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.
You’ve already read Gaming Editor Erik Norris’ list, as well as Associate Editor Joey Davidson’s and UK Editor Paul Tamburro’s, and now it’s time for contributor Alex Keen (that’s me!) to round out the gaming channel’s personal year-end lists. Here are my favorite games from 2012 in no particular order!
Hands down, the game I spent the most quality time with this year was Spelunky. I’ve died in this game nearly 1,300 times with each game averaging about 6 minutes in length. Just by guesstimating, that calculates to 130 hours played since Spelunky came out this summer. What’s the worst part about that number? I’m still playing the hell out of this game and I haven’t even come close to reaching the final stage. Spelunky is the most inviting and punishing game I’ve ever played. I fully expect to be playing this game 10 years from now (just as long as my Xbox 360 is still working). Even though this list is presented in an unranked order, Spelunky is easily my Game of the Year.
Apparently, some of my favorite games of the year start with an “SP”. I had the awesome opportunity to have a pre-release hands-on with Splice and was enchanted immediately. Cipher Prime knows how to make a great puzzle game and Splice may be their best work yet. The soundtrack by Dain Saint is one of the best you’ll hear this year, and working through puzzles reminded me of playing Tetris in slow-motion. Splice is not about scoring points or completing tasks quickly - it’s about just getting past challenges that might look impossible on the surface. It’s a must own on the iPad or PC and a bargain whenever it appears in a humble bundle.
Gearbox’s follow-up to the first-person shooter of the same name, Borderlands 2 was pure entertainment from start to finish. This game is a cooperative benchmark that will remain one of the best games of its generation. I had a blast leveling my character, looting my enemies, and laughing my ass off at the NPCs. There’s plenty of DLC to add to your experience and even more ahead in the pipeline. Borderlands 2 is my favorite shooter of the year and one of the safest recommendations I can make to any gamer looking for something new to play.
Spec Ops: The Line
Spec Ops is on this list specifically because of it’s revelatory approach to storytelling and it’s emphasis on morality in warfare. While Spec Ops trudges through territory that movies have explored many times over, it resonated with me because it was the first video game that explored wartime morality while in the game. In a medium that is overflowing with mindless warfare and murder, Spec Ops broke the mold by borrowing from some of the most important war movies ever made. Sure, the story is a re-hash of Apocalypse Now (which is an adaptation of Heart of Darkness); however, because this is new ground for video games, Spec Ops deserves to be recognized for it’s importance within the medium.
Lego Lord of the Rings
I have always been a periphery fan of the Lego games. I enjoyed the concept and laughed at the silliness of the characters. But, there was always something missing. In some cases there was way too much collecting required. In other cases, I just wasn’t into the material (sorry Harry Potter!). With Lego Lord of the Rings, Traveler's Tales knocked the ball out of the park. The game is fun, intense, puzzling, but also engaging enough that kids can enjoy it. The inclusion of the voicework from the original movies was the biggest coup. As I mentioned in my review, Lego Lord of the Rings is the perfect CliffsNotes for The Hobbit and a welcome new direction for the Lego franchise.
Alex Keen is a contributor to CraveOnline. You can follow him on Twitter @dbldn.