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

1. Journey - a series of intense emotions and fun curiosities spread over a game that can be finished in one sitting. I haven't been able to go back to it because that first playthrough felt so pure.

2. The Walking Dead - high drama done right for the better part of 5 servings. The game does a great job of presenting choices that make you feel involved in the plot even though you rarely impact the overall story. That said, the save bugs hit me hard. Unforgivable in this era of gaming.

3. Xenoblade Chronicles - the JRPG successor to Final Fantasy XII that I've been waiting for. Even though The Last Story came out later in the US, Xenoblade is THE swan song of the Wii. A must for RPG fans.

4. Virtue's Last Reward - Playing both 999 and VLR this year, I'd never before tried out a visual novel style game. And now I'm hooked. I love the crazy plotlines and the on-point translation by Aksys. Bring on the next one!

5. XCOM: Turn-based perma-death RPG for the PC. I haven't been this devastated by my inability to lead a team through combat in a game in a long time.

6. Far Cry 3

7. Max Payne 3

8. Halo 4

9. Sleepy Dogs

10. Spec Ops: The Line

2011: Dark Souls
 
2011 (If you liked this, check it out!)

Here we are again. For this list I'll be (therapeutically) ranting what I felt about my favorite games of the year in a form of one paragraph each (a futile attempt to keep me focused). Warning: What follows will be extremely long, so if you don't care to read it I suggest you hit the "Page Down" key a few times. I'm sorry for the inconvenience. If you manage to read all of it, congrats! Click on images for music. These songs may come from late in the game (consider whatever that may entail), so click at your own discretion. (Also might want to stretch out your browser so both pictures are on the same plane.)

I won't be doing a "MMXI" this year. Likely candidates would have been King of Fighters XIII (played a little), Arcana Heart 3 (played a little, sad about that), and Pac-Man Battle Royale (small nod to a memorable arcade experience, a rarity). I failed to play any Strania and Frozen Synapse despite promising myself to. Alright, enough depressing stuff...



X


Chivalry: Medieval Warfare (PC)
Torn Banner Studios (Kickstarter)
I like to think of Chivalry as taking the action half of Mount & Blade and refining it as a multiplayer game. (It is actually based on an old Source mod.) After being burned by War of the Roses, this cheered me up on first person medieval combat. I found it easy to pick up (aside from trying to use a bow, good god) and was immediately engaged by the combat. Smart attack and defense options (including feints, combos, ducking under or jumping over swings), each blow is brutal, carelessness is fatal, and ripostes are great (just like NeoGAF). This is best seen in duels (or deathmatch with very small teams), where you are mainly reading opponents, managing stamina, and choosing your attacks wisely. (Sounds like Dark Souls, eh?) My second favorite way to enjoy it is in huge rooms of “Team Objective” (UT Assault / Splash Damage-style long battles). It is a (friendly-fire assisted) gory meat-grinder and throws out a good chuck of the intelligence behind duels (I just switch to the 3rd person view), but it does a good job directing players so there is never a dull moment and it plays up the atmosphere. If you can stay alive under those circumstances, you’ve earned it. Weapon unlocks are a pain in the ass, but I guess they could be a lot worse. Classes all come off as different and the balance seems alright, but the Archer perplexes me. I’m garbage at it, but some players manage to make it look too good (likely in part due to how well one can use a dagger vs. a broadsword). I’m reluctant to call anything “OP” though. This is about as polished and pretty as you’d expect a kickstarter game to be. Most of the music is just… there. It probably has been said a hundred times by now, but a “battle cry” button to push while charging gives a lot to the game for what a little thing it is. Also the death gurgles make me laugh every time. In closing: AAAAGGGAAAATTHHHAAAAAA!!!


IX


Super Mario Bros. U (Wii U)
Nintendo EAD, Nintendo
New Super Mario Bros. Wii was a “top 5” Mario game. NSMBU matches it and, for the most part, surpasses it. A big difference I noticed is while ‘Wii took 3-4 worlds before it became noteworthy, ‘U had my attention by the 2nd. I love the overall pacing, how each course is long and varied from each other, and the little things you can discover. There is a stronger return to World’s style of secret exits, for example. To cut a long story short: it has inspired level design. Just as in NSMBW, it reaches true greatness territory towards the end when the difficulty heats up considerably. With that in mind, I think NSMBU might have the weaker World 8 (at least if you ignore tricky star coins). What is assuredly an improvement is the limit on the number of power-ups you can carry. A small, but unexpected adjustment. The most unfortunate problems are (as usual since SMB3) some level design breaking power-ups (and more “health”) and (as the case with recent Mario games) it has a built-in win button for bad players and puts a little too much emphasis on collecting star coins for challenge. But I just can’t turn down some good 2D Mario; this was hardcoded into me when I was a toddler. (On the other hand I’ve been convinced by others NSMB2 isn’t good 2D Mario.) Challenges are a mix of crazy tough versions of full courses and gimmicky bite-sized dexterity tests. The former is excellent, while the latter is fine for a distraction I suppose. The co-op and coin battle modes are still both really funny and really frustrating (stick to 2 or 3 heads). Boost Rush is a cool modifier and adding it to the hardest courses may set this game as a new peak for the series, but I haven’t fully explored it yet. Using lighting and some actual art design, the visuals have really been kicked up a notch. The music on the other hand is frequently rehashed and I say that as someone who doesn’t feel the need to make a big deal about “bah bah” constantly. Props to this game for getting me into the “Miiverse”. It compels me to draw dumb a little picture about the course I just did.​


VIII


Ys Origin (PC)
Nihon Falcom, Nihon Falcom Corporation/XSEED Games
Not since Serious Sam 3 has a game made me erupt in laughter for its sheer audacity. These spectacular, well designed bosses are as tough as nails. It is a rare and great feeling to be totally unsure if you can actually clear a boss fight over two dozen tries and do it anyway. On the other hand, I openly accept the possibility that I suck. In addition to the nightmarish boss fights, Ys Origin manages to make areas between them nearly as engaging. The timed combo-meter granting an exp. bonus and the potent, stackable power-ups enemies drop requiring more drops to stay active do a good job at making you play at a brisk pace. This works out excellently with the game’s swift and precise combat. Despite taking place in one big-ass tower, there are a lot of neat enemy types and each floor can have a peculiar and interesting layout. That being said, the world still feels “small” when compared to its (goddess) sister, The Oath of Felghana. It has leveling mechanics and you can be annoyingly “underleveled”, but at least even after experimenting I never felt “overleveled”. Origin one ups the others by trading out Adol for multiple playable characters/campaigns with distinctive fighting styles. Funny enough, I like the axe-chick (the Adol stand-in) the best. The game looks like one from two gens ago that has been up-res’d to an absurd degree. There is a nostalgic aspect to me that actually likes that look, but I have to admit this isn’t very pretty. The music on the other hand is timelessly great. There is something to it that screams “PC engine” to me. Falcom Sound Team J.D.K. deserves their reputation. Though I foolishly kept my distance from the series for decades, I think it is safe to say Ys is some of the best overhead 2D (or pseudo-3D, w/e) action around. It is too early for me to determine which of the two I’ve played is best, but in any case the folks at XSEED are dignified gentlemen for bringing them to Steam.​


VII


Akai Katana Shin (360)
CAVE Co., Ltd., CAVE Co., Ltd./Rising Star Games
Full disclosure: This is unfamiliar territory for me. I’ve played very few STGs since the Dreamcast (btw, Gunbird 2 rocks. I think). Despite having a huge amount of respect for devs like Cave from afar, I feel uncomfortable speaking in detail when I have so little relevant material to work from. Even so, I can safely say I enjoyed the hell out of playing Akai Katana Shin (thanks RSG). First off, let me state what you don’t need to know shit to realize: Akai Katana in motion is dazzling and mesmerizing in its chaotic beauty. The late Ryu Umemoto contributes with his hair-raising compositions, making the ride all the more engrossing. I’m not sure where this falls in the danmaku canon, but it’s hard enough for me to be unable to clear it yet (aiming for a pure 1-CC, if it makes me any less pathetic). AKS comes in three modes (well, two and a half plus “novice” versions) with their own distinct flavors of complexity. I’ve deemed “Slash” as my ruleset of choice. I won’t explain it, but this intricate process of gathering both steel and energy in a back and forth with enemies and then converting steel into swords by using the energy-draining “ninja mode” hooked me. After forging and storing all those swords, then comes the moment of catharsis. You let go of all that tension and release forth power incarnate. I can’t help but be gleeful as I see a wall of enemies (or a boss’s health bar) evaporate into materialized satisfaction. So in short, Cave has recreated the male orgasm in videogame form. Going ninja itself is multifaceted and requires both timing and calculating risk and reward (more so in the Origin and Climax modes I think). What they’ve created is a system of constant change and diligence with a reward linked closely to the action. As for mastering the scoring system…¯\_(ツ)_/¯. I like it when all the gold gets real big and then the numbers are real big too. Perhaps I can make a habit of this. Said I wasn't going to buy another STG as I'm working on this one, but I’ve caved.​


VI


Binary Domain (PC)
Yakuza Studio/Devil's Details, Sega
I&#8217;ve always said that Japanese developers are underrated in the area of TPS. Binary Domain is no exception, even if this is much in the style of Gears of War. Whereas enemies in Gears put me to sleep, I loved killings robots again and again in Binary Domain. Yeah, they get torn up in a wildly satisfying way (those headshots <3), but there is something even more ingenious about the dismemberment mechanics. They allow you to control the enemy and force you to make small adjustments depending on what you just blew off. You can create decoys by blowing off heads or slow down charging enemies by taking out their legs. With this system, this is yet another &#8220;cover shooter&#8221; played best ignoring the cover. There is a moment towards the end where you become a charging storm of scrap metal and it feels damn good (best riot shield in vidya'). The flip side of this is that skills and weapons upgrades may be too decisive on the game&#8217;s difficulty. &#8220;Survivor&#8221; (hard) and &#8220;No Mercy&#8221; (unlockable hard) feel a lot alike aside from how much more you feel your aim being off in the beginning. The game was never too easy as to be boring though. Bosses are pretty good for the most part and they animate in amazing ways, but some of them just have way too much health. A certain boss fight on a highway lasts what feels like forever. The front and center team element isn&#8217;t really fleshed out. The voice commands only had small uses for me here and there (I do appreciate the ability to verbalize the word &#8220;fuck&#8221; anytime I want within a videogame world). The relationship meters don&#8217;t do much aside from adding to a slightly dynamic ending, but at least the game rewards my &#8220;rush hard and show the Rust Crew how it&#8217;s done&#8221; style of play and gives a small thumbs-up to my awesomeness. Nagoshi brings with him the cinematic flare and attention to detail you would expect out of a Yakuza game. The highly entertaining storyline has clever twists and successfully accomplishes giving us an excuse to see these mundane, yet memorable characters (with &#8220;swe-eet!&#8221; voice acting) do and say fun things as they tour a striking 80's-anime neo-Tokyo. And finally: french robot.​


V


Kid Icarus: Uprising (3DS)
Project Sora/Sora Ltd., Nintendo
I feel confident in saying this is the best 3DS game as of 2012. Kid Icarus: Uprising is top-to-bottom a &#8220;Sakurai&#8221; joint and it&#8217;s been awhile since that excited me. The dialogue (with impeccable performances), storyline, visuals, and music give you something which is hilarious, exciting, and awe-inspiring for a deceptively long time. The flying portions are elevated by 3D-enabled spectacles which blew away my expectations. Seriously, one of my all-time favorite game campaigns in terms of aesthetics. The controls are rather simple (once you get used to them, anyway), but they managed to squeeze a lot of out of them in classic Sakurai fashion. The flying parts are probably too basic for their own good (my opinion is in respect to a recent Sin & Punishment: SS replay), but the ground parts I liked way more. It intelligently uses a lot of contextual modifiers for both melee and range attacks. There are also equipable powers from a huge list to choose from (though the controls for using these are awkward) and a dodge system to play around with. None of this would matter if the game didn&#8217;t have very clever level design and boss fights. But&#8230; The difficulty system is convoluted, allows for a brain-dead easy setting, and the higher &#8220;intensities&#8221; have a minor &#8220;gear check&#8221;. On paper this sounds like the worst of its kind. However, there is something really interesting inside this messy system. Raising the difficulty to higher tiers requires betting the game&#8217;s central currency. If you die you lose your gambled &#8220;hearts&#8221; and the game drops the difficulty. This means if you are aiming for a full 9.0 intensity clear (or more arbitrarily, a set 7.0/8.0) every defeat forces you to restart the whole level and feel the loss of a shitload of hearts. I&#8217;m conflicted over this, but I guess what makes it easier to swallow is the fact I&#8217;m doing this compromise with most games anyway and the payoff is a good here. The loot system probably could be considered great and addictive, but honestly I would trade it away in a second for something more straightforward. I do love how there are so many distinct weapons. The multiplayer is mess because of it, but it is a fun mess to experiment in. Endless weird builds to try and the rules are pretty effective besides.​


To be continued, lol.
 

