2012 Community Game of the Year - And the winner is...

Farscry wrote:

Despite the guff I've seen written about 2012 being a "disappointing" year in gaming, I think this has been a stellar year for gaming. The problem is that it's been a disappointing year if you're looking for HUGE OMG EVENT GAMES. But if you're looking for a year chock-full of low-key but incredibly awesome games full of quality enjoyment, 2012 has been quite generous.

Yeah, I feel like I'm in the same boat. In terms of highly anticipated AAA titles and new entries into popular franchises, the disappointments seemed high. But as a counterbalance I don't think I've had so many pleasant surprises. So many games that looked uninteresting that turned out amazing, or ones that I never heard of coming out and being great.

1. Dishonoured

Really, that's it. A lot more people need to play that game.

MoonDragon wrote:

1. Dishonoured

Really, that's it. A lot more people need to play that game.

I'm actually keeping an eye out for it during the Steam Winter sale. A good enough deal, and I might spring for it. It's on the list of titles I didn't have time to consider snapping up this year, but would like to try out in the future.

Farscry wrote:
MoonDragon wrote:

1. Dishonoured

Really, that's it. A lot more people need to play that game.

I'm actually keeping an eye out for it during the Steam Winter sale. A good enough deal, and I might spring for it. It's on the list of titles I didn't have time to consider snapping up this year, but would like to try out in the future.

I remember it was $30 during one of the Lighting Deals on Amazon last week, kind of kicking myself for not buying it, but we're in the holiday season and it's already on my wishlist.

1. Skyrim
- This wins the cake for eating my brain for two solid months. Over three hundred hours and five characters, and I still find myself going back occasionally.

2. Saints Row the Third
- This is raw, unfiltered gamer id expressed in digital form. The most fun I've had in years.

3. FTL
- Sealing Minarchist in a compartment and watching him suffocate after he's spanked me in a game of chess is so damn theraputic.

- I'm so bad at this game. It doesn't matter in the slightest. Addictive as hell.

5. The Walking Dead
- It's rare that a licensed game is so superior to both the graphic novel and television show it's based on, but Telltale Games' masterpiece knocked them both out of the park.

6. Hotline Miami
- I really did love this. I'm totally not just nominating it because I'm afraid Strangleblades will gnaw on me.

7. Mass Effect 3
- Loved the ending, and genuinely was moved at several moments. Wonderful conclusion to a great series.

8. Civ V (Gods and Kings)
- May Goodjerism spread to all the peoples of the world, and may the Certis be with you!

9. Torchlight 2
- It was just more Torchlight 1. Fortunately, Torchlight 1 was outstanding, so more is good.

10. Minecraft (XBLA edition)
- Spent so many hours sitting next to my 10 year old daughter building a palace. With the rage and hostility of adolescence rearing its ugly head, I load up our castle after the bad days and smile.

Disappointments of the year:
None. Who gives a crap? There's SO MUCH AWESOME out there, it's easy to forget what didn't hold up to our (usually unreasonable) expectations.

trichy wrote:

3. FTL
- Sealing Minarchist in a compartment and watching him suffocate after he's spanked me in a game of chess is so damn theraputic.


Minarchist wrote:
trichy wrote:

3. FTL
- Sealing Minarchist in a compartment and watching him suffocate after he's spanked me in a game of chess is so damn theraputic.



Minarchist wrote:
trichy wrote:

3. FTL
- Sealing Minarchist in a compartment and watching him suffocate after he's spanked me in a game of chess is so damn theraputic.


I always play the violin music from Titanic as you slowly turn blue. It's very noble.

trichy wrote:

6. Hotline Miami
- I really did love this. I'm totally not just nominating it because I'm afraid Strangleblades will gnaw on me.

*takes off Cat Mask, leans baseball bat in its corner, watches some videos, eats pizza*

This was not a big gaming year for me. Played very few 2012 games, and didn't even start many older games. Even some of those I played and enjoyed, like Just Cause 2, don't feel like games I'd vote for in a year I played more.

So my list is short.

1) Guild Wars 2 - The game ate my brain for a good spell. I've dropped out of it for now, but I look forward to the day I can get back to it.

