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Paul’s Favorite Games of 2012

UK Editor Paul Tamburro remembers his favorite games from the past year.

It’s that time of the year, folks, time when “best of” lists crop up like weeds all over the internet. CraveOnline included. We started things off with our favorite gaming trailers of 2012, and now we’re going to be doing daily, personalized lists from all our gaming writers as we lead up to our collective “10 Best Games of 2012” list, publishing this Friday. 

Crave's Gaming Editor Erik Norris has already given us his top five, as has Associate Gaming Editor Joey Davidson, but now it's me, Crave's UK Editor Paul Tamburro, who'll be doing all the listing.

In 2012 I have bought/received more video games than I have in any other year, so this list has been particularly difficult to come up with. However, with careful consideration and more than a little time spent flicking through my back catalogue, I can now present to you (in no particular order) my top five games of the year.

Twisted Metal

2012 has not been a good year for mine and my PlayStation 3's relationship. Whereas I spent the majority of 2011 neglecting my Xbox 360 in order to hop through astonishly imaginative user-created levels in LittleBigPlanet 2 and search for hidden treasure in Uncharted 3, 2012 has been an unfortunately dry year for Sony's console. However, there has been one game in the system's 2012 retail exclusive library that has kept me coming back for more, and that's Twisted Metal

Twisted Metal was largely overlooked upon its release and actually drew a plentiful supply of criticism from long-time fans of the series, but I remain in the small-yet-devoted camp who believe creator David Jaffe's return to vehicular combat is a fast-paced, frenetic and just plain fun contender for game of the year.

Twisted Metal is refreshingly old-school in its approach, with everything from the controls to the noticeably imbalanced vehicles feeling more like a product of the late '90s than 2012, but those willing to stick with it will find plenty to enjoy. An underrated gem in an otherwise quiet year for the PS3.

Far Cry 3

I almost didn't buy Far Cry 3. After hearing mixed opinions following its showing at this year's E3 (and taking into account the poor quality of its predecessor), it was only until I was enticed by the premise of going tooth-to-knife with a shark in the game's tropical island setting that I decided to pick it up. It came as some surprise to me, then, to find that not only is Far Cry 3, like, really good, but that it's actually better than practically all of the other games I've played this year.

The best thing about Far Cry 3 is the amount of choice it gives you. If you want to take an enemy outpost by brute force then you can storm in with your guns blazing, but you could also take them out one by one using just your combat knife. Or, failing that, you could hide in the foliage, picking them off with a sniper. Or you could shoot the door off of a cage containing a wild bear and let it do all the hard work for you. 

You're not a thoughtless war machine in Far Cry 3. You're a vulnerable lone survivor and as such you must make a plan of action before rushing into battle. However, no matter how much you plan there is always the off chance that its organic open-world will thrust you into a scenario that you had not prepared for.

For instance, I was engaging in an impromptu shootout with a handful of enemies when, from out of nowhere, a pack of no less than eight rabid dogs charged towards us, killing the guys who were shooting at me before trying to hunt me down, too. With my ammo running low, rather than face the dogs like a man I instead opted to hop into a nearby car. However, in all of the excitement I accidentally sent the car plummeting off of the edge of a cliff, falling to my untimely death in a blaze of smoke and flames. The fact that Far Cry 3 makes falling to your death feel so awesome is a testament to its quality.

Journey

Far too often do we see video games including features for the sake of something else for publishers to write on the back of the box. Whether they be half-baked multiplayer modes or hours of unnecessary extra content, many of us will not even consider picking up a game unless we know we're going to get a lot of mileage out of it, because picking up a full-priced retail game that isn't going to consume at least 40 hours of our time would be madness.

Thankfully, thatgamecompany's Journey was released as a downloadable title for the PSN, which means that barely anyone turned their noses up at its lack of Capture the Flag and Team Domination modes, and instead praised it for the beautiful game that it is despite its short length.

In a generation where online gameplay largely devolves into 14-year-olds exchanging homophobic slurs via Xbox Live, Journey enforces silence between you and your nameless co-op partner, as you both travel towards the mysterious mountain that looms in the distance. But despite its awe-inspiring vast landscapes and stunning art direction, the real beauty of Journey lies in the relationships you forge with the companions you meet along the way, and the emotional connection you share with them despite not knowing their names nor being able to communicate with them.

Journey is not so much a game as it is an experience, and as such I am jealous of anyone who has not yet had the pleasure of experiencing it. If you own a PlayStation 3 and haven't yet purchased it, I strongly advise that you do so.

WWE '13

I haven't had as much fun with a game in 2012 as I had with WWE '13. As an old-school wrestling fan who favoured the era of Stone Cold and The Rock to the era of CM Punk and John Cena, WWE '13's Attitude Era mode is a welcome departure from the typically awful original storylines that previous WWE games have featured, and recreating events from The Montreal Screwjob through to Mankind and The Undertaker's infamous Hell in a Cell match is a dream come true for wrestling fans of the '90s.

I've also spent an unruly amount of time in the game's creation suite, moreso than I have in any of the annual series' previous iterations, creating a bunch of misfits and abominations that I have then proceeded to take online in order to go up against my friends' created wrestlers. Ranked and player matches still suffer from long loading times, disconnects and lag, but when you've got a group of friends to play with you in private sessions, WWE '13 will quickly become one of your most played online games of the year. 

And that's the bottom line, because the UK Editor of CraveOnline said so.

The Walking Dead: Season One

Wow. Where do I start with this one? After failing to be blown away by Telltale Games' adaptations of Back to the Future and Jurassic Park, I didn't even consider purchasing their episodic point 'n' click prequel to The Walking Dead graphic novels. It wasn't until Crave's own Erik Norris sent me an email asking "have you played The Walking Dead? Duuuuuuude" that I thought, what the hell, my Game of the Year list will be going up on CraveOnline soon, so I should rightly give this game that everyone is raving about a try. Little did I know that it would become a contender for my game of the year.

The Walking Dead features little in the way of gameplay. If you can get over the fact that it's more about characters and dialogue than flexing your l337 gamer skills, its story will keep you hooked right up until its heartbreaking final scenes. I can't think of a game that has made me more emotionally involved with its characters than The Walking Dead did. As you continue to fight for the safety of the group you'll be forced to make difficult decisions, but with each decision you will inevitably alienate just as many people as you please, and losing the trust of your fellow survivors is honestly difficult to deal with.

You'll want to help people in The Walking Dead and you'll want to save them, but it's not always easy to do the right thing when doing the wrong thing could often lead to results that will better your chances of survival. I would go so far as to claim that The Walking Dead is the best zombie game ever made, but it's not really about zombies. It's about people, and the choices they make when faced with their own mortality. An unforgettable title in a standout year for downloadable games.


Paul Tamburro is the UK Editor of Crave Online. Follow him on Twitter @PaulTamburro