Top Ten Video Games of 2012
2012 Year End Lists
10. Max Payne 3- Rockstar Games
What was supposed to be a mindless clone of the Uncharted series turned into one of the most fascinating character studies in recent memory. Rockstar Games went out of its way to ensure it'd stand out, a sentiment readily apparent in the opening scenes of the game. Instead of the typical black trench coated man doing bouts of acrobatics as bullets whiz by, we're given snapshots of a very different Max, sitting alone in an apartment with a bottle of whiskey, delivering flowers to an unmarked grave, even trying to mingle with high class society in a high-end suit. The hilarious witty inner monologue remains in tact, but it's clear as day that Max's addiction to alcohol is getting the better of him, as he tries to find a reason worth living after screwing up so much already. The confident Max Payne of old only returns when he's got a gun drawn, a fact emphasized with graphical hallucinations whenever he's not in combat. The frenetically shooting, driving, and action sequences we've become accustomed to in the Max Payne series is still there, but for the first time ever, you're left to wonder whether or not the tradeoff of giving Max that high is worth later having him dip into his alcohol reserves, sending him further into his depressive state. A game that forces you to draw a gun and truly consider the consequences of that action is a groundbreaking achievement that lands Max Payne 3 into the top echelon of games this year.
9. Darksiders II- Vigil Games
Packed to the brim with creativity and devilishly gothic interpretations of the Bible, Darksiders II puts players in control of Death, a Horseman of the Apocalypse on an quest to bring humanity back to life (IRONY!). With his brother War recently being tricked into obliterating mankind, Death starts his quest believing that if he can resurrect all humans, he'll clear his brother's name. While gameplay is very similar to Legend of Zelda's mechanics, and the characters are similar to God of War's characters, Darksiders II gives itself a new identity, due to the downright gorgeous art design and deeply engrossing plot twists. When you're not hacking and slashing away, you're staring at the dark jagged landscapes, contrasted by the heavily jeweled demi-gods borderlining grotesque ornateness, or contemplating which demi-god you can truly trust in a world where the only constant is death.
8. Halo 4- 343 Industries
Halo creator Bungie may have moved on, but 343 Industries shows that the series is in more than capable hands with Halo 4. The Master Chief's first new adventure since 2007 is a daring leap forward, delivering improved versions of the tried-and-true shooting mechanics while for the first time pumping up the storyline, with a focus on Cortana and the Chief's relationship that forces players to question what makes something "human". The heralded single-player campaigns and multiplayer modes return, and it's all wrapped up in some the best visuals seen on the Xbox 360 to date. Despite the enormous pressure, 343 Industries produced a diamond by enhancing Halo's strengths while incorporating uncharted territory for the series (touching stoylines).
7. Assassin's Creed 3- Ubisoft Montreal
As Desmond's journey draws to a close, Assassin's Creed 3 hits closer to home than ever, as players shape the outcome of the war that defined this country. Whether protecting Hancock from would-be assassins in the Revolutionary War, or fighting off Templars in the Grand Temple of present day New York, Assassin's Creed 3 upped the stakes in virtually every aspect. Players found themselves controlling Naval Sailships, hunting bears, or just shooting the shit with George Washington, but never forgot that even the smallest of actions had the largest of consequences for the future. With its staggering size, Assassin's Creed 3 continues to impress gamers today, and its controversial ending should have religious fanatics complaining for a very long time.
6. Borderlands 2- Gearbox Software
Sharp writing, witty dialogue, and absurdly off-the-wall characters are hardly ever found in a shooting game. It's even rarer to see that video game contain addictive combat and a working multiplayer component. But in 2012, Gearbox Software managed to cover all the bases in outlandish fashion. All Borderlands 2 had to do storywise was expand the already impressive post-apocalyptic narrative set up in the first game, but it went far and beyond that, giving a new humorous identity to the series that gave us hilarious antagonist Handsome Jack, off-the-wall robot Claptrap, and murderously-schizophrenically-ghetto Tiny Tina. With its improved storyline, unmatched co-op gameplay, expansive skill customization, and endlessly fun dialogue, Borderlands 2's has carved a niche in the shooting genre that will make Gearbox Software a force to be reckoned with in the future.
