It's that time of the year again. Last year was a beast! Tons of games landed on 2012 on different kinds of platforms that I'm surprised we survived the year. We look back and pick the the top 5 games of 2012. When you talk about the best games, we all have our own personal favorites, but here's ours. Don't hold your breathe, this post is going to be a long one.
Carlos' Top 5 of 2012
What a great year. Thanks to 2012, the list of games I'd like to play have doubled. Max Mayne 3, Sleeping Dogs, FTL: Faster Than Light, Darksiders , and Trine 2, these are just some of the games I still want to try . I'll eventually find some time to look back and play them, but for now, here's my top 5.
# 5 Mass Effect 3 (PS3 / Xbox 360 / PC)
Screw everybody that call this a horrible game because of the ending. In truth, this is the best Mass Effect has ever been. It’s true that Bioware did not deliver in wrapping up this beloved series, but people forget the epic journey that led to that disappointing end. The combat was fluid, the game looked amazing, and they wrapped up every character we grew to love in three games perfectly. You have no idea how big my smile was when my Shepard and Garrus was shooting for fun at the citadel, talk about the what we went through, right before we headed out for the final battle. No matter what, Mass Effect 3 delivered in all fronts… except the last 15 minutes.
# 4 Dragon’s Dogma(PS3 / Xbox 360)
I love seeing new IP’s try to make a name for itself. This one in particular, Dragon’s Dogma, scratched an itch that I had for years. A game that borrowed features from games like Shadow of Colossus or Monster Hunter made it stand out from the crowd. The ability to climb the big monsters of this game and it’s unique pawn system kept the game fresh all throughout my playthrough. This game is also pretty deep in character customization with each class bringing a completely different set of skills. The world is large and viscous. It provided a sense of challenge that requires preparation before heading outside the gates of Gran Soren. If Capcom makes a sequel, I’m on board 100%.
# 3 XCOM: Enemy Unknown (PS3 / Xbox 360 / PC)
XCOM: Enemy Unknown was one of my most anticipated game of 2012, and it did not disappoint one bit. A re-imagining of the 1994 classic with the same name, this game captures everything that made the original game so great. Gameplay on the field and during base management was well polished, making this a game that can just suck you in for hours. It’s one of the hardest strategy games you will ever play, but if you stick with it all the way in the end, the feeling after a successful mission is oh so satisfying, especially when someone doesn’t die in your squad, and that is rare. Just like the old game, I will definitely see myself popping the disc every now and then for another go at XCOM.
#2 The Walking Dead (PS3 / Xbox 360 / PC)
It’s rare to see a game that gets all this attention just by character progression and narration. The Walking Dead deserved that attention because it had one of the best story I've ever encountered in a video game. It has a good number of interesting characters and a comic art style that fits the world of The Walking Dead. This game is all about player decisions. Hard decisions that pressures the players with consequences that make you stop and think. Will it be good for the group if I choose this? Or will this benefit Clementine? It’s all about Clementine. When you get to the first three episodes, you will feel this responsibility over this little girl, as if you will move heaven and earth just to protect her from this doomed world. This game was a breath of fresh air, and deserves my number 2 slot.
#1 Guild Wars 2 (PC)
When I sat down to write my top 5 my number 1 slot was already filed. Guild Wars 2 is a prime example that the standard formula of MMORPG's can be broken and find success. This game brought back the fun in leveling a character. The combat always keeps you at the edge of your seat, and exploring has never been this fun in an MMO. Cooperation with other players is greatly encouraged too, even if you don't like playing with others you will find yourself fighting a giant with a bunch of players that appeared out of nowhere to help. The world of tyria is massive, and the game looks amazing, It's hard to believe that this game has no subscription fees with the amount of content this game has to offer. PVE, PVP, WorldvsWorld, I can never get enough of GW2.
Miggy's Top 5 of 2012
I'm at that spot again where I wasn't able to play a lot of games that were released in 2012. The real world just likes to kick my ass that way. Yes, Migoy is still playing catch-up. However, all is not lost. Even with my lack of modern game dosage, I do still have a top 5 for 2012.
#5 Hitman Absolution (PS3 / Xbox 360 / PC)
Having missed out on the Hitman franchise, it's nice to see that the series was not abandoned. While not being a full return to form factor, Hitman: Absolution still gives you (the player) a good feeling of satisfaction when completing missions with pure stealth. Sure there are fixed segments where you just have to haul ass in an action-movie-esque fashion but I like being giving the option to either sneak buy or just gun it down. Though gunning it down, in my opinion, has become stale these past years.
#4 Dragon's Dogma (PS3 / Xbox 360)
I had no interest in this game prior to seeing and then playing the public demo that was released. Having not seen any gameplay or trailers up to that point, I just thought that Dragon's Dogma was just a weaker Skyrim. The fact that it was published by Capcom (evil, modern Capcom) didn't really help it either. I changed my mind instantly after seeing the combat and then eventually trying it out myself. I am still far from completing this game and it does have some glaring problems but my initial impression of it's world is still up there plus seeing the image of a giant cyclops coming out of the night shadow still gets the heart racing.
#3 Max Anarchy(PS3 / Xbox 360)
Though a bit of a grey area in terms of release, I did import a copy of Anarchy Reigns (Max Anarchy in Japan) which did get released in 2012. Being a huge fan of anything that Platinum Games releases, this was a no brainer. With it's insane cyber-punk world, fun brawler / beat-em up style of combat and having Bayonetta as a DLC character. Anarchy Reigns should be on everyone's list of best 2013 games.