2) Crusader Kings 2 - What more can be said about this weird thing? Complex and unforgiving, yet full of unexpected personality and addictive.

3) Dragon Age 2 - Not the game I wanted it to be, but divorced from its predecessor and the flat out lying and preorder shenanigans prior to release still a solid game. Well, until the last few hours when the story went batsh*t insane. But the first 2 chapters were excellent.

Not a good year for me overall, but somehow these games helped me keep on an even-ish keel.

1. Mass Effect 3 - I never got too deeply fussed over what other people thought of the ending...that was their take, mine was fine. As many others have said above, the journey was everything I wanted when I first read about it 5 or 6 years ago, and for the first time in a long time I decided I couldn't live with a decision and reloaded a previous save. My brother was playing it at roughly the same time and I knew how far he'd gotten when he sent me a text that just said 'NOOOOOOOO..'.

2. Crusader Kings 2 - I bought it, tried it without reading guides etc and got thoroughly discouraged. With the help of a few people on here, I checked some Let's Plays, got a feel for the systems and my Ireland game developed into a story that spanned almost 400 years and more sex and violence than you could shake an empty bottle at.

3= XCOM - I was surprised how good this was...I was all ready to bash it as another reboot that ruined my memories, until I had a go at the demo and found myself buying it straight after.

3= SWTOR - Well, I love it Taken 3 characters all the way through their stories to level 50, both in teams and solo. It might not have the legs of LOTRO or Eve for me, but I don't regret playing it.

4. Drox Operative - Another one in the 'tried once and hated it, watched a Let's Play, tried it again and bought it'. Fast paced yet oddly relaxing, as other factions take care of 3 of the 4 X's for you

5. Torchlight 2 - Loved the first one, second was more of the same. It strikes me as Diablo 3 stripped of the hype and much the better for it.

6. Fallen Enchantress - Another one that a LP series enthused me about. I didn't buy the previous game (Elemental ?) and thus had no preconceptions about it, but I love the strategies, and the flexibility of the design tools within it...there's nothing like designing a unit that actually works.

Disappointments were relatively few, though do include a couple of surprises (to me, at least).

1. Guild Wars 2 - Bought it, played it to level 20, and found it the most banal experience. I know for a fact that I will never have the inclination to log into it again.

2. Football Manager 2013 - I've bought this religiously since the first version in 1992 (on a Commodore Amiga, no less), and this year's iteration is the most disappointing since the CM4 debacle. The forums are full of people like me who are convinced that in this version your tactical inputs and decisions are actually being ignored by the match engine, which somewhat negates the whole purpose of a soccer management game. SI are adamant that this is not so and that the tactical ineptitude of users is the issue as the engine becomes more and more realistic, but let's be honest..if I need to get my UEFA coaching badges to play this game properly, then I might as well do it for real.

My Top Ten

1) Mass Effect 3 The execution on the ending was, at best, poor, and the sidequests were awful. But it wrapped up the story of what I think is the deepest, most fully realized universe in gaming, and the ending is philosophically interesting (It's Hegel! The whole series is so Hegelian! Why does no one talk about this!? Garh!) But what shocked me, and what has put this game at 1 rather than, say, 5, is the MP. Who would have thought that Mass Effect would have had my most-played MP mode of the year? And pragmatist FemShep romancing Liara is the one true Shep.

2. Max Payne 3 I've played through the SP campaign almost 4 times on 360 and another once on PC. The only game I've ever double-dipped on, and possibly my favorite action/shooter SP campaign ever. Excellent shooting once you turn off the aim assist, and I think Rockstar has finally nailed their "we made a movie" thing. It oozes style, but it does so with excellent gaming fundamentals, too. And it has a great sense of humor.

3. Diablo 3 They've pulled me back in. Click click click click click click.

4. Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 I nearly skipped it, but I think it's the best one of these they've ever made. They finally brought all the pieces together. The SP was not as good as advertised, and it ends with the worst post-credits scene I've ever seen.

5. Halo 4 I was a skeptic, but 343 pulled it off. Great SP. I need to go back to the MP again, after leaving it for Blops 2.

