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

Riposte

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Sep 21, 2010
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Haha, you jerks are stealing my music choices... figures, since I picked some of the most iconic songs in those games. I think I'll adjust them, for the audience's sake. (Still not done yet, anyway.)
 

vermadas

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Nov 29, 2007
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1. Trials Evolution ; Due to life changing events that occurred at the end of this year, my gaming free time was severely cut. I will only be voting for five games this year as a result. Unlike recent years, there is no real clear cut GOTY for me. Trials Evolution barely edges out everything else. It was a fantastic follow up to it's XBLA predecessor.
2. Forza Horizon ; I am an arcade racer fan. I was looking forward to NFS: Most Wanted more than Horizon, but with the lukewarm reception to Most Wanted and all the praise being heaped on Horizon, I decided to play that first. I had tons of fun with the game, even though I'm not part of the car nut audience that the game somewhat targets. I have yet to even try NFS: MW.
3. Darksiders 2 ; This game has tons of flaws and the pacing takes a nosedive somewhere in the middle of the second world. I really loved the combat though, and though the art and presentation was not as consistent as the first game it was still very good.
4. Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning ; I didn't have the perseverance to finish it. I liked a lot about this game, I just wish that it was actually challenging. I wasn't even trying that hard, and I was facerolling everything on hard difficulty after the first five hours or so.
5. Diablo 3 ; Disappointing in many aspects. But I had some fun with it while it lasted.
 

Felix Lighter

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Oct 2, 2007
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As you should be ;) If you have a PS3, download the Adventure's Demo. Gives a better feel on the awesome gameplay.

Oh, and Dark Arisen in April! Good time to pick up the game. :)
I'm holding out a bit longer on the hope that they release a PC version. I'd give up and just pick it up but the biggest complaints seem to be with performance issues.
 

Semblance

shhh Graham I'm still compiling this Radiant map
Dec 2, 2004
6,026
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Haha, you jerks are stealing my music choices... figures, since I picked some of the most iconic songs in those games. I think I'll adjust them, for the audience's sake. (Still not done yet, anyway.)
Damn homie, play your hand already. Gonna miss the deadline at this rate. ;p
 

shauntu

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Jan 27, 2010
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1. Xenoblade Chronicles ; amazing experience from beginning to end
2. Nintendo Land ; the amount of gameplay, both single and multiplayer, in this is never ending
3. Art Academy: Lessons for Everyone! ; excellent for art enthusiasts
4. Paper Mario: Sticker Star ; liberated from standard base attacks
5. Pikmin 2 ; awesome with pointer controls
6. New Super Mario Bros. U ; excellent level design and challenge mode is insane
7. The Walking Dead ; episodic gaming at its finest
8. Fluidity: Spin Cycle ; preferred the adventure feel of the original but full tilt is crazy and intense
9. vvvvvv ; pure crazy platforming
10. Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 ; dual player with GamePad rocks
x. Super Stardust Delta
x. NightSky
2011. Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars ; best game for 3DS for a long time
 

ArjanN

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Dec 7, 2008
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1. Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition ; I guess online petitions do work after all, amazing game, and I guess it sold well because they announced the sequel for PC as well. More japanese games for PC please. :)
2. Ys: Origin ; Love the boss battles, final true boss fight is amazing.
3. The Walking Dead
4. Binary Domain
5. Alan Wake PC version ; Welcome back Remedy.
6. Darkness 2 ; Surprisingly good sequel despite the switch of developer
7. Dishonored ; Great worldbuilding and supports several playstyles
8. Mark of the Ninja
9. Hotline Miami
10. Sine Mora ; Underrated, probably the best looking Shmup ever.
x. Shank 2 ; Improved over the first game a lot, doesn't deserve to get overlooked because of Mark of the Ninja
x. Spec Ops: The Line
x. Half-Minute Hero: Super Mega Neo Climax Ultimate Boy
x. Jet Set Radio ; Neat to see this on PC after all this time, the style makes it hold up well.
 

Jawmuncher

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Sep 2, 2010
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1.Resident Evil 6 - really enjoyed the amount of content packed in and all the different campaigns. The changes to combat were also nice as well.
2.Mass Effect 3 - Thought it was a great game even with the ending included. Gameplay was still tight and lots of cool moments through out.
3.The Walking Dead- Great story told through a simple adventure game so that all could enjoy. Even if some of it was obvious sometimes.
4.Resident Evil Revelations- Great Resident Evil title that goes back to older roots. While at the same time keeping it fresh.
5.Hatsune Miku Project Diva F-Japan only release. Filled with great music and numerous things to do, so easy to lose numerous hours to it.
 

Hot Coldman

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Oct 1, 2009
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1. Kid Icarus Uprising; It controls great for me, damn it. Hilarious, a delight to the eyes and ears, and a fresh spin on the third person shooter that I just adored. More please, Sakurai- no more Pitty would be a true pity.

2. Journey; More than the gorgeous environments, the stirring music or the mucking around with strangers in the most interesting multiplayer experience going, it's the feeling of empowerment you get from gliding through this muted world that grabbed me. The nomad's journey is emotional and rousing, yes, but the real surprise was how fun it ended up being.

3. XCOM: Enemy Unknown; I cared about a strategy game for the first time in my life. Fair play to you, Firaxis. I will be watching.

4. Sleeping Dogs; People who write this game off as being overly derivative, please lock yourselves in a car trunk and drive yourselves off of a highway into the ocean. Sometimes, games aren't new, but the swagger with which they present themselves and the sheer excellence at which they execute and merge together existing mechanics has to be commended. Sleeping Dogs is one of those games.

5. Crashmo; I thought Pushmo's mix of platforming and puzzling was something great, but Crashmo takes that idea and runs to the hills with it. That feeling of stupidity you have when you finally figure a puzzle? The stronger that is, the better the puzzle game. Crashmo has that feeling by the truck load.

6. The Walking Dead; Truly well-written games are far and few between, but The Walking Dead stands tall amongst their ranks. Famous and Video Games' ability to make you feel like you have an impact on things was amazing- since finishing the series, I've looked behind the curtains and seen the cogs in the machines, but I don't care about what I've seen. It wasn't about redefining the medium's narrative potential, or anything like that. It was about Clem.

7. Sonic and All-Stars Racing Transformed; Mario Kart on a good year is easily a GOTY contender, so Sumo's effort this year impressing me WAY more than last year's excellent MK7 means that this has to be on here. Much like Crash Team Racing, it's the differences that matter- the World Tour's original approach to the single-player content, the much different yet just as accessible and enjoyable approach to handling and drifting, just how good it looks... It's the best kart racer in years, and a sign that the genre has more to offer beyond Nintendo's efforts. The Sega love-in is icing on the cake.

8. Far Cry 3; I love open-world games where I can dick around in them, getting up to no good, and FC3 is a game with such a world that both a) keeps me busy, with a myriad of fun sidequests and upgrades and the like, plus the fantastic stronghold takeovers and b) offers enough random elements to really keep things spicy. Seriously, more games need wildlife like this. The story missions are... subpar, but the rest is like open-world candy, so I can't not love this.

9. Dikembe Mutombo's 4 1/2 Weeks to Save The World; On Week 1, this game (the second-best example of episodic gaming on this list) hooked me with it's ridiculous premise, notable topicality (Gangnam Style AND Ohio jokes? Oh Old Spice, you're putting your RSS feeds to great use!) and immediately likeable characters. But the game wasn't all that. Move on to Week 2, and big improvement! And then the next week, and the next week... by Week 4, I knew I was playing something special- and Week 5 cemented it as a must-play experience of 2012. Sure, it's a dumb flash game, but it embraces that fact, setting out for around 15 minutes every week for 5 weeks to make the player hoot, holler and left grinning like an idiot. The best game about saving the world since Majora's Mask.

10. Frog Fractions; Just play it.

2011. Sonic Generations; "THAT LOOKS LIKE A HOMING ATTACK!" Yes, shitty animal friends, it's a homing attack. It's homing straight into my heart.
 

kinggroin

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Sep 4, 2006
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1) Diablo 3 - the first time I tried the series. Digital crack in its purest form, and outside the auction house, you can find a fun linear adventure!

2) 2011 Dark Souls PC LTTP - there is no way I'm going to attempt to type out how I feel about this game using my phone's keyboard. It's the pinnacle of the action adventure / RPG genre. if this wasn't a late to the party game, it would far and away be my game of the year.

3) Zombi U - it's pretty janky, in very rough around the edges, but it brought back survival horror with zombies in a way no game has since the original Resident Evil series. For that, it gets major brownie points.
 

Singularity42

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Dec 21, 2012
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1. Persona 4 Golden ; I was never a JRPG fan before this game, heck I'd barely even played any. But this one got it's hooks in deep and has yet to let me go. The game has tons of things going for it and few negatives. It's my GOTY and I don't care that it released on the PS2 since I missed out on this great game back then. It is a damn fine reason to own a Vita

2. Sleeping Dogs ; This game wasn't even on my radar til the Steam winter sale when I picked it up for $5. Man was I silly for not grabbing it on release because this open-worlder is amazing. Graphics are gorgeous with the HD texture pack, story is fun albeit a tad paint by numbers, but it's the fighting and action that keeps me coming back. Not many games can make you feel like you are a star of your own personal kung-fu movie and this one does it brilliantly!

3. NHL 13 ; I'm a sucker for this game every year and this was no exception. The improved skating system makes this as close to the real game as it has ever been. I can literally put hundreds of hours into this game and still want more! It really does suck my life away. NHL 13 I just can't quit you!

4. Uncharted Golden Abyss ; This is a thing of beauty on dat OLED. It belongs alongside it's console brothers. Actually enjoyed it more then UC 3.

5. Gravity Rush ; When I first played this I really wasn't into it that much. Then I kept playing and kept playing and then I was finished with the story sat back and went "Wow I really enjoyed that" It's so different than anything I have played it's hard for me to put my finger on one thing that I loved about the game. Can't wait to get my hands on more!


Honorable Mentions

X. Walking Dead ; Is it a game? A visual novel? I'm not sure exactly. I know the time I spent with Lee and Clem were some of the best moments in gaming this year. I enjoyed playing it but it's hard for me to pick it as GOTY when I can't say whether it is a game or not. Telltale does deserve all the credit in the world though because this is truly a masterpiece!

X. Assassin's Creed III ; I got to run around 1700s Boston and New York. That right there is worth the price of admission alone!

x. Need For Speed Most Wanted ; It itched my Burnout fix. But it left me wishing it was a Burnout game.
 

Nert

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Shameless plug: while you're waiting for the game of the year results to come in, I highly recommend that you stop by the game soundtracks of the year results thread. The people that are voting for Journey here will likely be delighted to know that Austin Wintory (Journey's composer) recently opened an account on NeoGAF and took the time to pay the thread a visit.

With that out of the way, here's my vote! (For comparison, this is what I went with in 2011)



1. Spec Ops: The Line ; Well… this was unexpected. Not only am I putting a third person shooter at the top of my list (when I rarely play games from that genre), but I am also putting a third person shooter that isn’t mechanically satisfying at the top of my list. At best, I would call the moment to moment gunfights “fine.” If you’re played a game where you shoot people, you probably know what to expect: turret sequences, scripted environmental hazards, and the part where a sniper rifle shows up for the first time and you have to use it to take out enemy snipers that have shown up for the first time. Honestly, you’re best served by setting the game to its easiest difficult level and breezing through the combat.

I say this because the things that make this game a landmark title for the industry are the story it tells and how it tells that story. If you’ve got the vague notion in your head that Spec Ops: The Line is “just Apocalypse Now again,” I would argue that that’s a gross oversimplification. The story that this game tells would be less effective in any other medium and, in many ways, I think it surpasses the works that inspired it.

In this game, you’re not the chosen one saving the world. You’re not a lost stranger grappling with amnesia. Captain Walker (voiced by the terrific, albeit ubiquitous, Nolan North) and his two squad mates are simply trying to navigate their way through a complex and difficult situation. The gorgeous setting and factional politics ultimately serve as a backdrop for a complex study of Walker’s character, which changes dramatically as events unfold. This game adroitly tackles complex ideas like hero syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder, and the illusory nature of choice without stumbling or coming across as pretentious.

