Games of 2012

I’ve said many times that I’m not a huge fan of making lists like this, so I’m sorry for making one.   The thing is I really wanted to sum up some quick thoughts on my favorite game from this last year and a list seemed like the best way.

Note: Since writing is not my strength, I will probably be editing this as I reread it and notice badness

My favorite games released in 2012 that I played, but did not work on:

11. The Secret World
Like Guild Wars 2, this is an evolution of the theme park MMO. Here the developers focused their genetic changes on story telling, puzzle solving, and character growth. Sadly their combat system was a bit slow and clunky compare to others, and they launch and ran for several months as a subscription based game.

Though with those flaws, I feel they nailed the things they wanted to focus on. The game has a great creepy atmosphere, with great characters, interesting stories, challenging puzzles, and a really elaborated open ended player skill system. Now that they have dropped the old school subscription model I encourage MMO fans to give it a try.

10. FTL
I should hate this game, and in many ways I do. I would never make this game, and if I could I would change several key things. Though I know if I did, I would ruin what makes this game great.

And it really is great.  I would watch my poor crew die over and over again as I would try to race them across the galaxy to deliver whatever it was they were delivering   I did it so many times, each time with a new story to tell my friends about my adventure.  The game’s simplicity, hides its depth and I never did win but it does not matter I had way more fun than I expected.
Also it is the only game this year that when co-workers win I cheered with them know how difficult the challenge was.

9. Planetside 2
Most people that know me, know that I’m not a huge fan of competitive multiplayer games. And while at the high level Planetside 2 is a competitive FPS, down when I’m playing among a team of hundred other players in air, armor,and infantry it feels more like a co-operative action game.

That pulls me in 100% and on top of that the fact that the game is free.  Sure the battle never ends and they do a terrible job explaining things, but the battle is also always available and the community is trying to fill in the training gaps.

8. Diablo 3
Look I understand if you don’t like it. If you wanted more Diablo 2, or a offline single player game with out a playe economy then you would be disappointed  Heck there could be any number of reasons why people did not like D3.  Heck there are lot of things I like, but in the end I don’t really care.

This game pulled me in for over 80 hours. I loved the enemy and character design, and I appreciate their skill system, and I really loved how well they handled players dropping in and out of friends games. This game made me click and click and click for hours and hours and it was enough to land on my list.

7. Sleeping Dogs
I’ve become a fan of open world games, but I was very hesitant when it came to Sleeping Dogs. This game’s storied development history lowered my expectations to the point of passing it up.  But then I started hearing rumblings that it was good. What surprised me was that this undercover cop, Hong Kong action film game was better than good.

It was really good.  It had a nice free running chase system, a really good melee combat system (only Batman is better), fun driving, and decent cover based shooting mechanics.  And unlike AC3, all of the different activities feed back into one another to create wonderful interwoven character growth.

6. Mass Effect 3
Yes I was not a fan of the ending that the game shipped with, but that is not enough to erase the other 40 hours I put into the game, which I enjoyed immensely  If your a fan of the series and have not played it, don’t let the ending (or controversy around it) stop you from playing it. Though if you do decide to play it, get the From Ashes, Leviathan, and Extended Cut DLCs.

5. Guild Wars 2
I’m not going to say much about this game. Look at it’s core it is an evolved theme park MMO. The things make it stand out to me:
* it’s no subscription revenue model, a merging of transitional retail game and FTP game models.
* the dynamic event system, a refinement of systems found in Warhammer and Rift MMOs.
* Their weapon / ability system.
* How well ArenaNet has supported the game since launch.

4. X-COM
I am terrible at Strategy and Tactics games, but I still keep throwing myself at them. See I love the idea of these sorts of games, I love the game systems involved, but I’m just not very good at them.

Most of the time I simply appreciate them from afar, but the original XCom was a game I kept trying to play. Over and over again I would build bases and send out squads to battle the alien menace. Sure I was bad at it, but it sparked my imagination and pulled me in.

Firaxis’ X-Com did it again. They streamlined the systems, and updated the controls for use with game consoles yet they kept hold of the X-Com spirit.  Over and over again I recruited soldiers  named them and sent them out to face the unknown hoping they would return stronger.  Oh and the personal stories woven throughout play are the real highlight. Everyone who plays the game has a story to tell.

3. Dishonored
Stealth, check. Action, check. Awesome freedom of movement, Check. Interesting new world, check. Multiple paths to success, check. This game hit so many of the things I love about these sorts of games, that it felt like a game I would have made for myself.

2. Far Cry 3
I thought for sure my open world game of the year would have been Sleeping Dogs, but then Far Cry 3 with its islands full of hunting, hang gliding, Sniping, stealth grenade pin pulling take downs showed up and amazed me.

If the story had followed through with any of the interesting bits they hint at in act 1 this game might have edged up to number one. But no, the story instead falls dull but the gameplay and graphics engine are top notch so this sits firmly in my number 2 spot.

1. Walking Dead
The Walking Dead did something most game can’t even think about doing, it made me care for the characters. Then on top of that, it made me feel like my choices meant something both at the moment of the choice and long term in the story.

It was not a perfect game, in fact the gamey parts are the clunkiest, and I ran into bugs which frightened me into thinking my progress had been lost.  But over all my experience with the Walking Dead was the most emotional, impacting, and exciting times I had in a game released in 2012.

Honorable Mention: Borderlands 2
Oh and while it’s not on my list because I worked on it, Borderlands 2 is great and you should go out and buy it and all the DLC.  And I say this because watching my wife play the heck out it made me realize just how awesome of a game the team made.

Most Disappointing Game: Assassins Creed 3
I was expecting so much more than this game provided. This game is a mess of collected systems that were thrown together flimsily enough to form a game. A game that works without many game breaking bugs, but a game that felt like a shadow of AC2: Brotherhood’s greatness.

I think I’m happy with that list.

Though I wish I had taken time to play a bunch of other 2012 games, like Journey and Asura’s Wrath but since I didn’t they will have to go on another list I’m keeping; “Games I Hope to Someday Play” list.

Also there are a few games like, Skylanders Giants, that I only played a bit of and while they may be pretty fun thus far, I’ve not experienced enough of it to put it on a list.

Oh and there were a ton of other games I dabbled in that were fun and I know are great games but didn’t ‘stick’ to me enough to make a top list.  Games like; Hero Academy, Orcs Must Die 2, and a huge number of mobile games.


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