Games I Have Played In 2012

First, there was the list of games I played in 2009. That was followed by the list of games I played in 2010, and that in turn by the list of games I played in 2011. Now, as a new year beckons, it's time to prepare to compile the list of Games I Have Played In 2012.

As always, the same rules apply. For a game to make it onto this list, I must finish it between the dates of January 1st and December 31st 2012. 'Finished' games are defined as games in which I see the credits roll on the single-player campaign, or reach the end of the main quest line. If a game has no discernible end, but I spend a substantial amount of time with it, then it is also eligible for inclusion on this list. Last year, I completed a total of twenty-nine games. My personal record to date is a total of thirty games, achieved in 2010. Will I better that? Only time will tell...

List items

  • <b><u>Completion Date</u></b><br>

    Finished on February 25th<br><br>

    <b><u>In Brief</u></b><br>

    I played through all of Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing's Grand Prix competitions on the lowest difficulty in just a few days. As a consequence, while higher difficulties remain for me to tackle, I feel pretty confident in saying I've seen most of what this game has to offer. Sega Racing is without a doubt the most fun I've had with a kart racer since the halcyon days of Crash Team Racing on the PS1. It feels a little bare-bones at points, more like a foundation for a series than a full-on game at times, but the core gameplay is still a lot of fun. I'm really looking forward to the touted sequel, and hope the developers add a little more depth to the on-track parts of the game.<br><br>

    <a href="http://www.giantbomb.com/profile/dankempster/sonic-sega-all-stars-racing-foundations-for-future-iteration/30-91284/">BLOG: Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing - Foundations For Future Iteration?</a>

  • <b><u>Completion Date</u></b><br>

    Finished on February 27th<br><br>

    <b><u>In Brief</u></b><br>

    Persona 3 was a four-month journey for me, one punctuated by defining moments both within the game and in my own life. As a consequence, I think P3 is a game that's going to stay with me for a long time to come. As much as I enjoyed the dungeon-crawling and appreciated the surprisingly dark main story, it was the game's many Social Links that I'll remember years from now. Witnessing all those auxiliary characters finding ways to deal with their losses was really inspiring to me, as someone who'd recently lost so much. When the time came to make the final decision, I made it with a view to preserving all those relationships I'd cultivated, and the ending was more rewarding as a result. I definitely won't be leaving it as long to start playing Persona 4.<br><br>

    <a href="http://www.giantbomb.com/profile/dankempster/juggling-time-some-early-impressions-of-persona-3/30-88349/">BLOG: Juggling Time - Some Early Impressions Of Persona 3</a><br>

    <a href="http://www.giantbomb.com/profile/dankempster/the-social-network-some-later-impressions-of-persona-3/30-91193/">BLOG: The Social Network - Some Later Impressions Of Persona 3</a>

  • <b><u>Completion Date</u></b><br>

    Finished on March 2nd<br><br>

    <b><u>In Brief</u></b><br>

    Tomb Raider: Legend marked a new start for the long-standing franchise, and it's a huge improvement over the PS1 games. It drags the exploration and combat aspects of tomb-raiding kicking and screaming into the contemporary gaming conventions, and definitely for the better. Revisiting it for the first time in six years, though, it didn't turn out to be quite the great game I'd remembered it being. A host of minor issues plagued my second experience with the game, reducing it from the great experience I'd expected to simply a solid one.<br><br>

    <a href="http://www.giantbomb.com/profile/dankempster/not-so-legendary-after-all/30-91456/">BLOG: Not So Legendary After All</a>

  • <b><u>Completion Date</u></b><br>

    Finished on March 5th<br><br>

    <b><u>In Brief</u></b><br>

    After keeping me engaged on an almost daily basis over two whole months, my adventures in Skyrim finally came to an end. In my 135 hours of playtime, I took the Nord Lenah'd Retsmek through some incredible adventures, including becoming leader of both the Companions and the Mages' College, helping the Stormcloaks to win the Civil War, and saving Tamriel from the dragon Alduin. I plan to come back to the game later in the year, creating a sneaky Khajiit character to tackle the Thieves' Guild, the Dark Brotherhood, and the Daedric quests, not to mention any DLC that might be released between now and then.<br><br>