Beyond providing a critique of excessive militarism and the prevalence of violence in this medium, this game serves as an effective commentary on video game cliches. Why is it expected for game protagonists to destroy everything in their paths? Why do game protagonists feel no remorse for the things that they do, even if they have good intentions? I feel like I experienced the equivalent of “that Andrew Ryan moment” from BioShock several times over the course of this campaign.

Spec Ops goes even further by leveraging the language of game mechanics to tell its story in ways that are revolutionary and likely to become industry standards. At the beginning of the game, you’re thrown in what feels like a familiar situation: practicing taking cover, popping out to shoot at people speaking a language that you don’t understand, and not really pausing to consider the implications as your comedic relief squad mate rattles off zingers. Before too long, however, things begin to change. Your “targets” become something that makes you much more uncomfortable. The standard squad banter devolves into desperate screams and maniacal cackles. The one button kill moves gradually lose their efficiency and become drawn out displays of barbarism. Even your enemies’ combat scripting will change in service of the story, with your mythic presence pushing them to lose their cool and break out in panic.

There is a particular sequence in the game that made me feel absolutely horrified in its subversion of a genre trope (minor spoilers in this paragraph). When you are flying away in the helicopter and standing behind the obligatory turret, you instinctively slip into the routine of holding down the right trigger destroying everything in your field of vision. Walker’s cravenly destructive outburst culminates in a mammoth structure going down in flames, killing hundreds and destroying critical communications infrastructure. In most games, this would be a moment of triumph and “feeling like a badass.” In Spec Ops: The Line, the implications of what I had just done were revolting and almost made me put down the game.

If you’ve finished the game or you’re not concerned about story spoilers, this interview with the game’s lead writer makes for an incredibly worthwhile listen. To close, I’ll say that, in an impressive year for storytelling in video games, Spec Ops: The Line’s story stands tall as both the best and the most important.



2. FTL: Faster Than Light ; FTL is effortlessly engrossing. Much like The Binding of Isaac (which is discussed later in this post), this is a game that forces you to study its mechanics and approach every new area in a heightened state of alert. The ship-to-ship combat brilliantly puts the emphasis on your crew and the strategic targeting of enemy ships’ systems, allowing you to develop new strategies on the fly and rewarding you for being able to adapt to difficult situations. The ability to pause the game and issue commands at any time is key to making all of this possible. Nearly every new game is destined to end in some kind of spectacular calamity, but I keep coming back for more.



3. Mark of the Ninja ; This game has rightfully been applauded for its masterful use of visual cues to display vital information. Unlike most stealth games, Mark of the Ninja makes its crystal clear if you’re hidden or in an enemy’s field of vision, and every trick and trap that you deploy has its area of effect clearly outlined. This takes all of the tedious guesswork and frustration out of stealth and makes you feel powerful and in control. I can’t overstate how crucial this is; even as Mark of the Ninja becomes increasingly difficult and begins to demand more of the player, you will always have the tools that you need.

The game’s skill trees, varied item loadouts, and hidden secrets also make it conducive to multiple playthroughs. I highly recommend trying a non-lethal playthrough, too. Slipping by unnoticed has never been so satisfying.



4. Botanicula ; This game makes me happy. That sounds like a rote thing to say, but I mean it: Botanicula is an uplifting experience that slaps a goofy grin on my face. The fine folks at Amanita Design created a delightful and surreal natural playground that pushes me to compulsively click on every critter and crevice to see what will happen next. The combination of the game’s distinctive visuals and its audacious audio design give it a powerful personality. My only caveat for this game is that you shouldn’t approach it expecting a challenge; almost none of the puzzles will slow you down. All you have to do is relax and hum along with the game’s refreshing nonsense to have a great time.

Click here for my thoughts on Botanicula's soundtrack.



5. XCOM: Enemy Unknown ; XCOM: Enemy Unknown has one of the most insidious and addicting feedback loops that I’ve ever seen in a game. At your home base, you can pursue a wide variety of research and construction projects. In battle, you send out a handful of highly customizable soldiers and watch as they become more powerful and valuable over time. The spoils from your battle provide the necessary components for your home base activities. In turn, the research you’re doing opens up new upgrades and options for your troops. Launching more satellites allows you to secure more funding, and more funding leads to more research, and completing more missions will allow you to launch more satellites… I think that you get the idea here. The ominous specter of permanent death that hangs over your squad (and the very real possibility of losing all support from the Earth’s nations and losing the game) underscore the importance of this loop and add weight to every decision that you make.

Do yourself a favor and refrain from starting this game up late at night, because I guarantee that you won’t be getting much sleep if you do.



6. The Walking Dead ; This entire game pivots around the relationship between Lee and Clementine. If you don’t find yourself invested in those two characters and what they mean to each other, The Walking Dead wouldn’t have much else to offer. While the game successfully establishes a dark tone and some palpable tension (particularly in Episode 2), many of the major plot points and themes explored in this story are standard genre fiction fare and several of the “adventure game” sequences fall flat. Luckily enough, I completely bought into that relationship. Their fleeting shared moments of respite and the lessons that they learn from each other are wonderfully realized, and the game’s ending is genuinely heart-wrenching.



7. Lumines: Electronic Symphony ; Most of the games on this list provided me with unique experiences, but Lumines: Electronic Symphony is a shining example of simply iterating on an already successful foundation. With some minor exceptions, the core mechanics here are the same as they have always been, blending cascading block puzzling with a timeline that moves forward in sync with the beat. While a handful of other modes can provide amusing diversions, the game’s main draw is its Voyage mode. Voyage pulls you along on an audiovisual journey with a carefully constructed licensed playlist that provides emotional crests and troughs. In my opinion, this is the definitive Lumines experience, and it’s also the perfect entry point for series newcomes.



8. Dikembe Mutombo's 4 1/2 Weeks to Save the World ; I’m honoring a web browser game that was designed to increase brand visibility for deodorant and I don’t even care; that’s how much fun I had with this. Not only is this game consistently laugh out loud funny, but it was also startlingly topical. I never imagined that a video game could make timely jokes about tense budget negotiations before I played this. Mutombo’s voice acting is an absolute pleasure throughout, too. If Spec Ops: The Line and The Walking Dead represent one end of the storytelling spectrum, this game represents the gleefully anarchic opposite end.



9. Dustforce ; I love platformers, and in a relatively weak year for the genre, Dustforce stood out as my clear favorite. Its muted but colorful visual palette and low-key soundtrack keep you at ease as you come to terms with the fairly complex control scheme and the game’s devious level design. If you’re willing to invest the time necessary to master the mechanics, this game really opens up as a playground for speed runners. Very few games have Dustforce’s sense of style and I could listen to its music forever.

Click here for my thoughts on Dustforce's soundtrack.



10. Hotline Miami ; This game left a powerful first impression that steadily fell off for me over time. The grimy, retro-style visuals and the throbbing electronic soundtrack pull you in tightly and create a phenomenal sense of atmosphere. I found the fast-paced and brutal combat puzzles to be enjoyable, although there was little variety in the level design. An unexpected and clumsy stealth section causes the game to lose some of its momentum and I found the final boss to be more frustrating than fun. Fortunately, the game is short enough to not overstay its welcome.



2011. The Binding of Isaac ; It is such a shame that I missed out on this game last year, because it’s one of the generation’s best. The Binding of Isaac offers up the distilled essence of The Legend of Zelda in a randomized and endlessly replayable form. I’ve played this game for over a hundred hours and I think that I’ve only scratched the surface. If you can deal with the grotesque aesthetics (which I found to be entertaining more often than not) and the steep learning curve, I don’t see how you couldn’t love this game. Along with Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, I spent more time playing The Binding of Isaac in 2012 than anything that was actually released in 2012.
 

Nocturnowl

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Jan 1, 2011
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1. Kid Icarus: Uprising ; To use the old cliché Kid Icarus Uprising is a game that has thrown in everything but the kitchen sink and I’m pretty sure they at least tried to get that in as well. It’s been a long time coming for Pit to be called up from the Nintendo franchise reserve list but when the return is this strong it’s more than worth the wait. Uprising chooses to reinvent the Kid Icarus series focusing primarily on shooting, it leaves behind the platforming genre it spawned from and is in fact stronger for it.
Despite being effectively a franchise revival Uprising is a game that feels entirely new using the old name and what few characters it had to springboard off to greater heights, Uprising revels in its past at first showing an affectionate love to its NES origins but soon soars off to its own dizzying heights in a tale of constant escalation.

Part Rail Shooter and part fast paced third person shooter, Uprising aims to have you in almost constant action, not a chest high wall in sight and that health isn’t going to top back up by taking a breather. Pit weaves in and out of attacks with a timing based dodge function and has infinite ammunition for your weapon of choice making enemy encounters mad scrambles against the underworlds varied goon squad, each foe standing out from each other with their own quirk, it could be how they’re defeated or how they attack but what’s important is how the enemy lineup switch up each shoot out and infuse the game with further variety.
Throughout the gameplay itself the cast of Uprising will exchange banter and push the plot forward which gives all the characters life, a fun fuelled Saturday Morning Cartoon vibe that slaps a big old grin on my face as each character delivers their surprisingly witty lines with gusto and in turn creates one of the strongest casts I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying in some time, especially from the Nintendo side of things.

The sheer avalanche of content packed into Uprising shows shades of Sakurai’s work on SSB, Uprising makes games within the game as you tinker with the rabbit hole of weapon creation and piece together the puzzle pieces to make up your ability lineup. These two aspects in particular intertwine with the games solid if limited multiplayer mode and also play an important role in preparing yourself for the games higher difficulty modes, the difficulty angle in itself is handled wonderfully allowing you to scale things for almost any player but only the brave who venture higher will reap the greater rewards.

Kid Icarus Uprising fires on all cylinders delivering a handheld title so packed in with quality that many big name titles (even those from Nintendo itself) seem a bit empty in content by comparison, utilizing every feature of the 3DS right down to even AR cards alongside it’s strong presentation and superb soundtrack leaves me with no hesitation of calling this my game of the year for 2012 as well as a much needed breath of fresh air for Nintendo itself.



2. Mark of the Ninja ; Appropriately creeping up on me out of nowhere, Mark of the Ninja dares to challenge the idea of stealth in 2D yet what may at first sound limiting turns out be anything but. MotN’s overall design comes together beautifully to deliver a refined stealth game that always gives you options, keeps you aware of the situation and most importantly makes you feel like a ninja. Glass Cannon is a term that describes the main character well, a plethora of options in how to approach enemies helps you feel in control of the situation, you can ghost your way past guards with the aid of ninja tools and distraction tricks for that non lethal approach or you can be let your presence be felt through more violent traps while remaining unseen yourself, distilling fear into guards before massacring the lot of them. But both angles carry a similar risk, if you’re seen then you’re not going to last long, while potent in the shadows you’re a sitting duck in the face of gunfire, no leaping into hostile crowds with stylish sword combos and Izuna drops, just a swift bullet riddled demise. The games generous checkpoint system is a double edged sword here that alleviates any frustration at the expense of allowing the “perfect” run to be not so perfect at all.

The games visual design perfectly highlights what’s in the dark, within the light, what the enemies can see, the sound of your footsteps, the various potential for noise in the environment and it’s all brought together with a rather minimal dark visual style that makes it pleasing to the eye, the actual art direction takes on a cartoony that lends a more unique touch the aesthetics which is hilariously at odds with bloody assassinations.
As you progress more abilities open up to suit your style of play and increase the variety alongside the new tricks each stage hides, most tantalizing of all are the various suits that can be earned for completing specific stage challenges to really help fully adapt to a particular playstyle, a silent and swordless stealth focus, a swift and flawless murderer or a flat out terrifying menace, by the way I’m totally one of the last two.

Clocking in with a solid amount of length before suddenly dropping new game plus into sight makes MotN feel like a game that just keeps on giving, to think it wasn’t even on my radar until it actually released and rumblings of its quality began to be whispered throughout the internet and now I’m here to sing its praises further, ignore this at your own peril, ignoring things worth looking into are funnily enough also the actions of a clueless guard who’s about to be dangling from a nearby lamppost with a hook through his throat to send a chilling message, of course this message of mine doesn’t have to be delivered so brutally.



