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GOTY 2012

Took me some time to finally get it done, but here's my game of the year list for 2012! I am not much of a writer man, but hopefully I wasn't too long winded in this list. I always love the yearly community round ups, can't wait to see the results of the communities games of the year!

List items

  • While it may have been hard to cut this list down to just 10, putting Fez as #1 was a no-brainer. Fez isn't just my favorite game of this year, it's one of my Top 3 games of all time. Fez is a wonderful example of what incredible world design can do, having one of the most fantastical worlds to explore in video games. Fez is all about exploring that world while also taking notice of all the subtle puzzles that permeate it. I had never kept notes while playing a video game before, but with Fez I have a journal with crazy scribblings trying to decipher the cryptic messages spread throughout the game. Fez reminded me of one of the main reasons I love playing video games: being immersed in crazy fantasy worlds. I don’t know what else I can say on the matter, if you haven’t checked Fez out you’re really missing out.

  • Mass Effect 3 sure generated it’s share of controversy this year, but considering I have a signed lithograph of Garrus behind me as I write this, I don’t think it should be a huge surprise that I loved ME 3. I was really impressed by just how much your actions in previous games change things in the third game, from the huge things such as the fate of the Geth to the small things such as the fate of Kelly Chambers. I can’t think of any game that has been so ambitious as the ME series and actually managed to deliver (there have been a few games with save importing before but those usually just let you import stats, not stories). I really enjoyed the new characters introduced, I loved the conclusions to certain big story lines, and I think that it probably has the best game play of the three games. As for the ending, I’ll just say that I didn't dislike it. I didn't think it was a great ending in video games, but I also didn't hate it. Honestly these games have always been about the journey to me, and the journey in ME 3 is great. I know everyone has really strong feeling about this game, but at the end of the day I really loved it.

  • The Real Texas is one real strange game. It has been described as a fusion of Zelda and Ultima 4 by the bombcast guys, and that’s partly accurate and party not. Much like Zelda there is essentially a progression of dungeons you go through (although unlike Zelda you aren't usually getting an item per dungeon) and similar to Ultima there is a town with NPCs that you can talk to (with a prompt for keyboard input) and get quests and such. The game play takes some time to get used to but when you do get used to it it’s really fun. The story is a really strange surreal.... thing. It’s hard to describe and I’m not sure I really understand what it is, but It’s definitely interesting. The game is so weird that I’m not sure what else I can say other than that the game is really fun. It’s the kind of game where it’s obvious that the person who made it (I believe it was a single person) obviously put a lot of effort and passion into it, and it comes across in just how good the game is.

  • Anyone who’s been following me probably knows by now that I love nethack. I love roguelikes in general, because I love the replayability of the games. Those who have been following me probably also know that I don’t care for a lot of modern roguelikes. Games like Dungeons of Dreadmore and FTL just don’t do it for me. I think the reason is because I feel like those games rely a little too much on the ‘random’ aspect of roguelikes to create the fun in their games. The key to a good roguelike, at least in my opinion, is having a solid core gameplay. The randomness of a roguelike should just be a vehicle to replay that gameplay.

    That’s why I love Spelunky. It’s a great roguelike because it’s a great platformer. The mechanics are solid, the item progression is great, the level design is awesome. The randomness just gives you an excuse to come back to it over and over, and believe me I have. Spelunky is probably my favorite modern roguelike out there, if you want hours of replayable tough as nails platformers (but not so frustrating as Super Meatboy) then definitely check it out.

  • XCOM really came as a surprise to me this year. I had never played the original XCOM until last year, but I had played other games from that era and so I knew how hard those old PC games could be. The most amazing thing about XCOM is how uncompromising it is in that difficulty. It takes a lot of cues from that original XCOM, mainly just improving the interface and adding in a handful of mechanics. Even more surprising was gamer’s response to the game. I feel like there’s been an assumption in games that gamers don’t want those difficult games of the past, but with XCOM and Dark/Demons Souls being so popular, I hope that assumption changes.

