El33tonline has been very busy this year – even more so than years previous – and the eking away of time over 2012 has had a detrimental affect on the number of games I’ve personally been able to play and enjoy.
While that potential time during which I could have been tumbling into new and different virtual worlds has been very, incredibly rich and filled with opportunities to play upcoming, unreleased titles and meet the people who craft the experiences we enjoy, there are a number of games that have slipped through my grasp that I would have liked to get around to.
So with all of that in mind, here are my personal favourite games of 2012, followed by a list of titles that I’ve found impressive this year that I am very keen to catch up on.
My game playing exploits this year only began in earnest with the release of Syndicate, a cyberpunk themed first-person shooter set in a dystopic future, where mega corporations directly control the world and its people in place of Earth’s governments.
As super agent Miles Kilo (contender for best name of the year), a highly skilled combatant enhanced by the latest in brain implant technology, you’ll be tasked with recovering secret information and completing clandestine operations in the most elegant (and brutal) ways possible, using a multitude of performance and ability upgrades to give you the edge. A very enjoyable, smart four-player co-operative mode extended the punchy singleplayer campaign, with more opportunities to mix and match skills. Great fun online with friends.
With one of the most fitting names in the world of videogames, Journey from thatgamecompany had been on my radar for ages, and ever since the release of the developer’s previous game, Flower. Journey continues thatgamecompany’s experiments in emotion-based gameplay and sees players taking on the guise of a mysterious cloaked figure in an even more mystifying world of sand, underground caverns and ancient constructs.
The brilliance of Journey shines through when you’re automatically paired with another player online, the identity of which is unknown to you. Together, you and a stranger will use only very basic communication to work your way through the amazing world to reach your destination: A beam of light piercing a distant mountain. An incredible journey.
Gotham City Impostors
As a fan of The Batman and his exploits, as well as a fan of Monolith, the idea of a competitive multiplayer game starring wannabe vigilantes and villains doing their very best to emulate the actions and ideals their idols, Batman and Joker, was incredibly appealing to me. Gotham City Impostors is genuinely funny and delightfully creative, which is very unique for a team-based online shooter.
Not only that, but the extremely fast-paced gameplay feels terrific. It’s very entertaining and rewarding dabbling with the various (homemade) gadgets and customising your character to your heart’s content. Despite a launch hiccup, the game is now very well supported and a great fallback option for when you can’t decide on what to play.
El33tonline EiC Lisa got me hooked on the original Darksiders and after playing that first original action adventure game from Vigil, I began to crave more. The split-second Darksiders II was announced to be in development, with a new Horseman of the Apocalypse as the chief protagonist, Lisa and I scraped together any new information and media we could find on the game.
With new adventures in the Darksiders universe as the nimble and combat-ready Death, and a larger focus on collecting loot while upgrading your abilities, Darksiders II takes players to an ancient, gigantic world saturated in fascinating lore, towering enemies and jaw-dropping environments. As action adventure games go, Darksiders II is easily the best of 2012.
I missed out on the original Borderlands despite the urging from what seemed like the entire videogame world, so I wasn’t about to give up the chance to go on a new over-the-top and action-packed excursion across the alien planet of Pandora in Borderlands 2.
While this four-player co-operative game is still great fun on your own as you discover the game’s hilarious characters and quests along your journey, Borderlands 2 springs to vibrant life when playing online with friends and thanks to the game’s four (now five) distinct classes and already available downloadable missions, I haven’t had more fun this year with a game when everything clicks together.
When a Gunzerker, two Sirens and a Commando roll into combat with shooting, phaselocking and turret abilities at your command, not even Saturn can escape your wrath. My personal game of the year.
There’s a massive collection of games that I haven’t played that I want to get around to as soon as possible based on recommendations from friends and general internet chatter. In no particular order, here are the games of 2012 I most want to play through before the next wave of releases hit in 2013:
When El33tonline’s Peter cares to casually mention in conversation that a game is excellent, then you had best pay attention. When the same game captures the attention of game journalists who have seen it all, you’ve got even more reasons to look into this inventive puzzler for 3DS.
Zen Pinball 2
At the behest of John T., I’m going to be snatching up a collection of tables for Zen Pinball 2 this week to get in on the flipper slapping fun, too!
This third-person shooter flew right under the radar with nary a blip, but those who’ve played it hail it for its thought-provoking story and solid gameplay.
Papo & Yo
I’ve heard so many conflicting things about this emotional puzzle game, so I’m finally going to find out about it for myself this holiday.
Another recommendation from Peter, Dragon’s Dogma seems to be the most unique action RPG in years, with a very cool ‘Pawn’ system that ensures your encounters with gigantic mythical creates and overwhelmingly enormous dragons are always a gripping affair. The demo held my gaze, so I’m going to try to reconnect soon.
Resident Evil 6
The sixth full entry to the Resident Evil series and a new evolution in horror action games, reactions to Resident Evil 6 have been split right down the middle – some hate it, some love it (and some think it’s OK). I know I’ll enjoy it, but I need a co-op partner for the full experience, I think.
XCOM: Enemy Unknown
There’s something infinitely appealing to me about turn-based strategy games, and with recommendations streaming in (again, from Peter and other trusted sources), I’ve got to play more than just the demo of XCOM: Enemy Unknown. Just, don’t watch me while I play, OK?
The Walking Dead Series
With ‘Game of the Year’ acclamations flooding Telltale Games’ offices, this zombie-themed adventure game has emotionally destroyed hundreds of thousands of gamers around the world, including El33tonline’s very own Oltman who has been spouting praises since the first episode. I think I’ll play through all of it at once. For Clementine.
Contender for most over-the-top game of 2012, the vengeance story backing the action that reaches galactic proportions is thin reason to continue, but when it’s time to ‘Burst,’ well… the scenes I’ve witnessed are beyond compare and description.
Max Payne 3
I count Max Payne and Max Payne 2 amongst my favourite games of all time, so I was desperately looking forward to Max Payne 3… but somehow never got around to playing it. Bullet Time third-person action in another achingly saturated film noir story? With multiplayer? Can I have some more?
Wii U Games
There are a host of Wii U games I’m hoping to try out very soon, with ZombiU, Nintendo Land and New Super Mario Bros. U at the top of my list. Lisa’s excitement for ZombiU in particular is contagious.
If you enjoyed this feature, be sure to read the rest of the team’s top picks for most impressive games of 2012 (so far):