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It's funny being in this business. Ask anyone and you'll find out that most people end up talking about videogames more than they actually play them. Usually that's been the case with me, but this year I played a lot more games than ever, most to completion too. I'm really proud of that fact. It's one thing to talk about games, but it's a whole different level to talk about the games when you know them inside and out.
So it was really hard this time to narrow down my top 10 of 2012.
#10: Sleeping Dogs
I knew from the first second Square Enix/United Front Games showed us Sleeping Dogs that I was going to love it. I love these type of open-world experiences, and it's a perfect blend of the realistic approach the GTA series takes with the wackiness of the Saints Row franchise.
What really made the whole experience for me was the Hong Kong setting. We're so used to the American-like environments of other open-world games that Hong Kong felt unique and totally alien.
#9: Hotline Miami
Hotline Miami is such a dark and violent experience. While there are tons of gory games out there, the minimalistic approach developer Dennaton Games took made the gruesome acts you perform all the more shocking, forcing the player to imagine the worst. And that's all contrasted by the psychedelic visuals and one of the best game soundtracks of the year.
#8: Call of Duty: Black Ops II
Treyarch went above and beyond what it means to make a Call of Duty. They took some bold risks creating a killer story that incorporates player choice, and overhauled a multiplayer system that's been duplicated countless times by copycats. Plus, the multiplayer features some great weapons, and some of the best map designs since CoD 4.
#7: Super Hexagon
Without a doubt, Super Hexagon is one of the most addicting games I've ever played. It's so simple, and it's that simplicity that drives me crazy ever time I make a stupid mistake. I can stare at my phone for hours as the crazy visuals warp my mind while the killer music makes me want to get my groove on.
FEZ is a love letter to the 8-bit era, offering a simple and inviting world that will make your head spin as you realize just how deep and involving things can get. And no matter how frustrated you will get, it's hard to stay mad as you stare at the beautiful visuals while taking in DisasterPeace's splendid soundtrack.
#5: Max Payne 3
It says something about Rockstar Games that they can revive a franchise like Max Payne while keeping the core essentials of the series intact this day and age. No extreme makeovers, instead giving us an amazing dark and depressing story, plus fun combat mechanics all presented on an amazing game engine. I hope a lot more studios take from Max Payne 3's page by seamlessly integrating cinematics and gameplay in the future.
#4: Halo 4
I was so relieved after completing the first couple of missions in Halo 4. I, like many others, were legitimately concerned of a new studio taking over such a beloved franchise. Like I said in my review though, 343 nailed it. It still feels like a Halo game, while integrating new elements that make for an addictive first-person shooter. I'm still in disbelief at how practically next-gen the visuals look.
#3: Far Cry 3
I didn't see this one coming. Hell, I don't think many people did. Sure, there was a nice level of hype surrounding Far Cry 3, but I was just so focused on all the other first-person shooters this year that I damn near missed this one. I'm so glad I didn't. Yeah, the story is a bit lame, but that won't take away from how amazing the overall experience is.
It's a first-person shooter where you are free to take on the world as you see fit. And it's a living, breathing world. I will never forget how I was attacked by a random tiger while trying to sneakily take out a pirate camp once. I freaked out and gave away my position by firing upon the tiger and was about to get surrounded by pirates. So I ran towards the camp, and watched as the pirates and tiger shift focus onto each other, giving me the chance to regroup and attack while all everyone was distracted.
I've never been as moved by an experience quite like Journey. To the point that I immediately started a second play through after the credits rolled. It's such a beautiful haunting world, one that I can play through over and over again and never get bored. It features one of the most engaging multiplayer components around too, something that I hope to see more of in games.
And its message of the human life cycle is something that I won't forget either, especially that last area. You know what I'm talking about.
#1: The Walking Dead
I never imagined that I'd like an Adventure game quite this much. The Walking Dead isn't just another zombie game. It's about humanity. It's about humans as they struggle to survive against increasingly hostile odds. From zombies, from the world, and most of all, from other humans trying to survive.
Lee Everett is you. You are this guy, once on his way to jail, now the ward of a hapless little girl. You have to make choices, ranging from bad to shit, and often with no time to worry about the consequences. Whatever you end up doing, it's all to keep a little kid safe and to show her the way in this new scary world.
And now, I want to replay a bunch of these games after talking about them. While I was pretty proud of all the games I played in 2012, I still didn't get to see everything. If I have one New Years resolution, it's to play EVERY game I can in 2013.