    As far as the game itself goes, I loved pretty much everything about it. The open world exploration, the freedom to approach things in any order and from any angle you desire, the depth and attention-to-detail that pervade every single square inch of the game environment... it all amounts to a fantasy world you can genuinely get lost in for hours at a time. The main quest's story was one of the strongest bits of high fantasy I've experienced in a while. I love the questing, I love the dungeon crawling, I even love the combat in a warped, twisted sort of way. Everything I love about Skyrim far outweighs the impact of any glitches or coding conflicts I encountered along the way. It's without a doubt one of my favourite games ever.<br><br>

    <a href="http://www.giantbomb.com/profile/dankempster/looking-back-on-my-month-in-skyrim/30-90754/">BLOG: A Month In Skyrim</a>

  • <b><u>Completion Date</u></b><br>

    Finished on March 18th<br><br>

    <b><u>In Brief</u></b><br>

    Picking up where I left off with Legend, I decided to continue through the entire Crystal Dynamics Tomb Raider trilogy with Anniversary. Where Legend failed to meet my lofty expectations, however, Anniversary comprehensively delivered. The puzzles are bigger, the level design is better, the game is longer, and it captures the essence of older Tomb Raiders much more convincingly than Legend did. Tomb Raider: Anniversary is one of my favourite action/adventure games I've ever played, arguably the best remake I've ever encountered, and undoubtedly my favourite Tomb Raider game to date.<br><br>

    <a href="http://www.giantbomb.com/profile/dankempster/a-very-happy-anniversary/30-91922/">BLOG: A Very Happy Anniversary</a>

  • <b><u>Completion Date</u></b><br>

    Finished on March 23rd<br><br>

    <b><u>In Brief</u></b><br>

    Bringing my time with the Crytal Dynamics Tomb Raider trilogy to a close, I played through Tomb Raider: Underworld in just under a week. Despite being the first in the series to be developed for current-gen hardware, it feels more like a step backwards than anything. The updated game engine looks great, but it suffers from some terrible collision detection problems that, when combined with the awful camera, makes platforming a chore. It's painfully short, perhaps even shorter than Legend, and its story covers the entire spectrum from cringe-worthy to downright abysmal. It's not all bad - it looks amazing, and the bigger levels and better puzzle design were successfully carried over. It's a shame that after seemingly learning so many lessons with Anniversary, the development team cast them aside during the development of Underworld. It's not a bad game by any means - just not as good as its predecessor.<br><br>

    <a href="http://www.giantbomb.com/profile/dankempster/gamings-orpheus-what-looking-back-has-cost-me/30-92086/">BLOG: Gaming's Orpheus: What Looking Back Has Cost Me</a>

  • <b><u>Completion Date</u></b><br>

    Finished on April 2nd<br><br>

    <b><u>In Brief</u></b><br>

    While I'm sure most of us remember the original top-down Grand Theft Auto as fun to mess around with, I've learned the hard way that it's not fun at all to approach seriously. Plagued with issues of imprecision and difficulty, the first GTA definitely wasn't designed with a casual completer of games in mind. I did extract a lot of enjoyment out of 'learning' the game though, using maps to find my way around the three cities and memorising the locations of useful items to increase my chances in my next run-through. Ultimately though, I'm relieved to have finally finished it, and will take great pleasure in never picking it up ever again. I hate you, Grand Theft Auto.<br><br>

    <a href="http://www.giantbomb.com/profile/dankempster/cruisin-with-the-top-down/30-92293/">BLOG: Cruisin' With The Top Down</a>

