As we head into the final days of 2012 Game Rant has begun its look back at the year that was, as well we have been looking forward to 2013 and all the exciting new titles it will bring. But even though our Top 10 has been finalized, there are still those games we would like to recognize for their individual achievements.
This is a chance for the Game Rant to staff to better explain which game was their favorite in 2012, or maybe even to highlight a title that they thought deserves some recognition. Either way it's a chance for each member of Game Rant's team to give some recognition to the game that stood out above the rest to them.
Spec Ops: The Line: Though perhaps not the best shooter on the market, Spec Ops: The Line is still a game worth playing. The narrative is carefully woven, with hidden secrets spread throughout. Telling a story about the darkness of war, The Line treads far from what gamers are used to. It’s dark, it’s gritty, it’s thought provoking — Spec Ops: The Line is my game of the year.
Honorable Mention: Binary Domain, Hyperdimension Neptunia Mk. 2
Jeff Schille - The Last Story
Though it takes inspiration from such unexpected sources as third-person shooters, Hironobu Sakaguchi's The Last Story is a classic, wonderful JRPG. It's short but unhurried, and new mechanics are introduced right up to the end. A refined, assured game, made by seasoned veterans with nothing to prove, The Last Story is one of the year's very best.
Honorable Mentions: Forza Horizon, Journey
Andrew Dyce - XCOM: Enemy Unknown
Telling a story is one thing; building a game system that lets you create one without realizing it - that's an accomplishment. And that's exactly what Firaxis created with XCOM: Enemy Unknown. Character customization, genuinely randomized combat encounters and destructible level design, and a presentation and art style that knew exactly what it wanted to be kept me addicted, invested, and dreaming of the next mission when not playing. Every moment was new, and gameplay I didn't realize I needed so badly.
Honorable Mentions: The Walking Dead, Mass Effect 3
Ben Kendrick - Mass Effect 3
Commander Shepard's Mass Effect legacy hit a major snag with the initial launch of Mass Effect 3 - as many longtime fans were underwhelmed by BioWare's attempt at high-pressure closure. Still, Mass Effect 3 was a massive and entertaining game: continuing long-running story threads, bringing back previously abandoned RPG elements, and maintaining the exciting action gameplay established in the second installment (not to mention the addition of a surprisingly addictive multiplayer mode). The "Extended Cut" might not have wiped away every frustration, but that doesn't mean that Mass Effect 3 wasn't something very special. Few other series have allowed players this much control over a character and the larger game universe. Whether or not all of those threads paid-off in the end, it was still one of the most interesting and rewarding game experiences in the history of the medium - punctuated by a strong final entry.
Honorable Mentions: The Walking Dead: The Game, Halo 4
Brian Sipple - XCOM: Enemy Unknown
Timeless. In an age where most video games are so ephemeral, replaced, in a year or two, by their franchise's next sequel or their publisher's next blockbuster, there's not a better word for me that defines XCOM: Enemy Unknown. Here was a game, built around the legacy and ethos of a 1990s franchise, that not only attempted to seduce a hardcore PC following and a new legion of console gamers but tried to do so while juggling a plethora of deeply engaging, intricately immersive RTS concepts. And boy did it succeed. I fell in love with XCOM’s pulse-pounding combat, elaborate level design, seamless control, and endlessly demanding decision making. The bond I forged with my team was real — it felt real, that is — and the elating thrill of victory was evened by the inevitable agony of defeat... of death. There may not be another game like XCOM in this generation; it certainly gets my vote for Game of the Year.
Honorable Mentions: Far Cry 3, Halo 4
Riley Little - Far Cry 3
Ubisoft's Far Cry 3 has managed, not only to live up to my expectations, but surpass them. After various amounts of hands-on time at several different media events, I was satisfied by the game's online and co-op modes, but it wasn't until I began exploring the insanity-plagued single-player campaign that I realized what Far Cry 3 was. It's a fantastic open world that acts as a blank canvas for all kinds of misadventures — all of which occur outside of an already engaging story. Add in a decent multiplayer offering and a unique cooperative campaign, and gamers have a serious contender for game of the year.
Honorable Mentions: Halo 4, Kid Icarus: Uprising
Anthony Taormina - Dishonored
With so much of the focus in this late console cycle being trained on sequels, the fact that Arkane Studios was willing to put forth an ambitious new IP like Dishonored and stick the landing is nothing short of amazing. Yes, the game has its faults — it's quite linear when you get down to it — but it presented me with a fantastically well-realized steampunk/Victorian setting and some truly unique gameplay.
Honorable Mentions: LEGO Batman 2, Mark of the Ninja
Jason Weissman - XCOM: Enemy Unknown
After being wowed at PAX East, I knew XCOM: EU would be one to watch for 2012 and it certainly lived up to my expectations. This game serves as the perfect example of what a modern take on a retro game should be. Every time I played it, I would tell myself, "just one more mission," and then engage in several more hours of alien combat. Sure, there were other games with better narratives or shinier graphics, but none matched XCOM's addictive gameplay.
Honorable Mentions: Mass Effect 3, The Walking Dead
Rob Keyes - Far Cry 3
After logging in countless hours with Battlefield 3's DLC expansions throughout the year and playing plenty of Halo 4 and Black Ops 2, the one that kept me engaged from beginning and end, and even had me restart the game on PC, was Far Cry 3. It's simply the best single-player shooter we've seen in years. The beautiful and detailed open world island is one thing, the incredibly realized and animated first-person gameplay is another. There's even co-op and competitive multiplayer as a bonus.
Honorable Mentions: Mass Effect 3, Max Payne 3
Individual Game of the Year
With quite a few of our staff picking XCOM: Enemy Unknown as their personal favorite for 2012 it should come as no surprise that Firaxis' reboot took the top honors in our overall top 10 as well. However, there was also an overwhelming amount of enthusiasm rallied around Mass Effect 3, which many found enjoyable despite a poor resolution. 2012 had its fair share of unexpected surprises, massive disappointments, and rousing successes; and we're hopeful that 2013 can deliver in much the same way.
What was your favorite game of 2012? What was your least favorite?
Also make sure to check out Game Rant's other end of the year features including: