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.
Tom Mc Shea, Editor Follow
2012 was an amazing year for games. Do you want evidence? Observe:
10. Sound Shapes
Elevating a game's music to the same plane as the core gameplay is a tricky endeavor that few games seem to get right. Sound Shapes excelled at it. Creatures and objects in the environment created platforms with their songs, and leaping between them offered a pleasing combination of free-flowing movement and dastardly challenge. Every world (charmingly referred to as albums) presented a unique artistic and musical style that continually shifted my expectations of what lay ahead. And the best part of all? A level called Cities with a song written by Beck. As the singer bellowed the chorus, his words manifested in the environment, embodying the perfect mix of music and gameplay that Sound Shapes so expertly achieved throughout the game.
I have a major problem with military games. By ignoring the realities of war in favor of a fantasyland theme park, they alter our perception of the tragedies that take place every day. Spec Ops: The Line doesn't hide from the truth. Rather, it shows that war isn't fought between good guys and bad guys, that even those with the noblest intentions can perform terrible deeds in the wrong circumstances. Furthermore, The Line thrust the entire modern military genre under the microscope. The power fantasy so common in these games, where murdering thousands of individuals has no repercussions, is examined here in sobering detail. Playing another military shooter after The Line shows how juvenile they truly are, and I can only cross my fingers that more developers treat this delicate subject with respect in the future.
8. I Am Alive
I'm a sucker for stories centered on familial relationships. In I Am Alive, you play as a man in search of his family after a disaster tore his hometown asunder, and it shows what happens to society when no one is in charge. While searching for your family, you find a little girl lost in the wreckage. The bond you form with her is touching without being saccharine, and provides an emotional center for the chaotic events happening around you. Combat is rare and incredibly tense. You often get confronted by desperate survivors without any bullets to defend yourself, but merely raising a gun can be enough to keep people at bay. Few games have examined the psychology of what it'd be like to live in such a terrible situation, so I Am Alive stood out for me in its depressing and harsh view of an unthinkable ordeal.
The Mass Effect trilogy was incredibly ambitious at its conception, and I'm floored that it pulled off its huge ideas in such an unexpected way. The choices I made through three long adventures drew me closer to my companions and my ultimate goal, and the resulting payoff in the finale was worth all the time and energy I invested in the games. The sacrifices in the third adventure shook me because I had grown so close to these characters. What's most fascinating to me is that I don't care one bit for the shooting. Mass Effect 2 and 3 were rote cover-based shooters against boring enemies in repetitive environments, so all the action portions were weak points for me. And yet, even though much of the game was tiring, the story was so well told and the characters so expertly developed that I couldn't pull myself away.
No game released this year elicited as many stunned reactions as Closure. The mind-bending concept shows a world where objects cease to exist once the lights are turned off. The solid plot of ground you're walking on can vanish in a flash if the light fails to reach it. It's a crazy idea that's used in new and inventive ways throughout the adventure. Turning a pillar into a makeshift elevator just by moving a light source is eminently appealing, and trying to wrap my head around the devious puzzles made this a deeply satisfying adventure. And even after sinking hours into the game, I would still plummet to my death by forgetting that there really isn't anything to stand on near that door even though I had just been there a moment earlier. Closure is a fascinating concept done really well.
On at least a half dozen separate occasions, I openly despised Spelunky. Merciless is too kind a word for the unrelenting platforming trials Spelunky places before you. Randomly constructed levels filled with obstacles and baddies that can kill you at any moment, and yet I have to start from square one whenever my last heart disappears? That's just sadistic! And yet, I kept coming back. I learned to balance my patience and cunning. I learned that greed is the number one cause of death, and that there's no shame in running scared from a boomerang-throwing cannibal. Slowly but surely, I made progress, and I realized what these punishing design decisions were for. Spelunky is about discovery and reward, and by making you fight for everything, you earn everything you get, and the satisfaction of a job well done is impossible to contain.
Strong narrative in any medium makes me sad when the tale is concluded. I spent more than 30 hours playing Virtue's Last Reward, and in those many hours, I grew very close to the diverse cast of characters. There's quiet Luna, perpetually helping others while scared to divulge information about her past. Contrast her with crazy Dio, a foul-mouthed hot head whose agenda is clearly to save his own butt. And then there's Phi. You meet her in the first scene, and her steely determination and expansive knowledge urge you to uncover every detail about her that you can. These and other strong characters assist and betray each other as they struggle to figure out why they were kidnapped. It's a fantastic story told in a way I haven't seen before. Choices push you down a path, but to see the entire tale, you need to examine every decision. Wrap that up with clever puzzles that tie into the greater narrative, and Virtue's Last Reward catapulted toward the top of my favorite games list.
Ordinary high school problems seem like a dull idea to base a game around, but it's that mundaneness that makes Golden so compelling. Forming relationships is at the core of a life well lived, so the simple act of playing basketball with a troubled friend or consoling your crying cousin draws you fully into this experience. And as you grow closer to the characters, you understand the secrets they hide from the rest of the world. The nurse who feels helpless when her patients die and the hotel heiress forced to follow in her parents' footsteps exhibit relatable problems, and it's empowering to see their troubles resolved. Golden goes so deep into suburban affairs that you feel as though you're a part of this small Japanese town. Exciting turn-based combat exhibits the traditional video game elements you would expect, but it's the personal quest that makes Golden so enthralling. Clearly, this is one of the finest role-playing games ever crafted.
Journey is raw emotion. Instead of letting complexity obfuscate its message, Journey's streamlined action engenders a feeling of simple joy. Exquisite visual design continually took my breath away, and the soaring soundtrack perfectly complimented my movement. As I slid down hills and hopped upon shattered structures, I was entirely immersed in my cloaked hero's journey. This is a monumental achievement that shows how much power video games have. This wordless story resonates because you are in control, and as you struggle to reach the shining summit, you feel connected to this world, eager to discover the mysteries that lay ahead. And just when you think you're alone, that there's no one else in this entire wasteland, you meet a friend. Chirp and hop, follow along. You communicate on the most basic level, and that ties into the overall theme of Journey. This is an experience that strips away the artificial constraints that keep us from understanding one another and delivers a message anyone could digest.
I'm not going to mince words: Dark Souls is one of the finest games I have ever played. This is a phenomenal experience that gets to the heart of why I play games. Dark Souls respects me. It knows that I struggle at times, that I get down, frustrated. It knows that I sometimes want to give up in disgust. But it knows that handing me something, instead of making me earn it, would leave me dry and empty a few minutes later. That's why the challenge needs to be so high. When I fall down, I pick myself up again, and keep pushing forward.
But it's not the difficulty alone that makes this so compelling. Every element of this game is created with staggering precision. From the health system that governs how much life you can carry with you to the intricate pathways that link this interconnected world, every aspect ties into the overall point. Dark Souls is what's right with gaming. It's why I started playing years ago with The Legend of Zelda, why I pushed through Spelunky and Super Meat Boy even when I was at my wits' end. There is no joy greater than overcoming a challenge through my own will and determination, and Dark Souls is an amazing example of the drive that makes living life so eminently rewarding.
@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.