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

1. Crusader Kings 2 - I've sunk about 160 hours into this since February. It's an endless story generator, producing tragedy and comedy in equal measure. It's never been so entertaining to watch things fall apart, and Mass Effect's puppet sex doesn't even have a fraction of the tension and frission of a single event in Crusader Kings. It's the funniest, most romantic game of the year. It does a remarkable job of turning you into a paranoid psychopath, sacrificing people and murdering children for the sake of your legacy. And it does it all with a map, some text, a handful of pictures and a whole bunch of numbers.

2. Saints Row The Third - Pure infectious, infantile glee. SR3 is a game that when you let people loose in a dense open world, there's going to be havoc, and by golly, it's going to reward you for it, whatever you do, whether it's driving in the wrong lane, car surfing, streaking or getting into a collision and flying through the windshield. I was hooked with the opening ludicrous action sequence, and completely sold by the time the boss and Pierce were singing "What I Got".

3. Dark Souls - Sparse, beautiful and demanding. It's can be amazingly rage-inducing, but as brutal as it can be, it's usually fair. And that makes the elation you feel after finally beating some of those bosses all the greater. The moment when Ornstein and Smaug finally went down its my most triumphant gaming moment this year.

4. The Walking Dead - It's remarkable how much I wound up caring about Clementine. There's a point in part 2 that took me from "f*ck you, you bastard!" to a stomach sinking "No! Not in front of her!" in an instant. And I haven't been as wrecked as I was by the ending of The Walking Dead since watching Up for the first time. Just to be clear, I’m not talking a single stoic, solitary tear running down a cheek here. No, this was proper A BLOO BLA BLOO BLOO blubbering.

5. Hotline Miami - The most stylish, cinematic game of the year. Relentlessly brutal, disturbing and aesthetically perfect.

6. Dishonored - Oh, Looking Glass, how I miss you. It has issues with balancing, but exploring Dunwall brought back sweet memories of sneaking and poking through The City for the first time. It was my favourite place to visit this year.

7. Mark of the Ninja - I'm usually not big on platformers, but this is such an incredibly tight game. The controls, UI and player feedback are all absolutely perfect.

8. XCOM - So this was a neat reworking of the old game, even if I think they tossed a bit too much of the simulation when bringing in the boardgamey stuff. I loved it while I was playing it, but I felt pretty done with it by the end, and I'm someone who replays nearly everything. The pregenerated maps and explicit structured story playing to the cheap seats made the experience feel limited, enjoyable as it was.

9. Legend of Grimrock - What a charming blast from the past. I'd never had though grid-based movement would work now that we have the tech to allow for free movement, but it works brilliantly, even for someone like me who only dabbled a bit in Dungeon Master and The Bard's Tale back in the day.

10. Mass Effect 3 - Yeah, it’d be higher if the ending wasn't so limpwristed, but not by much. It's been a pretty great year. I feel they finally nailed the combat in this one, striking a better balance between shooter and rpg than either of the previous managed, while doing more to escape suffocating confines of space dungeons littered with waist high walls that plague especially the second game. Ending aside, storywise the galactic threat has never been my favourite part of the series though, although the moments when the story hits on all cylinders, like Tuchanka, it soars.

Honorable mention: Binary Domain

If I believed in guilty pleasures, this would probably be my pick for the year. I love cyperpunk and this does everything it can to hit every trope in the book. It's a wonderful, enthusiastic b-movie of a game. For a while, I toyed with putting it in Mass Effect 3's spot, since it's a third person shooter with an emphasis on squad relationships and a synthetic vs. organics story that's a good deal better executed than ME3's slack-jawed and confused dribbles. But even if it has some of the boss battles are ludicrous and entertaining, I hated the Gorilla fights so much I couldn't do it in the end.

The award for employing illiterate chimps as writers: Assassins Creed 2

"My name is Desmond Miles and this is my story" Oh, Assassin's Creed writers. You don't even know what a story is, do you? Granted, I just bought it and am only a couple of hours in, so maybe he'll go back to insinuating himself into the game like a Desmond-cancer, but so far the one character I've been playing, the one with personality and stakes in what's happening, the one that's experiencing pain and has agency? Ezio.

