Game Rant’s Top 10 Games of 2012

Published 2 years ago by

Top 10 Games of 2012

Best Games of 2012 With the next generation of consoles looming in the horizon, 2012-2013 were assumed by many to be years loaded with games that wouldn't exceed our expectations. However, in place of an overwhelming swarm of sequels (there were still more than a few of those), this year saw some unexpected titles arise to capture our attention. Some subverted the title of game, while others took us to new and exciting worlds. Needless to say, for a year that could have easily been a disappointment -- with many hot titles moved into 2013 -- there was still plenty to enjoy. So without further ado, here is Game Rant's list of the Top 10 Games of 2012.

10. Assassin's Creed 3

Top Games 2012 - Assassins Creed 3What we said: "Ubisoft may not have topped all their previous efforts with Assassin’s Creed 3, but they have succeeded in delivering the best-looking, most fully-featured overall world to date. The story may sour some longtime fans, but the effort and ambition that the studio has shown from a technical standpoint may show enough promise for what’s to come to keep players invested." Why you should play it: Assassin's Creed 3 might have failed to hit the mark on all fronts, but Ubisoft did deliver a beautifully realized Colonial America, which in and of itself makes the game worth playing. Connor Kenway is no Ezio, but he's a character that if handled properly could sustain at least another game in the franchise. But the bigger draw of AC3 was a more robust offering for Desmond Miles and the promise of a definitive end to his story. It's debatable whether Ubisoft delivered on their promises, but we would be remiss if we didn't say we were intrigued by what might be next. Available on: PC, PS3, Xbox 360

9. Max Payne 3

Top 5 Games of 2012 So Far - Max Payne 3 What we said: "A lot has been made of the developer’s strides to incorporate the fluidity, control, and weight of an FPS into Max Payne 3’s third-person formula; with Bullet Time at its best, a rock-solid targeting system, and gorgeous physics, it possesses a killer finesse that any top-tier shooter can aspire to. It’s a well-oiled, hardboiled shooter that gamers of all interests (though certainly not all ages) should enjoy." Why you should play it: It's been a long time coming for Max Payne and, while he has taken on many of the mechanics of the current generation of shooters, he's still as gritty and tough-as-nails as ever. Many of the features that Payne's first outing introduced, like the iconic bullet-time sequences, have been copied ad nauseum, but re-experiencing them in this new context feels fresh and exciting. There was a reason Rockstar wanted to keep the franchise going, and they more than proved it with this game. Available on: PC, PS3, Xbox 360

8. Borderlands 2

Top 10 Games - Borderlands 2 What we said: "If you loved your time in Pandora the first time around, you’ll absolutely love Borderlands 2. It’s more of the same with enough changes to offer something new and special. We recommend you play with friends, as that much time alone in Pandora may not be as rewarding (we’re not just talking the obvious social implications but the game itself) since it raises the challenge level and quality of loot depending on how many players are partied up." Why you should play it: More of the same isn't always a bad thing, especially when its a unique combination of RPG, FPS, and dungeon-crawling lootfest like Borderlands 2. If the game hadn't been plagued by so many problems out of the gate, we might have placed it higher. But nevertheless we're happy that Gearbox Software didn't lose the magic, and has already begun releasing a healthy selection of DLC. Available on: Mac, PC, PS3, Xbox 360

7. Dishonored

Top Games 2012 - Dishonored What we said: "Outliers aside, Dishonored should be counted among this year’s must-play games if for no other reason than its existence as an original IP that delivers on its promise of a varied experience. Yes, the game borrows heavily from games like BioShock, Half-Life, and Deus Ex but it iterates on those games’ ideas enough that it doesn’t feel like a retread or rehash of played out concepts." Why you should play it: Endlessly replayable and smartly designed, Dishonored is that rare game that feels familiar but is its own entity. It's a game that offers many different ways to play -- stealthy, aggressive, or some combination thereof -- and presents a decent selection of cool powers and gadgets to fool around with. Arkane Studios has crafted a unique sandbox that may show its borders more than most games, but is well worth checking out for its uniqueness. Available on: PC, PS3, Xbox 360

6. Journey

Top Games 2012 - Journey What we said: "Journey is an uplifting, ultimately joyous exploration of what games can accomplish and convey. It is a celebration of the medium and its myriad possibilities, and a gift of great and singular beauty to players – all players." Why you should play it: Besides being a steal at $15 and a breeze to zip through, Journey provides players with a unique experience whether they are going it alone, or travelling with a mysterious companion. Thatgamecompany's unique visuals alone are enough to recommend it, but the way in which the game kept us engaged from beginning to end was simply mesmerizing. If ever there was a case to be made for games as art — a claim critic Roger Ebert loves to refute — this is it. Available on: PSN

