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GAF Games of the Year 2012 - Voting Thread, now closed. Thanks for all the fish.


May contain jokes =>
Aug 21, 2006
1. The Walking Dead ; I don't particularly love this franchise. The show has had some fantastic moments, but plenty of lows to go with them. When Telltale announced this game, I laughed it off, and when Episode 1 released I downloaded it merely out of curiosity. I could not have been more surprised.
This is most likely not the best video game on this list. XCOM has it beat in pure quality of gameplay mechanics, Far Cry 3 has it beat in pure fun. Walking Dead certainly has the best story of these three games, but even that is not beyond reproach. There are holes in the plot, as well as a fair share of conveniences and some messiness resulting from the branching stories. That being said, I have never been so affected by a video game (or honestly, by many other stories period) as I was by this. Lee is one of the best characters in the history of the medium, and his (my) relationship with Clementine was effective on a very visceral level.
There are some absolutely beautiful moments sprinkled throughout this series, with some great music and incredible atmosphere at times. The gameplay is occasionally buggy and not particularly deep, but I didn't care. I genuinely struggled with my Game of The Year selection.. I felt like I needed to give it to a game which was more of a game, but finally I came to terms with what I already knew. The Walking Dead is one of the finest overall experiences I have ever had in gaming, and I have no doubt it will stick with me for a very long time.

2. XCOM: Enemy Unknown ; In a recent video game climate that has often been about evolving the medium, XCOM was a return to classic video game mechanics. The top-down strategic gameplay is very nearly perfect. Yes, there are some bugs and I've been frustrated by my share of them. There is very little story to speak of, and in fact the most effective narrative will be one you create yourself. The attachment I developed with my soldiers over the course of the game was almost embarrassingly strong, and on several occasions I was nearly despondent over their deaths. XCOM is simply one of the most solid video games I've played in years, and when it comes to gameplay there aren't many better experiences you could have had this year.

3. Far Cry 3 ; All of my top 3 games are ones for which I had very low expectations. I liked Far Cry, but didn't particularly care for Far Cry 2. When it came to this one, I had seen very little aside from an interesting villain and some embarrassing other footage. Even worse, it seemed the publisher was sending it to die in early December.
Despite all this, I probably didn't have more fun with any other game this year. Possibly its most effective element is the open-world scripting, which is second to none. Whether actually intentional or not, it seems the game was designed for ridiculous things to happen at every turn.
Certainly the game's weakness is its story. It starts on a high, with a hilarious opening scene and an introduction to Vaas, one of the better villains in recent memory. Sadly the game squanders all the potential it gave itself. The game's lead writer made the internet rounds defending his work, essentially pulling the old "you people didn't understand" move. I do believe he believes what he's saying, but I do not agree that the game supports his argument. Sprinkling in a few Alice in Wonderland quotes hardly earns the right to play the misunderstood genius card.

4. Journey ; Back in March when Journey came out, I sat down one night with the plan of simply seeing what the game looked like. It was already well past midnight, and I had to be awake at 7. As soon as the camera panned up over that sand dune with the title card, I knew it was going to be a long night. Sure, the game is only a couple hours long, but I very rarely allow my sleep to be compromised, and it takes something like Journey to do it. There is no exposition, no dialog, no real characters. There is you, and a desert, and maybe someone else like you out in it. This game implemented possibly the most novel multiplayer mechanic in gaming history. I spent nearly the entire game with one partner, which seems the most obviously satisfying result. However, the alternatives (playing alone, or having many partners) could have equally deep resonance. The latter, with many other players intersecting with your journey for a short time before trekking off into the desert on their own, particularly encapsulates the themes of this game.
There is something special about this game, as deeply emotional as it is difficult to articulate. If you haven't played it, you need to.

5. Sleeping Dogs ; I came into this game with the absolute lowest expectations. We've all played enough GTA-inspired open world games to know what to expect with a game like this. The marketing didn't help either. I eventually happened to get the game on sale and could not have been more surprised.. Most open-world games take a solid eight-hour story and stretch it across a 40-hour experience. Not so with this game. The core story of Sleeping Dogs is likely ten to fifteen hours, though it is certainly possible to spend much more time with the game (I spent about 30 hours).
The story is somewhat derivative, but I also found several of its beats to be quite effective, particularly the arcs of friend Jackie and boss Winston. The gameplay is pure fun, especially the Arkham Asylum-style combat. The open world looks surprisingly good on the Xbox 360 and only better on PC. In the end this was a game that, for me, stands next to Red Dead Redemption as one of the best open-world games in recent memory.

6. Minecraft (360) ; Perhaps this game should not qualify for this list, as it's a game which has been out in varying stages for years on PC. However, it came out on 360 this year and this was the first time I played it. There isn't much which can be said here which hasn't already. Most people will know how much fun this game really is. Some of the best times I've had with games this year were exploring and building a world with friends.

7. FTL ; Simultaneously one of the most fun and frustrating games of the year. An early Kickstarter success story, FTL has the player selecting a space ship, commissioning a crew, and setting off into space. From there the game is essentially a roguelike, with the characteristic random encounters and high level of difficulty. The game quickly introduces the concept of everything going to shit in a very short span of time. I've still never beaten the ridiculous final boss, and maybe never will, but I'm okay with that.

8. Hotline Miami ; I don't know what the hell is going on in this game. The story is nonsensical, as far as I can tell, but it was enjoyable on some strange level. What I do know is that Hotline Miami is possibly the most brutal game I've ever played, and one of the most fun. I didn't quite know what to expect going in, but the game is (in my opinion) best played as a twin-stick shooter along the lines of Geometry Wars. Many swear by the mouse/keyboard controls, but I personally struggle with them. I love the various unlockable masks and weapons, and the music couldn't fit more perfectly.

9. Gotham City Impostors ; I don't imagine this game has rated in many other Top 10 lists, but I feel it is well deserved here. What started as a "Oh, what the hell" demo download ended, for me, in an obsession which would eat many hours of my gaming time. It's not the best multiplayer shooter I've ever played, but it was quite simply one of the most fun.

10. Spec Ops: The Line ; What is most impressive about this game is certainly not the gameplay, though I found that to be more enjoyable than many others did. It's also not the plot, which as others have pointed out is largely a modernized adaptation of Heart of Darkness. The story twists were still undeniably affecting, at least to me, but these themes which are virgin territory for video games have been done more than a few times in other media.
What is so great about Spec Ops: The Line is that it plays off your own expectations for a video game. Its developers knew they were working on a less than stellar game, and parlayed that into something truly great. The most controversial scene in the game, which I don't want to spoil, only works (and it doesn't for everyone) because it depends on the player giving this game less credit than it deserves.
I didn't feel good after finishing this game. You shouldn't. There's none of the triumph or "fuck yes!" moments which you might feel when mowing down aliens or "the bad guys" in another game. I constantly felt conflicted, shooting my opponents while wishing I didn't really have to, as if I could reason with them to surrender.
Spec Ops is clearly a game which has something to say, and it's something worth experiencing.

Stallion Free

Cock Encumbered
Jan 21, 2009
Connecticut, U.S.
1. Mark of the Ninja ; A wonderfully crafted game. Exquisite level design and incredibly tight gameplay.
2. Sleeping Dogs ; This was just a blast to play and the story was quite fun. Wei fucking great.
3. I Am Alive ; Oozing with atmopshere and clever environment design, this game really surprised me. The encounters were tense, too.
4. Max Payne 3 ; Probably my favorite Rockstar game I have played thus far. The shootdodging combined with Euphoria lead to some amazing TPS action scenes.
5. Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 ; The most entertaining multiplayer experience on PC with friends.
6. Chivalry: Medieval Warfare ; Hilarious and beautiful melee combat. A great experience with friends.
7. Lego Lord of the Rings ; As a LOTR fan and someone who played with Legos for most of their childhood, fan service doesn't get any better. The co-op has a few neat tricks up it's sleeve too.
8. The Walking Dead ; Telltale's best writing and voice acting yet. The final scene packs one hell of a punch too.


Neo Member
Jan 4, 2013
1. Gravity Rush; This game may not be perfect. This was the most played game this year because I found something to immerse my self in. The narrative really drew me in at the beginning, but towards the end when it fell off a bit. I was so obsessed with doing the races, i just wanted to unlock more of them. The controls for the game did make tasks difficult at times, but i don't think they were as frustrating as many make them out to be. As long as you didn't attempt to do everything the game teaches you, i felt like you could still accomplish tasks. But in the end, the controls for the vita is what keep me going back to play more, because even though I 100%'d the game and have gold medal every challenge i can still drastically improve on my time and scores and explore the world that found myself wanting to explore.

2. Borderlands 2; Hands down the best game I've played this year, from this year. The only complaint that i can have is with all these DLC updates that I have too much content to play and not enough time.

3. Spec Ops: The Line; Just recently managed to finish this game. In a year where linear game play in games was such a hot topic I'm surprised how little this game was brought up. The narrative for this game was very good, while some of the game play elements were not the same. I am happy that Yager re-booted the Spec Ops franchise, and while i hope that another game is given the green light to be developed. This is a great lasting image for the franchise, something I can't say about the attempted Medal of Honor reboots.

4. Tokyo Jungle; Since the first trailer for the US localization of this game I knew i was going to love it. And I wasn't wrong, the game play just makes the game. You can choose from such a large variety of animals, and the game play adjustments that are required still amaze me. At times I've thought I was a big powerful predator, and then the next big predator comes along. Day 1, I thought I was a big bad Pomeranian, then I got assassinated by a kitten, i learned very quickly soon after the order of the world.

5. The Unfinished Swan; This is what I would consider the "big things come in small packages" because with all the things offered by unfinished swan the journey is so sweet, but short. It left me wanting more, but at the end I was still satisfied with the variety that each segment added in, and even though the tale got predictable at the end it always seemed like more of a framework for painting the world that it was taking place in. Which was a feature i loved. The best way for me to describe my love for the game is simple, "at first there was nothing, and then the king learned of shadows".

6. Rainbow Moon; I'm still playing this game. Not at the 100 hour mark yet, but still playing.

7. Starhawk; I have not played a lot of the multiplayer. But just the single player campaign pulled me in so much. I played a lot of warhawk, and just to see how drastic some of these gameplay changes are wows me. From a game that i heard about it's multiplayer being good, and single player being short. Yes I wanted more from the single player campaign because I had so much fun, but I think if more people gave the game a try they would find enjoyment in it, since it seems to be one of the many 1st party games from Sony that people had been anticipating or still focusing so much over Uncharted 3.

x. Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning - I only managed to get through a little bit of this game, but in a year appropriately considered Year of the Indie, this to me was the most promising new IPs that hit retail this year. The closure of the studio after all that those involved tried, just to get a sequel to work out, was sad news to my ears.
x. Wipeout 2048 - I recently got this game through PS+ like many others. I also own the PS3 Wipeout HD + Fury add-on, which I also got for free because of all that happened after the PSN Hack. I feel sick that I didn't buy Wipeout 2048 myself earlier, knowing the Sony Liverpool made such a great game available for us on the PS3 and made that available in full on the vita along with a full new game. And that they were closed because they haven't seen a dollar from me for all of that, since I bought Wipeout on PSone when my parents bought it for me as a Christmas present.
x. Torchlight 2; The loot system is so good. And after figuring out how the online play works things run smoothly setting it up took some time to figure out though.

2011. Rage; I went to look through the list of games i caught up on this year, and this game stuck out right next to To The Moon (LOVED IT). Rage is a great game overall though, it does a lot of things and most of those things many will find to be sub-par, even then the game still looks amazing and runs smoothly. But I had to choose rage especially because the schorcher's dlc that came out in December adds so much variety to the game (Ultra-Nightmare Difficulty) and the ability to keep playing past the original ending among things in addition to the extra mission set. If you played the game in the past, you know the game ends at the very end of the final area and if you reload it you end up outside of the final area as you were right before you entered the final area. Without the DLC, the game is still really fun. With the DLC now i think this is a game that many should go back and have a try at even if you've already played it before. And honestly for a $5 DLC i haven't gotten a better deal of content out of DLC similarly priced in a long time. Most content packs end up costing $10 and the inflation of map packs only continues to increase with each new CoD.


Junior Member
Jan 25, 2007
Freehold, NJ
  1. Borderlands 2 ; Great RPG. Love the graphics style, music is great (Heavy), love Gunzerker going wild.
  2. XCOM Enemy Unknown ; great strategy RPG, waited for this one for a long time. Cover mechanics are awsome. Love tense atmosphere. Love mini enemy animations within stages.

Windom Earle

Jan 4, 2009
1. Sleeping Dogs – A refreshing new take on the sandbox genre that does nothing completely new, but still manages to refine and re-invent certain aspects of the genre. A complete and well rounded package in all areas. A beautiful PC version completes this joyful experience. Getting lost in Hong Kong has never been so much fun since Shenmue 2.
2. Dark Souls Prepare to die Edition
3. Max Payne 3
4. Hotline Miami
5. Diablo 3


May 19, 2009
1 Streetfighter x Tekken; haters be damned. Most fun I've ever had in a fighting game.
SF footsies, Tekken characters and "marvel-light" combo's

2 Persona 4: The golden; best rpg on the PS2 got even better.

3 Tokyo Jungle; fantastic arcade survival game, just a fun crazy japanese game

4 Gravity Rush; great atmospheric game, none like it.

5 Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed

6 Zero escape:Virtue's last reward

7 Final Fantasy XIII-2; fun little RPG, but a real FF should always be in my top-3 of the year.
Especially in such a weak year as this.

8 Dishonored; a new IP! yeey


Jun 10, 2004
1. Far Cry 3; Big suprised for me. I almost feel guilty calling it goty since I played it so late in the year, but I had so much fun playing around in this sandbox and interacting with the island's wacky characters.

