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What are your picks for best/worst game of 2012?

by dsheinem Tue Dec 18, 2012 12:26 pm

What games released in 2012 did you most enjoy? Which did you find disappointing? List a few and let us know your thoughts on the year in gaming, 2012.

I might change a few of these as I get to a few other releases from this year (notably Far Cry 3, Dishonored, and Binary Domain), but for me for now:

Game of the Year: Borderlands 2 - I have never sunk so many hours into a game so fast. This game, moreso than other recent FPS/RPG hybrids, managed to find just the right action/looting/character management ratio for me, was set in a gorgeously realized and sprawling world full of compelling characters, tells an interesting story that drives you to keep going, and generally strikes me as the most refined game to see release this year. It was also the first game of its type in a long time that I felt was equally as strong in single player or multiplayer, and one that should keep me coming back to it for the next few years.

2. Journey - I don't know how much I can say about this game that hasn't already been said, and I have only played this game for about 3% of the time I spent playing my GOTY above, but Journey is one of those rare games that knows how to pull a gamer out of his or her comfort zone and then immediately exploit that disorientation by manipulating the player's emotions. Journey is a technical and aesthetic marvel of a game that shouldn't be missed and one of those rare instances wherein all the superlatives and hype surrounding it are justified.

3. The Pinball Arcade - I wouldn't be surprised to learn that I sunk almost as many hours into this game this year as I did into Borderlands 2. I've been on a bit of a video pinball kick the past few years, and this game is everything I could have ever hoped for in a modern pinball game. The emulation of physics on a table to table basis is uncanny, the quality of the game across platforms is excellent (I mostly play on the Vita), and the constant release of new tables to compete against folks from the forum on the leaderboards with keeps me coming back again and again.

4. Sound Shapes - This is the best, most inventive and stylish platformer I've played in some time. I really dig the soundtrack and its integration into the games, the game controls feel perfectly responsive, and it is a solid if quirky title that I had a blast playing.

5. Diablo III - I know that a lot of folks didn't like this game (and for good reasons, I guess), but this is the only Diablo game that I've really been able to get into (despite many tries with the others) and I quite enjoyed my run through the caves, caverns, fields, and celestial planes fighting evil. I thought that the gameplay/UI changes from D2 were brilliant, I thought that the single player game (which is what I mostly played) was well paced and compelling, and I am looking forward to revisiting the game with (hopefully) some expansions in the near future.

Honorable Mention - BlazBlu: Continuum Shift Extend - I've mentioned before that I think this is the best handheld fighter ever made, and months after its release this is still very much the case. Scaling, fast, fluid, and responsive gameplay is married to gorgeous, crisp graphics in a game that benefits from the enhancements of its predecessors and the perfection of its engine over the past few years. Not to be missed by fighting game fans of any kind.

-------

a few other categories for fun:

Best not-really-a-game: Dear Ester - much like Journey, this one pulls you out of your gameplay comfort zone and has the potential to poke at your emotions. An engaging mix of awe, hubris, and sadness that doesn't feature much in the way of traditional gameplay.

Best retro-release of the year: The Simpsons Arcade Game - I love the recent trend of releasing classic arcade brawlers with enhancements (X-Men, Guardian Heroes, etc.), and this year we got one of the great ones in The Simpsons Arcade Game.

Biggest Disappointment of the Year: Resistance: Burning Skies - Resistance 3 was my GOTY last year, and even though this was made by a different developer I had hoped to see a quality game that either built on the excellent PSP Resistance Retribution entry or took cues from the strengths of the PS3 series. Instead the game feels largely generic, forces touch screen controls in sometime irritating ways, and just isn't up to par with the past entries in the series. It isn't bad per se, so it isn't "worst game" of the year, but it isn't near as good as the rest of the franchise.
Dishonorable mention: Mass Effect 3

------------

So what are your thoughts on games released in 2012?
Last edited by dsheinem on Tue Dec 18, 2012 12:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What are your picks for best/worst game of 2012?

by RyaNtheSlayA Tue Dec 18, 2012 12:48 pm

The top ones I enjoyed:

The Real Number 1: Rayman Origins

Because it apparently counts as a 2012 game, and it's my favorite platformer of all time.

1. Counter Strike GO

Seriously, this game has sucked me back into Counter Strike. There's not a whole lot different. It's still Counter Strike. That's a good thing though. The addition of new modes as well as a bias towards being more casual than previous CS games is nice.

