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This is the time of year when everyone under the sun compiles their top 10 games of the year list. You may have seen mine if you read the most recent issue of our magazine. (That photo of me was originally a joke by the way, and I’m super excited that it was published in the issue.) Here's mine, with a little explanation as to why I picked why I picked. It's not a random selection, honest!
1. JourneyI played a lot of games this past year, but few of them stuck with me the way that Journey did. Thatgamecompany delivered an experience that dealt with some pretty heavy themes, without getting mired in the same kind of snooty self-indulgence that many indie devs find irresistible. Check out our video, where Dan, Kato, and I talk about the game at length.
2. Far Cry 3I love games that let me explore, and Far Cry 3 provides one of the best playgrounds I’ve seen. We’ve all spent time in open worlds by now, but I enjoyed the interplay between the game’s humans, animals and, of course, fire. I never knew what to expect whenever I tried to seize control of an outpost. Would my sneaky plans go off smoothly, or would a surprise tiger inadvertently provide a helping paw?
3. The Walking DeadGamers seem obsessed with crying. I can't understand why making people bawl their eyes out is supposedly some kind of achievement. By the time I finished Episode 5, I was grateful for such an emotionally packed experience, and I was surprised to see how fond I’d grown of the characters. My eyes didn’t mist over (I am a robot, apparently), but I felt completely satisfied with the journey and the way that it wrapped up.
4. Call of Duty: Black Ops IIIf you told me that a Call of Duty game would have made my top 10 – let alone take a position in my top five – I would have called you insane. When I took it home, I reluctantly went online to check out multiplayer. It clicked with me in ways that the series has never done before. I would have been completely satisfied if it only shipped with the Kill Confirmed game type. The story surprised me, too, particularly the post-credits sequence. It’s the best/worst moment of the year.
5. Zookeeper BattleThis is one of my desert-island games. It’s not my favorite title from 2012, but I think it has more staying power than the other titles on my list. I’ve spent countless hours matching icons and competing with folks online – a disturbing proposition, considering each round only lasts 30 seconds. It’s one of those rare puzzle games that’s as polished as a PopCap release, which is a benchmark for me.
6. Hitman: AbsolutionI watched Jeff Marchiafava play through this game while he was reviewing it. Every time I looked at his screen, something insane or hilariously dumb was happening. I’ve loved the series since the first game came out on PC, and this one’s the most refined iteration of the game’s core concepts. Plus, you can dress like a scarecrow and hide nuns’ bodies in outhouses.
7. DishonoredArkane Studios did something awesome with Dishonored: They created a world that was unlike anything else I’ve seen in a game. The bizarre, plague-filled steampunk sandbox was a great backdrop for Corvo’s sneaky adventures. I’m obsessed with taking the stealthy approach whenever I can, which is one of the reasons Dishonored buried its hooks into me.
8. XCOM: Enemy UnknownI’m not much of a strategy-game player, but I’m beyond happy that I gave XCOM a shot. Like a lot of players, I grew attached to my squad members, and it bummed me out whenever one of my veterans bit it on the battlefield. We’ve come a long way since the days of moving tiny blip people around the screen.
9. Dragon’s DogmaWhat do you know? It’s another game with a big ol’ world to explore. There’s a fair amount of backtracking to be done in Dragon’s Dogma, which is why I appreciate how interesting Gransys managed to be. I felt familiar with the world by the time I was done with it, but not in an “Oh god, I am tired of seeing this dumb place” kind of way. Also, you can climb up bosses and stab their heads. Sold.
10. Lego the Lord of the RingsTT Games’ Lego games are reliably good, and Lego the Lord of the Rings is the best one yet. I love the licenses (Lego and Lord of the Rings), and the game manages to combine the films’ epic story with a whimsical twist. Smashing a diminutive Middle-earth with Sauron and the Mouth of Sauron in the game’s bonus round is always satisfying.
That’s my list, and I stand by it. You may notice a few high-ish profile games aren’t on it. Here’s why:
Mass Effect 3I liked the series a lot, but I feel as though my mind was erased about a month after playing it. I recall being annoyed by the ending (not the content, generally, but the lousy way it was presented), but that’s about it. A lot of people in the office thought this was one of the best games ever. While I respect their opinions, they are all crazy people.
Borderlands 2I had completely forgotten about this game when it was time to write my top 10. I enjoyed what I played of it, but if it didn't leave enough of an impression (or any, really), that was a sign that it didn't earn a spot on my list.
Assassin’s Creed 3The Assassin’s Creed series is one of my favorites, which made this one so disappointing. I liked Connor a lot, but the game’s Forest Gump-like story made me cringe throughout it. My breaking point was during the tandem ride with Paul Revere. Dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb. Dumb. And would it have killed Ubisoft to come up with at least one more tree to climb? Far Cry 3 managed to pull off some variety in their tower-climbing section. Maybe they were too busy finding a way to have Connor write the Declaration of Independence while helping Francis Scott Key with the Star Spangled Banner.
Asura’s WrathIf I had a top 11 list, this would have made it. It is a good game.
FezPeople sure like Fez. I thought it was pretty cute, but I got bored with it pretty quickly. 8-bit graphics, though.
Diablo IIII didn’t play enough of this one to form a solid opinion. I moved on when the servers were down and I couldn’t continue my single-player game. That’s probably been fixed now, but my backlog is too long to justify a return visit.
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I loved Assassins Creed 3, but if I had to pick out the stupidest part of the story, it would definitely be the Paul Revere ride. They gave Machiavelli his own horse to ride in Brotherhood, so why did they turn around and make Revere a backseat rider instead!?
Great blog, I liked many of those games/want to try some of the other games, and I must say. You have a very good sense of when it comes to gaming lol. You have alot of genre that you like is what im trying to say. Good blog sir and I hope the next year is just as good, or even better.
I just wanted to say how happy I was to see Lego Lord of the Rings on this list. I thought it was one of the most overlooked games of the year and it's easily in my top 5.
Anyone else think it's ironic that Ubisoft Montreal's flagship franchise faltered this year while its somewhat under-the-radar fps achieved universal acclaim?
good list i'd say and good reasons the ' big guys' didn't make the cut
I agree with Assassin's Creed III.
i think you had the best list out of the office for sure sir. although i havent played most of the games they are purchased and waiting to be played at my house so well see when theyre all completed.
You got me with the ACIII/Forest Gump comparison.
In my opinion The Walking Dead is the best game of 2012. I have never been so close with video game characters ever!
I love Sound Shapes. It has given some of the same feelings I had when I played Journey (the wonder, and childish reactions to discovery), the creativity with level creator and the level design leaves much more to do than with Journey. Journey is still amazing however, and is my favorite of the two.
Black Ops 2 is on your list but not Borderlands 2? Tsk, tsk, tsk.