2. Journey; Stunning game and an amazing experience.

3. The walking dead; Such an agonizing wait for each episode.

4. XCOM: Enemy Unknown; Most fun I had with a strategy game since Valkyria Chronicles.

5. Lolipop chainsaw; It like this game was made for me. Even got the platinum trophy.

6. Borderlands 2; A surprisingly well done sequel.

7. Assassin's creed 3; Loved the setting. Shame it was so glitchy. Still really enjoyed the game though.

8. Resident Evil 6; Sorry, I still love Resident Evil. Especially coop.

9. Asura's wrath; Who knew QTEs could be so much fun.

10.FF13-2; Another apology. I really loved 13 and 13-2.

Dance Inferno

Unconfirmed Member
Dec 30, 2008
3. Qasir al-Wasat; I was introduced to this in the Games Nobody Played thread, I’ll just copy over the post I saw and my response to the demo since it's reflective of the whole game.

The only thing I disliked was the goofy looking main character, who funnily enough is supposed to be invisible. Everything’s forgiven though thanks to designed for me non-Orientalist visuals and that lovely haze effect, sort of described here by the Brazilian developers.

Please note also that unlike their website, the game itself is very nicely written, try the demo at the very least.

Wow, this looks extremely interesting, takes place in a Middle Eastern setting which is amazing and unique, and I have never heard of it before today. Will definitely give it a shot.
Nov 27, 2007
1. Kid Icarus Uprising; exciting roller-coaster ride, polished, excellent music, online, stacked with content
2. Xenoblade Chronicles
3. NEW Super Mario Bros U
4. Nintendo Land
5. Rhythm Heaven Fever
6. Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask
7. Crashmo
8. Resident Evil Revelations
9. NEW Super Mario Bros 2
10. ZombiU


Apr 4, 2007
1. Max Payne 3; tight shooting, engaging story, fantastic soundtrack.
2. Darkness 2
3. Sleeping Dogs
4. Alan Wake's American Nightmare
5. Uncharted Golden Abyss
6. Sound Shapes
7. MLB 12 The Show
8. Journey
9. Wipeout 2048
10. Resident Evil 6


May 19, 2010
All multiplattform titles were PC. Games I missed out on that might have made the list would be The Walking Dead, Tekken Tag 2, Dark Souls PC, Dear Esther and Hitman:Absolution.

X. Frog Fractions ; This just needs to be mentioned. The best laugh of 2012 and probably the best flash game of the year.

X. FIFA 13 ; It's FIFA. The only sports game and only game whatsoever I can compete with my friends... since they don't play anything else :\

2011 - Rayman Origins
; Technically the PC version was released this year . A beautiful colorful jump & run that made me remember why I used to like Mario and Nintendo years ago.

10. Diablo 3 ; Diablo 3 is my most disappointing title 2012. But after sinking 200 hours in, I can't really leave it out of the list now, can I?

9.Mass Effect 3 ; If it weren't for the absymal last 2 hours (no it wasn't just the ending! where are all the forces I gathered? I thought they'd fight with me?!) this might really have been a good finale. Personally I saw Mass Effect 2 as the weakest one in the series. ME 1 felt like a real RPG, especially the combat reminded of the P&P KotoR/Jade Empire design, ME 3 felt like a competent shooter with shoot dodge good cover system the whole shebang. ME 2 was neither and to add insult to injury, had (yes I do think that) still the worst singular ending of all 3 games (
giant metal baby?! c'mon son!
. If the DLC content (Leviathan) would have been part of the game I played, ME3 would have probably ranked higher.

8. Spec Ops:The Line ; Spec Ops was one of these game were you think, I know what's going on here after a second. And you turn out wrong and after a couple of hours you think: Now I know what's going on and then you turn out right. This is not necessarily a bad thing here, since Apocalypse Now and Heart of Darkness are timeless stories that can take place anywhere. Now some praise for this game might be a bit over the top (e.g. gameplay is crude to make a point), but the story alone is worth to check this game out.

7. Far Cry 3 ; Without a doubt the best shooter of the year. It was a pretty terrible year for shooters. Far Cry 3 is a compentent shooter. It erased all the annoying quibles I had with it's predecessor, the brown made way for a lush green and it had Vaas!

6. Mark of the Ninja ; It has Ninjas in it and is a stealth game which we haven't had in like.. forever this gen.

5. Sleeping Dogs ; This game was not on my radar whatsoever. I hate GTA with a passion. I never cared about the original True Crime. And apparently even Acti lost faith in it whilst development. But actually playing it was unlike GTA IV fun. The fighting might be a shameless carbon copy of Batman: AA / AC, but it works brilliantly, so why give a damn? Races and even travelling from one point to another never felt, tedious as in so many other OpenWorldGames, since vehicles were fast and exciting and the game isn't as vast and annoying in terms of mission design (send you from on end of the world to another) . While gunplay wasn't it's strongest suit, I enjoyed the overall package more than I could have imagined.

4. Hotline Miami ; "Twitchy controls, shitty graphics, ughh.. and that music. That's the game everyone is raving about?! What is this shit? I'm dead. Dead again. WTF? Ok... Ouch.. brutal. Dead again. Dead. Ok... got it, I'll open the door and the rush... Dead again. Ok one last time that's. GODDAMIT... I'll beat you! Ha. Said I would. Ok just the next level. Mhh. Ok" And before you know it you have the entire soundtrack on non-stop rotation in your head. It's kinda like Super Meat Boy meets Drive, meets 8Bit era, meets some crazy David Lynch fantasy.

3. FTL ; Addictive, simple, yet complex. This pictures says it all.

2. X-COM:Enemy Unknown ; A lot has been said about remakes, and how the industry, especially after the release of the Syndicate remake likes to gut what those old titles are about. I never played UFO nor X-COM, but I always loved Fallout 1/2 tactical round based combat (a reason why I hated Fallout 3). Add to the sublime and timeless "micro" layer of round based combat a thoughtful base management "macro" layer and what you get is magic.

1. Journey ; A visual and audio masterpiece. Yes there is barely any challenging gameplay, but the multiplayer and the experience resonates with every person differently. As flower before it, it's not for everyone. But for me it was the most astonishing gaming experience this year, and maybe even this generation.


Oct 22, 2007
I can't wait to get the comparison index like last year. Y'all are going to do that again this year, right? (ohpleaseohpleaseohplease).

I'm officially a fan of the series. I can't decide which one between Oath and Origin is the best.

They are both such incredibly fun games, with Oath focusing more on a story and Origin focusing more on playing seperate characters. Origin is 10x more fun if you've played Ys 1 & 2 though. I did ages ago, but fighting the cenetepede, then the two floating heads was this huge "oooooooooooooh sh*t" moment. I also loved the Devil's Hallway part. So good (and the 3rd character's way of beating it is the most fun!).


Apr 11, 2009
1. Fez; much more than a game: it's a metagame. I remember a lot of people over the world trying to resolve his misteries using pen and paper, it was something unique and never seen before. Fez is also a homage to the old school games, and it shows that it the end a good design always triumphs.
2. XCOM: Enemy Unknown; hard drug.
3. The Walking Dead; this is the first time a videogame makes me empathize that much with the characters. The game doesn't have a great plot, but it's very well written and makes the player to really care about the characters and all the things that happen to them. This is the approach to follow in your next game, Quantic Dream, take notes ;)
4. Dragon's Dogma; this game suffers from a lot of poor design decisions, but for me still is one of the most enjoyable titles this year. The reasons: the fast paced combat, the breathtaking boss fights and the amazing character editor.
5. Mass Effect 3; an epic conclusion to the series, even though the last hour was a little underwhelming. Also, it has an amazing and addictive multiplayer!
6. Dishonored;
7. Tokyo Jungle; help a pomeranian to become the highest predator of the Shibuya District is something beyond amazing.
8. FTL: Faster Than Light;
9. Hotline Miami;
10. Max Payne 3;

x. Dance Central 3; dance "Gangnam Style" was my best gaming moment of the year :__)
x. Trials Evolution;
x. Journey; an amazing audiovisual experience with the best coop since Dark Souls. As a game, a little overrated.

I still have to play these games: Sleeping Dogs, Assassin's Creed 3, Forza Horizon, Mark of the Ninja, Far Cry 3, Spec Ops: The Line


Jul 27, 2010
Here's mine....I'm not sure if it'll change between now and the deadline. I feel awful that a lot of games that I wanted to get to I haven't had time to do or give them their credit due (such as Far Cry 3, Dishonored, Hitman Absolution, The Darkness II, I could go on....).

1. Mark of the Ninja; Great game that I bought twice (once on XBLA then on Steam) and interesting gameplay as well. It is addictive enough to where I’m not even done with the game and I’m still trying to go back through previous levels to improve my score. It’s like hilarious to do things like pull a switch to release poison gas or terrify an enemy into shooting his own teammate. And every time you die in the game....it's your fault. There wasn't a weak moment in this game. It's the perfect blend of challenge and ease of play that I think great games have. This is a great 'entry point' into the world of stealth games, specifically Tenchu. I've never played Shank 1 or 2 so Klei Entertainment has a lot to live up for their next game.
The ending is very similar to the ending from Bastion, but different.
I may try a ‘no kill’ run (which seems to be the consensus for those who have played it). The gameplay is probably about as perfect as gameplay will get this generation.

2. Kid Icarus: Uprising; One of the best handheld games ever made and one of the best Nintendo games ever made. So much Nintendo got right with this. Great story, great gameplay, and a great reason to own a 3DS. Not only that but the weapon fusion system is robust and it actually has decent online multiplayer. Who da thunk it on a handheld? There are drawbacks to the game however: yes, the controls are cumbersome and yes, your hands will hurt after playing this. But the controls are relatively easy to pick up and I’ve heard several people I know say this is as close to a handheld Sin & Punishment as we will ever get this generation.

3. Hotline Miami; I’m surprised to see a lot of people on the internet, GAF, critics, etc. raving over this game. To me, the controls are absolutely horrid, it’s completely unfair to the point that it’s almost unbeatable, I don’t mind the fact that the game doesn’t hold your hand but it’s still not very good, the story sucks, the visuals are purposely bad (although I dig how it reminds me of Loaded or the first GTA on LSD), but yet this game is great? What am I missing? You are given only ONE chance against the enemies which isn’t very fair or fun. A lot of the time, my hits/attacks wouldn’t even affect the enemies at all. Then if I use a gun, they all scatter towards my direction, which is also dumb. I’ve spent at least five hours and was ready to say ‘screw it’ and move on. But, towards the sixth hour, something just clicked with me on this. It’s about line of sight, precision, and quickness. You can’t just march into a room, blast enemies and walk out – there’s a bit of strategy at play. Just fire a shot from inside a room and wait. Then the enemies come streaming and if you’re quick enough, you waste them. You have to make sure you’re out of their line of sight and try to surprise them quickly before you are noticed. And the ‘one life one kill’ gameplay started to make sense – why do other shooters have ‘regenerative health’ and lifebars and medkits and everything else that just holds your hand? The way the game presents it, killing people shouldn’t be ‘heroic’ or be like something out of an action movie, the way other games are starting to present it as well (video games nowadays are male empowerment wish fulfillment – I’m glad I don’t have ANY desire to be like the player character in this and it bothers me greatly if there is someone out there who would). I got up to the last chapter, fought the nearly impossible last boss and just gave up (that level is almost too hard for me). I have numerous complaints about this game and if I get down to it, I really don’t like this game at all. But I like what is trying to do. The fact that people like this game either means that gaming as a culture is pretty much dead and that there’s no sense of challenge anymore. But I can recognize that this game does its own thing and totally unlike anything that came out in 2012.

4. Spec Ops The Line; I played the PC/Steam version of this, having gotten it for $5 on Amazon. I was fully prepared to not like it – the visuals are a bit drab and some of the gameplay isn’t up to par as most other first-person/third-person shooters out there. And I knew the source material (The Heart of Darkness) very well. Having finished it….wow. Incredible experience and an incredible game. Like my #1 pick, this game seems to show that in 2012, video games are beginning to show signs of maturity as a storytelling medium. This game isn’t designed for high school kids or emotionally disturbed individuals who find this funny – this is a serious issue and a serious story. What bothered me most about the game was not
dousing the people in a level with white prosperous or gunning down civilians – but throughout the whole game actually shooting at American military soldiers. And it made me reflect on what other shooters are doing with their stories – it's presented as "we shoot at these people because we’re the good guys and they are the bad guys." In this case, the main character has his priorities messed up and he’s really the bad guy but doesn’t see it until the end.
Some of the faults I have is with how the cover system doesn't quite work as well as I'd like (basically, standing up when I'm trying to slide across while in cover). Also, this game has some of the best voice acting from this year (I especially loved the radio announcer and the incomparable Nolan North as Martin Walker) and one of the best soundtracks (The Black Angels “First Vietnamese War” has been stuck in my head since I finished the game).

5. Theathrhythm Final Fantasy; I know I devoted at least 30 hours this year to this game. It is simply addictive and does a lot of things right as well. I haven’t gotten past some of the tracks on Expert (yet) much less touched Ultimate, but this still brings me back. The only drawback I can find is how the game seems to be typical of Square Enix's strategy right now: cut out some content and nickel-and-dime people with DLC. Not to mention the complete adorableness of the characters…I’m hoping Square Enix expands Theathrhythm into a larger, separate game (I would love to play tracks from Chrono Trigger, Xenogears, Kingdom Hearts or Secret of Mana with this!)

6. Wipeout 2048; Great swan song to Studio Liverpool/Psygnosis and slightly easier (at first) for a Wipeout game. The 2050 circuit is pretty tough and some of the tracks are just bad (Sol 1 especially) and there’s a bit of rubberbanding AI during the 2050 circuit. I'm not really sure how this game stands up to the other Wipeout games, but I do know that it's a great game for 2012. The countless hours I’ve spent on this game is a testament to that fact.

