Games I've played thoroughly in 2012

Typical list detailing what games I've played in 2012. Good talk.

List items

  • While I'm still trying to establish a good connection for online play, I've finished up the Road to Wrestlemania mode and am working my way through the WWE Universe mode. The real winner in this game is the user-created content, which is astoundingly good. Seriously, any game where I can pit Robocop and Ronald McDonald against Chuck Norris and JCVD is a winner.

  • Uncharted 3 never quite breaks out the big guns like its predecessor, but it continues to refine the process and introduces some great new characters. It's a superb game that pretty much defines my philosophy of "I don't necessarily need innovation if it's fun enough." Uncharted 3 is DEFINITELY fun enough. And I'm sure it'll be an early qualifier for a new award in 2012 - the best single level in a game. The desert "level" is striking and powerful.

  • Absolutely fantastic game. This is exactly what I want from open-world games of its sort, and I can't wait until the inevitable sequel is released... though I do hope they take their time on it.

  • Technically, I suppose this probably belongs on my 2011 list, but since I finished it in 2012, I'm gonna put it here. It's not a huge improvement over Brotherhood, but it's a really solid, fun game with a hell of an ending.

  • I really liked the scope of ACII, and having multiple cities to visit was a blast. However, gameplay changes and additions made in the sequels rendered it a pleasant but ultimately surpassed experience.

  • I really enjoyed the combat mechanics and RPG elements of War in the North, but a tendency to cleave to the story and elements of the novels as well as some horrendously bad single-player decisions made this a middle-of-the-road action RPG. Enjoyable, just not as great as it could have been.

  • There was a point in the first half of this game when I thought to myself that it really wasn't half bad. Much like its predecessors, it definitely had some rough spots, but the basic gameplay was fun and there was a good amount to see and do.

    And then... well... the second half hit, and what was a promising (if bland) game became completely dreadful. I've just finished up the game up to the early parts of the expansion, and I just can't play it any more. The lack of direction in quests is nearly unforgivable, as you are left only with vague clues at best. The combat becomes so insanely easy that I didn't even have to bother popping off healing spells or items during the game's lengthy last battle. The plot is about as thin as they get, with one notable nice twist hidden among a sea of crap. Technically, it's an okay game. But at the end of the day, I grew to dread playing it for its laundry list of things it just should have and could have done better.

  • I like Crisis Core's combat, nostalgia, and sharp CGI. It had some minor troubles, but nothing that kept it from being a fun little action-RPG.

  • The Sleeping Dragon is a pretty solid adventure game, though it does have a bunch of irritating little quirks. Not being able to skip dialogue or lines grates on me, especially in a gae where you're likely to revisit the same areas. I'm also really not fond of the keyboard driven controls. That said, it's hard not to like the continued adventures of Nico and George, and the plot is pretty decent too.

  • While it oversexualizes Lara of course, Legend's a pretty solid outing for Ms. Croft. The gameplay is really solid, bringing the franchise to the modern era with great controls, slick gunfights, and some nice variations to the tomb raiding. Lara's voicework is fantastic, and while I don't care for the idiotic Arthurian-centric plot one bit, there's some playful dialogue and moments that work well for the series.

  • Lords of Shadow is pretty much the very definition of a DMC clone, but that's not necessarily a bad thing when the game is as well-crafted as this. It tends to be heavy-handed with the melodrama, but the gameplay is decent, the boss battles are great, and the story is decent.

  • Shockingly good platformer, and its 3D elements are much better than I hoped for. At $15, this was a steal.

  • There are a lot of elements here that I like, especially its leveling and skill system, but overall, First Departure is a game that should only be played by those hard up for an RPG. It just never quite lives up to the promise of that fantastic skill system.

  • Kingdoms of Amalur is a really great game with almost awe-inspiring scope and ambition. If the team can make the side-quests more interesting in the future, this will be one superb series of games.

  • Don't know how I forgot this on the list earlier, but there you go. Great game, cheap price, go read my retrospective for more thoughts.

  • Look for more thoughts when I finally post the final part of its RPG retrospective, but essentially, it's a good game marred by a bunch of minor annoyances due mostly to its distinct Japanese-ness.

  • Great fun. It's a good time waster, and it's often on sale. If you can pick this one up on the cheap, it's worth a look.

