Top 5 video games of 2012

Check out the top 5 video games from 2012.

Top 5 Games of 2012

 

Another year older and another year wiser. 2012 is long gone and that means it’s time for every publication to decide which of last year’s titles stood out amongst the crowd. Not even The State Press is exempt from this. Just as a disclaimer: These are the games that I have played and I haven’t played/beaten everything that came out this year. So without further delay…

1. XCOM: Enemy Unknown – Here’s a game even I didn’t expect to be at the top of my “Best of 2012” list. But it’s true. XCOM: Enemy Unknown does what many games attempt but fail to do: make me care about generic soldiers and make the consequences of my choices be consequential. The game’s story is typical sci-fi shlock with the typical, “Oh-no! The aliens are invading! Better deal with this… Big-Willie Style.” The gamplay is reminiscent of the isometric view strategy games that entertained gamers in the 90s and it is still addictive to this day. The game gives you soldiers that must be placed in strategic vantage points so that they may defeat the widely varied aliens. Once a soldier’s health depletes to zero, they’re dead. No revivals and no special potion. Their name heads straight a wall of dead soldiers to remind you of your failure. The ones that do live get upgraded and become more efficient killers. Let me tell you that when one of your high level soldiers dies it’s heartbreaking. I haven’t had any children, but I feel as if I can relate. The game also balances the health and stability of several different nations and XCOM makes you strategically think about how to preserve as many nations as possible. When a certain number of nations fall, the game ends and it becomes a “spinning the plate” balancing act. Tense and rewarding, XCOM: Enemy Unknown takes my top spot for the best game of 2012.

2. Far Cry 3 – Far Cry 3 is a first-person shooter that controls like Call of Duty but puts the narrative and characters first and worries about the spectacle later. This makes for a more interesting and internal conflict as the game’s college brotagonist struggles to meld the powerful jungle warrior and the privileged life-style we have all become accustomed to. But it’s not just the characters that are given justice. The island itself is as dangerous and lethal as it is occupied by a wide variety of jungle cats, sharks, crocodiles and komodo dragons. These can be killed and skinned to make better equipment and given more ammunition. The animations, given that this is the same studio that pumped out Assassin’s Creed III this year, are also worth mentioning. Whenever the player falls, swims and gets: attacked, set ablaze, shot, in a car accident, etc, Far Cry 3 moves the camera and the arms of your avatar in a realistic manner. The game’s antagonist Vaas Montenegro is worth mentioning… later. Far Cry 3 is a surprise hit that ended the year on a high note.

3. Assassin’s Creed III – Despite Assassin’s Creed III having a very rushed ending, I enjoyed Assassin’s Creed III. But it wasn’t just mere enjoyment that propelled me through the very lengthy 20+ hour game. It was an admiration that a game studio took the risk to make a game’s central protagonist be Native American and not have it be an offensive portrayal. It was an admiration that the graphics team presented its setting and time period with such respect and reverence that each scenario felt real and important. It was an admiration that the writers took the time to flesh out its characters and supply an actual surprise twist in an annual game series. The animation of Connor as he maneuvered through the canopy of the massive Frontier is awe-inspiring. Being a native to Virginia and having American Colonial History shoved down my throat, Cory May and Matt Turner (the Assassin’s Creed III scribes) presented alternative viewpoints of how the British perceived the colonists during the American Revolution. A game is truly special when it can present a viewpoint that had gone previously unchallenged by a well-educated college student.

4. Alan Wake’s American Nightmare – Many forgot about this modest Xbox Live Arcade title but it stayed fresh in my mind. American Nightmare continues the journey of Alan Wake – esteemed writer of a popular series of crime novels – as he duels his doppelganger, Mr. Scratch. The developer did an excellent job expanding on the game play that was experimented in the first game. And Mr. Scratch has to be one of the more interesting villains I’ve seen acted in a video game. As the player explores the world, they will come across televisions. These give a window into Mr. Scratch as he tortures and parties with his victims even while partaking in a dance and describing his choice of weapons. “Do you know the real difference between us?” Mr. Scratch says to the player as a man in the background gasps for air. “I’m not afraid to be the center of attention.”

5. Max Payne 3 – It just wouldn’t be a Game of the Year list without a Rockstar title making the grade. Max Payne 3 is the continuation of everyone’s favorite Noir York City cop, Max Payne, as he struggles to acquire a semblance of peace and solace as he grabs a wide variety of guns to take to the inner parts of his internal psyche. The story was contrived and had little to do with the previous games as the narrative was catered to a larger audience but the game play is still very much Max Payne. Max will brace himself after every jump and his body will shift and move in all the convincing ways. All of the shooting and dodging you could ever want is in this game and with stellar voice-acting and a rockin’ soundtrack composed by Health, Max Payne 3 stands out among the shuffle.