2. Dishonored

I really wasn't expecting this one. I watched some trailers and a bit of game footage and just didn't get the fuss. When I finally broke down and bought the game, however, I was treated to probably the best single player experience of this year. Large open levels, a beautiful world, and an emphasis on stealth all mixed together with great writing.

3. Hotline Miami

For the four hours it took to get through this game, it left one of the largest impressions on me of any game this year. Everything about this game is awesome. The difficulty. The Drive-esque art, and the weird electronic music combine with a confusing and disconcerting story to make the game feel like an extremely uncomfortable hallucination.

4. Saint's Row: The Third

Quite possibly the best open world game I've played. It's your average GTA-style game but with a lot more of the ridiculous and silly things you want. The game doesn't take itself seriously, and the campaign is quite long with interesting characters. The city itself, might actually be the worst part of the game, but the gameplay and characters ooze style. THQ hit a home run with this one.

5. Sonic and All Stars Racing Transformed

Besides possibly having the worst name of any game I've played in the last several years, this game also happens to be the single best kart racer I've played since Double Dash. There's a whole bunch of fan-service in this game. With the tracks being based on various Sega franchises and a roster of about 20 characters to chose from. The power-ups are boring but the game is fast and frantic and feels great.

A game worth noting:

Kingdoms of Amalur


This is a weird one. The side quests sucked. The graphics while pretty were nothing special. There wasn't much to set this one apart. The game is fun though and I really enjoyed my time with it. It was the first game I completed on my then-freshly built gaming PC. The combat was super fluid and felt great, and while the story wasn't super detailed it was at least decent, taking you through many beautiful landscapes.

A disappointment:

Far Cry 3


It's not as good as you think it is. I'm not sure why it's gotten a bunch of attention for being fantastic. It's pretty, and it's fun sure. Game of the year though? I guess I don't get it.

And another thing:

We got our first next-gen console this year! The WiiU isn't a huge leap in graphics, and in many cases isn't even an improvement, though I'd imagine that will change. I bought the system just wanting a new system to play, but, it's fast becoming one of my favorite systems to play games on. We've already talked to death on this forum, and it's already been talked about everywhere really at this point. I really like the WiiU though, and I'm definitely excited to see what 2013 brings for the new shiny black box.
Last edited by RyaNtheSlayA on Tue Dec 18, 2012 4:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What are your picks for best/worst game of 2012?

by Gamerforlife Tue Dec 18, 2012 2:02 pm

Well, I'm still playing a few 2012 games right now like Borderlands 2 and Hotline Miami so I can't really rate them having not finished them. My picks for best so far would be:

1. Mark of the Ninja - It's a really well designed 2D stealth game that kind of revolutionizes the genre in some ways. There's a real craftsmanship to the game's design, which is quite surprising since their Shank games were just random chaos. Fun as the Shank games were, this game's quality eclipses them by a wide margin. They've really evolved as game makers with Mark of the Ninja. Mark of the Ninja is really accessible and probably the first game I would recommend to anyone new to the genre, or anyone who has given up on it. Though it obviously won't appeal to anyone with an aversion to 2D. You know, those crazy people who don't like tight gameplay and beautiful hand drawn art. Mark of the Ninja comes just short of being a perfect game, but I encountered a few minor gameplay issues that hold it back but don't really lessen the enjoyment of playing it.

2. Lollipop Chainsaw - It's rough around the edges in a lot of ways sure, the gameplay is still pretty solid though if you're a fan of old fashioned beat 'em ups, the likes of which we played before games like Devil May Cry rewrote the book on the genre. This is why I hate when people compare Lollipop Chainsaw to Bayonetta. It's like apples and oranges. LC has a more old school approach than Bayonetta. The game is hilarious, though some jokes are pretty bad or distasteful. The game's humor hits more than it misses though. LC feels like a long lost Dreamcast era beat 'em up. It's bright, colorful, crazy, over the top, and just plain fun in a way that only an old school Japanese arcade game could be. Plus, there is some depth to the story if you look beyond what's on the surface, especially in how it explores gender themes and issues of free will and control. I also love Sparkle Hunting, which is one of the coolest scoring mechanics I've seen in a beat 'em up. I'm certainly not a Suda51 fanboy at all, but I really liked this game. It's way more fun than Shadows of the Damned and James Gunn wrote a pretty awesome script for it.

3. Dust: An Elysium Tale - This a wonderful blend of beat 'em up and Metroidvania style gameplay that is charming and magical and polished to perfection. I have no issues in calling this a perfect game, because it is. The art style is gorgeous, the story is interesting, the voice acting is fine for a family friendly game like this, and the game has plenty of secrets. The way the game mixes fast paced beat 'em up action with Castlevania style magic attacks is very cool and it is a lot of fun trying to rack up the numbers in the game's combo scoring system. Lots of great platforming and exploration to be had in this game, and a lot of great fourth wall breaking humor that is aimed specifically at gamers.