6. Borderlands 2 It's a polished verison of the first one, and sometimes that's enough.

7. Star Wars: The Old Republic I haven't gone back to it in forever, but when I was playing it, I couldn't get enough. I need to go back some time.

8. Halo: Anniversary I knew that shooter campaign designed had changed, but this was a sharp reminder of how much. So much room, so many options compared to what we get now.

9. Vanquish Dumb story, but very, very tight shooting and controls.

10. The Darkness II It probably helps that I got it so cheap. But, its tone and style are just right, and the expected levelling mechanics give you lots of options. Deep, interesting gunplay (at least by the genre's meager standards).

Games I Need To Go Back To Or Start For The First Time
My apologies to all of these:
Sleeping Dogs

Disappointments, Some Of Which I'll Go Back To And Some Of Which Are Hopeless
Assassin's Creed 3 When the running and hiding mechanics suck in a game about running and hiding, that's a big hurdle for me to get over. But I'll try some day.
The Witcher 2 Flat, tone deaf writing. Meh.
The Walking Dead Everyone else loves it. I gave up after Ep 2. Dull characters, predictable story, terrible gameplay.
Lollipop Chainsaw Sometimes I buy random things ? But it had its moments before it got put aside for a second run through Saints Row The Third. I want to go back some time.

CptGlanton wrote:

My Top Ten

1) Mass Effect 3And pragmatist Paragon FemShep romancing Liara is the one true Shep.

Seriously, one of these days you'll actually get something right. Theoretically.

Top 5 Games of 2012

1. X-COM - Hadn't played the original X-Com or anything like this before and it was revelatory to me and kinda co-incided with me discovering this podcast/site so I have everything all wrapped up in one big mess of love. I did play it on my 360, but the idea of the game and the chance to play more like it has me in the market for a gaming PC.
2. FTL - Similar story, though this one I did play on my slow-ass PC. Again something totally different to what I've been playing on consoles these past few years, and a game that's really sold me on the idea that if I want to play cool new experimental things I'm going to be downloading them from Steam, not sliding a disc into my console.
3. Dragon's Dogma - And yeah, just like that here's a console game! I loved this though. So much of it was down to how HARD it was and how that really contributed to the sense of journey. Leading the van from the starter town out to the main city... I can still remember diving in to the rock valley taking out the harpies for the first time, and then seeing it all open out before the walls... Some journies must have taken me hours to finish with my character (and PET character) levelling up multiple times. The sense of accomplishment there is unmatched.
4. Mark of the Ninja - I followed some of the development of this and got it day 1 so I felt like it was 'my game' in a way. I loved how complete of an experience it was with all the visual cues to stealth. That with the controls and level design made me feel like I was totally in control while I was flinging about - there was never a question of me not making a jump due to getting confused, and I was always aware of the sandbox rules. Served as a timely reminder of why I love the genre when games like Dishonored haven't been doing it for me.
5. Mass Effect 3 - Not so much for the game itself, but for hanging out with Garrus up in the Citadel rafters and deliberately missing my shot. Jeez, that could be my favourite moment in any game.

There are others I've played that I enjoyed and could vote for. Halo 4 was nice but it doesn't seem list-worthy, same with Hotline Miami. Dishonored I did play and didn't get on with so, y'know.

Things That Are Too New Or I Otherwise Missed Out On

The Walking Dead - I'll buy it in this Steam Sale, I promise.

Far Cry 3 - I have this on my 360 and love what I've seen in 1.5 hours so far but I keep getting headaches with the visuals. I may have to wait till super-PC (and port) arrives for this one.

Diablo 3 etc. etc. - Or anything that requires a higher-end PC to enjoy properly. Not that I think Diablo 3 is the kind of game I'd place up there anyway, but it seems worth mentioning.

I played more than ten games through to completion this year. What follows are the only ones I wouldn't hesitate to recommend to others. Everything else had one or two too many flaws for me to rank them as truly outstanding.

1. XCOM: Enemy Unknown A brutally unforgiving experience on Classic Ironman made this, cheating AI or no, my GOTY. Sinking a hundred hours into a title in under a month and not being able to get away from "just one more mission/turn/decision" made it my gaming crack.