Stumpokapow

listen to the mad man
Some lists I noticed:
Master Nairb - Ranked Jaws iOS #7--I have literally never heard of this game.
Neuromancer - One of few who included Minecraft 360, and I think he understands the essence of Minecraft as well.
ShockingAlberto - Made a generous and succinct case for Asura's Wrath
Snuggler - Included "Fairway Solitaire", which I've never heard of.
ThanksVision - One of the more negative tone lists, except for Journey, which is adulatory
JordanLMiller - Only voted for one game, The Last Story, and had an emotional meltdown about it
Messofanego - A ton of animated gifs, I didn't know you could punch (?) sharks in Far Cry 3, and Chivalry looks so cool
Anihawk - "NSMB2 is the best platformer on the 3DS" <-- damning by faint praise
Owensboro - Understood Tokyo Jungle
KalBalboa - First/only all-Sony list I noticed, I'm sure there are more
Unison - Nailed the kind of succinct, biting criticism I associated with Robert Christgau
Sullichin - Put a trademark after "Far Cry" and before the "3".
Zia - Voted for FIFA 13 and a bunch of indie games.
Semblance - Made me want to try Analogue A Hate Story
A Huge Battleship - What is this list
Clunker - Understood Super Hexagon
adversesolutions - One of the few people who clearly voted from Japan
slaughterking - This lunatic gave a Tales game GOTY
archnemesis - Liked his screenshots, The Unfinished Swan looks more appealing than anything else I've ever seen about it
McNum - Voted for two The Sims 3 expansion packs
zkylon - Liked the list, but mostly liked the presentation
Corto - Fun honourable mentions, and had I think a better understanding of Hotline Miami than most people (Emerson also understood Hotline Miami)
Delusibeta - Good list of mostly downloadables
ilnadmy - Made a good point about the Walking Dead's action sequences, I think
Mar - Liked his comment about Pinball, which is something I don't understand at all.
Lissar - Loved the art, and also I thought, weirdly, that this was the most feminine ballot submitted in terms of the themes of the games and target audience
Kabouter - Farming Simulator 2013
Dark Schala - One of the best all-around lists
randomkid - Solid list all-around
Nocturnowl - Solid list all-around
Nert - Solid list all-around
Pie and Beans - Solid list all-around
cosmicblizzard - Solid list all-around
jett - Mr. Negativity

yo Riposte, vote
 
1.Kid Icarus : Uprising;The amount of content in this game is just massive , it feels that Project Sora LTD. really put a lot of effort in the game . If you want to know what the 3D Is all about this is the game you have to get . There is some getting used to the controls but If you can get pass that IT is really a memorable and awesome game.

2. Guild Wars 2;My most played game this year and probably the next. There were and are some flaws with the game but slowly getting them fix and the amount of contend in the updates is always awesome.

3. Halo 4;The most fun I had in playing a FPS this year.

4. Minecraft;This game is just fun and it really shines when you play with other people.

5. The Walking Dead;The narrative of the game is just top notch and the visuals really work with the game.

6. New Super Mario Bros. 2 ;well It's Mario game lol

Only six games >.< I did not played that many new games last year that backlog is huge, thanks to gw2 !!!
 
Previously, on NeoGAF...

Alright, this is the final stretch.


IV


Crusader Kings II (PC)
Paradox Development Studio, Paradox Interactive
This is another one of those highly complex Paradox &#8220;grand strategy&#8221; games. I&#8217;ve enjoyed two of them, but this is my first venture into Crusader Kings. Naturally I wasn&#8217;t going to relive the brain meltdown I first experienced with Europa Universalis, but this is their most inclusionary effort yet (not to mention least buggy). Putting aside the improvements to UI and tutorials, players of all skill levels may find CKII to be the most intriguing due to the focus being on humans and their families instead of big colorful splats on a map. The theme is a strong one and is executed in a way which adds many little complications interwoven into an already dense game (so allow me to skim over the minute details). Small randomized events of character building made me attached to my first baron and his court. Then he died and shit got real. Succession can be a game changer: Vassals now dislike you, loyal brothers become conniving uncles, and the race to spawn an heir begins (or it&#8217;s gameover). Want to overwhelm the game with a long-term plan? Nature laughs at your frail mortality. Now, how do you handle a family (i.e. you) that hates each other? This instability is CKII&#8217;s best facet. Layered on top of this are crucial character stat mechanics based on eugenics and all sorts of fun stuff. The micro warfare is largely hands-off, but the political arena revolves around diplomacy and intrigue: assassinations, balancing the power of vassals, kissing up to the pope or establishing your own antipope (that&#8217;s a word!), etc. You also can&#8217;t just up and become a bloodthirsty conqueror. The game forces you to work within rules to obtain claims. This in effect empowers those around you to be more than dominos. Even if you do capture a county, cultural differences there can slow your next power play. The end goal, if it can be called that, is a simplistic point system counting how crusader (&#8220;piety&#8221;) and how king (&#8220;prestige&#8221;) all your heirs were. However this sandbox is complex and deadly enough to justify playing for minor goals (e.g. establishing the Kingdom of Italy). The original release felt limited by having Muslims unplayable, but they fixed that with expansionary releases. Post release support has been strong in general, including mini-expansions and soundtracks. Speaking of music, it is a hidden treasure. Andreas Waldetoft does God&#8217;s work. It&#8217;s not a good looking game, but there is something alluring about that map when zoomed out.​


III


Skullgirls (PS3)
Lab Zero Games... Reverge Labs? Autumn Games? Konami? The 1989 Denver Broncos?
Mike Zaimont is a clever dude. Billed as sort of like a Marvel vs. Capcom 3 from an alternate timeline, Skullgirls is&#8230; mostly successful in trying to capture something somewhat antithetical to the modern Capcom fighting game while also (or because of) adding some very necessary common sense. I mean MvC2 is a classic, but it is a messy (accidental?) one at that. I reckon Lab Zero Games understood what to keep, what to add, and what not to add (though, like MvC3, it ultimately becomes its own thing). Before I continue it&#8217;s essential to mention the patch we (finally) got. Likely the meatiest set of fixes a fighter can get without costing you yet another trip to Gamestop (and it solidified where this landed on this list). It added a little speed, slightly more lenient buffer, fixed flaws with combo restriction (iffy on the system still), character balance, and a bunch of other things, big and small. And the small things do count: SG&#8217;s approach to UI and tournament accommodations puts the whole genre to shame (*ahem* the online features on the other hand&#8230;). Anyway, the team mechanics are brilliant. Individualized tag-in attacks, worthwhile alpha counters, and the star of the show: fully customizable assists (that don&#8217;t even break the game!) I don&#8217;t know if high level play will support it, but some of things you can potentially do just makes me grin. The apparent design ethos here is a familiar one: Let the players go nuts, but have strong limitations. Stuff like unblockable protection and a burst enabled by too many repeating inputs in combos. I&#8217;m not convinced it works as well as they might have hoped, but the game is looking way more solid after the update. Yes, the game has a small roster, especially for a team game, but I can&#8217;t fault it too much when the team building aspect is well-done (including the ability to pick your team size, CvS style) and the characters are dense and all great at fulfilling the archetypes. It is hard to select only few to give shout outs to, but Peacock is an especially fun keepaway character with a wonderful theme and- alright, I&#8217;ll just stop myself now. I haven&#8217;t even talked about the great art (or music). This is top of the line, gorgeous 2D art with ace animation and lighting; it is insulting to call it &#8220;indie&#8221;. (P.S. +0.1 point for having a FFXI reference lol.)​


II


Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown (PS3)
SEGA-AM2, Sega
It is funny because I love games with a bunch of meters, buttons dedicated to weird things, and obtuse defense mechanics. Virtua Fighter 5 is absolutely none of that and I respect it more than any other fighter. It is hard for me to sing my praise without sounding like a hipster. In a word it is &#8220;pure&#8221;. Pure in a way Super Turbo wishes it was. Fighting games are ultimately about two nervous systems clashing and I believe this is the game that accomplishes and complements that process the best. Then is it the best fighting game series? Hell if I know. A strong focus on counterhits and side turns means you got to have &#8216;dat yomi. Blocking may look very strong at first, but offense (and stage design) is solid enough to make turtling no big deal. Though I&#8217;m nowhere near there (yet), great players move with such grace that it blows my mind. More than most games, characters feel like an empty canvas so it is more about the player&#8217;s style (e.g. I play Lion nothing like my VF-idol Chibita does). I feel like I&#8217;m obligated to say that the game isn&#8217;t hard to pick up. In fact, unless you are completely new to 3D fighters, it is one of the easiest (high input buffer, three buttons, focused on fundamentals. This shit ain&#8217;t Tekken-hard unless you play a hard character). Though you may not suspect it, Final Showdown gives us the biggest change to the series in awhile. Here are just a few things: They greatly streamlined throws so it is more about reading the opponent than gaming a convoluted system. Attacks now always beat throws clean and you can simply hold buttons to ready throw escape. You now get counter-hits if you nail an evade with a proper attack (however good evades can pay off big and backdash is better). While the tiers are tight as usual, all signs point to this being the least balanced VF. However I think I only feel it when I run into a really good Akira (who looks a little easier to play too). I've heard it called an effect of a "power creep". Everyone's offense is becoming too strong for defense. It is a slow one at least. The aesthetic is often called boring, but aside from it still looking early-gen I love it. The grounded look fits the &#8220;pureness&#8221;: It really captures the essence of &#8220;fighting&#8221; mano-a-mano and makes it more immersive. Layered on top of that is sort of this ridiculous throwback to Sega arcade games. The sound effects and the overdone voice work are very endearing to me. So why isn&#8217;t it number #1? Eh. Exact order doesn&#8217;t matter much and it would be a boring choice: Even if it is new to me, FS is an old expansion based on an even older game and it is only eligible due to my arbitrary rules.​






i


Journey (The Trey)
thatgamecompany/SCE Studio Santa Monica, Sony Computer Entertainment America

The way I waited with strangers made me hold onto a feeling that I could not stop believ- I&#8217;m joking, of course. No offense to Journey fans, I just wanted to see if I could get a rise out of readers who might recognize what I like and dislike.​



&#8230;


Alright, back to business.


I


Resident Evil 6 (360, PS3)
Capcom, Capcom
You may wonder how I got here. The neglect towards teaching the player and a few outright poorly designed scenarios leads to an opaque, frustrating experience. The thing is&#8230; I found myself caring less about these flaws the more I played. I learned the system, the silly quirks (e.g. climbing QTE), and how to sidestep the rare &#8220;ambulance out of nowhere&#8221; moments. So I won&#8217;t be making excuses for Resident Evil 6 here on out. I sincerely regard it to be among the best games of 2012, flaws and all. The most essential aspect why is the layered combat system and everything it touches upon. This is a huge leap away from the RE4/5 formula, but one I judge is aimed forward. Allow me to drop old quotes of mine: (to make this run-on paragraph halfway readable)
[RE6] gives you a large set of options in your pocket, that all mesh well together (terrible, ignorable cover aside), and puts you against interesting, varied enemies which make use of these mechanics. It&#8217;s at its best in the heat of the moment where you are constantly switching between shooting, sliding, quick-shot, raw melee, contextual melee, going prone, dodging in various directions, fast weapon switching, etc. The game punishes your failure to dodge with heavily damaging lunges and grabs (rewards you with an advantageous position with a good dodge), it punishes your inefficiency with low ammo (rewards with powerful contextual melee or weak points for good aiming), and it punishes your abuse of slide and melee with low stamina (rewards you for [transitioning into] methods of recovering stamina).
The enemy composition and variety of arenas to fight in (vertical combat, open areas, multiple paths, split co-op, etc) mixed with a combat system which fits with the enemies well is exactly why I adore the game. [Thanks to] scope and variety, I believe it has the best set of enemies in a TPS.
Within this structure, there is a lot of improvisation going on (which is necessary what with the random enemy mutations); every remote bomb is one slide away from a badass John Woo moment. The real-time inventory system is still here and is pretty smooth, but I prefer the more limited (and &#8220;cumbersome&#8221;) RE5 inventory. What gives the game its teeth is the iconic herb healing system, likely the most demanding this side of niche PC shooters. On top of all this you have the co-op aspect I adore. You are a little less dependent on your partner this time (healing is still vital), but they really innovate the co-op level design (the Chris/Piers dynamic stands out) and campaign crossovers does &#8220;campaign multiplayer&#8221; at a fresh angle. My preference is to play with strangers without a mic&#8217;, creating experiences not unlike what others have with Journey or Demon&#8217;s Souls (or Resident Evil Outbreak). Like the Souls series, Agent Hunt &#8220;invasions&#8221; were a great way to add difficulty and the sensation of &#8220;hunting&#8221; humans (on certain difficulties anyway). Collectively the campaigns are a very varied (for better or worse) trip through the sci-fi universe of Biohazard, post-Wesker (RIP). It amazes me just how many different areas and situations one covers (even within a chapter). Each of the main campaigns have a stage progression which rivals all of RE4. With so many variables (online/offline co-op, difficulty, chapter/campaign order) it is pretty hard to match up one&#8217;s experience exactly with everyone else&#8217;s though (I played through the game in &#8220;chronological order&#8221;, recommended). The Mercenaries is at its best (took me awhile to come around on this) and has been joined by a similar and excellent Onslaught mode (Dr. Mario's multiplayer x RE5&#8217;s No Mercy Mercs lol). I really liked Predator mode too. I hear it has some balance issues, but from what I played you had to be crafty playing as both boss and agent. Later additions like &#8220;No Hope Left&#8221; difficulty and camera settings pushed me to place this game at #1. All this content has stolen more hours from me than I ever expected after that poor demo. And this rant likely did the same to you. Sorry. We ain't done yet.​