3. New Super Mario Bros U ; NSMBU like the rest of its sub-series doesn’t rock the boat in regards to the 2D Mario formula, it continues to build off of the previous NSMB games and in turn delivers the definitive NSMB title that can easily stand up alongside the much loved SMB3 and SMW.
NSMBU brings together many of the elements seen within the series so far and in a way feels like a greatest hits compilation of 2D Mario stage design, while the same could be said for the previous Wii entry NSMBU is that game truly refined, more challenging, greater visual variety, more enemy types and stage gimmicks, what it lacks in outright originality it makes up for in content quality, it pushes the NSMB style to its peak.

While the visuals stick to the basic NSMB style what’s here truly feels like the realization of the Mario style seen in various renders and promotional material over the years, it’s simple yet bold, pleasing and full of a surprising amount of character, backgrounds in particular have broken free from the mushroom kingdoms array of dome mountains and come across a lot more vivid for it. Unfortunately the music was not so lucky drawing straight from NSMBWii for most tracks, the same tracks being reused in NSMB2 earlier in the year just dilutes it further and I can’t comprehend why they just didn’t go all the way with an all new soundtrack after they brushed up all the other aspects.

It's another trip around 8 worlds with the same basic setup in play, even with higher difficulty, a connected world map and stronger level design in play at this point it would not quite be enough to make NSMBU truly stand out but the main game is but one part of this package.
The ace up NSMBU’s sleeve is absolutely its challenge mode, if the main game still wasn’t tricky enough for you then now you can both rejoice and later curse at the extra tasks the designers at Nintendo have cooked up, from speed runs to item based obstacle courses the challenge mode really pushes the various elements of NSMB that’ll have you perfecting the art of the new Flying Squirrel Suit one second to having you run through a stage evading coins like death itself the next. The challenge mode quickly ramps up, the gold medals become much trickier to obtain to the point even reaching the bronze minimum is a triumph, some of the stages made for challenge mode are among the toughest in the Mario series and even the games block placing boost mode gets in the action leading to a truly tricky co-op mode (or a maddening single player trial of placing your own blocks while playing for some crazy people).
Speaking of Boost mode there’s another side mode in Boost Rush which manages to make forced scrolling enjoyable (though it’s not as good as NSMB2 Coin Rush), with these extra modes alongside the main game it highlights that Nintendo didn’t skimp on the extra content, it’s actually quite unusual to see all this in a 2D Mario game and it packs the game with plenty more value for a genre often criticized for being too short.

NSMBU is a robust entry into the entire Mario series that’s not so much an outright selling point for the Wii U as it’s just a really fine game for it. Well-crafted and reliable, it may not seek to innovate and it’s hardly the most unique of titles released this year yet it still stands as one of my strongest with an emphasis on simply delivering good old fashioned fun, the series and this entry in particular serve as a solid reminder of how I ended up in this hobby in the first place.



4. Fez ; Just a few weeks ago I stumbled across a scrunched up piece of paper with gibberish scribbles on the back, and then I realized that it was in fact my numerous scribbles related to Fez and it took me right back, anyone who’s paid any attention to Fez is likely aware at this point that the game is very much more than meets the eye.
Upon first glance it’s another gimmick focused puzzle platformer with a retro inspired soundtrack and pixel styled visuals, Fez is in a bit deceptive in a way and very much a game of two halves, the stories of perplexing puzzles that step right outside the box and united people together to solve the cryptic tasks thus creating a unique experience are quite commonplace when discussions of Fez arise.

Yet for me it was in fact Fez’s other more typical half that truly resonated with me, the one that involves searching a sprawling world shifting your perspective in order to collect the various cubes dotted around the environments that make up Fez’s world.
Exploration in Fez is a real treat, after a short introduction you’re thrown right into its vast terrain, a world where a tremendous chunk of the map is actually open right from the start, it may invoke the feeling of a Metroidvania but aside from a few smaller areas that start locked you’ve actually got most of the gameworld before accessible from the start. Initially Fez’s world is quite overwhelming, you’ll head into an area with multiple exits which in turn leads to more areas with forking paths, some dead ends, others spreading further out. The menu map looks like a tangled mess and the fear of getting lost is one thing but also the nagging thought of forgetting locations that you’ll wish to return to later on when you have a key or even just more information is perhaps more pressing, but therein lies the beauty of the exploration, it truly feels like an adventure as you stumble across the games colourful environments watching the map span ever wider.

Of course I’d be amiss to not mention the perspective platforming, rotating around the environment to traverse it isn’t particularly taxing on the player but it certainly lends itself to some more inspired ways to travel within the genre, as you progress you’ll likely learn small shortcuts gained from using the perspective shifts to your advantage and the games lack of punishing for a grim fall pushes experimentation in this regard.
The visuals and soundtrack are certainly worth merit, soothing themes that compliment the sun setting over the seas or a mysterious melody working in conjunction with the dark and rainy ruins of an oddly Owl focused society to create its atmosphere (oh yeah, Owls are a thing here, I can dig it), the game does a great job of reeling the player in.

I almost skipped out on Fez, from the creators controversial comments to its perhaps commonplace appearance masking the true game within, now that certainly would’ve been a mistake.



5. Sonic and Sega All Stars Racing Transformed ; To call Transformed a flat out kart racer would be perhaps a bit of a misnomer, while it very much carries the DNA of the mascot kart racer within itself it’s also taking heavily from an avenue that Sega’s various racing games revel in, a distinct arcade like gameplay is also present within transformed making it a union of both Karting and Arcade racing styles.
The main hook of Transformed would of course be the whole transforming vehicle aspect that goes beyond MK7’s gliders and floatier underwater sections, outright shifts into full flight or fighting with the waters flow in a boat make the transformations a fully featured mechanic far different to racing on wheels and the tracks ever changing layouts keep the racing styles switched up.
But make no mistake, as neat as some of the transformation sections are they’re still second place to the more common and satisfying car sections where the track design is more involved, the controls more refined and the racing more gripping.

The tracks themselves do well to represent Sega’s varied history, each one standing out on its own as opposed to the previous games heavy theme reuse, the character roster unfortunately can’t say the same and misses out on being a true All Star lineup, where the hell is my Valkyria Chronicles representation?!
The games main mode of play isn’t just Grand Prix but World Tour which is in fact a whole host of various missions that often fall into being varied challenges alongside standard races, the difficulty curve here begins twist and turn more than a racetrack with many corners, strict unlocking gates make some of the games characters unusually tricky (or simply a slog) to obtain, while the mode itself is an enjoyable twist in itself it could use some ironing out.

Transformed is fast paced racer with more depth to it than most other Karting outings I’ve seen recently, serving as an exhilarating battle for first place whilst simultaneously a sightseeing tour of Sega’s history, if it were just a bit more polished on the whole I could place it upon the sub genre’s throne, even so Transformed is bound and determined to make an impact, it has no trouble stacking up to the perceived kings of the karting kingdom and shows off the benefits of its part arcade inspired direction, enough to spark up that old 16 bit Sonic and Mario rivalry in another genre entirely.



6. Katawa Shoujo ; Swerve of the year for sure, a visual novel with odd origins and of dubious content, I distanced myself from the warning alarm ringing in my head and took a chance on it, after all it’s free so what’s the worst thing that could happen? Well I guess it delivered some emotional gut punches out of nowhere but I’m very much okay with that.
Katawa Shoujo isn’t nearly as offensive as it may sound, you take on the role of Hisao Nakai who suddenly discovers the hard way that he suffers from a heart condition that turns his life upside down and has him sent off to a special school for people with disabilities, what he views as the end of his “normal life” becomes a new beginning and its partly thanks to the female cast, each of which suffering from a different dilemma, from lacking limbs to lacking sight, yet these characters aren’t defined simply by what makes them viewed as abnormal to most people and in turn they can help our main man Hisao get back on his feet.

A series of choices will set the player off down one of 5 main character paths focused around one of the girls, each path I believe was penned by a different writer meaning there’s a decidedly different take on the tale, some better than others but each one tackles different personality types with different issues and in turn helps shape the direction Hisao himself takes, unless of course you completely cock things up. While the overall writing fluctuates by route choice I can happily say that the characters within are an engaging bunch whose tales can run the gamut of emotions, the experience is heightened further for me by an equally surprising soundtrack that hits all the right notes.

Katawa Shoujo is a labour of love by its creators, sporting solid production values for a free visual novel and tackling issues that could be deemed rather controversial with tact, it’s not perfect but all in all it’s a delightful surprise that truly exemplifies the old adage to not judge a book by its cover.



7. Dust: An Elysian Tale ; An odd controversy stands in Dust’s path for a few, a visual dilemma as a few people struggle to unsee filthy and sordid things in the deep recesses of their mind because Dust’s cast of anthromorphic animals remind them of unspeakable creations from the internet’s abyss, what a damn shame because whatever one may think of the art direction what’s in here is handled very well and completely inoffensively in my opinion and it’s a shame some people can’t get over that hump to experience a charming and classic style 2D hack and slash in the Metroidvania vein.

Anyway, to use two other games as a description of what Dust entails I’d say it’s part Muramasa and part Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia, our amnesiac hero Dust travels across a varied selection of beautiful environments in order to put together the forgotten pieces of his past alongside his jokey yet endearing sidekick Fidget and along the way they’ll meet numerous colourful characters, plots will twist and go a bit deeper than the games appearance may denote. Nothing tickles my exploration itch like the “Metroidvania” map setup, nooks and crannies just out of arms reach to make a mental note of, hidden pathways, exploring new unknown locations and the ever increasing power of the main character as the game progresses, Dust checks all these boxes and also brings in a sweeping score that helps emphasize the games atmosphere.

Bursting with vivid colours, animal based characters, frantic combat, simple yet effective platforming and all wrapped up with an enjoyable story Dust kind of feels like the product of a different time, a time I miss and would love to see more of. Dust has some pitfalls, the combat is too limited for the amounts of enemies encountered throughout the game and in effect stays similar from beginning to end but the strength of the overall package had me still very much enjoy Dust from start to finish. If Noogy hasn’t fallen into a “NEVER AGAIN” state of mind after having finally overcome the hard fought journey to Dust’s release I eagerly await what’s next even if I have to wait a while to find out.



8. Asura's Wrath ; Cyber Connect 2 and Capcom came together to create a rather odd spectacle, an interactive anime masquerading as an action game filled with quick time events by the bucket load. Asura’s Wrath tells the tale of a betrayed and furious individual on a quest for both vengeance and to get his daughter back, the whole father angle is almost funny coming from this seething rage machine but it works, even if Asura isn’t a rational character who sounds like he’s suffering from an eternal sore throat and is mostly characterized by being absolutely pissed off he’s still a character I can rally behind, I’m almost at one with every rage fuelled strike within his furious flurry of fisticuffs.

The gameplay side of Asura’s Wrath is unfortunately lacking, melee combat is limited and becomes repetitive as the game draws on and the rail shooting sections can sometimes be flat out painful in their tediousness, yet there’s something about Asura’s Wrath that keeps me enthralled, the chaotic energy from the bombastic gameplay, its retribution plot, its overall absurdity and stellar presentation all combine to create something unique that stands out when it’s all said and done.

Visually and thematically speaking I adore what they’ve created here, the blend of various Asian mythologies and sci-fi creates a memorable universe with great character design, I think that’s what stuck with me most of all. Boss battles are the true highlight of the games playable side of things, marrying the cinematic craziness with your own actions in frenzied encounters creating an area where Asura’s Wrath shines brightest.

The part 4/true ending as DLC snafu is a shame and sadly typical of Capcom this year, it’s especially sad because it’s damn good (and I’d say borderline required) DLC at that, if all the various DLC content was included with that core game then it would stand quite a fair bit stronger. I wouldn’t consider it a game for everyone at all, it heads into an odd niche but manages to carve out something quite special, manly fighting to Symphony No.9 from the new world is something I certainly wont forget any time soon.