2. FTL A gem with multiple paths to victory and a heavy dose of luck (or lack thereof) makes for an interesting balance between the game screwing you over and your skill and knowledge overcoming.

3. The Walking Dead The only game in recent memory where I was genuinely uncomfortable with some decisions and performing certain actions.

4. Mark of the Ninja Best stealth action game I've played since Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory.

5. Hotline Miami a visual and audio trip combined with tight gameplay and a convoluted story. I played through it in two sittings.

6. Dishonored A power fantasy in a well realized world. I felt that Dunwall was alive and I genuinely inhabited it. Also stabbity stab stab.

7. Stacking A beautiful and very, very clever puzzle adventure game! Great for all ages and skill levels, to boot, as my girlfriend who loathes video games adored it.

8. Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines Well written and surprisingly well acted given its vintage. One of the best RPGs I have ever played and the only time someone stopping my character on the street has given me a shock


they know your character pre-vampirism.

MilkmanDanimal wrote:
CptGlanton wrote:

My Top Ten

1) Mass Effect 3And pragmatist Paragon FemShep romancing Liara is the one true Shep.

Seriously, one of these days you'll actually get something right. Theoretically.

If your FemShep is dumb enough to go into the big battle without both the Krogan and the Salarians ...

From best to worst

1 The Walking Dead 10pts
2 FTL 9pts
3 Journey 8pts
4 Saints Row the Third 7pts
5 Dungeons of Dredmor 6pts
6 Mark of the Ninja 5pts
7 Hotline Miami 4pts
8 Xcom: Enemy Unkown 3 pts
9 Xenoblade Chronicles 2pts
10 Mass Effect 3 1pts

My top of the year, from what I can remember:

1. XCOM: Enemy Unknown (PC) - Absolutely loved it. Tactical turn-based boardgame fun complete with bug eyed aliens. My type in a box.

2. Minecraft (PC) - I cracked the seal this year, finally. Found I have more scope for creativity than I imagined.

3. Kingdoms of Amalur: The Reckoning (PC) - Scratched an itch for fantasy hack and slash without too much beardscratchy depth. An interesting world certainly didn't hurt.

4. Mass Effect 3 (PC) - It was good to say goodbye. Moved me to tears more than once.

Golden Raspberry:

Diablo 3 (PC) - Can't believe I spent fifty quid on that.

So many games this year that I'd like to have played, and could have been on my list. Here's the best of the short list of what I have played, solely in order of fun-ness:

1. Mark of the Ninja (XBLA)
I just loved the style of this game - I thought it was really slick how the stealth was handled. Despite having a blast playing it, I found the story itself a bit meh, which was a shame since I loved the art style. Nevertheless, I think MotN pushed my fun button the most.

2. Walking Dead (iOS)
Part of me really wants to put this #1, since it is so much weightier than MotN. I enthralled with the actual game components of Walking Dead and the "puzzles" were mostly pretty lame. I wish they'd stuck with just the story and decision-making more, which were amazing. The worst puzzle involved a radio..


Erm, Carley, it does have batteries doesn't it?..

3. XCOM: Enemy Unknown (PC)
I somehow missed out on playing the original games. I loved the game at first and then my interest sagged a little, probably just due to how high my expectations were. My first play through was o normal, non-ironman. Based on the GWJCC, I tried to play pseudo-ironman, but my enjoyment (?!) of the game increased as I took the ironman-ness more seriously.

4. 10000000 (iOS)
OMG, sad to say, but this little game on iPad caused more late nights in a one week period than just about any other game. So much fun though.

5. Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition (iOS)
I bought this and sequels on PC many years ago and didn't get more than a few hours in before my circumstances changed and I never picked it up again. So nice having this great game in a mobile form and I enjoy being able to use touch controls even though they are a little *ahem* finicky.

6. Trials: Evolution (XBLA)
Came to the party a little late on this one and I suck at these types of games, but this particular one was too good to put down.

Honourable mention: FTL (PC)
Only just picked this up on sale this week. Can't make up my mind whether I like it or loathe it, but I do want to drop an Ion Bomb on the devs for stealing 16 hrs of my life in the blink of an eye.