7. Mass Effect 3; I had heard about the numerous complaints regarding the ending to Mass Effect 3 and I was prepared to hate it. After finishing it, I didn’t. I purposely didn’t download the “Extended Cut” DLC (but I had “From Ashes” and “Leviathan,” both of which helped the story) and tried to avoid any spoilers I could. What struck me about ME3 is how relevant it is to today’s times: there’s a lot going on about the ‘big questions’ – what is safety in our world today? What is freedom? Why does evil exist? Are there ‘good guys’ and ‘bad guys’ today? Who can we trust? What do we do when everything in our world is a mess? Are we losing control? Will there be a future for us? This isn’t to say that other games in 2012 or earlier haven’t done the same thing as ME3 did (Spec Ops: The Line and The Walking Dead spring to mind) or that ME3’s place is due to my extrapolating that from my views. It’s just the overall package is extraordinary, the gameplay is excellent and it's an excellent game....days later, I still think about the ending. Not in a “this ending sucks and it should have been this” sort of way, but in the overall message. It’s interesting how the player (as Commander Shepard) is put in charge of deciding to wage a war against an enemy he (or she) can’t actually defeat but has been trying to do since the first Mass Effect. The Reapers (and that which created the Reapers in the first place) is beyond understanding. The ending didn’t offer easy answers – besides, we really weren’t supposed to know. I guess the (justifiably so) outcry has to do with the quality of the Mass Effect universe and the poor execution or the nonsensical nature of the ending – not to mention BioWare’s response to the ending and the hype leading up to the game. But there were plenty of moments in the game that would have been perfect endings for other games.
The genophage cure and Shepard uniting the krogans. Mordus Solus’ sacrifice for the cure and his last words. Securing a peace between the Geth and the quarians (which had me crying upon seeing Legion’s sacrifice). Lt. Victus’ sacrifice to dismantle a bomb.
And it was the little moments in the game as well –
the elderly woman talking with the asari counter agent and telling her how much she reminds him of her son’s fiancée. An openly gay character reconciling the memories of his husband while standing at a memorial on the Citadel – and being able to get along with James Vega in a professional, jovial manner. The PTSD asari relaying her experience about being attacked by the Reapers and having to kill a farm girl. A normally verbose elcor saying simply “Yes. Not enough” in response to Commander Shepard about his fellow elcors being rescued. Captain Bailey telling you about his own officers in C-Sec turning each other in after Udina’s coup attempt. Even an argument between two shop keepers about selling weapons to civilians or forbidding the sale of it (which surprised me when I saw it).
There’s so much from today’s current climate that informs Mass Effect 3 presented in a video game format. It’s weird, but to me, this game is a statement of the times, more than any film I’ve ever seen or album I’ve ever heard from this year. BioWare did so much right with the overall game and yet so much wrong too. The reason why this game isn't #1 is my recollections of the game had to do with cutscenes rather than any direct input by me as the player.

8. Journey; I don’t really feel this is a game. However, if you can find a good online player with this, the world of Journey truly opens up and it’s enjoyable. If you don't encounter anyone online or you allow yourself to get lost, the game isn't quite as rewarding as many would think. It’s more artistic than even ‘game like’ but it’s grounded in what makes video games what they are. You control actions with the character on screen and
your goal is to have the biggest fuckin’ scarf. Or get a white robe.
Or go through the world and possibly play with other people without voice chat, messaging, or even knowing who they are. Just either follow their lead or don’t. Or take in the story that is open to interpretation and is intensely moving. What I liked concerning the story is it has its foundations in similar archetypes throughout history. It causes you to reflect on them and what they mean to you. The experience is to be shared with others, who may be reflecting on things as well. Jolly co-operation in every sense of the word.

9. Sound Shapes; Has a spot on this list due to the Deadmau5 & Beck levels alone, which are some of the most creative bits of gaming I’ve ever seen. It’s a ‘platformer’ in the sense that you jump from point A to point B and have to avoid obstacles. However, the music seems to have a hand in how the levels look – especially the Beck levels. The problem is it’s too short and it’s one of the few games I wish there would be more DLC for this – I don’t understand why Sony doesn’t have this game be like Rock Band and have known artists submitting their music for their tracks to be turned into levels.

10. Trials Evolution; I didn’t get that far in this (got all four bikes and that was it for me), but this game isn’t bad and I like how it takes a ‘crowd sourcing’ approach to creating new levels (from players and the game’s developers). Not to mention the DLC Origins of Pain & Riders of Doom and you have quite a hefty game that has more content than some $60 games. Some of the levels aren’t that great, but there are some that are. I probably played more of this on my 360 than I did Halo 4 or Mass Effect 3.

x. Mutant Mudds; I really really don’t like this game. To me, Mutant Mudds is a horrible game and is way too hard for its own good. But when it works, it works. I still haven’t beaten it until there’s a cheat program for it. The reason why I mention this is for players better at games than me, it's a pretty good reason to own the 3DS and despite my personal misgivings, it's a decent game.
x. Quantum Conundrum; Starts out as a great Portal like game, but gets a little bit harder and some of the mechanics/levels don’t work quite right (“Couch Surfing” I’m looking at you). This ending actually made me more mad than Mass Effect 3’s ending did (I know, ME3’s ending and anger is almost a given) but this was a nice bit of Portal 2.5 for me.
x. Dikembe Motombo’s 4 ½ Weeks To Save The World; Seriously, you should play this. It has everything good about video games in one place and it’s hilarious. You can spot the game references (a bullet hell shmup? DKC MINE CARTS? Dikembe as Mega Man? Battletoads like falling level with a Contra boss battle? In A FREE BROWSER GAME?) and it’s quite challenging. This time next year it won’t be as memorable, but good gameplay is good gameplay and it lasts. If a free game can be this great, why can’t publisher with AAA budgets & $60 price tags make something as good?
x. New Super Mario Bros. 2; Not as good as past Mario games (but what is?), it still does a lot of things right and it’s still fun to try to complete. It’s not as good as Super Mario 3D Land (which I STILL played this year), but it is great. Coin rush mode is the revelation in this game – I haven’t tackled the harder courses yet (if at all).
x. Fez; Very close to making the list and an exceptional puzzle platformer. Beyond some sections that were infuriating (the
freaking Virtual Boy section with the rising lava/hot water/Virtual Boy water....ugh. Changing my clock on my system to get some anti-cubes? Ugh
, this is a safe and relatively challenge free game.
x. Tales From Space: Mutant Blob Attacks; Took me by surprise as well. I thought it would be a bland platformer and a tide-me-over for new Vita owners, but it surprisingly has a lot of depth. The motion controls are used right and it requires a bit of thinking using the touch controls. Although some of the levels get easier near the end, it is a great addition on the Vita.
x. Uncharted: Golden Abyss; Feels like a PS3 game or a PSN game than a PSVita game. Story is a whole lot better than Uncharted 3 (of course, Uncharted 3 is a lot better than a lot of games) and some of the touch screen aspects are annoying. The boss battles using QTE’s are annoying and seem to be like all the other endings to Uncharted games (except for the excellent final boss battle from Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune). But there aren’t any lapses in the story at all (which couldn’t be said for Uncharted 3) and I think Marisa Chase is one of the better characters in Uncharted, even though she can’t take the place of Chloe in my heart. This game didn't make my list because it felt like a ‘by the numbers’ Uncharted game than anything different – the series really needs to be shaken up and I’m hoping Uncharted Vita 2 (if there is one) at least does that somewhat.
x. Dear Esther; Almost ended up on the list, but too many games ahead of it were a lot better for me. Still, if you’ve played Journey, you need to play this. Journey is about happiness and seeking peace with God;
this is about a person’s low point of their life and trying to pick up the pieces of it (? – unless the narrator has committed suicide at the end).
x. Diablo III; I actually enjoyed Diablo III. Is it as good as Diablo II? No, it’s not (and nothing is). For some purists, Diablo III spits in the face of what Diablo is supposed to be about. But for the amount of polish and how “WoW like” the game is, it is still a fun game to play, solo or in online co-op. The problem I had with Hotline Miami is the exact opposite with Diablo III: Diablo III is too easy, it’s too accessible, it’s too accommodating. Sure, if you play and beat the game at the default difficulty, you pretty much got the entire story for the game; you could try for the harder difficulties but other than loot and harder enemies, what else will change? For me, I realize what Diablo III tried to be and I’m just happy with my memories of Diablo II. It’s only a ‘disappointment’ in the sense that Blizzard struck out with this one (despite their pristine track record and focus on quality games).

2012’s 2011: Mighty Switch Force (3DS); Ugh, I forgot that Vanquish came out in 2010. So....it's WayForward's game I love to hate...Mighty Switch Force. I still haven't beaten the last level. Can't tell you how many times I 'rage quit' a level just to turn around and start it again. All due to this and this and this. Oh yeah, and this.

Avoid completely:

SSX; I don’t mind difficult games (Dark Souls is sweet sweet crack for me), but this is just an awful game. You spend more time falling off the snowboard then actually completing tricks – can’t tell you how many times I was yelling at my TV, “Get the f*ck up you idiot” after barely glancing off the side of a cliff and falling down. Or all of a sudden missing a trick completely and careening off into the abyss. Ugh. For whatever reason, the gameplay on SSX is just bad –I’ve played the original SSX and the later games and had no problems doing anything. With this, it was different. I got through 2 Deadly Descents and traded in SSX to Gamestop. However, the soundtrack is an absolute joy and I think a fairly underrated (if safe) soundtrack. I wonder what EA was thinking when they did this (other than fleecing SSX fans).

To surmise:
1. Mark of the Ninja
2. Spec Ops The Line
3. Hotline Miami
4. Journey
5. Kid Icarus: Uprising
6. Theatrhythm Final Fantasy
7. Wipeout 2048
8. Mass Effect 3
9. Sound Shapes
10. Trials Evolution

2011 Ballot


Sep 30, 2006
Troy Baker's dumpster
1. Halo 4 ; Perfect blend of in game story telling and gameplay that was sorely missing from bungies efforts.
2. Minecraft ; I never knew beating the shit out of blocks could be so much fun.
3. Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward ; The game that made me a believer in the VN genre.
4. Borderlands 2 ; Rpg. loot, guns. I love it. A greatly improved sequel to a game that bored me to tears.
5. Sleeping Dogs ; Emphasis on melee combat in an open world game was a great choice here and the main missions were highly enjoyable.
6. The Walking Dead ; Loved the story.
7. Resident Evil 6 ; Highly flawed but the huge range of combat options are great in mercs.
8. Gravity Rush ; Falling has never been so much fun.
9. Mass Effect 3 ; Great missions and solid MP made me list this even though the ending was rather disappointing.
10. Spec Ops: The Line ; average shooter elevated by a fantastic story.


Feb 18, 2012
Pro tips if you want the vote to count (since the votes are being counted by a dumb machine):
1. Number your games in acending order;
2. End your game name with a semi-colon ; and put your comment after the semi-colon. You need at least one comment or the dumb machine takes a huff and feeds it into a shredder.
3. No, you can't use pictures for your game titles;
4. If you quote anyone else's list, remember to use quote tags; or your ballot gets thrown out.

Felix Lighter

Oct 2, 2007
It might help if the Thread title mentions that the ballot must be properly formatted or something like Ballot Format in OP. In a perfect world, it wouldn't be necessary but I'm afraid a very significant portion of the votes will not be counted and that really hurts the stat tracking aspects that I enjoy.

Edit: Maybe not. Now that I go back through a few pages, it looks like a lot of the poorly formatted ballots have been addressed.

The Elite

Apr 8, 2006
1. Spec Ops: The Line ; Who would have thought the last game I finished in 2012 would be at the top of my list. Spec Ops: The Line takes the military shooter genre and turns it on its head with some mature story telling and a twisted plot that had me enthralled until the end. A few gameplay bugs hampered the experience but the bar for mature storytelling in games has just been raised. I still think we have a long way to go however.

2. Halo 4 ; I didn't think Halo 4 would become such a polarizing game in the franchise. It's surprising to see Ghaleon so distraught over what the series has become. I for one enjoyed the hell out of Halo 4. Sure, it was repetitive at times in the single player department but I do like where the story is going. The key for me is humanizing the characters of both Cortana and Chief. We only get baby steps in the first game but I believe they are on the right path. Also, as a novel lover, I'm enjoying all the extra bits of fan service. Keep up the great work 343!

3. MLB 12: The Show ; There is not much that needs to be said about MLB: The Show. It's the finest baseball game series ever developed (sorry MVP 2005 fans). The reason the 2012 edition ranks so high is that I got more play out of this game than any other game in the series. Special thanks to Frankman for the sliders he introduced me to that made the game play as close to real baseball as possible. My Jays didn't make the playoffs in 2012 but I expect good things in 2013. I'll be looking to Frankman for another good slider set this year.

4. Dishonored ; Every year there is one surprising new IP that completely blows my socks off. This year that honour goes too Dishonored. Such an incredibly fun experience with some great gameplay mechanics. Sure, teleporting might break the game somewhat but I had a lot of fun feeling 'all-powerful' what I had my complete set of abilities.

5. Guild Wars 2 ; There are a lot of pieces to the MMO puzzle that Guild Wars 2 gets right. I love how the game rewards you for exploration. Most games give you XP for walking into a new town or zone but GW2 makes finding new areas an adventure unlike any other MMO. I really appreciated that. The level-parity system that game uses when you are in low level zones is brilliant and makes the game easily accessible after being absent for a few days.

6. Forza Horizon ; This was a big surprise for me as I had written off this title months ago based on the previews. It just didn't like that interesting and it certainly didn't seem representative of the 'Forza' experience. Boy, was I wrong. This game is one of the finest racing experiences of this generation. There's just so much to do. I've had the game for two months and still haven't touched online. Single player has enthralled me that much. What an absolute rush!

