Top Games of 2012 - Part 1


Top Games of 2012 - Part 1
The countdown begins.
Another year has passed, and before we completely say goodbye to 2012 we’ve got the small matter of deciding on our top 20 games of the year. While it wasn’t a vintage year for gamers by any stretch, there were still more than enough top quality titles released in the past twelve months to make this quite a difficult list to compile. There may be some surprises, but in terms of inclusions and exclusions, and final placings, but we stand by the final list. Of course, if you’d like to disagree, feel free to do so on Facebook, Twitter, or in the comments below.

Game: The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Enhanced Edition
Developer: CD Projekt RED
Publisher: Atari
Format: Xbox 360 & PC
Release Date: April 17th
It may not have been the most elegantly titled game of the year, but CD Projekt RED’s The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Enhanced Edition certainly did make us sit up and take notice. While the series’ console debut did come with a healthy slice of confusion bolted on, mainly due to the fact that newcomers to the series would have had little idea what the hell was going on in the Pontar Valley that led to all this monarchy slaying, but those who stuck with it were rewarded with a most rich experience. We would almost go so far as to say it was last year’s Skyrim – with slightly fewer dragons.

Game: Kid Icarus: Uprising
Developer: Project Sora
Publisher: Nintendo
Format: 3DS
Release Date: March 23rd

Anything that serves to remind us of our more youthful days wins extra brownie points in our book, but the fact that Kid Icarus: Uprising, the first instalment in the series for 21 years, was so bloody brilliant makes it more than worthy of its placing on our list of 2012’s best. The unique interface made it stand out from pretty much every other shooter released last year, while some clever design choices ensured that it continued to feel fresh long after the campaign had been completed.

It also served as a timely reminder not to write off Nintendo when it comes to online play, thanks to the impressively in-depth Light vs. Dark mode. Yes, it’s an on the rails shooter, but there’s an innocence here that only serves to fuel our innate desire to beat our high scores over, and over, and over. We need more games like this in 2013!

Game: NHL 13
Developer: EA Canada
Publisher: EA Sports
Format: PS3 & Xbox 360
Release Date: September 13th

Lockout be damned, who needs the real thing when we’ve got NHL 13? Okay, so we’re sure that there are plenty of you who’ll beg to differ on that particular point, but there’s no getting past the fact that, with NHL 13, EA Canada has managed to once again turn videogame hockey on its head. With True Performance Skating and the new Hockey IQ system, NHL 13 sends everything that has come before it flying head first into the boards. However the standout addition for us, particularly given the issues faced in real life NHL this season, is the all new GM Connected Mode, which allows for up to 750 people to come together in order to play their very own alternate reality NHL season.

Game: Transformers: Fall of Cybertron
Developer: High Moon Studios
Publisher: Activision
Format: PS3, Xbox 360 & PC
Release Date: August 24th

While we thoroughly enjoyed its predecessor, War for Cybertron, we can safely say that we didn’t expect Transformers: Fall of Cybertron to be anywhere close to as good as it turned out. Whether you’re a fan of the franchise or not this is a hell of a game. From fantastic visuals to a genuinely impressive storyline that’ll tick all the right boxes for fans, this third person shooter managed to both surprise and delight us with its tight gunplay, great enemy AI and surprisingly well-rounded online play. It might be a touch linear for some, but we found it to be a real blast.

Game: Sound Shapes
Developer: Queasy Games
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Format: PS3 & Vita
Release Date: August 15th

Sound Shapes is a truly unique title – providing engagement for those who want a quick and simple platformer, as well as online leaderboards for score whores, more complex challenges for hardcore players and a fully featured level designer which gives the game genuine longevity. Coming some six months after the launch of the Vita, it gave players a chance to experience the innovation the system is capable of, while also opening the door for home console owners.

