Kevin VanOrd has the best top 10 list, no over-hyped game in the list if you know what I mean.. But I would exchange Spec Ops with Max Payne in that list.
The GameSpot editors reveal their personal top 10 lists for 2012.
Carolyn Petit, Editor Follow
For me, 2012 was a year of unexpected pleasures. A number of big releases were quality games that delivered in exactly the ways that I expected them to, but didn't exceed my expectations or surprise me at all. More often than not, it was the "smaller" games that caught me off-guard, doing wonderful things that I didn't anticipate and earning a place in my heart in the process. Does the distinction between larger and smaller games even matter any more? I'm not sure.
This top-ten list can't accommodate every game I loved in 2012. I want to give honorable mentions to Sine Mora, which I loved for its gameplay, visual style and voice acting, and to SSX which, in addition to being a great update to the classic snowboarding franchise, has my favorite sound design of any game this year.
Of course, there are still many acclaimed games from 2012 that I haven't yet found the time to play. One day I hope to guide the soldiers of XCOM: Enemy Unknown to victory, to discover the realms of Guild Wars 2, and to craft wallets from sharks in Far Cry 3. But, as games like The Walking Dead remind us, we must all make choices, and I can live with mine. Here are my ten favorite games of 2012.
This is the first 2D Mario game since the heady days of Super Mario World to remind me of why I loved Mario games so much as a kid. The excellent level design keeps things easy at first, offers a satisfying challenge through most of the game, and forces you to survive some truly diabolical tests of skill if you're intent on earning the coveted 100% designation. Additionally, the sometimes-tired Mushroom Kingdom feels soulful and alive here; finding hidden exits to levels opens up surprising new pathways on the lively world map, providing a joyful reward for your discoveries, and levels like the Starry Night-esque Painted Swampland offer a fresh take on a world that has sometimes felt too familiar. As Nintendo looks to the future with the launch of the Wii U, New Super Mario Bros. U is a terrific throwback to the company's past.
I loved hopping behind the wheel of Twisted Metal's numerous death machines. The controls felt rough in the most fitting way, like you were driving a vehicle someone had bolted together in his garage from scavenged parts. Indeed, the whole game is rough and ready; sloppy and chaotic, sure, but isn't that the way a sprawling vehicular deathmatch between psychotic combatants should be? I had a great time with the campaign, and one of my biggest gaming disappointments of the year is that the multiplayer was so plagued with problems. On those rare occasions that it worked as intended for me, Twisted Metal's speedy, explosive multiplayer provided the most fun I had in online competition all year.
8. Halo 4
Cortana's wit and intelligence instantly made her one of my favorite characters in the gaming pantheon when she debuted on the scene in Halo: Combat Evolved. Sure, Chief is great, but what would he be as a character without Cortana to play off of? Interacting with the military, John has always been a good soldier, showing little personality beyond his willingness to do whatever needs to be done. It was through Cortana's relationship with the Chief that we got to know them both, and that relationship always provided the humanity at the heart of the lore- and technobabble-heavy Halo narratives. Halo 4 takes this often-sidelined relationship and puts it back at the center, where it belongs. It also has the most exciting Halo campaign since the franchise's debut, offering a well-paced mix of tense situations that find Chief fighting on his own and wide-open battles teeming with vehicles that make you feel like part of a larger conflict. The striking final image of the campaign has lingered in my memory; I don't know where 343 Industries plans to take the series from here, but I sure am eager to find out.
If you ever had and loved an NES, Abobo's Big Adventure will set off nostalgic fireworks in your brain with its spot-on recreations of so many characters, environments and tunes from that storied console's library. But there's much more to Abobo's Big Adventure than familiar sprites and music. The game spoofs The Legend of Zelda, Mega Man, Contra and many other NES games, tossing in tons of great cameos, hilarious moments and other surprises, but it never messes with the gameplay that made those games such classics. As a result, Abobo's Big Adventure is a great window into 8-bit gaming for those who may not have experienced the NES era firsthand, and for those of us who grew up with those games, Abobo's Big Adventure is like playing them again for the first time. It's just a delightful tribute to the Nintendo Entertainment System.
