It was a good year for games. No, scratch that it was a superlative year for games. The year 2012 saw the launch of the Wii U, the eventual release of Diablo III and a follow-up to Microsoft’s flagship gaming series, Halo. We also got dozens of games that will go down in history as “best-of-breed”. The games of 2012 we loved the most are therefore, presented below:
Let’s begin with the decade’s most anticipated game. Diablo III wasn’t a revolution in any sense, but it is a fantastic RPG that goes a step beyond standard refinement. With drop-in, drop out multiplayer, unfussy gameplay and lush graphics, Diablo III just makes sense. It’s also endlessly repayable. Sure, the story made no sense and having to remain constantly online, even for the single player component, is a bother but Diablo III cuts no corners. It takes no prisoners and presents a multiplayer experience unlike anything available on PC today. In other words, it’s both silky-smooth and accessible, and most likely the best PC game of 2012.
Call of Duty: Black Ops II
Forget the hype. Delete the marketing and concentrate on the game, because Black Ops II is not only the best sequel in Call of Duty’s history, but one of the best shooters of all time, period. It’s hard to pin down exactly what makes Call of Duty: Black Ops II so endlessly enjoyable. Okay it is easy to pin down: The single player is varied and inventive, Zombie mode is unique and addictive and the online multiplayer is digital heroin. This is a game for the long-haul, a bloody, adult adventure with graphics to bleed the eye.
This hilarious game, which is made infinitely better with friends, is a complete and utter refinement of the original. From the writing to the graphics and random quests, Borderlands II pokes cannon ball-sized holes in established gaming norms. Nothing is taken seriously, from the loopy plot the orgasm of guns, Borderlands II knows how to have fun. There’s nothing quite like it, an open-world shooter that defies you not to smile. If there is any game that will turn a non-fan into a frothing shooter nut, Borderlands II is it.
How does EA keep cracking out the hits? FIFA 13 took the game “to another level” to coin a disgustingly overused phrase. Player movement is more realistic, first-touch is now based on skill level, crossing balls is no longer predetermined, set pieces are customised but sadly the AI defense is now terrible. It’s terrific fun, endlessly repayable, places heavy emphasis on the increasingly popular tiki-taka style of football and is pretty much the complete football experience. Just buy it.
An epic quest, a meaty multiplayer experience and a fantastic chunk of two-player episodic content, Halo 4 is certainly the zenith of Xbox shooters. From the moment you escape from four years of cryogenic storage, the graphics plus sound massage ears and eyes until nirvana beckons. “How the heck is my Xbox doing this?” fans will think. What we know is that Halo 4 is a must buy, a definitive beginning to a new adventure in the Halo universe. Also, no more Flood. That alone rockets Halo 4 to best-of-breed status.
Assassins Creed III
Capping off a trilogy is never easy. Take Halo 3 for instance, it stumbled where it should have soared. Assassins Creed III is a fitting end to a very storied trilogy, and the busiest title in the series. Skinning animals, hunting down foes, gambling, raising livestock, unraveling millennia-old mysteries and becoming part and parcel of the 1700s is what Assassins Creed III is about. Plus, where else can you play a character called Ratonhnhaké:ton? Sneaking, killing, being a bad-ass, this is the world of Assassins Creed III.
It’s difficult to quantify what makes Dishonored our choice for possible game of the year. Perhaps it’s freedom of choice, maybe it’s being able to tackle a level in any way you choose? It could also be the joy experienced when warping into a persons face, and stabbing a foot-long blade into their eye. Dishonored is that type of game. A spiritual successor to Thief and Bioshock, Dishonored cuts no corners and bravely stamps itself into the history books by presenting a beautiful world beset by spectacular evil. The protagonist, Corvo, is your cipher. A murderous tool that you remain in complete control with. Dishonored is the poster child for gaming in 2012, and a game you must own.
Xcom: Enemy Unknown
Remember Xcom from the nineties? Xcom: Enemy Unknown is more of the same, polished into a sheen that only the Xbox, PC and PS3 can deliver. Imagine playing with the same squad members from start to finish. Ponder the fact that one wrong move can actually deliver the dreaded “game over” screen. Xcom is not about choice, but instead taps directly into a part of the gamers brain that hasn’t been used in years: true strategic involvement. Your alien foe is stronger, yes. But you are smarter, your resources are the earth and heavens itself and Xcom demands it all. Think first, kill later.
Need for Speed: Most Wanted
Well done indeed to Criterion, creators of the superb Burnout series, for adding its magic touch to the stagnant Need for Speed series. Most Wanted is a treat, an open-world racing game without borders. Race, crash, dodge and rip tarmac as four-wheeled beasts thunder through the city. Outside of the stunning graphics and excellent audio, Most Wanted has one of the most complete and seamless online complements this side of Dark Souls. Racing against humans or AI is one and the same, and it’s always a blast to play.
Far Cry 3
Welcome to the jungle. Topping Far Cry 2 was always going to be a difficult task yet Ubisoft delivers with Far Cry 3, the Grand Theft Auto of shooters. We love watching tigers and bears randomly attack island militia. We adore it when we hang-glide over an enemy base only to drop a hand-grenade into their supplies and we squeal in delight as we punched a shark in the mouth to make our wallets hold more cash. Far Cry 3 is more than the open-world adventure though. It’s also a thoughtful tale of madness, self-discovery and harrowing redemption. It’s also the last, best game of 2012.