The high-horse audit: Top 5 games of 2012 (so far)

Time is money. This old adage has meant more to me this year than it ever has. A new job, a longer commute, and a growing family means that time for gaming is becoming scarce and all the more precious. It's not like I regret any of the choices that I've made, but the sad fact of the matter is that I'll never have all the time to do/play everything that I want to (let alone write about these ventures in great detail). What all of this ultimately means is that writing a list of the best games I've played in a calendar year becomes a little easier, as the amount of games I've played is somewhat diminished. 

Build roller coasters inside Half-Life 2’s Garry’s Mod

One of my favorite PC games was RollerCoaster Tycoon. I can't stand actually going on thrill rides, but I get a bizarre amount of enjoyment out of building them. Sadly, it's been a long time since we got a new game in the series. Well, maybe this is the next best thing: an add-on for Half-Life 2's Garry's Mod that lets you build and ride roller coasters in first person.

High Metacritic scores are an Irrational job requirement

One of the more honestly depressing articles that I've ever written was regarding the fact that developer Obsidian lost a bonus for getting a review score of 84 when they needed an 85 for the average Metacritic score on Fallout: New Vegas. Well, apparently when Irrational Games looked at that kind of setup, they decided, "Hey, that sounds like something we should really have as a job requirement."

Leaderboards are worthless

Hey, I’m a fairly competitive guy. And when I cranked up the new psychedelic not-a-shooter Dyad, I only wanted something closer to the last 20 minutes of 2001: A Space Odyssey than the first 20 minutes of the famously awful Space Giraffe. Instead, I got rapid-fire positive reinforcement: my rankings on the Dyad leaderboards.

Customization gives players a voice in their games

Characters in video games have taken on stronger and more customizable roles as players have grown up over the years. For example, Commander Shepard from the Mass Effect series has had to deal with universe-altering decisions (which players must make) that cater to morality and rationalism alike. This has, of course, contributed to the further development of game protagonists who are in positions of great authority — enabling them to have free reign over the fate of worlds and people.