Christmas is here, almost, and the game of the year lists are showing up already. I don't normally do such lists, but I have decided that this year will be the first time I will partake in the festivities. So, presented below are my Top Ten games of 2012!
These are games I played in 2012, though they may have been released earlier and I was only able to get around to them during this year, but I really enjoyed them so here they are. I doubt you will be surprised by the number one, but hey, I thought it was the best so monkeys!
10. Rayman Origins (PS Vita)
I don't play a lot of Platformers, but when I do I try play the best ones I can find, and Rayman Origins is certainly that.
Challenging, but not overally so, it controls really well on Vita and that screen really makes the absolutely stunning artwork pop. I had no idea what was going on and why I was running around the levels, but it didn't matter, the game is just a joy to play and provides everything you would want from a platformer. The sequel is due sometime in 2013, and I am very much looking forward to it!
9. Pullblox/Pushmo (3DS)
Pullblox (Pushmo in the US) shows the genius of Nintendo, plain and simple. That last word is actually very apt, as the game itself is easy to pick up, but boy, it can be hard to master.
You control Mallo, who has to save kids trapped inside puzzles made up of push and pullable blocks, each of a different design. The objective is to figure out what to pull/push and when, to allow Mallo to ascend each puzzle and rescue the kid. It sounds simple, and to be fair a lot of the puzzles are, but some are an absolute nightmare. It really tests your spartial awareness, and, more importantly, the 3D actually helps the game and you to solve the puzzles.
I haven't finished it yet, because I am stuck and get very confused on the particular level I am on. I must finish the whole game though, I am addicted to it, and that is why Nintendo are geniuses.
8. Mark of the Ninja (XBLA)
I have played all of the Splinter Cell games, most of the Metal Gear Games, along with many others that were considered Stealth titles. I recognised that some constraints of what that word means had to be made in those titles but the core idea is still there. Mark of the Ninja is better.
It shows that being seen isn't an automatic game over, and that if you give the player all the information needed to set up their run through a level and how to sneakily take out enemies, stealth can be a hell of a lot of fun. The fact that the game looks gorgeous, like a saturday morning cartoon, and sounds great only adds to what turned out to be one of the best downloadable games ever made, and the best stealth game ever imagined.
7. Trials Evolution (XBLA)
The first game I ever reviewed semi-professionally was Trials HD. It was great, though I recognise now that I had an abusive relationship with that game and unfortunately, I was the one getting getting the abuse.
Knowing this, I still went ahead and bought the excellent sequel Trials Evolution, and once again started getting a beat down. However, Evolution does improve on HD in every way, from more varied enviroments to an easier learning curve and greater length. I did get to a point where I just had to walk away before I killed myself, but I enjoyed it up to that.
6. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (PS3)
I knew Skyrim was a great game when I was playing one night and I heard a rustling from upstairs. I carried on thinking my wife was just restless, but shortly afterwards she appeared at the living room door and said 'Get to bed!' I looked at the clock, and it was 3am. Oops.
Skyrim sucks you in like nothing that came before it, thrusting you into a world of dragons, vikings and magic. Even though the PS3 release was plagued with problems, and still hasn't had the DLC releases enjoyed elsewhere, it served me well for the 100+ hours I put into the game. Whats depressing about that is that I have barely scratched the surface of the content in the core game, let alone expansion packs. I just had to walk away at some point, my wife was getting seriously annoyed.
5. Mass Effect 3 (Xbox 360)
Mass Effect is about as close to the Star Wars films as gaming is going to get. That might be controversial, but its true, and I for one am very happy about that.
The beauty of the series is that each game is a continuation of your sheperds storyline, the choices from previous games carry over and you build up your version of the story. Of course, major plot points will always be there, but friends might be killed or survive and your abilities will improve. Its great, and while Mass Effect 3 had its fair share of controversy this year regarding the series finale, I for one enjoyed every second of it. Roll on with the next game and a new character to build up!
4. Transformers: Fall Of Cybertron (Playstation 3)
"Metroplex heeds the call of the last Prime" with those words, I knew I had to play Fall of Cybertron. I am a massive Transformers fan and this game didn't disappoint from a fiction stand point.
It did, however, have some technical issues on the PlayStation 3, but I forgave it due to the great story and the fact it had a) Metroplex and b) you can play as Grimlock. I was sold. The fact that it was actually pretty good really helped. I ended up buying a Metroplex G1 figure from Ebay after playing this, and he now stands pride of place in my computer room, surrounded by all my other Transformers.
3. Borderlands 2 (PlayStation 3)
I didn't play the original Borderlands, but I kinda wish I had after playing 2. Its fun, silly and awesome at the same time. The variety of guns and abilities on offer, as well as different characters to try, make it cool to just tool around in the world, and Pandora is a big place.
Admittedly the story is stupid and can be pretty much disregarded, but everything else, from art style to how the weapons feel make it a very special game. I liken it to Skyrim in terms of tooling around in the world, but its sense of humour really helped take any pressure off and let you just enjoy, the fun in Skyrim tended to come accidently.
2. Halo 4 (Xbox 360)
343 Industries officially took over the reins of Halo this year with the release of Halo 4, and what a release it was. Halo is my favourite franchise in gaming, the universe is so rich with lore and stories to tell that I cannot get enough of it, especially the expanded universe books.
Halo 4 looks awesome, the details on everything are amazing and when it manages to make even the lowly Covenant Grunts look menacing you know it is on to something special. It feels like Halo, but fresh and modern at the same time, and while the story has a few missteps, it is still probably the best in the series and really shows that an old dog can learn new tricks. I am also pretty good at multiplayer, which is nice.
1. The Walking Dead (PlayStation 3)
What can I say about The Walking Dead that hasn't already been said? Quite frankly, it is one of the best games of this generation, let alone this year.
The story is truely gripping, and the fact it can play differently depending on choices you make allow for those 'Water Cooler' moments where you discuss with friends about what happened in their game compaired to yours. It isn't based on the comics storyline or the TV show storyline, so is free to tell its own tale, and it does so with aplomb.
It looks great, sounds even better and plays like a point and click adventure. The story is the stand out here though, Telltale crafting a yarn that is terrifying, pointant and exciting all at the same time. Each episode has its twists and turns, and though some are better than others, they combine to make a truely stellar game.
So there you have it, my top ten for 2012. As I said at the start, you could probably predict the number one slot going to the Walking Dead, but you can also do it with a lot of professionals lists too. If you take anything away from this list, can I request that it is an desire to go play The Walking Dead? It is special for so many reasons, but I genuinely believe it is a landmark moment in the mediums history, one that even if you dont like how the game plays, you should see to the end so you an appriciate what it does for gaming. See you in 2013!