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Chris Carter avatar 10:11 PM on 01.01.2013
My top games of 2012
Hamza did it. Kyle is doing it. Brett, Holmes and Allistair are doing it. Heck, your mom is doing it. Everyone's making a top game list!

So I'll make one.

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.



The Walking Dead

There's really not much I can say that hasn't been said already. The Walking Dead by Telltale is my personal Game of the Year choice.

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?



Halo 4

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.



Spelunky

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.



Gravity Rush

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.



Xenoblade Chronicles

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.



Asura's Wrath

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.



Sine Mora

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.



Honorable mentions:

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.

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