Best of 2012

2012 was an interesting year for video games. These are my 10 favorite games from it.

List items

  • Another confession: I still have an episode and a half to go. Yet no game has had an impact on like The Walking Dead has. While on the surface a rather run-of-the-mill post-apocalyptic zombie story, the addition of interactivity and choice (or the illusion thereof) makes it far more personal. No other game (except Spec Ops: The Line) has made me actually think about my choices. There is no "I'm going to do the good playthrough" in The Walking Dead.

    Another confession: I still have an episode and a half to go. Yet no game has had an impact on like The Walking Dead has. While on the surface a rather run-of-the-mill post-apocalyptic zombie story, the addition of interactivity and choice (or the illusion thereof) makes it far more personal. No other game (except Spec Ops: The Line) has made me actually think about my choices. There is no "I'm going to do the good playthrough" in The Walking Dead.

  • Reloading a savegame because a single unit died in a strategy game. Not something that happens often. I cannot say that I’ve played any of the original X-Com games, but I’ve always been fascinated with them. And with Firaxis’ reboot/remake I was able to join in and be enthralled.

    With extreme caution I slowly moved my units forward into the fog of war, any impulse in me to dash forward would ultimately lead me to be ambushed by alien marauders. And my squad members were very memorable. My South African and French lady snipers who took down Sectoid commanders from way across the map, my English heavy who would barge into downed UFOs recklessly. A turn-based game that made you feel like time was of the essence, even though you virtually had all the time in the world to make your decisions. Good stuff.

  • Story aside (which I will fully vent my opinion on in a review in the near future), pure FPS gameplay-wise, this is probably the most fun I’ve had all year. The sheer excitement of trying to figure out how to capture an outpost without being seen or triggering the alarm was not surpassed in any other game this year. Hunting sharks so I can get a bigger wallet, shooting down as many helicopters as I can in two minutes, video games.

    And then the horrible racist, jingoistic, sexist, homophobic stuff. Which was terrible.

  • I was not a Civ V hater, I loved its streamlined gameplay & UI from the very start and I had spent many an hour playing its predecessor. Gods & Kings has made some significant improvements however and the religion mechanic added an interesting gameplay tweak.

    And I must honestly admit, I do love the fact that I can play as the Dutch civilization.

  • Just read my review.

  • Preparing anything more than a microwave meal is a challenge to me in the meatspace, but virtual culinary arts are right up my alley. For example, I’ve had a short but torrid affair with Cooking Mama. Cook, Serve, Delicious takes the mini-game construction of preparing meals and adds a Restaurant Tycoon-element to it - giving it more lifespan in my opinion.

    I own both the PC and iOS version and if you are an owner of an iPad, this is the version to get. Excitingly stressful with the combination of long-term planning with your menu’s and equipment, and the short-term chaos of managing your waiting customers, CSD is a devilishly addictive time-waster with charm.

  • I love racing games, I love the Forza series. With some trepidation I awaited the release of Horizon. The trailers exuded a “yeah, bro xtreme”-vibe that was pretty off-putting to me. That vibe continued to bug me in the released game.

    However, the addition of open-world elements as well as more arcadey aspect to the simulation style of previous Forza games have made this my favorite Forza game yet. Combined with my lack of a job for a while there, I spent entire days racing around in the virtual Colorado of the game, each event being slightly different enough to never really get boring.

  • I never really "got" Halo. While I've played through each game co-op with my brother (to the point that it has become a sort of tradition) it has never been a "sticky" game with me. Halo 4 changed that, I am ashamed to admit that the addition of a progression element to the multiplayer that awarded more than cosmetic rewards was the thing I needed to become engaged.

  • Honestly, this entry is more aspirational than experiential, I've only spent a couple of hours with Dishonored before it became lost in the flurry of other holiday game releases. The little time I spent with it however was one of the first stealth-based games I felt competent in. The only other recent game I can remember that being the case with was Deus Ex: Human Revolution. I was enamored with the multiple ways of achieving objectives the game offered and I look forward to revisiting and completing it in 2013.

  • I've never been a real big fan of the Counter-Strike concept. My FPS skills do not lend themselves well to a game where once you're dead you have to wait until all the competent players are done you can resume playing. Yet CS:GO lured me in. Admittedly, the majority of my time was spent playing against bots in the alternative game mode "Arms Race," but that multitude of hours were a hell of a blast.