A few of our favorite things
After choosing the nominees and winner of GamesRadars Game of the Year for 2012, were ready to get personal and detial each editors favorite game of the year. These arent the games we'd necessarily consider the "best", but these were the games that each of us will remember as our favorite. Whether they grabbed us with gameplay, their stunning visuals, or their simple fun, these are the games that captured our hearts in 2012.
Hollander Cooper: Sleeping Dogs
I kept expecting to get bored by Sleeping Dogs. I thought that the Arkham City-style melee would eventually become tiring. I thought that jumping between cars would played out. I thought that Id eventually find the slow-motion-fueled shooting dull. But... that never happened. I kept playing, and it kept getting cooler, and I kept playing, and it continued to be awesome, and I kept playing, and I kept playing, and I kept playing.
Sleeping Dogs isnt the most original game of 2012 (it actually won a Platinum Chalice for its exemplary performance in unoriginality), but Ill be damned if its not the game I had the most fun playing. I kept looking for new cars to jump between, or new enemies to beat up, or new stuff to shoot, and it would always deliver the goods.
Matt Cundy: Journey
So I wrote a full-on gushing account of my first experience with Jounrey earlier in the year. Ive just been back and read the piece again and it does a pertinent job of explaining why its my game of the year. I wont bother repeating it all--just go and have a read if youre interested.
I honestly cant believe it was way back in February when I played Journey. Since then Ive played a lot of games, but Journey easily outshines them all and the experience has stayed with me longer than anything else my brain has absorbed in the last 12 months. Admittedly, I havent returned to Journey since that first serendipitous playthrough. Not because I dont want to--I would absolutely love to be captivated by it all over again--but because if theres one thing guaranteed to taint a perfect moment, its trying to recapture it.
Lucas Sullivan: Dishonored
The recency with which I beat this game might be having an effect, but I cant think of a 2012 title I enjoyed more than Dishonored. I had low expectations for Corvo Attanos quest for vengeance; while playing the first prison break level, I was convinced that Mark of the Ninja was the better stealth game. But once the gates to the dilapidated city of Dunwall opened up, I fell in love with the games moral and strategic freedom.
Having the ability to Blink out of a guards sight was a godsend for a pacifist player like myself, and the Agility upgrades let me explore the city almost exclusively via rooftop hopping. The ending is a point of contention for many, but I was completely satisfied by my peaceful path to justice. Id put Dishonored on the same hallowed pedestal as Half-Life 2 and BioShock for the ways it makes you connect with your silent protagonist, challenging you to mix conventional and innovative methods of attack as you explore a truly inspired environment.
Henry Gilbert: XCOM: Enemy Unknown
When I finally got around to playing XCOM: Enemy Unknown in mid-November and started telling anyone within earshot how great I thought it was, several people that knew me kept saying, You like that? That just doesnt sound like your type of game. My pals had clearly forgotten my love for strategy RPGs like Fire Emblem, Final Fantasy Tactics, and Advance Wars. Its true that none of those were American-made reboots to one of the most hardcore PC franchises ever, but XCOM has the same great mix of balance, honest challenge, and unit diversity as those games, but with equally engrossing strategy for resource management outside of battle.
Friends were also surprised to find out that I love Civilization, and that game inspires the same just one more turn mantra that kept me playing XCOM for more than 10 hours in the same Saturday. And the developer of both those games--Firaxis--deserves extra credit for making it all work great on home consoles as well as PCs. I didnt expect to love the series so much, but just like a Sectoid hiding in the shadows, XCOM took me by surprise.
Sophia Tong: Journey
Journey is a tough game to describe, and I always struggle to explain it when I tell people that they have to play this game. I also dont want to hype it up too much for others, because everyones experience will likely be different. After two playthroughs, I still cant get over what an incredible emotional experience it was each time, even though I played it mostly alone the first time and with someone the second. Between the wonderful, evocative music and the soaring gameplay at the end, it was liberating, and it felt like some weight had been lifted and I was free. These feelings were so overwhelming that it took me awhile to wonder why I was even feeling that way. Journey is truly a magical experience and its likely best if you know very little about it going in.
