By L33tfella_H 1 Comments
Another year checked off, and a whole bunch of games played through, it's time to pick favourites yet again. While it always feels like gaming has off-years, 2012 on the surface seems that way, but there were still some excellent games that came out this year (although a few games that I was hoping to be good turned out to sour me quite a bit in the process). Here's run off the list, shall we?
It's not often a game like this gets onto my "best of" list by the end of the year, mostly because I feel like gameplay takes a back-seat to this audio-visual experience designers intend for you to experience. However, Journey was quite something to it, realistically it's just a 90-minute exercise of walking forwards, with an interesting multiplayer idea thrown in there, but I felt it deserved a spot here, as it's a game I feel everyone should play atleast once in their lives, even if they probably won't end up enjoying it as much as others, myself included. It's a hell of a 90-minute ride, I'll tell you that much.
9. Hotline Miami
I'd been avoiding Hotline Miami for awhile after it's release, but a friend practically demanded that I hurry up with whatever the hell I was playing at the time and trek through it. So I did. Hotline Miami is an incredibly weird game just glancing at it from the surface, but when you jump into the game, you fall face-first into a twitch-based, acid-trip of a game with a fucking PHENOMENAL soundtrack guiding you through it's small corridors, making sure to kill guys as fast as you can before you die, or even if you do die, just pressing a button and being right back in the action. If it wasn't so weird, it would probably sell more copies, but it'd also risk losing some of the elements that make it such a crazy experience along the way.
8. Binary Domain
Let's get the largest criticism out of the way, ok? It's a Gears of War clone. It's pretty competent at it, but if you're tired of cover-based 3rd person shooters, then maybe you'd find yourself discouraged from trying Binary Domain. It's a shame though, because the characters, story and little details sprinkled within Binary Domain are the reason I'd recommend you see it through. Big Bo certainly approves.
7. Tekken Tag Tournament 2
I had a fighting game take my nr. 7 spot last year, and as luck would have it, the nr. 7 spot would be yet again reserved for a fighting game this year. Tekken Tag 2 is the most fun I've had with a fighting game all year. It's Tekken in the best way possible. Modes are a bit spartan and there's no real story-mode (although there is an arcade mode where everyone gets an intro and outro), but as someone who's always ended up enjoying the gameplay and intricacies to Tekken, this game does not disappoint.
6. Borderlands 2
Oh hey, it's "More"-der..lands...or something. Anyway, Borderlands 2 is the most traditional sequel I've seen released this year. It alleviates some of the criticisms from the first Borderlands game, feels like the environments are more varied, the world is more alive, and there are weirder weapon combinations out there to screw around with. There's not much to say about it in regards to story and all that jazz (it's kinda eh), but hey, the basic gameplay is still really fun, and that's pretty much all that matters here.
5. Sleeping Dogs
This game was very almost a sequel in the True Crime franchise. What an absolute waste that would've been (although realistically it would've been a bigger surprise I suppose, since this game is actually good). Sleeping Dogs is the open-world game this year to take that sweet hole left by the GTA series, and it does a great job at filling that gap. I genuinely don't really have any complaints about the mechanics in Sleeping Dogs, besides the chase sequences (I don't like 'em), the game feels very well thought out and I had a blast unleashing my inner child on the streets of Hong Kong, action hijacking vehicles while in pursuit, starting fights with random civilians or even just adding a teaspoon of chaos to the mundane lives of the A.I in Sleeping Dogs (you're welcome, fellas!).
4. The Walking Dead
In a year where I feel like there are no good stories in gaming this year, along comes Telltale Games to fix that in a jiffy. As someone who has no investment in the show or comic book this game's fiction is based on, I grew to understand the world of TWD and I absolutely love what designers Jake Rodkin and Sean Vanaman did in regards to characters and their development, aswell as putting the player in as conflicting situations as possible just to screw with the player and their moral compass. There were 2 moments in TWD that genuinely had tears dripping from my eyes, it just goes to show that proper attention paid to developing the world and story of a game can mean alot to the player. It would be higher on this list but the sad fact is that the actual game elements are a little hamstrung in TWD, which with a bit more gameplay to it could've easily have been my GOTY 2012 for sure (it still wins Story of the Year though, so that counts, right?).
What a delightful game. Inspired by the likes of Deus Ex and Thief, Dishonored is an incredibly well-crafted modern-day equivalent of a stealth game. The combat and movement feel tight, the atmosphere and visuals of the game look fantastic and I honestly really appreciate any game that allows me to get through the entire game without killing a single living soul. Y'all should play it, I absolutely recommend it (unless you've never played Deus Ex/Thief in which case: what the hell is wrong with you?).
2. XCOM: Enemy Unknown
I remember hearing about an XCOM reboot a few years back, and I was excited at the prospect. To my horror, it turned out they wanted to make Bioshock, but with the XCOM name attached to it. I still have no clue what has happened to that project in particular, but you have no idea how many screams of joy were had when I learned the ineffable Firaxis was tasked with making a "true" re-imagining of the classic XCOM franchise. TL;DR - It's a fucking great game, it is everything I expected it to be, and some more. The only reason this game wasn't my GOTY 2012 is because of the rampant amount of bugs the game is riddled with (mind you this is mostly due to me playing on a console, not the PC, but still), which prevents it from taking it home this year. Still play it though, or else realize how terrible your taste in games is.
