It's that time of year, the time where everyone gets all reflective and reminisces about their favourite games of the year just past. So I figured I might as well do the same, seeing as there's been nothing posted here in a good two months. These games are listed in no particular order, and the only qualification to being on this list is that they were released in 2012 and that I enjoyed them.
Mass Effect 3
The conclusion of this epic trilogy, and perhaps the greatest new IP this generation, was somewhat of a let-down for a lot of people. Say what you want about the ending, but the entire rest of the game is just the type of rollercoaster thrill-ride of emotions you expect from a Mass Effect game, with the highs being as high as they've ever been in the series. The fact BioWare went back and fixed (and in some cases, straight up retconned) a bunch of stuff with DLC is a little...ehh... but the core game at release was still a fantastic experience through and through. The multiplayer was also surprisingly well made, and something I ended up playing for a surprisingly long time.
If you've read my previous posts, you'll already know how I feel about Borderlands 2. I could never get into the first game, but something about it's sequel just clicked with me. The gunplay is tight, the storytelling got to where it needed to be and the silly (and polarising) humour was a breath of fresh air for me amidst all the super-serious games that clog up the marketplace. I don't see myself going back to the game very much in the future, but the 80 or so hours I spent on Pandora was some of the most enjoyable time I've spent this year.
Spec Ops: The Line
I don't think anyone expected Spec Ops to be the game it turned out to be. A generic modern-military, third-person shooter, with generic boxart and even a generic name. However, when it turned out to pretty much be the video game equivalent of Apocalypse Now, people were suddenly paying a lot more attention. Never has a game made you question why you're shooting all these dudes, and make you feel terrible about it, quite like Specs Ops does. With some of the most masterfully crafted character progression I've ever experienced in a video game, Spec Ops: The Line is a game that everybody should experience. You might wanna play it on easy, though.
A classic point-and-click adventure by Wormwood Studios, published by Wadjet Eye Games, a small indie publisher known for... classic point-and-click adventures. Adventure games have has somewhat of a resurgence in recent years, in large part thanks to Wadjet Eye, and Primordia is one of their best offerings. Following the story of Horatio Nullbuild, version5, on his quest to get back his ship's stolen power core, which, this being a video game, obviously turns into something much, much larger. The game has a great plot, with multiple endings, some fantastic, fully-voiced dialogue, and puzzles that are actually completely logical, yet still challenging enough to make you feel smart when you get that one step closer to what you need to be doing. Oh, and it stars Logan Cunningham, best known as the narrator in Bastion.
I don't know what I can say about Hotline Miami that countless others haven't already said, and said better than I can. The game oozes style. The gameplay is tight, quick, challenging and satisfying. Oh, and it has quite possibly the best soundtrack of any game this year.
Call of Duty: Black Ops II
It's still early yet, but Black Ops II is probably my favourite Call of Duty since MW2. The gunplay is as tight as always, the pick 10 system is a nice, fresh take on the create a class system that allows for some more esoteric loadouts than past games have allowed. Whether or not I still enjoy the game in six months from now remains to be seen, but for now, the game is good, in my book.
I was originally planning on writing a full review of Halo 4 on here, but never got around to it. The game is great. Great. While the campaign does have it's fair share of flaws (mostly down to a distinct lack of in-game contextualisation of key plot points), it's easily one of my favourite Halo campaigns. As someone who values story and character in my games, it's nice to see Master Chief as an actual person now, rather than a blank slate for the player to project onto. On the multiplayer side, the game is still Halo, but with a few things borrowed from some other games you might know. Customisable loadouts, killcams, etc are there, and they work surprisingly well with the Halo formula. Again, there are flaws, but overall, Halo 4 is a fantastic offering from 343 Industries.
From the outside looking in, Fez looks like a rather typical, cutesy, indie puzzle-platformer. But there's a point that you reach when playing Fez. A point when you realise that Fez is so, SO much deeper than you ever could have imagined. When you realise than all this extraneous stuff in the background, the stuff you only thought was there to give the world a sense of character and style, was there for a reason. You have that realisation, and the rabbit hole is blown wide open. Playing this game at release and witnessing what could almost only be described as a Zeitgeist, watching the entire Internet scramble together to solve the mysteries locked so tight into this otherwise innocent looking game, was nothing short of incredible. Also, that soundtrack. Good God, that soundtrack.
Once known as True Crime: Hong Kong, before being picked up by Square Enix, Sleeping Dogs is a truly fantastic open-world crime game. The game has tight storytelling, a well acted set of characters, and hands-down the best meleé combat ever seen in this type of game. It's not a particularly innovative game, but everything it does, it does well. It's also an absolutely fantastic looking game, especially so if you play on PC.
The Walking Dead
I'm a little hesitant to put The Walking Dead on here, since I've only played the first three episodes, so I'm not sure how the story pans out. But even without playing the last two entries, it's abundantly clear that The Walking Dead is not only one of the best examples of storytelling in games this year, but one of the best examples of storytelling in games ever. The characters are completely relatable, and because of that, you get attached to them like no other. You care about them, and you regret every bad decision you make. I don't feel the need to sign its praises, as everyone and their dog who's into games has already done so, but this masterpiece by Telltale has to be experienced.
Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy, Assassin's Creed III, Resonance, Dust: An Elysian Tail, Far Cry 3, FTL: Faster Than Light, Trials Evolution, Frog Fractions, Diablo III, Need For Speed: Most Wanted, Persona 4: Golden.