7. Mass Effect 3 ; Personally, I found this to be the weakest game in the series. However, it wasn't the ending that disappointed me. Instead, it was the inclusion of an online mode that was meant to heavily influence your single player experience. I don't appreciate modes that I have no interest in being thrust upon me. The online was decent but I didn't enjoy it as much as other games. Eventually, I simply gave up on it and focused on single player which I found to be more rewarding than most. I was satisfied by the world my Shepard crafted over the course of the trilogy, and while the conclusion was lacking in choice, I felt there was little choice remaining when faced with such overwhelming odds.

8. Theatrythm ; Nostalgia trip of the forever! I have little more to say about it. I started playing this game on my 3DS and now enjoy the experience even more on my iPad Mini. It's so easy to pickup and play and it continues to be a lot of fun. I hope there are more games in the Theatrythm franchise.

9. Sleeping Dogs ; Haven't touched this game but it's a fantastic open world adventure. The protagonist is great and the game looks stunning on my PC. Look forward to diving into this game some more soon.

10. Far Cry 3 ; I still haven't finished Far Cry 3 and I wasn't sure if it was going to make the list. Ultimately, I think it belongs here though. Such a massive world with so much to do. The main story doesn't interest me all that much but Vaas has made for a great villain so far.

x. WWE 13 ; Yes, it's a glitchy mess at times but WWE 13 as an experience has taken up more of my time than I expected it to this past year. I have sunk hours into watching the Video Game Championship Wrestling (VGCW) stream and it continues to get better and better. I also plan to jump into Sunflower's GAF Wrestling Fed shortly. That's without even putting my own disc in and playing. I guess the reason I'm mentioning this game is that the sheer amount of customization this game offers deserves to be mentioned in this thread. It's allowed people to create their own stories and experiences that are absolutely ridiculous but equally entertaining.

While Yukes has certainly had their shortcomings when it comes to the WWE franchise over the years I do want to applaud them for this year's edition as I honestly believe it's one of the better wrestling games we have seen.

All that without even mentioning the Attitude Era mode which is nostalgia heaven.


Dec 14, 2010
1. Journey ; A uniquely emotional and beautiful experience.

2. Sleeping Dogs ; I didn't expect much from it, but SD quickly became my favourite open world game for years. The combat, driving, story and performances are all fantastic.

3. Far Cry 3 ; Hugely fun and expansive game with surprisingly great performances.

4. XCOM: Enemy Unknown ; I've never been a huge fan of strategy games but XCOM hooked me immediately. Brutal and satisfying.

5. Borderlands 2 ; It's Borderlands, only better in every way.

6. Need For Speed: Most Wanted ; Criterion continued their near perfect streak with another great racing game. It's not as good as Burnout Paradise but it comes closer than most.

7. Spec Ops: The Line ; A solid but unremarkable shooter with an ambitious story and a really cool environment.

8. Wipeout 2048 ; The perfect Vita showcase: gorgeous, fast and incredibly fun.

9. Binary Domain ; The best game of the year to include a French robot named Cain. Also contains Big Bo and a surprisingly strong narrative.

10. Uncharted: Golden Abyss ; Portable Uncharted. Looks Uncharted, plays Uncharted.


Apr 15, 2007
1. The Walking Dead ; some of the most impactful storytelling I have ever played through.
2. X Com ; plays great on console and strikes a great balance between accessibility and depth.
3. Dishonored ; a new franchise with a great setting and very good gameplay.
4. Sleeping Dogs
5. Borderlands 2
6. Journey
7. Farcry 3
8. Mass Effect 3
9. Asura's Wrath
10. Spec Ops: The line

2011. Saint's Row The Third

The Hermit

Jan 13, 2006
Amazing post

This is the most original and though-provoking post of this thread.
It also made me aware of Qasir al-Wasat (also had no idea it was made by Brazilian developers :D ) and Tokyo Jungle (always intrigued me, but never read anything about it)


Mar 12, 2005
Near LA, California
Out of interest, why do you think Journey is overrated?

If you take away the beauty of it (art, graphics, music, exposition), then, as a game, it is simple and not too memorable in my eyes. Yes, it's got some cool co-op ideas and a few decent puzzles, but for as much acclaim as it gets, I don't consider those aspects remarkable. As a visual-audio experience based on interpretation, it's stellar, but for a video game, I expected more, well, game.


Nov 10, 2007
If you take away the beauty of it (art, graphics, music, exposition), then, as a game, it is simple and not too memorable in my eyes. Yes, it's got some cool co-op ideas and a few decent puzzles, but for as much acclaim as it gets, I don't consider those aspects remarkable. As a visual-audio experience based on interpretation, it's stellar, but for a video game, I expected more, well, game.
Basically my issue with Journey, as well.
Sep 16, 2006
Los Angeles
1. Borderlands 2 ; I actually thought I might have burnt out on Borderlands after I went from all the hours I sunk into Roland in the first game to starting an Axton character. Got really busy and sort of put it down for a bit. Then the Mechromancer pack got added and that turned everything around for me, especially her Anarchy tree. Love this game. Wish the dialogue was as good as the first, but the DLC sort of catches up to it.

2. Spec Ops: The Line

3. Walking Dead

4. Asura's Wrath


6. Super Hexagon ; Near Geo Wars 2: Pacifism tier of pure gameplay nirvana.

7. FTL

8. Spelunky

9. Far Cry 3


listen to the mad man
May 21, 2006
Some Games I Played

2012 was a weird year for me. I don't really think I could come up with a full ranked ballot of 10 great games from 2012. Most of the best games I played this year were released before 2012. I haven't played quite a few of the front-runners this year. A few people PMed me to ask me about voting, so I figured I'd write something up. This is not a GOTY ballot. This is not my top 10. My vote won't count, you don't need to remind me. Finished 46 games in calendar 2012 (
purchased 211

Without further ado...

Psychonauts - This oddball classic was originally released on Xbox and PS2. Microsoft was originally slated to publish it, but dropped it last minute leaving Majesco to pick it up. A long time later, Double Fine re-acquired the publishing rights thanks to an angel investor and upgraded the PC port with Steamworks features.

Psychonauts is a wonderful little 3d action platform / 3rd person adventure / shooter. It stars Raz, who is a cadet at a psychic summer-camp. Each major level takes place inside someone's mind. I think Psychonauts is probably the culmination of 3d platformer design. It builds on many of the ideas established by N64 and PS1 platformers, and refines them. You get some great collectible elements without having the levels so nakedly designed around collectathon stuff like Banjo Kazooie or Donkey Kong 64.

I loved so much about the game. The variety between worlds--visually, every level looks totally different. This has great marriage to the theme of the game; since everyone's minds are different, you'd expect every level to be totally different. Some levels are more platform-oriented, others more adventure-oriented. A particularly wonderful level takes place inside a mental patient who thinks he is Napoleon's head and has elements of a strategy game almost, very original. The game is also hilariously written, probably one of the funniest games I've ever played. If you like the sort of odd-ball characters found in children's cartoons (Pinky and the Brain come to mind) or Intelligent Systems games (WarioWare is a pretty good comparison in some respects!), I think you'll love this. If you love the party dialogue segments in Dragon Quest, you'll love talking to the kids here. Just splendid.

The final thing I want to mention about Psychonauts is the wonderful construction of the hub world. The hub world, which is a summer camp, is very well constructed and gave me memories of going to summer camps as a kid. The geography--walking around the area, finding every little nook and cranny, going from the beach to the woods to the parking lot to the camp house... it's really exactly like a real summer camp. Being able to explore it in 3d, with some Metroidvania-style unlocking of new areas with new powers is wicked.

The final level, Meat Circus, is notorious for its punishing and apparently unfair difficulty. I understand that a patch has changed something (the checkpointing?) to make it easier, but I have to say in its defence that although I didn't play the original version of the level, it seems fair to me. There's one jump (off a rotating wheel) that didn't control very well in 3D, but other than that, it seems to work pretty well.

Fans want a sequel, but I think despite the ending that the game stands very well on its own. Psychonauts costs just $9.99 on Steam, and has been on sale as cheaply as $2.49, in addition to being a part of a Humble Bundle.

Crimson Alliance - I ... don't think I actually liked Crimson Alliance, but it's such an oddball game that I wanted to mention it. It plays like a 3/4 perspective loot-game on XBLA, but it lacks both the arcadey appeal of Gauntlet and, well, satisfying loot. I wanted to comment on the business model: It has a free demo of 2 levels. It costs $15 to unlock all 3 classes, or $10 to unlock any 1 class. No one would choose the latter. You can buy in-game gold; the pricing model here is ridiculous. It would take dozens of hours to earn as much in-game gold as $1 buys you. You'd never bother to buy weapons with in-game gold. Most of the time you're best off just using the weapons you find--one weapon every level, basically. The business model is mental. There are very few character builds, basically no character progression, and An embarrassing paucity of end-game loot. Making matters worse, there's only one piece of armour that's decisively the best. You get it by carrying a box through one of the levels near the end of the game.

I mention the game despite these very clear design failures, because it's strangely compelling. I had a good time slugging my way through levels, button-mashing, trying each of the three classes, trying to optimize my scores (I have top ratings in every single level!), playing the DLC, etc. I think it's because I haven't played a Gauntlet-like in years and years, and I was really craving one.

Sour Patch Kids - World Gone Sour - This is a by-the-numbers 2D platformer with a few puzzle/Pikmin-esque tendencies, and a voice-over by The Office's Creed Bratton, playing his usual creepy self. It's also an advertisement for Sour Patch Kids, and has a Method Man music video included (I recommend a watch!). I don't mention it because it's a particularly good game, although I had a good time playing it. I mention it because it's absurd that it actually worked on me. I spent more money on the Sour Patch Kids I bought to eat while playing the game than I did on the game itself. It costs $5 and is on XBLA/PSN

Hitman: Blood Money - I am new to the Hitman franchise. Here's what I didn't know about the Hitman franchise: It's not a shooter. It's a puzzle game. Every level is like a little miniature mechanical clock, hundreds of gears all working together. You see all these NPCs, they all have schedules, they're all moving around, going about their business. Your job is to sneak in undetected, and whack a target (or better yet, make it look like the target got themselves offed in an accident). You can easily walk in and shoot everyone -- and that's pretty fun, I killed everyone in a level once -- but the best way to play it is to spend a while following the level, figuring out which kind of Goldberg setup you can work out to kill your target, really master the schedule, and execute it. You don't have guns, or at least I never took any with me, you have tools. The weakest levels are the levels with the fewest possible routes to success, the best levels have the most. Perhaps my favourite level was getting someone who was in witness protection. Here's a playthrough of that level. The game costs $9.99 on Steam. I think the thing I liked the most about this game is how it totally confounded my expectations.

Deadlight - Deadlight is pretty near the top of the "Disappointments of the Year" list for almost everyone on GAF who has played it, but not me. I loved it. Yes, it's short. Yes the back third of the game suffers from trial-and-error. Yes the ending is sudden and the twist is stupid. Yes, the collectibles are a little morbid (driver's licenses of serial killers). Let all of this stuff go and what remains is a good-looking, stylish game with platforming in the vein of Blackthorne, Out of this World, Prince of Persia Classic, and many other "clunky" games. The jumping is heavy, the combat (using an axe especially) is slow and clunky. It's great. And the best part is that the game is very, very speed-run friendly. I've got my overall time down to something like 50 minutes, since the game saves your best times on each level segment, rather than the aggregate run. I don't think any game in maybe a decade or so has most driven me to optimize my times. I'd like to see Tequila Works iron out some of the obvious flaws, but the core of the game was great to play through. Deadlight is on XBLA and Steam for $15

Haunt - Haunt is a game that I'm not sure anyone else on GAF played. It's a first-person Kinect-based XBLA adventure game. You walk around a Haunted House and solve fairly basic puzzles using a ton of different gesture interactions related to Kinect. This really felt like a developer sat down, asked "How can we turn all of the neat little toy things that Kinect can do into a game?" and then produced this. The developer in question is NaNoOn-Sha (who you'll know from Parappa the Rapper). The game is narrated by Tim Schafer, who had nothing to do with the game's development. I'm #13 on the game's leaderboards, so obviously no one played this.

Here are some of the gestures the game makes you do:
- Taking a photo of you to use in the game
- Taking video of you to use in the game
- The Microphone
- Swinging your arms wildly
- Precise gestures
- Walking in place
- Running in place
- Ducking
- Dodging left and right
- Jumping
- Rotating wheels
- Answer a phone
- Opening and closing doors and drawers
- Slamming down buttons
- Pushing a turnstile
- Cover your ears
- Cover your eyes
- Cover your... nose.

It's really, really nifty. If you have a Kinect, you should give it a try. Haunt is currently $10, but it's almost always on sale for $5, and it's been free before.

Super Hexagon: It's very hard to describe a game that only lasts a minute. This is kind of like a "qualia"--which is a philosophical term for a completely subjective experience, one that doesn't have objective or describable qualities, only affective/experiential qualities. There's a series of hexagon with one open side rotating around you and shrinking into the centre of the screen, and you move a little dot in the centre of the screen to avoid hitting them. You generally die within a few seconds, but as you get into a zen trance and get better and better, you begin to be able to survive for precious more seconds. I don't think anyone can nail down exactly why the formula is so fun, but I have a few lessons devs can take into account:

1) Killer audio. I'm not usually a huge fan of chip tunes, but something feels dirty about Super Hexagon. It's like music made by power-tools or something. It reminded me of this bizarre cover of Total Eclipse of the Heart.

2) Integrate your audio with your visuals. The way the hexagons jam to the music doesn't affect gameplay, but it really really makes you slip into a trance. Hilariously, the only other game that I can think of like this is the NSMB series with the enemies bopping, and that feature seems to come off as cloying and obnoxious there.

2) Instantaneous restarts, which are accompanied by a robotic and yet encouraging voiceover saying "AGAIN". You always want to try just once more to get better.