I quite like what I've played of the game so far, but man, the writing in this series is just asinine.

This year I've played some of the best games I've ever played. But, I mainly play MMO's so my list is pretty short.

1. World of Tanks - The ultimate Saturday afternoon game. Play a couple of games, do chores, repeat...
2. Guild Wars 2 - I've finally found my WoW replacement. They really nailed the gameplay in this one. Not so good with the story though.
3. The Secret World - Great story. Complex gameplay and character builds.

These three games have oocupied 98% of my new gaming this year.

Edit: Someone else pointed out there are other platforms to consider. So...
4. Battle Nations - quirky, fun and enjoyable city builder

My entirely correct list.

1. Dishonored
2. Journey
3. The Walking Dead
4. XCOM: Enemy Unknown
5. 10000000
6. FTL: Faster Than Light
7. Waking Mars
8. Mark of the Ninja
9. Legend of Grimrock
10. Tokyo Jungle

1) Persona 4: Golden
2) Journey
3) Xcom
4) Legend of Grimrock
5) Dear Esther
6) Gravity Rush
7) Assassin's Creed III: Liberation
8) The Secret World
9) Diablo 3
10) Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning

Journey: I only played it through once (in one sitting), but it was an amazing experience. Almost don't want to play it again since it was so good.

1. Borderlands 2
This comes in at the top almost more because of the sheer amount of time I've put into this game, and have continued to do so since I recently purchased the season pass. The work they've put into the DLC is pretty mind-blowing as well. I can't believe how large the first one is, and there are still 2 more to come.

2. Mass Effect 3
I'm in the same mind as Brad Shoemaker, where I'm recognizing the series as a whole (a la the Oscars with Return of the King) instead of just this installment. Feelings on the ending aside, Bioware attempted something extremely ambitious and I feel for the most part were very successful.

3. The Walking Dead
Only 2 episodes in, and while I see all the mechanical problems that I've heard/read about, it's still a great experience, and I am eagerly looking forward to finishing the story. (and possibly starting a fresh run making different decisions)

4. Silent Hill: Downpour
What a pleasant surprise! Having never played any Silent Hill games, I really didn't have any compass for which to gauge this title. It seriously piqued my interest in the franchise, but unfortunately the problems with the HD remake collection will have me waiting for the next installment.

5. Assassin's Creed 3
Similar to Mass Effect, this is again more of recognition of the series so far than just this particular release. Sure, it lacked the level of polish the previous releases had, but the core gameplay of parkour and stabbing was still intact and super fun. My feeling is that this title suffered more from a change in leadership with Patrick Desilets' absence than anything else. Add to the fact that the series has not experienced the same jump in quality like it did between 1 & 2, and I think it underwhelmed a lot more than it should have.

6. Alan Wake's American Nightmare
I loved the original Alan Wake so much, and this was a great example of how 'more of the same' is NOT a bad thing. I quietly wonder if Remedy had released the original as a series of downloadable episodes if they would have beaten Telltale Games to the punch.

7. Deadlight
I only just started this yesterday, but I'm already 2/3 of the way through. A great little 3D sidescrolling puzzle platformer, reminiscent of Shadow Complex (minus the Metroid/Zelda backtracking to unlock inaccessible areas). Some slightly unorthodox control scheme choices makes for some mild frustrations here and there, but all in all a well done story and a fun game.

8. Binary Domain
I had way more fun with this than I probably should have. It had all the makings for a mediocre 3rd person shooter experience, but somehow the whole ended up being greater than the sum of its parts. The over-the-top dudebros, the squad system, the upgrading system and the great story twist at the end made for a super fun experience that I would highly recommend.