  • Easily the worst of Telltale's adventure games, this one is kind of a stinker. The plot, characters, and gameplay are all just incredibly dull.

  • Shockingly fun. I picked this one up for all of five bucks, and I don't regret a penny of it. It maybe throws a bit too much nudity around, but the adult themes and plot are a breath of fresh air. Doesn't hurt that the combat, while not exactly inventive, is quite a bit of fun.

  • Would you believe I'd never played MGS 3 before about two weeks ago? No? Well, now I have, and I agree with everything said about this game. It's amazing. While I think the Cobra Unit was ridiculously cartoony, the battles against them were definitely not. I couldn't ever spot The End in the sniper fight, but after equipping night vision and laying down claymores? That bastard was toast. That kind of clever "anything goes" feel to the gameplay was incredible.

  • I'm of mixed feelings about this one. I played the 360 port in the MGS collection, and while I can appreciate the sacrifices made to get this on a handheld, its sacrifices to make the jump to the small screen add up pretty fast. That said, I loved the base-building mechanics and the side-ops.

  • It's hard to stay mad at this game. While there are a ton of problems, such as pixel hunting, atrociously bad dialogue, and a boring plot, there's a lot of earnestness that went into this thing. The graphics and animation are silky smooth and are quite unlike just about anything I've ever seen before. The classic LucasArts-styled adventure gameplay is more fun than it should be with its problems. It's seriously, insanely flawed (if I could get the reviews to work, I'd only give it a two out of five), but I can't help liking it just a little. Enough, anyways, to move on to its sequels.

  • This is a hard game to pin down. On the one hand, it's based on one of my favorite movie series of all time, and does a great job translating the key points of the story to a kid-friendly video game. It's also the mechanically best of the LEGO games I've played, but its strengths also end up highlighting its severe weaknesses. By now, the basic engine of the LEGO games needs to be rebuilt, including better magnetization for jumping and climbing onto platforms (it's far too easy to misjudge whether or not you're standing on a board or if you're going to fall into liquid/to your death) as well as a straight up combat overhaul. This is likely as polished as the LEGO games will get without that upgrade. Unfortunately, that's just not going to pass muster for much longer.

  • Holy smokes, this is leaps and bounds better than its predecessor, and a damned fun adventure game in its own right. The characters, plot, and dialogue have all improved a thousand-fold. There's still a bit of pixel hunting, but other than that, this is a pretty fantastic adventure game.

  • Holy crap. I get the feeling this game and its predecessor are going to become two adventure games I replay on a semi-regular basis. It's buggy, but that's the only real problem with it. I don't want to spoil anything, but I love how it wraps up the story of the second game and brings things back to a nice full circle to the first. It doesn't hurt that the game has a pretty great cast of characters. I don't like the animation quite as much as the prior two games, but it's still a fantastic looking game.

    Oh yeah, the best part? They dropped the voice actors from the first two games. NICE! Also, if you play it, watch and read the credits. Some good stuff there.

  • Rainbow Moon seems like a game designed specifically for me. Its old-school turn-based RPG gameplay is addictive and free of all the action trappings that its modern brethren have adapted. The skill and stat-building are definitely right up my alley. It's sadly light in plot and standout characters, but for a budget title, this is a fantastic gem and one of the best downloadable games I've played this generation.

  • It's more Diablo. That's all I need. I haven't gotten into the end game content (yet), but I can safely say that this is still addicting, still brutal, and still a hell of a lot of fun.

  • What a delightful little platformer. I never played this back in the day, but I'm kind of glad I didn't. Back then, I likely would have thumbed my nose at it for being too "kiddy," and for its light difficulty. As it stands now, I'm hungry for decent platformers and this fits the bill nicely. It still looks pretty good too, with the comic-like cutscenes being a highlight.

  • It can be tough at times, but Worms Crazy Golf is a delight. It implements a basic "hold down for more power" risk and reward system for its shots, along with various power-ups and items. While the golfing itself would be a meager offering, each level has a number of bonus goals, adding a great deal of replayability. Factor in oodles of unlockables, and it's a pretty great casual game.

  • I didn't expect to like Minecraft as much as I do, but after buying first the 360 edition and then the PC version, I can safely say I'm hooked, probably for life (or until Minecraft 2).

