I don’t know about you but I feel 2012 was somewhat disappointing. Amidst two console launches, a number of sequels and the odd new IP here and there, 2012 hadn’t really had that “wow” factor that graced the years before. That’s not to say we hadn’t seen some great titles launched though as there have. Some that will likely stick with me for years to come. Disappointing or not here’s my top ten games of 2012 kicking off with…
10. Mario Party 9
It’s hard to believe there have been nine Mario Party titles since its series debut on the Nintendo 64. While things started to unwind and drag after Mario Party 4, the latest has managed to bring the series back from the dead by mixing things up.
Despite offering the same Mario Party style gameplay with players moving around a board, participating in mini-games and grabbing stars number nine manages to make it feel fresh and exciting once more. Boards are now point A to B affairs with players sharing a vehicle and moving around together, collectable coins are gone, mini games offer a great balance of free for all, three vs one and team based boss battles and finally the entire experience has been streamlined and given the pace it so sorely needed before.
As far as four person multiplayer goes you’ll be hard pressed to find one this year as much fun as Mario’s latest party. A nice surprise.
9. Where’s My Water
What the hell? A smart phone game in my list! Before jumping to any conclusions, do yourself a favour and give Disney’s Where’s My Water a try as it delivers perhaps one of the most addictive puzzling experiences of the year. Tasked with guiding a small pool of water to an underground shower pipe, you’d do this simply by clearing a path through the dirt with your finger so Swampy the alligator can have a hot clean rinse. Of course acids, bombs, switches and other obstacles would do everything they could to stop you, but with such a simple premise and that “pick up and play” style that meant you could jump into a handful of levels while you wait for a train, you’d always find yourself coming back for more.
8. Nintendo Land
The Wii U has seen a somewhat disappointing launch featuring a line-up that doesn’t quite show off the new console’s features to their full potential. Leave it to Nintendo though to demonstrate how the Wii U will change how we play multiplayer games. While the single player experiences of Nintendo Land are decent enough, it’s the five player sessions that truly shine putting the GamePad to excellent use. Whether you’re capturing your friends as an invisible ghost, snapping up sweets or simply playing a game of hide and seek, Nintendo Land gives hope that the Wii U can offer innovative, new experiences.
7. Resident Evil Revelations
Resident Evil 6 was not good. After all the hype and promise the game showed at its announcement back in January it failed to deliver in any meaningful way. However there was one Resident Evil game that lived up to its series’ high standards and believe it or not it was a 3DS title.
Revelations moves away from being an action focused title and instead uses the slower paced scares the series was once known for. Everything from the setting to its enemies is dripping with atmosphere and despite being a handheld title still managed to make me jump from time to time feeling uneasy as I turned every corner.
A special mention has to go to Raid Mode. Teaming up with another player online, you venture around smaller environments dispatching of enemies, upgrading guns and levelling up your characters. It’s extremely addictive and ranks right up there with Mercenaries mode as an excellent extra.
Slender was all I could talk about over the summer. Forget upcoming AAA titles like Halo 4, the Wii U console or Assassin’s Creed 3, I would always try and find an excuse to discuss this one man indie project convincing friends left, right and centre to try it out… if they dared. Never had a game made me feel so terrified in my entire life, the thought of being stalked by something with no face who only moved when you had your back turned was quite something else. I believe when I originally wrote about my first experience with Slender sums up things pretty accurately.
“I’ll admit I nearly didn’t give it a go after watching my friend scream on several occasions. I likely won’t again though, as my playthrough not only caused me to constantly beg someone to take over, but also shake so much my character couldn’t stop looking up and down as if on a pneumatic drill.”
While plenty of so-called “horror” series appear to be straying too far from what made them scary in the first place it’s nice to see unique efforts like Slender picking up the slack and doing exactly what many fans of horror are looking for. Something to scare them sh**less.
