2012 was another interesting year in gaming for me, much like the last two. It still felt like very little really stood out, no matter how many people talk about how many "great games there were", etc. 2009 was the last year I truly felt there was a best game of the year for me, and I had 3 choices (inFamous, R&C Future: A Crack in Time, Batman: Arkham Asylum). Early plans to start to limit the games I play haven't gone super well, but when there aren't many in genres I like to play, I don't have much of a choice. Somewhat surprisingly then, I still found quite a number of games I really enjoyed playing this year, almost to the point where I could make it maybe 15 deep, but 10 has been the correct number in the past, so here we go.
-Mass Effect 3: mostly for that ending, but also because despite some welcome returns of RPG aspects, it was still way too much like Gears of War, and my love for the original was for its 3PS/RPG hybrid gameplay.
-Assassin's Creed 3: this Kotaku debate is pretty much my argument; I couldn't bring myself to do anything but the main story, and THE WORST ENDING THIS YEAR seals AC's fate for me, which is "no mas".
-Ratchet & Clank: Full Frontal Assault: No! No! No! No! No! No! No! No! No! No! Worst R&C game in its franchise history.
-PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale: loved the idea, but not the execution; why not just finish the Smash Bros ripoff, instead of the terrible "only supers can net kills". maybe fixed for the inevitable sequel?
-LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes: super fun, even if the LEGO games are too simplistic; and a nice use of many DC characters, with voice acting helped.
-SSX: honestly I was not a big SSX fan way back when, but getting this for only $20, I had a lot of fun, particularly with the boss-like Deadly Descents.
-The World Ends With You Solo Remix: I've been sidetracked from this on my iPad for awhile, but its good, and I heard plenty of praise for it. And 'Phones.
Top 10 Favorite Games of the Year (soft rankings)
Mark of the Ninja
A last minute entry, and Steam Holiday Sale purchase, but I have enjoyed it so far even though I normally don't like stealth games. Much like the Sly Cooper games, the fact that Mark of the Ninja is kind of a stealth platformer raises it to a level where I can enjoy it. Created by the developers of Shank helps, as I enjoyed playing Shank on PS3. As the titular ninja, you have access to a few gadgets to help distract the guards, as well as a few different possible routes to make your way through levels. I've only played through the first 3 or 4 levels thus far, but I liked it enough to replay the first level, which is a good sign.
The Walking Dead
Another in progress title, but for a different reason. I'm planning on playing through each episode in a straight shot, and so far I have finished episode 1 and was impressed with what Telltale Games created. The tough decisions you have to make without knowing consequences, what you have to do to protect Clementine, and the tale you weave while interacting with other survivors, The Walking Dead is terrific. And this is coming from someone who doesn't watch the show or read the comic, and hates the zombies craze. Can't wait til I have enough time to play Episode 2 and see what's up next for Lee and Clementine.
Theatrhythm Final Fantasy
The iPad version may not be the best, but I really like it. When Theatrhythm came out, I didn't think anything of it, of course I did not have a 3DS either. But why not download the free version for my iPad, along with some songs from my favorite FFs, and see how it is. And its pretty fun. The effort put into everything is very very cool, such as the backgrounds during the music scenes. The two moons and Tower of Babil from FF4, the fields of the Mi'Ihen Highroad, its there. And the standard enemies are here too during battles, including the summons, and bosses too. I've enjoyed it so much that I'm considering a 3DS just to play the full game.
Hot Shots Golf: World Invitaional
I love golf, and Hot Shots if my favorite golf series. If only developer Clap Hanz could use their Hot Shots gameplay and make a PGA game with real courses. The new Vita version keeps the great gameplay, tosses in some fun courses and characters. I also liked how they had nearly every meter system they've created, letting you choose from multiple versions of their standard meter-based swing system. I do kind of wish the driver was easier to hit off the tee, but it is one of the toughest clubs to hit in real life anyway as I know first hand. Makes me want to get another full console version of Hot Shots, as Out of Bounds quietly came out in March 2008.
I don't like shooters, but I do like RPGs, and the loot-a-thon known as Borderlands is lots of fun. Especially Borderlands 2 with its awesome visuals and cavalcade of weapons. I finally got around to finishing Borderlands 1 shortly before 2's release, and I loved how Gearbox kept the world of Pandora alive with the heroes and NPCs of Borderlands returning in the sequel, headlined by the terrific antagonist, Handsome Jack. I think I wore out my shooters stamina playing them nearly back to back, but I had a blast through both.
