Top Games of 2012 - Part 2


Top Games of 2012 - Part 2
Time to find out what our top 10 games of the year were.
The time has come to reveal what our favourite game of the year was. Be sure to let us know on Facebook, Twitter, or in the comments whether you agree or disagree, and what your standout game of the year was. We'll be back this time next year with a look back at the games are coming out this year. Let's hope for another year of spectacular games with a few surprises thrown in for good measure.

Game: FIFA 13
Developer: EA Canada
Publisher: EA Sports
Format: PS3, Xbox 360, Wii U &PC
Release Date: September 28th

At its most basic there’s not all that much to football; win possession, pass it around, create an opening and score. And yet, every year we see EA Canada deliver a new FIFA title that adds even more depth to the game, taking it in an ever more realistic direction, while staying true to the series' key elements. Last year FIFA was all about refinement of attacking play and rebalancing of the defensive side of the game following 2011’s sweeping changes, and it worked beautifully.

While it may not find favour with those who don’t appreciate the beautiful game, there can be absolutely no doubt that FIFA Soccer 13 is the best, most in-depth, most realistic sports game the world has ever seen, and will remain so until we’re blown away by FIFA 14 this year. It was a slightly bumpy ride initially, thanks to some epic server screw ups, but once that was sorted out the result was nothing short of spectacular.

Game: Assassin’s Creed III
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Publisher: Ubisoft
Format: PS3, Xbox 360, Wii U & PC
Release Date: October 31st

It was our most eagerly awaited title of the year and while it didn’t disappoint, we can’t help feeling it didn’t quite tick all the boxes. A new lead character, Connor, and a new setting, the American Revolution, has allowed the development team to focus on several new gameplay features after three titles set in Renaissance Italy. The change has certainly freshened things up, but unfortunately it wasn't quite game of the year material.

Much of the game concerns the central mission to rid the new world of the Templars, specifically one man, Charles Lee, who contributed to the death of Connor's mother. It takes in many famous faces and events, and is backed up by a massive range of secondary activities. Multiplayer is back, with the series’ unique take on the mode continuing to impress thanks to yet more new game modes. There are quite literally countless hours of entertainment on offer here.

Game: ZombiU
Developer: Ubisoft Montpellier
Publisher: Ubisoft
Format: Wii U
Release Date: November 30th

Since it was first unveiled ZombiU has been one of the main talking points surrounding Nintendo’s Wii U. Offering players a fresh new twist on the survival horror genre, it not only met our high expectations, but managed to surpass them by quite a distance. While there are many Wii U detractors out there who point at the less than stellar visuals on offer, the fact that the game is so drenched in atmosphere and tension more than makes up for any low quality textures.

Putting the player in charge of a survivor in a Zombipocalypse-ridden London City, ZombiU goes a step further than any previous title in the genre by implementing a single life system with two distinct flavours. You have the option of spawning again as a brand new survivor when you die in the game’s regular play mode, or going hardcore and taking the horde on with a single survivor – die and it’s game over. Unlike most titles of the past few generations, ZombiU offers a genuine challenge, and it’s all the better for it. Hopefully this will make other developers sit up and take note!

Game: The Walking Dead (Series)
Developer: Telltale Games
Publisher: Telltale Games
Format: PS3, Xbox 360, PC & iOS
Release Date: From April 25th

Taking its lead from the comic books rather than the AMC TV series, The Walking Dead has been a master class in virtual storytelling. From the gorgeously crafted visuals through to some impressive voice acting and puzzle design, it has proven there’s plenty of life in the genre yet.

The most impressive thing about the series is the fact that its choice-oriented gameplay means that there are potentially dozens of different narratives at play, ensuring that both subtle and blatant differences in user choice can result in one player’s experience differing vastly from that of another. With a second season already confirmed, this is definitely one you’ll want to pick up if you haven’t already.

Game: Halo 4
Developer: 343 Industries
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Format: Xbox 360
Release Date: November 6th

We love Halo, we always have and we likely always will. We don’t care if you think that makes us bad people, because there’s just something about the chunky action and gut punching explosions that means it will always hold a special place in our hearts. It also helps that 343 Industries did a stellar job at taking over from the departing Bungie in order to kick off this brand new trilogy.

The first part in the three part Reclaimer Saga ticked all the right boxes for us, and will forever prove to be a shining example of how things should work when a developer takes over an established franchise. Everything here has been beautifully handled, with the upmost respect for the original games, while still seeing 343 Industries stamp its seal on the Halo universe. To make it even more attractive a proposition, the sublime Spartan Ops episodic mode will ensure that we’re glued to our screens well into 2013.

Game: LittleBigPlanet Vita
Developer: Double Eleven and Tarsier Studios
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Format: Vita
Release Date: September 19th

Just like its bigger console siblings, LittleBigPlanet Vita is based around one basic premise; play, create, share. While most of us will only be concerned with the former, we're still more than adequately catered for. LBP Vita offers a stunning variety of gameplay styles within its single player campaign, from traditional platforming to puzzle games using the touch screen, even through to odd little racing games.

Given the fact that many Vita owners have been bemoaning the number of genuinely top quality titles available for the system, LittleBigPlanet Vita really is a breath of fresh air. Not only is it the best game on the fledgling system, but it’s far and away the best LBP title on any system to date. If you’ve been looking for an excuse to pick up a Vita, but found yourself disappointed by the titles on offer, then this should go a long way to changing your mind. It’s virtually limitless, and once the community really starts to get to grips with the tools on offer, we’re in for something really, really, really special.