9. Syndicate
A really fun game that I think was marred by what seems to be typical gamer backlash against reboots of older, beloved games. This was another one that looked to be a 'meh' kind of experience, but actually ended up being a lot of fun, especially considering the well worn futuristic corporate dystopia milieu that the game was set in. I think if more people had played this, they wouldn't have been as butthurt about Mass Effect 3's ending. (Yeah, it was pretty bad.) I'm also sorry there wasn't more people playing the multi-player, it was great fun that petered out too quickly.

That exhausts all of my releases from 2012, so I'll fill out my list with one from last year:

10. Catherine
In all fairness, this should probably be up around #4, but I felt obliged to keep all of this year's releases that I played in the list first. Not much else to say about this that Clocky, Minarchist and momgamer haven't already expounded on in the main thread, so I'll just say I'm in total agreement with them on this one.

Honorable mentions:

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron
Too Human
Viking: Battle for Asgard
Alpha Protocol
Deadly Premonition
LA Noire

1. Far Cry 3
2. Sleeping Dogs
3. WoW: Mists of Pandaria
4. Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning
5. Forza Horizon
6. Max Payne 3

This list is woefully incomplete because I didn't get some of the year's best games till Xmas. I've yet to play Assassin's Creed 3, Halo 4, Dishonored, XCOM, Borderlands 2, and I'm still working my way through The Walking Dead. Any one or all of those games might have made the list.

1. Persona 4 Golden
2. Persona 3 Portable
3. Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky
4. Mass Effect 3
5. Sound Shapes

Totally Off-the-Cuff-and-Ill-Thought-Out Games of 2012:

1. Dishonored (360) Only played the first proper mission (twice), but it's so far everything a Thief fan could want—and a Deus Ex fan, and a BioShock fan, and even a Half-Life 2 fan (if you're mostly after metal sheets in old cities with lots of graffiti)—and then some.
2. The Walking Dead (XBLA) A story-driven zombie game? On my best-of list? It's more likely than you think.
3. Mark of the Ninja (XBLA) More stealth, natch. And 2D, iconographic, blood-spattered at that, when I only thought I ever wanted fully immersive, punishingly slow stealth (well, I do, but this is also good—great story too).
4. Thirty Flights of Loving (PC) As a rule, I hate story in games, unless the story is the game (and it's worth seeing playing).
5. Birds of Steel (360) As hardcore a combat flight sim as you could hope to find on a console, short a proper flightstick. It's the Forza of flight sims, with all the realism options (and planes) anyone might need. Shame no one else played it.
6. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Dragonborn (360) The 90s called, they want their expansions back. Just kidding! They totally wants us to have more, and Dragonborn is DLC an expansion the way we remember them.

Honourable mentions:

Battle Academy (iPad)
Battle of the Bulge (iPad)
Forza Horizon (360)
FTL: Faster Than Light (PC)
Hotline Miami (PC)
Spaceteam (iOS)
Waking Mars (iOS)

Everything else I played:

10000000
letterpress
Puzzlejuice
The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings

This thread is great, really enjoy reading everyone's thoughts on all the games on their list.

My list for 2012:

1) FTL: Faster Than Light (PC) Frugal and brilliant design, infinite playability, and an addictive 8-bit soundtrack; this game absorbed me unlike any other this year. My favorite moment of gaming this year involved sitting around a couch with some friends and role-playing our way from sector to sector, nothing beats the experience.

2) Spelunky HD (360) When I'm alone and just want to unwind this is my go to game. I love my little loot-sh*tting monkey!

3) DayZ (PC) The best game on PC this year, stretching the boundaries of gaming in the best way possible.

4) Dead Space 2 (PC) Super fine-tuned single player experience, this is as close as you get to playing a movie.

5) Far Cry 3 (PC) Short but sweet, it is mind boggling how much tech was required to put this game together.

6) Halo 4 (360) A 360 game should not look or play this well. 343i accomplished something great here, and I'm excited to see what comes next for the Master Chief.

7) Pikmin (Gamecube) Adorable and a perfect example of how to do RTS on a console.

8) XCOM: Enemy Unknown (PC) The return of turn-based strategy! I can't get enough of this one.