4. Journey - It's hard to describe Journey. Let's just say it is a really artful, spiritual, and emotional....well, journey. If we bring it down to just basic game mechanics, it is a puzzle platformer. However, there is so much more to the experience that isn't covered by a simple genre description. It's accessible and short, so anyone can pick it up and play, and I do mean everyone. Try this game with a non gamer to show what the medium is capable of.

In fact, the game is better with co op. I generally don't like games with an emphasis on multi-player, but I make an exception with this one. There is something powerful about experiencing everything in this game with another person and it does co-op in a very innovative way. Also, it was so easy to play co op in this game, which is probably why I like it so much. You just simply play the game, and you'll naturally run into other players as you go. No need to fuss with going into an actual multi-player mode and setting up a game or looking for one to join or any of that nonsense. Plus, Playstation has free online gaming so there's no reason for anyone to not get to enjoy the game's co-op experience. There are no mics turned on or even names given for your partners, so it becomes this sort of unobtrusive experience. It's almost like you're playing with some computer AI while going through a single player mode. This game may have the best co-op experience I've ever had in a game.

5. Sleeping Dogs - I was impressed by how good of a job this game did in simulating a Hong Kong action movie. There's a real authenticity to everything in the game. Also, the game's combat system is superb, roughly on par with Rocksteady's Batman games. It's easy to pick up, but takes a little bit of skill to master. Plus, fights in this game just look damn good. They did a fairly good job of getting that Asian movie feel to the fights. Also, I hate how so many beat 'em up games ignore the environment. In this game, there are tons of things in the environment to use in a fight and it's immensely entertaining making use of them. Environmental kills are kind of like doing Mortal Kombat style fatalities. The game blends in a few other types of gameplay as well, that are all done fairly well for a sandbox game, though I found the third person shooter sections rather bland and uninspired. This game could definitely have taken a few pointers from Stranglehold in that area. The various chase sequences are pretty awesome though, whether on foot or in a vehicle. The game also tells a very good, though somewhat predictable story.

Game of the Year

Mark of the Ninja

Runners up

Journey
Dust: An Elysium Tale


It was between this and Dust: An Elysium Tale. Dust is slight more polished and memorable, but I give it to Mark of the Ninja for being more innovative and for having more replay value. Journey was amazing too, but it doesn't have much to offer beyond the initial experience. Still, Journey, Dust, and Mark of the Ninja were the best of the best for me this year.

Good, but not best of the year:

The Darkness II - I've always liked the story in these games, and I've actually started reading the comics as a result. This isn't as good of an overall experience as the first game, but it's still a decent game and the Vendetta mode really adds a lot to it. The best part of the game is hearing Johnny Powell explain the story behind the game's collectible relics. The stories are fascinating if you're into occult history and comic book mythology, and he tells them in such hilarious fashion.

Double Dragon Neon - This is one of the funniest games I've ever played and has an excellent eighties soundtrack. It's not the deepest brawler, and doesn't have the largest moveset. However, much like Lollipop Chainsaw it is worth playing for the experience. You never know what crazy thing you'll see next and the game never fails to put a smile on your face, especially if you're an eighties kid and an old school beat 'em up fan. Skullmageddon is one of the most entertaining characters of the year and in gaming history as well. He will go down in my mind as a classic gaming villain. Also, for people who played the PS3 version, the game's end credits has one of the best uses of a trophy ever.

Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit - This game is an awesome tribute to 16-bit era platform games, particularly games like Earthworm Jim. It has a strong sega feel to it too. The game is crazy and funny and over the top. The real highlight is the arcade like fatality mini games which finish off the your enemies in over the top, gory, and often hilarious fashion

Best retro release

The Simpsons Arcade - What an unexpected treat to see this game get a console port FINALLY and they really went the extra mile too. The included Japanese rom is great, and a nice bonus feature.

Honorable mention:

The Ratchet and Clank: Collection - Though fraught with bugs and glitches, I think this was handled better than the Sly Collection. The Sly Collection was missing content and had an annoying save copy lock. I've heard people mention other issues with the games in that collection as well that I didn't even notice when I played through them

Dissapointments

Mass Effect 3 - The end of this trilogy had a lot of great and memorable moments, but they seriously dropped the ball with that garbage ending. If there's one thing the first two games did it's have incredible endings, so this was surprising. Somehow I found the combat less fun than previous games as well.

