It wouldn’t be the start of a new year without an end of year top ten list. It brings completion — a resolution of sorts even if I didn’t play every game released last year (or finish half the games I bought).
What follows is my completely objective and unbiased whatsoever list of a bunch of games I kinda liked from 2012.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 2
I’ve barely touched the main campaign, but who plays Call of Duty these days for the campaign — am I right? The online games are quick and you always feel like you’re making some kind of progress thanks to the addictive leveling system. The new setup for customizing classes is neat and lets you finely tweak your load-outs. That said it’s still a Call of Duty game. Sure I’ve never spent enough time to make Prestige (and I still can’t aim a sniper rifle) but it’s something I keep coming back to, even with three mates huddled around a single TV set.
Far Cry 3
So we all know the animals are the real stars of this particular game. Go away you damn pirates, I want me some antelope. Because the skins are used for crafting pouches and other things it makes hunting a worthwhile activity. Oh and I guess exploring the enormous pacific island by hang glider or quad bike wasn’t so bad either. The antagonist Vaas caught my attention ever since the first trailer and while he does play a brilliant and scary psychopath unfortunately the story just doesn’t cater for him too well. And too bad the friends you’re trying to save are as plain as sticks. No wonder you’re always ditching them to go punch some sharks.
Hotline Miami is Super Meat Boy all over again. You’re start a level only to be stuck on the same screen half an hour later. And that’s the real beauty of Hotline Miami; perfecting one’s kill route. It’s a game about precision and patience (and the odd crazy rampage). But if there’s one troubling thing about this game it’s the pure bloodlust you get from trying to kill those guys that just don’t know when to die. At least it has something to say about violence. After each level that damn catchy music stops and the game makes you do the walk of shame past the trail of corpses you disposed of *shudders*. The masks you unlock offer different abilities that may give you a slight upper hand in future levels. Personally my favourite was the lethal doors mask. I think that one is the horse.
Mark of the Ninja
I’m not a stealth guy. I get twitchy. I hate restarting levels for some guard spotting my nose stick out from behind a pillar. But Mark of the Ninja gives you all the tools to put you in control. At all times you can see your visibility and how much sound you’re making with each movement or action. To me it felt a little like a 2D version of the challenge room levels in Batman: Arkham Asylum. You can see clearly (for the most part) where the guards are located, and you have multiple methods to “dispatch” of them. It gets quite challenging later on and I have to admit I did a few not-so-sneaky runs, ringing a few alarm bells in the process. So thank god it’s easy to get back into hiding.
Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition
So thanks to my high performing laptop *cough* (you’d be surprised at how much memory blocky polygons take up!) I never had the chance to really get into Minecraft even when I purchased the Alpha all that time ago. But Minecraft on XBLA gave me that second chance, and what’s more I could even experience it like everyone else did with the game updating as I played. I found this version immediately accessible. You didn’t need to have a wiki page loaded up with crafting table recipes. It was all available from the get go. I made wooden and brick houses, mines, underground railroads, a waterfall elevator that takes you to the sky, and all of these paled in comparison to the unbelievable creations I witnessed online. Multiplayer was fun too, provided no griefing went on. Even with all the new additions in the updates I loved the game the most at its barebones when I created for creation’s sake and explored the landscape for no other reason than satisfying my curiosity.
Rayman Jungle Run
This is the best game I’ve played on the iPhone all year (and I’ve played a few). It brings the gorgeous graphics of Rayman Origins with auto-run controls for touch screen accessibility. No onscreen d-pad required! This doesn’t make it a walk in the park either. Far from it. While the levels are fairly easy to complete it’s still mighty challenging to collect all of the yellow thingy’s… lum’s, whatever they’re called. Forget Temple Run (geez, seriously it’s not that good!), Rayman Jungle Run proves that 2D platformers are alive and well, and as fun as ever.
Ever wanted to play Rockband without the instruments? No, well neither did I until I came across this gem. It makes playing Rockband by yourself feel okay. There’s even an element of strategy to it, more so than Rock Band, with the addition of power-ups which you can select before the song begins. And while you do need to switch between all of the tracks (i.e. musical instruments) you can do so in any order you wish. The ever elusive friend high scores will drag you back in, and if there was ever a reason to go back and play all those Rock Band songs you downloaded or imported, this is it.
There are many emotions that come to mind when I hear this game’s title spoken aloud; Hope, defeat, dread. Even with all the times I’ve played it Spelunky never got any easier. Just unlocking the shortcuts was hard enough, then they wanted us to go through an unforgiving series of levels with mummies that spitfire bugs, lava pits, and cubes that will squash you flat. Then it’s time to fight (if that’s even the right word for it) the boss at the end, which is almost impossible if you used all your bombs and ropes previously. And the secret Hell level? Just forget about it. The randomly generating dungeons (yes, this is a platformer) means a fresh experience each time, although those experiences are guaranteed to end in heartbreak. I loved the mystery of discovering the game, learning about the world, its treasures, and its inhabitants (the things that want to kill you). And although some of the secrets are impossible to find without the aid of the Internet, it made the game feel larger than it was; a mystery to be uncovered.
The Walking Dead
Quite a lot has already been said about this game. First and foremost I am an adventure game fan. I have played many a point and click adventure and a few of Telltale’s games, and this is by far the most differentest, interestingest thing I’ve laid my eyes on. The puzzles take a back seat and it’s the characters that are at the forefront. This is not your daddy’s Monkey Island. While there is still the odd bit of humour The Walking Dead is a depressing affair (in a good way). It is no holds barred on the cussing, or the gore, or the emotional torment. And the thing I love the most is there really is no good or evil. It’s just you in that moment, in those few seconds to decide how you would act in that situation. Regardless of how linear the story turned out in the end, it made me feel powerful and at the same time helpless. It made me live those decisions, and that’s what mattered.
While it’s more of the same Trials you know and love (it’s still great and it’s back with a nicer difficulty curve), it’s the four player Supercross levels I was in there for. With the seemingly unlimited user marketplace of tracks available, many a fun time was had (excusing the odd glitchy level, but even those were amusing) . The multiplayer is a different beast; it’s less about making the perfectly timed jump and more about firing through to the finish. This is a great party game that isn’t just another kart racer.