Dysplastic wrote:

1) X-Com

I was always disappointed I couldn't get into the original X-Com because of the frustrating UI, so I was really happy when this came out and I could experience at least some of the feel of the original. Playing it in classic only added to the experience as I'm a serial quickloader. Turn-based strategy at its best - would love to see this expanded.

2) Dishonored

Again, revisiting classic design elements by taking the best aspects of the Thief series while still allowing for combat to be fun. I also think the world-building in Dishonored is fantastic. The Blink mechanic isn't new, but damn if it isn't implemented to perfection here.

3) The Walking Dead

I can't really say anything about this game that hasn't been said before. Bravo to them. More please - just, how about just slightly more involved puzzles and adventure gameplay?

4) FTL

What seems on the surface to be a choose your own adventure turns out to be a surprisingly deep tactical space combat RPG.

[b]5) Summoner Wars iOs/b]

Yes, it's a board game conversion, and no, I don't care. In a year where I've bought and played countless iOs board and strategy games, this is the standout winner by a mile. Good AI, Good pass & play, and fantastic Async with tons of diversity built into the game off the bat with a good selection of factions and deckbuilding options. Anyone with an iPad and an interest in strategy games should play it. Only marred by a lack of undo and a bit of poor implementation for special ability use.

6) Journey

Again, not much new to say here. It's a hug in video-game form.

7) Saints-Row: The Third

This game got a huge push last year, and so I played it early in 2012. It won me over from the opening sequence, and just kept going. Could have been higher on the list if I didn't think it bogged down in a lot of places, where there was just TOO much to do. Bonus points for a fantastic PC port.

8) Game of Thrones RPG

I got this one on sale on a whim, and was actually surprised by it. It actually tells a pretty strong story at times, and the characters themselves are fairly interesting and fit in well in the GoT universe. The tactical combat was also pretty well designed. Unfortunately, dated graphics, really poor level design, some boring mechanics and bad voice acting prevented this from being a really top-notch game. Chalk it up to an iffy studio with a limited budget trying to do a cash-in; I'd actually like to see Bioware take this license on.

9) Crusader Kings II

I wanted to love this game. I loved the concept of this game. I loved the stories people told about this game. I sank hours into the game trying to get it, watching youtube tutorials, etc. And while I had fun playing it, I just couldn't wrap my head around the complexities of inheritance, marriage, rank, control of different land, etc. The UI was also terrible, which didn't help. Give me another version of this game with an extended tutorial, a campaign that ramps up the various aspects of the game, and an overhauled UI, and I'll give you a GOTY.

10) Diablo III

You know, I can't argue with anyone who says this was their disappointment of the year. I also thought the auction house ruined the game, and made loot essentially meaningless. The story was garbage, and the need to play it through once to get past the "tutorial" and into the "real game" is ridiculous. That being said, Blizzard did do some interesting things with the hot-swappable skills which made for a lot of really interesting tactical choices. The visuals were also great, and the drop-in/out multiplayer worked really well. Allow me to skip straight to Nightmare, and get rid of the auction house, and I think the game would have been much improved.

Games I wish I had had the chance to play this year, so don't yell at me if they're not on the list:
Dark Souls
Far Cry 3
Mark of the Ninja

[size=100]Hotline Miami[/size]

Max Payne 3
Mass Effect 3

Xmas sale, Strangeblades. Xmas sale.

I gotta return some video tapes.

I am never buying Hotline Miami because of this.

Joke entry: The Room online game

Real entry: Dark Souls <might be best game of all TIME>

Dakuna wrote:

Joke entry: The Room online game

Are you talking about the iOS game? If so, why joke? I thought it was a decent 5hr puzzler...

Well I decided to go ahead and just do my top 10 anyway. It turns out that it wasn't that hard at all to remove the games I didn't feel fit in the top 10, and once I did that I had exactly 10 games left. It's possible that some of these games only go so high because I played them recently.

The key here is I'm looking at how much fun I had with the game in conjunction with things like story. A game with poor story but great gameplay could easily beat a game with good story but so-so gameplay.

Unlike everyone else, though, mine is in countdown order (10, 9, 8...)


