Eades’s Top Games of 2012
There were a lot of ups in 2012. A lot of great games that were exactly as awesome as expected. But hot damn were there also a lot of downs.
Before I even get started with what will inevitably turn into a list of harsh judgements, let me just say that there were a bunch of games I didn’t manage to play before the year’s end; namely Hotline Miami and Natural Selection 2. Those games could be the most uncut dope ever but, unfortunately, they won’t make the list simply because I didn’t play them. Now with the foreword out of the way LET THE JUDGEMENT BEGIN.
Number 5 – Asura’s Wrath
Asura’s (AH-surah) Wrath falls somewhere between Dragonball Z and God of War, and if the thought of a hundred-armed man catching punches from a fist bigger than the Earth doesn’t appeal to you, then I’m afraid we can no longer be friends. In a world consisting primarily of Call of Dutys and World of Warcrafts Asura’s Wrath was an incredibly refreshing breath of fresh air. In fact, the only reason this game didn’t score higher for me was that it is weird. Really, really weird.
Let me highlight a few of its quirks.
- The game is broken into chapters and at the beginning and end of each chapter the credits roll.
- End to end, Asura’s Wrath is only around four hours long without about two hours of gameplay in there.
- The game literally cuts off on a huge unresolved cliff hanger and if you want to see the ending you need to fork over six bucks and download it as DLC (which was still totally worth it).
- There is a weird hot tub scene with a quick time event to sexually harass a waitress.
Like I said. Weird. And for the full retail price of $59.99 (plus $6.99 for the ending) it’s totally not worth it which is why I could only name it my fifth favorite game this year. If you can find it cheap it’s definitely worth a play.
Number 4 – Torchlight II
When Diablo III came out in May I was hugely disappointed. I still put over 100 hours into it, but somewhere along the way Blizzard lost the fundamentals that made Diablo II so amazing. Unique character builds, pot chugging, boss running… all of it gone in place of a newer, more “accessible” model (one where you can’t even duel other players). There was a huge Diablo shaped hole in my heart.
I’m deeply disappointed with myself that it took my until December 2012 to realize that Torchlight II could fill that hole, and then some. Torchlight II is everything I wanted in Diablo III and then some I didn’t even know I wanted. For anyone who was disappointed with Diablo III I can’t recommend it enough.
Plus it’s only $20 and is usually at least 50% off every Steam sale.
Number 3 – Mass Effect 3
We’ve had our differences, Mass Effect 3 and I. I was fortunate to play Mass Effect 3 in its original form; before the controversial ending debacle had the internet all up in arms. In my eyes, the original ending was brilliant. It was vague enough to let me draw my own insane conclusion (see also: Indoctrination theory) but conclusive enough that I felt totally satisfied. It was a great capstone to the hundred and some hour journey that Shepard and I had taken through the stars.
I’ve made my feelings on BioWare’s changing of the ending pretty clear. I think it is basically the worst thing to happen to video games since basically ever. And just in case I didn’t have enough to complain about, they went and released Leviathan, which makes the nonsensical parts of the story make a bit more sense, months after launch and they charged for it. Unfortunately, Mass Effect 3 reeks of EA’s influence and for me it sullies what should have remained an amazing experience.
Politics aside, Mass Effect 3 is still an incredible game. It did a fantastic job of carrying on Shepard’s story and is literally so chalk-full of “OH SHIT” moments that I have trouble remembering anything but them. It’s a fantastic, incredible ride and despite some developer misgivings, is definitely one of the best games of 2013.
Number 2 – The Walking Dead
Number 1 – Halo 4
I’m probably as shocked as you are. After Halo 4′s announcement I remember rolling my eyes and thinking “Oh great. ANOTHER Halo trilogy.”
My history with Halo has always been a love/hate relationship. I have bought every single Halo game (with the exception of Halo Wars) on launch day with the hopes that this would be the one to rekindle my love of Halo, but they always seemed to fall short. With Bungie’s departure from the series I expected Halo 4 to fall into the trend of yet another sub-par and disappointing game.
I’m still not entirely sure how 343 managed it; possibly a combination of fantastic game design and dark voodoo magic. However they managed it, 343 packed just about everything I had been desperately hoping for into a Halo game. They played fast and loose with the Chief and weren’t afraid to show him that he was an actual human underneath his armor. Chief has been through a lot and FINALLY, after twelve years, the cracks are starting to show. There are some pretty heartfelt and emotional moments the game puts you through and it’s amazing to actually be able to connect with the chief on some emotional level.
After what is probably thousands of hours in various Halo multiplayers I was pretty much ready to throw the towel in on this one without even trying it. In theory it sounds like the exact opposite of what I felt the series needed. Adding the “Call of Duty” leveling and unlock mechanics wasn’t exactly my idea of innovating on the existing formula. Fortunately, 343 has a subtle and deft touch. The multiplayer, while not super incredible and fresh (at least not in my eyes), was new enough that I at least enjoyed it. It will still never have the magic and novelty of Halo 2′s online multiplayer, but it at least fooled me into playing 50 some hours of it. I even go back and play a few matches here and there, something I can’t say for most new multiplayer releases.
Congrats 343 and Halo 4. You blew away my expectations and for that you are my 2012 game of the year.
A list of only five top games of the year is somewhat restrictive. There were loads of other great games that came out this year and you should totally still play them. In no particular order.
- XCOM: Enemy Unknown
- Diablo III
- Mark of the Ninja
- Assassin’s Creed III (but not the half of the game where you play as Desmond)
- Max Payne 3
- Sleeping Dogs (seriously you guys. Sleeping Dogs.)
- Darksiders II
- Black Mesa
- Far Cry 3 (YOU GET TO PUNCH A SHARK)
Most Disappointing Game of the Year
For a game that was going to revolutionize the MMO genre Guild Wars 2 sure did fall off of everyone’s radar quick. Mostly because GW2 replaced the standard MMO grind with a somewhat un-standard one. Instead of grinding menial quests you grind even more menial world events. In the place of a standard tank, healer, dps party make-up it’s just a mash-up of everyone do whatever the hell they feel like as we faceroll our way through this instance.
Being a part of a group of friends that loves playing online games together, Guild Wars 2 was pretty much the most stunning failure we’ve all experienced probably since Star Trek Online. Hot pile of garbage is probably too interesting a way to describe Guild Wars 2 because that game is just plain boring.
Most Disappointing Game of 2012 Honorable Mentions
- Assassin’s Creed III (basically everything that isn’t fighting 400 Redcoats at once and being a total bad ass)
- Quantum Conundrum (disappointing remember, not poorly made)
2013 is already looking like a dope year for video games. BioShock: Infinite, God of War: Ascension (the multiplayer beta for which is super fun), Grand Theft Auto V and we’ll probably see the new line-up of next gen consoles.
This will be the first year where I am in a position to share my opinions with thousands of people and the generation will roll over. Should be interesting. And cynical. But mostly interesting.