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Carl Daniel’s Top 5 Games of 2012

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2012 has been a pretty tepid year for gaming, and the fact that the first quarter of 2013 looks more exciting than this year’s Fall line-up says a lot. We’re now 7 years in to this current generation and I for one can’t wait for it to end. Maybe I’m just jaded but I no longer find myself excited for yet another Call Of Duty release or Ubisoft’s annual visit to the Animus. Don’t get me wrong, there has been some great new franchises introduced this year including Dishonored, Kingdoms Of Amalur and Sleeping Dogs, plus we’ve had some pretty sweet mash-ups such as Street Fighter x Tekken, Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing, Playstation Battle Royale and of course the incredible, genre-defining Kinect Star Wars. But as a whole, 2012 has been mostly “meh” for me… and on that bleak note; here are my Top 5 Games for 2012!

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5) Nintendo Land

God damn you Nintendo Land, I tried so hard not to put you on my list! The last thing the world needs is another mini-game collection on a Nintendo platform, especially when we still don’t have a Zelda or 3D Mario game to mop up our tears with. BUT I simply can’t deny the fact that I’ve had more fun with Nintendo Land than I have with any other game this year. Playing mini-games ‘Attractions’ such as Mario Chase or Luigi’s Ghost Mansion with loved ones is like a constant reminder of why I fell in love with videogames in the first place. As a child, Nintendo games brought my family together and 2 decades later Nintendo Land manages to evoke that exact same feeling. There’s no online support so if you live alone you probably won’t appreciate the true magnificence of this Wii U launch title but to be honest, you’re probably too busy customising your Call Of Duty loadout to care.

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4) Paper Mario: Sticker Star

Does Paper Mario: Sticker Star deserve a place on my list? That’s the question I spent most of yesterday trying to figure out. On the surface, Sticker Star is a charming, well-written adventure game that I would wholeheartedly recommend to just about every Nintendo 3DS owner. But at the same time, there’s no denying that Paper Mario’s 3DS debut is a major step back for the series. While Sticker Star may seem like a direct sequel to 2004’s The Thousand-Year Old Door, the dramatically dumbed down RPG’s mechanics makes the entire game feel less rewarding than any of the Mario RPG’s that came before it. However once I conditioned myself to think of Sticker Star as a brand new experience rather than a successor, I began to truly appreciate the game for what it is. The introduction of stickers forces you to think more strategically with each enemy encounter and the hilarious dialogue throughout is a nice pallet cleanser after having to endure the two “New” Mario games that were just released 3 months apart from each other. I guess what I’m trying to say is, Sticker Star isn’t the best Paper Mario game (in fact, it’s probably the worst one yet) but it’s still a mighty fine title that I will stick with me for a long time.

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3) Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward

Calling Virtue’s Last Reward a “game” is a bit of a stretch. This is more of a “Choose Your Own Adventure” novel with escape room puzzles thrown in to justify the fact that it’s being released on the Vita instead of a Kindle. But as all gamers know, reading is for nerds and we’d much rather be subjected to torment from a clinically insane bunny via an “interactive” medium. If you’ve played the game’s predecessor (999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors) you’ll know exactly what to expect from this sequel. A group of people (who are seemingly unrelated) are kidnapped by a masked man and held in a confined area where they must figure out how to escape before they die. It’s kind of like Saw II, only not terrible! Unlike most novels, VLR is a non-linear experience and features many branches paths throughout. Restarting the game multiple times, using knowledge gained from previous playthroughs is required but thankfully it’s easy to hop between points where the story diverges. Slowly unravelling the game’s twisted tale is pretty damn fascinating and is one of my highlights for 2012.

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2) LittleBigPlanet PSVita

In our official review for LittleBigPlanet PS Vita I proclaimed it to be one this year’s finest games. And now, even after the barrage of AAA titles that were released this Fall, LBP has still managed to grapple on to my illustrious #2 spot. This is both the finest title currently available on the Vita and the best LittleBigPlanet game to-date. Incredible level design, mini-games that rival iOS releases, a continuous stream of user generated content and exceptional use of the Vita’s hardware makes LBP PSV an absolute MUST BUY! For more details check out the review.

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1) The Walking Dead

When a game can make you shed honest-to-god tears, you know the developers have done something right. The Walking Dead is nothing short of a masterpiece that everyone with hands and a face should play! I could easily spend the next few paragraphs gushing about how this is an absolute triumph for videogame writing and story telling but I’d rather save that for my season review which will go live shortly after our Game Of The Year podcast. Look out for it on the site early next week but in the meantime, PLAY THE WALKING DEAD!. You Gon’ Luv It!™

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