Hello folks! Firstly, I’m finally back to blogging normality after an extended hiatus covering the Christmas period. I sincerely hope you all had a fantastic time and an equally great start to 2013. I know I did (complete with several bouts of eating enough food to feed five large families).
Anyway, back in December, I went through all the games I purchased and played throughout 2012 and ranked them in order of preference. The result was the sublime Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition emerging on top of that list with the just-as-fantastic Borderlands 2 being not that far off.
However, since I concluded my list, I have played a small number of titles that were also released back in 2012 that warrant me needing to revise my game of the year list. Normally I would just leave it as is but these games in particular, were I to write my list now, would drastically alter the positionings of certain titles and therefore I felt the need to revise my overall list.
The first of the four titles I have played over the festive period and beyond was Far Cry 3. After being massively disappointed with the repetitive and frankly dull Far Cry 2 back in 2008, wanting to play this title wasn’t high on my agenda. As it stands, however, Far Cry 3 is such an enormous improvement that it quite frankly astounds me.
I almost don’t know where to begin. Perhaps with the gorgeous and huge open-world environment that’s impressively absorbing? Maybe with the fluid and strong gameplay mechanics that are just fun to play, like the executions and stealth? Or possibly with how immersive Far Cry 3 is? Either way, the list of improvements from second title to third is staggeringly long and I have to commend Ubisoft on doing such a good job.
It’s not all rosy red, however. While the singleplayer is fantastic, the story is not. What starts off as a potentially interesting narrative rapidly becomes nonsensical and drags on before the game eventually ends. Also, Far Cry 3’s multiplayer had such huge potential but is ultimately a poor Call of Duty-copy that has awkward mechanics, baffling features missing (vehicles, for example) and servers so bad they’d make your technologically-incompetent grandmother weep.
Even with its many faults, it doesn’t detract from Far Cry 3 being a solid, enjoyable and compelling game…as long as you play alone. While Ubisoft dropped the ball embarrassingly with the multiplayer, they brought their a-game for the singleplayer and it paid off handsomely.
After skipping its release last year and continuously telling myself that I’d get around to it eventually, I finally got around to playing Dishonored last week, and even though it wavered a bit here and there, it was a damn fine game brimming with ideas that made it an interesting experience to play through.
In many ways, Dishonored reminded me of Deux Ex: Human Revolution: both were FPS’s; both played fantastically; and both gave you choice in how you completed a level. Those who wanted to run in with shotguns like a scene from Die Hard were catered for, while those who preferred to skulk in the shadows and pick off their prey individually also got their wishes. I’m not a lover of the stealth genre, yet I wholeheartedly enjoyed playing that way in both games because they employed such good use of it that it became more appealing for me to play that way. With Dishonored, I can’t imagine playing it any other way.
On top of solid stealth mechanics, Dishonored also has an interesting story that’s quite different to the competition, and replayability that goes above and beyond what might be expected due to how the levels are designed in such a way that they promote playing through multiple times. Just like Deux Ex, I have to appreciate how it’s made that way and when I inevitably go back for seconds, I’ll be able to change up things to make the experience feel fresh.
Dishonored mostly delivered the goods but it did unfortunately begin to drag on towards the end, and occasionally it became a tad monotonous and predictable. Fortunately, the allure of magnificent set pieces and strong gameplay made up for that and despite its issues, Dishonored was a fantastic game that deserves, and will hopefully receive, the chance to expand on its story with a sequel.
Third on the agenda was The Walking Dead. After initially neglecting it all throughout 2012, I took advantage of the post-christmas Xbox Live sale and purchased the whole set for 800 Microsoft Points. Not only was it one of the best bargains I’ve ever scooped but The Walking Dead is a truly phenomenal title that fully deserves the heaps of praise it’s received.
For a start, the game is absolutely brilliant, the characters are some of the most believable and relatable that I’ve seen in a videogame and although it sometimes feels as though the game’s playing itself, it’s hard not to get dragged in by the compelling story.
I’ve kept my thoughts on the game short because I wrote a review on the title last week, which you can find here should you wish.
The final game that was released in 2012 that I have only just got around to playing was Lego Batman 2. I have a love/hate relationship with the Lego games because while they are mostly harmless, fun titles that anybody can enjoy, they’re mainly just the same thing repeated but with different themes in the background. Lego Batman 2, however, brought back my love for the series.
Lego Batman 2 is all about the fun. The formula is the same – you smash bricks and collect studs – and the gameplay is the same. However, Lego Batman 2 just feels like a fresher game, with an open-world city to explore and a cast of characters that’s simply excellent. I mean, who doesn’t love flying around Gotham City as Superman with the iconic theme tune blaring as you go? Or knocking the smithereens out of a group of baddies as The Flash?
Fun the game might be, but Lego Batman 2’s story is mostly nonsensical, and occasionally dull, but the story is never a strong point in any Lego title and there’s no reason why it would be any different this time. Also, while the open world city was a good idea on paper, it’s mostly just there for you to collect characters and gold bricks and doesn’t really serve much more of a purpose.
Sometimes, it’s good just to sit back and play a game that won’t be troubling, won’t stress you out so much that you’ll break things and can be played with a friend or family member, and Lego Batman 2 is perfect for that. If the recently announced Marvel Super Heroes game will be anything like this title, it’ll be high atop my agenda when it releases later this year.
So, with those four titles now played, what would my Game of the Year list look like now compared to previously? Well, quite different as it happens. So different in fact that the game I previously had on top of my list is now not there at all.
1 – The Walking Dead
2 – Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition
3 – Borderlands 2
4 – Far Cry 3
5 – Dishonored
6 – Call of Duty: Black Ops 2
7 – Assassin’s Creed 3
8 – Hitman Absolution
9 – Halo 4
10 – Lego Batman 2
11 – Max Payne 3
12 – Sleeping Dogs
13 – Counter Strike: Global Offensive
14 – Gotham City Impostors
15 – Mass Effect 3
16 – Trials Evolution
17 – Alan Wake: American Nightmare
18 – Zombie Driver HD
As you can see, a few changes have been made besides the newly mentioned titles. For a start, I moved Assassin’s Creed 3 and Black Ops 2 further down as I thought I placed them a little too high to begin with, especially in the case of the latter which is plagued with far too many issues to warrant a positioning so high.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on anything mentioned above as well as your own opinions on what were the best and worst titles released in 2012. Hit that comment box below!