Maybe if I managed to get more than 25 or so hours into the game it would be higher on the list, but something tells me 10 is a good spot for it. What really sells me on this game is the presentation. I like the characters. I like the gut-wrenching-sucker-punch they deliver that essentially starts the story. I like the mystery of the world being two giants frozen in killing blows. I like wandering these beautiful worlds where a single look to the sky reveals this once living monstrosity above the clouds. I love the voice acting. It's all so wonderful and, while others lament the game being on the Wii, I could care less. The game looks gorgeous. There's also something to be said about wandering an area and suddenly some huge level 80 monster begins stomping on by.

However, while the presentation is great and all, the gameplay was essentially a single player MMO. It had some neat ideas and I liked a lot of the tactical bits that forced you to think about who you had in your party and what moves you'd use, but in the end this game does a lot of "good" with only a few "greats" to note of.


I've come to the conclusion that I'm pretty easy to please when it comes to shooting games. While everyone else claims the gameplay to Spec Ops was boring I found it to pretty much be just what I'd want in a modern shooter. It hits all the same bullet points out of Call of Duty, only with a cover-mechanic and greater emphasis on the environment. I especially appreciate how the developer tried to make use of as many objects as they could for cover while seeming natural to the scene. Using pieces of a plane's wing and torn-out seats at a crash site, for example.

But what really sells this game to me is the artistic effort taken to present a game about something. Some may find it ham-fisted, but Spec Ops essentially looks directly at the player and asks "Just why the Hell do you play these bloody war games?" I feel like promotional materials oversold the Heart of Darkness inspiration, as Spec Ops: The Line was trying to deliver a bit of a different message. A desire to make the player stop and consider just what sort of actions they are doing in these modern war games and just how not-heroic such actions are in real life.


Sometimes it really is just nice to play a game whose sole purpose was to be a fun video game. Oddly enough, there's technically a bit more to Kid Icarus than that. The story manages to make you care about a few of the sucker punches by giving you time to get attached to the colorful characters, making the ending more than a mere "Oh, I beat the game".

The gameplay is a lot better than most people are willing to give credit for. Each weapon type forces you to adjust your approach, focusing on varying degrees on melee or ranged combat, and also allowing the player to adjust the difficulty level by the decimal. A lot of time was spent replaying this game simply to earn more loot and to try unlocking the in-game achievements (and the rewards from such accomplishments) that I really can't tell you how long this game would take on a simple, straight-forward playthrough.


Another game I haven't completed sadly, though at the time of this writing I'm about 18.5 hours (or 31 Chapters) in. Truth told the story hasn't completely grabbed me. I'm following along and recognize all the story points, but aside from one of my favorite characters of the year (and possibly favorite female character), Syrenne, there's little the story offers.

It's the combat that makes this game worth it. A sweet chocolatey concoction of cover-based-tactical-action-RPG, The Last Story forces the player to consider real-time positioning, character commands and timing of abilities to make the most out of the environment and of enemy weaknesses. The bosses continue to have interesting gimmicks that keeps things from getting stale, and all while using the basic mechanics provided by the game from the word "go". In a generation where everyone complains about JRPG's being stagnant, The Last Story turns it up to 11.


Truth told I lost count of how many hours I put into this game. Somewhere between 25-35. Either way, if I were to name a game RPG of the year this would be it. I was skeptical of the Pawns system at first, but being able to nab the Pawns created by fellow GWJers, talk to them about behaviors in the forums and then send them back with prizes was awesome. It also gave a sense of how the other player's progression was going.

What really makes the game, however, are the giant monsters and the memories they create. Every monstrous creature behaves differently, is instigated differently, attacks differently, and all feel organic and natural. Some monsters even have peculiar attributes, such as Trolls prioritizing women as a target. I will always remember finishing an escort quest on the beach at night, wandering from the waves and onto the plain where Goblins were trying to fend off two Cyclops. Or the time my Pawn was knocked over a cliff by a Cyclops and after hurriedly dispatching the one-eyed giant, dashing down the cliff to try and save the fallen Pawn only to be blind-sided by a Chimera. Two paragraphs is not enough space for this game, as it is just so much great. People speak highly of Bethesda, yet to me Dragon's Dogma makes Bethesda look like a bunch of College kids trying really hard to make a good game, they swear.


