I'm in my 20s, I'm married, and I've been playing games since I was 4. I still remember buying my own NES system at Sears and going home and playing Mario/Duck Hunt. Fast forward to the present, my wife and I now own a PS3, 360, Wii, and Wii U.
As far as contemporary systems go, I also own an iPhone 4 (which I game on very heavily - check out HookChamp), a 3DS XL, the Kinect, the PS Move, a PSP-2000, and a Playstation Vita. If I had to choose a system I had the "best times" with, it would be a two way tie between the Sega Dreamcast and Sony Playstation 2. My favorite game series is Mega Man Classic, but I own every Metal Gear, Devil May Cry, Zelda, Kingdom Hearts, Wario, Tony Hawk, main series Final Fantasy, and Resident Evil game ever released in the US (and a lot more), so it's a close call!
There are too many good games out to count now, but I'm always itching to play my backlog of old PS2 action titles. I'll play anything and everything action-adventure, so if you have a game in mind, drop me a line! I have strong opinions regarding the financial decisions of many publishers, but at the end of the day, I'm willing to give anything a chance; especially if it comes recommended by a community member.
Oh; and in 2012 I started contributing to Destructoid.
Resident Evil 5
Fallout: New Vegas
Dragon Age: Origins
Skies of Arcadia
Lunar 1 and 2
World of Warcraft: All Expansions
Super Mario Galaxy 2
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3
Devil May Cry 3
Phantasy Star Online
Ape Escape 1
Rockman and Forte (Megaman and Bass)
Jet Set Radio Future
Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch
Donkey Kong Country
Final Fantasy Tactics
Dark Souls II
Deception IV: Blood Ties
Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes
South Park: The Stick of Truth
Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy
The Wolf Among Us
Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
Super Mario 3D World
Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon
Dead Rising 3
The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD
Pokemon X & Y
Super Mario 3D World
Grand Theft Auto V
Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon
Persona 4 Golden
Tomb Raider (2013)
Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon
Brave Fencer Musashi
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
Far Cry 3
Assassin's Creed III
Retro City Rampage
Guild Wars 2
Binding of Isaac
Kingdoms Of Amalur: Reckoning
Zone of the Enders 2
Kid Icarus: Uprising
Batman: Arkham City
Kingdom Hearts II
Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance
Dust: An Elysian Tail
Tomb Raider II
Metal Gear Solid 4
Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood
Zombies At My Neighbors
Super Bomberman 2
Mass Effect 2
Mass Effect 3
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2
Tony Hawk's Underground 2
Assassin's Creed II
The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Ninja Gaiden Black (Xbox)
Power Stone 2
No More Heroes 2
Secret of Mana
Final Fantasy IV
Final Fantasy X
Super Mario RPG
Super Mario 64
Super Mario World
Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island
Super Mario Galaxy
Super Mario 3D Land
Mega Man 8
The Lost Vikings
Bujingai: The Forsaken City
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy Kong's Quest
Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence
Call of Duty: World at War
Call of Duty: Black Ops
Half Minute Hero
Kirby Super Star
Super Meat Boy
Jamestown: Legend of the Lost Colony
Shantae: Risky's Revenge
Mighty Flip Champs
Child of Eden
Kirby's Dream Course
Shadows of the Damned
Knights of the Old Republic (KOTOR)
I try to make a lot of time to play videogames. This year, I've played around 270 new games. That's new in 2013, as in, newly released this year, and doesn't include replays or retro titles. So as you can imagine, I had a lot to sift through until I could come up with a true "top 10," and this is the result.
I can't really pinpoint my favorite aspect of the game, but the mere fact that tons of my former Pokemon friends from ages ago have come out of the woodwork to play X & Y speaks volumes about it. That's what Pokemon has always been about -- playing with friends -- and I can do that here more than ever before.
9. The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD
An HD remake of one of my favorite Zelda games ever made? It would take a lot to screw this up, and thankfully, Nintendo handled the restoration with grace. It's pretty much the exact same game as before, but with a few welcome tweaks to my last favorite part of the story (the Triforce Shard Hunt), and best of all -- GamePad map support.
Truly, I can't go back to any other version of the game after seeing how convenient an off-screen map is. I replay Wind Waker ever year generally, and now, the Wii U edition is my definitive version.