5. Far Cry 3- Ubisoft Montreal
Jason Brody is a very unlikely hero in this first-person shooter, and his transformation from a touristy brat into a vengeful murderer is one of the best stories of the year. Ubisoft's focus on creating a massive open world gave players wiggle room to explore an island the likes of the television show LOST. James Brody wrestled with real-world issues like colonization and human trafficking, but he also dealt with seemingly alien wildlife, and a psychopathic killer bent on teaching him how to pole dance. This dichonomy, and the realization that powerful hallucinogenic drugs are a main player in the story, left audiences were left to wonder how much of the narrative they should believe. Combine the borderline psychedelic experience with the change to explore the unfamiliar, and you get an experience unlike any other videogame in recent memory.
4. Journey- thatgamecompany
The goal: Get the Traveler, a mute, red-scarfed thing to peak of that mountain you constantly see in the distance. You'll visit deserts, labyrinths, snowy peaks, and even the clouds in the sky, but the game's incredible settings aren't the highlight of the game-- it's the emotional experience that elevates Journey as one of the best games of the year. The simplicity in character design makes emotions very apparent, as the struggles of this journey are reflected vividly on the Traveler's face. With little to no direction given in this game, players can't help but feel the same emotions the Traveler undergoes"”frustration and sadness when a puzzle proves to challenging; elation and relief when you overcome an obstacle. A brilliant online system in which a second player may randomly show up in your game, and you're only given chirps as a method of communication to figure out what you two should be doing only emphasizes this game's appeal"”even the simplest of Journeys can have phenomal impact.
3. Mass Effect 3- Bioware
Mass Effect 3 accomplished something no other game in history has done before"”sorted through over 100,000 variables and reflect player choice in a story that spanned over 3 separate games. And while several players complained about an ending that didn't accurately reflect such choices, the experience leading up to it was one of the biggest accomplishments in gaming history. A final act for Commander Shepard as he and his crew continued to struggle against the odds to save the galaxy had been a long time in coming. By carrying the player's actions over from its prequels, BioWare was able to create separate experiences for each player, and engaging narrative where every character had a moment to shine.
2. The Walking Dead- Telltale Games
The Walking Dead point-and-click adventure game boasts both believable characters and a compelling storyline, and the attention to detail alone is enough to liken it moreso to the comic series than the AMC series. This five-episode DLC title, which places you in the shoes of a convict turned hero whose interactions with his small crew of survivors sends ripples throughout the game's world, as characters like Clementine wiggle their way into your hearts for the simplest of reasons. The smart narrative is a thrill to experience, but the true triumph of The Walking Dead lies in how it transcends video game norms to produce an equally thrilling experience. At the end of the day, The Walking Dead is a cel-shaded game with grotesque imagery, and the gameplay never evolves past its point-and-click simplicity. And it's still clearly one of the best games this year.
1. Dishonored- Activision
The Year of the Trilogy concludes with a game that doesn't have "3" in it's title on top. Dishonored was a flaw in the system"”a company notorious for having bad stealt in their games was attempting a stealth action game. And with a storyline that revolved around a rat plague and a setting that borderlined Nazi Germany's concentration camps, there's no way Dishonored could succeed, right? Amazingly, Dishonored proved all the non-believers wrong, as it excelled in stealth gameplay while providing a titillating storyline of overcoming oppression for years to come. Perhaps the crowning achievement of Dishonored was its marriage of gameplay and storyline, as better performances within the established gameplay led to better endings in the narrative. While other titles would make ducking and dodging enemies a convenience, Bethesda's new star awarded you for it, which is why it is Review to be Named's Best Game of 2012.