Honorable Mentions (Alphabetical order, with one exception for fitting images)



Armored Core V (PS3)
From Software, Namco Bandai
A missed opportunity. The single player was subpar, the Chromehounds-inspired online system flopped, and support for the US release sucked. However I still enjoyed it quite a lot if only for the matchmaking multiplayer and figuring out how to counter the then overpowered builds. I really liked the changes made, especially the smaller scale. Dueling as sniper mechs jumping onto and from skyscrapers is exhilarating. Great soundtrack too.​

Elemental: Fallen Enchantress (PC)
Stardock, Stardock
I don&#8217;t have any firsthand experience on how bad the original Elemental was, but I knew it was bad. Bringing in the guy behind the beloved &#8220;Fall from Heaven&#8221; Civilization 4 mod, Derek Paxton, paid off. Few strategy games are as antagonistic in the beginning as this one and this distinguishes it from Civ (in a good way). You have a competent 4X game mixed with a semi-competent SRPG resulting in something enthralling overall. Boy is this game ugly though.​

Far Cry 3 (PC)
Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft etc, Ubisoft
I imagine Assassin&#8217;s Creed could learn a lot from Far Cry 2. Ubisoft thought the opposite. FC3 gives an incredible first impression. It has some neat mechanics which makes otherwise easy camp raids pretty fun for awhile and the main missions manage to stick out from the open-world filler. Unfortunately, it refuses to commit to any of its themes, be it mechanics or aesthetics. Combat can be absolutely thrilling, but you never feel like you've left your backyard (thanks to fast travel, etc). Not enough Vaas, for sure. I recognize I enjoyed it more than Far Cry 2 in the end, but I rather have more games like Far Cry 2.​

Hero Academy (iOs, PC)
Robot Entertainment, Robot Entertainment
Asynchronous multiplayer (short sessions amount to something bigger) and being board game-ish (no sloppy action) alleviates my problems with many iOs games. It has clean UI and plenty of unique teams to mess around with (if you drop the cash). However I&#8217;m ambivalent: the potent randomness bugs me, some team match ups are iffy (because of randomness maybe), and turns may have too many actions considering the easy optimization with infinite time and the undo button. Can&#8217;t say I regret playing a ton of it though. Challenges reminded me of doing puzzles out of TCG magazines in my youth.​

Sleeping Dogs (PC)
United Front Games, Square Enix
An attempt on the GTA formula (with all the good and bad that implies) which manages to be more than competent. They stack on the sub-systems and extraneous mechanics and it is for the better. I don&#8217;t even completely hate the combat! Hong Kong is not only a refreshing setting; it is crafted in magnificent detail (more so with HD textures). Those rainy nights were something else.​




Dragon's Dogma (PS3)
Capcom, Capcom
The Devil May Cry guys brought to life a TSR-era Dungeon and Dragons world with an unparalleled take on classic monster designs (e.g. the DANGAN) and a few revelatory twists for the setting. The combat and class systems reek of potential. Too bad they simultaneously tried to make a game as unfriendly and antagonistic as Dark Souls and as sloppy and MMORPG-like as Skyrim, granting both audiences extra tedium. I hope they realize they had something way better than the Elder Scrolls formula on their hands. (-0.1 point for &#8220;DANGAN&#8221; in the title theme not actually being engrish for dragon.)​

Persona 4 Arena (PS3)
Arc System Works, Atlus
ASW made a great side-piece game for me, with a few good ideas &#8220;meatier&#8221; games might want to borrow. I sense their accessible approach (though successfully executed) might have led to some things I&#8217;m ambivalent about and some characters just leave me wondering what they were thinking (or alternatively: it made me think &#8220;This is an ASW licensed game&#8221;). It has that fantastic Persona aesthetic in a form I&#8217;m more interested in. Ultimately, this game got me itching to give Blazblue another shot, not to mention GGXX&#923;C+R (I&#8217;m not speaking in tongues).​

Tales of Graces F (PS3)
Namco Tales Studio, Namco Bandai
I feel I should like this more than I do. A challenging &#8220;3D fighting meets squad tactics&#8221; game just speaks to me, but I see a lot of careless execution. Bosses or large battles can feel out of your control and I was a bit distraught to find the best solution to be to do insanely long combos to remove variables. (Variables make things fun.) Also add in novel, but time-consuming character managing and notably dull music, visuals, and plot (character skits are okay though). Maybe a few years down the line I&#8217;ll appreciate this game more. In any case, Vesperia and Xillia here I come.​

XCOM: Enemy Unknown (PC)
Firaxis Games, 2K Games
You must play this on Classic (+) with Ironman on. A teeth-clenched, sphincter-tight tense SRPG with a presentation a step above the usual. Although highly addictive, the flaws can shine through at times: Some poor encounter design decisions and the endgame just falls apart. The strategy portion of the game is not all that interesting in itself, but at least helps you care more about the tactical parts. The multiplayer looked like it had potential, but some bugs turned me off and I never came back.​

Xenoblade Chronicles (Wii)
Monolith Soft, Nintendo
To enjoy this game you can&#8217;t allow it to be the MMORPG-lite it desperately wants to be. While an overall shallow experience, it scratched my itch for curious Japanese combat systems and, more paramountly, provides one of the most unique and marvelous worlds in recent memory. It is like Mr. Takahashi said &#8220;Let&#8217;s make the game all those Final Fantasy (XII) fanboys have been begging for all generation.&#8221; Well, it isn&#8217;t to my taste, but I got something out of it.​



Closing Thoughts:

Hope I didn't piss off anyone. Some games I missed and thought I might like were: Tekken Tag Tournament 2(sad), Gungnir (played 20 mins, no PSP lol), Legend of Grimrock, ZombiU, and Tokyo Jungle. I also hear Outwitters gives Hero Academy a run for its money. Totally forgot Monster World IV got released into english for the first time this year. I saved Virtue's Last Reward to play this year. I guess I can promise to play them next year and not actually do that again. I feel a little bad snubbing games like Max Payne 3, Twisted Metal(this game deserved better), and Soul Calibur V (and to a lesser extent: Dishonored and Resident Evil: Revelations), but a top 20 (well, 21) is all I'm ever going to do.

What I can say about this year is that while it might have had fewer peaks (than 2011 for example), I had so many games that I liked to a considerable extent. Made this task of ranking games pretty difficult and pushed me to do more honorable mentions. This year was really good for fighting games in particular. Although I didn't bother to mention it within any of the entries, I'm seeing great improvements to netcode and training modes in fighting games in general.

I may act like a know-it-all at times, but the truth is there are so many unturned stones for me come across, some of which are ancient (e.g. Ys, Tales). Makes for an exciting hobby. 2013 looks crazy and the rush of new games has already begun. I'm happy I can finally return to Anarchy Reigns now. (Check it out if you like Platinum Games.)


In review / for the tally:

1. Resident Evil 6 ; If this gets high enough to get a quote, I'll be surprised. There is a huge amount of game here. If you learn your way around, you may find it that the good outweighs the bad by a large margin.
2. Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown
3. Skullgirls
4. Crusader Kings II
5. Kid Icarus: Uprising
6. Binary Domain ; Year of the Bo.
7. Akai Katana Shin
8. Ys Origin
9. Super Mario Bros. U
10. Chivalry: Medieval Warfare
x. Armored Core V
x. Dragon's Dogma
x. Elemental: Fallen Enchantress
x. Far Cry 3
x. Hero Academy
x. Sleeping Dogs
x. Persona 4: Arena
x. Tales of Graces F
x. XCOM: Enemy Unknown
x. Xenoblade Chronicles
x. Ys: The Oath in Felghana ; See Ys Origin.


Normally I'd lists the posts I found interesting, but Stumpokapow decided to jack my swag! But seriously I don't mind it. Check his post out.

Using the magic of time travel and statistics I can list the three lists most attuned to mine:

1. Tain
2. Semblance
3. Dambrosi
Bonus. adversesolutions

Thanks for reading.

 
1. Katawa Shoujo; I never expected I would enjoy a visual novel, let alone it being my game of the year but Katawa Shoujo was a massive and pleasant surprise.
2. Journey
3. New Super Mario Bros. U
4. Pokémon Black and White 2
5. Mark of the Ninja
6. The Last Story
7. Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed
8. Kid Icarus: Uprising
9. Guild Wars 2
10. FTL: Faster Than Light

X. Kirby's Return to Dreamland; God damn this game is just utterly amazing. So much fun, looks adorable, great soundtrack and the classic Kirby formula.
 
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.
Fix your formatting dude.
I want your RE6 vote to be counted ;)
 
1. Dishonored; When the first thing I heard about Dishonored was &#8220;open world&#8221;, my interest vanished immediately. Then I watched some gameplay footage and realized that this is &#8220;open world&#8221; in the same sense as Deus Ex. I was instantly sold again. Dishonored contains some of the most curious elements of design and it came from a team whose name does not suggest such. Completing each mission without killing the target brought out both my pacifistic and psychopathic sides and I loved it.
2. XCOM: Enemy Unknown; Talk about one of the big surprises of the year: a turn-based XCOM game in 2012 from a team that knows how to make a pretty good turn-based strategy game. It&#8217;s complex and challenging, but presented in an accessible form. Plus the base building is certainly a cool mechanic.
3. Xenoblade Chronicles
4. Dust: An Elysian Tale
5. Torchlight II; The fact that Torchlight II is on my ballot when Diablo III was released the same year should speak volumes. It improved upon the first in every way that Diablo II did with Diablo. Loot drops commonly enough that good items can be found regularly, but rare enough that finding great items can take some effort. Leveling up, picking skills, and finding items made my characters feel badass without having to invest an obscene amount of time or money. Runic knows how to make an excellent ARPG and Torchlight II shows that they&#8217;re not afraid to do it.
6. The Last Story
7. Rhythm Heaven Fever; Adorable, quirky, and brilliant, Rhythm Heaven Fever is why I love rhythm games. It&#8217;s deceptively simple with a great soundtrack and style like no other. My main complaint with the DS iteration was that swiping the screen did not always work, but Fever goes back to just being about button presses and is better for it. While there are one or two levels that I do not like, every other level more than makes up for them and justifies catching the fever. (Wub-a-dub-a-dub, is that true? Yes.)
8. Super Hexagon; HO-LEE CROW. Navigating a triangle through a colorful polygon hell with chiptunes and Jenn Frank&#8217;s emotionless synthesized voice guiding the way makes for an addictive experience that would not feel out of place in an 80&#8217;s arcade. Fortunately for my wallet however, it&#8217;s not in an arcade. I have sunk more than a handful of hours and the equivalent of several fistfuls of quarters into Super Hexagon since its Steam release and I will not relent until I can pass Hyper Hexagonest.
9. Quantum Conundrum
10. SSX

x. La Mulana

2011. Bastion
 
That's it, next year I'm using a similar format to what Riposte used. Now that's a really darn good list format that people should aspire to going for. I think I might try Binary Domain and it looks like I should pick up a copy of Akai Katana for whenever I pick up a 360 (I'd been interested before, but a lot of people have gushed about it that it's finally pushing me to get a copy just in case).

You almost had me going with Journey. That didn't seem like a Riposte sort of game at all.

I'll say this about Journey: I think it's a decent experience sort of game as I said before in my list (which is why I decided to keep the writeup for it in the post), but it didn't hit all the same notes with me as it did with a lot of other GAF members. What that game did was to teach me how other people played games, especially in terms of co-op. That was my eye-opening experience with the game, not necessarily the presentation or what happened.

Anyway, good list overall!

Nocturnowl calls the stuff I omit and post later "Ending DLC"/Game of the Year Editions, and it wouldn't be a running joke between us if I just write whatever I want and multipost without worrying about limits. I'll see if I can put those honourable mentions that I had to cut in here somewhere tonight. But the omitted paragraphs from my Top 10 will stay omitted for consistency.
 


1. Assassin's Creed III ; The story of this game did it for me. Not because it was emotionally heart-wrenching, or because it made me feel something I didn't before. No. It's simple. It's pure historical fiction done well (for Connor's arc). The feud between the Assassins and Templars are brought back to the moral gray of AC1. You can appreciate the Templars just as much as the Assassin's because they're just as good people who really care for the world as a whole. It upsets them to see how people will ruin themselves and how they think they have this right to fix that. The Assassin's look as good (or as bad) as the Templars do again. The moral gray is great and I don't think there are too many games that do it as well as ACIII did. Where you would rather be the "villain" instead of the projected "hero".

