Author's Note: This is essentially a re-post from my personal blog, but decided to post it here because I thought it would be more fitting. Also,Holy Shit. First C-Blog in nearly 3 years. Also, the entry for Diablo3/Torchlight 2 is probably going to be longer than everything else on the list because of me going in-depth on why I liked each of them for separate reasons like a crazy person. Here's to hoping it doesn't take too long to read through - Mo.
One of the things that I wanted to do with this blog was to get my thoughts on video games on paper, so to speak. Not to make a career out of it, just as a way of interpreting my thoughts and feelings on the medium that is so near and dear to me. Although to be honest, writing a list feels like a a weird thing for me to do, especially in regards to the whole "Game of The Year" thing. I generally consider the Game of The Year concept to be incredibly silly; this is due to my belief of different games meaning different thing to different people, and generally considering that each game can set out to do different things (if that makes any sense).
With that little caveat out of the way, the way this list works is that the entries are in no particular order because no one game is the best in my eyes. Except the original Mega Man X, as that is Primus' gift to Humanity. Now let's get this show started.
2012's Game of 2011: Dark Souls
A game from the year before on this list ? "Madness" you must be thinking. But I have a good reason for this: I don't have money in the back due to not having a job, and thus can't play everything I want when it comes out (plus I think most games aren't worth the full price of admission, but that's a post for another day). When Dark Souls came out, it was roughly around the time when my classes in college were starting to kick my ass, so I had to buckle down and skip it unfortunately. Being responsible as a student and strapped for cash can do that. The real reason I put Dark Souls above everything else I played in 2011 is because it's the one game that wasn't afraid to challenge everything I knew about how a game can be so soul-crushing in it's challenge level and depth of it's systems, yet be so incredibly rewarding. You must learn one thing if you have any hope of getting through it: It HATES your guts with a fiery passion. When this is understood, the journey will truly begin. There were times when it had me frustrated to the point of punching walls and saying all seven of the words you can't say on television at the top of my lungs. Sometimes simultaneously, but when I triumphed against a particularly annoying enemy, made it to the safety of a bonfire, or killed a tough boss; it was fucking euphoric. That is the reason why Dark Souls is my retroactive game of 2011
Diablo 3/Torchlight 2
These two games are probably less intertwined than I think they are, but they did the same thing: Kept me playing them until I looked at the clock and say "Oh Shit, I should probably go to sleep". While some say that Torchlight 2 has more in common with Diablo 2 than Diablo 3, I personally like to think that they are both differing permutations of the same ground work that Diablo 2 established back in 2000. Here's my reasoning in two separate parts:
Diablo 3: The way Diablo 3 does it in the ways that it's very aggressively geared towards keeping you playing the game for hours on end. Which is fucking diabolical in the best way possible (Pun fully intended). This is done through various ways, such as it putting the potion system on a cooldown timer and introduced health globes that drop from fallen foes. It also completely re-worked the skill system to allow an unprecedented amount of freedom in terms of skill builds and play styles, while also allowing for what as essentially free, unlimited respecs whenever you wished. Yeah, you read right: Free, unlimited respcecs whenever you wanted. The classes were the best part of the game as the four new classes all brought something unique to the table, while the old standby of the Barbarian got some new tricks to keep up with them whippersnappers so to speak (If you've seen the Male Barbarian, the you know what I'm talking about). Be it the Glass Cannon Demon Hunter, the Minion Master Witch Doctor, the Law of Equivalent Exchange ignoring Wizard or my personal favourite the Lightning Bruiser Monk; there was a style of play for every player .While I admit that the inclusion of the auction house kinda fucked the game over in my eyes in terms of loot progression, and that some of the difficulty balancing in the first month or so was pretty bullshit, it still didn't take away from the hundred and fifty or so hours of enjoyment I managed to get out of it.
Torchlight 2: The way Torchlight 2 does the whole "Kill Stuff, Loot ALL The Things" approach is by being a modern day interpretation of those forgotten days of demon slaying from the dawn of the 21st Century. The skill System for each of the game's 4 classes can be either really focused, Such as the Berserker's "Kill Everything" approach or be completely different things than intended like the Engineer's ability to be a Two-Handed Bruiser, Sword and Board Tank, Support, Dual Wielding Maniac or in my case all of those things rolled into one. When going through it, it felt like a world you wanted to explore in a weird sort of way (case in point the ghost ship side quest) and while I thought the realms of Sanctuary, Azmodan's corner of the Burning Hells and the High Heavens were nice and all, they sort of lost their appeal after a while. It also did what a good sequel should do: Take what worked about the first game and improve further while adding in new things. It's also got the neat Pet system that lets you haul stuff back to town while you keep killing and looting stuff. My pet's a ferret with an adorable little backpack and aviator helmet. With goggles.