  • A brilliant game, through and through. People's complaints about the ending seem sort of silly to me - the entire game is a freaking ending. I will admit to a certain sort of disappointment in the three final choices, because all three seem to have irreversible effects on the Mass Effect galaxy and could severely hamper a fourth game in the series. But other than that, it's an awesome 3rd person shooter with some cool story elements. Don't approach it like an RPG, though, or you'll drive yourself mad with "what ifs."

  • Holy. Crap. It's insane and funny as hell, and most of all? It's more Borderlands. I think it wraps up things on Pandora nicely, too, while still managing to tease that third game. I truly hope Gearbox gets the time they need to make the third, as the biggest problem with this game is simply just recycled assets. Given that the next generation of consoles is a year or so away, I think we can safely assume Borderlands 3 will be a next gen game. I can't wait.

  • I'm sorry to say that I couldn't finish The Next Big Thing due to some visual problems. But I came pretty close and can say without hesitation that adventure game fans and those gamers looking for a unique world and story should give it a shot. It's a fantastic gem, with some of the best characters I've seen in a game this year. The dialogue is killer too, with a lot of time invested into making it feel like its own little corner of the universe. They've succeeded brilliantly.

  • Pendulo Studios takes on the occult. That's this game in a nutshell. It's their darkest game to date, and it's a terrific original story through and through.

  • Let's get this clear right out of the gate - I haven't played a game with as strong a story as Max Payne 3n quite some time. It's superb. It plays out like a video game version of Man on Fire or that surprisingly okay Domino movie, complete with the weird visual flair of each movie.

    Now, that said, Max Payne 3 isn't quite perfect. The stop-and-pop gameplay gets pretty repetitive, the enemies are way too bullet spongey, and some part of me wishes that there had just been way less enemies to take down between the story cutscenes. The sheer number of bodies hitting the floor felt morbidly comedic next to the gritty story, and not in a good way.

    The game also deserves equal praise and criticism for its "American in a poor country" backdrop. I want to hug Rockstar employees for getting that some of us Americans feel terrible and helpless about the world's poverty, but I want to shout at Rockstar for being so hypocritical about their (purported) slave labor, ethics, and their overall greed while talking about rich people in a poor land.

  • If you're a car enthusiast, you might be a little disappointed in Horizon's comparatively slim pickings. And the DLC's a little eye-rolling, as it's (so far) comprised of cars already released in Forza 4. If those two things don't stop you, there's a lot of fun to be had with Horizon's pleasant, festive atmosphere and its open-world concept. That open world could stand to be a little larger, with its events spread out over more regions, but for the first game in what I genuinely hope to become a spin-off series, this is superb.

  • This is how you remake a classic game. It's strategic bliss like I haven't seen since the release of Jagged Alliance 2.

  • Rock Band Blitz is a decent game, but one I'm never going to be good at. I'm glad I didn't pay full price for it, because I'm honestly not sure how much more I'm likely to get out of it. But if you're better at rhythm games than I am, go for it.

  • No game reinvented a genre quite like this one did. Telltale turned around from the horrendous Jurassic Park game, and churned out a stunning story with a few gameplay elements thrown in for funsies. I joke. It's a terrific adventure game, and I hope we continue to see Telltale make this kind of quality story in the future.

  • I'm trying to pin down my thoughts on Sleeping Dogs as a whole, and it's kind of difficult. There are really no bad parts to the game. There are only a couple of things it does very well, such as its car combat, upgrade elements, and outfit system. Most everything else is good, but a lot of it feels like it could have been better. The story, while good, peters out in some spots. Character interactions are pretty great, but most of the side characters aren't given enough time to shine. There are a lot of side missions - and some fun ones to boot - but come to be slightly repetitive and a little flat. There are parts of the city that are stunningly well-realized, particularly the beginning Night Market, but the rest of the city feels less lifelike and all too often repeats similarly styled buildings and shops. It's not a bad game by any means - in fact, it's one of the games from 2012 I'd say is a must-play. But it definitely leaves a lot of room for improvement in a sequel.

  • While I've yet to delve into the multiplayer portion of DOA5 (the PS3 servers are deader than dead), I've finished up the story mode and played through a few rounds of the various arcade modes. It's a quality entry in the DOA5 series, one that's not quite as exciting as 3 or 4, but with a better eye towards shifting industry trends in terms of an actual story in fighting games. I do sorta miss the crazy arcade endings and wish they'd included them too, but I suppose you can't have your cake and eat it too.