Connor is not a likeable character by any means. And I don't think he's supposed to be. He doesn't really have any qualities that make us instantly attached to him unlike Altair (sense of duty/character development) or Ezio (charmer, ladies man, guy with a proper sense of justice) But what ultimately makes him interesting is his way of thinking. His view of black and white, right and wrong. This plays beautifully in each layer of the story: the modern day ending, the historical period itself and the events during said period, and the Assassins vs Tempars arc (including both Haytham and Connor's relationship). He grows to realize at the end that people do what's right for them. Even himself. Connor asks all the right questions to the right people. Pointing out their hypocrisy and realizing that the Patriots aren't all as good as he wants to believe, and that the Templars, while an enemy he's supposed to hunt mercilessly, have their own points about the world. Even Juno tells him off, saying he's reaching for something he can't have. His naivety is misplaced in the gray of reality. The game doens't shit on either American or British history, but makes notes how what was really going through these people's minds. I'm also happy that they also had us killing Patriots as well as Redcoats. Many people bitched and moaned about the marketing, but seriously people, this is an AC game. The marketing may say one thing, but if you took a moment to think things through, of course everyone was a target. God damn.

Ranting aside, as an American, and one who loves history at that, it was great to finally take part in some of the events that has been taught to me years after years of schooling. No matter the game's fictional situation surrounding it. It was awesome to take part in the Boston Tea Party, the Boston Massacre, Battle of Bunker Hill (and assassinate John Pitcairn nonetheless), seeing Valley Forge alive, the Paul Revere ride, etc. And small little things I was surprised made it in the game (the popular BJ loves old women, his almanacs, Daniel Boone, George Washington being a not-so-good-leader, and so forth).

2. The Walking Dead ; The Walking Dead was a simple game, gameplay-wise. But what made it so great was the story and your input felt important in key moments that would change the story to a degree. Nothing completely altered the story as a whole, but making decisions that had a big personal impact is always rewarding. The core relationship of the game (that wasn't Kenny and Lee), was done perfectly. It gave Lee, and the players, to continue through this world gone wrong. I don't buy the whole "is it a game or not" argument. It's a great video game and one, in my opinion, that everyone should try to play through.

3. Mass Effect 3 ; Aside from the horrid ending (including the extended cut), auto-dialogue, and the lack of Harbinger, this game packed some serious emotional punch. Key moments were perfected by your choices and how they ended the character arcs in the game including Tuchunka, Rannoch, the important side missions, and who would fight with you at Earth. This game left me feeling happy, sad, victorious, in awe, and desperate when appropriate during the story. The gunplay has gotten better and the Paragon/Renegade system is perfected here. It doesn't end the trilogy well, but the ride to the end is one worth taking.

4. Halo 4 ; 343i surprised me in how they handled the characters of the Master Chief and Cortana. They never overdid the Chief becoming too talkative, or making the characters seem like they were different people than when Bungie left them. They expanded on their relationship and worked well (minus the creepy chest touch). Prometheans are the new enemies in town and they should be feared on higher difficulties. The visuals are fantastic, and some of the best the 360 will see. The music is also phenomenal, bringing a more "epic" feel to the Halo franchise. As a Halo fan, I was very pleased with Halo 4 because of the campaign alone, considering, it's why I buy these games.
 
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.
and replace with Snake, pls.

That's it, next year I'm using a similar format to what Riposte used. Now that's a really darn good list format that people should aspire to going for.
I agree, and his Weskerness makes me happy.
 
1. Borderlands 2; Probably spent the most time this year with this game. There is so much diversity compared with the first one. Almost every gun feels different and all the areas are more than a desert. Whether you're playing solo split-screen or online it's a great experience, and not one to be missed.

2. Persona 4 Golden; So many great things to say about this game. Story is the best that I played this whole year. Battle system is fun, short, and simple. The one thing that can feel bad about the game is that sometimes it feels like you're spending time doing the wrong social links on the wrong dates, which caused me a bit of stress worrying about it. Overall a great experience and a must own for any Vita owner.

3. Sound Shapes; Simple platforming that makes for a great time. It seems almost like a Little Big Planet type game but with the ability to easily make your own beats. Content is dense online with almost any real song or tune you can think of already being made into a user level. It's also great cause it's cross-buy.

4.Tales of Graces f; Just this past week went and picked this up on a whim and am quite happy that I did. The battle system is great, and innovative. Titles are always being unlocked so every battle feels relevant. finishing each title in order to learn new attributes is rewarding. Story is laughable but easily overlooked with the profound game play.

5. Binary Domain; Wasn't expecting to be happy with this purchase. The shooting is pretty typical third person shooter. The voice recognition can be fun to play around with and the squad mechanic is great. The story is good as long as you don't take it too seriously. great game especially since it's under $20 most places.

6. Disgaea 3 Absence of Detention; Disgaea was absolutely meant to be played on handhelds. Hours can be sunk into this game but the beauty of it being on a handheld means that you could play it for 5 minutes save and come back later. Disgaea can seem simple on the surface but when playing the endgame you have to show a mastery of all system mechanics. All the DLC is included with the game so no need to pay $3 for a measly character. The new storyline that was added can be funny and heartfelt at times. If you're looking for a game to play for hours on your Vita go grab this one if you like SRPGs.

7. Resident Evil 6; Not as great as RE5 but still a fun ride. It would have been a lot better if they had a more fluid story. Individual chapters for each person that intersect just isn't a good idea. I understand why some people hate it, but I on the other hand enjoyed it.

8. SSX; The last real snowboarding game that I played was for Gamecube and I loved 1080. Was going to pass on this one but got it for $15 so I couldn't pass it up. Leveling up and making money is a lot of fun and the deadly descents are fun and can be challenging. The demo on this one did not do it justice.

9. Dragon's Dogma
 
1) XCOM Enemy Unknown ; Return of a classic formula. Sadly dumbed down and consolized, but otherwise still a welcome return.
2) Max Payne 3 ; Has any other shooter this gen made shooting ppl so fucking *satisfying*? Something FPS and others sorely lack.
3) Sleeping Dogs ; The best open-world action game I've ever played. Did a great job with both shooting and driving mechanics. Sadly, it lacked character development/RPG elements to keep me giving a fuck. But that's open-world action games, for yah.
4) Hotline Miami ;
5) Torchlight 2
; hella lot better than Diablow 3!
6) Intrusion 2 ; Sidescrolling shooter ftw!
7) FIFA 13 ; The AI is an offensive threat this year. Yay!

LTTP 2011: Rayman Origins ; There are several since I'm often catching up, but RO was fucking phenomenal. Played it on co-op and it was ace, plan to grrab the PC version.
 
1. Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward ; 999 was an almost intellectual exercize for me: puzzles, hyper-clever game design tricks, and a plot that was so well-done it came out on top in the media it exists in by actually making more sense the more you knew and the more you thought on it.

VLR is several steps above it. Quality of life changes (necessary for the game's quality and not for sheer laziness's sake), better soundtrack, more puzzles, more endings, more crazy, more fucked.

The lone downside is the save bug on 3DS for a couple Escape rooms. This almost cost it 1st.

2. Crimson Shroud ; Ah, the joy of a new Matsuno game. Like a fugue in video game form, he and his team made such a restricted, low-dimensional idea for a game as "single-player table top RPG" and made it sing. Remember: "From restriction: Strength". Magnificient soundtrack. Delicious dialogue. Involved battle system that takes several distilled features from desktop gaming and uses them brilliantly for player agency.

3. Legend of Grimrock ; As serene and uncaring as the dungeon that you traverse, LoG is a wonderful throwback to the DCs of old, where victory is in the hunt and effort. Very thoughtful puzzles, layout, and sound effects, plus gets points for pulling off the wierd "dancing" combat and end boss without tripping up.

4. Pokemon Black and White 2 ; My First Pokeymans game, and I see now where the hype and addiction comes from. It's the incredibly deep character building and combat that kept me coming back day after day beyond just beating the Champion to refine my team and take my rookie effort on-line. There's a lot of great monster designs to bring into one's fold too.

5. XCOM: Enemy Unknown ; While this scared many shitless with it's player responsibility and gloomy doomed narrative, I found it a fine TBS to complement my veterancy in the field. Permadeath is nearly mandatory for balance, too. Mulitplayer I didn't go into, but I've heard mediocre things from it.

6. Tales of Graces f ; If only the voice actors didn't seem nauseous from what came out their mouths...
If only the characters were written by people who had actually met another human being before...
If only the music wasn't random notes at its best when not noticed...

...it woulda been my GOTY as the combat and character building are absolutely flawless. To play this is to be completely bored to by the mediocre ARPG combat that plagues games from then on. Fast, deep, with several features to make the RPG part deeply involved in the strategy.

7. Gungnir ; Bought this during a drought cuz hey, my PSP still worked, Atlus is good for it, and hey, SRPG. This is a very tightly wound game with a number of interesting opennings to break the game wide ass open with custom death squads, which, like a good tactics game, requires it at points. Snappy dialogue, too.

2011. Dungeons of Dredmor ; I shoulda shoulda shoulda put this on my list last year, preferably around 8th, if only for the soundtrack alone, (but that is definately not the only reason). Funny, creative, and a good journey.

I took extra time to make sure this list was accurate to my heart and mind; the top 4 are nearly interchangable and the spread is very tight. Sadly, there wasn't much else that caught my eye last year actually from last year. Spent alot of time working on the backlog or replaying older favorites; it was clearly no 2011 for me.
 
1. X-COM: Enemy Unknown; This was just about everything I wanted it to be. A more accessible version of the original game, keeping most of the important elements intact. At times it's a little too simplified, and there are plenty of unpolished spots, but it was the game that grabbed me the most in 2012.

2. Binary Domain ; I thought it was a stupid idea when it was announced, but the Giant Bomb quick look swayed me into getting. It's probably my second favourite third person shooter of the generation (behind Vanquish). Really well realised characters and enemies that aren't fucking bullet sponges.

3. Hotline Miami ; When I first heard about Hotline Miami, I didn't know what all the fuss was about and wasn't that impressed when it first saw it in action. But when I finally got to sit down and play it myself, everything clicked. I'm not big on hard games, but I've dug every minute of this I've played so far. Brilliant presentation and dat soundtrack.

4. Sleeping Dogs ; I was desperate for a good open world game when this came along, and it didn't disappoint. The combat system is excellent and it's a beautiful looking game. It's not often that I want to replay open world games, but this one is definitely on that list.

5. Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D ; the original Snake Eater is one of my all time favourites, and this update didn't disappoint.

6. Asura's Wrath ; It is more of an experience than a game. Balls to the wall action from start to finish with ridiculously over the top everything. I think this is probably the only game I've never hesitate to buy all of the DLC for.

7. Far Cry 3 ; Just about every character in this game is a rotten piece of shit and I thought the story was garbage. Fortunately everything else about the game is fantastic. Ubisoft needs to strike a balance between the setting of Far Cry 2 and the gameplay of this, and they'll have something special.

8. Tekken Tag Tournament 2 ; This is an absurdly good package.

9. Assassin's Creed III ; The "pay off" went down pretty much how I expected, so I wasn't as disappointed as most, but I think this game's execution was botched in many places. Regardless of the issues, I still had a ton of fun playing through it.

10. FTL ; Sometimes you just feel like facing impossible odds.

x. Dragon's Dogma ; I haven't played nearly enough of this to pass final judgment, but what I have played has really impressed.

x. Dead or Alive 5 ; I didn't really think much of the Dead or Alive series as a fighter, but this actually really took me by surprise. Haven't played much of it yet, but I suspect it might have made the top 10 if I got it earlier.

x. Max Payne 3 ; I think I'd have liked this game a lot more if it had a smaller budget. It just feels like the studio had way too much money at their disposal and overproduced the game. I hate those shitty effects on the cutscenes, the Euphoria animation looks great but it gets in the way, and I miss the comic book scenes. I didn't like anything about the game at first, but the New York levels plus figuring out that everything dies quickly when shot in the head improved my experience exponentially.

2011. Kirby's Return to Dream Land ; This is everything I like about Kirby games amplified. I played Dream Land 3 and 64 this year, and their woeful inadequacies drove home just how awesome this game is. The soundtrack is probably one of my all time favourites.
 
1. Borderlands 2 ; One of the few games this gen that lived up to the hype for me. A blast to play, awesome soundtrack, and loot. DLC that makes me want to come back.

2. Need for Speed:Most Wanted ; A fun racing game that I can pick up for 15 min. or 4 hours. Online that is actually a blast to play.

3. Sound Shapes; Fun as a game, great as a experience. A creation system that is fun despite its flaws. I really hope for some album dlc in the future.

4. Far Cry 3 ; I love this game. Hunting wild game with a bow one minute, burning a field withe a flamethrower the next.

5. Playstation All-Stars Battle Royal ; A few missteps but fun as hell. Vita version is my go to game anytime I am out

6. Sleeping Dogs ; Fun world, fun yet forgiving gameplay. Wei Shen.

7. Dishonored ; Started really strong, but petered off for me half way through.

8. SSX ; Would have been higher if not for need for speed, no split-screen.

9. Walking Dead ; After the first Episode I thought this had a chance to be my GOTY. Episodes 2 and 3 really hurt this one for me. The quiet moments with Clementine we some of my favorites.

10. Gravity Rush ; Like the aesthetic. Fun to explore.

Honorable Mention. Starhawk ; A good game that could have been great. A few balancing decisions and poor community really held this game back.

Honorable Mention. Twisted Metal; Fun game that was sadly DOA

2011. Saints Row the Third ; Had this on the backlog until late spring. Makes me question if I can ever truly enjoy a GTA game the same way again.
 