8. Tomb Raider
This is probably the most surprising title of the year for me. For many of these games, I had an idea of how they would go, but I fully expected to dislike Tomb Raider based on the generic trailers and information we had before release. I went in thinking it would be a poor Uncharted game, and it ended up being my second favorite Uncharted (behind 2).
The world is incredibly fun to play in, the visuals and gunplay are great, and I loved the brutality and ever present sense of danger. If this is the new Lara, I can't wait to see where she ends up.
I'm a pretty big Dead Rising fan, but the first two base games lacked a bit of universal appeal due to a strict save system and other limitations. Dead Rising 3 eschews that in favor of a more streamlined experience, and best of all, you can just switch to Nightmare Mode if you want that hardcore feel. It's a win-win.
For once, I actually felt like I had to survive in a zombie game, given the power of the Xbox One and the sheer number of zombies it could render on-screen. It was glorious, and I'm eagerly waiting more titles from other developers that take advantage of massive amounts of in-game models.
I was excited for this the moment the words "Vanillaware" and "dungeon crawler" were uttered in the same sentence. I'm a massive fan of the studio, and I feel like they never really get the credit that they deserve. But with Dragon's Crown I feel like they really have crossed that plateau, and Atlus has done a great job at supporting the game post-launch.
It's still going strong with content, and considering the fact that it features deep combat and an expansive multiplayer component, this is an easy recommendation for any action fan.
5. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
As a massive Metal Gearand Platinum supporter, I knew I was going to pick this up on day one. Thankfully, I wasn't disappointed, due to the deep combat system and amazing replay value of Revengeance. The first week of release I beat the game seven times, and loved every second of it. There's so much to unlock, so much to discover, and the cheese factor is glorious.
At this point, I'm almost as interested in this sub-series involving Raiden as I am in the core franchise -- specifically, I would really love to see a Revengeance 2 on the Xbox One and PS4.
When you say the word Metroidvania, you pretty much "have me at hello." Guacamelee was an amazing showing for Drinkbox Studios, who perfectly captured the essence of the sub-genre, and mixed in their own signature charm to boot.
It helps that the game is filled with tons of funny references, secrets, and sports a fully featured co-op mode. Cross-Buy for the PS3 and Vita is the icing on the cake, and I heartily recommend it to any platforming fan out there -- given the price, it's one of the easiest impulse buys of 2013.
3. Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch
"Wow," is probably the best way I can describe Ni No Kuni. It's pretty much everything I could want out of a JRPG, and brought me back to an era where it's basically all I played. The elements of Pokemon basically took it over the top for me, and I completed every single sidequest and post game activity in the game.
I do own the DS version, and although it's wonderful, I think the White Witch storyline that's exclusive to the PS3 game adds a ton to my enjoyment.
2. Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon
This game kind of came out of nowhere and I loved it. It was perfectly priced, perfectly paced, and the world was scaled just right. There's hardly a dull moment in Blood Dragon's story, but the true enjoyment I got out of the game was wandering around the meticulously crafted wasteland and blasting the ever living crap out of everything -- oh yeah, and that's to a perfectly scored 80s/90s action movie soundtrack.
With a very simple level-up system, accessible hunting sidequests, and a base capture mechanic, it's so easy to just roam around in Blood Dragon and have fun. I'd love to see more games just like this.
As you could probably tell from my review, I adored Super Mario 3D World. Initially, I pegged it as my second favorite 3D Mario after Galaxy 2, but after playing multiplayer with my friend, I've come to love it more and more. At first glance it looked like a mere continuation of 3D Land in HD, but it's so much more than that.
Power-ups like the multiplying cherry and the cat suit change things up considerably, and allow for a certain amount of technical depth that I rarely feel from a Mario game. Add in some solid level design and you have a winner -- a Game of the Year winner.
I'll keep this brief. Destructoid has had a few losses lately. Tony and Jim in particular are dear friends of mine (who I will follow across the ends of the internet), and it's sad to see them go. But make no mistake! They did leave on good terms, and they will always be a part of Dtoid. I still talk to them quite frequently, and there are no hard feelings involved, so don't think otherwise!