9. Virtue's Last Reward ; Tasked with following up on 999's mind bending plot and inspired twist is a tall order but VLR succeeds in meeting expectations as well as standing on its own two feet, consider many minds melted to mush once more.
VLR refines a few issues with 999, most noticeably the new flowchart that allows you to jump around various scenes to prevent replaying sections for new endings (and boy are there a lot more of those!). Its brand of puzzling still leaves me a bit too flummoxed at times, it either goes pretty well where I get what the game is asking of me and solving the puzzle feels like a personal victory or alternatively it drives me right up the wall and baffles me to the point of anti-fun, still the option of an easy mode is appreciated here but I do feel various elements could be less cryptic at times.

Of course the reason behind wanting to speed through those puzzles is to get back to the increasingly intriguing plot, the game has a tendency to stop the player in their tracks when things are getting interesting and requires jumping around various story paths before allowing progression elsewhere which makes some early stages and endings feel lacklustre but it pays off when you can venture further forward as you piece together the bigger picture and then the twists and turns rain down with full force watering the seeds of my curiosity. VLR’s plot is backed up with an enjoyable cast of characters, you’ll like them, hate them, be betrayed by them and also be supported by them, basically the pendulum swings back and forth with you liking a character one second and then cursing their name the next which in turn keeps the games whole betray or ally angle on its toes.

VLR has a few niggles but altogether it’s pretty enthralling, capable of sinking its narrative claws in deep and leaving a lasting impression.


I can't decide on a number 10 out of my honourable mentions and i'm also about to reach the character limit so i'll leave it at these 9, if anyone wants to see my HM choices maybe I can put them in a separate post or elsewhere.
 

Ryuukan

Member
Apr 21, 2006
5,059
0
0
1. Persona 4: Golden ; I never played the original. It made me feel like I was really back in high school except I had friends and all the girls.

2. Resident Evil: Revelations ; A sadly overlooked "real" Resident Evil game. Lots of creepy moments and a fun/completely optional co-op mode.

3. Tales of Graces f ; Best battle system in a Tales game in ages.

4. Harvest Moon: A New Beginning ; Many previous installments were not fun at all. The 3D graphics are done well and there is a lot to do in this one.

5. XCOM ; Another remake that I did not play the original of. Very accessible to easy mode gamers like me. Shoutout to duckroll for the recommendation.

6. Final Fantasy XIII-2
7. Resident Evil 6 ; The demo was the worst part of the entire game.
8. New Super Mario Bros. 2
9. Warriors Orochi 3
10. New Super Mario Bros. U

x. Style Savvy: Trendsetters ; Surprisingly entertaining
x. Virtue's Last Reward
 

GPsych

Member
Oct 17, 2007
989
0
0
42
Houston, Tx
1. Diablo 3; I know that NeoGAF hates this game for the most part, but damn has it been addictive. It's pretty much THE reason why I didn't finish many games this year. My barbarian has like 180 hours, my wizard 85, and my witchdoctor 20, and yet I'm still playing it. I admit that the loot is not as good as Diablo 2 (or Torchlight 2 for that matter), but the gameplay is truly stellar. It's crazy responsive and pretty much consistently exciting. Also, to those people who say that it's not a looker - I believed the same thing until I played it on 1080p on my TV (was playing it at 768 on my laptop) and the difference is night and day. It's a beautiful game.

2. XCOM Enemy Unknown; I love the original XCOM-UFO Defense. It took me 10 years to finally finish it, but I still play it from time to time. That being said, I had ridiculously high expectations for Enemy Unknown - and it delivered. I can't remember the last time I played a game that actually lived up to my expectations (although usually I don't expect much unless it's a personally important IP). Enemy Unknown is an amazing strategy game. I've had to restart at least 5 times (Classic Ironman) and it might take me 10 years to finish like the original. Nonetheless, getting your ass kicked is awesome in this game.

3. Torchlight 2; Torchlight 2 has better loot than D3 in every way. It falls behind Diablo 3 because it's gameplay is no where near D3's level. Still, it's a great game and massive improvement over the original.

4. Civilization V: Gods and Kings; This expansion has made Civ V for me. The religion customization alone makes it a fascinating game. I've made civs that worship the Chaos gods from 40k, ancestor worship from the P&P game Exalted, and tons of other crazy ideas.

5. Mass Effect 3;

6. New Super Mario Bros. U
 

Marleyman

Banned
Jun 21, 2010
10,536
0
0
1. Far Cry 3; amazing open world shooter with a great story that kept me interested all the way through.
2. Halo 4; 343 did an amazing job w/ this title, although I had issues with a board not registering as completed when it was.
3. Need for Speed Most Wanted
4. Madden 13; best Madden I have ever played.
5. Tropico 4; damn it feels good to be a dictator
6. FIFA 13; best FIFA I have ever played.
7. Assassins Creed 3
8. The Walking Dead
9. Mass Effect 3
10. Max Payne 3
 

Thraktor

Member
Dec 29, 2004
3,889
2
0
Dublin, Ireland
As always, I have a somewhat limited number of games to choose between (as I rarely seem to play games in the year they're released), but here's my list for what it's worth:

1. Nintendo Land ; Despite being seen by many as Nintendo's attempt to follow up Wii Sports, this is in a great many ways the very opposite of Wii's breakthrough title. While the appeal of Wii Sports was immediately obvious to everyone, Nintendo Land is a set of games you really have to play to understand. What it trades off in immediate appeal, though, it more than makes up for in the breadth and depth of the games themselves. Metroid Blast, Pikmin Adventure and Zelda Battle Quest are games that not only have enough content and gameplay depth to make it as standalone downloadable titles, but would each have easily made it into this top ten on their own. Mario Chase, Luigi's Ghost Mansion and Animal Crossing: Sweet Day are unique twists on a central idea, and are the best party games I've played in a very long time. The solo games are charming and challenging in equal measure, with the sole exception of Captain Falcon's Twister Race, which is the only part of the package I can honestly say I didn't enjoy.

2. New Super Mario Bros. U ; A reminder of why no-one has ever quite been able to match Nintendo when it comes to platform games. The levels are of course creative, charming and memorable, but perhaps most importantly they're challenging without being cruel, a line which other platformers all too often cross onto the wrong side of. There's an awful lot to do, with star coins, secret exits, secret levels, and of course the challenges, many of which are wonderfully inventive twists on classic Mario platforming.

3. FTL: Faster Than Light ; In a game with an almost complete absence of narrative, it's amazing that this produced perhaps the most interesting stories of any game I played this year. From the pilot who, after losing the rest of his crew, tried valiantly to keep the ship together as he sped forward into the unknown, to the rockmen who lost their lives defending the ship from mantis raiders, to my own raiding party, who suffocated to death on a damaged enemy ship when I realised, only too late, that my teleporter cool-down was too long to bring them back in time. These unscripted tales are all the more important than the overwrought plotlines we're used to in games, because they happened uniquely to me, they happened because of me, and they show perhaps a glimpse of what games can be when they stop trying to tell stories and instead just let stories happen.

4. ZombiU ; In the same year we saw the Resident Evil franchise throw away any vestigial remains of its B-movie survival horror roots, we also got what is many ways is the first real evolution of that original idea. It's a game that may sometimes be janky and unpolished, in a way not entirely unlike the B-movies the genre was originally born from. It does, however, bring a real survival element into play, and the combination of zombie-roguelike, innovative use of the gamepad and the uneasy satisfaction of beating a zombie's brains out with a cricket bat make it a game that deserves more praise than it's got.

5. Trine 2: Director's Cut ; Having never played the original Trine, I didn't know quite what to expect from this, but with some good reviews and a day-one sale I decided to give it a go, and am very glad I did. An utterly beautiful game, it neatly mixes physics-based puzzles and combat in a way which is perfectly suited to the gamepad. Having played through the game in single-player, I look forward to playing through again in co-op sometime soon.

6. New Super Mario Bros. 2 ; In a year with two NSMBs, it's inevitable that one must come in lower than the other. There is certainly some excellent platforming to be had here, but it's not quite up to the standard of NSMBU, and the coin-collecting conceit doesn't really have any great effect on the main game. It does, however, come into play wonderfully in the new Coin Rush mode, which is really the star of the game, especially with the excellent DLC courses.

7. Fallblox ; Pullblox was one of the most original puzzle games in years, and Fallblox has managed, with only a couple of new mechanics, to really change things up and tease our brains all over again.

8. Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask ; This is probably the only entry that I'm genuinely surprised to include in my top ten for the year. I have never played any Layton games before, generally dismissing them as casual fodder, but Nintendo insisted on giving me another free 3DS game a few weeks ago, and so I decided to give it a try. What I found is that it's a charming, beautiful, engaging game with lots of polish and a load of content. Once you give it a go you start to really understand why the series has become so popular.

9. Super Hexagon ; It's difficult to explain the appeal of a game like this. It's simple, hypnotic, challenging, quick, addictive. It's fun. Play it.

10. Stacking ; Another unique creation from Doublefine. From the wonderful art style to the delightful puzzles, and the great variety of ways to solve them with the game's "stacking" mechanic, it's another reason to be joyous for the digital download revolution and the creative freedom it's given to developers.

2011. Anno 2070 ; I haven't played any city-builders for quite some time, but I have to say that Anno 2070 really sucked me back into the genre when I picked it up over Christmas. I can see myself spending a lot of time with this one.
 

Struct09

Member
Oct 9, 2006
14,355
0
0
1. XCOM: Enemy Unknown ; My previous experience with this series was loading up the original, only to turn it off after I was quickly realized I had no idea what I was doing. So when Enemy Unknown was announced I had zero interest. However, I couldn't go a day without reading about how awesome this game is. I then decided to try it, and after my first play session I was completely hooked. The game provides intense turn-based strategy, mixed in with challenging resource management and decision making. Throughout the whole experience the game is tossing new elements at the player, and nothing is more dramatic than losing a veteran soldier that was with the squad from the beginning. I enjoyed Enemy Unknown from beginning to end, and can't wait to see where this series goes next.

2. Far Cry 3 ; This game is gorgeous, has great shooting mechanics, and has a fun open-world setup. The acting and motion capture are very impressive (especially in the first third of the game). The story does fall flat, but for me it's the gameplay that matters. After I captured a radio tower and zip-lined down to the water where I then killed a shark I knew that this game was special. I didn't much care for the previous Far Cry games, but the world and gameplay of this one really connected with me.

3. Borderlands 2 ; I thought the first Borderlands was a pretty good game that fell slightly short of greatness. I was really hoping that Borderlands 2 would fix the problems of the first, and that's exactly what happened. With the constant loot drops I found myself always switching up my strategy which really helped prevent the feel of repetition. The awesomely integrated co-op and excellent writing were cherries on the top.

4. Mass Effect 3 ; My expectations were high for the final game in Shepard's story, and for the most part they were met. The gameplay was improved from Mass Effect 2, and I still truly enjoy the interactions between characters in this series. While I was indifferent to its ending and didn't enjoy it overall as much as its predecessor, I still really enjoyed Mass Effect 3. I also unexpectedly ended up playing a lot of the multiplayer which was a nice surprise.

5. Diablo III ; I really enjoyed the ways that character builds were handled in this game - I liked having the freedom that let me try different builds without penalty. I played through the game on Nightmare, and made it about half way through Hell. That took about 60 hours and was enough to leave me satisfied with the experience. The online functionality was fantastic for playing with friends, and the lack of load times was very impressive.

6. Max Payne 3 ; This truly felt like a Rockstar made Max Payne game. The story may not have been quite up to the previous games, but the shooting was better than ever. Turns out I still love diving around a room in bullet time to take out a mob of bad guys. Also, the game is gorgeous.

7. Mark of the Ninja ; I typically get really frustrated with stealth games, mostly because I find myself restarting or reloading way too often. Mark of the Ninja handles this beautifully - if you get caught you can either deal with the situation or just instantly reload to the last checkpoint. The instant reload made all the difference for me, I would not have enjoyed this game nearly as much if I had to wait. All that combined with solid mechanics and a game that provides subtle visual clues for just about everything make for my favorite downloadable game this year.