9) Jagged Alliance: Back in Action (PC) Not as polished as some of the other titles on this list, but still very addictive.

10) Mark of the Ninja (360) Great art style, fun little story. It's the 2D Splinter Cell I've always wanted.

Honorable mentions: Dark Souls This made my list in 2011 but I have to bring it up again because I was finally able to dig in and embrace what is perhaps the best Action RPG ever created. No matter what else I play I always come back to this. Can't wait to get this up and running on the PC.

Diablo III I just want to make two points about this game: 1) I played a ton of Diablo III this year, nearly 125 hours if Steam is to be believed and 2) It was really great to play with fellow GWJers, they made this game fun. Otherwise I was completely annoyed by Diablo III, annoying to a point where I was just completely fed up with it.

Don't Starve The game is not finished, but what little I have played has been great.

MechWarrior Online The game got eclipsed by the crazy November we had this year, I intend to get back into it sometime in 2013.

Dota 2 I loved LoL, so I'm looking forward to migrate over to this one. When I have more time perhaps.

Definitely a chunk of 2012 flavor to my list. Mostly stuff I've played this fall/winter that came out earlier in the year. Torchlight 2 and Borderlands 2 and SMT:DS 2 were the only games on the list that I got on release.

1) Walking Dead
2) FTL
3) Journey
4) Mark of the Ninja
5) The Last Story
6) Torchlight 2
7) Borderlands 2
8) Nier
9) Persona 3
10) Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2

Only one DS game there, and really the only one I played this year. Didn't even touch the system while on vacation for the holidays, which is when I usually get some time in (OkamiDen last year). But thanks to FTL running on my laptop, that's what I spent many hours playing while visiting family and away from my consoles and gaming PC.

Sad that I can't put Xenoblade Chronicles on the list, but unlike TLS and Nier, I couldn't ever get back around to finishing it. Skyward Sword would be on the list but I did start it in Dec, only finished it in Jan 2012, so I think it's ineligible.

And despite ME3 not being on my list, I did get a ton of fun out of the muliplayer, dozens of hours even.

And give me another few days to finish it and XCom Enemy Unknown would probably end up on the list too.

What a year it’s been for me – my first child, a son named Harrison Thomas, was born in August, so the next couple of months were pretty much gaming free, and even now I just get half an hour here or there. It means my list isn’t as long as it might have been but here goes…

1. Mass Effect 3. There are a couple of weird things you should know about me. First – I liked both pre and post-patch endings. Second – I preferred male shep. I really got invested in the Mass Effect series, and it was to my surprise – me being a fantasy buff usually to the exclusion of sci-fi. For me, the payoff was there.

2. Crusader Kings 2. I’ve only put in 20 hours, but I already know this is going to keep me happy for many more. My Galicia, turned Portugal, outlasted Castille and Leon, then got swept aside by the Muslim Jihad before the year 1200, but I loved every minute of it.

3. Hotline Miami. The perfect game in my post childbirth world. I can play for 2 minutes or 20 and walk away satisfied. The samurai sword is my weapon of the year.

4. Torchlight 2. I actually enjoyed this and Diablo 3 equally. The difference was I could play Torchlight 2 whenever I wanted. I don’t know if it was my internet connection or Blizzards servers that caused the problem, but lag forced me away from D3 when it needn’t have been the case, and so it gets no vote from me. Oh, and Torchlight 2 was great by the way.

5. Mark of the Ninja. Got this for Christmas and it makes a late entry into my list. Made me dream of ninjas for the past few days. Weird.

6. FTL – Faster Than Light. Another Sci-Fi game, but it’s the rogue-like mechanics rather than the theme that impressed me. I’m still to make it further than sector 4, I’m such a noob.

My totally subjective list of what I enjoyed the most in 2012:

1. Walking Dead. (360)
What hasn't been said so far? This game wrecked me, had me in tears, and I scheduled my time around it so I could fully enjoy each episode and not rush. Bought the first episode on a whim, and by the end of the masterful, Hitchcockian second episode I was totally hooked. It also excited me about the possibilities of game narrative and economy in way few games have since I was a kid.