  • Confession time: I never played Borderlands 1. I somehow missed it when it came out, and by the time I noticed all my friends were already done playing it. So when Borderlands 2 came out this year I was stoked, after all I've heard nothing but good things about Borderlands 1. The game completely delivered. It’s a wonderful take on the Diablo style dungeon crawler in an FPS game. The humor isn't complicated but it manages to get some good laughs, and the multiplayer is wonderfully done. I don’t think there's anything I can say here that hasn't been said about Borderlands 1 already, so I’ll just say that Borderlands 2 is a great game. If you have some friends to play it with definitely check it out.

  • Dust is a kind of contentious game. Often derided due to the art style and general aesthetic of the game feeling a lot like it came out of Deviant Art. To be honest, those complaints aren't without base. The game is clearly the product of a certain culture of the internet. The themes have a lot of similarities to certain webcomic themes out there and the art style does feel like it fell out of Deviant Art. Not that any of that is a bad thing, after all I think the story is pretty good and the art style works well for the game, but I certainly understand the skepticism.

    The real shame though is that, past the art design and the story, Dust is a really freaking good MetroidVania game. Taking more from the Castlevania half (level progression, combos, quests) than the Metroid side, the game has wonderful level design and great feeling controls. I really hope that people can get past their initial reactions to the art and give this game a try, because it’s just a really good game.

  • I've been in love with the Assassin’s Creed franchise ever since I played 2. These games take a lot of risk by placing the stories in areas not normally visited by video games, and the third part of the trilogy does not fail to deliver on this. It’s super fun exploring colonial America, running around Boston’s roof tops. The story can feel a bit too convenient at times, but that’s most likely a result of this one being set in America instead of in a country whose history I don’t know as well. The Desmond story in this one is horrible, but that’s never really been the draw of these games for me. I really loved Conner and found him to be a refreshing change of pace from Ezio. The multiplayer in these games continues to be janky as hell, but also one of the most fun multiplayer modes in games. Really a great game.

  • I've never been a mega fan of Halo. Most of my experience with the franchise has been playing multiplayer Halo 2 and 3 matches at friends houses during high school. As such I skipped pretty much every Halo game after 3, but I decided to check 4 out. I have not been disappointed. The multiplayer in this game is just super fun, as it has always been in the Halo franchise. It’s a bit of a bummer to see them cop the CoD progression stuff (not that I don't like that kind of stuff, it just would be nice if not every game copied that), but the multiplayer is just super fun. I have barely even touched the multiplayer but I’ve put in a ton of time in this game. There’s just something about that Halo multiplayer that is so so right.

  • This is probably the most surprising thing I’m gonna put on this list, because honestly if you had asked me if I would even play a sequel to FFXIII after playing it I would have laughed in your face. I really don’t like FFXIII, I might even use some choice words such as ‘garbage’ and ‘bloated’ to describe it, so I didn't have a lot of interest in the sequel when I heard about it. However, much like the crowd that comes out to see a car crash, I decided to check out the quick look just to see how bad the game was. Surprisingly, instead of finding a pile of shit in the quicklook, I found myself interested in the game. After checking out the Demo for the game on Xbox Live I ended up buying the game shortly after release.

    Perhaps the worst thing about FFXIII-2 is its association to FFXIII. I imagine they had to make it a sequel for marketing purposes (Can’t use the same battle system in a new number game), but at the very least they managed to purge themselves of most of the FFXIII crew. The game focuses on a minor character of the original game and a new character made for the sequel, essentially killing off the rest of the FFXIII cast. Unlike it’s predecessor it opens up the full gameplay really fast, and that’s great because that’s the one thing about FFXIII that didn’t suck. The story is pretty great, full of timey wimey bull shit and some great crazy sci fi stuff, and it takes a lot of risks that SE normally doesn't take (especially with the ending). The characters could be better, but they are actually pretty interesting, especially as you learn the backstory of the new character.

    Anyways yeah, I had no idea that this game would end up on my top 10 list, but I ended up really enjoying it. If you’re a fan of FF but avoided this game because you got burned on XIII, I would suggest at least checking out the Demo. It’s a lot better than XIII was. (If you do check it out though, don’t bother with any of the DLC that isn’t the lightning story)