The Dtoid show recently made an episode about the best games that have come out in the first half of 2012. After watching the episode I got a flash of genius and decided to copy them but in text form. However, in an effort to be less blatantly ďinspired,Ē I will only list games that werenít mentioned on the show. So here is my list of the best games of 2012 (so far).
Alan Wakeís American Nightmare
Seemingly forgotten as soon as it came out, American Nightmare took the janky combat of Alan Wake and refined it into an arcade worthy action game. Story took second place to the gameplay, a twist most fans didnít see coming. After the somber Twin Peaks-esque original, most fans expected more atmosphere and less monsters. For me, this turn was for the better, and gave the game a smoothness its predecessor lacked. Weapons and ammo were plentiful, and enemies attacked in large waves. Despite the focus on gameplay, the story was a more than competent time travel tale that showed Alan Wakes struggle to triumph over his evil alter ego, Mister Scratch. An improvement in almost all sectors, American Nightmare is the sequel Alan Wake needed.
The Walking Dead
Telltale struck gold once again with its latest licensed adventure series, The walking Dead (note this is based purely on episode 1). Separating itself from the television show and comic series, The Walking Dead game takes an almost completely original cast on a journey to survive through the first few days of a zombie apocalypse. While there are a few action scenes here and there, most of the game is focused on the interaction between the main characters, and how people co-exist in a world full of zombies. Itís surprisingly interesting to navigate the social waters in a world that is essentially over. Choices come fast and furious, often with timers in tow, making sure that you canít wait to work out the best option; you just have to go with your gut feeling. Tough choices are the rule here, not the exception. Zombie games are a dime a dozen these days, but this one stands out. At 5 bucks, itís a steal.
Ghost Recon: Future Soldier
Future Soldier walks a fine line between being too streamlined and too tactical. Fans of the series lament the direction this game has taken the franchise, but I personally love it. It takes out a lot of the things that slowed down the pace, and replaced them with an easy mark and shoot style system. It also throws in a lot of toys to help you along the way, including my favorite weapon of 2012, the Warhound. Warhound is essentially a Tachikoma from Ghost in the Shell, a small mobile tank with tremendous firepower. Unlike the Tachikomas, you have complete control over Warhound, and it is the most empowered Iíve felt playing a game. Even though you only get it for one level, its glorious fiery destruction raining death missiles are so awesome, you canít help but smile as you wipe out enough people to populate a small town. Aside from that, the game usually has a strong focus on remaining stealthy via active camo, and the level design does a great job of making you feel like a badass invisible soldier. The only downside is the extremely stupid plot; youíd be better off just skipping the cut scenes here, even if youíre a story person like me.
Tales of Graces f
Finally we get to my favorite game of the year so far, Tales of Graces f. Like many others, I feel like Iím losing my love for JRPGs. Still, I got caught in the trailers and ended up pre-ordering the game, not knowing if I could really get invested in another RPG epic. I was completely taken in from hour one. The game had that RPG feeling Iíd been missing for the last few years. The characters drilled themselves into my mind the same way Cloud and company caught my eye over 10 years ago. It was love at first sight, and I ended up spending over 130 hours on the game, going for the platinum trophy. The combat system focused on switching between 2 different sets of skills while managing a point system that limited you from endless combos, but gave you enough to experiment. While the story was pretty generic, the characters had a soul I feel many games lately have lacked. The dialogue was funny at the right moments and sad when it was appropriate. A modern day JRPG classic, this will most definitely be on my GOTY list, if not the winner. Iíll leave you with this line, one of my favorites from one of the many great skits peppered throughout the game.