Top 9 of 2012

2012 has been a great year for me in terms of what I played. I finally got the chance to touch some of the games on my backlog hence latest games have been a lesser priority for me this year. Nonetheless I've managed to finish seven games from this year and I''ll rank them accordingly.

Here are my top 9 games of 2012:

9. Spec Ops: The Line- A different take on the standard military shooter which puts you on the shoes of Walker, a soldier obsessed with making things right on the Middle East. Most of the game is unremarkable except for the character development.

8. Binary Domain- This one took me by surprise. It's a standard cover-based with a heart of gold. No single element of this game really stood out but the intriguing story and the various set-pieces make it easy to bear the derivative nature of the game. It is better than the sum of its parts.

7. Max Payne 3- Max Payne is one miserable bloke. He is being gunned down at every turn by bad guys and all of the people he cared about is caught in the crossfire of his life. His back story is arguably one of the best in video games and that is why I was happy to hear that Max would return for another murderfest. Remedy is out of the picture though which left Rockstar to continue the tale of Max. For a game that boldly stripped things that made its predecessor so great the result was better than I expected.

The core gameplay has been changed to give more emphasis on cover-based shooting rather than run-and-gun action. This coincides with the story Rockstar wants to tell that Max is getting old and weak due to past events and alcohol and drug abuse. The storytelling was also changed. Gone are the comic strips and it's definitely not Noir anymore which made me really sad. Luckily, Max's internal monologue is still kick-ass and the game ended in such a way that Max was finally given a life of peace and that left me happy.

6. Mass Effect 3- I got around playing Mass Effect 3 the same time as Brad and like him I avoided much of the spoilers before going in. All I know is that I was in for something different, something that has encouraged endless discussions over the interwebs. The whole game was a standard Mass Effect affair with all the character interactions, rich lore and squad combat we know and love. I really like that this game is largely all about the cameo appearances of all the members of your crew and rightfully so because (for me) the pull of the Mass Effect universe are the relationships you cultivate through your journey. It is really sad then that the payoff felt forced. Still I enjoyed throwing frags on Brutes and slowing down time showering bullets on Banshees. Also making love to alien life form.

5. Legend of Grimrock- Everything old is new again. This game is a proper homage to old school RPGs like Wizardry and Daggerfall. The thrill of gaining levels and loots to best the challenges of a dungeon is here in full effect. For this generation obsessed with frame rates and polygons it's hard not to admire Legend of Grimrock's minimalistic approach to gameplay and presentation. It's the type of game which introduces limited mechanics and takes full use of it. Its simplistic "square dance" combat is intense due to the toughness and variety of enemies. The challenge not only comes in combat but also in inventory management, food consumption and ingenious puzzles. The difficulty ramps up quite nicely letting you learn the basics and tricks for handling different types of enemies before pitting you against almost insurmountable odds. The dungeon holds many secrets and loots that the game is compulsively addicting urging you to take just one more step to unravel a new mystery. I just wish that the combat is turn-based.

4. Mark of the Ninja- Sleek in its style and execution of stealth mechanics Mark of the Ninja rarely got dull from beginning to end as every level introduces new ways to kill or get around your enemies. The core mechanic is simple enough so as to be accessible but the depth is amazing that it can cater to your own style of play whether you want to kill all the enemies or sneak past them without detection. The levels have many ins and outs similar to Deus Ex and the way the visibility of the character and enemies' vision cones are handled make it easy for you to devise your plan of attack. This game will make you feel like a total badass without sacrificing much of the challenge.

3. Hotline Miami- This game is really something. The precision of the controls is damn near Super Meat Boy and the violence is exciting and high-octane. The 80s vibe also complements the story and the atmosphere well. Also the soundtrack is really bonkers. Never have I played something that triggered my adrenaline rush quite as effectively until this game came along. Although really, really short, the experience is definitely worthwhile.

2. Sleeping Dogs- Open world games has to have the right feel for me to truly enjoy them. It has to have tangible culture and atmosphere. Sleeping Dogs has both of that in spades. Sleeping Dogs is so good I wonder why it almost got canned in the first place. Granted it took nearly all of its ideas from other games but the execution of that ideas is exceptional. The story is solid and engaging for the most part and the setting is painted with a brilliant oriental flair depicting a beautiful modern Hong Kong.

1. The Walking Dead- Game of the Year baby! I have written my thoughts on this game on my previous blog post. Suffice to say it is an unforgettable experience that should not be missed by anyone.

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