We had an amazing time in 2012. There were lots of roller coaster moments in our personal lives, our gaming profiles and within the site. Thankfully it was all for the better, and there was a plethora of great games to keep ourselves busy! It was definitely difficult picking the best, but within the games that I was able to play, some stood a few pixels above the rest. I don’t think my choices will surprise our fans very much, but there are definitely some games I did not expect to make my list had I been asked at the onset of the 2012 calendar year. Let’s take a look in the Winner’s Circle!
Honorable Mention #1: Alan Wake (PC)
Although Alan Wake was originally released on the XBOX 360 platform in 2010, PC gamers finally got to revel in the phenomenal storytelling of Alan Wake just this past year. Set in the shoes of a Stephen King-esque author, Alan Wake is a third-person survival/horror game that rivals most in both story and gameplay. Using manuscript pages and episodic game sections to weave the story, this game was definitely one of the most memorable experiences of 2012.
Honorable Mention #2: Tribes: Ascend/Blacklight: Retribution
I had a fantastic time with both of these games, but I felt they could be lumped into the same mention and category. Both are fantastic free-to-play first person shooters, and both helped carve a niche for said genre in 2012. Tribes: Ascend appeals more to the sci-fi crowd, while Blacklight: Retribution is a fantastic tactical/military FPS. Both are excellent games that provided a lot of fun, and neither requires you to spend a dime. It’s a perfect balance of rewarding purchasing options and balanced game mechanics that are not crushed with a few purchases. I would still highly recommend either game, especially with the new updates to Blacklight: Retribution.
Honorable Mention #3: Orcs Must Die! 2
Orcs Must Die! was a fantastic twist on the tower defense genre in 2011, and the sequel took the already-innovative gameplay and added co-op. The result was an amazing new way to play an already beloved game. With or without a co-op partner, the game added new mechanics, new orc-slaying techniques, weekly challenges and a bunch of DLC to broaden the experience. The result was one of the best downloadable experiences 2012 had to offer.
#5 : FarCry 3
FarCry 3 got branded E3’s most controversial and least desirable title by many of us on the site. Some of the over-the-top content was just not something that would’ve drawn us in, and we all seemed content to let it pass us by. Then I won a copy on Twitter, and everything was turned upside down. The gameplay was fantastic, innovative and highly addictive. There were concerns of questionable content, which doesn’t turn up until the endgame, for the most part. The gameplay is stellar and far surpasses the forgettable story. FarCry 3 was a complete surprise, a huge satisfaction and easily makes it into my Top 5 games of the year!
Favorite Memory : Shooting a cage to free a tiger and then watching it attack the guards, all while picking the rest of from the treeline with my trusty sniper rifle!
#4 : Mass Effect 3
If you listen to the podcast, then it’s no surprise to see Mass Effect 3 grace our lists. If anything, you may be surprised that it hasn’t cracked my Top 3. Being another game that raised doubts, Mass Effect 3 squashed all worries with its 4-player co-op being integrated into the main story campaign. The campaign was a fantastic third act to the story, bringing all of our choices and characters back. The multiplayer continued to churn out innovative expansion after innovative expansion at NO cost to the customers! I’ve loved Mass Effect 3 for the story and the multiplayer, and I have not even touched the single player DLC yet. A rousing finale for longtime fans and a great springboard for newcomers drawn to the multiplayer, there is no denying the impact Shepard made in 2012.
Favorite Memory : Reconnecting with various characters and sharing anecdotes before the final push.
#3 : Torchlight 2
I have eagerly anticipated the follow-up to Torchlight as fans of the podcast can attest. Thankfully, Runic Games delivered on all of their promises and delivered an amazing action/RPG experience. New classes, new monsters, new environment and new loot are all wrapped up in a bigger, more beautiful package than the original. The game was fantastic, alone or with friends, and even with a shaky co-op interface it provided countless hours of enjoyment. Runic has added some free content with post-release patches and has promised that the best is yet to come. Although we waited a long time for Torchlight 2 to arrive, it was both worth the wait and an experience that will last long into 2013 and beyond.
Favorite Memory : Numerous co-op experiences, most notably finishing the game with Brian.
#2 : XCOM: Enemy Unknown
I’ve been a fan of XCOM since it was…..well…..since it was X-COM (with a hyphen!). I had spent countless hours spent researching and fighting off terror attacks, and now Firaxis was going to bring XCOM into the new generation of gamers. It was enough to make anyone nervous, especially with the interesting(ly odd) FPS announcement that preceded the Firaxis game. As a longtime fan I can say that Firaxis did the impossible: enhanced the core game and brought in numerous genre improvements since the original was released in 1994. I couldn’t have been more happy with the gameplay in XCOM; the research, the base-building, the strategic combat excelled on every front. Even the soldiers drew players in by filling in your own backstories and naming them all, making each encounter a personal experience. XCOM: Enemy Unknown narrowly missed being my favorite game of the year, but it was a home run in every category.
Favorite Memory : Being connected to the soldiers, named for my fellow podcasters. Live tweeting Jay’s in-game death and John’s sniping prowess.
#1 : The Walking Dead
Much like FarCry 3, I had already made up my mind about The Walking Dead without playing it. I was not really a fan of the comics or the TV show. I was tired of zombie games, and I wasn’t looking forward to seeing Telltale bring me into unfamiliar territory and lore. I was excited for the fans and the other gamers who were looking forward to it, but it just wasn’t for me. I could not have been more wrong if I had tried. Thankfully, I started playing the game after Episode 5 had already launched, so I was able to burn my way through all 5 episodes in only a couple days. The story was unlike anything I’ve played. The attachment to the characters and the emotions it pulled were nothing short of astounding. I hadn’t thought I could care about game characters in that capacity, and each timed decision was agonizing and thrilling all at once. I don’t think I could’ve waited a month or two between episodes, and the game’s finale left me completely speechless as I sat processing what had just unfolded. I may have spent less time in-game with The Walking Dead than I did any other game in 2012, but the story, the emotions it drew from within me and the amazing ride was simply unparalleled. I tip my hat to Telltale Games, and I cannot wait to see how they carry the franchise forward in Season 2. The Walking Dead is my well-deserved Game of the Year for 2012.
Favorite Moment : In an attempt to be spoiler-free, I’ll just say various unexpected twists in Episode three that kept me hooked and left me speechless.
Thanks for joining me folks! 2012 was an amazing year for gaming, and 2013 is already shaping up to be even better! It was tough to narrow down my picks. Honestly, Mass Effect 3 and Torchlight 2 were interchangeable on that list; either could occupy the space that the other sits in, but the rest were firmly secured. I’ve already enjoyed both new releases and games from 2012 that I’ve missed, so I’m sure this will be an interesting year for both old and new games. Here’s hoping you find something to enjoy as well!