My barrage of list based content is about to come to an end! Bear with me now for the main event (in my eyes) my top 10 games of 2012!
10. Far Cry 3
In a way, its telling of how good this year actually was that this game is so low down on this list. Far Cry 3 is an excellent open world game, a brilliant shooter and is one of the most fun games Ive played all year. Its an incredibly dumb game, and I mean that both as a sincere compliment and a piece of criticism. The good dumb refers to the fun aspect, when I decide to go hunting bears using a car or finish off a mission by running at my target only wishing to knife him as I repeatedly stab myself with health syringes. As an open world sandbox Far Cry 3 does so much right. There are enough activities on offer to invite you to spend a good deal of time doing anything but the story, and that is where the game shines. Climbing guard towers, taking down outposts silently (if possible), driving missions, conventional side quests and the hunting were all a blast. The hunting especially, due to the progression of great unlocks that made it meaningful. This was all complimented by the way everything interacts in the environment which creates a great degree of improvisation to everything in the best way possible. One time I was silently scouting out an outpost with my camera, and then a tiger attacked me and in fighting it I drew attention of everybody and went on the all out offensive. This means using my full destructive arsenal not just silenced assault rifles and causing utter chaos in ways I didnt even know the game supported. Fire spread wildly (I tried to burn the enemies out but the fire spread to the bit of jungle I was in... Bad move), some structures fell (only small wooden ones admittedly) and it all felt completely out of control whilst leaving me in total control. It was superb.
The game has its detractions though, and they really impacted the overall experience for me. I loved hunting, but it was over too soon, a very subjective complaint but one I can make on a personal list. I rushed out all of the crafting stuff and then the animals became set dressing that posed no threat, and that I didnt need to interact with. It also committed a cardinal sin of dropping me in an empty open world after I finished the story. I had done the side quests, the outposts and the hunting, leaving a world with no enemies and no real activities to do. I expected to keep playing after I was done, but there was no reason to not just quit the game. They core issue though was the story, which started out so strong. It seemed self aware but ended up embracing its clichés and stupidity and coming off as very bad. It got to almost thematically offensive levels and desperately seemed like it wanted to say something but it would rather you just killed everybody ever. Leaps of logic were forgiven at the start because the mood implied something else was afoot, nothing else was, it just ended up extremely stupid. The endings themselves are also awful (a running trend this year it seems), terribly written and laughable. The game started off so well, but the last third fell apart, melding poor story with poor missions and throwing everything I had enjoyed out the window. The last thing I did in Far Cry 3 was attain the completion achievement, and it seemed very appropriate when the words What A Trip popped up to the accompanying jingle. The trip was great, but the destination leaves a lot to be desired.
Player choice is an interesting thing, something that usually brings to mind story choices and dialogue trees. For me Dishonored is emblematic of player choice at its best, and it does it in terms of gameplay. This stealthy gem placed the player in superbly crafted open ended environments and gave them a suite of tools, the rest was left to you. Movement and combat was refined enough for the level design to work and enabled you to enjoy the game no matter what direction you carved out for yourself. The powers worked together in smart ways and the mechanics just blended together for a seamless gameplay experience. The world was brilliant also. Few things were as satisfying to me this year as my non-lethal run through Dishonored. It was a game so mechanically brilliant that it felt like a simulation, a fictional magic assassin sim. Thats my kind of sim. Now I have issues with the game, the lack of new game plus was a big deal for me and the story was not good at all (culminating in another poor ending). Not having new game plus put the game in a situation where you didnt always have access to the game at its best, when you have multiple complimentary powers that you can utilise in imaginative ways. By the time you get the unlocks in the game you are hampered by having picked certain base skills that seem rather necessary, meaning you dont just have all the cool stuff, and the fact that some of the later missions arent as open and awesome as what came before. You then have to start again and wait to get to that point to do all the crazy things you hear about, when you combine time stopping and possession in bizarre ways. This was a genuine issue for me, I just feel the game could have shown why it was great and could have been greater if it really allowed me to let loose. Just let me carry on and do crazy stuff in the superior early game levels.
8. Halo 4
Im a massive Halo fan and this was a really good Halo game. The campaign was really solid, and packed a decent emotional story (with a poorly told sci-fi narrative accompanying it), but this is mostly here because as writing this I want to go play Halo 4 multiplayer. Halo multiplayer is just how I like it, and 343 did it so very well. Its got enough CoDesque persistence to keep me invested and addicted, without all the CoD stuff I dont enjoy. Ive never been a fan of the fundamental balance of CoD multiplayer, and Halo 4 goes a bit down that road but only steals the certain elements I am ok with (luckily). In the end theres not much to say about Halo 4, its just a really solid Halo game, and thats super awesome. The shooting and movement is as perfect as it ever was and Spartan Ops is lame. Halo 4, pick it up.