8. Dishonored ; I was completely ready to play a new IP, so Dishonored was released at a good time. I really enjoy the excellent level design that allows for multiple play-styles, and also really appreciated the tools/powers that are provided. Unfortunately I encountered a mission-breaking bug in the game that prevented me from fully completing one of the missions, which really put a damper on my experience with the game. The bug has since been fixed, but I'm not so sure I'll go back and do a full run-through again. Anyway, I am hopeful that we'll see more of this series in the future.

9. Assassins Creed 3 ; I must say that this game is deeply flawed. It takes WAY too long to start, some of the missions are infuriating, the economy related side quests are pointless, and there are bugs galore. However, the game has some amazingly high points for the series: the incredible naval combat, the interesting time period, some amazing story missions, the great multiplayer, and some really fun side missions. All the positives overcame the negatives to make this one of my favorite games this year.

10. Fez ; I didn't get the chance to work with the internet to figure this game out, but I was still drawn in on my own by its mysteries.

x. Hotline Miami ; The controls take some getting used to, but I loved the fast-paced gameplay. Also, I can't remember the last time a game was so defined by its soundtrack. This game without its music would be quite inferior.

x. Journey ; A beautiful and moving experience that can only be had in this medium. It may not scratch the kind of video game itch that I have, but I am extremely happy to see a game like this turn out so well and be successful.

x. The Walking Dead ; Hands down, the best story telling the medium has seen. Gameplay is the most important factor for me when it comes to enjoying games, but I was able to live with the sub-par gameplay here so that I could soak in the amazing narrative experience that this game provides. I really hope other developers learn from what Telltale accomplished and expand upon it.

x. FTL ; I may never complete the game (that final boss is some BS, let me tell you). But damn this game is fun, and its randomness makes sure that no two runs are the same.
 

Alex

Member
Jun 7, 2004
15,167
0
1,495
1. Borderlands 2 ; Massively improved upon the iffy original and wound up my favorite loot game this year

2. Xcom: Enemy Unknown ; Brilliant reboot that got it exactly right in almost every manner. Still hoping for a full expansion.

3. Diablo III ; Qualms aside, the game had some really brilliant features and polish (combat has ruined similar games for me) and the post-launch support has been solid in backing up the system design. Looking forward to more content down the line.

4. Atelier Meruru ; Always have a lot of fun playing these with my wife. Really creative, off-beat craft/gather focused RPGs that manage to adopt a frilly style but not pander with it.

5. Tales of Graces F ; Best in the series combat and system design by a landslide, although the cast is rather bland it still has plenty of charm and was a really fun, really polished adventure.

6. Virtue's Last Reward ; Was a bit of a letdown compared to it's predecessor, neither the set up, the puzzles, the characters were as good in the end but it was still a great title.

7. Mass Effect 3 ; Blah ending and some quirks that I hoped to see get cleaned up but didn't, but overall was a really fun game with a lot of really appealing elements for me.

8. Final Fantasy XIII-2 ; Direct sequel to one of my least liked games in the past few years, but they really went gung-ho in making a respectable video game this round, even if it is still just as scatterbrained in regards to it's more superficial areas.

9. FTL ; Brilliant little Rogue/OT mashup, great for both long play and quick bursts, frustrating as it can be at times it's hard to not walk away favorably from it.

10. Sleeping Dogs ; From a single player standpoint, it's the best of it's type this cycle, very nice setting and aesthetics and does a lot of things in a more interesting fashion than it's rivals.

x. Hotline Miami ; Simple, short and sweet, really great little action game that wound up going from something I actively scoffed at upon reveal to something I marathoned down in one day.

xx. Zombi U ; Janky, bad controls, questionable design points, but ultimately a very solid game. Has a lot going on for it that as someone who likes these high concept takes on older methods would love to see taken another stab at.

x. Tokyo Jungle ; Great little rogue-like with a lot going for it, can be a bit of a slog and could have used a bit of extra padding in spots but it was a lot of fun for a few weeks.

x. Walking Dead ; Didn't wow me like some people, but it was a very solid title overall. Could use some more interaction and deviations from the main plot, but I'm very much looking forward to the next season.

x. Persona 4: Golden ; Persona 4 is an absolutely wonderful game, but as Golden is a fairly mildly touched up port, it's hard to actually fawn over it. Still, if you haven't tried the base game, it's a LOT of fun. Great dungeon crawling, customization, and an actually fairly interesting little plotline and solid characters.

My list isn't really in any order, outside of a couple, but I don't really mind as I'm just not a good person for actually ranking things I like rigidly. I could keep going a lot further, I played a lot of games I liked this year, great year for loot games especially and off bit little rogue likes, mobile games, so much good stuff. Although, on that same note I also didn't get to play a LOT of the games this year, especially big, late year ones like Far Cry 3. My list might look different if I had more time, haha.

My only real disappointments were from the handheld space. Outside of a couple of low key entries it was pretty slovenly times.
 

Oxx

Member
Oct 9, 2005
12,534
0
0
1. The Walking Dead ; I don't cry much in real life, much less at videogames. But I cared about the characters in this one and the ending left me in pieces.
2. 10000000 ;
3. Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask ;
4. Crimson Shroud ; A strange contradiction of a game. A small-form RPG that asks you to grind and back-track across its brief run-time. But the novelty, writing, and music set an oppressive mood that sustains it.
5. The Last Story ;
6. Fallblox ;
7. FTL: Faster Than Light ;
8. Diablo 3 ; I definitely enjoyed myself in my one play-through of the game. None of the outrage and scandal impinged on my relationship with the game.
9. Groove Coaster Zero ;
10. Super Hexagon ;

2011. Super Mario 3D Land ; A free download from Nintendo Europe, but the game I was looking forward to the most when I bought a 3DS. Brilliant bite-sized chunks of 3D Mario.
 

John Harker

Definitely doesn't make things up as he goes along.
Feb 26, 2005
17,582
0
0
Santa Destroy
1. The Last Story ; Surprised? I'm not. Did you see my best crew thread? The game has really solid writing with a fantastic voice cast. Really engaging and, in my opinion, innovative battle system. The game is speedy and breezy and good looking for a Wii title. Cutting edge (for the platform) online multiplayer. I hope it isn't Sakaguchi's swan song, but I'm thrilled to have experienced it and would happily invest in a Last Story 2!
2. The Walking Dead ; I really wish I had played this sooner! I'm just on Chapter 5, and it's an amazing, emotional experience. Can't wait to complete it and do some mental comparisons to Heavy Rain to see which I liked better!
3. Mass Effect 3 ; Don't understand the hate, it was a very well made game. Particularly enjoyed the Kinect integration, as I never had to open a menu once during combat.
4. Assassin's Creed 3 ; Only AC game I've managed to complete; beautiful game, decent story, loved playing in my home (New York), loved the voice acting, etc etc
5. Resident Evil: Revelations ; Great game! Core Resident Evil experience, real solid use of 3D
6. ZombiU ; Innovative, Next Gen gameplay, solid design, one of my favorite launch titles ever
7. Crimson Shroud ; Matsuno!! Ohh man, I know this is incredibly overlooked, but check it out on 3DS eShop. The writing is a treat, as to be expected, the combat is unique, the style is fresh. Perfecft downloadable game, and I hope to see him do more experiences like this
8. Gravity Rush ; the only thing I really play on Vita, Kat is a really fun heronine, repetitive but fun gameplay
9. Silent Hill: Downpour ; throwing this one a bone. Could have been one of my least favorite Silent Hill games, but it's solid enough and gets pretty interesting by the end. Just didn't love the early sections, but I have a real soft spot for this series and still dive into every verison
10. Darksiders II ; would likely be higher if I had invested more than 10 hours into it so far, but LOVE playing this on the Gamepad. It has a real slow pace but a ton of depth, I've been impressed.

1 Wii, 1 Vita, 2 3DS, 2 Wii U, 4 Xbox 360.
My Content Wins, Platform Agnostic approach is upheld. It's really the only way to live.

(I played Darksiders II on Wii U. Finished The Last Story on Wii U too, but will count as Wii).

Nothing against Playstation 3, I also played Dark Souls and Uncharted 3 on it this year.
Obviously loved them both, but they don't count!


Notables (enjoyed, but didn't complete/play far enough for me to count yet):
  • Diablo III
  • Assassin's Creed: Liberation
  • Halo 4
  • Borderlands II
  • Dragon's Dogma
  • Paper Mario Sticker Star
  • Silent Hill: Book of Memories

Disappointments:
  • Resident Evil 6
  • Kingdom Hearts 3D
  • Kid Icarus
  • New Super Mario Bros U

2013 Games I Own, Wish I Played. Stupid backlog. Too many great games!!:
  • Kindgom's of Amalur
  • Dishonored
  • Sleeping Dogs
  • Lollipop Chainsaw
  • Xenoblade
  • Farcry 3
  • Quantam Cunundrum
 

Mr.Awesome

Banned
Jun 22, 2010
6,361
0
685
1. ZombiU; Unique.
2. Scribblenauts Unlimited; Great fit for Wii U.
3. Nintendoland; Fun stuff.
4. Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 ; Addicting. ; Very addicting.
5. New Super Mario Bros. U; Another great Mario.
6. Sleeping Dogs ; Cool stuff.


2011. Zelda:Skyward Sword ; Great Zeldaness.
 

Cranzor

Junior Member
Jan 20, 2011
1,762
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0
1. Fez ; I bought this game the day it came out and expected to play a platformer. Although the platforming aspect is fun on its own, the direction the game takes is incredible. Finding a solution to a puzzle in this game is one of the most satisfying things I've ever felt while playing a game. The hints contained in the game are vague enough that they help you, but you still feel like you came to the solution all on your own. I played this game constantly until I got the highest percent of completion possible. I don't want to say I did everything possible, because with a game like this I wouldn't be surprised if there were even deeper secrets in it. The art direction and music are also commendable. It's just superb all around.

2. Kid Icarus: Uprising ; This game has some of the best writing I've ever experienced in a game. I laughed out loud multiple times while playing it. The gameplay, visuals, and music are all really good.

3. Spelunky ; I played the first one a ton and loved it. Truly loved it. It's one of my favorite games ever. I was really excited for this game and even made my first OT for it. This game is fantastic. I love the jazzy soundtrack and think the game looks really good. It's just really enjoyable to play.

4. Paper Mario: Sticker Star ; Mario RPGs usually have great writing and this game is no different. Really well written and funny dialogue. The battle system is a unique and interesting idea that is also done really well. I have a few minor problems with it but they probably aren't worth mentioning. It's an excellent game. Now I'm just wondering where the next Mario & Luigi is!

5. Sleeping Dogs ; I don't typically have much interest in these kinds of games but I really like this one. The combat feels really good and the setting is very cool to me. The game also looks great. I haven't finished it yet but I can't wait to play more!

x. FTL: Faster Than Light ; The only reason this isn't on my list is because I don't feel like I've played enough of it yet. But the game is great. The gameplay is just really fun. The art and music are also done really well. I don't usually seem to like games like this so the fact that I do really like it is a huge accomplishment.
 

LiquidSolid

Member
Aug 15, 2010
10,415
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0
1. Journey; A wonderful piece of design. The mechanics were very simple but they were incredibly effective and allowed the inclusion of a co-op mode that had next to none of the negative elements that plague other co-op experiences. Topped off with beautiful environments and a magnificent soundtrack, it's my favourite game of the entire generation.

2. Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward; Playing VLR straight after 999, I'm amazed at just how much they've improved upon it. And that's not just talking about the obvious graphical and audio improvements but the game design as well. The ridiculous number of branches, connections between those branches, flow chart that lets you skip straight between scenes, two puzzles per room and the crazy ass story that fits all that together. Epic game. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

3. Gravity Rush; This is a terrible way to begin my comment, especially for just my third vote, but Gravity Rush reminds me of Assassin's Creed 1 in a lot of ways. The graphics and gameplay are there and function just fine but the structure of the game isn't. It's straight forward and somewhat dull. But where they differ, is in the mechanics themselves. AC1 has very simplified and automated mechanics that rely very little on skill, while Gravity Rush has complex and innovative mechanics that do in fact require skill to learn. This alone makes an enormous difference to me, as the innovation and depth of Gravity Rush's gameplay alone was enough to keep me playing it for hours and hours, while AC1 barely managed to keep me entertained for 10 minutes. So while I acknowledge that it's not the total package, I still feel like it's a brilliant game and that the sequel has an absolute ton of potential.