Super Hexagon is on iOS for $2 and Steam for $3 and is an absolutely terrible waste of time. GAF's own Wario64 is probably the single best player in the world at the game, so hit him up for pointers or videos.

Beyond Good and Evil HD: Somehow this was the first time I've played Beyond Good and Evil. :O Beyond Good and Evil is basically a Zelda style action-adventure with dungeons, heart containers, combat, bosses, and an over-world. It's short (shorter than Wind Waker, even), and still the end of the game drags a little. The combat is merely passable. There are some camera issues…

… and yet it's totally refreshing. You have a strong female protagonist who is feminine without engaging in terrible tokenism like Metroid Other M. You have great writing. You have cool and original items, a real change from Zelda's recycling. You have great visual design. The photography mechanic is wonderful--you earn money by photographing benign non-enemy creatures around the world. Some are very, very, very well hidden and highly dependent on timing. This mechanic adds basically a free-roaming Pokemon Snap layer to the game.

What I liked the best, though, was the original world. It's a sort of futuristic and yet retro space Caribbean populated by a bunch of semi-human animals. The dungeons include a slaughterhouse and the moon. You live in a Lighthouse. It's all so novel! Just play it, breathe it in!

Beyond Good and Evil costs $10 on XBLA/PSN/Steam, and there's never ever going to be a sequel.

Fusion: Genesis: I'm going to copy-paste my earlier mini-review of this game

This is basically a semi-offline MMO twin-stick shooter space mining exploration combat game. It's very very ambitious, especially the MMO features; you're constantly online and people who go to the same map you're on automatically get matchmade with you so you can generally see other players flying around. If you take place in a big fleet-vs-fleet spaceship battle and another playing is aligned with the faction that's opposing you, then they'll show up fighting against you... The scope is really unheard of in a downloadable game. If there's a downside, it's that you need to do pretty significant amounts of busywork between unlocking actual unique missions... I'm not sure if this is typical of MMOs, since they're clearly aping the MMO formula, but it's something that frustrated me a little... One other quid pro quo--search out some FAQs. The UI is very unhelpful and there are basically no in-game tutorials so half the mechanics require outside reading to understand them... I'm sure this is a result of them assuming their audience are MMO players. Very fun, highly recommend it the next time it's on sale if you like the demo. I got 200/200 achievements in it.

The Gunstringer: Shooting mechanics like Child of Eden, it's a combination of a rail-shooter (in the Panzer Dragoon sense in many cases) and a sort of very primitive platformer. Twisted Pixel's typical humour, an absolute wealth of unlockables, three hilarious DLC packs (a full FMV game, which is exactly as terrible as you'd expect but still worth a play through, a Duck Hunt-esque arcade shooting game, and an ultra-hard third DLC pack). I don't want to spoil anything, but the introduction (please watch this, I hope the Youtube video doesn't have some doofus talking over it) and ending for this game are amazing--yes, these are not crucial elements to a game, but Twisted Pixel has been quietly knocking this stuff out of the park for a while now and it's time more people took notice. This is the Kinect Killer App, and you should buy it.

Bonus: The game has a "hardcore" difficulty. You have less health, enemies do more damage, there are more of them, you have one life, and if you die you're not just game overed, you're actually kicked out of the game to the 360 dashboard. Brass balls.

I have no idea what this game costs now, but the retail copy comes with Fruit Ninja Kinect which is a fun diversion.

Adera: Okay, let's get this out of the way: No, I don't recommend you upgrade to Windows 8. That being said, Adera is a curious little gem. I hate that hidden object games have gotten so big and yet they're so bad--what little mechanical experimentation they have fails to overcome how stodgy and low-effort they are. I don't think I've ever played a hidden object game that stands up to the Where's Waldo books. Adera is not a hidden object game, however. It's mostly a light adventure game with some incidental hidden object elements, and so I think it'll work very well as a sort of "bridge" game to more significant adventure games. It combines Myst-style world traversal, some mystery themes, light puzzles, and yes hidden object segments. It's short, only a few hours long. And it's free--the business model here is that you get the first episode for free and pay for subsequent episodes (which I haven't done yet). I'm mostly recommending this because it's a launch title for a platform, it's got an interesting business model, it was fun and fresh, and I doubt anyone else here has played it.

One bonus note: The developers didn't encrypt or compress any of the data files for the game, so you can disassemble all the art, audio, and video assets. If you're a programmer or a tinkerer, check it out.

Dear Esther/To The Moon/30 Flights of Loving: So I played a bunch of games that are basically non-interactive.

Dear Esther is about a man on an island, hundreds of years, drunk driving, kidney stones, paper boats, a dead kid, rusty boats, the apostle Paul, seagulls, a radio tower, duty, and suicide. The game is basically an open world island walkabout with semi-random narrative audio cues that fire off at key times. To call it an interactive story would be inaccurate, since nothing in it is true or false or guaranteed at all. It is visually beautiful, it highlights some interesting themes. This PDF design document/academic article defends the game's abstract nature, and I love it. One nitpick: Why does the game, which gives me complete autonomy throughout, take away my control 10 seconds before the ending? $10, Steam.

To The Moon is about a dying man's last wish and an Eternal Sunshine-esque company that reconfigures human memory. It is far more of a narrative than Dear Esther, and much closer to an interactive novel. It explores themes including autism, neurotypical people, relationships with the autistic, suppressing memories, troubled childhoods, dedication and love, and dreams. Aeana and I had a great conversation where she shared her belief that the game's ultimate narrative conclusion undermines much of its value as a work, and I see what she's saying, but I politely disagree. I do think the game was written by someone who has clear personal experience dealing with autism. The game is just the right length, it tells a very self-contained story, and I think it tells it well. My one criticism: The writing is sloppy, and although I can't generally criticize a writer for getting hung up on the things that resonated with them personally, no one gives a fuck about Animorphs, jesus christ that's the least emotionally relevant story device ever. It reminded me like a story written by someone who is clearly very intelligent, very thoughtful, and very creative, but maybe not quite a professional writer yet. $10ish, Steam.

30 Flights of Loving is a 20 minute tech demo that explores a few different narrative techniques in a game. Jump-cuts, flashbacks, telling a story without words or signs, indirect characterization, happy accidents, environmental interaction, visual styles. What's really cool about it is that it comes with a Developer Commentary, where the developer examines reasons behind every scene. It seems very thoughtful, and speaks to the way in which a single developer has a sort of authorial control that a team does not. I loved peeling an orange. $5, Steam.

I mention all three of these together because I've never really played anything like any of them, and I played them all within a month or two of each other. So I think they represent a sort of trend towards different types of interactive experiences. I like rewarding experimentation.

999/VLR: I don't like supernatural stuff. I don't really like Japanese tropes or anime or characters like the ones in these games. But I really loved these two games. I loved the writing, I loved the scenarios, I loved the plot twists, I had a good time with the puzzles, I loved replaying them again and again. Really great. I have a laundry list of minor gripes that I made in the spoiler threads for the two games (end-game spoilers for 999. I'm a very, very thorough guy when it comes to this stuff), but I think as a whole these are very impressive, significant games. The marriage of theme and gameplay is wonderful. The third-person narration in 999, and the first-person perspective in VLR both apparently serve no purpose, but each ends up being deeply significant to the final ending. So much love and care and thought was put into the writing of these scenarios, where every little detail matters and every possible choice changes the stakes significantly. I can't stress how well-made these are…

… except to say one thing. There's a very specific end-game spoiler for 999 (don't worry about spoiler tags here). In the climactic scene of the game's true ending, you need to play Sudoku. Yeah, Sudoku. It's a lame-ass puzzle. But there's a very specific plot reason why it's significant, and it is earth-shattering. 20 hours of the game's narrative folds back in upon itself. Everything suddenly makes sense. And one particular moment is the single best usage of the DS's dual-screen functionality. I'm telling you that this five second segment at the end of the game justifies the second screen. I truly, truly wish I could convey to you how blown my mind was and how elegant and wonderful it was without spoiling it. Play the damn game. And if you like it, which you should, play VLR too--it's pretty good.

I'll also add that both games are surprisingly literate. Many games take on philosophy or science or reference literature, but 999 and VLR do a surprisingly good job of talking about interesting and varied stuff and conveying the knowledge required to understand them to the reader. I think if you like, say, This American Life or Jeopardy! or Freakonomics or just thinking about and playing around with ideas, you'll like these games. If you're well-read, nothing will be new here (VLR centres around the Prisoner's Dilemma and talks a lot about Schrodinger's Cat--so if you're university educated or curious, you're probably familiar) but it's very neat and engaging to even achieve this level of literacy in a game. Both games also involve surprisingly extensive math, although you won't have to do any of it.

So even if you don't like Japanese games, even if you're skeptical of a text adventure, even if you don't play anything like this, check it out. I think you'll be refreshed.

Those were some games I played this year. If I had to pick a top 3, it'd probably be Psychonauts, 999, and Spec Ops--I didn't comment on the latter because this thread has discussed a lot of the material. I'm 3 episodes into Walking Dead. I wish I had played more of Tokyo Jungle, which easily would have made a top 10 if I made one. Mass Effect 3 was pretty forgettable, although I thought the ending was not too bad. Besides that, I played most of the major 3DS releases (NSMB2 Meh, Adventure Time Not Bad, Epic Mickey Ugh, Paper Mario Meh, Mutant Mudds Meh, Theatrhythm was great but I don't have anything to add), I have a Wii U, I've played a lot of stuff. I'd be happy to offer my opinion on anything else if anyone is interested. Like I said, I've played a lot of stuff.

Here's my 2011 GOTY ballot. 2010 GOTY ballot


Oct 26, 2011
1. Mass Effect 3 ; It couldn't not be my GOTY. ME2 ended up being one of my favorite games ever and this was more of what I loved about it plus a lot more options for combat. Even MP only recently has started to get boring.

2. Borderlands 2

3. Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward

4. Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed

5. Soulcalibur V

6. Tekken Tag Tournament 2


Dec 21, 2008
1. Natural Selection 2 ; In a time when so many people complain about every online shooter being "Call of Dutyfied", it's a real shame this isn't blowing up the charts. Excellent online gameplay that actually offers something different.
2. XCOM: Enemy Unknown
3. Sleeping Dogs
4. Far Cry 3
5. The Walking Dead
6. Civilization V: Gods and Kings
7. Forza Horizon
8. Max payne 3
9. Spec Ops: The Line
10. Torchlight 2
Sep 2, 2011
Iowa City
1. Tales of Graces f ; In a year where I didn’t play very many games to completion due to lack of time, I would have never thought I would put 50 hours in a JRPG. But I did, and loved every minute of it. The combat was fast and fun and I truly enjoyed the story. The Tales teams are masters at creating likable fun characters. I found myself looking genuinely looking forward to each and every skit.
2. Journey ; I loved its brevity and simplicity. The anonymous multiplayer was genius. And in the final moments of the game—going from that intense low to an extraordinary high—I was truly and deeply moved.
3. Sleeping Dogs ; This game was beautiful and a blast to play. I thought the story was pretty top- notch for an open-word crime game, and the combat was a clear step up from others in the genre. Even the gunplay was enjoyable with the little Max Payne elements sprinkled in.
4. Max Payne 3 ; Liked the look, story, and gameplay. LOVED the Tone and music.
5. Gravity Rush ; This game didn’t click with me right away, but once I realized that you could upgrade moves and abilities I was hooked to the point of playing every night and buying all the DLC.
6. The Last Story ; I enjoyed this game more than I thought I would and ended up appreciating its shorter length and limited scope.
7. Hot Shots Golf: World Invitational ; I badly wanted more Hot Shots, and this gave it to me.


Dec 28, 2012
Los Angeles
This year was very disappointing for me for games. Not only did a few games actually hold my interest but also it felt like a very few great games came out this year. Most AAA titles like Assassin's Creed 3, Resident Evil 6, Halo 4, Mass Effect 3, and Dishonored didn't satisfy me and all of them I didn't even finish.

1. The Walking Dead ; The only game this year that actually hold my interest in the story department. I love a good written story in my games but they tend to be very few of them. The Walking Dead however changed that. The characters, the journey, the choices (the illusion of it at the very least), and soundtrack all packed in 5 episodes that are paced very well and never had a sense of dragging on forever. Every time a new episode came out I was actually excited which is not something I can say for any of the other games that will be on this list. I'm pretty sure others here have explained why The Walking Dead is great and even without looking at them I can say I agree.

2. Hotline Miami ; A game that is the complete opposite of The Walking Dead but good enough for it to be on my list. The gameplay is addicting and a rush. The graphics are simplistic but stylish. The soundtrack was so good that I decided to get it. Nothing is else can be really said other than it's good.

3. Far Cry 3 ; I hated Far Cry 2, none of it seemed to work together. Far Cry 3 fixes most of everything that made Far Cry 2 bad. The story is actually pretty decent and the main character is actually pretty interesting despite what most people say. However what makes the game good is the detail in the beautiful open world and the satisfying gameplay.

4. Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale ; Despite all the controversy the game is a lot of fun. The cast is diverse enough to justify for its short roster. The soundtrack is really good and the stages are fun and good. This is the game I've probably played the most this year but the game does have a lot of problems which is why I am only putting it in my fourth spot. If most of the glitches were fixed, more characters, more stages, more balancing, and much more content besides the multiplayer then this would of been my #1.

5. The Darkness II ; A great short game that oozes with atmosphere and good story. Gameplay is unique and art style is great. But the game is too short and I would loved to see more of it. If only that cancelled DLC made it out.

2011. Dark Souls ; What else is there to say about Dark Souls? A satisfying RPG which builds itself around atmosphere, enemy design, gameplay, and haunting soundtrack. Although not as good as its predecessor, Dark Souls ended up being my favorite game last year for its ability to challenge the player all while doing it in this fantastic medieval fantasy setting.


