs. I went with the former. I think that was the wrong choice (another sequel disappointment). I had forgotten about Sleeping Dogs though. Will definitely pick it up.

Posted by NipCrip66

@Nonused: I was going to pick it up on console so don't think I would have saved any money (it was just on sale in Steam yes?)

Edited by Jazzycola

We see this sorta stuff every year. Being so disappointed about games this year, meanwhile ignoring the majority of good games that have come out. There still are a number of great titles.

Games I've played:

Mark of the Ninja, Xcom, DOTA2, BL2, Spec Ops, Prototype 2, Dark Souls(PC), and Walking Dead(in order from excellent to good). Oh and Sleeping Dogs.

Games I have bought, but still haven't got to:

Darksiders 2, Dishonored(currently playing), and Syndicate(just bought for 5 bucks).

Games I want to eventually get:

Hitman, Far Cry 3, and AC3.

There are plenty of great games to not be disappointed about if you look around.

Posted by NipCrip66

@Jazzycola: I did actually state that I had played good games this year but was just lacking a second "stand out" game. I assume it is out there hence the post. However with limited funds and time I would like suggestions as to what people think it is.

Edited by JoeyRavn

@AssInAss said:

Dishonored, all about choice of how you want to do things. So many creative ways to kill. A better assassin game than AssCreed could ever hope to be. Freedom even if it isn't open world.

To be fair, Assassin's Creed never wanted to be the kind of game Dishonored is. AC is extremely linear, both in terms of mission progression and use of the stealth mechanics. Dishonored is a lot more similar to Deus Ex in that it gives you a sandbox-styled scenario and tells you to solve it however you want.

Both are great games, but offer completely different approaches to killing dudes.

Edit: Oh, and BTW, Darksiders II sucks. Most disappointing game of the year.

Posted by adam1808

@Kidavenger said:

A man who never plays Sleeping Dogs is never a whole man.

Why? It's a competent open-world game. But I played Saints Row the Third last year so Sleeping Dogs can only be so good.

Posted by project343
Posted by JZ

The only bad games this year are dishonored and mass effect 3. After that there is like 20+ really good games.

Posted by Jazzycola

@NipCrip66: If you look in the right places you can get most of the titles I listed for $25 or less(well assuming you have a PC capable of running said games). I got Prototype 2 for 7.50, Dark Souls for 19 bucks, Spec Ops for 7.50, Darksiders 2 for 16(22 if you want all DLC), Sleeping Dogs for 25, Syndicate for $5, and BL2 for $25. Mark of the Ninja is probably the best stealth game I have ever played and Sleeping Dogs is just plain fun.

Posted by NipCrip66

@Jazzycola: Walking Dead, Mark of the Ninja and Sleeping Dogs are starting to look like the main contenders here. Interesting that no-one has mentioned Unfinished Swan.

Posted by Jazzycola

@NipCrip66: I say Mark of the Ninja between that and Walking Dead, mainly due to the fact that I'd rather watch then actually play Walking Dead. But between Mark of the Ninja and Sleeping Dogs, man that's a tough decision. Go with your wallet I suppose.

Posted by NipCrip66

@Jazzycola: It's more time than finances. I still have to finish Hitman & Syndicate (both really good games in my opinion but I know reviews have been mixed). I haven't read the Walking Dead comics or watched the shows so the game would be a fresh experience for me. That and the fact the plot is going to be totally spoiled in the GOTY podcasts means I will probably play that next.

I will definitely pick up the other two though.

Posted by Jazzycola

@NipCrip66: That is true. It would kinda deplete the purpose of playing Walking Dead if you already know whats going to happen. I'm just a little sour on the QTE fests of the last 2 episodes.

Posted by AssInAss
@JoeyRavn

@AssInAss said:

Dishonored, all about choice of how you want to do things. So many creative ways to kill. A better assassin game than AssCreed could ever hope to be. Freedom even if it isn't open world.

To be fair, Assassin's Creed never wanted to be the kind of game Dishonored is. AC is extremely linear, both in terms of mission progression and use of the stealth mechanics. Dishonored is a lot more similar to Deus Ex in that it gives you a sandbox-styled scenario and tells you to solve it however you want.

Both are great games, but offer completely different approaches to killing dudes.

Edit: Oh, and BTW, Darksiders II sucks. Most disappointing game of the year.

I'd rather watch Ass Creed than play it. There is an open world but the linearity is suffocating. So many tutorials. It's the frustrating kind of linearity instead of the CoD like rollercoaster.

After being grown up on Tenchu and Prince of Persia, I wasn't expecting AC to be the opposite of the gameplay in those.
Posted by Nonused
@NipCrip66 Yeah, do you not have a computer? I feel like it would run on just about anything.
Posted by huntad

I hope no one actually makes a thread questioning this year in gaming. It was a great year. Games like FTL and other indie games are just on other platforms. This year was a great year in gaming as other people have listed out.