  • <b><u>Completion Date</u></b><br>

    Finished on April 28th<br><br>

    <b><u>In Brief</u></b><br>

    Final Fantasy XIII-2 is an improvement over its predecessor in a lot of ways. It's more openly structured, it encourages more player exploration, and it expands on the Paradigm-based combat system with meaningful augmentations like wounding and monster-taming. There's still room for improvement - the characters fall a little flat, the story time-hops so much that it can be a little difficult to follow, and a lot of the game's content feels deliberately tucked away. Still, it's a step in the right direction for one of my favourite franchises, and I really enjoyed most of the thirty-five hours I spent with it.<br><br>

    <a href="http://www.giantbomb.com/profile/dankempster/final-fantasy-xiii-2-my-final-verdict/30-93098/">BLOG: Final Fantasy XIII-2 - My Final Verdict</a>

  • <b><u>Completion Date</u></b><br>

    Finished on May 7th<br><br>

    <b><u>In Brief</u></b><br>

    Halo 3 is a fitting end to Bungie's sci-fi FPS trilogy in just about every respect. A logical continuation both story- and gameplay-wise from Halo 2, it echoes its predecessor in its design and structure while ramping up the graphical fidelity and scale of the set-pieces. It doesn't beat the sheer brilliance of the original Halo for me, but it sits comfortably on par with the second game, and provided a very satisfying conclusion to this part of the series' canon.<br><br>

    <a href="http://www.giantbomb.com/profile/dankempster/finishing-the-fight/30-93298/">BLOG: Finishing The Fight</a>

  • <b><u>Completion Date</u></b><br>

    Finished on June 9th<br><br>

    <b><u>In Brief</u></b><br>

    After spending a decade on my Pile of Shame, I finally saw Vagrant Story through to its conclusion this year. It's every bit as great as I remembered it being, a winning blend of striking visuals, moving story, and engaging combat mechanics. I particularly warmed to the fantastic gem augmentation system, which enables the player to alter the properties of their equipment on a whim. I loved every second of my journey through Lea Monde, and will most likely be booking a return ticket for next year.<br><br>

    <a href="http://www.giantbomb.com/profile/dankempster/an-end-to-my-wandering/30-94407/">BLOG: An End To My Wandering</a>

  • <b><u>Completion Date</u></b><br>

    Finished on June 19th<br><br>

    <b><u>In Brief</u></b><br>

    I'm not a Batman fan. I've never seen any of the films or read any of the comic books, so I went into Arkham Asylum with a purely neutral opinion of the Dark Knight. Some fifteen hours later, I emerged with a new-found respect for both the character and Rocksteady's ability to craft a brilliant action game. Every single component of the gameplay, from the free-flowing combat to the heart-in-mouth stealth sequences and the explorative detective stuff, just feels right. Throw it all together and, irrespective of the licensing, you have something really special.<br><br>

    <a href="http://www.giantbomb.com/profile/dankempster/dark-knights-calamity-kids-puzzle-agents/30-94782/">BLOG: Dark Knights, Calamity Kids & Puzzle Agents</a>

  • <b><u>Completion Date</u></b><br>

    Finished on June 24th<br><br>

    <b><u>In Brief</u></b><br>

    I whizzed through Bastion over the course of a couple of days, and now that the experience is over I kind of wish I hadn't. The game is aesthetically breathtaking, combining gorgeous visuals with a killer soundtrack and some truly ingenious use of narration. The way the fragments of the story come together, mirroring the way the broken world re-assembles under the Kid's feet, made me want to keep playing and unearth the next piece of Rucks' captivating tale. The light RPG elements also served to keep the game interesting, as I toyed with different combinations of weapons, upgrades and spirits to find a loadout that suited my playstyle. I'll probably return to Bastion eventually, and when I do I'll take my time with it. I'm definitely really excited to see what Supergiant Games do next.<br><br>

    <a href="http://www.giantbomb.com/profile/dankempster/dark-knights-calamity-kids-puzzle-agents/30-94782/">BLOG: Dark Knights, Calamity Kids & Puzzle Agents</a>