5. The Walking Dead
The Walking Dead may not seem like a true game to many but the development of its characters and mastery of storytelling is unrivalled. As I played through the five episodes month by month, I couldn’t help but feel attached to Lee, Clementine and even some of the supporting cast. While your choices may not have had huge consequences or divided the outcome of the overall story, they felt natural and each conversation you had would see me genuinely concerned with how I responded to someone. Do I back up Kenny or simply turn my back? Do I look out for myself or the greater good? These are the sort of questions you’ll constantly find yourself asking through the game’s five episodes and the outcomes often affect you emotionally. Rarely do I find myself so invested in a lead character or their relationships, but The Walking Dead makes you care and any game that can have me feeling shocked, concerned and genuinely upset to the point of tears is something worthy of this list.
4. Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed
Everyone looks to the Mario Kart series as the mascot racer to beat, but after playing Transformed I think it’s safe to say the plumber really needs to step up his game next time if he’s to compete with Sonic’s latest effort.
Transformed takes the tired karting genre adds its own dose of SEGA fan service and finishes things off with three very different styles of gameplay, racing in not only a car but also a boat and plane. While racing on track may feel somewhat familiar it’s the dynamic switch between air and water that really help shake things up. One moment you’ll be drifting around corners of a sanctuary high in the heavens, the next it’ll crumble beneath your wheels forcing you to take to the skies. Likewise a personal favourite set within the After Burner universe has you constantly switching between all three vehicles as you dodge incoming air missiles and ride along giant waves of the ocean.
Throw in a varied and fun campaign, time trials, tournaments, online, a difficulty that actually challenged you and 4 person (5 on the Wii U version) multiplayer and you have a game bursting with replayability.
3. Sleeping Dogs
Imagine this scene. You’re chasing someone through the streets of Hong Kong, leaping over tables, weaving in and out of passersby and scaling fences. You’re then attacked by a group of triads guns firing in all directions. After dispatching of them in glorious fashion the game of catch up then turns into a car chase. After some careful manoeuvring you peer from the car door and leap onto the roof of the escapee’s vehicle. Mission accomplished.
The action is fast paced, the story engaging and even doing pointless things like seeing how far you can wheelie or taking out a gang in an alleyway is ridiculously fun.
If you liked Saint’s Row you’ll love this.
2. Beat the Beat Rhythm Paradise
Beat the Beat is absolutely crazy. One minute I’m kicking basketballs sky high before they hit a pair of gophers on a date, the next I’m a wrestler giving an interview and posing for cameras. Excellent tunes compliment the always entertaining animations on screen and all handled via the simple button timings of the A and B button. Don’t let the fact you’ll only be pressing two buttons put you off though as Beat the Beat is by far one of the toughest rhythm based games I’ve played.
Of all the games this year, Beat the Beat was by far the most rewarding and a great way to see off the Nintendo Wii in style.
1. Far Cry 3
Just when you think publishers have shown their hand for the gaming year, something like Far Cry 3 comes along forcing you to take note. While I never really got along with the second Far Cry, number three manages to hit all the right notes delivering one of the best open world shooters I’ve played for some time.
Story missions offer an exciting and varied experience from start to finish that might see you escaping a burning building, defending a helicopter, sneaking undetected past enemies or venturing through an underground temple - but it’s the true sense of freedom you have on your journey that really sets this adventure apart. If I want I can take the time to hunt tigers with grenades, swim with sharks (although I wouldn’t recommend) assassinate a group of targets using just my knife, search for hidden artefacts – hell even just driving around recklessly and generally exploring is fantastic fun.
When you start playing as Jason you really do feel like the weak, scared, rich kid he is, devoid of any real perks or ability making early encounters often hazardous ones. As you continue however, Jason’s confidence and skill set grows as do yours. Soon taking out camps of enemies - whether it be Rambo style with silent knife kills from the reeds or guns a blazing and releasing tigers from cages to help you, truly make you feel like the hunter. It’s an amazing sensation and just one of many. One situation sees you destroying a field of weed with a flamethrower and just as things start to heat up “Make It Bun Dem” by Skrillex kicks in only adding to the thrill of ruining these people’s day bullets flying and flames roaring.