If you know me, then you'll know that I've been very displeased with the direction of video games in 2012. I feel like there was an overall decline in quality this year, and the amount of repetition has been jarring. With that being said, there were a good few gems that found their way under my radar this year. Most of the games that grace my list have been selected by my colleagues in their own lists, but you'll find two games below that nobody else has mentioned. Check out my reasoning, and let me know your thoughts.
5. Assassin's Creed III
Assassin's Creed 3 didn't manage to top Assassin's Creed II, but it was definitely one of the standout titles this year. The game had its pros and cons, but seeing how Desmond's story played out was a big pay off. Connor clearly couldn't beat Ezio in a personality contest, but the multiple gameplay options on offer were enough to save his potions of the game from being tedious. More than anything I enjoyed being put into the American Revolution setting, and imagining how it must have felt for the natives to go through the conflicts. As an Englishman, I have to shamefully admit that I'm more intrigued by American history and politics than British; and Assassin's Creed III fed my appetite for American history.
I was pretty tough on Final Fantasy XIII-2 when I reviewed it earlier this year, but the fact is I did enjoy it just like I do most Final Fantasy games. What let this game down was its baffling time travel plot, which had hardly anything to do with its predecessor. However FFXIII-2 offered gameplay that FFXIII was seriously lacking. FFXIII-2 had bigger maps, in depth NPC interaction, and collectable monsters. Those may seem like elements that should be in any modern RPG, but shockingly FFXIII contained none of those elements. Which is exactly why it was refreshing to play a next gen iteration of Final Fantasy that was fully fleshed out, too bad about that plot though.
3. Mass Effect 3
Mass Effect 3 was perhaps the most controversial game this year, for rightful reasons. I obviously don't need to specify why exactly, especially seeing as we've talked the subject to death on our podcasts. But if you manage to look past the infuriating elements which lead to much complaint, then you can still manage to appreciate that Mass Effect 3 was an intense experience from beginning to end. Bioware definitely nailed the feeling of a galaxy in conflict; and uniting all the races to enlist them in the war effort was well done. So although Mass Effect 3 had its cons, it still managed to provide a solid twenty hour gaming experience.
2. The Walking Dead
It's a game that's made everybody's list, and it even managed to take home Spike TV's GOTY award. I had never intended on playing The Walking Dead before because I hadn't seen the TV show or read the comics, hence I had no interest in the game. Thankfully I'm around a group of Walking Dead fanatics (The TK staff), and just by hearing them talk about the game eventually I knew I would have to play it.
The good news is that even if you've had zero experience with the TV Show or comic, you'll have no problem getting into the game. Walking Dead is a very personalised experienced, allowing you to form bonds with characters and make tough decisions. The game adapts to your choices and allows you to experience different consequences based on your actions. They basically managed to do everything Mass Effect 3 should of done, and times it by five. TellTale Games surprised us all by providing such an amazing experience, nobody anticipated how captivating this game would be and that's one of the things that makes this game even more special.
This year I decided it was time for me to build myself a gaming PC, and with the help of James G I spent £700 constructing my first ever self built PC. Once the mission was complete, It was time to enjoy the perk of better value for money when it comes to gaming. And with that said, there's only one game that's given me continuous value for money months after I've bought it, and that's Guild Wars 2.
The beauty of Guild Wars 2 is that you pay once, and never have to pay again even though it's an MMO. I'm getting so much value back from that £50 I spent that sometimes I feel like I'm ripping ArenaNet off. The world of Tyria is huge, and you're never at a loss for something to do or see. One thing that really impressed me is the fact that there are one-off events that you'll only ever see once inside the game. Which encourages players to keep coming back time and time again to witness the original content with their friends and fellow guild members. It's so easy to lose yourself in the beautiful world of Tyria, and I suggest that anyone with a decent PC give it a try. You won't be disappointed.
Be sure to check out our official GOTY 2012 discussion on next week's podcast, in which we will discuss all five lists posted this week and potentially crown an overall GOTY.