There will be some changes to Destructoid as well in light of the staff shifting, and all of them will be amazing. For starters, I am now heading up the reviews program (I can't say much at all right now, but an announcement is coming Monday)! I've been writing reviews for around five years now, and I've learned a lot from Jim in particular, so I'm very eager to get started -- expect a ton of big reviews on Monday (including Burial at Sea, which I've just completed). There will be some changes coming to the review system in the future, so stay tuned.
In the meantime, you're going to see a lot more high profile reviews from me, and a lot more opinion pieces 100% about videogames, Chad Concelmo style. I'm on pace to play around 200+ games this year with no plans to let up in 2014, so expect a lot. In the past it was tough to juggle a number of other life events in addition to my duties at Destructoid, but now, I'm all in.
Here's the bottom line: I'm here for you guys, and I wouldn't be here if it still didn't feel like home. As I've said before, I came from the very bottom of the Destructoid food chain. I started off as a commenter, became the unofficial c-blog sheriff, got promoted to the front page a few times, was brought on as a trial period contributor, eventually was promoted to Associate Editor, and now, I'm ready to lead Destructoid into a new era of greatness.
As a side note, it's important to squash any rumors that are out there as to who is running the joint. Niero did not quit Destructoid. He has simply given control of the site over to Hamza, who is now the CEO, in favor of developing the infrastructure of Modern Method, and by proxy, Destructoid. Along with Dale he has some really interesting things planned, and I hope to contribute to that plan.
So this one is going to be pretty short, but I just had to share it with you guys.
After working like crazy at PAX East this weekend, getting my hands on every game I could, I came back to an AMAZING surprise -- my wife and mother-in-law completely gutted and redecorated my gaming closet!
For reference, this medium sized closet had a ton of shelves on the wall (where Mega Man is battling Bomb Man) which were all removed, and replaced with bookshelves. My wife knows that I like to categorize all of my major franchises, so she made sure to buy ones that had lots of different sections on them.
As you can see, Ni No Kuni and Demon's/Dark Souls have already found new homes. There's still a few more finishing touches to do, as most of the other Robot Masters from Mega Man 1 still need to go up (and I've only moved around a third of my collection into this room), but man am I happy right now!
[Read on for a description of every Splinter Cell game ever released in the US, and my completion of them all in 2013.]
2013 is going to be an exciting year. Now that I know you guys enjoy reading my Quests, I'm going to make an effort to do even more of them from here on out.
I hope that you guys have learned a bit about the franchises I've covered so far, as my plan is to inspire others to share their thoughts and feelings with the series of their choice as well (which many of you have done!).
I was always intrigued by the Splinter cell series. Michael Ironside's incredible performance over the span of the entire franchise helped, but for the most part, it's the top notch gameplay and cutting edge aesthetics that put me over the edge.
My love of stealth games is incredibly obvious, having played every Tenchu and Metal Gear game ever (among many more), and Splinter Cell can easily be lumped into that group of quality stealth titles. Plus, with Blacklist coming out this year, now is as good a time as ever to take on Sam Fisher.
If you haven't joined me on my Quests before, the way they work is pretty simple. It's kind of like a retrospective, but rather than just give you an overview of a franchise, I'll generally let you know what I thought of the game when it was released, and what I think of it now.
If I didn't provide a complete vision of what the game is like before I replay it, I'll provide an "extended thoughts" section below each applicable entry. I'll update my progress in real time through my blog, and after I finish the entire Quest, I'll share it with you guys on the front page.
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell - PlayStation 2 [Owned], PlayStation 3 (Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Classic Trilogy HD), PC, Xbox, GameCube, Game Boy Advance [Owned], Mac OSX, N-Gage
The original Splinter Cell was a pretty unassuming release. I was a big fan of Tom Clancy properties beforehand (Rainbow Six), so the "TC" name kind of piqued my interest a bit, admittedly, whereas I probably would have given the initial release a pass. But after diving in, I was hooked.
Like the Thief series, Splinter Cell brought "light and dark" elements to the forefront. With the insanely detailed lighting physics compliments of the Unreal Engine 2, it made gameplay that much more immersive, and there's nothing more badass than a stealth-fiend who lives in the shadows.