Game: Mass Effect 3
Developer: BioWare
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Format: PS3, Xbox 360 & PC
Release Date: March 9th

Mass Effect 3 is a stupendous finale to one of the most rightly feted series born on the current generation of consoles. BioWare has done a near perfect job of telling a comprehensible narrative over three massive games without it feeling unnaturally elongated, and fans as well as newcomers will be enthralled by the sequence of events which closes out this ultimate chapter. The new additions are interesting and fun respectively, but Mass Effect has always been about the story and every technological feat, star performance, new or existing game mechanic and jaw dropping moment of pathos or despair goes towards serving up the greatest intergalactic space opera yet seen in modern gaming; and if you don’t agree then that’s your problem. Angry fanboys be damned.

Game: WWE ‘13
Developer: Yuke’s
Publisher: THQ
Format: PS3 & Xbox 360
Release Date: November 2nd
We weren’t big fans of WWE ’12, and the Smackdown vs. Raw titles that came before it tended to be as much miss as hit, so expectations were perhaps artificially lowered here, but the end product is awesome nevertheless.

The bulk of our delight came from the ingenious Attitude Era mode, which puts you bang smack in the middle of the WWE’s transformation from pseudo-superhero filled lycra-fest to bad-ass, beer-chugging, expletive-laden, attitude-filled superpower. It’s one of the most original ways we’ve ever seen of presenting a campaign mode, particularly given the fact that it’s all very much moored in reality (well, as real as wrestling gets), and it’s something that should rightly drag lapsed fans back into the series. Well done to all at Yuke’s; we are impressed.

Game: XCOM: Enemy Unknown
Developer: Firaxis
Publisher: 2K Games
Format: PS3, Xbox 360 & PC
Release Date: October 12th

For those raised on consoles, XCOM is unlike anything you’ll have seen before. It’s slower, more thoughtful and, ultimately, far more stressful than any other title out there. PC veterans will be slightly more at ease with the format, but there are plenty of changes here to keep things feeling fresh. What it lacks in certain aspects, it makes up for in others. The things that you miss, such as larger squads, are soon forgotten about as you get to grips with the new mechanics, while there’s still plenty that’ll be immediately familiar. Ultimately, though, it doesn’t matter whether or not you’ve got experience in the genre, this is a game that’s simply begging for your attention, and you’d be rude not to give it.

Game: Diablo III
Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
Publisher:Blizzard Entertainment
Format: PC
Release Date: May 15th

Despite a nightmarish few days early in Diablo III’s life – server errors kept millions of players out of their newly purchased game and anti-piracy measures forced a constant net connection on unsuspecting gamers – the result is nevertheless a thing of astonishing greatness.

Blizzard wanted to present you with more than a mere afternoon’s entertainment and new players in particular will want to set aside some serious time to get used to Diablo III’s quirks. Thankfully, they needn’t be alone in this endeavour – one advantage of the controversial always connected model is that you can easily jump into a co-op game through in a few seconds. Taking to the world of Sanctuary with up to three human allies is a very different experience, forcing you to change your playing style to support rather than dominate. It’s fun and frantic and makes the streamlined controls all the more essential.

Game: Borderlands 2
Developer: Gearbox Software
Publisher: 2K Games
Format: PS3, Xbox 360 & PC
Release Date: September 21st

A testament to player feedback, careful review, considered development and unflappable confidence, Borderlands 2 expands upon its flawed predecessor in every way that matters. As in, it’s more fun. Similarities with last year’s Rage are inescapable, given the dystopian spaghetti western vibe and regrettably weak plot. But while Gearbox cannot replicate id’s technical mastery (in fairness, who can?) they shame the latter in terms of populating a supremely colourful landscape with hilariously irreverent oddballs and scallywags.

As definitive a sequel as you’re ever likely to see, Borderlands 2 genuinely lived up to its billing of bigger, badder and more destructive than anything the original title could dream of, and that’s a hell of an accomplishment. Perhaps the most impressive thing about the game, mind-boggling scope aside, is the fact that it’s one of the few title that has managed to nail honest to God humour within its narrative. Whether you’re a lone adventurer or someone who likes to get social with your gaming, this is guaranteed to liberate you of weeks’ worth of spare time.

So, that's it for Part 1. Be sure to check back tomorrow for Part 2. Have you any predictions as to what will appear in our top 10, or would you like to let everyone know what were your top 10 games of the year? Let us knowonon Facebook, Twitter, or in the comments below.

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