Another year comes to an end, 2012 wasn’t gaming’s biggest year, but it had its fair share of must own titles. Who could forget gems like Call of Duty Black Ops: Declassified, Resident Evil 6, SSX, Ninja Gaiden 3, and AMY? Sigh, if only we could forget, if only… Join us as we look back at our favorite games of 2012.
Oh man, tough one to choose from because of all the great games this year. My favorite would probably be Diablo 3. Took a good 10 years to make and while Blizzard had a rough endgame with it, ultimately they made some adjustments and I still found it to be one of the best of the year (and I still play it even as you read).
However, Diablo 3 was not my sleeper hit. That one goes to Dishonored. Geez was that a great game. Not only was it announced this year, but it was also released and polished during the same year. It had all the makings of a great game with an excellent environment, story, and gameplay. All in all, there was no single GOTY for me because of the vast amounts of greatness this year.
This year was not a stellar as the previous years, with doomsday predictions; I felt that many a capable company was content to watch from the sidelines and then re-emerge full steam in 2013. Nonetheless, there were some gems, like Sleeping Dogs, The Walking Dead, Mass Effect 3 and Far Cry 3, some of which I have yet to finish also I have heard a few good things about Borderlands 2 but haven’t played it. With that said, choosing a singular title that stood above the rest is something I found difficult, as somehow most games failed to miss the emotional attachment that is measured as a GOTY title.
However, I will gauge this by the game that I completed the most times, i.e. Journey. Not only is Journey a short game, but it did a lot of things right, from the graphics, to the multiplayer implementation. Foregoing violence for something greater and sweeter, Journey encapsulates a new direction in the indie frontier.
Choosing my favorite game of 2012 was not an easy task. Mass Effect 3, despite the ending, was a fantastic game. Journey was such a unique game that everyone needs to experience. Gravity Rush and Zero Escape: Virtues Last Reward kept my PS Vita happy. Kid Icarus and Resident Evil: Revelations kept my 3DS happy. Tales of Graces f had my PS3 screaming to stop playing. The Walking Dead Game made me love point and click games all over again. Tekken Tag Tournament 2, Persona 4 Arena and Dead or Alive 5 all brought out the fighter in me, while Sleeping Dogs, Binary Domain and Dragons Dogma provided unexpected fun and unique gameplay. The list of games I enjoyed could go on and on.
So why was Persona 4 Golden my personal favorite game of 2012?
Well the original Persona 4 was already a fantastic game. With a well-written story, likeable characters, great gameplay, an addicting fusion and social link system and phenomenal music, Persona 4 was and still is an experience like no other. I played over 100 hours of the original game and after finishing the game, wanted to start over and play on a higher difficulty.
If Persona 4 Golden was a straight port for the vita, I would’ve been happy to just have my favorite game on the go. With new characters, social links, special attacks, costumes, animated sequences and events, AND the benefit of portability, Persona 4 Golden is the definite experience of Persona 4 and should not be missed. If you have a vita, you need to play this game.
Runner up: Journey
2nd Runner up: Zero Escape: Virtues Last Reward
My game of 2012 has to be XCOM: Enemy Unknown. The original was always too hard for me when I was growing up, but 2Ks remake strikes the perfect balance between difficulty and welcoming new players. It stays faithful to its origins but brings it kicking and screaming into the 21st century with superb graphics and intelligent design. Hands down the best strategy game this year, and quite possibly the best on PC.
Honorable mention goes to Hotline Miami. The Indie puzzle shooter was amazing and featured the greatest soundtrack I’ve ever heard.
My favorite game of 2012 would have to be Asura’s Wrath by Capcom, an action-packed game that’s loosely based on Buddhist mythology and features a unique painterly-inked art style. Its episodic nature sets the pacing of the story, which never loses momentum thanks to numerous quicktime events, rail-shooting segments, and button-smashing sequences. The story itself tells a classic tale of betrayal and revenge presented in cinematic cutscenes of epic proportions. You can literally feel Asura’s wrath (pun very much intended) as a fallen hero who suffers through trials and tribulations, insurmountable odds, and emotional distress. In my opinion, Asura’s Wrath is more than just a game; it’s an experience.