Part of me feels guilty for putting this game so high up, but truth told I put about as much time or more into this as I had Dragon's Dogma or Xenoblade. The campaign is incredibly tense, and I've finally been discovering why on a third playthrough. The first Resident Evil horrified players by hiding content from their line of sight. It kept the player in the dark, always wondering what is around the corner. Well, Revelations literally does it with corners. Such claustrophobic hallways littered with right angle turns, never knowing when a monster is going to jump out at you. A perfect transition of the original visual limitation and thus limitation to the player.

The Raid Mode is also guaranteed to pull you in with all the classic goodness of arcade style design. In truth I like Raid more than Mercenaries. In Raid you basically retread older levels, but trying to do a speed run as quickly as you can. Plus, there's the added bonus of all that time spent trying to figure out what the Hell this story is about


This may be the game I've sunk the most time into this year. Truth told, if it weren't for the mechanics, not even the nostalgia could have kept me coming back. There's just something about the Chaos Shrine and its promise of unlocking new characters that just pulls you into the never-ending abyss of joy.

Granted this leads into some inconvenient grinding issues, but the more powerful you become the more abilities the player unlocks and thus the tracks become easier. This is the genius way to hold content back from players. Create artificial road blocks that keeps the player from burning through to fast while providing something to work towards so those once impossible difficulties are now possible and within reach.


This game is a Usability expert's wet dream. This is how you communicate with the player, constantly toying with giving them great power while simultaneously making them fragile. This is the secret to a good stealth game. The player must be fragile so they fear getting hurt, while also making them feel empowered in all the different ways to keep them feeling gleeful.

Playing through once was fun. Playing through a second time with several abilities and stealth kills unlocked only proves to make this game better. The number of options to take on your foes in a simple side-scroller is sheer magic. Plus, the ending actually had me pause and consider my moral standing on a "lesser of two evils" decision. Always a good bonus.


Come this time next year I may be kicking myself for putting this so high. Or I might be kicking myself for placing it at number two. See, a lot of these games I went back and dabbled in a second time or so to see if they still stood up to a replay (unless I hadn't finished them). They did. Except I didn't replay any of The Walking Dead. I don't want the experience ruined, the point where I realize my choice "didn't matter" and I was railroaded a certain direction.

But that's the thing. This is a game where your experience is tailored just enough by your actions that it makes it hard to go through again. You're afraid of breaking the spell. Yet what makes it memorable is how it manages to surprise me, how it makes me nervous mashing a button, and most of all, how it has a single theme running throughout the entire series that holds true emotional heft to the entire experience. Games trying to communicate an idea with their story, using the setting as metaphor, is a rare thing indeed. One that does it on the level of other, older, forms of entertainment? Now THAT is a diamond in the rough.


Gameplay beat story this time. Dishonored is just a Hell of a lot of fun to play. Want to go as low-kill as possible? The game may be longer and harder, but it's still a lot of good times had with a large palette of tools and paths available. High kill? Well, currently I'm like the Dunwall Sniper with a crossbow. Enemies die, but they never see me coming.

While the game's story itself was lacking, each of the characters had enough of a quirk to be memorable. While the story was pretty basic, the universe itself is colorful (figuratively speaking) and is built for a stealth assassin. It's a giant buffet of memorable and dynamic set-pieces that make for the most interesting of plays. I can watch a friend play this and be just as entertained by his different approach as I am playing the game myself.


Biggest Disappointment - Darksiders 2

I liked the Zelda formula just better enough, and the constant fetch-quests made me feel like nothing more than a glorified errand boy. While there was a lot to love in this game, I simply loved the first one better. Which is a shame, as I like how much easier combat is in this game, as well as the Prince of Persia '08 style of exploration.

Most Noteworthy - Transformers: War for Cybertron

A large ensemble of characters that each played differently, and all came together in a fantastic adrenaline filled final mission that makes this potentially the most satisfying ending I've played in a game in a long time.