4. Sound Shapes; Such a brilliant little platformer. The mechanics work so well with the music, especially in the Beck levels. And while Death Mode frustrated me to no end, it was still addicting enough to keep me playing right up until I finished all the levels.

5. Final Fantasy XIII-2; Yes, the story is a bit of a mess but I had a ton of fun playing this game. And the ending was fucking nuts.

6. The Unfinished Swan; Not what I was expecting but still a really great game. And I love that they had the confidence to come up with a lot of variety throughout the game instead of just milking the one mechanic like they easily could've done.

7. Malicious; Really great little game and it's great to see Sony finally localise it. Looking forward to the Vita upgraded port.

8. LittleBigPlanet Vita; Best game in the series. It has all the LBP2 features you'd expect but adds some great touch controls and an incredibly charming single player campaign. Usually single player is pretty forgettable in LBP games but this wasn't at all. Awesome game.

9. Binary Domain; The Yakuza team managed to achieve in ONE GAME what Bioware hasn't achieved in three. A quality shooter with brilliant RPG mechanics that really invest you into the characters and story.

10. Rayman Origins; I played the Vita version and damn, what a wonderful and beautiful game. The only thing that really held it back was the scripted ones, which were alright when things went well but god awful when they weren't. The last level, in particular, was a nightmare.

x. The Walking Dead; Some fantastic writing that really brought me into the game but finishing it, I couldn't help but feel disappointed. The problem is none of the choices matter. Avoid [x]? [x] happens 5 minutes later than it otherwise would've anyway. They do a pretty good job of disguising this but once I figured it out, the choices became toothless and I stopped caring what I picked.

2011. Ghost Trick; A bit disappointing coming from the Ace Attorney devs but still a really cool little adventure game with a really interesting story. Loved how it ended as well.
 

Riposte

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Sep 21, 2010
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videogames?
twitter.com
That's funny Kabouter, your reasons for putting Crusader Kings II are mostly positives in my take. I'm not trying to be an ass or anything either, that actually amused me. I must also compliment you on your willpower. One "Europa" game a year is enough for my noggin.

(I'm obviously reading other lists, atm.)
 

Dark Schala

Eloquent Princess
Mar 2, 2010
20,614
0
0
The Land of Bagged Milk
Hehe, I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who voted for Dikembe Mutombo. That game was great. I really liked a lot of lists in this thread. I don't post a lot, but I do check in here from time to time to see what people have to say about games they liked this year.

Stump's list was really good even if it wasn't a list with a bunch of games that game out this year. I figured barely anyone played World of Sour, but I thought it worked well in terms of difficulty, some challenge (ie: getting all of the hazards out of the way per level), and the boss fights were nice. I think it could have used a little more polishing (I don't know why but I had issues with the wall-jumping in the game, but that's because I'm used to the controls in other games for it), but otherwise, I thought it was fine.

I might try out Dear Esther, finally, since everyone seems to really dig it.

Also, loooool, I just got Time Travelers & Zero no Kiseki Evolution today, and ToIR as a late Christmas present but it's way too late to consider those as list entries.

I can't decide on a number 10 out of my honourable mentions and i'm also about to reach the character limit so i'll leave it at these 9, if anyone wants to see my HM choices maybe I can put them in a separate post or elsewhere.
See, my descriptions were that long until I had to axe paragraphs out of my comments for a lot of them (the Hakuoki writeup, for example, was much longer than it is here, and the VLR writeup was more detailed, but...). Eh, if anyone wants, I'll post the writeups I had for the rest of the honourable mentions I had to omit, but I feel that'll mess with the voting a bit.

I figured I should just keep it at one post rather than writing a ton across two posts and then summarizing my vote because that would be odd formatting.

GAF character limits are too darn limiting!

Unfortunately the music was not so lucky drawing straight from NSMBWii for most tracks, the same tracks being reused in NSMB2 earlier in the year just dilutes it further and I can’t comprehend why they just didn’t go all the way with an all new soundtrack after they brushed up all the other aspects.
Because they want to annoy me. I'm sure of it. just kidding; I think it's because they want some sort of consistency or recognizable sound for the series, but you can use motifs for that. The samples they use are kind of bad and I've already gone into detail as to why I despise them a lot. Mario likes to switch it up sometimes while retaining the "Mario sound", so the homogeneity of the soundtracks is just... weird.

Oh, you do this too? Cool.
I like doing it a lot, but I guess it's kind of predictable considering the novels I wrote in the SotY threads.

I'm really looking forward to your vote, btw! We may not play similar things, but your post was the reason why I ended up playing SpaceChem.

Hopefully, I did that right.

Does Crimson Shroud count? It isn't in the OP list.
It should because it came out in December 2012.
 

polg

Member
Feb 28, 2005
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wellywood
1. Journey ; one of the best gaming experiences ever. Stunning, great music, emotional and compact.
2. Dishonored ;
3. Gravity Rush ;
4. Mass Effect 3 ;
5. Theatrhythm Final Fantasy ;
5. FTL: Faster Than Light ;
6. Unfinished Swan ;
7. Assassin's Creed 3 ;
9. vvvvvv ;
10. Super Hexagon ;
 

Dusky

Member
Feb 1, 2012
1,234
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0
UK
1. The Walking Dead ; If you had told me this would be my 2012 GOTY at the beginning of the year I wouldn't have believed you. Telltale really outdid themselves with this one, I loved the characters, the pacing and the ending is probably one of the most memorable in recent years. Telltale should really give themselves a pat on the back for such great writing and I am now waiting impatiently for season two.

2. Journey ; To put it simply this game is beautiful. Over the years thatgamecompany have gained quite the reputation as developers pushing video games as an art form and if there was a game that could portray that, my answer would be Journey. It's visuals are stunning and the soundtrack that goes with it. I played this from beginning to end without pause and it was just a shame that it ended all too quickly. You have not experienced the year that was 2012 until you have played Journey.

3. Hotline Miami ; Warning this game is addictive as hell, you'll find yourself determined to complete each level despite dying countless times. The action is fast paced which is a bonus for me, the soundtrack is my favourite of the year and it just goes with the gameplay brilliantly. Strangely I didn't expect much from the story, yet it turned out to be quite engaging. Oh and did I mention the soundtrack? Oh I did. Well good because I can't stress enough how amazing it was.

4. Dishonored ; I am quite the sucker when it comes to stealth-based games so I knew even before I'd play this that it would be one of my favourite games of the year and I was right. Dishonored shines with the variety of powers you have at your disposal and the multiple ways you can use them. The ending and length of the game was a slight let down but that should not deter you from playing it as it is one of the best titles of 2012.

5. Borderlands 2 ; The original came as quite the surprise and I thoroughly enjoyed it, the sequel however I loved. Borderlands 2 as a package is an amazing game, it is insanely humourous, the gunplay is fun, the characters are great and the story precedes the original. Oh did I mention loot? Well let's just say there's loot, lots and lots of it. If you're looking for a game that is value for money well look no further as Borderlands 2 is the one for you.

6. Guild Wars 2 ; Despite being an avid Guild Wars player having invested well over 8000 hours I must admit that I wasn't overly hyped for it's sequel. I played Guild Wars for it's PvP which in my opinion still has the best MMO arena-based PvP you can find out there. Unfortunately Guild Wars 2 didn't deliver on that front, so why all the negativity and yet somehow it still ranks in my top 10? Well because Guild Wars 2 is still a great MMO and the PvE it does well. I'm not a great PvE fan when it comes to MMO's but Guild Wars 2 somehow tempted me into trying it and I was blown away by the amount of fun I had, hopefully I'll return one day.

7. FTL: Faster Than Light ; I got this little dime in a Steam sale to see what all the fuss was about over this title, well...I found out and it comes with hours of fun. The mechanics are some of the most clever yet simple and memorable I've seen in recent years. The soundtrack is fitting and definitely ranks up there with the best of this year.

8. Sound Shapes ; I don't often play rhythm/music games but I somehow winded buying this great little game. I suppose it was really down to the lack of games I had for my Vita which was just gathering dust. I was surprised to find how much I enjoyed Sound Shapes, it's not complicated, it's a great game to play when bored and I even attempted to make some of my own mixes (which is something I never usually do). The soundtracks are creative and compelling. My Vita GOTY.

9. Halo 4 ; It had been a while since I had played a Halo game so despite mass praise of the franchise my expectations were neither low nor high. My opinion can only be based on the single-player as I haven't touched the multiplayer. As far as stories go Halo 4 is nothing special, it's solid and also short, I'm not too sure if it's the form for a Halo campaign to be short but to me it was. The graphics were good. Amazing? No. I honestly don't understand all the praise it got for its graphics but I can understand that for a console game it's fairly impressive. What I did like however was the chemistry between Cortana and Master Chief who are both great characters and for someone who hasn't experienced many Halos I thought their VO's were fantastic. To add to that the gunplay is fun and challenging (depending on difficulty of course). Overall I was happy to have tried Halo once more and I look forward to the next installment of the new trilogy.

10. Max Payne 3 ; Well well I must admit that this was a game I was very much looking forward to and to a point it did live up to my expectations, but it Max Payne 3 doesn't come without flaws. Despite it being mentioned over a thousand times and the countless threads people have made about it, yes, the cutscenes are unskippable and it's a pain in the arse if you're on a second play through. However, I enjoy story so I didn't mind the cutscenes (the first time round). Max Payne himself is no doubt quite the depressed old geezer but I love his character nonetheless and his VO is some of the best this year. Gunplay is also some of the best this year and that alone allows for re-playability, if you don't mind cutscenes of course.

---------

x. Gravity Rush

x. Fez

x. Super Hexagon

2011. The Witcher 2
 

Kabouter

Member
Feb 10, 2006
22,756
1
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That's funny Kabouter, your reasons for putting Crusader Kings II are mostly positives in my take. I'm not trying to be an ass or anything either, that actually amused me. I must also compliment you on your willpower. One "Europa" game a year is enough for my noggin.

(I'm obviously reading other lists, atm.)
Yeah, I can see why other people would like it for those reasons, the more personal approach appeals to people more than faceless nations. To me however, states are considerably more interesting than rulers as actors. I think it has to do with the elements that naturally brings into focus. I much prefer the main focus being on developing my nation and interacting with foreign powers than having to worry constantly about vassals accruing too large a demesne.

That said, I do appreciate the variety the different Paradox Development Studio games offer. Hearts of Iron III is all about warfare, Victoria II is all about economic and social development, Crusader Kings II is all about rulers and personal glory, Europa Universalis III does a bit of everything (And EU:Rome is too outdated, and Sengoku is apparently not good). I usually move from one to the next depending on what I feel like at that point. Right now, what I feel like is Europa Universalis III, playing as Yemen in the year 1662 and having a blast, though I really need to Westernise fast. (World / My Empire)

No list from you yet by the way right? Or did I miss it?
 

Nocturnowl

Member
Jan 1, 2011
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See, my descriptions were that long until I had to axe paragraphs out of my comments for a lot of them (the Hakuoki writeup, for example, was much longer than it is here, and the VLR writeup was more detailed, but...). Eh, if anyone wants, I'll post the writeups I had for the rest of the honourable mentions I had to omit, but I feel that'll mess with the voting a bit.

I figured I should just keep it at one post rather than writing a ton across two posts and then summarizing my vote because that would be odd formatting.

GAF character limits are too darn limiting!
I did consider the two post approach but keeping it to one makes it less "intimidating" so to speak.
I actually managed to salvage most of the write ups with a bit of editing so it's just my honourable mentions that really got the short straw, though they only had like a sentence or two each.

Of course you know that I want to see those write ups at least if they're already typed up.