Very nearly my game of the year, but it wasn't for the gameplay. The social elements of Diablo 3 is amazing. Of course it helps that I had a bunch of friends all playing at launch, but the ease of joining friends games, of seeing their characters and build, all helped me keep playing longer than I should have. I wasn't a huge a fan of Diablo 2 as most people, so the ability to change up your skills on the fly was great for me, as I could experiment and use spells/skills I liked. But I can definitely see all the downfalls, particularly the auction house. Its nice being able to go and get something really awesome, but it removes the fun of battling hordes of enemies trying to find awesome loot. Still, all the fun had with my friends earns it this high nod.
Penny Arcade's On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 3
I really enjoyed the first two Rain-Slick entries for their Adventure/RPG gameplay, but the "old school" RPG feel of entry #3 was also terrific, as were the various c1asses (Dinosorcerer, Tube Samurai, Crabomancer, Delusionist, Diva, Gardener...) that you could equip. I played through it on my iPad, and absolutely loved it. There are so many funny moments throughout the game, that its tough pointing to one or two specific things. I hope they keep up with the series, because they are lots of fun and make for great "quicky" RPGs.
WWF No Mercy is, to me, the best wrestling game ever made, but WWE 13 is still really good. The Attitude Era mode was the big selling point for me, and having finished it last night, it was well worth it. The moments, and scenes, and actions were so close to real life for just about every match. I started watching in early 2000, so I just missed the peak of the Attitude Era, but I did watch a bunch on VHS or DVD, so getting to play some of these matches was a thrill, such as: Undertaker/HBK Hell in a Cell, HBK/Hart Survivor Series, Austin/HBK WM14, Undertaker/Mankind HiaC, Survivor Series Deadly Games Tournament, Austin/Rock WM15. It also helps that the gameplay is really good, with moves for seemingly every occassion. Being only the 2nd wrestling game I've played in about 5-6 years, it was a great choice.
I came up with that last year, when I wanted to honor Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep. This year, another title gets to earn this, but I had other titles in mind ahead of it. So it sits here in a general Top 3 spot, and that title is....
Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection
FFIV more to the point, since I haven't finish the After Years yet. But FFIV was great. FFX was my first FF entry, followed by IX, X-2, XII, XIII, XIII-2, and I have played small parts of FFI, VI, VII and VIII, but IX was the earliest entry I finished. Until I made it through FFIV. And I can definitely see why fans love the older titles, there's a lot to like. FFIV is a great game, with an equally good story, great characters, and plenty of fun battles throughout. That and the music is fabulous, with my favorite probably being the bizarre yet awesome music on the moon. And back to the 2012 list...
Final Fantasy XIII-2
I really liked XIII, and XIII-2, no matter how much people insult it. Same goes for Lightning. Having gotten that out of the way, I really enjoyed XIII-2, from the time traveling, to the monster "recruiting", to my working on the Platinum trophy I earned. In one manner of speaking, it is my favorite game of the year, but more on that in a paragraph. As much as I have enjoyed the ATB and CTB battle systems from FFs I-X, I have loved the paradigm system of XIII & XIII-2, especially in the sequel, as the battles are more fast paced, and the inclusion of monsters as the 3rd party member is pretty cool. Calling upon a Chocobo, or a Tonberry, or DLC Lightning (or other DLC bosses) is a lot of fun. I do wish those arena bosses were included (or at least more were included), but I was pleased with those I downloaded and defeated. Plus the last DLC, Requiem of the Goddess, was a blast to play, closing up the story. Which means I am very much looking forward to XIII-3, aka Lightning Returns.
And finally, it all comes down to this last title. A title that while I think is a bit of a copout, I just couldn't help but make it #1, simply for what it is, and what happened this year. And this title would be none other than....
#1 - Ratchet & Clank HD Collection
Ratchet & Clank is the best. And an HD release of the original trilogy basically trumps everything else. And considering Going Commando and Up Your Arsenal are among my favorite games period, I just couldn't think of anything that actually tops the HD Collection. Granted, the original R&C is now 10 years old, I don't care. All 3 games hold up very well (more so GC & UYA than R&C, for the lock-on strafing), and are just as great to play now as they were then. That and I haven't played through R&C since after I first beat GC in 2004. Same goes for UYA, which I had not played since way back in late 2004. They are amazing, and oh so much fun. Which makes Full Frontal Assault all the more disappointing. 10/9/8 year old games are leaps and bounds better than the newly released title. I will make time for Full Frontal Assault at some point, simply for my love of Ratchet & Clank, but not until I finish replaying Up Your Arsenal first (and probably replaying Deadlocked when its HD release launches). For the R&C 10th Anniversary, I'll remember the terrific HD collection, and that truly awesome "Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned" poster I purchased.