Feb 7, 2007
Three votes for Tokyo Jungle since I posted, I'M TAKIN CREDIT. Semblance was the last one before me and that was 120+ votes ago (let's be real, I wish my post was as nicely written and formatted as his).

Stump, what the eff, you need to play the game more, I need a deep dive on the game from you ASAP, you were like the biggest hypeman pre-release right?

Nice that people are getting into Qasir! Credit to Perry Simm.

Ice 9

Dec 7, 2012
I didn't play a lot of new titles this year due to the student budget, but I've been divided between games that tell incredible stories, and straight up action gameplay.

1. Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward ; I was a huge fan of 999 and I think Uchikoshi really exploits the visual novel genre to its greatest strengths when making his stories. I love the simple premise, but the discussion of seemingly unrelated topics start weaving into something grand and astonishing. The story's pacing and build up is excellent and the plot twists just start firing at you one after the other as you approach the finish. The escape the room puzzles are great and tense when combined with VLR's excellent soundtrack. Voice acting is top notch as are the characters. A near perfect game for me if not for the loading screens and moving across the facility.

2. The Walking Dead ; I was never big on adventure games, but The Walking Dead was accessible enough with a decent story to draw me in. The character interaction is where this game shines. I care and emphasize with these people, and I'm forced to make morally questionable and difficult decisions. Best ending in a video game for 2012 after VLR's ending sequences.

3. Chivalry: Medieval Warfare; Didn't know anything about this other than me friends telling me it was fun and $15. Chivalry is a real throwback to Jedi Knight Academy lightsaber battles for me. Simple, but deep combat that feels great is sometimes all you need to make a great game.

4. Hotline Miami ; Twitchy, tight, frantic, and challenging game play. A kind of hybrid between Dark Souls and the first GTA games. Death is something to welcome and I keep on trucking. I enjoyed the retro looking graphics and kicking soundtrack.

5. Katawa Shoujo ; Interesting characters and premise. Sex scenes, while important for emotional development of the characters, feels like full blown hentai and made me feel awkward. Overall it was a solid VN that I'm surprised made it off the ground.


Aug 19, 2010
Vancouver, BC
1)Journey; Unique experience, beautiful graphics (you know that scene I'm talking about). Short, sweet, didn't over stay its welcome and executed its gameplay mechanics well.

2)Dishonored; Rarely in games do I do stealth all the way through, I usually just get bored. With Dishonored, I really felt like the powers made up for how boring stealth gameplay can be, blink is just awesome. Also great art style/music.

3)Rayman Origins; The only pure platformer in recent memory that I enjoyed, that is probably why I enjoyed it so much. Great art style/music.

2011: Saints Row 3;
This felt like pure game. This game just kept on giving me fun (
Fuckin' hoverbikes and shit!
). Co-op was a great experience.


gave away the keys to the kingdom.
Jul 30, 2009
Western Australia
I've not played to completion any games this year that I deem worthy of a GoTY nomination, however Mark of the Ninja is fantastic and I'm hoping I can be done with it in time to vote.
Apr 6, 2009
I didn't play a lot of new titles this year due to the student budget, but I've been divided between games that tell incredible stories, and straight up action gameplay.

1. Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward - I was a huge fan of 999 and I think Uchikoshi really exploits the visual novel genre to its greatest strengths when making his stories. I love the simple premise, but the discussion of seemingly unrelated topics start weaving into something grand and astonishing. The story's pacing and build up is excellent and the plot twists just start firing at you one after the other as you approach the finish. The escape the room puzzles are great and tense when combined with VLR's excellent soundtrack. Voice acting is top notch as are the characters. A near perfect game for me if not for the loading screens and moving across the facility.

2. The Walking Dead - I was never big on adventure games, but The Walking Dead was accessible enough with a decent story to draw me in. The character interaction is where this game shines. I care and emphasize with these people, and I'm forced to make morally questionable and difficult decisions. Best ending in a video game for 2012 after VLR's ending sequences.

3. Chivalry: Medieval Warfare- Didn't know anything about this other than me friends telling me it was fun and $15. Chivalry is a real throwback to Jedi Knight Academy lightsaber battles for me. Simple, but deep combat that feels great is sometimes all you need to make a great game.

4. Hotline Miami - Twitchy, tight, frantic, and challenging game play. A kind of hybrid between Dark Souls and the first GTA games. Death is something to welcome and I keep on trucking. I enjoyed the retro looking graphics and kicking soundtrack.

5. Katawa Shoujo - Interesting characters and premise. Sex scenes, while important for emotional development of the characters, feels like full blown hentai and made me feel awkward. Overall it was a solid VN that I'm surprised made it off the ground.

1)Journey. Unique experience, beautiful graphics (you know that scene I'm talking about). Short, sweet, didn't over stay its welcome and executed its gameplay mechanics well.

2)Dishonored. Rarely in games do I do stealth all the way through, I usually just get bored. With Dishonored, I really felt like the powers made up for how boring stealth gameplay can be, blink is just awesome. Also great art style/music.

3)Rayman Origins. The only pure platformer in recent memory that I enjoyed, that is probably why I enjoyed it so much. Great art style/music.

2011: Saints Row 3.
This felt like pure game. This game just kept on giving me fun (
Fuckin' hoverbikes and shit!
). Co-op was a great experience.

You guys realize your votes won't be counted? You have to stick a semi-colon after the game's title.

Dance Inferno

Unconfirmed Member
Dec 30, 2008

Deadlight - Deadlight is pretty near the top of the "Disappointments of the Year" list for almost everyone on GAF who has played it, but not me. I loved it. Yes, it's short. Yes the back third of the game suffers from trial-and-error. Yes the ending is sudden and the twist is stupid. Yes, the collectibles are a little morbid (driver's licenses of serial killers). Let all of this stuff go and what remains is a good-looking, stylish game with platforming in the vein of Blackthorne, Out of this World, Prince of Persia Classic, and many other "clunky" games. The jumping is heavy, the combat (using an axe especially) is slow and clunky. It's great. And the best part is that the game is very, very speed-run friendly. I've got my overall time down to something like 50 minutes, since the game saves your best times on each level segment, rather than the aggregate run. I don't think any game in maybe a decade or so has most driven me to optimize my times. I'd like to see Tequila Works iron out some of the obvious flaws, but the core of the game was great to play through. Deadlight is on XBLA and Steam for $15

I'm glad to hear this. I'm also enjoying the game but then again I'm still in the first third of the game. I do really enjoy the atmosphere as well as its "clunkiness" (this is just a regular Joe dropped into a world with zombies after all). We'll see how I feel when I finish the game.


Mar 11, 2006
I often don't vote in these kind of threads, because honestly I've been mainly playing '10/'11 games this year and have yet to play most of the 2012 stuff, but here are a few anyway:

1. XCOM: Enemy Unkown ; Finally a big developer has the balls to make something else and bring back a dead genre. And they did a great job too. It's almost puzzling how a turn-based game can feel so intense. The UI for kb/m could've used a little extra work though, but that doesn't keep it from gaining the top spot for me this year. I already know I will keep coming back to this for many years to come.
2. Tekken Tag Tournament 2 ; The ultimate tekken game for fans. It could've used a little more singleplayer content I suppose and the tutorial lab could've been a bit bigger to make it a little easier for new players to get into it. But it delivers everything else in spades. Loads of content and easily my favourite fighting system. It feels easy and natural to pick up, yet is deep and complex enough to keep improving for many, many hours.
3. Walking Dead ; It's barely a decent point 'n click game and the impact of your choices end up being pretty minimal. Yet the characters and their struggles with each other really managed to pull me in and the illusion of choice was handled very effectively. It's a great emotional rollercoaster ride from start to finish.
4. Mark of the Ninja ; I've been wondering for years why no one made a proper 2d stealth ninja game, but I'm so glad they finally did. Filled with great ideas and executed close to perfection.
5. Civilization V: Gods & Kings ; I've barely dug into this, but I find Civ5 excellent despite a few (big) flaws and this just adds so much good stuff to it.
6. Legend of Grimrock

2012 backlog games that likely would've made a chance had I played them: Darksiders 2, Sleeping Dogs, Dishonored, Journey, Miami, Dark Souls, Borderlands 2, Torchlight 2, Diablo 3, FTL and more. I have some of them actually sitting in my library, but I doubt I'll get to any of them before the end of the week.

2011. Skyrim ; Despite its many, many flaws it pulled me in like nothing else. I can't wait to return to it some day soon. I have to put it slightly ahead of Deus Ex: HR and Portal 2, which were both great too. I have yet to dig into Dark Souls and Witcher 2 though.


erotic butter maelstrom
Dec 15, 2008
Unlike the last few years, I have yet to edit my list. It's pretty solid but I'm now playing Far Cry 3 and it might deserve a spot.

Lots of the stuff that concerned me, like the lack of challenge, the hand holding, the "trendy" game design (loot, crafting, xp, etc), the lack of tension is all there, but thankfully the awful objective reminders, enemy tagging by aiming, and various stuff like the reticule can be disabled. Enabling the highest difficulty also helps, even if still doesn't offer much resistance. With it's nagging issues somewhat reduced I'm more able to enjoy the good stuff, like the gunplay, the exploration, and just taking in all the beautiful sights. Unless it runs out of steam quickly I can see it placing somewhere in the second half of my list.


Nov 14, 2008
After letting the games sit for a few months I had to go back and adjust mine a bit. XCOM beats Walking Dead for my GOTY. Gameplay first. :)


Nov 12, 2012
London, UK
1. Journey ; Blew my mind in every way. I can see why some people aren't as massively fond of it as I am, but when the end came and the last notes of Apotheosis faded out, the boundaries of my television screen melted away as my eyes dried up from not wanting to blink, and I felt pure bliss. Literally gaming nirvana to me, and a life-changing experience based on my hobbies, desires and future career options. Best game of 2012, and maybe of all-time for me.

2. Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward ; Probably the reason I bought a 3DS and it didn't disappoint. Delivered fully on the "sequel" concept by upping the game innovation wise from 999 and adding that amazing flowchart, possibly my favourite game mechanic of 2012 (second to Journey's nameless multiplayer).

3. The Walking Dead ; You love it, I love it, we're all excited to see what happens next in Season 2 and how other devs will respond to the narrative-heavy experience. Exciting as a game and as a milestone.

4. Katawa Shoujo ; The big one that is kickstarting a whole new genre of english VNs, it definitely delivered on its promise and gave an incredible VN experience for the low low cost of free. Some of the best characterisation in the genre.

5. Hotline Miami ; Dat music. Super fast-paced and fun with a dark message, the whole aesthetic makes this one of the coolest games of 2012.

6. Lollipop Chainsaw ; Took me back to the arcade-y PS2 days, just a lot of extreme fun and colour. Still not a patch on NMH though. SPARKLE HUNTIIIING.

7. Juniper's Knot ; Dischan are rapidly becoming one of the studios who are creating my most anticipated upcoming works, and this original English-Language Visual Novel shows they're thinking on a whole different plane to other VN devs.

8. Fez ; Really fun little platformer that earns its place by the fact that many people (myself included) had to jot down pages of notes to solve the puzzles. Gorgeous design, music and overall fun experience.

9. Halo 4 ; Wickedly innovative for a Halo game with lovely level design. I didn't find the time to finish ODST or Reach, but I enjoyed the challenge of this game on Legendary and utterly savoured the new themes they explored with the story. More exploration of Chief's psyche in Halo 5 please!

10. Assassin's Creed III ; Loathe to give this a place on my top 10, but I do adore the series as a whole. But the five years of build-up to THAT stupid cliffhangery ending? I hope to see a far better, less buggy experience in next-gen from this series. Did put in the whole 20 hours for the story though and there were some cool elements, like the throwing-knife-strangle-from-trees move and the really cool naval combat.

Honorable Mentions
x. Diablo 3 ; I have a lot less negative things to say about this game than the vast majority of the internet. I adored the beta and played it like it was crack, and it got me to buy the game day one, but I'm still half way through Act 3 and haven't touched it in months. It's fun, but I agree some je ne sais quoi is missing.

x. Mario Party 9 ; Best party game this year. Some friends and I got pissed on sloe gin and vermouth playing this when on holiday in Wales and it was amazing. Super fun with four Wii remotes.

Best 2011 game of 2012
2011. Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 Portable (EU) ; I love JRPGs. LOVE them. But I never complete them, like ever. I managed to put over 70 hours into P3P which is super-rare for me and adored it. Brilliant game.


Feb 10, 2006
Here goes nothing, actual stuff for the parser in next post. According to timetokill that will overwrite this one, since I know it's not a correct ballot.

1. Hearts of Iron III: Their Finest Hour

Before explaining why Their Finest Hour is my game of the year, I should first explain what makes Hearts of Iron III, a World War II grand strategy game in which you can assume control over any nation in the world, so good. Like other Paradox games, it allows you to shape history. Your actions can change the entire course of the war, and it's fun seeing these 'what if' scenarios play out. Be it swift Soviet success in Finland, a Nazi conquest of Switzerland or a British invasion of Nazi occupied Norway. As the versions have progressed, and with each subsequent add-on, ‘what if’ scenarios have become more believable and the way in which players can create them has become more realistic. Though as with any game as complex as this, there are still plenty of quirks and a number of major exploits.

What makes Their Finest Hour worthy of my vote for Game of the Year specifically are several of the changes it makes that at first seem superficial, but actually do have a major impact on the way the game is played. The overhauled espionage system allows for greater flexibility and practical use of espionage, the new naval invasion system is much closer to reality and adds real flavor to the game and the reworked lend-lease mechanics are a lot more practical and give a more realistic approximation of the effects of lend-lease on receiving nations. Lastly, the new 'custom game' mode bears mentioning, it allows for customization of the starting condition of the player's nation: changing diplomatic alignment, research and units/infrastructure prior to the game start. Though it can be exploited if you choose to do so, it gives you the ability to see what might have happened had nations focused on different things in the lead up to war.