Sometimes, in our memories, we see connections between moments that are impossible to see when we're living through those moments. With the distance offered by time, we can see the ways in which moments are connected; one event can bleed into another that took place months prior, or years later. Playing through Thirty Flights of Loving feels to me like experiencing someone else's memories; it's full of smash cuts that move you forward and back through time in ways that can initially be disorienting, but that make emotional sense. I'm a sucker for heist movies so I was immediately drawn to the game's trio of criminals planning a huge vault robbery. I went in expecting a rollicking criminal escapade. What I got instead was a jarring, funny and poignant love story, a wonderful example of visual storytelling at its leanest and most focused. It's only about 15 minutes long, but I'll remember it much more vividly than most 15-hour games I played this year.
5. Max Payne 3
In Max Payne 3, Rockstar takes Max Payne out of the noirish New York setting that, along with Max's cynical, hardboiled internal monologues, defined the tone and identity of the first two games in the series. You can take Max out of America, but you can't take America out of Max, and his bloody experiences in and around Sao Paulo make for an atypical take on the all-too-typical American hero who saves the day. The game uses its setting brilliantly, taking you from hilltop mansions and dance clubs to favelas and condemned buildings. It's got plenty of outrageous action hero moments--if you need someone to dangle from a helicopter and shoot some guys, Max has you covered--but it also takes its time, letting you absorb its world and its story, encouraging you to consider the societal impact of the stark divide between the haves and have-nots, and the ways in which those with power often prey on those without it (a recurring theme in Rockstar games).
Max is a man who, unlike so many action heroes, actually seems troubled by the blood on his hands, and in a medium where lead characters of high-profile games are usually static, it's wonderful to see such a character be a different man at the end of a game than he is at the start.
Until now, Forza games have been all about racing. What Forza Horizon lets me enjoy, in a way that no game before really has, is the simple pleasure of driving. Of course Horizon isn't remotely the first game to give you an open world you can drive around in, but because of Forza's physics model, driving around in Horizon really feels like driving. And because of its gorgeous landscapes, which include forests, mountains, rock formations, and small town streets, driving around feels like taking a scenic road trip. As someone who enjoys just hitting the open road once in a while, Horizon appeals to my sense of automotive wanderlust like no other game before.
Few things matter more in this world than who we are in the eyes of the children who look to us for care and protection and guidance. The Walking Dead's crisis situations are the result of a massive zombie outbreak, but this game is really about the relationship between former history professor Lee Everett and nine-year-old girl Clementine. With every choice I made in this game, the concern in my head wasn't "How will this affect the story?" or even "What's the morally right thing to do?" but "What is the right thing to do for Clementine?" Often, the choices weren't clear. I agonized over whether to take food from a seemingly abandoned car so that I could better provide for her, or whether it was more important to set a moral example for her by not taking the food. Ultimately, most of these choices have little impact on the way the story progresses, but they affect the person you are in Clementine's eyes, and that is a powerful thing.
It was 1982, a post-Raiders of the Lost Ark world, when I first popped Pitfall! into my Atari 2600 and stepped into the shoes of treasure-hunting adventurer Pitfall Harry. In this world, you could venture left or right, and if you went underground, the logic of the world shifted; moving from one screen to the next underground took you somewhere else than if you'd made that same transition aboveground. Exploring, swinging on ropes, leaping on the heads of crocodiles--it made me feel like an adventurer in the Indiana Jones mold.
Now, thirty years (!!) later, Spelunky captures that same feeling, better than perhaps any game before. Exploration is one of the greatest pleasures video games can offer, and with Spelunky, the exploration never ends. Its mines, jungles, caves and temples are different every time, but they are always filled with danger. Death comes quickly and with severe consequences in Spelunky, so every potentially deadly trap or monster is cause for caution. But you can't be too cautious--linger too long in any area and an invulnerable specter will hunt you down. And the secrets--oh, the secrets! There is so much to discover in Spelunky's world. I'm still learning new things about this game after playing it pretty regularly for months.