Protagonist Sam Fisher's signature tri-eyed goggles were also incredibly cool, and helped catapult the game ahead as more than just a "generic spy thriller" aesthetic.
Like the early Resident Evil series, combat is not encouraged, and the lack of firearm utilization is the key to success. Non-lethal weapons such as ring airfoils and shockers were a large part of Sam's arsenal, which helped mix up gameplay a bit.
I've also never beaten the Game Boy Advance version of the game before, which I'll be playing here in addition to the original game.
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow - PlayStation 2 [Owned], PlayStation 3 (Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Classic Trilogy HD), PC, Xbox, GameCube, Game Boy Advance [Owned]
I was hooked in already after the first game, so naturally, I was there for Pandora Tomorrow day one. This time around the game was developed by Ubisoft Shanghai, as Ubisoft Montreal was already working on the third game (which shows how successful the first game was).
Although gameplay wasn't really changed that much this time around outside of the adaptive AI (Sam can shoot upside down, and other small mechanics), it was still a great entry in the series, and one of the best reviewed stealth games of all time. An additional multiplayer mode would also be incorporated, but it wouldn't be fully realized until Chaos Theory.
As is the case with the first game, I will also be playing the 2D Game Boy Advance version of Pandora Tomorrow, which I've never beaten before in addition to the original.
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory - PlayStation 2 [Owned], PlayStation 3 (Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Classic Trilogy HD), PC, Xbox, GameCube, DS, 3DS [Owned]
The Splinter Cell series would once again get a bump in lightning and get some graphical upgrades that would make the experience much more aesthetically pleasing, but that was just the tip of the iceberg.
Sam would now have to monitor not only the lighting of his surroundings, but his noise level as well. This would be extra imperative, because the AI was improved, but Sam had a few extra tricks up his sleeve to deal with them (such as a new combat knife, and enhanced weaponry options). The Optically Channeled Potentiator (OCP) was especially useful, as it allowed you to disable cameras and other electronics simply by pointing at them.
Also, that multiplayer mode I casually mentioned in Pandora Tomorrow? In Chaos Theory, it's fully fleshed out, and it's incredible. On top of the already solid seven mission long coop mode (featuring Agent One and Two), there's the vastly improved upon Spies vs. Mercenaries mode, which pits Shadownet against ARGUS, both of which feature two vastly different playstyles.
I found myself and my group of friends favoring one group over the other, which would lead to a MAG-like favoritism of factions. Spies are more mobile, but must kill their prey through stealth. Mercs are more headstrong and aren't as limber, but they can kill Spies with reckless abandon, at both close and long range.
Multiplayer wise, Spies vs. Mercs was one of the most fun things I've ever experienced in all of gaming, and Chaos Theory is probably the series highlight for me.
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Essentials - PSP [Owned]
I don't remember a whole lot about Essentials -- probably because it was a "here today gone tomorrow" PSP game that felt a bit broken at the time.
Given how great the first three games were, this is kind of a disappointment to see a "flashback" game given this little care by Ubisoft's development staff. In fact, it probably explains why there hasn't been a core portable Splinter Cell game in six years (Double Agent was ported to mobile platforms, and Conviction was ported to iOS and Android).
Either way, I'm looking forward to seeing what this can bring to the table: good or bad.
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Double Agent - PlayStation 2 [Owned], PlayStation 3, PC, Xbox 360 [Owned], GameCube, Wii
Double Agent was a vast departure for the Splinter Cell series, for better or worse. The "seventh generation" versions of the game featured a wholly new engine that didn't feel like the first three games, and the gritty "double agent" storyline was a vast departure from the shadowy feel of the series.
To go along with the nature of the title, Sam could opt to side with the NSA or the JBA, depending on how you want the game to progress. Choosing one side over the other would change your weapon loadout, and your ending.
This is also one of the most confusing releases of all time. Strangely enough, the 360/PS3/PC versions are different than the Xbox/PS2/Wii versions -- Splinter Cell Conviction confirms that the 360/PS3/PC versions are canon. The development between these games was split between Ubisoft Shanghai and Montreal, just like the first two games.
I wasn't a big fan of Double Agent when it was released, so lets see if a fresh playthrough changes my mind.