Xenoblade - This is a good JRPG, but it never lived up to all the hype it received for me. Just another Japanese role playing game, not the genre savior or revolutionary game people made it out to be. It's actually kind of boring and tedious at times, and little things like the god awful combat dialog really hold it back. It's worth playing for the story though, and the interesting affinity system.

Code of Princess - Too much emphasis on multi-player, performance issues, bland combat, an an over reliance on stats over skill all keep this from being a classic like Guardian Heroes.

Fez - Ridiculous puzzles with no logical solutions, and a story that never really makes sense kept me from loving this highly rated retro puzzle platformer

Kung Fu Strike The Warrior's Rise - This could have been one of the greatest beat 'em ups ever. Like Sleeping Dogs, it has a heavy Asian martial arts movie influence that is very cool. However, it is insanely and unreasonably hard. This game will spit in your eye, kick you in the nuts and then laugh at you.

Game with most wasted potential

I am Alive - Brilliant ideas here in trying to create a realistic, post apocalyptic survival game, but it never comes together in a satisfying way

2012 games that I haven't finished yet and can't really rate yet:

Borderlands 2
Hotlline Miami
Street Fighter X Mega Man


Most significant event of the year for me

I was given a new PC that can handle modern games, so I may do a lot more PC gaming in 2013. Now if I could just get my hands on a Vita
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Re: What are your picks for best/worst game of 2012?

by J T Tue Dec 18, 2012 4:24 pm

There's a lot of 2012 I have yet to play. I know that there is ample praise for games like Dishonoured, Borderlands 2, X-Com: Enemy Unkown, The Walking Dead, and Crusader Kings II, but I haven't played any of those yet, among others. Also, my pics are based on PC releases of 2012. I know some of these were released on consoles last year.

That being said, here are my favorites out of what I have played this year:

1.) The Witcher 2: Enhanced Edition
The Witcher 2 earned its way into my all-time top 10 list for RPGs and the Enhanced Edition only helps to seal its spot. I love the characters, the locations, the dialogue. The graphics are phenomenal. The soundtrack is fantastic. Most importantly though, it made me feel like my choices mattered. Importantly, not in readily obvious ways. Aside from the major choice point of deciding which faction to side with (Iorveth or Roache), there are many little choices you make in this game along the way that can also have major consequences. For example, I stayed out drinking with the soldiers one night by my own choice. I woke up without any clothes, my inventory missing, and a jester tattoo on my neck that I still haven't been able to get rid of (though there is a spell for that if you can find the ingredients). Not everyone who played this game has that same story.

2.) Hotline Miami
Don't let the simple graphics fool you. This game is a beast. Both in terms of gameplay and violence. The violence is disturbing not so much because of graphic displays of violence (it is all just simple spritework after all), but because it puts you in the uncomfortable position of not knowing why your character is killing, yet knowing that you personally are doing it because the killing in this game is remarkably enjoyable. It's such a rush to storm into a room, knock a guy out, pick up his gun, shoot the dog leaping at you, throw your empty gun in the face of the guard opening the door, leap on him and gauge his eyes out, pick up a knife and slash every last droog in that place to the ground. Something so horrible shouldn't be so fun, and yet...

3.) Sleeping Dogs
The best Grand Theft Auto game out there is not a Grand Theft Auto game. It's Sleeping Dogs. I say that with all due respect for GTA, which really made this genre what it is, but Sleeping Dogs polishes everything to the brilliance of a diamond. The driving, the fighting, the chase scenes. Everything is utterly enjoyable about the gameplay of this game. I love GTA, but nothing in the GTA series feels this right.

4.) Rayman Origins
Rayman Origins is a burst of color and joy in a brown and grey dreary video game landscape. And I love it for that. This game never stopped entertaining.

5.) Dark Souls: Prepare To Die Edition
You Died. You Died. You Died. You Died. You Died. And somehow you loved it.

6.) Thomas Was Alone
This is how you do videogame storytelling. Characters get their personality from gameplay as much as through narration. It's a simple game and feels a bit like a children's story, but it's so expertly told that even the grownups will find themselves pulling for Thomas and Chris and Claire and the others.

7.) Legend of Grimrock
First person in 2012 and still tile-based: Rock on Grimrock. This game tosses you in a dungeon and gives you the goal of escaping. But who wants to leave a place where such adventure awaits? I love this game for staying true to its gameplay roots in the oft forgotten dungeon-crawler genre, while it updates the graphics and sound to modern day standards. A truly special PC game.

