Its the end of the year folks. This can only mean one thing, its time for everyone — including myself — to award one very special game with the title, “Game of the year”.
2012 has been one of the best years for our industry — arguably the best. But instead of me blabbering on about it, let the five best games of the year do the talking.
5. The Walking Dead – Telltale Games
Don’t get all mad because its not my number one game. Please let me explain: While the Walking Dead is an amazing experience with a cast of colorful characters, it isn’t the best game out there. Its a narrative that we loosely get to control through choices. I have always seen The Walking Dead more as an interactive comic than a video game. When there were puzzles, they weren’t that challenging leaving conversations the only real mechanic of the title. The story was amazing, but there wasn’t enough challenge for me.
Telltale games has shown that the episodic model can work, however what they did best was to allow players to question morality. For example: What comes first, survival or morals? They also proved that you don’t need a massive staff and a large budget to create an amazing property.
The Walking Dead also wasn’t the most stable title this year. Personally I had many visual hiccups on my Xbox 360, and Episode 4 also decided to delete all of my achievements from the previous episodes. There have been many occurrences on the PC version erasing players saves, or just completely crashing.
Considering that The Walking Dead is more of an interactive comic and with all of the bugs it isn’t the best 2012 has to offer.
4. Far Cry 3 – Ubisoft Montreal
People are saying that Far Cry 3 is Skyrim with guns. But to be honest Far Cry 3 is more like Skyrim with guns and without load screens. Despite being the last major release of the year, this title allows you to indulge the hidden monster inside your psyche. The developers managed to implement a stealth system that actually works. The single player story took me about 20 hours to complete. I can’t remember the last time I played a first person shooter that took me that long to finish. It was probably Far Cry 2.
What truly stands out with Far Cry 3 is that you can have more fun while free-roaming than you do with the story missions. In this regard it is much like Skyrim. There are many enemy outposts scattered all over the island, and it is up to you on how to over-take them. You can use pure stealth and sneak up behind every enemy for a takedown. Or you can disable the alarms and unleash hell, or you can lure tigers and bears to the outpost and let them do the work for you. Rook Island is truly a playground, and its addicting.
One thing that bothers me is the skill tree. Mostly because the trees are mixed with skills you will need and others you really don’t have a use for. Let me explain: skill trees only matter when you can concentrate on one tree at a time. Far Cry 3, however, allows you to use all three at the same time. They may as well have just used a more basic level system where every level you get a new ability. But this is only a minor flaw in an overall great game.
3. Mass Effect 3 – Bioware
I really don’t care what you think about the ending, but Mass Effect 3 was one of the best games I have ever played. What makes this game so special is how Bioware turned the entire game into an actual ending. During Shepard’s third adventure he ties up loose ends from the previous installments, and says goodbye to friends and allies. Shepard’s final odyssey is his best.
Bioware once again streamlined the combat making Mass Effect 3 more of a third person-cover-shooter instead of an RPG. The “RPG” mechanics are really nothing more than a simple way to give more combat abilities to the player. Another addition were the weapons. Instead of having a small amount like in Mass Effect 2, Biowaresupplied dozens of weapons all of which had numerous upgrades.
Then there is the multiplayer. It was surprisingly great, and addicting. I found myself going back and playing the multiplayer months after I had beaten the story. While the multiplayer is nothing more than a varied horde mode, it is the constant search for more powerful weapons and the thrill of successful team work that make this mode so fun. Bioware also supported the multiplayer with many free DLC packages that adds new weapons, characters, power-ups and maps.
Mass Effect deserves to be called one of the best games of the generation, but also the best trilogy in video game history.