Lorenzo Veloria: Darksiders II
Darksider II was easily my most anticipated game of 2012. Even with releases like Mass Effect 3, Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, and Far Cry 3, I couldn't wait to join the second Horseman of the Apocalypse in another Zelda-esque adventure. When the game finally came out, it sure didn't disappoint. Death was more badass than his brawny brother War thanks to his morphing double scythes, reworked attack combos, and creepy-crawly agility.
Death's adventure surpassed all of my expectations. The world was massive, and extremely addicting to explore. The looting had me eagerly searching every corner of every dungeon, and I never tired of slashing baddies up with my versatile arsenal of weapons. The emotion-filled soundtrack made every moment incredibly intense, especially when facing the absolutely monstrous bosses. I loved every bit of Darksiders II so much that immediately after completing the game, I started it again, right from the beginning. There aren't too many games that make me want to do that. Actually... I really want to play it again right now.
Ryan Taljonick: Dishonored
I was hooked the second I stepped foot in Dunwall. A mysterious plague was ravaging the land, causing its society to spiral toward chaos; the rich continued to host elegant parties like nothing was happening, even when the world around them was going to hell. And then there was Corvo, an unfortunate bodyguard turned assassin who was merely caught in the middle of a political coup.
Dishonored is like a cross between Thief, Half-Life 2, and BioShock, with a wonderfully constructed setting and a unique art style that I couldn't get enough of. I loved uncovering new ways to enter target areas (holy cow, that level design!), and mixing and matching my powers and equipment led to some incredibly complex assassinations. My favorite part, though, was uncovering scraps of backstory through the game's many books and audio logs--as well as the mysterious Heart that would spill the secrets of anyone you'd point it at. Great stuff!
David Houghton: Undecided
So Im teetering over the edge of deadline for this article and I still havent worked out what my favorite game of the year is. Theres just been so much bloody good stuff in 2012, most of it appearing in one giant, excitable glut of excellence between October and December, and each constituent part tickling such a completely different one of my gaming taste-buds that Im still reeling too hard from it all to settle on a calm, considered appraisal of a favorite. Its been such a decadent buffet of intelligent, thoughtful, affecting, visceral, demanding, beautiful, exhilarating games that a few weeks ago I settled on the plan of celebrating the whole eclectic brilliance of 2012 rather than trying to single out an arbitrary fave. I prefer it that way. I think its healthier for me, and I think its healthier for games.
But if Im being forced to pin it down to one, Im going to go for The Walking Dishonored: Journey Unknown: Hotline Absolution. What, you havent heard of it? Oh, its really good. You should totally give it a try.
Justin Towell: Everybodys Golf Vita
Ive banged on about NiGHTS HD and I know everyones bored of hearing about it, but I actually dont think I love the HD version as completely as the original. The controls are still slightly awry despite the patch, so its not my favorite game this year. That title has to go to Everybodys Golf on PlayStation Vita. Its just the perfect handheld game. I love the atmosphere, the graphical style, the challenges, the difficulty curve, the unlocks, the wildlife its just brilliant. And its really cheap to buy if you havent got it yet, just hunt around. Man, I should go and play that again right now
Tom Magrino: Journey
A couple days ago, I wrote an article titled "Why Journey is one of the greatest games ever made." Bit of a hyperbolic headline, sure, but that's just the template of those headlines. Also, I happen to believe it. A line from the beginning that perfectly sums up my thoughts on the matter: "Every developer, irrespective of their discipline, can learn from it, and every person is better off for having played."
So what more can I say? Journey's fabulous. Play it.
Now its your turn
Now that weve bared our souls and let you know our personal favorites of the year, wed love to know yours. Do you have a separate favorite and best game of the year like many of us? Agree with all our choices? Think we missed something? We want to know!
Want more end of the year madness? Check out our Game of the Year for 2012 and our extra-special Platinum Chalices Awards 2012.