Some lists I noticed:
Master Nairb - Ranked Jaws iOS #7--I have literally never heard of this game.
Neuromancer - One of few who included Minecraft 360, and I think he understands the essence of Minecraft as well.
ShockingAlberto - Made a generous and succinct case for Asura's Wrath
Snuggler - Included "Fairway Solitaire", which I've never heard of.
ThanksVision - One of the more negative tone lists, except for Journey, which is adulatory
JordanLMiller - Only voted for one game, The Last Story, and had an emotional meltdown about it
Messofanego - A ton of animated gifs, I didn't know you could punch (?) sharks in Far Cry 3, and Chivalry looks so cool
Anihawk - "NSMB2 is the best platformer on the 3DS" <-- damning by faint praise
Owensboro - Understood Tokyo Jungle
KalBalboa - First/only all-Sony list I noticed, I'm sure there are more
Unison - Nailed the kind of succinct, biting criticism I associated with Robert Christgau
Sullichin - Put a trademark after "Far Cry" and before the "3".
Zia - Voted for FIFA 13 and a bunch of indie games.
Semblance - Made me want to try Analogue A Hate Story
A Huge Battleship - What is this list
Clunker - Understood Super Hexagon
adversesolutions - One of the few people who clearly voted from Japan
slaughterking - This lunatic gave a Tales game GOTY
archnemesis - Liked his screenshots, The Unfinished Swan looks more appealing than anything else I've ever seen about it
McNum - Voted for two The Sims 3 expansion packs
zkylon - Liked the list, but mostly liked the presentation
Corto - Fun honourable mentions, and had I think a better understanding of Hotline Miami than most people (Emerson also understood Hotline Miami)
Delusibeta - Good list of mostly downloadables
ilnadmy - Made a good point about the Walking Dead's action sequences, I think
Mar - Liked his comment about Pinball, which is something I don't understand at all.
Lissar - Loved the art, and also I thought, weirdly, that this was the most feminine ballot submitted in terms of the themes of the games and target audience
Kabouter - Farming Simulator 2013
Dark Schala - One of the best all-around lists
randomkid - Solid list all-around
Nocturnowl - Solid list all-around
Nert - Solid list all-around
Pie and Beans - Solid list all-around
cosmicblizzard - Solid list all-around
jett - Mr. Negativity

yo Riposte, vote
Oh damn, got the Stump seal of approval. Loved your "list" too.

Are you reading every post in the thread?
 

grandjedi6

Master of the Google Search
1. Borderlands 2 ;
2. Xenoblade Chronicles ; By having a great JRPG story and a refinement of FFXII's combat, Xenoblade has managed to establish itself as one of the RPG greats rather early in its lifetime.
3. Tales of Graces f ; I probably played this game more than any other this year.
4. XCOM: Enemy Unknown ;
5. The Walking Dead ;
6. Asura's Wrath ;
7. FTL: Faster Than Light ;
8. Mark of the Ninja ;
9. Persona 4 Arena ;
10. Super Amazing Wagon Adventure ; Secret GotY

x. The Last Story ;
x. The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings ;
x. Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning ;
x. Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2 ;
x. Theatrhythm Final Fantasy ; Disappointing year for handhelds considering this is one of the few standout titles
x. Darksiders 2 ;

2011. Pushmo ;
 
1. Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward ; You really have no idea what this game brings to the table unless you play it. Go out on a limb and try 999 to see if this kind of awesome adventure is for you.
2. Thirty Flights of Loving ; Another non-gamey game, but it was really fun. Gravity Bone also came with it. Even though it's short it's definitely worth the money.
3. Xenoblade Chronicles ; I'm not big on JRPGs but this was a lot of fun. Enjoyed the freedom.
4. Nintendo Land
5. New Super Mario Bros. U
 
1. Journey ; The first time through was amazing, but the second time was even better. After making it through the entire game with the same partner we got separated at the start of the ascent. So I headed up by myself thinking I stuffed it up for both of us and I was so disappointed, but when I reached the top my partner was there patiently waiting for me and we finished together. It was just a great moment. I've never felt the same emotions in any other game as I did with this, nor felt so attached to someone else I'm playing with. Amazing game.

2. Far Cry 3 ; In the 50 or so hours it took me to complete just the first island, I probably used one or two vehicles tops. It was just so great wandering the island on foot, getting attacked by all sorts of beasts and sniping the fuck out of people. Modded to completely remove the HUD, the immersion is amazing. Vaas is a great villain too.

3. Fez ; Excellent platformer. The visuals and music just set a great atmosphere and the puzzles are great.

4. The Pinball Arcade ; I've never really been interested in pinball but this game has made me love it. It's just so fun to play and most of the tables are great, now I'm after some real tables.

5. Forza Horizon ; I wasn't too interested when this game was announced even though I'm a huge fan of the previous Forza games. Ended up buying it and really enjoyed it despite not being a fan of arcade racers. The speed traps and cameras can be pretty addictive when trying to beat GAF members/friends speeds.

6. FIFA 13 ; I didn't even buy FIFA 12 because I thought it was so bad but I've enjoyed 13 a lot. The game play is tight. Collision physics are still pretty hilarious at times though.

7. Borderlands 2 ; A big improvement on the original, and a great PC version as well.
 
I've PM'd everyone (afaik) that had formatting mistakes in their post. A decent chunk of people have responded back, so I'm hoping that means a good amount of votes will be counted that otherwise would have been ignored.
 

Papercuts

fired zero bullets in the orphanage.
I went a little bit insane making this. I don't think I'm a very good writer and I am apparently terrible at being concise, so this may be extremely scatterbrained. Sorry about that! I'm also going to bastardize this page to get around the text limit, and I'm intentionally breaking voting format to reformat it after the list.




Ten. Borderlands 2 - The first Borderlands was a fun shooter that ended up feeling very repetitive by the end. So many guns dropped that ended up not even getting looked at due to many types being so similar. The mechanics wore thin, and there was not really any aspect outside of that to dig into the game. Borderlands 2 effectively ramps up everything. There is an actual coherent plot this time, there is a hub city for downtime and spending all of your money on the slot machine, the shooting mechanics feel much more solid, and there’s a greater variety of enemies that actually involve tactics to defeat. More boss encounters, drops seemed more unique, and the extra emphasis on the maker of the gun fleshed out a much needed wrinkle in the overarching game.

The plot can be hit or miss. A lot of it pulls from memes and general insanity, and for the most part it works fine. But if it doesn’t, well, people in this game talk a lot. Mostly over coms so there is active gameplay while dialogue is happening…which is good and bad. Obviously great considering co-op keeping everyone doing something, but if you actually want to hear what they’re saying while getting bombarded it gets lost in the shuffle.

Another great remedy for an issue with the first game was the environmental art. Borderlands 1 had deserts, arid dry areas, grassy plains minus the grass and with more sand, and of course the lava level where the lava was sand and the rocks were also sand. Oh, and a snowy area at the end…actual snow, too! Borderlands 2 is a very good looking game and has much more color to the areas.

The classes got mixed up and I haven’t really tried any of them, I just committed to the Siren again. Phaselock was very fun to use mixed with sniping, perfectly setting up headshots all over the place. Really, the series is always a good co-op romp. It doesn’t really set the world on fire for me, but it is a good use of me and my friend’s time, which is all I really would want to ask for.

Random note: I was Maya while my friend was Zer0.




Nine. XCOM: Enemy Unknown - Rooting for the squad to make it back safely, having go to people in each position, and the feeling of losing them and having to move on is a vital part of what makes this game so enticing. Having your crackshot assault miss vital shots every time they count and imagining the squad ripping into him makes it oddly sad when you see a chryssalid wreck his shit. The ability to create unwritten storylines between characters as they get killed off in tragic fashions on the battlefield is unmatched in XCOM.

Base building is a vital aspect as well, so even if you flawlessly sweep up missions, the overall game can fail if people pull out. Proper management out and in battle puts a lot of power in your hand, and although I feel like there’s too much importance on Satellites, it still remains compelling. I succeeded without you, Nigeria. Get fucked.

Plot is whatever, you are here to kill aliens or be killed. It’s fun. Get to it.

Random note: Played on Normal trying not to savescum, then Classic Ironman. Play it on Classic Ironman.




Eight. Katawa Shoujo - A visual novel about going to a school for disabled people originating from 4chan. By all accounts, this must be a disaster. I’ve been following the game for awhile and couldn’t believe it after playing the early Act 1 they released what feels like years ago. It was good. It tastefully handled the subject matter, actually changed the way I looked at certain things in life, and had a nice calming OST to go with it.

The full release pretty much kept within what I wanted. While the quality of each route differs due to different writers being on each one (which I feel was pretty apparent), they all offered a lot of good moments. Given the years of work that went into this, I felt it all showed. Presentation was very nice, the art was good, OST remained good, it just oozes labor of love. It’s a completely free product with a big effort behind it. I respect that a lot.




Seven. ZombiU ; Left 4 Dead, Dead Rising, Dead Island, Day Z, the list goes on--Zombie games are not really in short supply, but they are all radically different. ZombiU carves its own little niche in the genre with a much slower paced take on an outbreak, and with the implementation of the pad controller never allowing the game to pause, caution is key. This is a game where 2 enemies on screen is actually a serious threat due to the lack of ammo and melee attacks leaving you vulnerable. A zombie lunge is an instant kill for quite awhile until an item that gives you an out that is one use and must be refilled it used, and the death penalty is somewhat dark souls-esque. There are short panning down cutscenes that show the survivor waking up, the name and occupation pop up on the top left and there is an ingame counter and score each survivor racks up.

While the survivors all play the same, they all have very different appearances, cricket bats, and battle cries. One larger nerdier looking guy actually whimpered pretty much every time he attacked and I did not miss him when he died. It’s a surprisingly charming part of the game that gets a sense of attachment once a character lasts awhile, and the dark souls area is the way your old survivors are encountered are pretty neat. Depending on how they die, the old survivor is likely a zombie themselves. Once the general location of death is reached, the name and score are seen above a zombie packing a giant backpack and only after a successful kill can the inventory be looted. Of course, depending on WHERE this is can be very hectic. I had a few very close calls where my old survivor was basically where a fairly large pack of zombies were nearby, and the newly spawned one only starts with 6 bullets in their pistol and the cricket bat. Considering the real time aspect of everything and the length of time it takes to fully take out a filled inventory it is impossible to just rush in, fill up and run away. The Souls series, when killed by a very powerful enemy, atleast has the ability to suicide run and grab the bloodstain and book it away, but this does not let that happen. That said, I did mention “depending on how they die”, which has a pretty neat attention to detail in which dying from another cause just allows you to loot the corpse. Death via explosion happened tragically to me a few times but the pickup was much easier due to the zombie survivor not moving around from the spot into potential trouble.

At the end of the game, things change quite a bit. There is an infamous arena area that based on the OT and general online posts around the web can make people do a complete 180 on the game. Personally? I loved it, and the entire ending sequence following it. The game strips away your items (specifically cricket bat and your pad device) and forces you to fight armored enemies, but there are bullets, health, and explosive canisters strewn about. It has an entirely different but still thrilling caution that must be taken, I had to herd the enemies around as I wanted and make sure to really conserve my ammo now. It was much more combat based but the mechanics at work were handled very well to me.

All in all, a lot of what ZombiU does it does well, but there is also a lot of improvement that can be made. The cricket bat is the sole melee weapon in the game and the actual melee combat is surprisingly simplistic. There is the one overhead swing attack and that is it aside from a damage-less push back. More depth to the melee, different types like bladed items and a condition rate for items would be much appreciated for a potential sequel. Another cool idea would make the survivors different. This may approach some level of unwanted territory due to the random nature and potential for bad rolls persay, but it would add a nice wrinkle to the package and further attach the player to the avatar. ZombiU is a good game, and if it becomes a continued series, is on the cusp of absolute greatness and I very much hope to see it come to fruition.

Random note: I lost 8 survivors during the campaign.




Six. Mass Effect 3 ; From the start, I don't have a gaf-popular opinion on the Mass Effect series. ME1 had bad shooting mechanics and the RPG elements ended up dull because of that. The Mako sucked. The characters, aside from Wrex, were boring to talk to. The story, atmosphere, and music was good, but little else in there was. ME2, then, pretty much blew me away. The core gameplay was much improved; I actually gave a shit about the characters involved even if the story itself was barely present. ME3, continuing off of that, does a lot right for me. Shooting was exciting and changes to the power cooldown made abilities much more useful. Surprisingly, Kinect actually works very well on here as well. Using it to bypass constant menus midcombat actually worked out well and kept the pace quick.

Naturally, I ended up actually really digging the Multiplayer component. The packs they sell are bordering a fine line between genius and gross, but in the end I have spent nothing and it allows me to play the game in January of 2013, 10 months after launch, and have a plethora of new classes, maps, and even a new enemy faction to fight for no cost or userbase splitting bullshit. This is disturbingly rare in gaming nowadays and a huge deterrent to staying up to date with many MP games; quite nice to not have to worry about that for once.