Posted by Just_an_other_muffin

I feel that everyone that brings up Spec Ops for GOTY forgets that Spec Ops was not fun to play. Yes it has one of the best story's I have seen in a shooter that I can remember. It has a good chance for best story but a game has to be fun to play for GOTY which leaves walking dead in a strange spot for me.

Posted by NipCrip66

@huntad: I definitely don't think its been a bad year but for me its been split between pleasant surprises and consistently disappointing sequels.

Posted by Marz

Walking Dead for sure. Binary Domain is pretty rad too.

Posted by Demoskinos

Why must you say "mixed bag" ?

Posted by JZ

Only to bad games this year is pretty great.

Edited by AssInAss

@Just_an_other_muffin said:

I feel that everyone that brings up Spec Ops for GOTY forgets that Spec Ops was not fun to play. Yes it has one of the best story's I have seen in a shooter that I can remember. It has a good chance for best story but a game has to be fun to play for GOTY which leaves walking dead in a strange spot for me.

I found it a lot of fun to play, much more than a Gears of War or Uncharted game which have sticky cover (in Spec Ops, you have two styles to choose from) and bullet-sponge enemies.

Also, allies had good AI and squad commands were fun to use.

Edited by Roger778

The best game I've played this year is Mass Effect 3. I loved it in general, but what really stole the show for me was The extended cut which is a free download on X-Box Live. It really helped clear up all of the confusion on the original ending, and the ending I chose, which was Synthesis, felt like a pretty powerful way to finish the game.

I played Assassins Creed 3 last week, and finished it a few days ago. It is a good game, but it had another cliff-hanger ending, which I didn't expect, and that upset me.

I also want to get Dishonored, and Sleeping Dogs, too, because I've heard they're great games. Maybe even the new Hitman game too, because I liked Blood Money.

Edited by BlatantNinja23

I still just don't get why people hate Mass Effect 3 so much.

Also play Hotline Miami, and if you have a 3ds play Kid Icarus. That game has some very high highs, though some pretty low lows.

Edit: After remembering what actually came out earlier this year (everything before summer seems like a blur) Darkness 2 and Asuras Wrath should at least be mentioned. I'm still uncertain on how I feel about SSX though.

Posted by BaneFireLord

Far Cry 3 is going to absolve this year of all its sins.

Posted by tourgen

@BaneFireLord said:

Far Cry 3 is going to absolve this year of all its sins.

yeah I wouldn't hammer those 2012 GOTY list in stone yet. Far Cry 3 could be a contender.

I'm enjoying the hell out of Hitman, Dragon's Dogma, Sleeping Dogs, and a few smaller download-only games this year. Dragon's Dogma had a really interesting system for follower characters mixed with an online component that's something new and unique. Like Demon's Souls before it (msgs and the yellow monk fight), Japanese developers are leading the way in innovation in online modes. Which seems like a crazy thing to say but all we are getting out of the rest of the world is facebook integration and context-sensitive leaderboards. and shitty MMOs.

But the of course Mass Effect 3 set the tone for the year :/ And this weird console launch.. that kind of disappeared? So I guess I agree. It's been a strange year. But at least 4 really great games, maybe 5, and that's a solid year as far as I'm concerned.

Posted by NipCrip66

@BlatantNinja23: I don't hate Mass Effect 3 at all. I just felt it was a bit disappointing. It wrapped up all the Mass Effect 2 side character story arcs really well (Mordin's story end is up there as one of my gaming highlights this year) but I don't think it did a good job wrapping up the story, the new characters were uninteresting and the dream sequences were terrible.

Posted by Mnemoidian

I do agree that Mass Effect 3 has had a negative impact on the year, at least for me. The extreme heights I felt for that game before it all fell down like a house of cards has really colored my year.

I expect I'll have played (and finished most of) somewhere between 60 and 70 games by the end of the year, and I find this year is going to be one of the hardest years in a long time to really pick a favorite game for the year, or even to narrow it down to a top-10. I feel it's unfair to place the blame on Mass Effect 3 - it was a great game... but... it left me in a weird place (and as a result, I think it has to be on my list).

And I see what you are saying, it's difficult to pick out the games that really stand out this year. But it's been a pretty amazing year for games anyway. Not sure if Journey is going to make my top 10, though... despite being pretty great, it didn't really capture me, and I only really had a great feeling for it at a few isolated places... but, yeah, I want to finish Hitman: Absolution, Far Cry 3 and Hell Yeah! before I really start thinking about pruning the list.

Posted by Ascardon

2012 has had it moments, but the game industry has crawled to a halt, with sequels and little inspiration from the big developers.

While the indie game is growing and thriving.The other developers are crushing their head against a concrete wall wich is neverending. While new console will remedy this short term, this will maybe happen again, who knows what the future holds.