5. Mass Effect 3

Top Games 2012 - Mass Effect 3 What we said: "Despite a disappointing final act which doesn’t let players truly make game-changing decisions, Mass Effect 3 does mostly round out the Reaper and Illusive Man storylines, at the same time solidifying the Mass Effect series as the ultimate sci-fi gaming experience. Looking back on what brought us to that point is a powerful realization in and of itself." Why you should play it: Beyond the controversial ending, some abandoned story threads and the subsequent Extended Cut DLC release, Mass Effect 3 is a phenomenal game. From the combination of gunplay and biotic powers to the moving cut scenes, very few games pack as much content as a BioWare title, and this was a case of that development team firing on all cylinders. Had that ending delivered this game would be #1, but that soured many fans' moods. However, the fact that fans were so disappointed by the ending only further proves how important this trilogy-ender was, and why even onlookers would be wise to play it themselves. Available on: Xbox 360, PS3, Wii U, and PC.

4. Halo 4

Top Games 2012 - Halo 4 What we said: "Halo 4 is the game that fans were hoping it would be. It’s the best looking installment in the illustrious franchise yet, but the thing that makes this title so appealing is the seemingly endless amount of content that it comes packed with. There’s no denying the immense replay value that Master Chief’s latest outing has, and as a result many 360 owners will be playing it well into 2013." Why you should play it: Halo 4 might just be the most complete game. It boasts a memorable single-player campaign (featuring the return of Master Chief) that supports co-op, an additional constantly evolving cooperative experience (Spartan Ops), and a unique (and improved) take on that classic multiplayer. 343 Industries had a massive undertaking in front of them, and they rose to the occasion not just by stepping out from under Bungie's shadow but setting up another exciting trilogy. Available on: Xbox 360.

3. Far Cry 3

Top Games 2012 - Far Cry 3 What we said: "Far Cry 3 is a near-perfect example of what shooters are capable of on the current-gen platforms. There are a solid 30 hours of single-player fun in this game that redefine the franchise and raise the bar of what players should expect from shooters and open-world games. The co-op and competitive multiplayer modes, let alone the map editor, are added bonuses for what’s easily one of the best games of the year." Why you should play it: The easiest way to describe Far Cry 3 is to say it's Skyrim with guns. The sheer amount of tasks the game presents the player is dizzying enough -- from hunting, to crafting, to outpost looting -- but on top of that is a beautiful looking game that works on many levels. It's just so much fun to play --  regardless of what the player is doing -- that it doesn't matter the story fails to come together in a completely satisfying way. And Vaas is one of the best villains of this generation. Available on: PC, PS3, Xbox 360

2. The Walking Dead

Top 10 Games 2012 - The Walking Dead What we said: "The Walking Dead set out to prove that moral choices and character development could deliver an amazing experience, and TellTale Games has combined these elements for a solid blend of narrative and quick-time action. The entire series is an excellent playthrough from start to finish, and although the season finale isn’t as conclusive as some might like, it rang true to Kirkman’s Walking Dead and should ultimately be pleasing to fans." Why you should play it: A lot of games offer the illusion of choice but few deliver the way that The Walking Dead does. Sure, the game is ultimately guiding the player to one of only a few end results, but the feeling at the time is that every player's experience is their own. Spectacular writing and voice acting, combined with some crippling decisions, make for an interactive experience that is extremely unique. Available on: iOS, Mac, PC, Mac, PS3, Xbox 360

1. XCOM: Enemy Unknown

Top Games 2012 - XCOM What we said: "XCOM: Enemy Unknown presents players with a phenomenally entertaining and challenging experience from start to finish. The ultimate end product is a highly strategic combat game with consequences that will leave players on the edge of their seats for most battles, whilst actively proving to the world that turn-based games still have a rightful place in modern gaming itself." Why you should play it: At the end of the day XCOM is just so much fun to play, and that's why it is our top game of 2012. Endlessly addictive and extremely challenging, there's nothing quite like Firaxis' product out there. Throw in the chance to hop online and test your mettle and the game becomes an entirely different, but still excellent, experience. There is nothing quite like XCOM out there. We'd tell you more about why it's great, but we're itching to get back and play more. Available on: PC, PS3, Xbox 360

Top 10 Games of 2012

Best Games of 2012 There you have it, Game Rant's Top 10 of 2012. While some games that we expected to make our list before the beginning of 2012 did, others fell well short of expectations. Of course it wasn't an easy decision, and there were even some titles that barely missed the list including: Forza Horizon, Darksiders 2, and Spec Ops: The Line. It was a good year for games, and an especially great year for new IPs and downloadable titles. Now we look ahead to 2013 and all the triple-A titles that are set to hit even before the first half of the year -- games like Grand Theft Auto 5, BioShock Infinite, and The Last of Us. Looking at the game releases alone it looks to be another banner year. Follow me on Twitter @ANTaormina.