7. Hotline Miami
If you want a game that will pump you full of adrenaline whilst also giving your brain a workout, look no further than the sublime Hotline Miami. Hotline is something to behold, it takes control of you in a hypnotic fashion with its sublime soundtrack and fitting visuals. Its a completely coherently designed game where every element compliments another and works towards an overall picture which is nothing short of masterful. Its brilliant from a gameplay perspective and its brimming with thematic interest. It doesnt beat you over the head with a message, it lays things out for the player to think on and make his or her mind up about. In doing this it becomes one of the most interesting games of the past few years, and its also super fun. The ultra-violent and lightning fast gameplay feels spot on; its challenging, but strategic and not frustrating. The Meat Boy like short levels and instant reloads keep you playing whilst the sound and visuals also glue you in place. Hotline Miami just works, from top to bottom it works. Its sublime.
After a lot of violent games on this list, Journey is a great change of pace. Its also just great. Not only is it eye wateringly gorgeous, its completely joyous. Its easy to overlook Journey in retrospect, or look upon it cynically, but when you are playing it is impossible to do it any disservice. The feeling you get in that first playthrough is completely magical, and as a jaded human being Im tempted to look back scornfully, but then I remember how the game made me feel. It was wholly involving, I cared about anonymous bits of cloth, I took in the minimal exposition, and I felt like I went through all kinds of trials and tribulations to get to my destination. I didnt wholly know why I needed to go there, but I knew above all else that I needed to reach it. Was it because of some cave paintings or hints at a mythology? Simply it was because it was there. There was nothing but me and my destination as soon as I crossed that first hill and I would do anything to get there. This was hammered in by what it took to get to the mountain and how they made it feel like a struggle while still creating a wholly accessible game that will be celebrated as a landmark title for years to come. I dont know if I will revisit Journey, I dont know if it will stick in my mind, but I know that while playing it I was completely in love with it.
1. Will be Guild Wars 2; simply because I graced your game with my presence! (This is Jelly Roll :p)
This is a strictly boilerplate list. Show us something 50 bazillion people haven't already played. It's like telling someone to eat McDonald's or listen to Justin Beiber
Awesome list so far.... Now I'm gonna HAVE to try Journey and Hotline Miami...
I actually expected Dishonored and Far Cry 3 to be in the top 5 and games like AC3 Hitman Absolution to be in this list. Don't really care for shooters like Halo and CoD. Played GOW 2 and loved it, gonna play 3 soon. But somehow I never really liked CoD and Halo. Can't wait for your top 5 and goty. Nice list. Hope NFS MW is in the top 5. Coz I'm gonna buy it and I want it to be good.
@CasualGamer36x I haven't played Most Wanted, really want to though.
@stephenage @CasualGamer36x I loved Most Wanted, but Forza Horizon took it for me last year.
By the way awesome list, I missed out on the opportunity to pick up Hotline Miami in the Indie Super Mega Pack sadly, so I'm hoping it comes back on Steam soon. Really want to play that game ;)
@CasualGamer36x @blink-jfg I'd say go for Forza Horizon I love Most Wanted and Forza 4, but Forza Horizon ups the awesome ;)
@blink-jfg Forza Horizon huh? I really want to buy a Forza game coz I have an xbox 360 and Forza is one of it's few exclusives but answer this : Horizon or Forza 4 or NFS MW?
I really hope things like Max Payne 3 and Assassin's Creed III don't appear in this list.
I also hope to see Crashmo and Spelunky (XBLA) in the top 6. ^^
About Halo... if it's like the other Halo games, it deserves nothing.
About Dishonored, an impressive game if it wasn't a total piece of cake even at the highest difficulty (learn to make difficulties like the last 2 Hitman Absolution's ones).
Recently got to finish Journey, and I loved how invested I felt for no particular reason. It's one of the stranger games I've played, I wanted to finish, but only because I was supposed to. Really like Dishonored and Halo, want to play Hotline SO BAD! Looking forward to the remaining 5.
I guess I will have to add Journey and Hotline Miami to my must-play list.
I had heard about the former, but not about the latter, and it certainly caught my eye with the way you described it.
Every time I see a blog with Far Cry 3 I want to get it more, but I can't afford it right now... darn it! :(
am i the only person on the planet who dislikes the Halo series ?? i played 1 and 2 thought both were pretty dire tbh and have never bothered since.
I would imagine Assassins Creed 3 and Hitman Absolution will be in the other half of this list.
@grumpytrooper You are not alone, Halo 1 was incredibly boring (after corridor 9? Corridor 10!). I've played the first 3 (bought only 1 and 2, a friend lent me the 3rd) and imho they are kinda disappointing.
Imho Assassin's Creed is even worse, the combat is just silly.
Hitman Absolution is a decent game, nothing special, but there aren't many alternatives for stealth games fans.
@grumpytrooper You imagine wrong, both games let me down sadly. Big fan of previous instalments in both of those series, these ones not as much.
@Clynol What would your list be? COD?
@Clynol hipster gamer much? I'm sure you liked Hotline Miami before it was cool.
@Clynol Damn, I must have awful taste.
@Clynol I'm interested what your top ten would be...?