  • This was an unexpected pleasure, a little bit of nostalgia mixed with some neat new ideas for levels and designs. I'm not sure I like it quite as much as the Galaxy games, but in terms of quality Mario titles, it definitely stands near the top with them and Super Mario World. I'd have liked a slightly less linear path for the overworld, but if that's my biggest complaint, then you know this game has very little wrong with it.

  • I forget where in this list this should be, but I played it about halfway through the year. It's superb.

10 Comments

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danielkempster

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A great list that puts my paltry tally of fifteen games so far this year to shame. Guess I'd better throw down some relevant thoughts in a bullet point format - BAM! (that's the sound of said thoughts being thrown down - hard)

  • If Revelations is "more of the same", then that's fine by me. It's on my list of games to pick up, and I'll probably seek out a copy towards year's end, when the release of ACIII brings its price point plummeting down. In spite of seeing fifteen-or-so hours of Brotherhood at this point, I think ACII is still my favourite in the series so far. While Brotherhood makes some notable improvements to the gameplay (the city-rebuilding and Assassins' Guild stuff in particular are great additions), it feels a bit too confined to me right now.
  • I have the first three Broken Sword games and haven's touched any of them. I must rectify this soon.
  • We've already shared many thoughts about Crystal Dynamics' Tomb Raider titles, and Vagrant Story, so I won't retread ground we've already covered.
  • Good to hear you enjoyed Dante's Inferno. I remember discussing it with you a while back and mentioning problems I had reading some of the in-game text. Glad to know it didn't prove too much of an issue for you.
  • MGS3 is without a doubt my favourite game in the Metal Gear series. I thought the more open, more organic 'jungle' environments really played to the strengths of the series' stealth mechanics, allowing me to be really inventive and experiment with all the different tools at Snake's disposal. The boss battles were incredible, and I really liked the survival elements too. As for Peace Walker, I played that on the PSP and was amazed by just how much they'd managed to squeeze onto the handheld. If I'd been playing it on a console, though, I think the omissions would have been much more glaringly obvious. Again, I really like the strategic, base-oriented side-stuff. Kept me occupied for hours.
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sparky_buzzsaw

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@dankempster: Thanks Dan! Let's see here...

Revelations is essentially more of the same, but I'm really fond of the quiet, sometimes reflective story. Ezio is a hard character not to like, and I think the game wrapped up his story beautifully.

The Broken Sword games are great "rainy day" adventure games for when you're looking for something breezy and not-too-taxing. They have their issues, but I've found that the good outweighs the bad. I need to pick up the fourth at some point.

With regards to Dante's Inferno, I had a helper for the initial few hours. I actually ended up just sticking entirely to the "good" branch of skills, since I couldn't read the text and figure out what did what. A six pack of beer is a great equalizer for being blind, as it'll attract just about anybody's help. Hah! The hard part for me was the latter half - I didn't have help with those arena fights, and the controls and "how to" tips were completely unreadable. For that part, I had to go on to GameFAQs (I think) and get some help.

I think MGS3 is nothing short of brilliant. While I'll always have fonder memories of playing MGS2 in my best friend's dorm in college while we blatantly ignored our respective girlfriends, I think MGS3 is by far the best in the series. Then again, I couldn't ever get far in MGS4 due to visual stuff with that "follow the civilian" mission very early on, so I can't qualify that game as a contender. In any case, I plan on revisiting MGS3 very soon to try to play it with some degree of skill rather than the usual blundering mess I make of MGS games the first go-around.

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Slag

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Damn your list makes me feel lazy.

39 is an impressive haul

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sparky_buzzsaw

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@Slag: I'm sorry to say that I've been unemployed since late 2009. My free time is unfortunately consumed by writing, reading, and games. Being legally blind in a very tiny town of about 500 makes it really hard for me to have much of a social life, so I spend most of my extra money on games. I'm not proud of this list.

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@Sparky_Buzzsaw:

Well I'm even sorrier I brought up a sore subject for you. That was certainly not my intent. FWIW I'm genuinely impressed, unemployed or no that's a number I've maybe come close to once. In particular There's a lot of adventure games I'd like to eventually play on your list.

I'm the kind of guy who has the OCD completionist in him as well as someone who likes data/spreadsheets. So I see a list like yours and frankly get envious.

