We have come to it at last. The most important gaming list article of 2012. You’ve read our individual lists (Erik’s; Joey’s; Paul’s; Alex’s), and now we’ve put our heads together to come up with our collective 10 best games of 2012.
As is the case every year, picking 10 games that represent the best our medium has to offer is always an excruciatingly hard task. 2012 was no different. We started with over 25 nominations and had to narrow it down to just 10. But after grinding our teeth, yelling at each other at the top of our lungs, and threatening bodily harm, we finally came to some compromises and a list we feel happy calling our own.
Below is our official 10 best games of 2012 list, in numerical order. Let us know what you think of in the comments below. Did we miss something?
Spec Ops: The Line
What Spec Ops: The Line lacked in terms of inspirational gameplay, it made up for with a really good story. This game will stand as a benchmark for plot-driven military shooters for a long time to come. A mix between Apocalypse Now and Heart of Darkness, the storyline in Spec Ops pushes the envelope in terms of fetishistic military violence and the ramifications it has on the human psyche. Gamers feel insane by the end, and that insanity is some of the year’s best.
New IPs are a rare thing these days. And that’s why Arkane Studios and publisher Bethesda deserve a couple of pats on the back for not only delivering something completely fresh, but also making it quite good. You play an assassin framed for the murder of the woman you swore to protect, and it becomes your duty to punish those responsible through a series of assassinations where using your smarts is just as valuable as your sword. Player choice rules the day in Dishonored, ensuring no two players play through the game exactly the same way. With a fantastic foundation in place, we can’t wait to see more from this world.
Max Payne 3
Instead of churning out another open-world game in 2012, Rockstar turned their attention to a property they didn’t originally create - Max Payne. Max Payne 3 was a risk for Rockstar that paid off in spades. The game might be the company’s most linear experience yet, but what it lacked in scope it made up for in precise gameplay and one hell of a slick presentation. In typical Max fashion, the story was a depressing one full of drugs, guns and human trafficking, but we couldn’t shake the smiles on our faces as Max Payne 3 made “bullet time” cool again.
FTL: Faster Than Light
FTL: Faster Than Light probably stands as the odd duck in Crave’s top 10. It’s a game that a vast majority of you folks have probably never even heard of. That’s okay, this wonderful indie effort is well worth your time. By putting it in our top 10, we’re telling you that we know you’ll love its look, its gameplay and even its price. $9.99 will get you in command of a ship as it jumps from one end of the galaxy to the other while fighting pirates, boarding slaver ships and escorting data. It’s an addictive beast, and we love it.
XCOM: Enemy Unknown
Remember X-COM? A turn-based, squad-management strategy game that required a fistful of patience and determination to conquer? XCOM: Enemy Unknown is the rebirth of that franchise, and it delivers just about all of the awesome moments we remember from our time with the original run. It’s easier this time around, but XCOM: Enemy Unknown still features the brutalities of permanent death and learning about pure loss after dozens of hours of campaigning. If you don’t mind warfare with a side of patience, check this one out.
The odds were stacked against developer 343 Industries, who picked up the reins to the Halo franchise after Bungie’s departure. Yet, 343i rose to the occasion to develop arguably the best Halo title yet. Halo 4 looks incredible, plays great and features a story that caters to both longtime fans and newcomers alike. And when you’re finished with the game’s campaign, you can turn to multiplayer for hundreds of hours of that refined Halo gunplay.
Far Cry 3
Far Cry 3 kind of came out of nowhere at the tail-end of the year to secure a spot in our top 10. The game improves upon everything its predecessor did wrong, while making the experience a memorable one full of engagingly deranged characters. While the story doesn’t finish as strongly as it began, the open-world Ubisoft has created for this game is truly vast and offers gamers dozens of hours of things to do to keep busy. Just watch out for those crocodiles, they love to jump out of the river and scare the shit out of you.
Gearbox delivered a bigger, better, funnier and better paced game with Borderlands 2. Everything we wanted them to improve upon from the original they did. Now they’re in the process of releasing DLC that matches the quality of the main campaign. Borderlands 2 is a great shooter, a wonderful co-op game and an exceptionally well valued purchase. Get it and you’ll dump hours and hours and hours into this thing.
Without exception, Journey is the best two hours of gaming we here at Crave experienced this year. thatgamecompany created an awe-inspiring take on pilgrimage, history and silence. Journey demands your time, it requires your senses and it makes wonderful use of both. Buy it. That’s all. Buy it.
The Walking Dead: Season One
The little point ‘n’ click that could. Telltale’s The Walking Dead has cleaned up all over the internet this awards season, and we obviously feel the praise is deserved, hence, it’s taking our Game of the Year in 2012. Telltale has crafted an emotionally rich story with some truly memorable characters that you will come to love and love to hate. As is the case with The Walking Dead franchise as a whole, this game is not about the zombies that yearn for flesh, but instead the people trying to survive against insurmountable odds. Not many games bring our staff to tears, but Telltale’s The Walking Dead did just that. We need more!
Erik Norris is the Gaming Editor for CraveOnline. You can follow him on Twitter @Regular_Erik. Joey Davidson is the Associate Gaming Editor for CraveOnline. You can follow him on Twitter @JoeyDavidson.