Game of the Year 2012
Another GotY list, this time for twenty doz'.
Another GotY list, this time for twenty doz'.
Among all the hate the internet brought before it, Mass Effect 3 is an amazing game and a fine ending to one of the best video game trilogies of all time. Mass Effect took a lot of heat for its ending, but I liked its ending, long before the extended cut. I was able to use my imagination to fill in the gaps. No many people have that ability, or choose not to use it. Bioware couldn't please everyone. It was an impossible task which I think they handled well. Sure, some DLC came out that should have been main game content, but after playing it 4 or 5 times with the new content, it just adds to the greatness that ME3 already was. Not to mention the gameplay is top-notch and the multiplayer was a pleasant surprise.
The ending seemed to have overshadowed a lot of the best things about the game. The relationships that formed, the stories it wrapped up and friends we lost. The story was fantastic and the ending was not the sole endgame here. It was the journey I had taken when I first stepped on Eden Prime all those years ago. I love Mass Effect and I love Mass Effect 3.
Far Cry 3 starts out strong, but ends up leaving much to be desired. It has wonderful moments of insanity with Vaas, one of the antagonists, as well as moments of hilarity like burning down a field of pot plants while listening to Skrillex and getting high. Story moments aside, Far Cry 3 makes it on this list purely on the merits of its gameplay. The first person platforming of the radio towers were fun and challenging at times and the gunplay, AI and outpost liberation were extremely fun. The co-op wasn't anything spectacular albeit functional.
I'm not one for getting every last achievement or trophy, but I couldn't help myself with Far Cry 3. It was just so much fun I felt like I owed myself to do everything possible. I had a blast and I look forward to Ubisoft trying to 1up this instant favorite.
X-COM Enemy Unknown was something I had no interest in until it was released and I started seeing Quick Looks and gameplay videos. The only strategy games I could ever get into were Turn-Based, so it was likely I was going to give this a shot eventually, seeing the high praise from the community. I'm glad I did. X-COM does a great job of producing the sense of accomplishment and failure of the choices you make and sparks the love I have for a good simulation. You loadout your soldiers based on the upcoming mission, you build your HQ the way you want it laid out and you build the equipment or research the projects you deem fit for your time.
Metagames aside, X-COM's main focus is the squad combat. Ranging from 4 to 6 soldiers, you find yourself in sometimes easy, sometimes tough, always nerve-wracking situations which could see all of your soldiers promoted for a job well done, or dead and gone, all based on your actions. That's the fun of X-COM. Thinking clearly and making the hard choices like a good Commander should. Though, naming my soldiers after my friends may have been a bad idea.
Faster-than-Light offers 3 things I love. Sharship simulation, starship combat and space exploration. I don't like the idea of a rogue-like or, at least, the ideals of a rogue-like. The "Once you die you start over from scratch" model is something I can't get behind. Also, the idea of a constant of moving forward, no turning back model frustrates me. Luckily, the internet, being the wonderfully, yet terrifying place it is, provided me with the ability to turn of the constant threat of the rebels chasing you. This made it all that much more bearable to play a game I would come to love.
Not only is FTL fantastic in the way it makes you feel in command of a Starship, but also how it makes you feel about your crew. These ragtag group of pixels should be nothing more than mindless automatons doing your bidding, but making the choice to sacrifice someone to save the ship is damned heartbreaking. The game also boasts kick-ass soundtrack constantly playing to keep you company while making these tough decisions. I have lost many ships, many crew, but the joy I spent playing FTL in 2012 will never be lost.
Fez was nothing short of a masterpiece, if you get by some of the game's crippling bugs. It had one of the best soundtracks of the year and the game's puzzles and secrets really did the job of having you use the depths of your brain to figure them out. One of the magical things about the game was how you went on the internet, looking as message board or asking your friends how they figured out a certain puzzle. It was like I was a kid all over again. Something many games really try and fail to do in this day and age. I fell like trying to play it again, however, wouldn't hold the same magic it once did and playing it at launch was the best time to play it. When everyone was still figuring it out, just like you.