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction - Xbox 360 [Owned], PC, Mac OSX, iOS
After becoming a bit jaded by Double Agent, I was cautious of Conviction -- thankfully, my caution was unfounded, and I ended up loving the game. Although a fair amount of people weren't happy with the more action-oriented gameplay, I found the changes welcome, and a great way to introduce people to the Splinter Cell series.
The "Mark & Execute" mechanic, which allowed players to tag enemies or objects and pew pew them in rapid succession may have made the game a bit easier, but it was a ton of fun to actually utilize.
The "Last Known Position" mechanic creates a ghost of Sam, and shows players where the AI thinks they were located last. Again, this makes the game easier, but the mechanic itself is very well done, and very cool to watch in action. Visually, Conviction is also very impressive to look at, and is a more significant upgrade than Double Agent was (given that DA was essentially an upscaled Xbox/PS2 game for the 360 and PS3).
Multiplayer was also incredibly rewarding, as it focused almost entirely on coop -- even if the Spies vs. Mercenaries mode was nowhere to be found.
In an odd turn of events, Conviction is not available on the PS3 in any form, despite the fact that every other game in the entire franchise (including 2013's Blacklist) is available on a Sony platform.
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Blacklist - Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC
I honestly have no idea what to expect from Blacklist, especially given the fact that Ironside is not returning to voice Sam (the reason given is because Ironside is unable to perform motion capture stunts), and the addition of possibly meaningless Kinect integration.
Still, I'm eager to see how the franchise can evolve, and the "Spy Vs. Mercs" mode will return, which could shake the multiplayer scene up in a big way if it succeeds.
Of course, the hardest part is narrowing down all of the amazing games. This was kind of hard guys, because I played over 126 games. Yep, at least 126 games that I can recall when chronicling the mega year I had in gaming, and distilling it down to a few scant choices.
As for the year itself, 2012 was a great time to be a gamer. A lot of retro-only fans like to note how each year is increasingly worse for the gaming industry due to the over-saturation of AAA games. I heavily disagree. There are so many portables, consoles, indies, and big budget games each year, there's literally something for everyone.
Whether you're a fan of AAA or niche games, there's probably something anyone can enjoy in my top list of 2012.
Despite some issues with Telltale in the past (the Wallace and Gromit games were alright, and Jurassic Park was pretty horrid), I feel like they've trumped their better previous efforts by far (Sam and Max), and they incorporated elements of all of their past games, and then some into TWD.
Coupled with amazing performances all around, I can hardly believe this game was sold digitally by a non-blockbuster studio/publisher. I even cried a few times, which pretty much never happens to me in a video game.
Great show, Telltale.
XCOM: Enemy Unknown
I was a casual fan of X-COM as a young child. Despite its complexity, there was something that really called to me as a strategy game fan.
Thankfully, XCOM not only lives up to the legacy of the old series, but it also incorporates many streamlined elements that newcomers will find extremely welcome.
Who can forget building bases for hours on end, without ever entering a mission? Or the nerve wracking decisions like choosing which countries to save, and which to plunge into peril?
The crux of my enjoyment from XCOM comes from one simple principle: you can't save everything, and nothing is permanent. Strangely, it made for one fun game and one of the best experiences of 2012 by far.
Also, who could forget putting your loved one into the game, only to have them blasted into oblivion a few hours later?
I was hesitant to get Halo 4 at launch. Despite the fact that I had a strong history with Halo as a Halo 1 and 2 tourney goer, I had a really negative experience with 3, and ODST and Reach really didn't do it for me.
I'm glad I listened to my friends and picked up Halo 4 at launch, because it was worth it. Everything feels new, yet classic, and developer 343 Studios really took the series by the horns and improved it.
I really felt like Bungie was getting too content, and continually making the series stale with each entry: 343's hunger bled into my experience with the game, and I loved it.
My wife and I play a lot of games together. But sometimes, developers design games that are too frustrating, or time consuming for her to get involved.
Spelunky, despite being one of the most difficult games of 2012, enamored my wife. There's something about the idea of jumping into a giant, sprawling cave together and forging our own adventures together that completely made her forget about how controller-throwingly hard it was.
We would spend hours cave crawling, figuring out new tactics together, and how to tackle every situation in the game. Weeks later, we were masters. You know what? It was all thanks to the amazing design choices of the developers.
