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My favourite games of 2012

Finally put down some thoughts about my favourite games of 2012. While this list is a top ten of sorts, it is presented in no particular order.

Sleeping Dogs

Sleeping Dogs

An open world game with competent and fun gameplay mechanics? Surely not! And with a genuinely interesting and engrossing storyline that doesn’t overstay it’s welcome on top of that. Wonderful!

I’m not sure I had more fun with a singleplayer game in 2012. Months after release and long after I’ve finished the story, I’m still booting up Sleeping Dogs just to go beat up a bunch of thugs or just cruise around Honk Kong picking off side missions. Having the options and solid controls of an action game in an open world is quite the revelation.

XCOM: Enemy Unknown

XCOM

I like the idea of strategy games, but they are notoriously impenetrable, especially to a simple-minded soul like myself. So when XCOM came along, with it’s rad sci-fi skin and deceptively cinematic presentation, I had high hopes.

Niggles aside (though there are many) there’s so much to love in XCOM. From the increasingly tense turn based combat, to the incredibly addictive metagame of the XCOM base. And there’s just so much of both that I’ve still not finished the bloody thing, although restarting the game a couple of times probably has a lot to do with that too…

Borderlands 2

Borderlands 2

No game in 2012 made me laugh as much as Borderlands 2, hell I’m playing it for the third time and still laughing at jokes I’ve already heard. In addition to that Gearbox managed to craft a compelling and surprisingly emotional story which even goes so far as to improve the story of the first game.

Huge improvements to the classes have made the fairly ok combat from the first game an absolute blast this time around. My Siren is a god, just decimating bad guys with her uber powerful Phase Lock. Then there’s all those guns, which are still really cool to discover and use.

Halo 4

Halo 4

I fucking love Halo. Had to be said. It’s a game series which reinvigorated my love of gaming and contains some of my favourite games ever. So needless to say, Halo 4 had a a lot to live up to.

It failed to live up to my expectations, but it did a bloody good job trying. A flawed but fun campaign, with a solid emotional core to the narrative and a multiplayer mode that is again, flawed, but still just as addictive as ever. I’ll be playing it till Halo 5 comes out, and that’s what counts to me.

Alan Wake’s American Nightmare

Alan Wake's American Nightmare

The original Alan Wake was fantastic. A very odd story, with unique characters and a refreshing take on the shooter concept.

American Nightmare takes all that, condenses it, refines the gameplay and then adds in some of my favourite music of 2012 (even outside of games music) to make one of my favourite gaming experiences of the year. Mr Scratch is a scary bastard too. Fuck.

The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead

Two games made me cry this year, one was Mass Effect 3. Which got that reaction from me because of 100s of hours of investment across three games. The second was The Walking Dead, which managed to get an even bigger reaction after only 15 hours or so.

Amazing writing, equally fantastic voice acting and gameplay which consisted of giving moral choices which were never clear cut all came together to make one of the most emotional, and emotionally draining games I have ever played. The fact a video game made me feel, really feel, now that’s something.

Mass Effect 3

Mass Effect 3

Say what you will about the ending of Mass Effect 3 (it wasn’t great) but it’s such a small part of the game, of the series, that I just can’t let it soil my love of the game.

It’s so easy to look at something and think about what it could’ve been. I look at what we actually got though: a refined, beautiful and still absorbing Mass Effect. And I’m ok with that. As I went to talk all the friends I’d made before the final battle, knowing we were saying goodbye, regardless of what happened next, my heart ached. These were characters I’d grown to love over multiple games, and saying goodbye was hard, that’s what I take away from Mass Effect 3.

Journey

Journey

An experience unlike anything else, I will never forget travelling through the beautiful world of Journey.

It’s an experience filled with triumph, exhilaration and despair. Which is quite a ranger, considering how deceptively simple the game actually is. Something that everyone should experience.

Star Wars: The Old Republic

Star Wars The Old Republic

It may have come out in late 2011 but it’s for that very reason that The Old Republic ended up being one of my most played games of 2012. And one of my favourites too.

I can, and do, knock it for being a little too traditional in it’s execution but even with that, the addition of that trademark BioWare presentation is what hooked me. But it is worth noting, for as unoriginal as the gameplay is, it’s still a lot of fun and completely solid. Being able to play through a traditional BioWare RPG for hundreds of hours with friends though? That’s just awesome.

Chrono Trigger

Chrono Trigger

This is my one cheat on this list. I’ve played an hour or so of Chrono Trigger in the past, but it wasn’t till the iOS version that I actually delved into this absolutely wonderful JRPG.

Now I’m not usually a fan of the turn based combat found in most JRPGs but the less random and more active nature of the combat in Chrono Trigger really grabbed me. You have to pay attention, you have to get involved and you definitely can’t take your eye of the ball, even for a second. Then there’s the epic, time travel story with a huge cast of endearing and interesting characters which kept me up till the early hours, hunched over my phone in bed. Oh, and have you heard the music? Holy shit.

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Honorable mentions: Asura’s Wrath, Binary Domain, Spelunky, Diablo 3, Syndicate, Rock Band Blitz, Dark Souls, Dead or Alive 5, SSX, Minecraft, FTL, Trials Evolution, Mark of the Ninja, Awesomenauts

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  1. January 10, 2013 at 8:19 pm

    Have to admit i disagree with you on SWtOR – i found it really generic and boring. So much so that the offers of free to play aren’t enticing me back! I honestly think having other players running around in an otherwise gorgeous environment ruins the tone the designers have tried to set. Plus grinding is just fucking tedious. KotOR 1 & 2 were amazing because they had direction at all times. This one didn’t.

    Halo 4 i think was an excellent game but i can see what you’re saying about the campaign. It felt a bit like it was setting up for something bigger. The game equivalent of Thor or Captain America, perhaps…. Graphically it’s gorgeous though! Pumping out those textures and lighting effects on 7-year-old hardware is nothing short of inspirational!!

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