This one kind of came out of nowhere for me. I originally had my interests piqued by both listening about Jeff's growing obsession with Skylanders on the Giant Bombcast and the fact that the figures themselves actually looked pretty kick-ass. It's a combination of my two loves of both toys and games to make something pretty interesting (as well as a game that's pretty good too). The new thing in the game is the Giants, which not only serve as more toys to get but have some neat things introduced from a gameplay perspective. Since the giants are twice the size of regular Skylanders, they can get around barriers and other obstacles their smaller compatriots can't. This is also on the list because it's the first game that me and my kid sister ever co-oped from start to finish. Not only did we have a blast doing so, but we once spent 12 hours straight playing it. Yep. TWELVE HOURS. This convinced me that if more kids games were like Skylanders Giants than the world would be a better place. My only issue with the game is that it makes me want to get more of the little suckers, which conflicts with not having money. Well Played Activision. Well Played.
This is a game that I hold dear because it was one of the few games that makes me appreciate them as an artistic medium. When I played Dear Esther (the original Source mod) I thought "This is pretty interesting; not my cup of tea but interesting nonetheless". When I first played it, I wasn't really that into it. I then got to the sand slopes and met my first companion, from there we raced down the slopes and were cascading through the air every time we jumped. It was fucking incredible because it made me form this connection with a person I knew nothing about. With that said, it made me feel kind of sad when I lost said companion. It says something about a game that can make me feel this strongly about something, but back to why it's on the list. The reason it's here is because it's the only game that makes me feel like I was on an actual journey. I went through hardships in the form of losing companions, I overcame obstacles and felt like I had accomplished something in reaching the light at the mountain. Lastly, the soundtrack is flipping amazing. Go buy it on iTunes if it's there.
League of Legends
If you had asked me what any of the following in terms meant this time last year: Jungling, Laning, Solo Mid/Top, AD Carry, Support, Last Hitting, and the like, I would've assumed you were talking some kind of forgotten alien language and was giving a detailed explanation about your race's invasion plans. But after a series of attempts to try to get into it, everything clicked when I found a champion (playable character) that worked with me and my play style (said Champion was graves for those wondering). Since then I haven't looked back, and even as a free to play game; it feels balanced enough that you can not own any champions and still be competitive and as someone who not only can seen the potential for art in games, but also the potential nature of competitive play; competitive League of Legends can be thrilling to both as a spectator sport and as a means of competition. It's also the free to play game that I've spent the most money on. Ever. Don't judge me.
I like Borderlands 2 a lot. As in "Beat the game twice on two separate characters and buy the Season Pass" a lot. A lot of this has to do with what I mentioned in the Torchlight 2 part of the post: It takes what worked about the original and made it better, while at the same time adding some new features like a trading system (Thank You Based Gearbox). The stand out feature of the game would be the writing headed by "Hey Ash Watcha Playin' ?" co-creator Anthony Burch, which features a lot of Adult Swim style humour that aids in making the game more of an Affectionate Parody than anything done in the first game. He's also responsible for spawning my one of my favourite antagonists in a game since GLaDOS: Handsome Jack. He does the best thing a villain can do in my eyes: Be likeable in a way without making me feel bad about having to waste him when it's all over. His voice with an internet connection mentality made it so that I could see how much of a raving loon he was while at the same time making me want to kill him that much more. On the flip side: Constructors can eat a bag of dicks because they're the worst enemy in that game.
So there's my games of 2012. Weird list isn't
it ? There are some games that I left off of there because reasons: Mass Effect 3 because of me technically never finishing it and all of the DLC stuff for the single player striking me as "Hey, let's try to fix out story, guys", but it kind of hurts me a little. I left off the Walking Dead because at the time of writing it was still a technical mess (The save bug is the main thing keeping me from playing it). And lastly, I left off X-Com because I never played enough of it to talk about it proper. But with that out of the way, I say this: Bring on 2013.
(All images found through Google Image Search)