Because they want to annoy me. I'm sure of it. just kidding; I think it's because they want some sort of consistency or recognizable sound for the series, but you can use motifs for that. The samples they use are kind of bad and I've already gone into detail as to why I despise them a lot. Mario likes to switch it up sometimes while retaining the "Mario sound", so the homogeneity of the soundtracks is just... weird.
The most puzzling part is like how there's a new overworld theme and its various remixes to replace all the old instances of the old NSMB overworld theme yet almost everything else is the same old tracks, in fact NSMB2 at least modified them somewhat (like your favourite athletic theme), here i'm pretty sure it is just NSMBWii exactly, again.
There's keeping the same style and then there's this here, it's like mere pennies were thrown at the sound team that was just enough to make just one new track with their old samples and through the magic of further penny pinching they made a bunch of variations of it, I can't comprehend why they'd go part of the way with a new soundtrack and then just stop after actually doing a solid job of making this entry actually feel pretty new in most other departments.
But oh well, it's not a deal breaker, it's just one big "why?" moment.
 

JerkShep

Member
Dec 24, 2010
1,129
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0
1. XCOM Enemy Unknown ; I have a confession to make: while I've played XCOM for 30 hours at least, I've yet to finish it. Better put, it was the game that finished me at my first Ironman run. I debated if it was right to put it as number #1, but in the end I think that XCOM Enemy Unknown, with his challenging, deep but accessible gameplay, is what I want from videogames in the first place. It's why I'm playing and not reading or watching a movie. I want to show my support for games like this, that are almost disappearing in the “mainstream” industry today.

2. The Walking Dead ; It's probably the greatest videogame experience I had in 2012. I didn't fall for the hype at the beginning, but after the second episode I was hooked. You simply don't find good writing very often in gaming, and Walking Dead in this aspect achieve greater results than every other AAA games released this year. Great characters, great moments, great choices and a fantastic ending (God knows I much we needed one). My main issue with the game: TellTale was great in creating the illusion of choice, but in the end I was a little underwhelmed by the actual consequences of these choices, too many times in the last episode they took the easy way out when they could have created a lot of different endings and possibilities.

3. Journey ; It's an hard task to describe Journey. I'm usually a gamer that looks for a lot of content, I'm rarely satisfied after a 2-3 hours experience, I may like it but it usually fails to leave a mark for me. Journey changed that. I feel that Journey is simply perfect as it is. The OST is amazing, on another level compared to every other thing I've listened this year while playing a videogame. And while most games try to tell a story with hours and hours of dialogues and flashy cutscenes, Journey achieve greater results than all of them, without using a single word, only the power of images, in a way that only an interactive medium could do.

4. Dishonored ; The last Arkane game has many good things going on, but above all I must say I was impressed by the setting. Dishonored for me has one of the most interesting settings of this generation. The story itself is not on the same level unfortunately, but it's still serviceable and never feels intrusive. Dialogues are well written and there some very interesting characters in there, especially the ones linked with the Outsider. The game is very rewarding in both the lethal and the non lethal approach, even if I think it needed a more balanced difficulty. My main issue is that the hidden paths and methods to resolve missions are too much “in your face” , damaging replaybility and exploration. But I want to see more of this world, there is a lot of potential in there and as a first game in a series I'm really satisfied with what Arkane did.

5. Mark of the Ninja ; Another game that I've bought thanks to GAF (and the Xbox Live sales). Mark of the Ninja has probably the best stealth mechanics that I've seen in years, and that would be enought to put in high on my list. If you add a very good replayability, interesting side objectives and an hard NG+ mode, there so much quality content considering the low price of the game. have some problems with the art syle and the checkpoint system (some sections are way too easy because of it, but at the same time sometimes the game autosaves in very difficult situations, just before a guard spot you for example), but nothing game breaking.

6. Binary Domain ; It was definitely the biggest surprise of 2012 for me. I bought it for a few pounds because GAF praised it so much and I wanted something to forget Mass Effect 3 ending (lol). The game starts really slow and the first part is easily the worst, yet given time the game really shows its value. The story is actually interesting if you don't take it too seriously and some of the characters leave a very strong impression (I love Cain). The gameplay is nothing mind shattering, but I feel in the end it's more than the sums of its parts. Yes, if you look closely you're just shooting not so different kinds of robots for 10-15 hours, but I kept going forward just to see what new stuff the game would throw at me, and I was rarely disappointed.

7. Mass Effect 3 ; Mass Effect is one of my favorite series of the generation, but I was realy disappointed with the last entry. It's not just the ending: auto dialogues, even more linear missions than its predecessors, too easy even on Insanity, Kai Leng and what they did with Cerberus, the Citadel assignments, probably the worst squadmates of the series (EDI, Vega, come on...) and I could go on and on. I still love the universe, and there are some genuinely great moments in there (Javik, some character moments with Garrus and Liara, the Genophage storyline, to a degree the Quarian and Geth one), but it feels sloppy, lazy and rushed. It's still probably the game that I've played the most between single player and multiplayer this year, and it's a good game all things considered, but I expected better. Much better.

8. Max Payne 3 ; It's difficult to me to judge this game. It left me a very good impression after finishing it, especially from a technical point of view, but with the passing months it came to me how little I actually cared about it. I didn't like the story at all, there were too many cutscenes and I hated the style they chose (words flashing on the screen are terrible). The gameplay was good and a bit different from the every day cover shooter, very good set pieces but the structure felt repetitive and the game was way too long for his own good. Still, the production values are amazing. I see MP3 as a one time journey: savor the set pieces and the solid gameplay, but when you've finished don't look back.

9. Final Fantasy XIII-2 ; I'm not a fan of FFXIII, not even close, but I found XIII-2 to be a lot better than its predecessor, or at least I had a lot more fun with it. The story is so dumb it's actually fun to follow just to see the lowest point Toriyama can reach (and man, dat ending). Noel and Caius are actually a lot better than they had any right to be, I like Hope and...hate everyone else. The battle system is good, if a bit too easy, and finally in this episode you can actually explore some areas and do some sidequests, not just follow corridors for 30+ hours.The game is not polished like a main entry, it feels a bit of a cashgrab with recyled areas, models etc from the original but still, for what it is, I liked it a lot more than what I expected.

10. Game of Thrones ; There's no denying that 2013 was a little disappointing on the rpg side, so as a ASOIAF fan I forced myself to play this game by Cyanide and I was actually surprised. The game is no masterpiece and it has a lot of issues, but still I can't understand his metascore (50+). I'll say this: if this game was released by Bioware, it would have better scores than DAII. If you can look past the shallow graphic, the repetitive combat (but there are fewer battle than in your typical rpg, they're not the focus of the game at all) and the way some aspects of the universe are represented (fan fiction level really), the original story and the two main characters are actually pretty good, there are some really good choices (for a story driven rpg, at least) and the bittersweet endings, while a bit too short, are in line with that you'd except from GRRM and the ASOIAF universe. If you're a fan of the TV series or the books (but not the kind of fan that has an heart attack after every minor change in the story), I suggest trying it out, it could be a nice surprise

2011. Dark Souls ; There's not much to say here. It's my favorite game released in 2011. Unfortunately I've played it in February 2012, so I couldn't put it in my 2011 list. One of the better games of the generation.
 

SxP

Member
Jul 17, 2011
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1. Journey ; An unforgettable experience. The entirety of the game is a near perfect experience, but the end is truly out of this world. A lot of games have a great soundtrack, but the way the music becomes one with the game is something else entirely.
2. Sleeping Dogs ; Video game Hong Kong is amazing. Gameplay itself is fun enough, though it falls short on some of the open world aspects. Characters are likeable and the story is pretty fun.
3. Legend of Grimrock ; Picked it up for cheap and never imagined I would love it so much. Combat could’ve been a little better/deeper (and towards the end there were some poorly designed combat encounters) but it has a great oppressive atmosphere, great level design and plenty of surprises.
4. Need for Speed: Most Wanted ; A great multiplayer saves the somewhat disappointing and lazily put together singleplayer.
5. The Unfinished Swan ; Short, but charming. I like what they did with main gameplay mechanic. Kept it interesting.
6. Football Manager 2013 ; Still as addicting as ever.
7. Awesomenauts ; Great multiplayer in short bursts. Well design and fun to use characters keep every match fun.
8. Lumines Electronic Symphony ; It’s more Lumines, but now on Vita. And that’s a great thing.

2011. Deus Ex: Human Revolution ; Even though the stealth isn’t super deep or complicated, it’s still very satisfying. It has a great, atmospheric and memorable world and characters.
 

melfice_

Neo Member
Oct 22, 2012
1
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0
1. Assassin's Creed 3 ; I don't feel like AC3 is a better game than Brotherhood, but I liked it enough to power through 36 hours of it. Connor is a bland Mackeral in the face of the striped Barracuda that was Ezio, but the gameplay is solid and if you can't find some joy in air assassinating a bear then you need to take a step back and look at what you're doing with your life.

2. King's Bounty: Warriors of the North ;

3. Penny Arcade Adventures – Episode 3 ;

4. BBB: App-ocalypse ; Because I feel like the thing holding me back from enjoying tower defense games is that, once an enemy has gotten past my cleverly formed ranks, I pretty much get to sit there and watch them bite at my ankles until I die. BBB:A solves this by allowing you a limited number of bullets to jump into the fray, in a first person perspective, to pick away at the hordes of zombies that get past your ax-wielding maniacs.

2011. Assassin's Creed Brotherhood ;
 

Dark Schala

Eloquent Princess
Mar 2, 2010
20,614
0
0
The Land of Bagged Milk
I got a couple of questions from people asking me why I didn't vote for Tales of Graces f. I played the Japanese version in 2010 and liked it a lot that year, so that's why I didn't bother to throw it on the 2012 list.

I didn't finish/play enough of Tales of Xillia 2 this year so I don't think that I should put it on my list in any capacity whatsoever. At best, it would've gone into the honourable mentions because it has some design flaws that I can't bring myself to ignore.

Glad to hear it. That's a game every human being should try at least once. Don't know if I could say that for anything on my list this time though.
Do you feel that 2012 is rather lacking, or do you just feel as though there aren't a lot of games that you feel incredibly passionate about like the games you had on your 2011 list?

Of course you know that I want to see those write ups at least if they're already typed up.
Dunno if I'm going to put the omitted honourable mention writeups in this thread or the community thread yet.

The most puzzling part is like how there's a new overworld theme and its various remixes to replace all the old instances of the old NSMB overworld theme yet almost everything else is the same old tracks, in fact NSMB2 at least modified them somewhat (like your favourite athletic theme), here i'm pretty sure it is just NSMBWii exactly, again.
There's keeping the same style and then there's this here, it's like mere pennies were thrown at the sound team that was just enough to make just one new track with their old samples and through the magic of further penny pinching they made a bunch of variations of it, I can't comprehend why they'd go part of the way with a new soundtrack and then just stop after actually doing a solid job of making this entry actually feel pretty new in most other departments.
But oh well, it's not a deal breaker, it's just one big "why?" moment.
What I don't get is why they seem content with reusing the samples they seem to like using when they did some really good stuff with the likes of the jazz in Sticker Star and the orchestration/synth combo they had for SMG. They might not be necessarily the same sound teams, but the sound direction for the NSMB games outright confuses me. There's nothing wrong with going for a different sound direction across the games. If you desire to have some sort of consistency or callbacks to older themes in the subseries, then use motifs of it in your composition as opposed to using the same samples outright or using the same samples with some additions. I'd love to hear the sort of genre-switching that Sonic has in the Mario series (not vocals because they won't work in terms of the context of the series at all, but instrumental genres). I like genre diversity on soundtracks, so I think that sort of thing would be completely welcome for the series (ie: various worlds would get their own version/arrangement of base level themes, etc.).

Given how many strides Nintendo made with regards to their own sound direction and composition in the last generation alone, the sound direction in the NSMB games is just baffling. Je n'aime pas!

NSMB2 modified the bgms in the worst way possible. There's cute and quirky, but then there's insufferable. It's just too much of one thing, and that one thing isn't very desirable given the samples they're using.
 

jim-jam bongs

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1. Dark Souls ; When Dark Souls was announced I had a rare moment where I genuinely wished I hadn't given away my 360 to make more room for my HTPC. Having never played Demon's Souls or the King's Field series, I wasn't so much interested in the game because of any previous history with From's special brand of gaming, though I was very aware of their reputation. Honestly it just sucked me in; the fantastic art and the promise of seriously challenging encounters intrigued me a lot, particularly as someone who enjoys the mastery aspect of gaming. Still, it wasn't quite enough for me to go out and buy a console, especially as I'd moved to an even smaller place since giving away the Xbox.