  • <b><u>Completion Date</u></b><br>

    Finished on June 25th<br><br>

    <b><u>In Brief</u></b><br>

    My first point-and-click adventure for quite some time, Puzzle Agent served to remind me what I like about that genre in a pretty well-designed package. The hybrid puzzle/adventure gameplay made for a refreshing change to the more traditional point-and-click approach, and I particularly liked the graphical presentation of the game as well. It was pretty short and the puzzles weren't especially challenging, but it served as a pleasant distraction and rekindled my affection for the point-and-click genre.<br><br>

    <a href="http://www.giantbomb.com/profile/dankempster/dark-knights-calamity-kids-puzzle-agents/30-94782/">BLOG: Dark Knights, Calamity Kids & Puzzle Agents</a>

  • <b><u>Completion Date</u></b><br>

    Finished on July 22nd<br><br>

    <b><u>In Brief</u></b><br>

    Chaos Theory feels like the mark that the original Splinter Cell and Pandora Tomorrow were trying to hit, but consistently fell just short of. Giving the player multiple means to reach the same end made Chaos Theory feel less like an exercise in trial-and-error, leaving more room to play around with Sam Fisher's gadgets and experiment with different strategies. I was particularly affected by the developers' decision to map lethal and non-lethal attacks to juxtaposed shoulder buttons, a design choice that made every hostage situation in the game feel genuinely tense.<br><br>

    <a href="http://www.giantbomb.com/profile/dankempster/a-choice-stealth-experience/30-95208/">BLOG: A Choice Stealth Experience</a>

  • <b><u>Completion Date</u></b><br>

    Finished on July 29th<br><br>

    <b><u>In Brief</u></b><br>

    Strategy is one of the few video game genres that I almost never play. Theme Hospital was a striking exception to this rule, and I was inspired this summer to revisit this memorable piece of my childhood. I'm not sure if the game boasts as much depth as other similar titles, but I was able to competently run hospitals with little more than a surface knowledge of most of the mechanics, suggesting it's a pretty forgiving title. As someone who now works within the NHS, some of the dark, satirical humour ended up hitting a lot closer to home than I thought it would.<br><br>

    <a href="http://www.giantbomb.com/profile/dankempster/when-work-and-play-collide/30-95759/">BLOG: When Work And Play Collide</a>

  • <b><u>Completion Date</u></b><br>

    Finished on September 1st<br><br>

    <b><u>In Brief</u></b><br>

    It took me about a month of sporadic play to make it through this continuation of both Ezio's and Desmond's stories. As someone who now considers themselves an established fan of the Assassin's Creed franchise, it was a lot of fun to play another of these pretty unique games, and the improvements made to the gameplay went a long way towards justifying this side-step between ACII and ACIII. It's a shame my enjoyment of it was hampered by a somewhat undercooked story, but the strength of the gameplay made up for it. I'm really looking forward to checking out AC: Revelations some time next year.<br><br>

    <a href="http://www.giantbomb.com/profile/dankempster/a-little-more-often/30-96446/">BLOG: A Little, More Often</a>

  • <b><u>Completion Date</u></b><br>

    Finished on September 23rd<br><br>

    <b><u>In Brief</u></b><br>

    Munch's Oddysee is a game in more or less exactly the same vein as its 2D predecessors. It's centred on platforming, and the solution of puzzles through enemy possession and GameSpeak. In that respect, it completely delivered in terms of what I wanted from it. The move to 3D hinders about as much as it helps, the extra graphical fidelity and varied level design offset by clumsy platforming and an unreliable camera. All in all, though, Munch's Oddysee is a great Oddworld game, and that's all I wanted it to be.<br><br>

    <a href="http://www.giantbomb.com/profile/dankempster/a-little-more-often-2/30-96700/">BLOG: A Little, More Often #2</a>