2. Civ 5: Gods & Kings (OS X)
Great update to a great game, but what really hooked me was playing with my 9 year old, ancient history obsessed son. Playing for 45 minutes a night makes for a long game, but stopping to fully answer "Dad, what's the Angor Wat" and read through the wikipedia entry was priceless. Also, the anachronism of
having the Polynesians found Judiasm and build the Eiffel Tower never gets old.

3. Batman: Arkham City (360)
I know many had their problems with it, but besides the Riddler portions, this is the Batman game I've always wanted to play. I prefer my games short and concise, but I wanted this game to last 4 times longer. Great story, perfect execution, and amazing setting, I'll just gush if I keep going.

4. Xcom (360)
I love turn based board games, I love sci fi, and I love playing from my couch. Yes, I adored the original, but you could've called this game Advanced Insurance Seminar and I still would've played it for months like I did.

5. Dishonored (360)
Great world building and mood. In my playthrough, things got dark in some subtle ways that still stick with me, like Emily casually mentioning how she's going to order ships to ram each other for her amusement. Really want more time in this world, even though it takes its toll.

6. Ascension (iOS)
Easily have played hundreds of games of this.

7. Saints Row the Third (360)
Great coop fun, and a great lesson in mission variety. Like above, I still remember singing along to Sublime while riding in the car, the first pony race around town, and performing wrestling moves on old ladies walking the streets.

8. Borderlands 2 (360)
So much more personality than the bland first one, and lots of fun in coop.

9. Mark of the Ninja (360)
Since I put UIs under the microscope on an almost daily basis for work, finding a great one in my relaxation zone was a happy surprise. Having it tied to a great game, doubly so.

10. Costume Quest (360)
To activate the superpower of the eyeball costume, you cut an onion so a torrent of tears will obliterate your enemies. My kids actually requested I play it so they could watch.

nel e nel wrote:

10. Catherine
In all fairness, this should probably be up around #4, but I felt obliged to keep all of this year's releases that I played in the list first. Not much else to say about this that Clocky, Minarchist and momgamer haven't already expounded on in the main thread, so I'll just say I'm in total agreement with them on this one.

You wrote "#1" wrong. Would you really leave this game all the way down at #10? On my birthday, even?

1) Guild Wars 2
This game has taken over all my free time, to the detriment of other first class games like Borderlands 2, Dishonored, Torchlight 2, Mark of the Ninja, etc. Since GW2's release, if I've been home at some point during the day, I've played this game. Tons of fun exploring, fighting, completing areas, doing the occasional jumping puzzle and running dungeons with fellow guildmates. Fun seasonal events and new content have been added frequently to keep things fresh. I've got 3 max level characters, and I'm working on a 4th now.

2) Saints Row: The Third
OMG! This game. It's fun. It's funny. It's everything I loved from the GTA games, but better. And leaves out most of what I hate about the current GTA games. And the ending battle- the music used is epic.

3) Borderlands 2
I haven't played much of it yet (see #1), but what I have lets me know that this is more of the Borderlands I loved in the first game.

4) Orcs Must Die 2
Tower defense shooter that's just fun. It's just like the first OMD, but made even better.

5) Puzzle Craft
Skimming through the thread, I saw a lot of love for 10000000, and rightly so. But the causal game that kept me coming back for more was Puzzle Craft, so I could build my town up and get upgrades to make it easier to farm and mine, so I could get more upgrades to make it easier to farm and mine.

6) Shoot Many Robots
Fun 2D shooter with good co-op

7) Team Fortress 2: Mann vs. Machine
A good addition to one of the best games of all time

8) Batman: Arkham City
More Batman. Batman is cool. Writing left a bit to be desired, especially when it came to the female characters who seemed to be all be scripted based on what 14 year old boys wanted them to say. Perhaps I wasn't the demographic they were targeting.