Mass Effect 3

I dug Mass Effect 1, but I didn't have the sordid affair most of the rest of you seem to have had. I liked the characters to Mass Effect 2, but that's about it. The story was stupid and so were the combat changes. Mass Effect 3 was largely the same with a handful of exceptions, but the ending actually drove me to look at the series in a new light. I enjoyed the ending, and I enjoy what Mass Effect could have been about had the writers not been jack asses. Plus, the final mission felt like what other shooters should feel like in a war torn environment invaded by aliens.

I Am Alive

I can't discuss this game without also discussing all the things that would have made it better. But honestly, I Am Alive is the first game that really delivered that "survival" aspect of survival horror. Exploring the city, always low on bullets, having to figure out the best way to navigate without dying...this was a game that should have sold better, but didn't because everyone wanted the initial announcement trailer. Know what? I want that game, too. But I'm glad to have what I have.

Biggest Surprises

Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City

The game isn't that great. It is riddled with design problems. But I still played the campaign over the course of a weekend, only pulled away by social obligation. For $20, it makes a pretty good game. Too bad I don't know anyone else that has it to co-op. :/

New Super Mario Bros. 2

It may seem silly to mention a Mario game being a lot of fun, but I just didn't get into NSMB or NSMBWii as much as I did with NSMB2. It was no Mario 3D Land, but it sold me on the idea of NSMBU as a worthy launch title for the WiiU.

The games I wanted to play but didn't get around to before this vote

Journey, Dust: An Elysian Tale, Tokyo Jungle, Paper Mario Sticker Star, XCom, Assassin's Creed 3, Far Cry 3, Resident Evil 6, NSMBU, ZombiU, Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale, Gravity Rush, Your Mother, Retro City Rampage

(Disclaimer: I may go back and rewrite a bunch of this as I was starting to fall asleep at about...oh, number 10.)

Made some modifications to my post here, mostly in erasing the delirious scribblings of a sleepy man and replacing them with more rational speechiness.

Heres my top 3:

1. Assassins Creed 3 - I'm about 2/3 of the way through and I am really enjoying the world they have created.
2. Diablo 3
3. Dishonored

1. Saints Row: The Third: Gloriously childish and an absolute ton of fun. Playing a sociopath has never been this fun.

2. ME3: There are a lot of problems with this one. Yes, the ending cutscene(pre-Director's Cut) is mechanically bad. Yes, a few threads got lost from ME2. ME3 was about endings. It's about closure. And Bioware delivered on that. They ended just about every major thread over the last 3 games. They gave resolution to plots starting in ME1, to stories started in ME2. The last 4 hours of the game(up until the last 15 minutes) were wonderfully crafted, well written, and reflected just about every single major choice Shepard made over the entire series. Add in a multiplayer mode that is actually very well done, and a lot of fun, and it's my #2 for the year.

3. XCOM: Firaxis nailed it. They took the X-Com game loop, and modernized it, added some more context and story, and let players loose again to save the world. Great stuff.

4. Pokemon Black/White 2: Nintendo has the formula completely down at this point. However, the addition of MMO-lite elements helps keep the new game rather fresh. There's always something new to do in the game, no matter where you are in the story. Plus, Nintendo's added a lot of features to help everyone get their party up to competitive levels, without requiring as much of a time investment as before. The previous DS versions were pretty much only for people who've been playing the games for a long time. Now, they're pretty much open for everyone.

5. Halo 4: 343 Industries had a pretty much impossible task: To make an FPS that followed the pedigree that Bungie had established. They didn't just achieve that task, they knocked it out of the park. Some of the new features made me very hesitant to buy the game: The addition of leveling and CoD-like perks and weapon loadouts, for one. But they managed to make leveling and unlocking an almost painless experience, with everything you absolutely need frontloaded, so you'll have it all after a handful of matches. The new Spartan Ops mode is also a LOT of fun.

6. Endless Space: This is a very approachable 4X space game. While the initial release was a bit lifeless, the devs have added a lot of small story beats, and have tried to expand the universe. Hopefully they'll keep on doing this.

7. FTL: It's just pure awesome. If you don't own it, buy it. If you think you can't afford it, skip a meal or two. FTL > Food.

8. Fairway Solitaire: Yeah, it's iOS, but it's a very well done solitaire puzzle game. The addition of daily challenges keeps me coming back to it as I drink my morning coffee.

Updated my comment as well.