  • <b><u>Completion Date</u></b><br>

    Finished on September 23rd<br><br>

    <b><u>In Brief</u></b><br>

    I played through Dear Esther in one sitting, and while I admired the developers' vision, the experience didn't really blow me away in the way I thought it would. I liked the way the narrative was presented, but found the language a little too flowery and artsy for my tastes. What really struck me about Dear Esther, though, was the game's atmosphere and environment - a beautiful rendition of a Hebridean island that was really unlike any other gameworld I've ever spent time in. I'd happily revisit Dear Esther in the future just to explore it some more.<br><br>

    <a href="http://www.giantbomb.com/profile/dankempster/a-little-more-often-2/30-96700/">BLOG: A Little, More Often #2</a>

  • <b><u>Completion Date</u></b><br>

    Finished on October 23rd<br><br>

    <b><u>In Brief</u></b><br>

    I chose to revisit Vice City in honour of the game's tenth anniversary, much the same as I did with GTAIII last year. Where GTAIII held up pretty well, however, Vice City holds up fantastically. Tommy Vercetti is a brilliant protagonist, and he's surrounded by one of the series' most memorable supporting casts. The missions are more varied, the 80s vibe is undeniably absorbing, and the whole experience is held together by a focus that GTAIII dreamed of and San Andreas lost sight of. Ten years on, I think Vice City is still the best of the PS2-era Grand Theft Auto games.<br><br>

    <a href="http://www.giantbomb.com/profile/dankempster/a-little-more-often-3/30-96940/">BLOG: A Little, More Often #3</a>

  • <b><u>Completion Date</u></b><br>

    Finished on October 28th<br><br>

    <b><u>In Brief</u></b><br>

    I'm not sure why I picked DiRT back up, but I'm really glad I did. Whereas before I wasn't a fan of the tiered structure of its Career mode and the more arcade-like handling, it was precisely those things that endeared it to me this time around. Being able to hop in for twenty minutes of fast and furious rallying is a much better fit for my current lifestyle than sims like Forza, which demand hours of one's time. The aesthetic presentation is top-notch, too, laying a nice veneer over a solid, accessible rally game.<br><br>

    <a href="http://www.giantbomb.com/profile/dankempster/shifting-gears/30-97209/">BLOG: Shifting Gears</a>

  • <b><u>Completion Date</u></b><br>

    Finished on November 13th<br><br>

    <b><u>In Brief</u></b><br>

    I went into DOOM fully expecting not to like it. I've never been big on shooters, and the game is nearly twenty years old. I was therefore coloured surprised when I not only enjoyed the frantic pace and no-frills gunplay of this game, but enjoyed it enough to see the whole campaign through. The graphics may be pretty rough, but it's easy to look past that when you become immersed in kicking hellspawn ass. I'm glad I finally took the chance to fully experience this slice of gaming history.<br><br>

    <a href="http://www.giantbomb.com/profile/dankempster/a-little-more-often-4/30-97471/">BLOG: A Little, More Often #4</a>

  • <b><u>Completion Date</u></b><br>

    Finished on November 18th<br><br>

    <b><u>In Brief</u></b><br>

    Coming off the back of enjoying DOOM so much, I decided to leap straight into another retro FPS that's held up surprisingly well - the original Medal of Honor. A couple of configuration changes in the game's menu to bring the controls more in line with the modern standard and I was soon carving out a path behind enemy lines, sabotaging the Nazi war machine. It looks awful by modern standards, but a lot of the mechanics of MoH aren't too far off those of the modern FPS, which is why I think it's still inherently playable today.<br><br>

    <a href="???">BLOG: Coming Soon...</a>

  • <b><u>Completion Date</u></b><br>

    Finished on November 24th<br><br>

    <b><u>In Brief</u></b><br>

    Coming soon.<br><br>

    <a href="???">BLOG: Coming Soon...</a>

  • <b><u>Completion Date</u></b><br>

    Finished on December 2nd<br><br>

    <b><u>In Brief</u></b><br>

    Coming soon.<br><br>

    <a href="???">BLOG: Coming Soon...</a>