8.) Dear Esther
Some say this is not a game because you don't do anything other than walk around through breathtaking caverns and seaside landscapes. I would argue that there is a game, but you play it with your mind rather than your controller. Dear Esther drops little riddle-like clues about what its narrative is. Some bits of information are triggered to present by entering areas of the environment, some come randomly. You're left to brood over your character's brooding internal monologue as you walk the island.

9.) Spec Ops: The Line
I'm not far into this game yet, but I'm already liking it. It has a lot of rave reviews for taking a more nuanced and less flag-waving approach to its military violence. I'm just getting a taste of that and might find this game bumping up further on my list as I move along.

10.) To The Moon
Ok. I cried. Are you happy Ken Gao? This isn't really a game. There's next to no gameplay other than walking around to find mementos of the dying man's history (whom you have teleported into his memories to rearrange them in a way to make him believe he has lived out his dying wish to fly to the moon). This game is so sentimental, it will probably make some of you queezy, but I was smitten with it and so glad I played through it. If nothing else, the soundtrack introduced me to the wonderfully sweet and lovely singer/songwriter, Laura Shigihara. Which, even as I listen to that song again.. *sniff*... damn these are strong onions.
Last edited by J T on Tue Dec 18, 2012 5:00 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: What are your picks for best/worst game of 2012?

by RyaNtheSlayA Tue Dec 18, 2012 4:28 pm

^ Rayman came out in 2011 :P
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Re: What are your picks for best/worst game of 2012?

by J T Tue Dec 18, 2012 4:29 pm

RyaNtheSlayA wrote:^ Rayman came out in 2011 :P

As I said, my choices are based on PC release dates. I don't have a PS3, Xbox360, or Wii. That's also true for Dark Souls.
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Re: What are your picks for best/worst game of 2012?

by RyaNtheSlayA Tue Dec 18, 2012 4:36 pm

J T wrote:
RyaNtheSlayA wrote:^ Rayman came out in 2011 :P

As I said, my choices are based on PC release dates. I don't have a PS3, Xbox360, or Wii. That's also true for Dark Souls.


I feel thats kinda cheating though, but I guess you're not technically wrong.

In that case, Rayman Origins will be going on my list. Definitely my favorite platformer. :P
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Re: What are your picks for best/worst game of 2012?

by o.pwuaioc Tue Dec 18, 2012 4:42 pm

RyaNtheSlayA wrote:
J T wrote:
RyaNtheSlayA wrote:^ Rayman came out in 2011 :P

As I said, my choices are based on PC release dates. I don't have a PS3, Xbox360, or Wii. That's also true for Dark Souls.


I feel thats kinda cheating though, but I guess you're not technically wrong.

In that case, Rayman Origins will be going on my list. Definitely my favorite platformer. :P

But did you play it on the PC?
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Re: What are your picks for best/worst game of 2012?

by Erik_Twice Tue Dec 18, 2012 4:44 pm

After playing a total of one game released this year I can say that Android: Netrunner is the best game of it :lol:
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Re: What are your picks for best/worst game of 2012?

by Gamerforlife Tue Dec 18, 2012 5:36 pm

J T wrote:
6.) Thomas Was Alone
This is how you do videogame storytelling. Characters get their personality from gameplay as much as through narration. It's a simple game and feels a bit like a children's story, but it's so expertly told that even the grownups will find themselves pulling for Thomas and Chris and Claire and the others.

8.) Dear Esther
Some say this is not a game because you don't do anything other than walk around through breathtaking caverns and seaside landscapes. I would argue that there is a game, but you play it with your mind rather than your controller. Dear Esther drops little riddle-like clues about what its narrative is. Some bits of information are triggered to present by entering areas of the environment, some come randomly. You're left to brood over your character's brooding internal monologue as you walk the island.

10.) To The Moon
Ok. I cried. Are you happy Ken Gao? This isn't really a game. There's next to no gameplay other than walking around to find mementos of the dying man's history (whom you have teleported into his memories to rearrange them in a way to make him believe he has lived out his dying wish to fly to the moon). This game is so sentimental, it will probably make some of you queezy, but I was smitten with it and so glad I played through it. If nothing else, the soundtrack introduced me to the wonderfully sweet and lovely singer/songwriter, Laura Shigihara. Which, even as I listen to that song again.. *sniff*... damn these are strong onions.


I got those three games on my radar. I might just download To The Moon today actually. I've wanted to play Dear Esther for a while now
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