I’ve already released my top 10 for 2012 (which can be read here). I’m also a big fan of themed awards. In an effort to keep from repeating myself, I am immediately axing games that appeared in my top 10 list. That should make this more interesting, and since I played over 120 games in 2012 I have a lot of wiggle room. So without further ado, more awards for 2012.
Best Vita Game: Retro City Rampage
I played a nice handful of Playstation Vita games this year. Madden 2013 was another favorite, but Retro City Rampage felt like a perfect fit for the handheld. I also played it on Playstation 3, but the controls felt tighter on the Vita. Plus, being able to play for 15 minutes while on break at work was more convenient. Retro City Rampage barely squeaked past Playstation All-Stars and Madden 2013 for this one.
Best Expansion/DLC: Aftermath expansion for Battlefield 3
Battlefield 3’s themed expansions have generally been well-received on my behalf. With the exception of Armored Kill, they all had great weapons, maps, and assignments that mixed well with the stock game (or played well on their own). Aftermath was exceptionally well designed. So much that, even though it only added one simple weapon, the expansion stood out as the most well-designed package for both Battlefield 3 and the year 2012. The crossbow adds a new layer of fun and satisfaction. Every map was a perfect blend of tight corridors and open spaces so soldiers of every style could get into a groove. If End Game, scheduled for early 2013, is anything like Aftermath, it will be a great way for Battlefield 3 to go out.
Most Surprising Strategy Game: Unity of Command
I thought I was through with World War II games. Period. I’m tired of WWII shooters, I couldn’t get into the epic war simulator, Hearts of Iron III. That period of time is just something I didn’t expect to go back to and, most importantly, enjoy. Unity of Command did something a lot of strategy games just don’t do; find that perfect balance of ease to get into and still be a challenge to master. If you are new (or just a novice) to strategy games, it takes very little to understand the rules of Unity of Command. This is important, because most of the time the learning curve is so high for strategy games that by time you get into it, it’s time to move on to something else. Leaving you unsatisfied, you get a bitter taste in your mouth for what is probably a great game. Unity of Command doesn’t have this problem. After a short bit, I was in the war, kicking ass, and taking names. Except that one time..
Most Disappointing Game: Mass Effect 3
Oh yes, I went there. But before you shun me, hear me out because it has nothing to do with the ending. In fact, I didn’t even complete Mass Effect 3, that was how drawn in I was. A month before ME3 released, I decided to finally sit down and play Mass Effect 2. From the start, Mass Effect 2 does such a great job of drawing the player in. I still stand by a statement I made after finishing the second Mass Effect that “ME2 is one of the greatest games of this generation”. So what went wrong with me and Mass Effect 3? I’m not really sure, but I literally started it a day after finishing ME2. Maybe I hadn’t quite calmed down from the high of finishing such a great game. But nothing about Mass Effect 3 hooked me. Most people love the game, except the ending, but I just couldn’t get into it. Which sucks.
Worst Game: Cabela’s Dangerous Hunts 2013
The only good thing I can say about this game is that it looked pretty. Sure, the animals moved in a realistic manner. And yes, the guns felt fine when actually firing them. But those kind of go with the territory. Everything else about Dangerous Hunts 2013 was a giant train wreck condensed onto a disc. The controls were awful (yes, there is a difference between controls and how the guns behave). The story was anything but intense, despite this being a story-based shooter. There was no sandbox gameplay, Dangerous Hunts 2013 was just a corridor shooter with animals. With terrible controls. And a boring story.
PS. This was me trying to be polite.
Most Surprising Game: Farming Simulator 2013
By all means, I should not like this game. I may live in Oklahoma, but I can’t stand farming or anything associated with it. On a whim, I decided to review Farming Simulator 2013. When I booted it up for the first time, I was at the dining room table. I was on a tractor, slowly plowing the field that is already ready when you start a farm. My mother-in-law walked by, stopped, and asked what I was playing. Upon my response, she walked off and replied, “They made a game about that?”
Farming Simulator 2013 really caught me off guard. As simple and slow-paced as it is, it’s actually quite calming. I found myself in a nice, mellow state while farming. So much that I noticed the difference. There is no stress. There is no rush. There are no intense cop chases like other sandbox games. Farming Simulator plops you into the world, gives you some starter cash, a few silos full of potential profit, and let’s do your bidding. I 100% recommend this game to anyone, even though that think the idea is dumb. My wife even commandeered my laptop for a few nights to get her a farming fix.