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Best of 2012 – Joe’s Top Five Games of the Year

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Mass Effect 3 is number five on Joe’s list? What games did he put in his “Best of the Year” list?

Can you believe it? It’s already day 3 of the JTM team’s “Best of the Year” week. So far we’ve seen Borderlands 2, Mass Effect 3, Dishonored, Assassin’s Creed 3, and The Walking Dead coming up on everyone’s lists. Continuing with our JTM Top Five’s, up next is veteran Joe T. with his picks for the five best games of 2012.

Hit the jump to find out which games Joe loved in 2012.

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Honorable Mention: Slender

This game doesn’t make my proper list because, frankly, there isn’t much to it. If you know what you’re doing, it can probably be beaten in about 5-10 minutes. But for a micro-budget, free-to-play survival horror, Slender is pure, untempered gold. The whole Slender Man mythos — a recent Internet creation — isn’t particularly scary or interesting, but it isn’t Slender Man that makes the game work so well: it’s a constant, pervasive, suffocating sense of dread, like a noose being slowly, inevitably wound around your neck. The best piece of pure horror gaming since Amnesia: The Dark Descent.

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Mass Effect 3

There’s a funereal tone to Mass Effect 3, a feeling of being forced to face horrendous and overwhelming odds, and being totally unequipped to deal with it. This tone is punctuated by a number of heavy decisions — Mordin, oh god, I’m sorry Mordin — and emotional moments — Thane, you poor bastard. The action and multiplayer are a rock-solid blast. Like a lot of people, I deem the climactic moments quite unsatisfying, but if this were the Olympics, they would be a misplaced toe on a 10.0 landing.

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Dishonored

I’ll admit I’m new to Dishonored; I kind of blew through it quickly, and it’s clearly the type of game that demands to be played at least twice and differently. But once is enough to know it’s something special. Arkane Studios has beautifully realized the world of Dunwall, crafted an interesting, original story, and floored me with the fluidity and precision of its action (whether you pick slaughter or stealth). Plus it’s a new IP! In a year that feels like every big game was followed by “3” isn’t that something worth celebrating?

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The Walking Dead: The Game

Speaking of emotional, how about this surprising indie that’s — deservedly — revealed itself as a GOTY juggernaut. Players guide Lee and his surrogate daughter Clementine — firmly in the running for Most Adorable Video Game Character Ever — through a grim and morally testing zombie apocalypse. There isn’t much “game” per se; you wander around, point-and-click, and play through a handful of half-baked action/adventure sequences. The real joy of this game comes from being forced to choose between one of two wretched scenarios. (I’m amazed they passed on the opportunity to name one of the episodes “Rock and Hard Place.”) There’s no way to play The Walking Dead totally good or bad. The writing is too mature for that.

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Xenoblade Chronicles

I know it’s a 2011 game for most of the world, but not for me. The much hyped Xenoblade Chronicles lived up to its word-of-mouth and then some. It opens with one of, conceptually, the coolest introductions to a game world ever: two giants, Mechonis and Bionis, are locked in epic, seemingly eternal battle, until one day only their lifeless corpses remain. It’s upon both the bodies of these beasts that Xenoblade Chronicles is set. The battle system is top notch and addictive; the varied settings are huge and gorgeous; and, sure, the story is a bit hokey and old hat, but it wrapped me up the way no JRPG has since the glory days of Final Fantasy. Who’s terrible idea was it to make this a Wii exclusive? I don’t care if it isn’t two years old. Bring on the HD remake!

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Borderlands 2

Bonerfarts! Hee hee hee.

I’ll come right out and say it: 2012 was not that great of a year for games. Sure, Mass Effect 3, Assassin’s Creed 3, Diablo 3, Dishonored, The Walking Dead, and a lot of others (I have not played Far Cry 3 or Journey) were tons of fun, but I don’t think they’ll have me coming back the way stuff from 2011 — Batman: Arkham City and Dark Souls especially — has. I constantly get the itch for Borderlands 2, however, and I don’t see that letting up into 2013.

Some games attempt to elevate the medium. Others attempt to innovate, throwing new ideas and mechanics at the player. Others still attempt to create stories comparable to other, more “respectable” mediums (and in the case of The Walking Dead, I’d say, succeed). But some embrace their game-ness and refine things that have been done before — shooting, looting, leveling, fart jokes — into impossibly playable packages. Borderlands 2 does just that.

It’s an explosive, exploitive, addictive, challenging, immature blast solo or with friends. It has no shame. It laughs in the face of people who look down on video games. Don’t like it? Don’t play it. Pound for pound, Borderlands 2 is funnier than anything I saw on TV or in theatres in 2012. Some developers want to test you, make you think, and move you. Gearbox wants you to have fun.

Agree or Disagree with Joe’s Best of the Year list? Let us know in the comment section below!

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Posted on January 8, 2013, in Best Of 2012 Awards and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Nice man! way to make me want to play xenoblade now….suck some more time out of my life why don’t you!!

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