Assassin's Creed 3 took a lot of flak for its story, but mainly, nobody liked Connor. I didn't feel this way. First off, the gameplay is the best it's ever been. The free running is greatly improved on it's predecessors and the combat was a simplified mix of old and new. The hunting metagame along with the crafting and trading aspect was fun, but could use improvement, more-so with the latter. Naval combat was the hidden gem of AC3, being some of the most fun I had in the game. If Ubisoft ever decides to make a Naval Combat game based on this engine, I'm in.
The story in AC3 was fine to me. It wasn't ground breaking, but it served its purpose. The gameplay simply was enough to keep me locked in and having fun. Plus, I thought Connor was an okay dude. He was an angry kid who build on that rage into adulthood as he watched his people treated like garbage. He's allowed to be something different than Ezio. Not everyone is perfect, Connor had his flaws. That made him human. I digress.
Ubisoft took a chance. It didn't work out for them. I for one thought it was a nice change from what we had been given the past three years.
Sleeping Dogs had no right to be good. In fact, it shouldn't have been. It had a trouble development. Going from one developer to another, from being a half-assed True Crime game to a fleshed out brand new game, Sleeping Dogs was part Saints Row and Grand Theft Auto set in modern Hong Kong.
The story takes itself seriously, which isn't much of a bad thing, but throws in a lot of the silly "kill a man with a frozen fish" moments. A solid presentation and competent combat mechanics, Sleeping Dogs turned out to be a sleeper hit. Yeah, I want to punch myself in the throat for that pun too.
This felt like the vise-versa of Borderlands 2. When Halo 4 was announced and Master Chief was back, I didn't really want any more Halo. Then I played it and realized more Halo staring Master Chief wasn't bad. I'm a sci-fi nerd and Bungie really did a great job with the Halo Universe, which 343 Studios has expanded upon in a great new story. It's the same core Halo with updated gameplay mechanics that feel tighter than ever and same great Halo feel that nicely wrapped up this console generation for the fans of the series.
I had no idea what Hotline Miami was supposed to be. I had heard so much about the game. About its amazing soundtrack. Its simple yet addictively frustrating gameplay. Upon playing Hotline Miami, I knew it was something special. It's narrative is the movie Drive meets batshit crazy. The narrative, however, always takes a back seat to gameplay for me, and the gameplay is great. A 16-bit top-down murder simulator as it were. Put a mask on, head into a building and kill stuff with whatever you can find. With a killer 80's style electronic soundtrack playing over this brutal gem, Hotline Miami does what a game should do. Be fun without getting in the way of itself.
Borderlands 2 is a great game. It improved on a lot of the mechanics that I had problems with in the first one. It's more Borderlands. I thought I wanted that. Turned out I kind of didn't. Borderlands had a charm to it. Sure the story was a hot mess of trash, but the game was fun. Fun enough to play again and again. When Borderlands 2 ended, I had enough of Borderlands 2. Every time I tried to give it another go, I found myself turning it off rather quickly. I do think it was one of the best games of the year, but just barely.
Guild Wars 2 is my honorable mention of 2012. I've never really put any time into an MMO before, so going into it, I had no idea what I was doing. Guild wars 2 expects you to know how to play the game based on the first one, albeit it does have a hint system, which does not substitute for a full blown tutorial. Once getting past the learning curve, Guild Wars 2 opened my eyes to this whole new world of lore to explore and discover.
The lore being fun to dig in to, it was the fun of getting five characters to level 80 and trying to get the best armor I could for my characters while making them look badass. I tend to stay away from games that make me pay monthly, and that is far from changing, making Guild Wars 2's no monthly fees pretty great.
From leveling, Dungeons, dynamic events and seasonal/expanded story content, Guild Wars 2 has been a game I've enjoyed giving hours of my life to and will continue to do for the foreseeable future. However, I don't think it holds up as an experience. It's a great game to go in and dick around for hours on end when I can't decided on something else, but nothing for me is really memorable on a grand scale. Sure, In 5 years I'll remember the first time I saw the dragons show up in their respected events and fun I has on Karaoke nights with Lincoln Force when someone brings it up in conversation, but when someone asks me what my favorite games are, I just don't see Guild Wars 2 in that last. It will always hold a special place in my heart, however.
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