#2 Tekken Tag Tournament 2 (PS3 / Xbox 360 / Wii U)
It may just be Tekken 6 but with more characters and a gimmicky tag system but this game is near perfect. Tekken 6 was great, add to that the added depth that new tag mechanic brings in plus a magnitude of characters from both old and new Tekken games, a rich character customization menu and a fantastic online netcode. Tekken Tag Tournament 2 should be a standard in everyone's game library.
#1 Persona 4 Arena (PS3 / Xbox 360)
This may not be the most popular game around or the most diverse. Having only 13 characters in a time where the standard character count in most fighting games are 40 and above, it doesn't sound too appealing. However, even with only 13 characters in the roster, I still find myself baffled by most of the cast when facing characters that I am unfamiliar with. You'd think with the small amount of characters, I'd have tried all of them at least once. With great looking sprite animation, an easy to pick up but hard to master combat system, a very good netcode, and still so much to explore. Persona 4 Arena, or "Persona 4 The Ultimate in Mayonaka Arena" as it is called here in Asia, still takes the number 1 spot on my top 5 games in 2012 list.
Joseph's Top 5 of 2012
Whew, 2012 was quite a year! I finally acquired an old-school PS3, started up a farm with my family and caught up with some of my backlog. Didn’t get the chance to pick up too many AAA titles, since I buy mostly used games, but for the most part I enjoyed my purchases. Games I wish I could have played include Zone of the Enders HD Collection, Darksiders II, Legend of Grimrock, Halo 4, Assassin’s Creed III, Tales of Graces f, Torchlight II, Nintendo Land and ZombiU. But alas, I’ll have to have a look into those some future time. These are my favorites of 2012.
Runners-up: The Binding of Isaac: Wrath of the Lamb DLC (PC), Kid Icarus Uprising (3DS), Katawa Shoujo (PC)
#5 Tales of the Abyss (3DS)
The only reason this game is only #5 is that it’s essentially a port of a hard-to-find PS2 title. As a JRPG lover, I may have some bias towards the genre, but despite its setbacks including a main character that is annoying at first and takes some time to come into his own, I heartily recommend this game. The Tales series’ trademarks are all here in one lengthy package: dozens of hours of gameplay, voice-acted cut scenes, numerous character skits, a wide world to explore and a story filled with colorful characters and rich political intrigue. The tried-and-true battle system is relatively unchanged and easy to get into, and Artes can be assigned to four buttons on the touch screen for ease of use. If you’re itching for an epic JRPG fix on the go, look no further.
#4 Sonic 4: Episode II (PSN)
I’m going to get some flak for this one, I’m sure, but this one hit me right in the childhood. Hot off the heels of Sonic Generations, Sega releases this gem. Forget the terrible Sonic 4: Episode I, this is the real deal. Levels have the same nostalgic feeling as the Genesis games, especially those from Sonic 2, the series’ best. It’s like somehow Sonic Team remembered how to do old-school Sonic again. Even the music is better, and the bosses tough and memorable. Getting that last Chaos Emerald is nearly impossible unless you have a second player helping as Tails. Definitely worth it for any Sonic diehards out there (yes, all two of you).
#3 Final Fantasy Theatrhythm (3DS)
The most played game on my 3DS by far, Theatrhythm is a dream come true for any Final Fantasy fan who enjoys rhythm games. It’s fast-paced and addicting, and the randomized Dark Notes kept the challenge coming. I was stuck living in a trailer with no Internet access for months, and I can’t tell you how many long nights I spent lying in bed playing this game. With almost all of the best Final Fantasy field and battle songs available either in the game or available as DLC (the downloadable “Force Your Way” from FFVIII is the most challenging song I’ve ever encountered in a rhythm game), this is really a must-have for collectors.
#2 Journey (PSN)
If you had told me that one of my favorite games of the year would be one in which you wander across a desert landscape having vague interactions with other players and jumping across ancient ruins, I would have laughed. But there’s something positively magical about this short but sweet title. Maybe it’s in the presentation, or the way the story is told piece by piece, without a single word spoken or read, lending the whole experience a universally appealing quality. Sony’s Santa Monica Studios really delivered with this beautiful, atmospheric game that’s both simple and wildly ambitious. You can take the journey alone if you remain offline, but it’s more fun to replay the game multiple times with different people. You’ll never have the same experience twice.
#1 The Last Story (Wii)
For my top pick, I’m endorsing a game that is sure to become a cult classic among JRPG fanatics. Mistwalker Studio’s latest effort is much better than it had any right to be. After producing the underrated Lost Odyssey and straightforward but enjoyable Blue Dragon for the Xbox 360, Hironobu Sakaguchi breaks new ground once more with the first game he’s directed in almost a decade. The Last Story is a surprisingly strong reinvention of the action-RPG, featuring an epic, fully voice acted story (the British dubbing is great), and a real-time battle system that’s easy to learn, but tough to master. Who would have thought that you could put a cover system in a JRPG and have it as one of the centerpieces of the battle system? Well, here it works wonders. Focusing your control on one character but always needing to keep your teammates’ positions in mind, sniping far-off enemies and being aware of your surroundings allows for fun, fast-paced fights. I haven’t tried the acclaimed Xenoblade Chronicles yet, but this is the best JRPG I’ve played on the Wii.
That's our top 5, what about you? What games deserve to be on your list?