Another year in the books. The end of the year is quite exhausting for both gamers and games writers. Us writers spend the better part of a month arguing with ourselves on what games were great, and what games let us down. What was the best action game? What strategy game did we love the most? We touched on a few of those as a collective entity, however, since I had to make my top ten list for our “game of the year” award voting, I figured I would add another 1,200 words and share my list. Enjoy!
~ Don P.
10. Far Cry 3 (Our review by Chris Coke, Editor)
A lot of people like to say Far Cry 3 is “Skyrim with gun”. Sadly, that is not true and if it was, Far Cry 3 would be much higher on the list. However, Far Cry 3 does a great job of plopping the player into a gigantic open world with a ton of crap to do. On top of that, it has a compelling story about a kid who escaped his captors and goes on an epic journey to help free his friends.
9. Sleeping Dogs (My review)
This was clearly my sleeper hit. I was a fan of True Crime ages ago, but didn’t expect much from United Fronts spiritual successor. The one thing that really caught me off guard was actually enjoying the story to Sleeping Dogs. Sure, exploring the city and doing side missions is fun, but the drama surrounding Wei Shen was intense as he battled two sides of the law.
8. Final Fantasy XIII-2 (My review)
I was a little disappointed that you didn’t actually play Lightning, the central heroine from the previous game, but the story was just as exciting as the last game. The alternate periods of time were an interesting addition, but the “WTF” ending was what solidified this game into my top 10 for 2012. Oh, and combat was still a blast.
7. Final Fantasy Theatrhythm (Our review by Joey Alesia, writer)
Rhythm games are my guilty pleasure. Modern music is great and all, but Final Fantasy music immediately catches my attention. I never expected this to be a light RPG, but once my crew of merry misfits started leveling up and learning skills I was overwhelmed with joy. The part that really hooked me was unlocking the hidden characters. This was a rare instance of me not looking online to see the shadowed characters, too, which made trying to unlock them much more satisfying. All in all, Theatrythm is Square-Enix’s ultimate form of fan-service, and I gobbled it up.
6. Assassin’s Creed III (Our review by Tony Odett, Features Editor)
This may come as a surprise, but I like history. Past Assassin’s Creed games haven’t quite piqued my interest in a historical sense. Sure, I enjoy scaling ancient buildings and what-not’s, but the actual historical tie-ins weren’t why I played past games. Assassin’s Creed III took the same core mechanics, added some more, a bigger world, and most importantly, weaved in events from history in such a way that you could scratch your chin with bemusement and wonder if that’s how those events went down. AC3 may have its flaws and moments when glitches piss you off to no end, but those historical elements are more than captivating enough to make up for those.
5. Ghost Recon: Future Soldier (My review)
Rarely do I ever say “I really enjoyed the campaign in (insert military shooter title here)”. I can count on two fingers how many times that is, too. The first is Battlefield: Bad Company 2, which I will sing high-praises of to no end. The second is Ghost Recon: Future Soldier. Future Soldier blends fantastic pacing, customizable guns, non-linear action, and a multiplayer component that is the closest thing I have found to “pre-SOCOM 4” SOCOM in a while. It was the multiplayer that drew me in so much, with its tactical gameplay and interesting weapon unlock system. This is another thing I rarely say, but all of the maps were good, too.
4. XCOM: Enemy Unknown (My review)
Console gamers like me don’t get the opportunity to indulge in our strategic side often. Controllers just don’t seem to have what it takes to work complex games. That was, until XCOM: Enemy Unknown came out. Even when I played the PC version with a mouse and keyboard, I found it controlled more smoothly with a controller. But that’s not the only thing that makes XCOM so great. Naming your crew after people you know sounds like an old trick, but combined with permadeath, it adds a layer of depth that makes you care more about your squad. I certainly never wanted to lose my wife, who was my top support role, and I was gravely upset when Chris Carboni (long-time best friend, and fellow Vagary.tv staff member) was lost in a conflict. Ignore the fact that this tactical-strategy game is complex in its own genre, those two things I mentioned are what secured XCOM: Enemy Unknown into my top five games of 2012.
3. Crusader Kings II (Our review by Tony Odett, Features Editor)
I had many discussions with Vagary.tv’s resident Strategy Gamer, Tony Odett, about Crusader Kings II vs. XCOM: Enemy Unknown. I’m sure he was afraid that I was picking Crusader Kings over XCOM because I had spent my Thanksgiving break playing nothing but Crusader Kings, so it was the freshest in my mind. However, Crusader Kings II elbowed XCOM out of the top three by virtue of keeping me engaged in a grand strategy game. I love XCOM, and will play through it again when I get the latest DLC. But I have no desire to play it again without the DLC. Crusader Kings II is a game I want to play more and more. And more. And more. The limitless possibilities make each and every play through so drastically different that you can’t play a game even remotely the same way twice.
2. Need for Speed Most Wanted (My review)
It was no Need for Speed Underground 3, but Need for Speed Most Wanted was still one Hell of a ride. It captured most of the magic of the original Most Wanted, and added that Criterion twist that made Burnout Paradise so addicting. Yes, I’m talking about random crap to do; billboards, gates, and speed traps. My copy actually came in while I was home sick, and I spent all afternoon and night playing with far fewer breaks than usual. The Need for Speed franchise is always highly-regarded by me, as I love the perfect blend of simulation and arcade physics. Drifting around town in my Lexus LFA was a highlight for me this year. If only I could customize my cars.
1. Borderlands 2 (Our review by Kyle Baron, Editor-in-Chief)
Admittingly, I played through the entire Borderlands 2 game alongside my wife. Knowing that, why it is my number one game of 2012 is a little biased. Borderlands 2 is a refined version of Borderlands. While one could argue it’s simply “more Borderlands”, it’s really more than that. The story arch this time around actually worked, and introduced us to two of my personal favorite characters for 2012; Tiny Tina and Handsome Jack. Somehow, Gearbox also found a way to include more loot. Loot is, without a doubt, why I am so fascinated with Borderlands. So adding more variations of guns and gizmos made for an addicting run through the game.
I’ve heard some people say that it’s not so fun single-player, but as I don’t share loot well, I only assume I would think otherwise. I loved every game on this list, and other games in 2012, but the main reason this sits as my number one title this year is because of the time I spent looting Pandora with my wife. Date nights consisted of killing bullymongs, robots, bandits, and whatever else got in our way. Screw dinner and a movie, Borderlands 2 was our Friday night thrill.
Now that you’ve seen my top 10, feel free to share some of your top games from 2012 in the comments below.