2012 was a year of surprises. While many of the games I started the year looking forward to were delayed to 2013 or fell short of expectations, they were more than made up for by a variety of other excellent games. Indie games had a fantastic year in particular, as developers put a level of polish into their creations that couldn’t be matched by behemoths with budgets in the tens or hundreds of millions. As always, there are games I couldn’t get to for time or technology reasons, so some games I wanted to play like Journey are out.
2012’s 2011 Game of the Year
If this was purely for the 2011 game I played most in 2012, it would undoubtedly go to Battlefield 3. In fact, I barely played Bastion at all in 2012, only loading up the PC version to check out DLC and the iOS version to test the controls. Bastion gets the nod because it's the game from last year that I couldn't stop thinking about. The gorgeous art, dynamic narrative, rich soundtrack, and tight mechanics would each be impressive on their own, but the way they complement each other in service of a greater whole is what makes Bastion a truly special experience.
These are the games I enjoyed this year which didn’t make the list, but are worth a mention (in no particular order).
Far Cry 3 – Ridiculous open-world gameplay, a great-looking tropical island, and the best intro of any game this year. The story can’t keep up the brilliant self-awareness it starts with, but there’s a lot of fun to be had regardless.
Mark of the Ninja – Incredibly-refined, satisfying stealth mechanics and a great art style.
Spec Ops: The Line – Featuring one of the most interesting stories in a military first person shooter, it’s worth picking up on sale and plowing through the mediocre gameplay to see the plot unfold.
Trials: Evolution – Twitchy, physics-based motorcycle platforming on tracks that never stop increasing in both difficulty and absurdity.