On the campaign itself...yeah, that ending is fucked. The start and end are both low points, but all inbetween I was incredibly engrossed. The genophage showdown and Quarian/Geth dispute are high points of the entire series. There is a lot of clear pandering with other characters not necessarily having a big role, but it worked for me. There are also a lot of funny moments and humor sprinkled around in general which was appreciated given the otherwise dreary subject matter. What didn't work was the war asset system, which end up basically making a lot of big decisions turn into base numbers that add to a total which ever so slightly affect the patched ending. Not really what I wanted, but I imagine it was too ambitious to do much else. Actually playing out a paragon and renegade run still put mostly the same content for actual gameplay, but the story segments(again, without that shit pile ending) have a surprising amount of variance. There are some very, very hard Renegade actions to actually go through with in this game even if you played like an emotionless douche in previous outings. That honestly says a lot.

Random note: Played on Hardcore then Insanity.




Five. Resident Evil 6 ; There is so much to say about this game that I really don't know where to begin. Something looked off in prerelease gameplay videos, and I was waiting for hands on time to properly judge. Well, then I hated the first demo. The second one was not much better...but something began to click. I replayed the second one a handful of times and began to notice that enemies did react, just not as they did in 4/5. I messed around with the controls, found a lot of useful stuff, nothing beating the incredible ability to slide into cover. Then reviewers ripped the game to shreds, though that didn't faze me--it instead made me much more interested to try the full game.

Gameplay wise, RE6 is honestly phenomenal. There is no other shooter out there like it, but for comparison purposes I would have to use Vanquish. Basically, you see someone play Vanquish as if it is Gears of War: Always in cover, staying out of close range to stay up on health, and you cry deep inside. RE6 is best played always in enemies faces. Countering attacks, quickshot sliding into coup de grace, jumping back and dodging enemies. At its best, RE6 is some white knuckles hectic shit. Mercenaries is simply sublime, and when an upper echelon of enemies slain gets reached they are ridiculously aggressive. You will get swarmed, and you will need to constantly act to thwart them off. It's not as simple to crowd control as a simple head shot -> kick cleared the area in RE4. Many melee moves don't hit too well around them and can leave you in a shitty spot, knowing when to commit is key. When 150 enemies get cleared consistently, it is very empowering. That's to speak nothing of a (solo) 150 full combo, which I still can't even do. Fuck you if you can.

The campaigns are where it gets interesting. Personally, I think Chris has the best one here. Then Jake. Then Leon. Prerelease I would have never believed that, but hey. Piers and Chris actually work together well in co-op and the ending takes his story in an interesting way, and various things like the snake in chapter 3 were very cool. Jake's chapter 3 is my favorite in the entire game, and doesn't let off from there. However, his first 2 chapters honestly suck pretty badly. Leon's is mostly hurt by the boss that will not die. It ends up feeling like half his campaign against a single enemy, and his chapter 1 is very slow paced(in a bad way). Forced slow walking segments, tripping over corpses, and some first time through really cheap deaths you really can't see coming didn't really set a very good mood after the prologue also being stupid as hell. That said, the back half of 1, all of 2-4 were fine to me. His last chapter isn't as bad when you know what to do but there is still a stage of the final boss that just lasts absurdly long. Ada's campaign to top it off, I really didn't like much at all. It's full of more puzzles, but all of them are wonky and not well done. Her encounters are like a gangbang in a small cramped hallway, so I can't even imagine trying it now with co-op added. Overall, clearly some ups and downs all over the place, but I do enjoy what they were going for overall. Areas where characters meet up ingame and it actually connects online to players from different campaigns is a novel idea. I also appreciate the long length, especially given how short most TPS end up.

The most damning aspect of this game to me is very Capcom like, it's something really stupid and should have been easily avoided. Mercenaries mode is painfully screwed up by the preorder bonus maps actually accounting for 50% of the entire game's worth. There are 6 from day one that were clearly done, yet you only got 3, 4 with a preorder. 2 new ones are DLC, and preorder ones themselves are also DLC, but this has another issue with the other new DLC modes-Predator, Survivors, and Onslaught. These pull from the Merc maps, and are already limited by being DLC. I can't even describe the annoyance of being in a lobby trying to switch maps and having 5/8 not available because ONE guy doesn't have them. Basically...get used to Urban Chaos.

I liked RE5 a lot. It was only possible due to RE4's framework, and I feel at times they didn’t fully get what all people loved about it, but it was still entertaining in its own right. 6, however, is full of bold new ideas. It isn’t perfect, but once you get into it there is a damn good time to be had.

Random note: Played on Veteran. Haven't had time to try Pro and No Hope yet.




Four. Spelunky - Randomized levels are not usually a feature that excites or interests me, so rougelike’s in general are not something I have much experience with. What Spelunky does exceptionally well is create a hard and punishing set of levels but in a completely fair fashion due to smart level crafting underneath the hood. It is certainly possible for an arrow trap to spawn right below the entrance of a level, but attentive players will pick up a lot of subtle but very helpful tips that make Spelunky much easier to handle. Something small like rocks and pots spawn near the starting door, and the traps don’t just cheaply trigger off of you, anything sets them off. A little pebble can be brought through a level just to disarm all the traps you see, and this holds over with enemies as well. Bats flying from the ceiling will get killed when they pass one, enemies can fall into them, etc. This can actually set up some funny sandbox moments where as you traverse a level you see stuff like a spike totem rapidly spiking the dead corpse of an enemy, or a bunch of bodies are littered on normal spikes, letting you know shit went down earlier.

My favorite aspect of Spelunky is how it mixes in a strong sense of risk/reward all throughout. First, there are the altars. Damsels throughout the level can be brought to the exit to get an extra heart, or they can be killed off here and turned into a random item. There’s a behind the scene counter that rewards a very good item so there is a risk of losing out on immediate health vs. potentially getting more down the road due to this. Also great is the way enemies can help/hurt here. Much like them setting off traps, they also work as sacrifices. However, getting them on the altar while they’re stunned can be very hard, though potentially worth it. The shopkeeper himself also works but that is insanity.

Second, there is the ghost. There’s a double purpose served by this, considering it pops up after ~2 and a half minutes on a level. It doesn’t allow the player to go at any pace they want to try and plan the safest route and collect everything in the level. But there is almost an entirely different way to play the game if you actually embrace this; ghost runs. The ghost turns gems it passes over into diamonds, which can be used to get a looooot of money if the risk is taking to try and get around it. Leaderboards track based off money earned, so to be a top player there must be effective use of this tactic throughout.

Finally, one of my favorite things in Spelunky: The shopkeeper. Having a random assortment of items, anywhere from a bunch of bombs to jetpacks and a machete, he is the spelunker’s greatest ally. And also his worst enemy, if he is fucked with. An angry shopkeeper goes NUTS with constant jumping around at a very sporadic and hard to predict pattern. That said, a successful kill on one gives free reign on all of his wares…and the label of a terrorist, with wanted signs and a guaranteed angry shopkeeper at the exit of every stage from that point on. Still, the prospect of being able to loot every store can seriously set up an entire game and makes it not uncommon to have 40+ bombs in addition to a shotgun and powerful movement based items like the jetpack. My first iron man run, which is basically going from start to finish with no shortcuts, happened at the same time I got the achievement for killing 12 shopkeepers in a single game. I let them all go after me and was able to successfully get around them all to stock my character up for a very satisfying finish. Combining ghost runs with shopkeep killing runs is a very hard but also completely valid way to approach the game.

All in all, Spelunky is a very intelligently designed game that is a lot of fun to tackle. There are many small tricks that set players apart and a plethora of well hidden secrets all throughout the trap filled rooms. The player has a lot of freedom to tackle areas how they see fit, and the game gives credence to caution to avoid cheap deaths. That said, my only real gripe with the game is the existence of dark levels. Pitch black levels in this do have potential to have a drop you can’t tell lands right on a deadly enemy, and even if there’s an attempt at avoiding this due to stuff like traps getting lit up, sometimes unluckiness can nip you here. That aside, even without dark levels you will still die many times and be very sad deep within each time. That is the wonder of Spelunky.

Random note: It took me 376 attempts to finish the game with no shortcuts.

Finish here.
 

Papercuts

fired zero bullets in the orphanage.
Continued from...




Three. Mark of the Ninja - There is a fairly short supply of actual ninja games out in the market, and that will always shock be considering the potential. The most prolific is Ninja Gaiden&#8230;and Ryu is not much of a ninja on the stealth part. This is where Mark of the Ninja comes in and it nails this aspect as hard as it possibly could.

There is an incredibly well done fluidity in the movement, the game constantly mixes up what you do and what your obstacles are, and the player is given a great assortment of items that can carve out a multitude of completely different playstyles. Want to leave a path and leave dead bodies in your wake? Spike mines, ravenous insects, hanging bodies from light posts...pick what looks fun. Want to just mess with people? Something like terror darts and tossing bodies around help nicely here. There is an Arkham Asylum-esque ability to basically terrify everyone, which changes the way guards search the area and can initially get them to kill eachother. Want to distract everyone? Doing it to get them to turn so you can kill, or trying to completely slip by a level with no blood on your hands? All of these work. Ingame costumes you unlock helps towards this and the most interesting one completely removes your sword, so even if this one guard is being a prick that you forgot about and might temporarily give in to killing one off, this makes that much harder. The fact that there are so many methods to progress, and that they all work out well is the game&#8217;s strongest feat. Considering the game is made by Klei, known for the Shank games, there is a great understanding of what they&#8217;re doing I really did not expect. Nearly every aspect of the game seems very well thought out, from the gameplay to the visuals.

The graphics use a very unique way of letting you know what is shrouded in darkness or not. Lights are your enemy in this game, and it&#8217;s an enemy that cannot always be fought. The way you darken or light up is a quick and easy way to relay important information that you need to know on a second by second basis. Sound cues of widening circles show everything that makes noise so there is never a question on what the enemies are all potentially being triggered off of. It all helps easy experimentation without making the game a breeze, which is a hard balance to manage.

Scoring in MotN is pretty unique and doesn't have a clear cut best way to go about it to people that love topping leaderboards. You get a lot of points for setting up spectacular kills, mixing up the killing itself, for guards passing by you undetected giving score credence to no kill runs, hiding bodies, the variety goes on and on. The biggest misstep taken here is the checkpointing, which on their own crop up often making it fairly generous, does not actually punish you for failing. While score takes a hit when enemies go into alert, a kill resets and actually makes the score just as it was. There is no need to be consistently good for high scoring and the system can be cheesed until things work out smoothly for what the player is trying to do. Still, for a downloadable game, the amount this gets right on top of the good length makes this a stand out game that came out of left field this year. It is truly one of the best stealth games I have played, period.




Two. Binary Domain - This is a quality game. That is not up for Nagoshiation.

But really, this is another game this year that came out of nowhere and ended up really grabbing me. The pure shooting mechanics are satisfying and well done, seeing robots shred to pieces as you fire away is different from the norm and actually has some significant gameplay impact. Headshots are great in this game, but especially if you actually headshot enemies farther away. Turning them against their allies; more importantly turning the enemies around to fight them off giving you free shots is a unique thing to be pulling off in the middle of a hectic fight. Blowing off legs and watching them crawl towards you to the bitter end is pretty funny as well.

Boss fights are quite a spectacle in BD, and are a lot of fun to fight. One in particular lasts a bit too long, but they do a good job adding variety in between normal shootouts and the occasional downtime area where there is just walking around talking to people. These specific segments were pretty unique and compound well with the storyline, which is generally well written and interesting. The characters were all likable, the relation building stuff was a neat twist even if the AI can be idiots and run in front of your fire, and the impact it actually has on the story was a nice surprise.

Online wise, the little I played of MP didn&#8217;t do anything for me. The robotic enemies are the drive behind the gameplay, having normal humans against eachother can be found in a ton of other games. The horde mode, sadly, was vacant near release so I never got to try it. Hard to fault the game for that I guess. I don&#8217;t have much else to say despite ranking it so highly&#8230;BD was just a constantly entertaining and engaging experience. It&#8217;s one of my favorite campaigns in a TPS.

Random note: Played on Survivor. Also have never played a Yakuza game...maybe I should.




One. Hitman: Absolution - I'll preface this by saying I am fairly biased towards Hitman. I love stealth games, but these games in particular hit a sweet spot with the social stealth that creates some amazingly fun scenarios even if it is all incredibly game-y. That said, Absolution does not entirely deliver in that respect. The sweeping changes made to the disguise system are catered more to playing it ala Splinter Cell, being mostly out of sight and only closely crossing paths with NPCs of different suits, unless you have the instinct to burn and really need access to a certain area. However, the actual DNA of Hitman, the underlying reason I truly love them, is the variety in tacking every single level. Absolution still fully embraces this and encourages it with the new Challenge system, which gives some hints to various things possible in each level that make the player take out targets in various ways, accidental or full frontal going ape shit on the level, meaning you do need to play levels quite a bit to really figure them all out. There are levels with no hits where you get from point A to B, which while a different approach to the series it is still in Hitman nature that a myriad of paths to actually get there are available.

The gameplay systems have been refined and work much better than previous outings. As fun as it was to shoot up a level in previous games, it got pretty dumb. Flashbacks of standing in a hallway in Blood Money while every enemy blindly rushed through, funneling themselves into my active shooting and leaving a pile of bodies all on the same spot come to mind. The shooting itself feels much better, the AI is still fairly dumb but there are legitimate tactics and flanking being used instead, and the sheer number of people in each level make it a much harder thing to pull off. That said, like always for Hitman, it can be completely avoided regardless.

