So, that’s the list out of the way (part 1 is here) (part 2 is here). But it’s not like there were 10 good games this year and a whole bunch of shit ones. Turns out 2012 was actually a pretty good year for games. Like I mentioned a few weeks ago there seems to have been a massive tidal wave of good-to-brilliant indie games to come along with the usual swathe of great-to-entirely-shite big releases. And because I seem to be on a roll with this whole writing lists about games thing I thought I’d keep the train going a little longer and make a couple more.
Three Games It Was Painful To Leave Off The Top 10 List
I can count on one hand the number of driving games that I actually really liked*. Now I need to start using my other hand after buying Forza Horizon on a whim at a discounted price. As a chronic pedestrian I’m the last person who feels able to comment on the realism of driving controls, but whether it was a realistic simulation or not it felt extremely fun and satisfying to drive.
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning
This game had a few things counting against it. It had some terrible voice acting, one of the most uninspired and unoriginal stories ever (despite a premise that promised more originality than it delivered). It almost stole #10 on the list purely on the fact that, mechanically, this was one of the most fun games to play all year. It’s not often you get a big, open-world RPG that has fun combat mechanics no matter the class you choose. Ask Skyrim.
Transformers: Fall of Cybertron
For me this game being awesome was the biggest surprise of 2012; both because it was awesome and because I was surprised it was awesome. High Moon Studio’s had already released an awesome Transformers game in 2010 and I’m not sure why I was hesitant to give this one a go. It’s fun and satisfying to play, and if I was doing an award for most badass trailer, this game would win that hands down.
*(Gran Turismo, Burnout Revenge, Test Drive Unlimited, Burnout Crash and the thumb is F1 ’97)
Three Indie Games To Pick Up Immediately
This game is £1.99. It’s a side scrolling shooter and a perfect throwback to the side scrolling shooters of the early nineties. All you have to do is run 20 streets to safety. Only each street is randomised every time you play. And there are zombies. Lots and lots of zombies. It’s an addicting little game with endless replayability and a great way to kill a couple hours. And did I mention it’s only £1.99? It’s the same price as a fucking Happy Meal for God’s sake!
Tiny & Big: Grandpa’s Leftovers
You know when you’re wandering around in a game and you have to reach a high point, haven’t you always just wanted to carve the landscape up with a laser to make a staircase, rather than take whatever contrived path is laid out by said games mechanics? Well Tiny & Big is your game. It’s a 3D puzzle platformer where you basically carve up the entire landscape to make a path. And if that doesn’t hook you, knowing it’s a game about magic underpants should seal the deal.
Seems like 90% of survival horror games today are about nightmarish monstrosities making really loud noises. If there’s one genre that benefits from having a thriving indie scene it’s the survival horror. Games like Lone Survivor remember that the best horror games are the ones that get in your head, question reality and don’t endow you with an arsenal of guns like the one in that one scene from The Matrix.
Three Games That Weren’t As Bad As Everyone Said They Were
The Internet at large bitched and moaned about the re-imagining of Syndicate from thinking man’s strategy game from the nineties to pulse pounding, high octane FPS. I admit it would have been really cool to have a strategy remake of the original in the vein of XCOM (which I kind of liked), but Syndicate 2012 was actually a good game. Was it the best FPS in the world? Absolutely not. Was it fun to play? Yes, yes it was.
In a time before Quick Time Events were overused by lazy games developers to make you pay attention to cutscenes they were the coolest fucking things ever in a game called Fahrenheit. Then Asura’s Wrath came out and made QTE’s really fucking cool again. It helps that this is the most over the top, batshit crazy game to come out of 2012. If there was a special category award for Asura’s Wrath it would be called “Best Game Where You Punch A Planet To Death”
Mass Effect 3
Mass Effect 3 should have been game of the year. It had some high moments in there that were very rarely bettered by any game; the soundtrack was easily the best of the year. And without spoiling the plot any I’ll just leave a few words that anyone who’s played it will know: Mordin, Legion, Thane, Geth Consensus, beating the shit out of Vega. Plus the crewmembers had conversations with each other, which was my favourite improvement over previous games…
Three Games That Were Worse Than Everyone Said They Were
Mass Effect 3
…it’s a shame that Mass Effect 3 was the most wildly inconsistent gaming experience of 2012. This was a game of plot twists for the sake of plot twists with a healthy dose of Deus Ex Machina’s and MacGuffins. The most relevant character to the story was held back as paid for, day one DLC. After the epic suicide mission at the end of ME2 the last mission of ME3, bad as it was, comes off even worse. And of course the ending was atrocious, the most frustrating thing about it being that the best example of how to end a game like this was another Bioware release; Dragon Age: Origins.
The Darkness 2
The Darkness 2 isn’t a bad game. In fact it’s a very, very good game with tight, satisfying shooter mechanics and a great story with surprising emotional impact. That is until you reach the ending. Everything that leads up to the ending, the resolution of the fascinating side story, the last level itself and the final custscene of the game, all feel like they’re leading to an epic final act of a tremendous, GOTY contender of a game. Unfortunately all they’re leading to is the end credits and a story that feels 3/4 done.
Guild Wars 2
I do not get the circle jerk for this game at all. It’s a decent MMO that a lot of people seem to have blown way out of proportion. There are some things in there that I really like; the highlights being the way weapon based skills unlock and the World v World PvP. But this isn’t the MMO to end all MMO’s and a lot of its innovations I feel like I’ve played before in other games. Games where said innovations were better implemented.
Three Games That Were Awful. Full Stop.
Resident Evil 6
This might be the worst thing I interacted with in 2012. That’s all I have to say about it. Apparently there’s 30 hours of it too.
The first time I tried to go swimming in Dragon’s Dogma was one of the best jump scares I’ve ever had in a game in 2012. It was all downhill from there. After attempting to follow the nonsense this game calls a story for a couple of hours (I got lost around the time the dragon tore my still beating heart out of my chest, as admittedly cool as that scene was) I eventually got fed up with it while trying to figure out what the buttons on the controller did. I never did find the “SHUT THE FUCK UP” command for my minions.
Assassin’s Creed 3
I don’t actually remember a whole lot about this game. I remember there was a neat twist where it changed protagonists, and a whole lot of boredom. Honestly the only reason I played this game for longer than 30 minutes was because previous Assassin’s Creed games had been so, so good. Unfortunately the game is in turns frustrating, unmemorable and, worst of all, boring.