And I suppose that all comes back to my original point, this add-on strengthens that 'what if' quality of the game by making the simulation both more realistic whilst also giving you a greater ability to direct the course of your nation to see what might have happened had people 'only done this'. Hearts of Iron III was already a great game after the previous add-on For the Motherland, and Their Finest Hour only adds to that. I can only hope Paradox continues to improve upon this game, as I feel there is a lot of life still left in it.

2. Stacking (PC)
Stacking is a game I wasn’t expecting to make my GOTY list at all. Don’t get me wrong, I like puzzle games and I like Double Fine, but no one ever really seemed to get all that excited about it when it was released last year on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. But boy was I glad I bought this on PC on stump's recommendation. I absolutely loved this game.

Now obviously the first thing you notice when playing this game is the flawless presentation. The game takes you to a beautifully crafted turn of the century world populated by matryoshka dolls, with a very neat silent film twist to it. But as wonderful as the setting is, it’s the matryoshka doll concept where the genius of the game lies. As the smallest doll in the world, you can stack into larger dolls and use their abilities to solve the game’s puzzles. This is a very elegant alternative to the particularly inelegant inventory systems puzzle games and adventures commonly use. Now all that wouldn’t be worth much if the puzzles weren’t any good, but happily, they absolutely are, and they all have multiple solutions. I had quite a lot of fun finding all of the solutions throughout the game, and while many are obvious, a few are a bit trickier to find. Better still, almost all puzzle solutions are incredibly entertaining as well, often worth a chuckle.

This game sets out to do what many in its genre do, but does it so much better through elegant and refined game design and wonderful presentation.

3. Victoria II: A House Divided

As the title implies, this expansion for the 19th century grand strategy game Victoria II focuses on the American Civil War, adding a second starting scenario for that date. It is ironic then that though it is a well-executed new scenario, the game’s portrayal of the American Civil War is the least rewarding feature of the add-on for me. Considerably more interesting to me were major gameplay changes when it came to the political system of the game. Your nation now has movements advocating certain policies or forms of government that can grow or decline in strength depending on your policies and various other factors. The addition of this element really enriches the game as it makes it far more of a simulation of the reality of the 19th century, which wasn’t just a transformative period for the West economically but gave rise to so many new movements, revolutions and far reaching societal changes. Complementing the changes to the political system is the new path uncivilized nations can follow to become civilized. Lastly, various minor changes to the interface and technical aspect of the game make the game considerably less of a hassle to play. Generally speaking then this is an excellent add-on to an already challenging and deep game that strengthens weaker aspects and fixes some of the smaller problems the game still had. Just make sure you know what you’re doing when you fund an Antarctic expedition, you never know what you might find.

4. Spec Ops: The Line

I went into Spec Ops: The Line not really knowing anything about it, I ignored it when it first came out, thinking it just another modern warfare shooter that would try to compete with the big shooter franchises and fail spectacularly. A ~€5 price tag and the recommendation of a friend or two made me check it out however, and I was really blown away by how much better it was than I was expecting. Now that the hype from just having finished it has subsided a little, it has to be said that it isn’t worth the level of praise heaped on it by some; it is not one of the most important game releases ever. Obviously the gameplay is plain mediocre, and its reliance on sheer enemy numbers to challenge the player is frustrating and unnecessary. On top of that, it does sometimes feel like the game would have benefited from a bit more subtlety, rather than shouting the message at you through a megaphone.

All that aside however, this was still one of the most memorable experiences of the year, and a rare example of an ambitious AAA game. It was also one of the rare examples of a (Western) game where the developer was actually conveying a meaningful message to the player. I thought that visually the game was incredibly strong, both in terms of its depiction of a metropolis reclaimed by the desert but also in the way its visuals helped convey what the developer wanted to say. The escalation of violence by your character as well as his deteriorating physical appearance as the game progresses, the graffiti and brutal images of war crimes were used to good effect in places, as well as a variety of other elements of its presentation like the loading screens. Overall, it’s not all that it could have been, but Spec Ops: The Line is a lot better than it had any business of being, and the fact that a publisher was okay with putting a AAA budget behind something like this is pretty amazing.

5. Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion
Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion (Rebellion) is the definitive edition of Sins of a Solar Empire, which was already one of the finest real time strategy games in recent years. The key to what made the original such a huge success is balance, which Rebellion restores after the Entrenchment mini-expansion in particular made the overall game too favourable towards defensively oriented players by adding star bases and mines. With the addition of titans - flagships of which a player can only have one at any given time that dwarf even the regular capital ships – players who resort to turtling no longer have the edge that they did before.

That’s not all there is however that Ironclad added to attempt to justify this purchase of a stand-alone game. Rebellion overhauls the game’s visuals and adds ‘loyalists’ and ‘rebels’ to each of the three playable races with their own distinct technologies and titans. In all honesty, I didn’t even notice the former all that much since I generally don't zoom in too closely, but the latter is an addition that really works well to add some extra diversity to the game. This is a very good add-on that made me get back into SoSE where the previous mini-expansions hadn’t quite managed that. It's hard to see however why this could only be sold as a stand-alone product, though I suppose the €30 price tag isn’t too bad considering this is a very fine strategy game, and certainly one of the best overall games released this year.

6. Tropico 4: Modern Times

In my opinion, the Haemimont Tropico games (3 and 4) don’t get nearly the amount of praise they deserve. These are accessible, polished games with lengthy, entertaining and surprisingly diverse campaigns. Modern Times expands on the already solid Tropico 4 by adding technological progress and more buildings for the late game, fixing amongst other things the infrastructural difficulties you inevitably ran into as your island grew. More than that though, it adds an excellent new campaign in which you are both introduced to the new additions and challenged by the increasingly difficult missions without the game ever becoming frustrating.

7. Port Royale 3: Pirates & Merchants

Don’t let appearances (or the subtitle) fool you, this isn’t some clone of Sid Meier’s Pirates!. Port Royale 3 is at its core an economic simulation, where you start out with next to nothing and are expected to build up a profitable business. I was initially quite down on Port Royale 3, being turned off by the lesser naval combat system as compared to its predecessors and a few other annoyances. I hadn’t had particularly high hopes either after the disappointment that was Patrician 4. Happily, I went back to it late in the year to find that between patches and a piece of DLC, most of those annoyances had disappeared and what remained was quite possibly the best game in the series due to the expanded city management and superior interface. Combat still isn’t as strong as it was in the previous games, and definitely not as strong as it should be in a game that does pretend it offers players choices other than a gameplay style focused on trade, but since I have no taste for anything other than the economic gameplay style and since combat can be simulated, I can live with this failing. Aside from that however, all is well. Building up from nothing is a very rewarding experience in this game, as is eventually taking over towns and becoming the dominant force in the Caribbean. Certainly one of the more enjoyable games of the year for me, even if it isn’t quite as good or as deep as Patrician 3.

8. FTL: Faster Than Light

FTL is a title I never imagined I would end up liking, but I really enjoyed the twenty-odd hours I spent with it. The game creates a sense of danger, of you alone in a hostile universe, where every decision you make could be the one that leads to your ship’s destruction and you losing the game. No matter how successful you have been up to that point, failure is always but a jump away. This may sound bad, but every time my ship would be destroyed, I would exit the game and immediately restart it to learn from the experience and do better next time. My only real issue with the game is the relatively limited set of possible events, after a while you have seen it all and generally know which to avoid/which options to choose.

9. Crusader Kings II

It is not hard to see why Crusader Kings II (CK2) is easily the best received Paradox Development Studio game ever. Despite offering deep and engrossing gameplay, CK2 is considerably more accessible than both its predecessor and other games by Paradox. The main attraction of the game is the process and challenge of retaining your crown and maintaining stability amongst your vassals. Fail, and your kingdom could come apart as local rulers seek independence or even your throne. Its simulation of medieval palace intrigue is highly engrossing and makes the player actually care about events revolving around characters they know only through text, certain attributes and basic pictures. In many ways, it holds the same appeal as games like The Sims. Except instead of peeing on someone’s rug, you plot behind their back to murder them before they are able to do the same to you in an attempt to usurp your throne.

There are however several reasons for why CK2 is not higher on my game of the year list. The main reason is simply one of taste. Though I enjoy the palace intrigue and managing of vassals, I do still prefer directing the state rather than managing a person or dynasty. Paradox franchises like Hearts of Iron, Victoria and in particular Europa Universalis do more for me than something like Crusader Kings ever could. Taste aside, one of my other major objections is one of post-release content. Paradox games usually need and receive one or more major add-ons that make major changes to the overall gameplay. With Crusader Kings II, Paradox decided on a new strategy for post-release content, opting for smaller DLC packs rather than €20 expansions. Though the frequency and quality of these packs isn’t bad, they will never make changes on the scale that add-ons for previous Paradox games did. It’s a very disappointing strategy, especially considering that the best Paradox game, Europa Universalis III, only belongs on best games of all-time lists because of the major core gameplay changes in the In Nomine and Heir to the Throne add-ons in particular.

10. Sleeping Dogs

*General minor spoiler warning*
Sleeping Dogs was a game that came completely out of nowhere for me, if there was any hype for it I’d completely missed it. Some of the videos and screenshots posted on GAF made it look really interesting though, so when it was discounted on Steam I grabbed it and I definitely didn’t regret my purchase. Set in a beautifully recreated Hong Kong, Sleeping Dogs attempts to put a new spin on the open world crime genre by putting the focus on melee combat, which it does quite successfully at first. Combat in the first half or so of the game is considerably more fun than in any other recent game of the sort, but it’s a real shame that after a certain point missions devolve into the monotonous mass shootings that plague games like Grand Theft Auto.

On top of the effect it has on gameplay, it is completely at odds with the story of an undercover police officer in a world with supposedly few firearms. No one ever properly calls you on the fact that you are murdering on a scale that would guarantee the declaration of a state of emergency in Hong Kong. It’s a real shame the developers felt it necessary to escalate violence to such a degree, especially since the handful of police cases you do in the course of the game are easily the best part of the game. Almost as disappointing is the fact that during the early part of the game they set up this tension between your loyalty to the police and your loyalty to the crime organisation, but that never really goes anywhere. The previous undercover police officer was found out when he refused to kill someone, Wei under the other hand is essentially the American/Chinese equivalent of Niko Bellic. He says he’s done killing, but he’ll happily slaughter dozens, without any consequences.

Aside from this issue with violence however, Sleeping Dogs is a very competent and fun open world game. The pacing is excellent, melee combat is well executed, driving is solid, the world looks absolutely amazing, the music is solid and the voice acting isn’t half bad either. Overall, a memorable experience, but I still think it could have been so much more still.

My Shepard is still the most fucked up looking person in the universe

x. Mass Effect 3

I think in general, I enjoyed Mass Effect 3 quite a lot more than many others seem to have. But to get the bad stuff out of the way first: I thought it opened weak, and had an even poorer final hour and a half with a disappointing ending following not one, but two slogs through unimaginative environments, grinding through wave after wave of the same enemies you had been fighting for the entire game. The game also had an incredibly poor initial DLC strategy, cutting what was clearly vital content integral to the game and putting it out as paid DLC. There is no justification for a decision like that, and it's one of the reasons why this is just an honourable mention. It is also a shame that they weren't able to include the content of the Leviathan DLC as part of the initial game release, as it offered much needed context and buildup for the eventual conclusion to the story.

Now, clearly the game had more than a fair share of negative aspects as listed above. However, there was also a lot of great content in the middle. Bioware provided incredibly satisfying resolutions to the genophage and Geth story lines which had played an important role since the first game, and gave us some fascinating new insights into the overall world of Mass Effect. The gameplay in Mass Effect 3 is also easily the best in the franchise to me, offering smoother and more satisfying combat than Mass Effect 2 whilst also offering slightly more depth.

x. Assassin's Creed III

Though I considered putting this down as a disappointment, that really isn’t fair from my perspective. I think wasted potential is a better way of describing a game that I didn’t have especially high expectations of. At the core of the game’s problems from my perspective is the setting, the American Revolution. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying this out of some sort of European America-bashing perspective, what I mean is that the setting constrained the game’s design and narrative rather too much. In choosing a setting so much of the game’s intended audience is familiar with on a far greater level than they would have been with those of previous Assassin’s Creed games, the developers clearly felt pressured into following historical events more closely than in previous games where they largely ignored history. This creates an awkward situation where your main character is present at virtually every major event of the Revolution, even if these battles and events are hard to translate into entertaining gameplay. On the level of the story, it leads them to introduce far too many characters that don’t get any significant screen time and would never have made it into previous games, and it leads to an awkward balance between telling the story of the main character and telling the story of the Revolution.

Though that isn’t my only complaint, it does cover most problems I had with the game. However, there is also quite a bit that I liked about the game, which for me easily justifies the game being listed as an honourable mention. *spoilers from here on*. I thought that the first few hours, where you play as Connor’s father Haytham were a lot of fun, and consider him to be a strong character I would have liked to have seen more of. I also liked seeing things from the other side for once, not least because throughout the franchise, I have often agreed more with the views of the Templars than those of the Assassins. On the property management side of things, I felt they did a much better job than previous Assassin’s Creed games did. I felt much closer to the Homestead and its characters than anything else in the game, and felt it was done so much better than even Montereggioni in Assassin’s Creed II. Lastly, I really enjoyed traversing and doing optional content in the Frontier a lot more than I was expecting to and wish they had actually expanded on that part of the game more.

x. Dear Esther

No game nailed atmosphere quite like Dear Esther this year. Its perfectly executed Hebridean island setting makes you feel incredibly lonely, and is one of the main reasons the game is as memorable as it is. Though the writing could have been somewhat better, I was overall pretty impressed with the experience of the narrative in general. The game also made me consider that interactivity in a game needn’t consist of more than just where the player chooses to move to and what the player chooses to look at.

x. Farming Simulator 2013

No, this is not a joke mention. I spent dozens of hours playing this game, and I enjoyed every last one of them. Not every game has to be about war and violence. Certainly, this game isn’t for everyone, with a slow pace and subpar presentation, but it’s such a relaxing experience since the game does not pressure you like most games do and building up your farming equipment from a few crappy tractors and tools to large and modern machinery is surprisingly rewarding. The game’s multiplayer mode is also worthy of praise, offering cooperative sandbox gameplay for up to ten people, and with a community like this game has, this is actually an enjoyable experience. That same community also provides you with more than enough new machines and other add-ons to really complete the game and make up for a few of the major licenses the game lacks, like John Deere.