The biggest stride aside from the gunplay has got to be the world building. The textures are pure beast mode, the art design is very solid and the game is a stunner throughout. Most notable, it is absolutely crazy how much pure NPC dialog exists in this game, and it has constant quality to boot. Whether it's something relating to previous things you did, random people bullshitting about humorous topics, it really goes a long way making these areas feel well realized. Stuff like two police talking down on a mechanic, a guard on his phone trying to get someone to reboot their modem, or someone expressing their delight in a doctor call confirming he doesn't have prostate cancer...just before getting tossed out a window down a massive cliff. This compounds quite well with Contracts mode, where the player is going in these campaign areas without any objective and picks whoever to kill. Hitman has always been loaded with black humor and this is a mode specifically geared to cater to the community causing more of this. I have made multiple levels that aren't really difficult at all, but they range from 47 donning a tin foil hat going around a strip club murdering various women because the backstory I created details him as going insane with the belief that after being dumped all women are evil. Another where 47 is donning a Patriot wrestling outfit before he goes on trial for the recent murder of his opponent, and must sneak around and kill the judge with his own gavel. Another in a blood wrenched orphanage where there is a lone police officer tied to a chair being beaten, and the heroic janitor 47...whips a fire axe only at him, avoiding the actual guys who shot the place up, because the cop in the chair knew about the janitor's stash of child porn.

Some of the levels in this game ended up being some of my favorite in the series, specifically Blackwater Park and Attack of the Saints. Both of these end with an area that is almost Manhunt-esque where a predator like nature of taking out people one by one around the area is very thrilling to pull off. A scarecrow in a cornfield strangling corpses all around, and a Samurai running around a very interesting museum area lodging Katana's in the back of people's heads--great stuff. The entirety of Hunter and Hunted, Birdie's Gift, Welcome to Hope, and Death Factory were some other standouts for me.

There is something to be said for lacking more of the traditional Hitman levels, because even within the existing ones there certain things I enjoyed doing are now gone. Causally walking around with a briefcase holding a pieced apart sniper rifle, waiting until a great hidden vantage point is found, assembling and taking out a target, disassembling and casually walking out is gone. Guns can no longer be dropped, which doesn't seem like much but it also means there are no metal detectors. No areas where you get frisked before getting access into an area. It's a shame things like these aren't in the game due to the plot direction. The save system was also changed and I really am not sure why. Limiting the amount per difficulty seemed to work fine, and the checkpoints in this game are some of the oddest shit I have ever seen. It resets the level entirely, which creates guard gaps that would otherwise not exist, even going as far as to revive guards you killed. It's essentially a respawn point as if the level just started, only saving your target kills. I ended up avoided them due to it feeling so exploity, but I have no idea what they were going for here.

On the plot itself, I enjoyed it for its pulpy-ness and the game atleast really makes you hate the people you take out, but it's also not really where I want the franchise to go. As much as I enjoyed Absolution, spending most of the game running away and not having targets to have prep time to go after aren't very long lasting ideas. Either way it's sliced, Hitman is going to be seeing some different ideas in the next few installments due to the Deus Ex guys handling the next one, and I'm expecting truly great things out of IO's next take at it. Whatever happens, I'm atleast very glad Hitman is back after such a long break since Blood Money, and even if Absolution isn&#8217;t necessarily the ideal game I wanted from the Hitman franchise, I would be lying if I said it wasn&#8217;t the best time I had with a game this year.

Random note: Played all on Hard.


Now that that's done, for the parser:

1. Hitman: Absolution ; A fun stealth game that gives the player loads of player choice to tackle each objective.

2. Binary Domain ; Best OT title ever.

3. Mark of the Ninja ; So much unseen death.

4. Spelunky ; Great mix of gameplay elements to create a unique and punishing experience.

5. Resident Evil 6 ; Slide into cover.

6. Mass Effect 3 ; Space child effect.

7. ZombiU ; I still don't like the name.

8. Katawa Shoujo ; Feels were had.

9. XCOM: Enemy Unknown ; Feels were had.

10. Borderlands 2 ; Bromance was had.

Honorable Mentions

x. Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward ; The sequel to 999 had a lot to live up to. The mindbending twists that were shown in the true ending were hard to forget, and VLR manages to one up this factor with constant twists and revelations on the final stretch of the game. The buildup to this doesn&#8217;t necessarily flow as well as 999 for me; many endings are basically a dud that lock you off until later, meaning it takes a long time to get an actual pay off. At certain points the puzzles are more of an obstacle that I felt the need to push through to see more of the story, even though the actual quality of these rooms was a lot better than 999. The setting is less interesting, but it is doing a lot of different things. The flowchart was absolutely essential to skip around the slog it was to collect all the 999 endings. This is also the first time I went online after actually beating the game and being unaware that I actually beat it. Not sure if that&#8217;s good or bad! But I need the third game. Right now.

x. The Walking Dead ; Lee and Clementine are very well realized characters and the overarching plot line of WD is pretty soul crushing in a good way. It makes you genuinely care about the characters, and it appropriately fleshes them out enough to make them stand apart. There is a double edged sword with the episodic nature of the game however&#8230;the good side being the interesting moral choices. Did you kill ___? Why would you ____! Ingame, the way these are presented are very stressful. It is typically not just about committing to doing an action, it&#8217;s the people around you seeing it. Discussing a line to draw on some of the stuff experienced in each episode was a great way to fill the gaps inbetween episodes.

The double edge here, is of course, discussing what changed. &#8220;This game series adapts to the choices you make. The story is tailored to how you play&#8221;, an exact quote the game shows every episode. When something big happens, one of the first things I think about is &#8220;So what happens if&#8230;&#8221;, and that is easily remedied by the very same people online talking about it. Well, nothing fundamentally different answers pretty much all of those questions. The game is incredibly linear, and even if the game is tracking stuff under the hood of what the other characters know or feel about Lee, it never actually matters. The first 2 episodes are very heavily based on Kenny and Lilly fighting, and due to unavoidable things in the third episode you have no input on who the game ends up making you go with, even if you took every possible attempt to prevent it. Many times this just feels very gamey and apparent at the game trying to railroad you instead of feeling like natural occurrences. The game also feels like it is held together by duct tape, with terrible hitching on scene transitions, the ugly loading screen, glitches where the endgame polls error out, saves being wiped&#8212;this game may not be made by a large scale team, but many games in my top 10 are smaller scale and still feel very polished. The scope of the game given these issues is unacceptable. Even worse is how there is nothing being done about it.

I am certainly on board for their Season 2, but they have a weird bar to cross. It&#8217;s going to be very hard to top the Lee and Clementine story they told, but they can also do a lot more with player choices. However, are they going to repeat some of the same themes Season 1 covered? It&#8217;ll be hard to deliver a lot of powerful choices without crossing threads with some stuff they already did. Either way, The Walking Dead is a game I recommend people check out if they haven&#8217;t. Most people seem to dig it, and I certainly can see why.

x. Assassin&#8217;s Creed 3 ; This is another hard one to tackle. In a lot of ways this is possibly my favorite in the franchise, but there is soooo much stupid shit in this game that blows my mind. Why is the old menu used to equip weapons and such load an entire screen now instead of being an instant pull up? Why is the map not fully revealed when all the view points are reached? Why the hell are Assassination side missions just running and killing a random person completely vulnerable with no one giving a shit? So many subsystems are not even touched upon, I spent most of the game with a wagon of materials &#8220;under attack&#8221; that I had no idea how to fix.

But the game really shines in other spots. The homestead is a great area with a lot of decent characters with pretty insane attention to detail if you actually view what these people do on their daily life. The frontier is possibly my favorite singular area in all of the series, running through trees works great. The storyline, though a very slow burn, was very good&#8230;until sequence 12. The final sequence is fucking terrible, and the ending is shit. The cities felt much more lively and complex, though there are waaaay too many guards in New York that can be a pain to get rid of if you misstep. I liked Connor. The animations are beautiful. Navy missions are the first additional mission type the series has added since AC2&#8217;s tombs that doesn&#8217;t suck ass. I now want an entire Naval based game from ubisoft due to how well everything clicks on these areas.

The whole series has been all over the place, it&#8217;s just odd to see. With a lot more polish, AC3 could have been so much more even if I did really enjoy my time with it. Also, seriously, the game has great attention to detail. So how in the hell does the fact that Desmond&#8217;s backpack CONSTANTLY clips into his back get through? Seriously? Aflkasjflkajsfklajsfl.

x. Minecraft 360 ; I tried Minecraft on the PC and the thing made no sense to me. When this edition started with showing the recipies needed to craft items, I started to get a grip and before I knew it it was 5am and I did nothing but dig a giant hole. There is not enough time in the day to play Minecraft.

x. Dragon&#8217;s Dogma ; I love a lot of what Dragon's Dogma did. The combat is fun, the enemies animate fantastically, and there is a pure sense of adventure many games lack now a days. Sadly, the game becomes too easy after a certain amount of time and certain cracks start showing such as specific points certain large enemies always are when that type of stuff originally excited and surprised you, a world that isn't all that large in the end, partially remedied by whatever in the hell happens leading to the end. Game gets a lot of props from me for the crazy post game stuff.

2011. Ghost Trick ; Mistle is character of the year, all years.
 
That was a thoroughly enjoyable list Riposte, I love some of the lists in this thread with huge variety, and yours is definitely one of them. Makes my relatively monotonous list look bad :p. I thought you made the strongest case for Binary Domain of anyone in this thread, it actually makes me want to actually play beyond the half level I've played (even if I'm not looking forward to bosses with stupid amounts of HP). Two things though:
- Didn't you feel like Far Cry 3 had rather poor progression? I certainly thought so, and that pretty much ruined the game for me.
- I haven't played it, but what was bad about War of the Roses?
 
I've PM'd everyone (afaik) that had formatting mistakes in their post. A decent chunk of people have responded back, so I'm hoping that means a good amount of votes will be counted that otherwise would have been ignored.
Ha, really? I've been doing that, going page by page, so hopefully we haven't been spamming too many people together.
 

EatChildren

Currently polling second in Australia's federal election (first in the Gold Coast), this feral may one day be your Bogan King.


1. Hotline Miami ; A psychedelic ultra violent trip, fashionably drenched from head to toe in blood and style, Hotline Miami is the quintessential example of the many components and qualities of video game design coming together in perfect unison. Its confident, self aware identity panders to no focus group, market, or specific taste. Every element, whether it be the retro electronic soundtrack, neon pixel graphics, visceral twitch gameplay, or schizophrenic narrative, brilliantly toes the line between self serving aggression, and co-operation with its companions. It’s like the best cocktails; acidic, volatile liquors and spices entwined to manifest a flavour you can’t quite describe yet won’t ever forget. You’re never sure which part of Hotline Miami you like the most. As the sweat beads down your forehead you’re not even sure if you’re really “enjoying” yourself. Is this experience fun? Is this entertainment? The answer is irrelevant. What matters is you cannot put the controller down, and all those blockbusters you’ve played this year, gluttonously padded with their mulit-million dollar budgets, lay twitching in a pool of crimson at your feet.




2. Dishonored ; Player agency and freedom of play reign supreme over scripting and linearity. Dishonored's branch stems from the same tree that boasts series like Thief, Deus Ex, and System Shock, each game bearing the fruits of design that unshackles players from developers who insist on telling you how to play, rather than letting you discover the 'play' yourself. Dishonored's blend of melee, range, and magic come together wonderfully, empowering players with a sense of speed and superhuman like agility and prowess that has you zipping across rooftops, skulking through dimly lit streets, and impaling oblivious threats from behind, their lifeless corpses simmering to ash, all with minimal effort. Though there's still room to grow, Dishonored's emphasis on not just who you kill, but how you kill, and if you wish to kill at all, is a love letter to the kind of game design I hold very dear. Wrapped around this design is a unique, engrossing and beautiful painterly world that feels alive and lived in, as if I am a visitor to an old, weary place from long forgotten history books. All games are artificial and deliberate in design. From world to mechanics, Dishonored does a very good job of making you forget that.




3. Sleeping Dogs ; I'm not ashamed to admit the original True Crime was a guilty pleasure of mine, and so the very first reveal of the then True Crime: Hong Kong had me pretty excited. Bless Square-Enix for doing what Activison would not. I gravitate towards sandbox games that prioritise enjoyable and varied core mechanics over those that would rather focus on a bloated, treasure hunt filled game worlds, and Sleeping Dogs is most definitely the former. Each mechanic is fleshed out just enough to provide engaging and varied play, from chaining together throws and kicks in a martial arts tournament, to leaping from throttled motorbike to the back of an armoured van, and integrated into snappy, well paced missions, avoiding stagnation and repetition. Sleeping Dogs is a fast game, brilliantly replicating its Hong Kong blood opera inspiration. Bonus points go to the effort United Front Games put into polishing up the PC version, as it remains one of the best looking games on the market.