Borderlands 2 is a prime example of how to make a sequel. Multiple improvements across the board made the return trip to Pandora all the more interesting, with a much less disappointing endgame. If you recall any multiplayer-oriented game with a shoehorned single-player mode thrown in with a menial story, you’d wind up with something similar to Borderlands 1. While the game was impeccably fun to play, with mountains of loot to grab, the personality was close to none. The characters hardly spoke, you had no idea who they (or anyone) was, and the missions were a simple matter of, “Go here, find/shoot this and I’ll pay you.” Almost all descriptions (most importantly the missions) were limited to text, and even the march up to final boss was a boring slog through what could’ve been a much more epic battle.
In the second ride, everything just…works. The storyline is brilliant, the weapons and equipment are all brand new and amazing, and the characters finally have some life injected into their sleeping pores. Returning folks even act in the way you’d imagine them (in a sense – there are a few surprises). Additionally, Handsome Jack is a damn fine villain – GLaDOS level evil mixed with a great handful of comedic-delusional psychopath and backed by the best voice actor in the game. It doesn’t hurt that he’s backed by Anthony Burch’s hilarious writing. The four original Vault Hunters are much more fleshed out, while Angel suddenly becomes more relevant with a surprising (and heartstring-tugging past). The new Hunters emulate the sensibilities of their original counterparts while bringing their own styles and powers to the game that lean towards fun insanity. Name one other game where you can dual-wield a sniper rifle and a rocket launcher. How about one with a baddie that gives you the simple task of shooting him in the face? There’re many pounds of controlled chaos in Borderlands 2, and I love it. My favorite game of 2012.
This shouldn’t be a surprise for any of our regular readers – Gravity Rush is my favorite game of 2012. I imported the Japanese version in February and I’ve been raving about it ever since. I know everyone doesn’t love the game as much as I do. You’ve heard the complaints “No lock-on, there isn’t much to do in the city, there’s a learning curve, etc.”
The gameplay isn’t the best around, but it’s far from terrible. It’s varied and highly enjoyable once you take the time to master your powers. Nothing beats the thrill of soaring through the air — it’s downright exhilarating. From ghost riding on blimps to exploring Hekseville’s underbelly, Gravity Rush‘s world is dense and filled with secrets.
Video games have lost some of their magic this generation, uniqueness is frowned upon and the big publishers are clinging to their
sacred cash cows. I’ll play something and say, “Technically, this is a great game, but why am I having such an awful time?” It’s because they’re uninspiring, afraid to take risks, and just more of the same.
This may sound cheesy (and clichéd), but Gravity Rush made me feel like a kid again. It reminded me why I fell in love with video games 20 years ago. It filled me with a raw sense of wonder, “Why is this city floating in the sky, where did Kat come from, is this a dream?” The unique graphics and music only intensified these feelings – “What’s going on here?” I had to know, so I dug deeper.
I finished the game a half-dozen times, yet, I’m still enamored with it’s world, politics, characters, and Kat’s backstory (a sequel is a must). I’m still noticing new things and little easter eggs (faux-Obama posters and Captain Crunch ads, etc). Plus it’s one of the only original PS Vita games around. As much as I love Persona 4 Golden and Uncharted Golden Abyss, I didn’t buy a PS Vita for PS2 ports and spin-offs. Even if the PS Vita fails today, I still wouldn’t regret buying one. It’s responsible for one of my favorite games of all time… Call of Duty: Dec… uhm, Gravity Rush.
Honorable Mentions: Persona 4 Golden, Borderlands 2, Journey, Theatrhythm Final Fantasy, Resident Evil: Revelations, Tekken Tag Tournament 2, Rhythm Heaven Fever, Sound Shapes, Nintendo Land, and Sleeping Dogs.
Tell us in the replies, what were your favorite games of 2012?