The game does have real problems however, mainly with regards to the fact that it has one of the worst physics models you would find in any commercially successful franchise. Furthermore, it was disappointing that though you can build up your equipment, and can build a few extra buildings to make some money, you can’t actually build up your farm from scratch. Had they added that and improved the physics model, this would definitely have been more than an honourable mention since I enjoy the general concept so very much.

Games I haven’t played enough of to feel like I can list them, but which I do enjoy: The Walking Dead (finished episode 4, but no real urge to continue any time soon), Football Manager 2013, Sid Meier’s Civilization V: Gods & Kings

Disappointments: Far Cry 3, Secret Files 3

My 2011 GOTY vote


Feb 10, 2006
Since the parser will apparently only consider the most recent thing it recognizes as a ballot, and my post above is obviously not in line with the rules, here is my vote summarized:
1. Hearts of Iron III: Their Finest Hour ; Improving on the best World War II game ever made is no small feat.
2. Stacking
3. Victoria II: A House Divided
4. Spec Ops: The Line
5. Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion
6. Tropico 4: Modern Times
7. Port Royale 3: Pirates & Merchants
8. FTL: Faster Than Light
9. Crusader Kings II
10. Sleeping Dogs
x. Mass Effect 3
x. Assassin’s Creed III
x. Dear Esther
x. Farming Simulator 2013

2011. Driver: San Francisco ; When it was announced I thought this sounded completely idiotic, but I’m amazed they actually managed to pull off the bonkers premise in the story, and that the gameplay mechanic the story revolves around is lots of fun to mess around with. It still wasn’t a great game, being let down by a disappointing world and outdated visuals, but I had a lot of fun with it from start to finish. The first Driver game I’ve actually enjoyed at all since the very first, even if it offers something completely different.


Mar 24, 2012
Seoul, ROK
1. Xenoblade Chronicles ; Great fun, engaging story, truly epic game
2. Resident Evil: Revelations ; The most fun I've had with a RE game in years. I couldn't stop playing.
3. Assassin's Creed 3 ; The hunting, the tree running, the assassinations... bliss
4. NintendoLand ; Simple arcade-style goodness


Feb 10, 2006
Those were some games I played this year. If I had to pick a top 3, it'd probably be Psychonauts, 999, and Spec Ops--I didn't comment on the latter because this thread has discussed a lot of the material. I'm 3 episodes into Walking Dead. I wish I had played more of Tokyo Jungle, which easily would have made a top 10 if I made one. Mass Effect 3 was pretty forgettable, although I thought the ending was not too bad. Besides that, I played most of the major 3DS releases (NSMB2 Meh, Adventure Time Not Bad, Epic Mickey Ugh, Paper Mario Meh, Mutant Mudds Meh, Theatrhythm was great but I don't have anything to add), I have a Wii U, I've played a lot of stuff. I'd be happy to offer my opinion on anything else if anyone is interested. Like I said, I've played a lot of stuff.

Here's my 2011 GOTY ballot. 2010 GOTY ballot

What did you think of Fez and Journey? Assuming you've played them of course. Those games seem to get a lot of praise, and they look pretty cool from screenshots/video tbh. Journey in particular.


Nov 7, 2011
[from January 1st: I'm still really torn and indecisive for the most part, but I guess I may as well start with what I'm pretty damned sure will remain my #1, just in case I never get back to finishing off the list.]

UPDATE: I managed to narrow down my list, although it was difficult :(
Moving this post here (edited out my list from earlier in the thread) since I wrote the majority of it today.

1. Kid Icarus: Uprising ; This game is the complete package. Someone summed it up really well in a recent LTTP thread. It has the best single player campaign, the best soundtrack, the best story, the best longevity, and even (on the 3DS, at least) the best visuals. It's one of the most overwhelmingly fantastic games I've played in many years. The campaign itself is lengthy even in one playthrough, and I've never been so compelled to play a game repeatedly as I have KIU. I don't think I've ever had this much clarity in knowing which was my favourite game of the year, in any year -- it stands so dramatically far above everything else I've played in 2012, and I've played quite a few excellent games, some which would be contenders for top honours if released at another time. But against Kid Icarus: Uprising, there was little hope for them.

2. Crashmo ; The sequel to one of the best puzzle games I've ever played, and it improves upon it most ways, and even more impressively, manages to change the fundamental gameplay systems so dramatically that despite looking identical, it feels like a completely different game. Intelligent Systems has delivered another (insanely difficult) masterpiece.

3. Rhythm Heaven Fever ; I don't think I can say enough good things about this game. It's just so wonderfully charming in both its visual and aural presentation. It's unquestionably the most fun I've ever had with a rhythm game, and definitely the one which recaptured my enthrallment with the genre. So simple, and yet so damn good.

4. Journey ; I know this will be a popular choice, and I won't have much to say that hasn't been said already. To be succinct, it was wonderful.

5. New Super Mario Bros. U ; This one surprised me a lot. I had been cautiously optimistic, but through the first 4 Worlds I wasn't really feeling it much. I stopped playing for nearly a month. Then around the end of December, I picked it back up again and was amazed at how good it became from Worlds 5-9. Shockingly good, challenging, and creative level design throughout, and a joy to play. I blasted through the rest of the game in a couple days and loved every minute of it. And don't get me started on Challenge Mode! What a ride.

6. Tales of Graces f ; Gets a lot of flak for its story and characters, although I didn't mind the former too much. Overall though, the game was adequately carried by its masterful gameplay systems. I've never been so captivated by the "action" of an RPG before.

7. Pokemon Black 2/White 2 ; This was a blast, and if it wasn't more of the same, it probably would have ranked higher on my list. It strove to perfect what Black and White set out to do for the series, and was a rousing success in this regard.

8. Diablo III ; My first Diablo game. I honestly never played it beyond Nightmare difficulty, but what I played was highly enjoyable. I still clocked a solid 40 hours or so, and pretty much had a blast, so I can't complain. Even if it wasn't the Diablo experience fans expected, I basically got what I wanted out of it. Who knows, I may even go back to it one day.

9. Nintendo Land ; This collection of arcade games blew me away. My interest in this title ran the gamut from outright apathy at its unveiling to maddening hype just before release, and it ultimately paid dividends. A fantastic Nintendo soundtrack along with some genuinely charming visuals and quite frankly THE best local multiplayer game I've played in more than a decade earned its position on my list. If not for a few gripes such as the lack of more robust online functionality and the option to not start from the beginning each time you play a game, it may well have ranked higher.

10. Paper Mario: Sticker Star ; An unusual game, to be sure. So utterly charming and fun, yet unquestionably flawed in design. One of the strongest examples of polish to a fine sheen in some areas and yet oddly the opposite in others. Nevertheless, it was mostly a delight, even though I don't fully agree with all of the design decisions. And dat jazz.

X. Theatrhythm Final Fantasy ; I was tremendously hyped for this game going in, and though I was obsessed with it during the time I spent playing it (about 15 hours), it became apparent that there just wasn't enough there to keep to around for too much longer than that. There's loads of (awesome) content, make no mistake, but sometimes it feels overly repetitive, and the Chaos Shrine was fantastic... for awhile. Even so, it's an absolute blast of a rhythm game and it hits those Final Fantasy nostalgia centres deep. I'm willing to bet in a few months I'll come crying back to Theatrhythm and will fall in love with it all over again... for another 15 hours or so.

X. Dokuro ; Really beautiful, quirky puzzle/platformer on the Vita, and truly an underappreciated gem. I was smitten with it when I first started playing, and although over time our relationship had a few ups and downs, it was most certainly an excellent experience and one I have no regrets whatsoever about having. A delight.

X. Super Stardust Delta ; Pretty much my favourite twin-stick shooter ever. Awesome, awesome game.

X. The Walking Dead ; I think this game had a few too many technical issues for me to overlook, and I was disappointed by the contrived decisions you had to make at times, as well as some really janky emotional manipulation, which had a tendency to keep me at arm's length. Still, a really good story and writing which kept me coming back.

2011. Rayman Origins ; played the Vita version but I'm dumping it here because I couldn't fit it in my overall top 10. A beautiful, flawed 2D platformer, which brings me a great deal of hope for the future of the genre outside of Nintendo's mascots and the indie scene. Can't wait to get my hands on Rayman Legends in a few months.

RPGs I wish I played, but never got around to: Xenoblade Chronicles, The Last Story, & Persona 4 Golden.


Dec 20, 2010
(*< - - - - - -
Here be my list (too bad for many AAA releases, see you next year when I buy you at a discount ;P):

1. XCOM: Enemy Unknown ; This game had a tough act to follow. The fact that it is a re-imagining of one of the best strategy games ever made -and was coming from a previous announcement of an ill-conceived shooter by 2K- makes its success much more impressive. There is nothing quite like building your force with random soldiers from all over the world, equip them as best as you can with all the odds stacked against you, then grow to depend on them, form bonds and eventually suffer when you lose them for good. There is a charm to its design (both in visuals, audio and systems) that is absent from many current games and make it much more appealing and interesting. This is the only game of this kind I bought at release and at full price. I need I feel to mention this because it is a case where I did it to reward the developer for taking the risk, and it paid off for me too.
Concerning the game, I just love the idea that there is a narrative that you create on your own which overrides the one from the game and allows for multiple playthroughs, and I love even more the re-imagined systems that make it not only a competent game right now, but a true modern classic.

2. FTL: Faster Than Light; This game came out of nowhere for me, even though it's been mentioned everywhere by everyone. I came across FTL while looking at a youtube video of a guy who, in no more than 10 seconds, had everything go to shit. He looked so in control, and then... just chaos. That was enough to make me interested, but the sci-fi theme and the possibility of having your own space adventure with a unique crew and tough choices to make in the vast depths of space sealed the deal.
Every time I play this game it is the same thing but different. It is a game where the journey is the destination, one that you can pause and take your time with and still be stupidly frantic and make you go mad. Never for me has resource management and repetition been so hectic and enthralling, with many a secret to discover and always with a different outcome.

3. Spelunky ; I guess this is the point where you notice the pattern to my best of 2012 list. For a long time I preferred the slower, more narrative driven RPG/adventure kind of game (and in some ways I still do), but there is something relaxing about games that I can play over and over at very different times and in very different moods. I use the word relaxing being very aware of its meaning, and I concede that Spelunky might be anything but. Coming from the same school of design as FTL, Spelunky is a game that presents a new challenge every time, in which you are encouraged to master very different strategies to beat the same obstacles. I have not yet beaten this game proper, and after failing again and again at it, I still find it fresh and compelling and willing to come back for more.

4. Hotline Miami ; There's not much to say about this that hasn't been said, so I will just reiterate on its unique audiovisual+gameplay combination which make it unlike anything else I've played ever. Some bugs here and there almost drove me crazy, and I wish there was a bit more depth to the way you traverse the later levels, which at some point just made the game way easier and exploitable than it should have been. Having said that, this game still drew me in more than I thought it would, and had possibly the best soundtrack of the year (something I rarely pick up on) which made it a must on my list.

5. Trials Evolution ; This was the first game of the series that I bought. It made me look back at my forgotten 360 with caring eyes and even made me find some strangers here and there to add and compete with, something I definitely never do. This idea of competing against oneself and others by means of concentration and skill makes it the more frustrating game of a list almost filled with games that expect you to fail and try many times. And that is a good thing. Oh, and it somehow looks fantastic.

6. Spec Ops: The Line ; I can't say I had the same experience everyone else had with this game. When I finally played it, the word was out on what this game was, but I still enjoyed it, or better said: understood it. I am not one who plays or enjoys military type shooters regularly, it is simply not my kind of game, so most of this game's play on familiar tropes didn't seem as shocking or revelatory to me, but there is still something there that tells me it is well done and can be effective. I have it on my list not because I have to fill it up, but because I feel it is important beyond my personal feelings on it for others to see the name and start thinking of different ways to tell the usual stories, and involve the player more with the uniqueness videogames provide as a medium. Hopefully it is an indication of what is to come in this genre and others, and other people start thinking about the stuff they play, and start demanding developers to put more thought into what they provide.

x. Guild Wars 2 ; This game is a tough one to mention. On the one hand, I became so soured on its experience and smoke and mirrors that I don't think I can put it on my regular list. On the other hand, how can I not mention a game I bought for $60 months before it launched (something I never, ever do) and I still played for fucking 400~ hours. It is a game that came with a lot of promises and fanfare, but ran thin of things to say as it went along. I mention it here because I haven't written it off yet, and know it will keep changing and still hope the best is yet to come. I also mention it because I have to admit it is not a terrible game, or even a so-so game. It is a good game that had the audacity to try a lot of new things, and for that it should be considered.

x. Diablo 3 ; Similarly to Guild Wars 2, Diablo 3 is a game I bought because some friends did, played it and enjoyed it for more hours than I should have, yet still find lacking and in many ways a failure to what it should have been. I don't think that's because I can't admit I enjoyed either game. I liked both games and that is why I am mentioning them, but I still think there are many things wrong with them that definitely come from a developers lack of understanding and not due to lack of resources or innovative design, and that feels extremely disappointing. Diablo 3, much like GW2 has improved over the months and I believe will continue to improve so I will keep coming back to them occasionally in hopes that they become what they should have been from the get-go.