Colleague and Editor-in-Chief of The Koalition Richard Bailey, posted his top five list of games for 2012 yesterday, so it's only proper that I post mine as well. This year has been a big one for gaming across the board, with tons of great titles released throughout the entire year and not just in the Fall rush. With the new year and promise of new games on the horizon, all of us here at The Koalition will be naming our picks for top five games of 2012. These picks are based on personal taste and entertainment value and are just our opinions, they are not based on review scores, sales, or anything like that. I hope you enjoy my picks!
5) Hotline Miami
This game really came out of nowhere for me. You can read my review right here if you want more detailed information on the game, but I really did love it. This was the best indie game I played all year (eat your heart out Journey) and I still think about the narrative and the implications it had. The story is ambiguous, yet profound and the gameplay is simple, yet gruesome. The soundtrack is one of the best this year with its hypnotic bit-style trance beats and the visuals are clearly not "top-of-the-line" but if you play the game, it couldn't work any other way. Easily one of the best experiences I have had with a game this year.
4) Dragon's Dogma
This was not the objectively best fantasy-RPG this year, I can admit that and you can see that from the review I gave the game and other RPGs (Kingdoms of Amalur, for example.) However, for me personally, this game just really satisfied a certain part of my gaming soul I wasn't even sure existed. Capcom dropped on us a huge world to explore in this ambitious new IP and it may not be anywhere near perfect, but it sure is incredibly fun to play. The world is huge and sprawling, combat is fast and visceral and AI companions really come to life in your adventures. This game made it onto my radar for its surprising quality, but made it onto this list of top games of 2012 for its lasting charm.
3) The Walking Dead
I hate adventure games. The only genre of games I hate more than adventure games is probably boring simulators (sorry Farming Simulator 2012.) That is, until I played The Walking Dead game. It took the choice-driven gameplay and interactive dialogue of games like Mass Effect and placed it into the desperate world of The Walking Dead, and it delivered. Your choices really seem to matter and each episode consistently escalates events to make the overall experience extremely satisfying. This is the adventure game for everyone - it won Game of the Year at the VGAs for a reason.
2) Mass Effect 3
Yeah, the ending aggravated me. I wanted more options, I wanted the choices I made over the course of the trilogy to mean more (like promised) but one thing cannot be overstated enough: I have never experienced anything in my life like Mass Effect. Maybe it's just because this is the finale to one of the greatest trilogies of all-time (not just gaming, but in general) but playing this game involved more emotions for me than I typically experience in my actual life. When characters died, I cried. When antagonists antagonized me, I was livid. Looking back on my time in the shoes of Commander Shepard, the last 10 minutes were underwhelming, but the experience itself is genre defining. Easily in my top five games of 2012.
1) Guild Wars 2
I wasn't sure it was possible for this game to live up to my lofty expectations, but it actually exceeded all of them. Not only is the game absolutely beautiful, it plays extremely well, it innovates so many gameplay mechanics of the MMO genre and actually makes me scared to play it. I'm not saying I'm scared because I hate it, I'm scared because once I get into it, I find it near impossible to stop. The world is so engaging and the content so deep and rich, I could play this game every day for the foreseeable future and still want to play it more. The best part is that if I do force myself to take a break (like I have done as of late) there is no guilt because there is no fee. If you have PC capable of playing recent games, you owe it to yourself to give this game a shot. This is hands down my favorite game of 2012.
Let us know your thoughts on your own personal top five games of the year and check back each day this week for a different top five list!