9) Quantum Conundrum
There's much to love in this game. Unfortunately, as you get closer to the end, there's also much to hate. Charming but the focus of jumping puzzles while needing to shift between 4 dimensions made it too frustrating to finish.

10) Kingdom of Amalur: Reckoning
Eh, it kept me busy for 30-40 hours early in the year, but ultimately was way too vast a world for it's console-like fighting. Once I unlocked all the skills I wanted for my character, I realized I was still going to have to play the game for another 60 to 90 hours to finish. Instead I found other stuff to do. So why is it on my list? So Diablo III wouldn't make the cut...

Still on the pile because I'm spending my time in Guild Wars 2:
Dishonored
Mark of the Ninja
Torchlight II
Waking Mars
Dark Souls
The Walking Dead

Hey, a wild list appears:

1. Saints row 3
2. Planet side 2
3. Forza 4
4. Don't starve
5. L.A. Noire
6. Recettear
7. Secret of the magic crystals
8. Hotline Miami

How did everyone on this website forget that Fez exists? Or did nobody actually play it?

1. Journey

Beautifully designed from top to bottom. Uses its commanding grasp of minimalism to such wondrous effect that I wonder whether any AAA studio could ever compete; no amount of scale could match the impact of its simplicity. The most innovative multiplayer design seen in a videogame since Team Fortress. Masterful.

2. Walking Dead

The best mainstream interactive narrative yet developed. Presents a shining example to developers around the world: You can make serious games that tell stories well, and this is how you do it. Telltale's finest work to date.

3. Fez

Offers a view of remarkable clarity inside the world of its lead designer. Bold! Clever! Wonderfully auteristic! A compelling remix of the roots of game culture that manages in its own way to explore why we are the way we are.

4. Dishonored

What would you do with a drunken whaler? Probably something terrible. A quirky little game with a well-realized storyworld. Uses interesting tricks to invest the player in the lives of even its most minor characters. Seems to understand exactly what I like about stealth games, and delivers with skill and passion.

5. Trials: Evolution

Has one great core mechanic, and knows just how to flog the hell out of it. Classical videogame design at its best.

6. Legend of Grimrock

A nifty action-puzzler with a well-designed learning curve and some savoury reward systems. Achieves that 'hand-crafted' feel by minimizing the amount of randomization going on and selecting an elegant, deliberate framework for environmental navigation. A home-cooked videogame.

7. Borderlands 2

A fun way to hang out with your friends. My idea of a good casual social experience.

8. Spec Ops: The Line

This game has both balls and teeth. Testiculi dentata. Creates the impression that a bunch of very frustrated people were working on something they knew would be a pile of garbage when they turned around and said "You know what? To hell with this horrible status quo. We're going to show people how absurd this industry has become." Unfortunately satirizing a pile of garbage so faithfully requires embodying, to some extent, that same pile of garbage.

9. Hotline: Miami

A gripping representation of how psychosis might feel, especially when combined with or caused by very strong stimulants. Also has clever mechanical systems that produce a unique and often exhilarating pace.

10. Baldur’s Gate EE

TECHNICALLY THIS CAME OUT THIS YEAR, OKAY? Baldur's Gate is my favourite videogame.

I think the issue with Fez for some people is not owning a 360. Anyways, that's my situation.

I liked Fez well enough, but it wasn't one of my ten favorites. It probably would've made a top...20.

tuffalobuffalo wrote:

I think the issue with Fez for some people is not owning a 360. Anyways, that's my situation.

For me, yes. I would love to try it on PC if it were to ever get ported.

I didn't get far enough into Fez. I think if I played another 10 hours of Fez it would be in my top 5. I love it so far. But because it's trapped on a console (that's an issue for me these days) and isn't playable on a tablet or portable it goes down the list or off the list.

Phil actually made a post today that says "FEZ will finally be ported to other platforms" in 2013. No specifics about which platforms though.

My criteria for GOTY is to involve what I believe are the two most important things for game design: game play and experiences.