I hear you on the economy, it's still a very rough market to find a job and from what I hear it's many times harder to do so in a small town. From what I can tell not only has this economy recovery been far weaker than recoveries past, but furthermore also been very geographically unbalanced. My city's economy fortunately for me happens to be fantastic, but the rest of the state might as well be in the Great Depression.

long story short, you are not alone my friend.

Hang in there fella.

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sparky_buzzsaw

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@Slag: Sorry! That got personal. I'd had a few drinks at that point and was a bit melancholy. And here usually I'm a happy drunk. Eh, oh well. Things will work out eventually. I have no real marketable skills to speak of, but someone sooner or later will realize that I'm a super fast learner and can be a real asset given half a chance.

Yes, there are some adventure games in that list that should definitely be checked out. The obvious biggie for most people is Walking Dead, but I have to say, I really think the find of the year for me was that Pendulo pack. Individually, they might not have been the best games out there, but for fifteen dollars, I got a hell of a lot of good quality adventure games (once I got beyond the first Runaway, which was mediocre at best). Although I technically didn't play through them all in 2012, the Broken Sword games are worth a look too. Speaking of, I really wish that fourth one would come up on sale on GOG at some point.

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Wow dude you played an impressive amount of games I are jealous. Also you have managed to excellently sum up many of your thoughts about said games in two or three sentences bravo. First off it's cool that someone played Crisis Core this year. As someone who never finished VII i had way too much fun playing that game, one of the few times i ever used my psp. Also your thoughts on War in the North and Amalur make me want to play them slightly more. I've never expected much from either based on the general bashing of them for various reasons but especially with Amalur I had my hopes up and they were let down. I'd be interested if I would enjoy it now that I have such tempered expectations.

Also i'm glad you enjoyed Sly, that series is in my opinion underrated considering how much people hyped up the other "big two" platformery cartoonish games of that gen (jak and ratchet). If you haven't i would seriously recommend you play Sly 2 which is in my opinion the highlight of the series. The shift from 1 to 2and 3 is big (it goes from fairly basic collectable level based platformer to open mapish platformer) but they nailed it in my opinion. Great list duder.

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sparky_buzzsaw

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@D_Bones: Hey, thanks so much! It's always great to get feedback on stuff like this.

Amalur's mechanics are so solid that I can overlook everything else about it. That said, it does have issues - namely, the story is pretty second-rate. I really do recommend people play it, though, and I genuinely hope someone somewhere down the line decides to pick up the rights and push out a sequel, spiritual or direct.

War in the North is a real mixed bag. I get really irritated that it creates these new characters and ideas, and then craps all over that idea by sticking so close to the story told in the trilogy. And there are points when the combat, especially in single player, feels broken, particularly in close knit stages. But there are some good action-RPG elements, too, and overall, it's a fairly solid game. Just don't go into it expecting a great game, and you'll be mildly surprised.

Of the two, I'd definitely say go with Amalur. The scope and ambition of the game is just breathtaking.

As for Sly, I've scratched the surface of the second one. It looks really promising, and will definitely be a game I check out sooner rather than later.

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D_Bones

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@Sparky_Buzzsaw: hm i guess my follow up question would then have to be why doesn't war in the north feel seperate enough from LOTR? See i thought because i liked the setting i would simply enjoy going north and even if i didn't care for the story or characters fleshing out that area would be interesting. For example i'm not sure where on the map you travel, do you get the actual middle earth map and they track your trek? Because that would be a nice touch. I know you are going after some evil sorceror but do you get varation in the setting/enemy types? I mean i'm not expecting a lot but i would hope they would at least utilize the adventure aspect and get you to travel to a lot of different places.

And yeah you've definitely put me back on the Amalur track...well I mean after ridiculous backlog of course but it's there lol

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@D_Bones: There are about six locations that you visit throughout the game, all of which are mentioned in the novels or are directly involved in the Fellowship somehow (like Bree). The story and characters are new, but their story is heavily invested into that of the Fellowship. If what you're interested in is an exploration heavy game, you're probably going to want to go with Lord of the Rings Online, which is a terrific game for adventuring through Middle-Earth. This one... well, some of it's really neat - there's a dwarvish underground city that looks good. But for the most part, it never strays too far from aesthetics from the books or other LOTR games. Whether that's good or bad, I leave up to you.