The Very Best Games of 2012 (Or Close Enough) - Apozem Blog - www.GameInformer.com
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The Very Best Games of 2012 (Or Close Enough)

Normally I write up a "Best of" post for the cream of the year's gaming crop. However, I only bought three new releases this year. Everything else was secondhand, on sale, or old. It wouldn't be honest for me to pretend I know which games are the best this year. I didn't play them.

Instead, here is a list of the five best games I played this year. It's got a good mix of new content and stuff that some of you played a long time ago. This list is in no way comprehensive or authoritative. It's just a couple great games. There's also a nod to the best of television and film at the end. I'm no film critic, so take it with a grain of salt. Or don't. Either way works.

Anyway, here are the best games I played this year.

I was initially planning to skip Dishonored. A questionable new franchise and early reports of short campaign length made it sound like a poor purchase. Then I saw it in action. Dishonored is a superbly designed game that allows for a stunning amount of play styles. Whether you're on a Liam Neeson-type killing spree or as stealthy as a ghost, there are so many ways to accomplish your goal that the game requires at least three playthroughs to see everything. Any game that makes you feel this much like a master assassin deserves some accolades.

I've never played Rayman before this, but after this game you can consider me a fan. Rayman Origins is an honest-to-God triple-A platformer that doesn't have the word "Mario" in the title, something we rarely enjoy. Throw in gorgeous graphics, a catchy soundtrack and stellar co-op and you've got a great reason to grab a friend for some gaming.

Oh, Civ V... how you lure me back to your sweet nurturing bosom with the siren song of world domination time and time again. Only you understand how to balance complexity and understandability. Only you make the logistics of an empire fun. Only you know how to make a game quite this addictive. Stop it, you. You've already convinced me to play again.

The Witcher 2 is a difficult game to discuss because it's hard not to fall into a slush of superlatives. Phrases like "amazing combat system," "wildly branching story," and "best RPG in years" get thrown around and then the person listening thinks you're exaggerating. Let's avoid those phrases and just say The Witcher 2 is a very good game. Now that it's out for Xbox and PC, there's no excuse to miss it.

Team Fortress isn't like other shooters. Where Call of Duty and Medal of Honor are busy being "gritty," TF2 takes pride in its own silliness. Want to kill people while wearing goggles that paint the world in rainbows and flowers? No problem. Want to stab somebody whilst sporting a snazzy top hat? Step right up. Even better, it's free to play. There's really no reason not to play Team Fortress. Unless you hate fun. In that case, I can't help you.

Mass Effect 3 was reviled for its ending. This was correct. The ending was terrible. But even a bad finale couldn't bring down the other twenty hours of polished gameplay and amazing storytelling. BioWare knocked my socks off with the story of Shepard's final struggle against the Reapers. Everything is on the line, and the game never lets you forget that.

What makes Mass Effect 3 even better is that BioWare took the few errors from ME2 and fixed them. Unencumbered weapon choice, better teammate AI, and improved customization make the third entry the best in the series, gameplay-wise. Add that to the kickass new multiplayer mode and you have one hell of a trilogy-ender. Mass Effect 3 is by far the best game of 2012. Even with that ending.

I must have looked like an idiot watching the first episode of The Legend of Korra, sitting there with a great big stupid grin on my face. I couldn't help it. Seeing the anticipated follow-up to Avatar: The Last Airbender was just too awesome. Korra does almost everything right: It reboots the franchise in a steampunk future with a new Avatar, new supporting cast, and new villain. The compressed storyline makes every episode count and gives Korra a focus Airbender lacked. It's the single best television show I've seen this year, by the standards of kids and adults.

Yes, this is better than The Dark Knight Rises. Ridley Scott's quasi-prequel to Alien is weird, creepy, and horrific. In other words, exactly what we want from a sci-fi horror flick. Exploring distant planets and researching the strange Engineers creates interesting scenarios. Unfortunately, these scenarios usually end in a gory fashion. One particular scene in the medical pod left an unforgettable impression. For great visuals, a decent cast and strong fiction, Prometheus beats out Christopher Nolan.

So, what did I forget? What were your favorite games this year?

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