2012’s Game of the Year – What Was the Best of 2012?
It’s never easy to pick out a game of the year for me. For
one, I have trouble remembering stuff that released early in the year. I know,
I’m a media journalist and I’m supposed to keep notes on this type of stuff,
but I’m not a very organized media journalist, so I don’t. Plus, there are
often just so many quality games that release each year, this year especially,
that it’s tough to really pick just one. So, think of this as more of my “favorites
of the year”, which one particular stand-out that I suppose, if you must, can
be called the “game of the year”.
2012 really got off to a great start with an epic
conclusion. I know that sounds weird, the year started well with a great
ending, but that’s exactly what happened with Mass Effect 3. The conclusion to one of the great sci-fi trilogies
in any medium was pretty much everything I was hoping it would be. It was huge,
it was epic, it was emotional, it was thoughtful, it was impacting, it brought my story, the one I had forged through
the myriad of choices made throughout all the other games to a satisfying conclusion.
It even had some decent multiplayer. However, there were the usual technical
glitches; the inability (at first, it was fixed later) to properly import the
face of your created Shepherd was particularly vexing. I wanted my character in
the game, in looks as well as choices. Also, because this game did bring things
to an end, the DLC had a slightly different feel. I already knew how the story
ended, so going back and playing more episodes wasn’t quite as appealing.
Still, Mass Effect 3, and the trilogy
in general, was quite an achievement and even the “controversial ending”, which
didn’t seem to be that big of a deal to me, couldn’t derail that. And that was
just how the year started.
2012 was also the year of Mario. Super Mario 3D Land and Mario
Kart 7 may have released late in 2011, but they helped give him plenty of
traction into the New Year. And here in 2012, we got New Super Mario Bros. 2 for the 3DS, and not long after that, New Super Mario Bros WiiU. Too much
Mario? It would be if they weren’t all quality games. The WiiU Mario in
particular is noteworthy as it brings the little plumber and his friends into
the HD era, and it is probably one of the more challenging games in the series.
Mario’s on such a hot streak, will we see more of him in 2013? I can only hope a
WiiU version of Mario Galaxy is in
Racing games also had a good year in 2012. Kart racers like
Little Big Planet and Sonic All-Stars had decent laps, but the real stars were Forza Horizon and Need for Speed Most Wanted. Horizon
brought everything enthusiasts loved about the Forza racing series to the
open world roads of a beautifully rendered Colorado. It’s one gorgeous looking
games for car lovers everywhere to enjoy.
Need for Speed Most Wanted is the spiritual successor to Burnout Paradise in so many ways, it’s a
wonder it wasn’t called Need for Speed:
Paradise’s Most Wanted. It’s a fast, furious, adrenaline fueled experience,
and just a whole lot of fun.
Stealth and action games were well represented, with XBLA’s Mark of the Ninja and the stellar Dishonored. Here were stealth action
games that actually gave you the option not to kill, if you were good enough
and sneaky enough. Then, of course, there was Assassin’s Creed III. Games like this only come along once in a
generation. The game is absolutely massive with tons of stuff to do. The story,
as it takes you through the American Revolution, is absolutely fascinating and
tremendous fun. Plus, there are naval battles on the high seas; one of the
coolest additions to any game this year. It’s not quite as stealthy as past
games; it has more of an action-orientated focus. That can detract from some
missions, forcing you into more direct confrontations than you might like, but
overall, AC3 is one of the great achievements of the year.
Sports games also had a good year. I really liked the
changes made to Madden NFL 13. The
new physics engine added a nice new flair to things, but it was the changes to
the career mode that really made the difference. FIFA also saw some nice
improvements, and while Tiger Woods’ outing on the Kinect wasn’t as remarkable
or as fun as I was hoping, he’s still as top-notch and excellent on the Wii
with the amazing controls offered there. I’ll be curious to see if the game can
improve on that with the abilities of the WiiU.
Finally there’s shooters; always a huge genre. Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, Far Cry 3, all the additions made to Battlefield 3, and of course Halo 4 made this year a big one for the
genre. Black Ops 2 made a few
significant changes, and even tried some new things, but in the end still felt
like more of the same old, same old. Far
Cry 3 is an open-world shooter unlike any other, full of choices and
possible choices that look like choices but really aren’t. And Battlefield 3 continued to keep its
relevancy with all of the excellent DLC it’s offered through the year.
However, it was really Halo
4 that stood out to me. That’s mostly because I’m not a Halo fan. I’ve
enjoyed past Halo games, I’ve played them, but they never really stuck with me.
Halo 4 has. From its truly amazing and impressive art design and graphics to
the compelling story to the awesome content of Spartan Ops and some truly
worthwhile changes to the multiplayer, Halo
4 really surprised me. I actually like the multiplayer. I keep going back
to the Spartan Ops. The campaign is worth playing through because it tells a
great story; when is that ever true
of a shooter? The multiplayer was made more accessible and yet retains its
distinct Halo flair. Plus, all of this was accomplished by a developer other
than Bungie. There was a lot of concern when they left the franchise and 343
Industries stepped in, but 343 Industries absolutely knocked this one out of
the park. I don’t think anyone was expecting the new studio to create what
might be the best Halo game so far, but that’s exactly what they did.
It’s for all those reasons and more that I’d have to say
that Halo 4 is my Game of the Year. It was such an utter
surprise in a franchise that I was never a strong fan of to have this game be
one of my favorites that I’ve kept playing long after I was done reviewing it,
which really hasn’t happened with past Halo games. The multiplayer is fun and
has me coming back for more, the co-op Spartan Ops with its weekly episodes and
separate story is such a great way to do DLC I won’t be surprised if others
copy the formula, and the campaign’s story is just great sci-fi story telling
with jaw-dropping visuals and tight, challenging, but fun gameplay. Truly,
regardless of whether you’re a fan or not, Halo
4 is a game worth trying out.
So there you go, you want a Game of the Year, I gave you a
Game of the Year. Truly, though, I’ve had so many favorites this year; Mass Effect 3, Forza Horizon, New Super
Mario Bros. WiiU, Madden NFL 13.
2012 was just a great year for gaming, it’s hard to imagine how 2013 might
improve on it. Guess we’ll see what the New Year has in store for us. Happy