It’s that time of year everybody! You know, that time when we crank up the heater, regret all those Christmas cookies and wax how great and/or shitty a year it was. With that kind of reflection you just know that there will be all sorts of inane “Top X Whatever” lists. Well, I had a pretty good year and I’ve actually lost weight recently (seriously, my skinny jeans fit and everything!), but I will have to make a Top Games of 2012 list.
2012 was a pretty awesome year in gaming for me. Admittedly, for the first half of the year I pretty much just played with the abused dying prostitute known as the PSP, but once spring came around all bets were off; it was a pretty back heavy year, so many of these are from the last few months. Without further ado, here is my top five games of 2012. Why only five? Because I have rigorous standards, and not just any game gets on my list! That and I mooch most of my new games from Kevin and Michael, so I didn’t play a whole lot of new games until a few months ago.
Assassins have been huge this generation, especially this year. With people like Connor from Assassin’s Creed III, that guy from Hitman: Absolution, and Adelheid Hawke, my character from the last time I played Dragon Age II, there have been quite a few stabbings. The one who did it with the most finesse, in my opinion, was definitely Corvo Attano of Dishonored. Between the magic and the mask, Dishonored offered so many ways to kill people, and so many coffee dates with friends were enriched by discussing the different ways we stabbed people, or didn’t stab people.
4. Gravity Rush
This past Black Friday I made a wonderful purchase: The Ratchet and Clank HD Collection! Even better, I bought a Playstation Vita Bundle with oodles of goodies. One such goody was a few months of Playstation Plus, and Gravity Rush was one of the free Plus games. Gravity Rush, in a word, is utterly charming. Following the story of a spunky girl and her cosmic kitty, you fly back and forth, heels first into baddies. Between the charming, if static, cast of characters and the unique gameplay I was totally engrossed. Gravity Rush was the perfect way to start my Vita ownership.
Shambling in literally everyone else’s footsteps, I loved The Walking Dead. While arguably not the best “game”, it certainly provides one of the best stories. The Walking Dead was a huge step forward for the art of dynamic story telling. Fully developed characters, twists, turns, and vivid cel shading made a unique and extremely memorable experience, topped by a heart wrenching conclusion that left a lasting impression. Season 2 is going to be fricken AMAZING, and this time Kevin, Michael, and myself will be able to experience it at the same time.
I have been a fan of Mass Effect since the first game. You can ask Kevin or Michael (Michael here, and I can confirm this); I never seem to shut up about it. For all the flack BioWare seems to catch lately, and much of it is legitimate, I have never played a game of theirs I did not enjoy. Mass Effect 3 is no exception, especially when you consider that I’ve played through it on three separate occasions, with three separate Commander Shepards. Improved shooting and cover mechanics, as well as the option to forego an arsenal for a more skill based style made the core gameplay an incredibly enjoyable experience for me, and the story is nothing short of climactic. If there is anything we can take away from the ending controversy it’s that you can’t really claim anymore that gamers do not care about a game’s story.
1. The Binding of Isaac: Wrath of the Lamb
Okay, this is cheating a little. Edmund McMillen’s The Binding of Isaac came out in late 2011, but the expansion was May of this year. I love this game. I love this game so much, it almost hurts a little bit. It hurts because this game this pretty unforgiving. Like, if I spilled some wine at dinner it would stab me with a dinner fork, then rub salt in the punctures. Then it would feed me cake with the same fork. The adorably morbid art style is extremely charming, and the randomized maps and treasure ensure that you never play the same game twice. The randomization is also genius because it is easy replay value, which is vital in games these days. I cannot over state just how much I love Isaac, nor can I overstate how jittery with excitement I am over Rebirth, coming to the Vita, Playstation 3, the PC and possibly more.
Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance: While I didn’t think this was as much of a step forward as Birth by Sleep, it was a fun challenge.
Rayman Origins (Vita): Seriously, how can anyone not love this game? Beautiful visuals and an awesome soundtrack!!
Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale: Screw you guys, I am nowhere near as vicious with Sly as the the computer is.
2012’s 2011 Game of the Year
I played this game at the behest of Michael, and courtesy of Kevin. Now, I love a good stealth game every now and then, but I loved Human Revolution way more than I anticipated. Taking aesthetic cues from Metal Gear and Mass Effect of all things made an awesome game. Human Revolution succeeds in the same way that games like Skyrim or Dishonored succeed, and that’s variety. They tell me it’s the spice of life, and holy crap were they right! Whether or not you take advantage of your spinning wrists and mono-molecular blades, or choose to snipe from afar everyone can have a different experience. Sharing those experiences makes it all the more interesting, and creates a ton of replay value. And Adam was so tasty.
Games I Wish I Had Played This Year
Xenoblade Chronicles: Okay, it’s pretty inexcusable that an rpg lover like myself hasn’t finished this game yet. It’s sitting on my shelf right now, neglected. If it had eyes it would stare at me with equal parts judgement, sadness and frustration. But hey, at least I probably know what my “2013’s 2012 GOTY” will be!
Ragnarok Odyssey: This one is a little more forgivable since I only got it a few days ago.
XCOM Enemy Unknown: Seriously everyone I talk to about this game loves it. It looks a lot like Valkyria Chronicles, which a close friend of mine holds in high regard.