The ever-changing nature of Spelunky's world leads to so many unexpected moments, so many tragic yet hilarious stories. I don't know how many times I've been merrily progressing through the game, when suddenly, a particular configuration of hazards and my spectacularly inept attempt to deal with them has led to a failure so sudden and so outrageous that all I can do is throw my hands up and laugh before picking up the controller and giving the quest another go, eager to discover what awaits me this time. Will fortune smile upon me? Will I be blessed with useful items like the compass or a bevy of bombs I can use to blast my own pathways through these treacherous environments? Or will I find myself thrust into darkness, or perhaps faced with the threat of giant spiders or terrifying bees? Even after all the hours I've sunk into Spelunky, I feel like I still haven't come close to exhausting its potential for exciting, death-defying adventure. This game taps into something I've loved about games ever since that fateful day way back in 1982, and I imagine I'll still be playing it for a long, long time.
Hotline Miami is an example not of style over substance, but of style as substance. If you perfectly duplicated its gameplay in a game about a cartoon sheep attacking wolves in a lush grassland as happy music played, it would not be a fraction of the game that Hotline Miami is. With the help of its propulsive, relentless electronic soundtrack, Hotline Miami pumped my cerebral cortex so full of lightning-fast, neon-bright violence and garish 80s opulence that I feel like the experience of playing it rewired my brain. Of course, the gameplay is crucial to the experience as well; it's in the chemically volatile fusion of mechanics and aesthetics that the magic happens. Yes, the enemies in Hotline Miami are stupid as hell, but they are exactly what they need to be to make the game so nerve-wracking. They react fast, encouraging you to act even faster. You often have little choice but to behave recklessly, charging into rooms and hoping that you can kill the thugs waiting inside before they even know you're there.
On some stages, I died dozens of times. When I would succeed in clearing out most of a level, and knew I either had to kill the last few thugs or face the entire stage full of Russian gangsters again, the level of tension I felt was almost uncomfortable. But I was far too hooked on the experience to give up, to walk away. Grooving to the music, I was driven onward. I died. I hit R instantly. I started again. And again. And again. It was trancelike. It was transportive. It was truly unforgettable. When I close my eyes, I can still see the biker, speeding along sleekly in the warm Miami night.
@666NightsInHell It accepts box 360, PS3, and third party controllers just fine. The game was build ground up for the controls to work with a controller and there isn't a good transition to mouse and keyboard.
Either I'm continuing to drift away from enjoying video games or nothing fun or interesting came out this year. Either way, I'm saddened by it.
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@Suikogaiden Games can still be great or memorable yet have flaws to them. Also Chris is the one that reviewed the game and it isn't on his top 10 list.
Look for the podcasts Gamespot Gameplay, they talk often on there about Spec ops and what makes it good. Very good show that gives you insight to the staffs true thoughts and opinions about games.
Don't look at one review and take the number for granted. Compare it to similar games so you get an idea of how much it will appeal to you, then watch a number of reviews/impression videos on youtube. This game obviously appealed more to the person who wrote the article than gamespot's reviewer.
I?m definitely feeling this taking Q3 2013 by storm http://goo.gl/yNmuP
[i]It's also a huge criticism of the many shooters out there that glorify and justify their subject matter.[/i]
its the line of the year ...
1. Deus Ex Human Revolution, like every year since release
3.Max Payne 3
4. Planetside 2
kevin and carolyn sure are my fav reviewers , both of you should review bioshock infinte when released
If anyone ever has a problem with GS review scores, just check out these lists: Some editors don't know how to count to 10.....
Mass effect 3, Dishonored, The walking dead, Amalur, FTL, Xcom, Hotline miami and Guild Wars 2 are my games of the year.
1- The Witcher AOK EE
2 - Max Payne 3
3 - Hotline Miami
4 - Mass Effect 3
5 - Far Cry 3...and what else honestly...