10. MotorStorm: RC (Vita) - The RC play and perspective makes all the difference in making this a fun driving game. I played it so much around release it could’ve easily been higher if not for the difficult drift races that my coordination couldn’t process. The friend's leaderboards and back-and-forth challenges cemented this as one of my favorite games this year.

9. Dungeon Raid (iOS) - I’ve never played a match three game whose core gameplay, the puzzle, came even as close to being as good as Dungeon Raid. I love the random encounters, bosses, upgrades, skills, and the pure simplistic joy of making a massive chain that you’ve been planning for a few turns. This game was my job down-time filler for most of the year, so bless its soul. The only problem I have with it, and it’s a big one, is that the overall game progression feels very slow, almost like it had a microtransaction system.

8. Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 (PC) - I loved the campaign. Ok, so there’s Strikeforce. They finally managed to make a great popcorn campaign without dumbing down the story. Yes, it’s fantastical, but not much more so than it needs to be. I do wish there were more unique sections in the game, but I suppose running around like a madman chopping men good can suffice. MP is nice, too, fyi.

7. Twisted Metal (PS3) - The SP is sh*t. I admit it. It’s mainly just playing maps with AI, and occasionally a special condition or boss. This stuff obviously wasn’t play tested or given the time it needed. The combat and driving are the real meat to this game, and MP is where the body lives. I spent months playing this off and on, through all the weird MP issues and patch delays. I actually loaded it up today, and the last news post is from Feb, the month of release. Oh, I haven’t said much good yet. The controls, while complicated, fit like a glove to me. The feel of driving around hitting power-ups, handbraking to change directions or shoot at someone, the anticipation for your next special or health in the distance gives the satisfaction center of my brain such a high that not many others can accomplish.

6. Perspective (PC) - A lovely puzzle game. Got two hours? Get some perspective.

5. Dishonored (PC) - Exploration in games is a favorite of mine, so getting a whole bunch more right in your game is just the whip cream on my pumpkin pie. There’s honestly not much I didn’t love about this game. The rest was so good I didn’t even care that the main story was small and basic. I didn’t even use much stealth, do many sidequests, or read any of the dozens of pages and books I picked up. I made a bee line to the runes and bone charms, and then to the story missions, where I made sure to kill anyone in my way. For those 15 hours I played a monkey with powers and weapons who hated the human race. What’s not to love?

4. Awesomenauts (PSN & PC) - I love the concept of MOBAs, and the gameplay, but I don’t know how anyone has time for games that easily last over half an hour. Awesomenauts takes the genre 2D, shortens up the matches considerably (30 min is a very long game), but keeps the same great gameplay. And since it’s 2D, they’re able to make multiple maps without breaking the formula. Platforming also makes for a varied experience, and who doesn’t love jumping around? It’s awesome. (Vinnie is OP.)

3. Johann Sebastian Joust (OSX beta) - At Pencon 2012 a good amount of people came outside to watch and play JSJ. I stayed out there for almost two hours having the time of my life. It’d been at least a handful of years since I ever played a sports game that long, and I cherished it. I wasn't an expert at balancing the Move, but I sure did take a thrill in pouncing other players while watching my own back. Due respect for Dyni, the King of JSJ. That is one unmovable boulder of a man, his center of gravity was a constant surprised. Thanks to everyone there for making it one of the highlights of my life, and something I’ll always remember.

2. Ascension (any/all expansions) (iOS) - My most played game in 2012. While moment to moment the card game isn’t a thrilling one, the constant strategic back-and-forth that occasionally leads to epic last hands provides a great satisfaction, and the best card game I’ve ever played. Turns like this. I recently played my 220th game, with a record of 130-93. I don’t think this is a game I’ll ever stop playing, and they say the next expansion makes the game even better. Big thanks to all my friendly opponents this year, and more in the year to come. Bring on the fun.

