2012 Action Game Of The Year Awards

by Dan Ryckert on Dec 26, 2012 at 11:30 AM

As is usually the case, many of the year's biggest titles were first-person shooters. Despite this, 2012 also saw the release of several fantastic games that fit more snugly under the action umbrella. Read on to discover Game Informer's picks for our favorite action experiences of the year.

Best Story: Dishonored

Dishonored begins with a bang, with the protagonist being framed for the assassination of an empress and tossed into prison. Stepping into the shoes of the nimble Corvo Attano, gamers were tasked with taking out several high-ranking officials of Dunwall with the help of an underground resistance group. It's a classic revenge story, and each kill on your way to those responsible had an impact on the player and Corvo's quest for justice.

Best Graphics: Journey

In a year filled with the ultra-realistic visual style of Call of Duty: Black Ops II, Assassin's Creed III, and Far Cry 3, it's a breath of fresh air to see Journey's gorgeous world. Its sand-filled world may be sparsely populated, but every inch of it is vivid and beautiful. If you've played the game, you no doubt remember the breathtaking visual of the sun reflecting off the sand as you slide down a massive hill.

Best Multiplayer: Assassin's Creed III

Ever since multiplayer was introduced to the series in Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, fans have loved the ability to sneak up on unsuspecting opponents. With Ubisoft's newest blockbuster, a new cooperative Wolfpack mode was introduced, as well as the team-based Domination mode. Third-person action games aren't usually the source of many great multiplayer experiences, but the Assassin's Creed series has bucked the trend once again.

Best Setting: Dishonored

An industrial city powered by whale oil profits, Dishonored's Dunwall is one of the most unique settings in this generation of consoles. It becomes Corvo's playground, as he navigates its plague-infested streets en route to his kills. Evil government officials aren't his only foes in Dunwall, as he's forced to navigate its Walls of Light and shady back alleys.

Most Ridiculous: Asura's Wrath

Action games like God of War and Bayonetta seem like they're constantly trying to outdo one another with gonzo situations. Asura’s Wrath has a solid combat system, but its frequent quickitime events open up players to absurdly entertaining intergalactic battles. Asura destroys a foe the size of the Milky Way by punching his finger and gets impaled into the Earth after a fight on the moon. The rage-fueled bombast of Asura’s Wrath makes Dragonball Z look like a soap opera, and results in some of this year’s most unforgettable moments.

Best Co-Op: Journey

Journey's co-op wasn't about teaming up to take down bosses in a hail of gunfire. In fact, it wasn't even about communicating with your partner directly or even knowing who was joining you on your quest. Jenova Chen's PS3 exclusive was all about discovery, and that theme carried over to the dynamic between players. Players couldn't talk to each other or know each other's names until the journey was complete, and any in-game interaction had to be discovered through experimentation. It was a novel co-op concept in one of the most beautiful games of the year.

Best Downloadable: Mark of the Ninja

Stealth has been a common gameplay element for decades, but it's rarely been done well on a 2D plane. Klei's Mark of the Ninja managed to impress just about everyone that played it, thanks to its sneaky and satisfying gameplay. Crawling along ceilings, distracting guards by taking out lights, and popping out of vents for kills made this downloadable title as close to a 2D Batman game as it could possibly be.

Action Game of the Year: Dishonored

As you can tell by its other two awards in this feature, we really enjoyed Bethesda's newest IP. Dishonored didn't simply feature the best setting and story in the genre, it was the best action gaming experience overall this year. From Corvo's unique powers to the brutal kills he's capable of, he's a fresh new face in the gaming landscape. Considering how great his starring vehicle was, we can't think of a better debut.