Game: Call of Duty: Black Ops II
Developer: Treyarch
Publisher: Activision
Format: PS3, Xbox 360, Wii U & PC
Release Date: November 13th

To say that we weren’t expecting much from Black Ops II would be unfair. We were expecting more of the same, which is no bad thing given the traditional quality of the Call of Duty franchise, but instead we found ourselves blown away by the complete overhaul Treyarch has treated gamers to. Not only does the series once again have a single player campaign worth of actually playing, but there have been enough tweaks and changes made to the multiplayer side of things to make Black Ops II a real breath of fresh air.

After so many identikit releases in the past few years, the fact that the series now offers something beyond mere kill/death ratio tracking may be enough to entice those who have grown tired of the formula back to the series. It’s made all the more impressive by the fact that Treyarch will have known that they were guaranteed a huge seller regardless of whether or not they shook things up. As nice surprises come, this is definitely the best of the year for us.

Game: Dishonored
Developer: Arkane Studios
Publisher: Bethesda
Format: PS3, Xbox 360 & PC
Release Date: October 12th

It’s not wholly outlandish to compare the way Dishonored plays to classic titles like Deus Ex or Thief. Everything is focused around player choice; it’s completely up to you how you want to approach each mission, and you’re never judged for your decisions. There’s no black and white morality meter here, so slashing your way through the game from start to finish won’t result in an evil version of Corvo gradually making his way to the surface, but there are consequence for your actions.

Direct comparison with other titles will always be inevitable, particularly those boasting the involvement of Warren Spector, but Dishonored needs to be held up alone for its many, many accomplishments. It encourages players to fully immerse themselves in the game world in order to reap the rewards of their choices in a unique and refreshing twist on an increasingly tired genre. Whether you’re a blood thirsty lunatic or stealthy pacifist, this is a game that needs to be in your collection. It’s a worthy addition to anyone’s collection, and another shining example of just why Bethesda is among the most consistent publishers around today.

Game: Forza Horizon
Developer: Playground Games and Turn 10 Studios
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Format: Xbox 360
Release Date: October 26th

Forza Horizon is a bastardization of many titles, that much is obvious, but it has been handled in such a way that the final product manages to feel fantastically well-rounded. The open world map takes a leaf out of the book of Electronic Arts’ better Need for Speed titles, and the festival setting is something we’ve seen previously in the MotorStorm series, while the on-track action itself is very much moored in the Forzas that have come before, perhaps without offering quite as much depth and variety for those who like to get down and dirty in car customization.

Despite the sense of familiarity with the content, the game feels satisfyingly fresh to play. Maybe it’s the fact that we’ve always had a desire to take on the Forza world in an open map setting, making the most of those beautiful car physics and letting us ogle the beautifully rendered scenery at our leisure, that’s made the whole thing feel so damned brilliant, but we can’t help feel there’s a touch more to it than simply the desire to tackle the open road at our convenience.

The non-linearity of the way races are unlocked and the options you’ll have available to you at any given time, from sponsor races (ever wanted to race a plane or hot air balloon in your car? Now you can), to pink slip races to more traditional “campaign” races, ensure that collecting enough experience points to continue your meteoric rise to fame never becomes a chore, and the ability to challenge other Horizon competitors you meet while out and about keeps things moving along nicely without falling into a tired routine.

It’s going to be a long journey to the number one spot, but Forza Horizon ensures that players of all experience levels are well catered for here, and the level of variety and detail, and the sheer volume of events, mean that even the most casual of race fans will find plenty to keep them glued to the screen. As racers go, they don’t get much better than this!

Game: Far Cry 3
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Publisher: Ubisoft
Format: PS3, Xbox 360 & PC
Release Date: November 30th

It’s perhaps fitting that the last major title to be released last year was also far and away the best of the bunch. There’s quite a divide among gamers when it comes to the previous Far Cry titles; some love them, some hate them. We’ve tended to find ourselves in the somewhere in the middle, neither fawning over the open world layouts and reasonably wrought narrative nor complaining about the flaws and issues that found their way into the titles. Far Cry 3 has very much changed that for us however, and a new love affair is blossoming.

Today’s gamers are most definitely suffering from first person shooter burnout. Every time you turn around there’s another FPS hitting shelves, most of the time with little to differentiate it from the swathes of other titles available, but occasionally something crops up that threatens to change the status quo by offering so much more, both in terms of scope and gaming intelligence, that you have to sit back and appreciate it in all its glory.

Where most FPS titles tend to fall down is in single player narrative. Usually it’s just enough to slap a seasoned combatant in the middle of a fire fight, provide some vague world-ending threat and plonk a load of guns in front of the player, but Far Cry 3 takes a far more reasoned and, dare we say it, mature approach. You play as Jason Brody, an American tourist on holiday with his brothers, girlfriend and some friends who end up being kidnapped by a batshit crazy group of pirates (no, not that type of pirates). The game’s intro beautifully sets the tone, taking players on a veritable rollercoaster of emotions before we’ve even seen the game’s title screen.

On top of the almost overwhelming size of the single player campaign, coupled with its simply wonderful narrative and voice acting, Far Cry 3 also offers a phenomenally huge multiplayer component. Whether you’re looking to play competitively or cooperatively, you’re more than catered for with an experience that expertly complements the single player mode. In terms of ambition and execution, there was nothing else last year that came close to touching the quality on show with Far Cry 3. It’s a real genre definer for us.

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