Fast-forward a year, and PTDE was announced for PC. I immediately preordered it on Steam without any idea of the quality of the port, something I never do. This was a mistake, of course, but one which was quickly rectified by the amazing Durante. So I began, not really knowing what to expect. After getting repeatedly destroyed by the Asylum Demon in the tutorial area, I started to play around with different tactics and use all the tools at my disposal. Sure enough, I beat him handily. And from that moment I was totally hooked.

People make a big deal about the ways in which Dark Souls differs from modern games, but that's only part of the appeal. In its own right, the game is spectacularly well designed; nearly every stat has a purpose (resistance lol), and nearly every build can be effectively itemised and mastered. Levelling up will make you more effective, but it's practically impossible to use levelling up as a means of steam-rolling through difficult content.

Every decision you make must be weighed carefully, because each option you have at your disposal has unique costs and benefits attached to it. Souls being both currency and experience is fantastic, because it means that every upgrade, purchase or level-up is a meaningful choice. Deciding whether to spend humanity and become human is another good example, because it allows you to seek assistance from NPCs and other players but leaves you open to invasions by other players looking to rustle your jimmies.

And then there's the incredible world design. People characterise it as Metroidvania, but I don't think that's giving Miyazaki and his team quite enough credit. The maze of paths and shortcuts, obvious as well as secret, is unmatched in any game. The experience of navigating the world is a constant source of delight and wonder; the first time you're trudging around the murky depths of Blighttown and you look up, seeing the keep walls of Undead Burg looming over you, is a moment that few if any other games can even hope to replicate. And the moment you realise where you've been transported at the beginning of Artorias of the Abyss, and the ramifications of that realisation, is one you'll never forget.

The encounter and combat design are both, again, spectacular. While I'll freely admit that back-stabbing is far too powerful, in general the balancing act between using stamina for defence or attack remains challenging and addictive from the first minute until the last. The game constantly forces you to evolve your tactics, although spell-casters are overpowered in most encounters. Still, there's no guaranteed win button which will get you through every situation. You adapt or you die.

Almost every single aspect of Dark Souls puts it at the top of its game. The final act of the game does lack the cohesion of the first two acts, though the boss fights are definitely up to standard; Bed of Chaos notwithstanding. The user interface definitely leaves a few things to be desired. However, any attempt to explore those flaws just seems meaningless when weighed against the things the game does right. After 370+ hours of play, the first thing I wanted to do once my new video card arrived was play it again, and there are few games I can say that about; Fallout: New Vegas is the only other one I can think of.

Dark Souls is my game of 2012 by a landslide.

2. Spec Ops: The Line
3. Torchlight 2
4. Analogue: A Hate Story

Those are my only votes for this year. Though I did play quite a few other games, those four were the only games which I felt made a real impact on me, all for their own reasons.
 

Riposte

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Do you feel that 2012 is rather lacking, or do you just feel as though there aren't a lot of games that you feel incredibly passionate about like the games you had on your 2011 list?
That's not quite it. It is more like everything I ranked was either "niche" or highly divisive. That seems the case for a lot of people this year, so some niche stuff (e.g. "indie" games) are being elevated to big contenders. This isn't actually anything new to me (I think my 2011 list shows that to some extent), but in 2011 I ranked games like The Witcher 2 and Dark Souls which were both "dark horses" with a lot of visibility so to speak. What I was talking about in particular was the nature SpaceChem. It think it is like Tetris in that it is just a game everyone could be stimulated by, no matter if you are into JRPG or FPS, and it is inoffensive (at least at the start). It might just be because it is an elegantly designed puzzle game. Nothing like that this year, for me anyway. So what I'm saying is, I don't think you'll be so lucky this time.

I'm actually quite happy with 2012. I'll talk about this later.

EDIT: XCOM would be a dark horse for this year, but... yeah.
 

CrisKre

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1_Kid icarus uprising; so much more than the sum of its parts.

2- xenoblade chronicles; deep game. Incredible overworld

3- journey; awe iinspiring

4- nintendoland; arcade perfect nintendo magic

5- zombi u; a labor of love
 

Lee Chaolan

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I'm holding out a bit longer on the hope that they release a PC version. I'd give up and just pick it up but the biggest complaints seem to be with performance issues.
I played it on 360 at 720p and had very minimal issues. Not too sure how different the PS3 version is.
 

Semblance

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Great write-up of Dark Souls, jim-jam. Think I was less thrilled with the game's final steps than you were, but beyond that I agree with absolutely everything.

4. Analogue: A Hate Story
Seeing this makes me very happy, by the way.
 

Doublethink

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1. XCOM: Enemy Unknown ; This game was full of meaningful decisions, tense moments, and feeling like a badass after completing a mission without losing anyone. I also really liked that your units got nicknames as they ranked up. It was a minor detail but I really enjoyed it. Papa Bear may have been put out of commission from time to time, but he lived through the entire alien invasion.

2. Diablo III ; Yes, the balance of Inferno was fucked at launch. So much so that I stop playing the game for months. But after several patches Inferno became a lot more manageable and I got sucked right back in doing runs over and over again for that sweet, sweet loot. Getting ride of attributes and skill points made the game a lot more accessible and I can try several different types of builds without having a create a brand new character. The auction house is also a plus for me as it allows me to profit off of drops that are useless to my character. My demon hunter just found an Immortal King's Eternal Reign? Sell it on the auction and get items my demon hunter can actually use.

3. Sleeping Dogs ; The combat system is awesome. Punches and kicks have such a great crunch to them that it never got old for me. Shooting was a little basic but it felt great to me too. And this was the best looking game I've played all year. That wetness tech!

4. Rhythm Heaven Fever ; I've always been a big sucker for rhythm games and Rhythm Heaven Fever was no exception. I thought most of the scenarios were charming and the songs were really catchy for the most part. Couldn't ask for more from a rhythm game.

5. Forza Horizon ; I'm not really a big racing game fan, but something about Forza Horizon really grabbed me. The driving and racing feels great and I think the soundtrack fits right at home.

6. The Walking Dead ; Stories have always been a secondary concern for me when it comes to video games so I was skeptical about the Walking Dead at first. Having played it, I can say that this is the most gripping story I've ever played in a video game. Having to decide the fate of several of these characters was some of the most tense moments I've played this year.

7. Punch Quest ; An iOS game cracks my top ten! And an endless runner at that. Punch Quest is the best endless runner ever created. Instead of being a typical endless runner of jump, jump, jump again, then die, Punch Quest has you focusing on chaining combos as you run through the dungeon. And it's oh so satisfying maintaining that long combo.

8. Uncharted: Golden Abyss ; Playing these graphics on a handheld was just so mind blowing. I enjoyed the combat, the story, and the characters. Even though the mini-games and touchscreen stuff were terrible, I thought they were minor enough that the game was still a great experience.

9. One Piece: Pirate Warriors ; My first musou game. I liked it enough but the main draw of the game for me was playing as my favorite One Piece characters and having pretty faithful representations of them in-game.

10. Lost Cities ; Another iOS game! I actually really hate the actual board game but I really enjoy this version since there's no setup and everything is calculated for you. I get Reiner Knizia isn't as big a hack as I thought he was. But he probably still is.

x. Persona 4 Golden ; Persona 4 is one of my favorite video games of all time and the additions to Golden were awesome. This would be my number 1 game of the year but I kind of didn't want to give it to a game I first played in 2008.

2011. Super Mario 3D Land ; Super Mario 3D Land doesn't always work. Some of the levels are downright terrible and I really wish the game had just started on the harder levels right away. That said, I think this is the most interesting game Nintendo has released in a while. The game sort of blends 2D Mario with 3D Mario and makes a great use of the 3DS's 3D capability. And a lot of the later levels were just really fun challenges.
 

mr stroke

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#1. Walking Dead;Never before has a video game had such compelling characters. The writing is so good that you genuinely feel for the characters, something that in my opinion is a milestone for video games.





2-Diablo 3
3-Far Cry 3
4-Forza Horizon
5-Dishonored
6-Halo 4
7-TERA
8-COD BLOPS 2
9-Max Payne 3
10-Journey


2011. Saints Row: The Third
 
1. Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward ; The story's not quite as good as 999's, and the ending not as satisfying, but VLR is still excellent. Even with the typos and formatting errors, I feel Aksys did a fantastic job with the localization. I just wish Clover would go away. Forever.
2. Xenoblade Chronicles ; Not the best RPG of the generation, and not even the best RPG on the Wii, but still a damn solid game. Currently holds the record for longest it's taken me to beat a game, and I'd be surprised if any other game even comes close to beating it.
3. The Last Story ; Great, great cast. If there were more side-quests, or maybe more towns to explore, or if it had a better soundtrack, I'd put it above Xenoblade. How many times are we going to have to run through Lazulis Castle while it's under siege?
4. Lollipop Chainsaw ; Fun and funny and Juliet is adorable and the best use of licensed music outside of music/rhythm games and if you don't like this game, you suck and I don't like you
5. Double Dragon Neon ; Buttfinger
6. Black Knight Sword ; I wish this game had better controls. I miss you, Masafumi Takada...
7. Skullgirls ; Not really my type of game. I was hoping for Street Fighter and instead I got Marvel. Still, hot chicks and a nice soundtrack. Good enough to make the list!
8. Project Zero 2: Wii Edition ; Imported this from Europe (to the United States, because that's where I'm from, the United States) to play around Halloween. Everyone who says this game is scary is a liar. I was really disappointed. Also, the Wii controls were an awful addition. Really, completely needless.

A lot of games I wish I could've gotten around to but will have to fight for next year's 2012 spot!

2011. Portal 2 ; Not a huge fan of Portal 2, but the only other 2011 games I played last year were Bastion, Mario Kart 7, and Lost in Shadow. So, yeah.
 

jim-jam bongs

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Seeing this makes me very happy, by the way.
Totally deserving of a vote! I've never really been interested in VNs before Analogue, but I definitely am now. It was so compelling and refreshing, I really felt invested in my choices and the characters. More games should be that evocative; in an environment like the games industry where developers clumsily show because they lack the sophistication to effectively tell, Analogue is particularly special.
 

Korosenai

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In 2011 I bought way too many games, so I toned it down a lot in 2012, so I didn't get the chance to play many games.

1. Kid Icarus: Uprising ; I don't even know where to start with this game. It's just a blast to play. The single player just gets better and better as you play (Chapter 18 for example). Hours and hours and hours of content jam packed into a $40 game, so you'll definitely get your moneys worth. My favorite soundtrack for a video game, ever. Dat Music. Probably the best villain in a video game ever, <3 Hades. The multiplayer is one of the best i've ever played on a handheld. Seriously. No lag at all, so much variety and options, not one single class or weapon is better than another, just so much fun. I also won a KI:U tournament last year in which two other Gaffers were on my team (Click this sentence for a link to the bracket). I wish I could have put this game as my vote for all of the 10 spots, and I could keep going on and on for a couple paragraphs on why I love this game so much, but i'll just leave it at that.

2. Xenoblade Chronicles ; Came into this game not knowing what to expect. Left with an amazing experience and a game I soon won't forget. What really amazed me about the game was the sheer size of the areas you got to explore. IT'S REYN TIME!

3. Pokemon Black & White 2 ; I absolutely love Pokemon (Since Blue in '98) and Black 2 has to be my favorite Pokemon game so far. I love Generation 5 and I feel that it just does so many things right. Generation 5 also gave me my favorite pokemon Hydreigon, so that's a plus.

4. Nintendo Land ; This game is a blast to play with a group. Was definitely the talk of the household during Christmas and was played for hours every day for weeks.

5. Theathrythm Final Fantasy ;

6. Halo 4 ; I'm a Halo fan so this game is on the list, even though I don't play it anymore. Reach left a sour taste in my mouth and this game kind of added onto it. At least I still have Halo 3 that I can play everyday.

7. Clash of Clans ; Addicting little ios game.

8. Gotham City Impostors ; Played this game for pretty much all of January. Great game.

9. Super Hexagon ;

2011. Batman: Arkham City ;