1-Far Cry 32-assassin's creed 33-mass effect 34-saints row the third5-kingdom of amalur reckoning6- Max Payne 37-Sleeping Dogs8-Darksiders II9-Dishonored10- Hitman Absolution
Good ol' Chris Watters! If it hadn't been for him, I would have made a HUGE mistake and passed on Dishonored.
Thanks for that list Danny. As is so often the case I find myself agreeing with you yet again. Max Payne 3 is a real gem of 2012 as is F1 2012. I'll get round to Journey & FTL eventually...
Every blessing for the new year!!
oh Tom Mc Shea like anyone cares what u have to say or like. u are by far the worsr reviewer on game spot. with a new year coming soon i hope u loose your job so u can stop being paid for your bad reviews. i hope all the bad things in life happen to you and only you. pos
@jcwainc Baseless accusations and attacks don't go very far, you should take them elsewhere.
There are many people, myself included, that respect and enjoy what Tom has to say.
@Toysoldier34 its not baseless attacks. look at his reviews then look at the people telling him off. if u like him thats fine but in my and a lot and i mean a lot of people he is the worse reviewer here on game spot. his shinning moment is his the Simpsons review. please understand reviews really dont mean nothing to me cause i'll buy a game cause it looks good to me. but people look at reviews in a means to buy a game. its sad but true (thus why metacritic is a good and bad thing). well i could go on and on but why the kool aid drinking people will believe what they want to. while others will see with eyes open
@jcwainc There is no need to hide behind your keyboard and say things like you have about him that you would never say to a person. It only reflects poorly on yourself.
@jcwainc Boo hoo McShea writes OPINIONS I dont like, boo hoo I am too childish to look for second opinions, boo hoo there was something else my whiny ass wanted to say but the rock between my ears cant hold water.
Happy new year mate, hope everything goes swell for you too this year.
@jcwainc Regardless of how you feel about the work someone else produces, to me, those who wish bad things on others, especially to the severity that you just have, are the worst kinds of people in this world. Nothing he has done is so evil that he deserves to suffer for it, so you seriously need to wake up and smell the roses and stop being so selfish and immature.
@jcwainc Dude, he's just a piss poor reviewer. No need to get personal.
Aaron Sampson had the best description for ME3 being his 2nd choice (besides the fact that he chose Control) lol
Lot's of good games missing: Xenoblade Chronicles, Kingdom Hearts DDD, AC3, Kid Icarus Uprising, The Last Story
@Kenshin0011 We recognized Xenoblade Chronicles in our 2011 awards. Both The Last Story and Kid Icarus Uprising actually do appear on one of these lists!
@carolynmichelle @Kenshin0011 No disrespect but why are there soooo many arcade games up there? I mean come on, people don't even take half the time REAL developers do to make there games. Where is Dishonored, Borderlands 2, AC 3, and so many other GOOD games that people had sweat and blood in to it. I'm just saying that ARCADE games need to be separate from RETAIL games. And by the way, you are one of my favorite reviewers on this website :D.
Hotline Miami is a great example of a game that doesn't have a massive budget and marketing campaign or is even that long. While it may be short it uses every moment to the fullest and is one of the best games of the year.
It is funny that you mention people putting blood and sweat into projects when indie games are often the ones fueled by entirely that. While they may be solid games stuff like Assassin's Creed 3 is being pumped out year after year for money, not because of the passion of its creators and all the blood and sweat they put into making it.
You should look up Indie Game the Movie, watch it and see if you feel the same way. That even smaller arcade games don't have countless hours and sleepless nights poured into their creation.
@Livefantasy7"I mean come on, people don't even take half the time REAL developers do to make there games."
how are they not real developers. If any, they are the real ones. And remember, these lists are "personal perspectives"
I think it's unfair to assume arcade game developers aren't putting in the same time and effort as the teams making retail games. If anything, because of the escalating cost and time required to make successful retail games, we're already seeing far fewer games made each year. If all the development efforts were going into making the next Uncharted, Mario or Halo to put on a disc, we'd probably never have experienced amazing games like Journey, The Walking Dead, Minecraft or Hotline Miami.