As this year comes to a close, I feel it’s safe to say it’s been kind of a disappointing year for video games. When I was beginning to jot down games I really enjoyed this year for this list, I realized I could barely name 10 off the top of my head. While there have definitely been some great games in 2012, there have been numerous let downs as well. Games like Lollipop Chainsaw, Resident Evil 6, and Assassin’s Creed 3 all just fell short of what they set to achieve and they were all bummers to play.
Luckily, there was a surplus of downloadable games this year that really stole the spotlight. It was truly the year for indie games. And while they don’t make my personal list, I would just like to mention games like Hotline Miami, The Walking Dead, Liberation Maiden and The Unfinished Swan. While these games didn’t necessarily click with me, they are definitely worth checking out.
10. Resident Evil: Revelations
When looking at the grand scheme of things, Revelations really didn’t add anything significant to the already dense Resident Evil lore. But, that didn’t take away the fun of exploring an eery abandoned cruise ship filled with frights in the night. The satisfying combat and the very addictive Raid Mode easily made Resident Evil: Revelations my most played 3DS game this year.
9. Sound Shapes
Sound Shapes is just pure delight for me. Both the visual and audio pleasures of this simple, yet joyous, rhythm game brought smiles to my face every time I sat down with it. The incredibly inventive mechanics that are constantly introduced ensured that Sound Shapes stayed both fresh and creative throughout your entire time with it.
8. Tokyo Jungle
Tokyo Jungle is a bizarre game. It’s one of those games that either clicks with you or it doesn’t at all. Tokyo Jungle definitely clicked with me. While the game eventually lead to tedious grinding to unlock new animals, that doesn’t take away from the hours I packed into the survival mode both alone, and with friends.
7. Borderlands 2
Borderlands 2 is more Borderlands. Plain and simple. There are definitely some minor improvements here and there with increased enemy variation, more randomized loot and more balanced skill trees but, Borderlands 2 isn’t too different from its predecessor. But, as someone who was just craving more Borderlands, this sequel sat just fine with me. I quickly found myself playing through the game as every class and enjoying every minute of it.
I have trouble putting what makes Fez great into words. It’s a side scroller and that implements mechanics that quickly escalade it into a complex puzzle platformer. Fez is just a weird and wonderful game that fully immersed me into another world while I played through it. While the game defiantly has somewhat of a slow start and some of the best parts of Fez are really buried late in the game, it still left me in a child-like wonder after I had completed it. Let’s just say I can’t wait to play it again.
5. Max Payne 3
Sure, you could say Max Payne 3 is just another cover shooter in today’s flooded market. You could also say you spent much less time stylishly diving in slow motion than in the previous games. And you could say some of the later levels were frustrating and difficult in spots but, Max Payne 3’s story and characters is what really made this stand above the rest of the crowd. This game tells a gloomy, modern noire tale filled with brilliant and darkly humorous one liners from Max. From the very opening of the game, I was instantly hooked and could not put the game down till it had concluded. Oh, and I really liked the multiplayer.
When news of a new SSX were being tossed around late last year, I initially wasn’t all too excited. I doubted the series could recapture the over the top speed and fun of the PS2 classics but man, SSX blew me away. Despite some new mechanics not panning out and a lack of split-screen multiplayer, this new SSX was so thrilling to play and throughly satisfied my thirst for one last great snowboarding game. Each slope in the game feels very dynamic with a variety of paths to take but it all still looks very organic. The sheer sense of speed mixed with all the ridiculous tricks to pull off made SSX just feel great to play.
Dishonored is one of those games that you could really sink your teeth into and it even gave Dues Ex a run for its money. While some of the presentation of the game didn’t sit too well with me, the variety of gameplay options really give Dishonored its legs. Usually in games like Metal Gear or Dues Ex, you are heavily encouraged to take the stealth route because taking on large groups on enemies is quite difficult due how both those games control. However, Dishonored gives you enough tools on either end of the spectrum to really let you go wild. The stealth in the game feels fast and illusive due to things like the Blink or Possession and the combat feels satisfying and gives you a great sense of controlling the battle due to things like slowing down time and ability to cycle through weapons very quickly. Mechanics like the Heart gives the player great incentive to go out and explore the interesting world of Dishonored without you wasting any time wandering around. These mechanics and more really allow you to play Dishonored as you see fit without feeling punished for your choices.
2. Sleeping Dogs
Sure, Sleeping Dogs derives a lot from a lot of past open world games but, that doesn’t make the game any less fun while it lasts. The authentic characters of Sleeping Dogs really sell the story and the mid-point twists will really propel you forward. There is a great variety of gameplay here with all the car chases, parkour chases, melee combat and there are a decent amount of shoot outs late in the game as well. But what really had me hooked in Sleeping Dogs was the expertly recreated city of Hong Kong. I spent way too many hours driving around buying new clothes, things for my apartment, new cars and buying tons of refreshments and even calling up chicks and going on dates with them. I’m not sure why I was so addicted to exploring world of Sleeping Dogs for hours upon hours but I loved every minute of it.
When looking back at 2012 as a whole, no video game captured my imagination and emotions more than Journey. The simplicity, the utter beauty, the uniqueness and just the other world like wonder made Journey a very welcomed breath of fresh air. The bleak and mysterious world of Journey makes the player feel small and humble as they traverse the landscape. The anonymous co-op of the game had me forming bonds with people I couldn’t even communicate with. And the final moments had me experiencing a slew of emotions from every direction. I can recognize Journey may not be for everyone but something really resinated within me while playing through it. I believe thatgamecompany is really pushing what video games can be and I couldn’t be more eager to play their next title.
-Matthew Bruce 2012