Top Ten Games Of 2012: Sean Halliday’s Picks
With 2012 over I decided to look back at my personal games of the year. There are a few games I discovered right at the end of the year that may of made my list (Legend of Grimrock, Gravity Rush) but alas it was a little too late. 2012 seen the some top titles and these are my personal favorites.
Guild Wars 2 (PC) : This is the future of MMOs. Guild Wars 2 provides so many fantastic experiences on so many levels its hard to pin them all down. The game looks stunning and is arguably the best looking titles of 2012. The PvE is a fantastic approach to leveling that almost eliminates ‘grinding’. The PvP has an extreme amount of depth to it allowing players to play how they wish to play. World vs World is a sight to behold, watching severs go to war and lay siege to castles is stunning to watch. I could write pages upon pages about why Guild Wars 2 is so good, even then it would be a disservice to the quality of the game. The music, the visuals, the gameplay, everything Guild Wars 2 has to offer is sheer quality of the highest order.
Journey (PS3) : Possibly one of the most soothing, dazzling and just sheer quality video games to come out this generation. Journey is yet another simple, yet powerful, indie title putting the triple A games to shame. As soon as the game starts the visual style just jumps off the screen. The sense of mystery that floats around the game hooked me in and gently guided me through each beautifully crafted section. The highlight of Journey is the way in which it incorporates it’s cooperative play. I recall seeing a distant shape moving across a sand dune in a strange manner. After getting closer and closer I discovered it was another player. Journey doesn’t display PSN user names above players heads, nor can you communicate through text or voice, instead players can simply chime at each other. The lack of real communication only serves to enhance the experience. Journey is a game that shouldn’t be played, instead it should be experienced. Sit down with no distractions at hand, turn off the lights and ramp up the sound and enjoy.
XCOM (PC) : Who would of guessed this modern day update of the classic franchise would turn out to be good? The back lash towards the initial announcement of the game was pretty bad. People expected a watered down version of XCOM that would only serve the instant gratification gamer…but they were wrong. XCOM is one of the most addictive and intense releases of 2012, and one of the hardest. The sheer feeling of power and responsibility I experienced during my time as commander was fantastic. Micro managing each section of my base, planning my research and gear upgrades, is one of the most satisfying feelings in modern day video games. Seeing your squad start from rookies to full blown veterans complete with laser cannons is also pretty awesome. Watching them same squad members get destroyed by alien forces however is far from awesome. I personally had to restart my campaign multiple times due to mistakes in my research and building selections, but I didn’t mind given how enjoyable the game is. XCOM is simply a compelling experience that will keep people saying ‘just one more turn’, its easily one of my top titles of 2012.
Dragons Dogma (Xbox 360) : Capcom proved they can still make great games with the release of Dragons Dogma. While it may have a number of minor issues and annoyances, the game is still possible the most fun RPG on the market. The class system offers a decent amount of depth providing various roles to take up. The combat is solid allowing encounters to flow naturally. The boss battles (or any encounter with large enemies) provide some of the most intense and ferocious battles in recent years. The ability to climb onto the enemy opens up a number of opportunities to mess around or just simply be dazzled by the spectacle. The pawn system within Dragons Dogma is one of the best features to emerge this generation. Having the ability to port a players party member into your party is a fantastic touch. This feature also created a strong sense of community around the game. Dragons Dogma has hours upon hours of game time to offer with some of the most unique experiences on the market.
Zombi U (Wii U) : One of the most intense console experiences on the market today, Zombi U is a true example of real survival horror. Modern day horror games tend to hand the player more than enough fire power to take on any foes, Zombi U bucks that trend, and its bucks it hard. Travelling through London is bad enough as it is but when the place is infested with Zombies things get a whole lot worse. A single zombie kill resulting in each enemy feeling like a genuine threat. The Wii U exclusive oozes atmosphere and tension creating a a true sense of fear. Zombi U is full of nifty little touches such as being able to return to the scene of your last death to kill the now infected survivor previously controlled by the player. The ability to leave messages on the walls can add a strange sense of community, and at times humor, allowing Zombi U to feel somewhat like a living world. The manner in which the Wii U pad is utilized is a great example of how it transcends simply being a gimmick. While it may have its flaws, the sheer enjoyment I had with the game far surpassed any issues Zombi U suffers. Easily one of the best survival horror titles in the last ten years Zombi U earns its place in my heart.
Far Cry 3 (Xbox 360) : I’m not going to lie, I’m a massive fan of the Uncharted franchise, and Far Cry 3 (at times) oozed that Uncharted like feeling. The plot of Far Cry 3 was a little hit or miss but remained interesting throughout. Ubisoft didn’t shy away from some rather taboo subjects, to their credit they handled the subjects respectfully while effectively incorporating them into the story. The general smooth nature of the gameplay made Far Cry 3 a joy to play. The combat truly shone when it came to using the quick kill combinations due to the manner in which they were presented. The exploration and side missions the world of Far Cry 3 had to offer was also a key component to the games overall quality. It may not be trying anything new but Far Cry 3 was seriously enjoyable.
The Walking Dead (Xbox 360) : TellTale games have had a varied amount of success with their last two adaptations. Back To The Future was enjoyable but somewhat restrained, Jurassic Park was just awful. The Walking Dead was where TellTale hit their stride. Staying away from the plots of both the TV show and comic, TellTale had their own story to tell. Elements such as redemption, responsibility, family and death are all at the core of the story. While the decisions (at times) don’t make as much as impact as they’d like you to believe, that doesn’t stop them from being hard to make. The quality of the writing and voice acting is what shines through, allowing characters to feel realistic and relatable. It’s rare that this generation has provided new characters that I cared about, The Walking Dead did this multiple times. TellTale crafted a game that destroyed peoples expectations and shuffled out of the shadow of its comic/TV show counter part. The low price point of each episode also leaves little excuse to at least try the games.
Hotline Miami (PC) : Most commonly known for it’s violence (which is a shame), Hotline Miami is actual a pretty clever game at its core. Sizing up a room and planning a way of clearing out said room of enemies can be a taxing thing at times. Successfully clearing a room of enemies and optimizing your score is one of the thing I enjoy most about this 80′s inspired indie gem. The story is bonkers to the point it would make David Cronenberg blush. The sound track provides a number of nicely crafted beats that tie in nicely with the 80′s motif.
Smite (PC) : The MOBA genre has become something of a power house in recent times. The likes of League of Legends and Dota2 are mega popular and continue to grow, Smite was something of a surprise for me. The staples of the MOBA genre are all there but Smite changes things up. Playing from a third person perspective, Smite allows players to have more control over their champion allowing the player to feel truly amidst the combat. Smite plays slightly faster than most MOBAs on the market allowing it to feel slightly more accessible. I’m still genuinely surprised just how much fun I had with Smite and how easy it was to pick up and play in comprehension to Dota2 and LoL. Team battles feel more action packed and happen a lot faster, and more often, allowing Smite to provide a lot of fun early on. Smite offers an accessible way into MOBAs for those that feel a little daunted by the big hitters in the genre.
Torchlight 2 (PC) : If there’s one thing that never gets old its running around a dungeon killing monsters and looting them. Torchlight 2 builds on the success of its predecessor by adding new features and classes. While the changes may not be too extreme, that doesn’t stop the game from excelling. Mashing through waves of enemies is still highly enjoyable, even more so with the new classes and talent trees at your disposal. Single player has plenty to offer but the game does come into its own on co-op. Flying through Torchlight 2 in a full party is a ton of fun, especially given the games pick up and play nature. Some games break new ground, others offer fantastic stories, others are just pure fun and that’s exactly what Torchlight 2 is.