GOTY 2012

List items

  • XCOM: Enemy Unknown is easily the most engaging, demanding, and therefore rewarding experience I have had in 2012. The constant decision making process the game puts you through makes you quickly learn what is important, and how to compensate for the fact that you can't possibly do everything you want, and the missions are so dangerous that you are forced to learn how to keep your men alive. The amount of confidence and responsibilty this game places on the player is extremely powerful - powerful enough to make a turn based strategy game my game of the year for 2012.

  • Mass Effect is my favorite franchise of this generation, and one of my favorites ever. Whatever people seemed to think is wrong with the ending did not change that for me. Mass Effect 3 is an epic and engaging finale to an amazing story. The combat, the closure you get from many long running storylines and characters, and the sheer scale of the events unfolding in ME3 are all so well done that I barely care that some aspects, like most of the side quests, are less than they could have been. Even the co-op multiplayer that I shrugged so hard at originally ended up being very worthwhile and entertaining.

  • The Walking Dead is weird, since much of the time playing it doesn't necessarily feel like a video game, and the times it does tend to be its worst moments. That does very little to affect the quality of the story The Walking Dead has to tell however, and the journey you make from start to finish is brutal, emotional, and engaging. Its very easy to get invested in the characters from the start, and the game makes you wonder every time it asks something of you - what will be the cause of my actions?

  • Journey is probably the closest thing to a "perfect" game I played in 2012, in terms of doing something interesting and executing it in exactly the best way possible. Journey looks and sounds incredible, and has a voiceless emotion coursing through it that make it something really special. The bare bones online interaction you get with other players makes multiplayer endearing rather than annoying, and the big moments of the game are fantastic and feel pretty magical as you experience them.

  • ZombiU is probably my favorite survival horror game since Resident Evil 4. Even with a terrible, corny title, it manages to be legitimately nerve wracking and fun to play. Scrounging around the streets of zombie infested London feels great, and you get a nice progression of upgrades and new weapons to help you survive. ZombiU is also appropriately difficult, and knows that just when you're starting to feel invincible is the best time to try and knock you down a peg.

  • Diablo 3 is a very polished and well made loot driven action RPG. The classes are diverse and interesting, there is plenty of content to go through, and of course hordes and hordes of monsters to destroy in very impressive ways. The dynamic skill system makes everything feel like it exists for a reason, and allows you to easily see everything your character has to offer. With classic Blizzard post launch support, this is a game I will be playing for a good long while.

  • Borderlands 2 is the continuation of the ingeneous blend of co-operative play, first person shooting, class based rpg-ing, and of course looting corpses. The shooting feels great, the classes are cool, the guns are crazy, and the game is absolutely brimming with stuff to do. The writing and voice acting are always well done, and at times hilarious. The folks at Gearbox did it again, and even bigger and better.

  • Halo 4 walks a fine line between remaining true to what defined Halo back in Combat Evolved, and staying modern. With some new enemies and weapon types, and some tweaks to how the game controls it manages this transition pretty well, and delivers some exciting gameplay and level design. The game also looks and sounds phenominal, and is likely the best looking game on the 360. Also the much loved Halo multiplayer makes a strong return, again with some meaningful changes that keep it fresh and modern.

  • Mark of the Ninja is a terrific stealth game. It smartly and deftly gives the players all the tools and information they could need to complete their mission, and challenges the player with optional objectives all the while. Terrorizing guards and picking them off one by one is incredibly satisfying, and the abilities that allow you to do that are all fun to use.

  • The Last Story is just good, lighthearted fun. It has a good cast of characters, solid writing, an interesting setting, and a story that moves well from beginning to end. I really liked the full 3D arena real time battles, and incorporating some over the shoulder shooting and cover mechanics to a JRPG is pretty cool. What this game may lack in terms of sheer RPG depth, it makes up for by being simple, well executed, and just fun.