4. ZombiU ; Much of what I loved about ZombiU can be compared to why I loved Dishonored: player agency, freedom of play, and unscripted design. And with ZombiU this almost feels like an unintentional product of a limited budget and development cycle. ZombiU is like if you took the unforgiving, unpredictable, and very unsafe feeling game world from Dark Souls, mixed it with Metroidvania level design and the methodical survivor horror of the original Resident Evil, and coloured it am almost pitch perfect 28 Days Later stylised aesthetic. As other "horror" series devolve into action hero shooters with horror themes, ZombiU instead plays like the most legitimate "survival horror" in almost a decade. Very clever and intelligently designed, it also deserves recognition for doing a better job of showcasing the Wii U GamePad than any other title at launch, including Nintendo's own.




5. Binary Domain ; When making a linear shooter, first or third person, there's probably no greater importance to design (excluding core mechanics) than pacing. When players are going to be doing a lot of shooting, a lot of wall hugging, and a lot of running around, you want all of that stuff to be interesting and unpredictable. Binary Domain accomplishes what all the best shooters do: it never lingers on a single set piece, encounter, or style of level design for too long. Every encounter lasts just long enough to excite and stimulate, and before you know it you're being ushered off into a new room or a new set piece, confronting a new enemy or challenge. Not all ideas in Binary Domain work: the NPC relationship/communication feature is poorly conceived, and the story plays out predictably. But the simple act of shooting, fighting your opponents, and overcoming challenges never ceases to be exciting and fun. And for a shooter, that really is the most important thing.




6. Resident Evil: Revelations ; Imagine an alternate universe where Capcom stopped making shitty Resident Evil games. Also imagine it's not an alternate universe, but this one, and that game is Revelations. Revelations embraces the variety of play styles associated with the series, and through a stroke of genius paces these through a wonderful story driven previously on... style episodic chapter structure. Crazy gorgeous graphics that push the 3DS in ways few other (if any) titles have, and a surprisingly long, globe hopping campaign indicate a team that really gave it their all. Excellent replay value of Raid mode is the cherry on top. Revelations isn't a cheap rush job or portable cash-in. It's a bona fide (and soon to be) console Resident Evil experience.




7. Alan Wake's American Nightmare ; Alan Wake is one of those games I love and hate. A game littered with flaws that noticeably detracted from my experience, yet not enough for me to completely ignore the parts I loved. American Nightmare is in many ways the solution to most of my Alan Wake problems. Far superior combat mechanics, diverse enemy variety, and pseudo-sandbox level design almost, and in some cases, directly answer to the complaints I had about the original game. The cool Groundhog Day narrative shifted the focus to cinema and screen-writing tropes from Alan Wake's literature, a change I appreciated after Alan Wake's two DLC packs that had a tendency to retread the main game's themes. Where Alan Wake had me curious though cautious for a sequel, American Nightmare was a spark that gave me a lot of hope that for Alan Wake 2 Remedy knew exactly where to improve their design.




8. The Walking Dead ; What can I say that hasn't been said a hundred times already? If I were to dissect The Walking Dead under the standards of a 'video game', especially from the adventure genre, the five part season would fall flat on its face. Few puzzles all of which could be finished with your eyes closed. Hardly any way to 'lose'. Minimalist gameplay. And so on. But The Walking Dead aims to excel in none of those areas. All it intends to do is tell a story. A story that involves you, events that demand your attention, and characters you cant help but invest in. And it does all of these things magnificently. Even if the concept of choice is really an illusion, The Walking Dead is not about all your choices coming together in some exciting climax, but your choices being choices at the time. The Walking Dead is not about working towards the end, it's about living in the moment, and it's those moments that prove to be the most heart wrenching and memorable. At the forefront of all of this is the relationship between Lee and Clem, perhaps one of the most authentic and believable in some time, from its awkward beginnings right up to its painful ending.




9. Dear Esther ; Some time ago I described Dear Esther as interactive poetry, and I stand by that. It's not what we've come to know as a 'video game', and there's really not much to it. Instead, Dear Esther aims to combine a poetry of narrated literature with animated, interactive 3D environments. The words you hear are not the only voices speaking to you. The grass gently shaking in the breeze against a full moon sky, and the ocean waves crashing against the rocky shores, are just as important to telling the story. It's a poetic picture book made into an interactive, first person tour of a world waiting to tell its story. Gorgeous graphics and an appropriately moving soundtrack make Dear Esther a complete package.




10. Mass Effect 3 ; No amount of personal bitching and moaning about the most disastrously disappointing ending ever conceived for a video game series, and regression in some areas of game design, can overcome the fact that until the ending rolled in, grievances and all, Mass Effect 3 was an extremely satisfying adventure. I enjoyed the set pieces. I enjoyed the locations. And I thoroughly enjoyed the combat. I enjoyed the relentless callbacks, homages, and cameos from the past two games. I enjoyed the culmination of all Shepard's experiences. It was, ending excluded, the adventurous sci-fi slosh I wanted. But because of the ending it would normally not be on this list. Instead, edging it over, is the multiplayer. Who would have thought that what started as a single player narrative focused science fiction role playing game would be saved by a shoot-em-up multiplayer mode? The assortment of character types, variety of play styles, and abundance of unlockable equipment is bested only by BioWare's post-launch support. To be frank, Mass Effect 3's multiplayer has received some of the best free DLC support content of this generation, and it's a shame more people aren't able to appreciate it. F2P, BioWare/EA. Just do it already.

x. Kid Icarus: Uprising ; Hyperactive, cinematically scripted flight sequences and a fun narrative are the highlights of this surprisingly lengthy portable blockbuster. Obtuse ground stage controls dampen the experience.

x. The Darkness II ; Gorgeous comic book graphics, an interesting narrative, and satisfying run-and-gun shooting make The Darkness II one of the better shooters to come out of 2012. Mixing darkness powers with gunplay worked far better than it had any right to.
 
Riposte (I) enjoy (your) posts (but) you (really) gotta (stop) doing (this).

I say this as a serial abuser myself. Also, did you seriously praise the skits in a Tales game what the eff??????
 
I haven't had a single message mentioning someone else (in fact, most people have had no clue they've made a mistake), so I guess people have been alright with it.
Well I'm only up to page 5 so if you've been doing more recent posters then that would explain it :) I was going to send out a bunch more tonight but it appears you have gotten to them before I have :p
 
This year was strange.

1. Borderlands 2 ; This was a difficult choice because I honestly don't remember much about this game, the reason being I played most of the games released this year in the winter after I got them on sale. But what I do remember is the amount of enjoyment I had playing this game, which no other game this year could top.

2. Forza Horizon ; As a huge fan of the PGR series, I was glad to see Playground Games incorporate a lot of the mechanics that made the series so great. Combined with the perfect soundtrack and a gorgeous environment, Forza Horizon achieved the relaxing feeling of cruising the open roads. A true contender for surprise of the year.

3. The Walking Dead ; The game may be lacking in the, well, "game" department but that doesn't change the fact that it produced some of the most interesting and memorable characters of the year as well as doing an exceedingly good job of incorporating the mechanic that so many other developers fail at -- player choice.

4. Halo 4 ; This game was just another Halo and I wouldn't want it to be anything else. While some may argue that it was "more of the same" while fans of the series argue it was too different (multiplayer), I still felt it was mechanically the best FPS of the year. Halo 4 also had the most well presented story in the entire series, though it could certainly do with a lot more exposition.

5. Diablo III ; I have to admit I didn't play much Diablo II so I don't know where a lot of the backlash is coming from. The loot certainly has its problems and I have no problem admitting that other games may have much better leveling and loot systems. But I haven't really seen anything come close in terms of presentation and production value, and sometimes that makes all the difference.

6. Mass Effect 3 ; I didn't find the ending to be so bad as to ruin the franchise and be worthy of the outrage, but I can't deny the fact that it was still handled incredibly poorly. I thoroughly enjoyed the game up until the ending so I can't deny the game a spot on my list, but it was a very disappointing way to go out for one of my favorite franchises of the generation. I feel like Bioware never fully grasped what made Mass Effect 1 so great.

7. Sleeping Dogs ; Another contender for surprise of the year. A great combat system and voice acting as well as a refreshing setting is able to overcome my gradual boredom of the crime-based sandbox genre.

8. Far Cry 3 ; It's like Skyrim with guns minus the technical problems. Or alternatively Fallout minus the depressing atmosphere and technical problems. Either way it's an excellent title that just hit too many of my pet peeves in order to be truly amazing.

9. Lollipop Chainsaw ; Objectively I can't really say this was a great game. But I enjoy the action genre and even though this game by no means comes close to the quality of the best titles in its genre, it was the only title to satisfy that itch for me this year. The humor is often childish and/or immature but I'd like to think that's done intentionally in order to give it a certain charm that I can't help but smirk at.

10. Assassin's Creed 3 ; This title was actually kind of a disappointment. While I could list all the problems I had with it, ultimately the established mechanics of the franchise are just too good to completely mess up. That and the few good ideas it brought, such as naval combat, are enough to make it worthy of the top 10.

Honorable mention

x. Max Payne 3 ; I felt the story was disappointing and the gameplay was repetitive but the gunplay is still excellent. It was really tough not putting this in the top 10 and I'm really looking forward to the next installment.

2011. Driver: San Francisco


And just for fun...

Worst game of the year - Call of Duty Black Ops 2 ; As someone who actually enjoys the franchise and gets annoyed at the overwhelming hate it gets on the internet, I just couldn't find a way to defend this game. It tries to do something interesting, such has having an emphasis on choice in the campaign; but most of those choices are literally "Should I shoot this guy in the head or somewhere else?" With the budget Call of Duty gets, they definitely have the ability to do something truly remarkable with it. Instead it's just even more jingoist trash that is just plain offensive. If you ever wonder why other countries hate the US, you don't have to look much further than Call of Duty Black Ops 2.

I guess the multiplayer is still good though.
 
Guess I'll do a last minute desperation list. Pretty much ran out of time this year to really make any meaningful comments. I do enjoy reading through other people's lists because I have always found out about games I probably wouldn't have tried otherwise, so thanks to everyone who really puts time into their lists.

Really I feel like I played more games from 2011 than 2012. The only games that have really stood out for me are Borderlands 2 and Forza Horizon. Not saying everything else I played was bad, it just didn't do much for me.

1. Borderlands 2 ; I loved the first one, and I feel like this version was a great refinement of it. I really don't have much more to say about it except for I feel all those refinements on one of my most enjoyed games in the last few years really made it stand out above all the other games released this year.

2. Forza Horizon ; So I completely overlooked this game. I didn't think it was going to be good at all when it was announced. Man I was wrong. The racing is a smooth blend between arcade and simulation, and in a way reminds me of PGR.

3. Dishonored ; As mentioned several times in other people's lists, this new IP was really refreshing. The environment and level design are great, and I love the fact that there always seems to be several different ways for you to complete each objective. My only complaint is that I felt that once you really started to upgrade the magic, the game became way too easy. Well that and the plot twist can be seen coming from the other side of Wrenhaven River.

4. Trials Evolution ; I hate this game. Everyone is better than me. This game deserves mention alone based off the amount of user content that can be created from the tools RedLynx provided.

5. Minecraft 360 Yeah, I'm weird. The first time I played this was in the summer. Didn't really click with me at first, but the updates to the game made it fun to just screw around with friends. I should pick it up for PC… just haven't.

6. NBA 2K13 ; The last sports game (not named NBA Jam) I bought was NBA Live 2003… So a decade away from sports games, and I've very much enjoyed it. I can't see me buying installments year after year though. This game will last me awhile due to the amount of different modes there are.

7. Halo 4 ; Halo has easily been my go-to game for the last decade. I have no idea how many hours I have poured into this series. Halo 4 just didn't do it for me. The campaign was pretty solid, even if the plot and narrative were poor, but I have always gone to Halo first for its multiplayer. The new additions to it (load outs, ordnance drops) really took away what I enjoyed most in Halo's multiplayer and the custom options have just been completely gutted from the last iterations. Its not a bad game by any stretch, but Halo is just not for me anymore.

8. Mass Effect 3 ; Yeah, the ending was bad, and I hated how some of the missions turned out to be nothing more than scanning a system for an object floating in space, but it was still fun. The co-op was also a nice surprise even if I didn't care for the dice roll unlock system.

9. Far Cry 3 ; I'm about half way through right now. It has been fun, but its starting to become repetitive to the point where I don't feel like playing it anymore. Doesn't help that they killed off the one character I actually found interesting as well…

2011. Saints Row The Third ;
 
You know what he meant lol no need to act like that.
It seems he meant to say I have a PlayStation-only top ten. Which is untrue.

Looking at my top ten I do think I need to reorder one or two games around, though. Is it too late for such a thing? EDIT: Moved one title down a few pegs. Hope that's ok, seeing as how the deadline isn't until the end of today.
 
It seems he meant to say I have a PlayStation-only top ten. Which is untrue.

Looking at my top ten I do think I need to reorder one or two games around, though. Is it too late for such a thing? EDIT: Moved one title down a few pegs. Hope that's ok, seeing as how the deadline isn't until the end of today.
It's fine to reorder/edit your picks until the deadline.
 
1. Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward ; Has a new twist around every damn corner. I love how the game constantly feeds you new theories regarding what's actually going on and then blows your mind with final reveal.
 
1. Journey

2. PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale

3. Persona 4: Golden

4. Starhawk

5. Sound Shapes

6. Tales of Graces f

7. The Unfinished Swan

8. Gravity Rush

9. Escape Plan

10.Twisted Metal