1. Far Cry 3
If you're shocked that FC3 is my GOTY, don't worry: I'm shocked too. I thought the first FC was an interesting looking game, it certainly did things that were pretty unheard of at the time, but I've never been a fan of Crytek's gameplay mechanics. They make beautiful worlds, they just bore me supremely. FC2 is a game I have the utmost respect for, purely because it was a high-budget shooter that was unlike every single FPS out there at the time. The problem is that FC2 as a game had way too many issues for me to deal with, I believe the specific wording I used to describe it is "It's like a AAA version of STALKER, but shit", and I still stand by that. FC3 however takes inspiration from both the first game and second game, and creates a game world I absolutely adored to be in, from running from checkpoint to checkpoint capturing outposts, to hunting wild animals for their skins, to going out in the world and ACTUALLY enjoying collecting those stupid little collectibles so many open-world games feel like littering their worlds with. It was an absolute blast, only let down by an interesting story premise that completely shoots itself in the foot in the end.
Now that we've got that out of the way, let's talk about games that truly truly saddened me over the course of the year. I haven't numbered any of these as I feel it's kinda irrelevant, but I will share thoughts (and perhaps my aggravation) about these games.
Most disappointing games of 2012
Max Payne 3
I've seen people say they really liked MP3, but I just can't get into it. I feel like it was this game that made me realize just how much I hate the writing of the Houser brothers. This game just lost what I liked about Max Payne and Max Payne 2, it doesn't have the Remedy touch to it. I've seen people say "oh it feels just fine to me, dunno what you're on about", but I dunno, I just can't accept this game for what it is. Call it Randy Painymous the Third and alot of elements that bother me would disappear, but then again, the gameplay started feeling a little stale after a while, and I think the writing in general just isn't great.
Mass Effect 3
This year the internet was drama'd out with shit to say about Mass Effect 3, but if you ask me, it's not the ending that sours folks. ME3 suffers from the same problem alot of games in a franchise do, specifically ones that are part of trilogies: it just feels rushed. Mass Effect 1 was not an amazing game, but it was certainly ambitious. Mass Effect 2 sacrified that ambition to create a very solid and polished experience as a result. Mass Effect 3 feels like it isn't going for either, it feels like someone at Bioware really wanted to have things go somewhere, have plot-threads tied properly, but someone at EA (not making accusations, just a hunch) told them they had 18-24 months to make a damn sequel, and they should hurry up with it. There are still some incredible moments in ME3 I feel, as a fan, but it's a shame there are alot of moments that don't really go anywhere. On the plus side, I really like their take on horde mode, it's very fun.
Resident Evil 6
I don't understand this hubris Capcom has been gathering since the start of the "HD generation", but Resident Evil 6 feels like it has recieved the biggest hit as a result of that hubris building up at Capcom. Sure it's got a 20 hour campaign, but it's not very fun. I chastised RE5 for feeling too much like Capcom desperately clinging onto RE4 and trying to copy that as closely as possible, but on the flip-side, we get RE6 which adds a bunch of new mechanics that all don't feel very well thought out. I genuinely feel like if I were to ask the designers "who thought the pill system was a good idea?" and poked around enough, I feel like I'd get back an answer of "I dunno, felt cool to me". This is a terrible thing to say since jobs will be on the line over this, but I'm fucking GLAD RE6 tanked ratings-wise, maybe it'll finally serve as a wake-up call Capcom needs, otherwise that company is going the way of THQ in the next 5 years if they keep this up.
Assassin's Creed 3
Y'know, I feel like Ubisoft would be focusing all their efforts into making sure their biggest selling current franchise would get a proper new iteration, but hey, what do I know about game development? AC 3 feels like a game where development duties felt even more divied up between the 18 million satellite studios Ubisoft has running. The quickest way of determining what is flawed about AC 3 is comparing it to AC 2. It spends ALOT less time building up characters, the world feels weirdly small and ALOT of the buildings and other environments are flat-out copy-pasted onto the environment, also the mission design isn't very good or well thought-out at all. People will have varying levels of success with it, but I dare anyone tell me how memorable any of the missions in AC 3 are (bar the prologue one, that one was actually well-done).
Y'know, for a company with such a rabid fanbase and such an unbelieveable pedigree, I don't understand why I didn't enjoy D3 that much. Maybe it's the fact that I don't like playing that game by myself (I know it's always been known as a huge co-op series, but sometimes, I seriously just wanna enjoy games and take my time with them, and at other times, my friends aren't available), maybe it's the fact that the higher difficulties are locked up requiring you to consecutively beat the game on each difficulty before unlocking the higher one, maybe it's the fact that PvP was not in the game and (I believe) is still not in the game, or maybe it's the fact that after recieving INCREDIBLE AMOUNTS of scorn for their proposed DRM solution, Blizzard refused to change it which resulted in the first 4-5 days of that game being out being a complete fucking nightmare. 7-8 years of development well spent, Blizzard. Seriously good job on that. And I don't understand the people flagrantly defending this game, I really don't. Here's my advice: For a 3rd of the price you'd have to spend on D3, go buy Torchlight II instead. Have fun.