Like Demon's and Dark Souls, Spelunky makes you learn the game, and gives you the tools to do it. It doesn't hold your hand, and I loved it for it.
I really didn't know what to expect from Gravity Rush, but I was blown away. Kat, the game's heroine, was one of the most likable characters in all of gaming. Period.
People who want more positive female role models in gaming need to look no further than characters like Kat. I sincerely hope she becomes a staple mascot of the Sony brand going forward, because I loved sharing my adventure with her.
My love for Kat aside, the game was augmented with an amazing soundtrack, a beautiful open world setting, incredible art design, and fun gameplay.
Even if combat was lacking at times (it's like the developers felt like they needed to put in combat in some portions), this was one of my favorite games of 2012, and I still go back to it from time to time.
I used to play at least a few JRPGs a month back in my heyday -- I ate them up like candy. 20, 40, 60 hours? No problem -- bring 'em on.
But as a I grew up, I became disenfranchised with longer games -- especially if they were sloppily put together, and had bad, outdated mechanics.
Xenoblade changed all that. It was a JRPG for western RPG fans. Why no one had really done this as well as Xenoblade had done it before, I have no idea.
Somehow, it perfectly captured that whimsical feeling that I experienced so many times late at night staying up playing JRPGs, and then some. If you have a Wii, this is required reading.
Dust: An Elysian Tale
The often referred to genre of "Metroidvania" really isn't well represented these days. Outside of the occasional release like Shadow Complex, fans of the genre really don't get their fill.
Dust was basically a labor of love by one developer, and it scratches that itch entirely. I loved exploring random nooks and crannies, and engaging in the well made combat system, while challenging myself with the fairly amazing difficulty curve.
I just had to go play Super Metroid afterwards, and I owe it to Dust for letting me return to the golden age of 2D open world games.
If you were ever disappointed by a Dragon Ball Z game and were left wanting more, you need to buy Asura's Wrath. Despite the fact that the game is mostly comprised of QTEs, Asura's Wrath presents an intriguing, and intoxicating narrative that you'll want to play out until the end.
It's like a giant anime episode that you get to play, and at times, if you jack up the difficulty, it can get really challenging (I LOVED the DLC Akuma boss fight on Hard).
Some people feel like Capcom's decision to sell the "real ending" as DLC is sleazy. If I had picked up the game at launch for full price, and had to wait for it, I would probably agree.
But getting the game months down the line for under $20 was a different experience entirely. I really, really liked Asura's Wrath, and it's a game that will stay in my memory for the rest of my life. If you like over the top anime, you need this game -- it'll put a smile on your face, guaranteed.
What a surprise! Like our own Allistair P., I'm a huge fan of shoot 'em ups, and I can't get enough of them (specifically bullet hell).
Sine Mora delivered and more, as the developers were not only able to create a solid core shmup that plays great, but they also presented a well crafted, intriguing, and sometimes shocking narrative to boot.
Where else can you get a game where you're stopping time to dodge bullets, and dealing with substance and sexual abuse in the next moment?
Rock Band Blitz
What?! A rhythm game in my top ten? Yep, there were a ton of great rhythm games this year, but Rock Band Blitz takes the cake for me. The ability to incorporate your whole library of Rock Band songs is amazing, as is the fact that the game comes with songs that can be imported into Rock Band 3.
The scoring system is practically perfect, and the way Harmonix was able to incorporate social gaming into an asynchronous game was nothing short of brilliant.
I loved being able to compare and contrast my scores with fellow staff members, and Conrad's amazingness at the game left me with many long nights trying to play catch up.
This is going to be lengthy, because I feel like there are a lot of phenomenal 2012 games that deserve credit.
Borderlands 2, Mass Effect 3, Need for Speed: Most Wanted, Darksiders II, Sleeping Dogs, Mark of the Ninja, Fez, Crashmo, Rhythm Thief, Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, Theatrhythm Final Fantasy, Rayman Jungle Run, Hotline Miami, Guild Wars 2, World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria, Call of Duty: Black Ops II, PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, Retro City Rampage, Rhythm Heaven Fever, New Super Mario Bros. 2, New Super Mario Bros. U, Nintendo Land.