1. Journey (PSN) - Perfection.

Just missed the list:

Ico (PS3) - What a great adventure. Some camera wonkiness and progression obscurity barely holds the title back. Didn’t like the end sequence either.
Fez (XBLA) - Charming, simple platformer that had a great sense of exploration and mystery. Ironically enough, the extra meaning in this game had me feel like I was missing something, so that’s what I recall about the game. A shame, really.
Gravity Rush (Vita) - Unique, thrilling action adventure with collectables that mean something. I loved the crazy obtuse story. Some touch implementation is the only negitive here. I just didn’t like it as much as the others on my list.
The Secret World (PC) - Playing with friends, figuring out mysteries, and living through the stories brings TSW to life. I didn’t spend enough time as I’d like with it.
XCOM (PC) - The only reason this isn’t on my list, and high, is because of the bugs. The lack of tutorial is annoying, but the camera issues, and others, really do bring a great game down.
FTL (PC) - I love this game, except for its crazy difficulty spikes.

My other favorites this year:

Dust: An Elysian Tail
The Unfinished Swan
PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale
The Walking Dead
Resistance 3
Far Cry 3
Tokyo Jungle
Guild Wars 2
Xenoblade Chronicles
Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack! (100%!)

P.S. While it might not be very nice, I have to say that it's a shame that ME3 seems to be the front runner when a game like Journey came out this year. Sorry, I prefer my bias.

cyrax wrote:

P.S. While it might not be very nice, I have to say that it's a shame that ME3 seems to be the front runner when a game like Journey came out this year. Sorry, I prefer my bias.

I wouldn't say ME3 is front-running, unless I'm mistaken. I'm seeing a lot of Dishonored and XCOM.

Regarding Journey, platform exclusives have a rough go of it in community votes (I'd have played it if I had a PS3). Especially in a PC-first community like this one. Half of my games were listed by fewer than five other people. C'est la vie.

I am really gutted that I couldn't contribute more to this fabulous thread. 2012 was a difficult year. I could not find any time or cash for hobbies nor interests. I'm really looking forward to 2013, though, it (hopefully) can only get better. There are so many games I am itching to try in 2013 due to this thread. My favorite games in 2013 will no doubt consist of a great many listed by you lovely folk right here, right now. I'll be a year behind!

I'm really buzzing about getting a week or two off work (I have holidays to use) to kickstart some serious gaming that I can actually see through due to work being a tad less stressful between January and March. It's coming up to 3:00am and I've just got off the New Years Eve shift. I'm back up for work at 8:30am and then I have a day off. I'm going to set aside a few hours to finish up with Rage (PS3) and make a start on The Walking Dead (PC) after I take the wife out for a meal at a restuarant of her choosing. Gotta earn that game time!

I really enjoyed everyone's summary of their year in gaming. Looking forward to the results!

In before the buzzer!

I didn't get to play much this year, so here is my short list. Enough has already been said about nearly all of my choices here, so I'll leave my own comments out for now.

1. The Walking Dead
2. XCOM: Enemy Unknown
3. Mass Effect 3
4. Frog Fractions - The best 30 minute game this year.
5. Borderlands 2

Honorable Mention to Thirty Flights of Loving. Make sure you play through with the developer commentary on as well; it made a second run much more enjoyable for me.

Best 2011 game for 2012: Saints Row the Third

Game I should have spent more time with: FTL

Game I regret not having played: Journey

cyrax wrote:

XCOM (PC) - The only reason this isn’t on my list, and high, is because of the bugs. The lack of tutorial is annoying, but the camera issues, and others, really do bring a great game down.

Strange. I thought XCOM had a great tutorial, easing you through the major mechanics over the course of several missions, instead of throwing it all at you in a front-loaded info dump.

EDIT: Unless you're talking about the original XCOM from back in '94. Yeah, that one was pretty freakin' obtuse from the start.

I was actually annoyed by there being too much tutorial in XCOM (and I never played the original, either). Was that stuff patched in?

I don't think any extra tutorial stuff was patched in as it was the same as the demo that launched pre-release.

You did have the option to turn off the tutorial tips during any play-through in the Advanced option settings.