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I have been having a tough time narrowing my favorite game of 2012 down to just one selection. It’s not that 2012 was particularly a great year in gaming but rather I have difficulty making decisions and sticking with them. Instead I’ve singled a few titles that in fact could at any given time be swapped out for my GOTY depending on my mood. Before we get to that I’d also like to mention a few other games I’ll call the runners-up.
First Call Of Duty Black Ops 2. I’m not ashamed. I’m a huge fan of the COD series and I have been from the start. Is it perfect, of course not but I’ve given up trying to figure what it is my fellow FPS fans want from the series. I enjoy the multiplayer and I’ll be playing it for months to come, probably right up until the new installment comes out. Treyarch did well tweaking MP while still giving us what made the games successful in the first place. In my opinion the best COD maps will always be the original Infinity Ward’s but since that is no longer an option Treyarch has proved itself with some of the better maps of the series.
The campaign is fairly short but what shooter isn’t these days? The near future setting provided an interesting story arc and I was glad to have a continuation of certain events and characters from the first game. One aspect of the game I’ve had little time to devote to is Zombies. I can only say that what I have played was pretty cool and elevated Zombies to a whole new level. In short I’ll say that Black Ops 2 has been my favorite COD game since Modern Warfare 2 and anyone who knows me can tell you that’s a pretty huge compliment.
Halo 4. Admittedly I was suspicious of a Halo game created by anyone other than Bungie. With that being said I’m glad I took a chance on Halo 4 because 343 studios delivered one of the best Halo experiences ever! The campaign is not only graphically beautiful but does the series a great justice by offering up one of the best Halo stories to date. Multiplayer is great as well offering an overall package of fun gameplay and well thought out maps. A third mode called Spartan Ops, an episodic continuing story that is free to all who have purchased Halo 4, keeps the game going long into the night.
The Walking Dead. This was almost GOTY for me but one fatal flaw I couldn’t overlook kept it from rising to the top. I’ll keep that flaw to myself as I know many of you have not yet played it yet and it would be devastatingly spoilerish. You won’t hear anyone say that the reason the game is so awesome is due to the mind-blowing gameplay mechanics. It’s a simple point and click game with a few puzzles thrown in for good measure. Where The Walking Dead excels is its story and characters, particularly Lee and Clementine, two of the best characters gaming has offered us and ones I won’t soon forget. Often I was an emotional wreck during the game and if you finish the game without tearing up, well you must be a robot. It’s that emotional connection I had with the game that makes The Walking Dead one of my top contenders of 2012.
Borderlands 2. For whatever reason I never played a whole lot of the first game. I’m sure it’s lovely but it always got pushed to the back of my gaming library. Borderlands 2 was a day one purchase for me and one that I still play often. I could ramble on about how beautiful the graphics are or the irreverent dialogue and story peopled with some of the coolest characters you will ever encounter in gaming but really what I love about Borderlands 2 the most is that it is fun! It’s a breath of fresh air amongst some of the more emotionally charged games I played recently.
Now the remaining three titles on my list are the aforementioned games that I can’t seem to pick one over the other. I will say that the last game I will mention may have a slight edge since I developed quite the emotional attachment to it.
Mass Effect 3. You know, I really didn’t hate the ending and even if I did it would still be amongst my top picks. Leading up to the ill-fated ending was some of the best moments the series had to offer. Plus added bonus points are bestowed upon ME3 for multiplayer which I dismissed pre-release but ended up really enjoying. Gameplay tweaks and stunning graphics should also not go unrecognized. For some that wasn’t enough to overcome the end but for me I feel BioWare did the best they could with the ending. Shepard’s story concluded, of course the story had to finish with a more linear outcome. If it didn’t that would only give fans the false hope that he was returning to the next Mass Effect endeavor.
Spec Ops The Line. I’ll go ahead and state the obvious, I’m a shooter fan. One thing that has sorely been missing in the shooter genre (especially the military shooter) is a good story. I initially showed some interest in Spec Ops but after kind of dropping off my radar due to a few delays I’d all but forgot about it. That will never happen again, Spec Ops The Line blew my mind. It’s such a unique narrative experience, one that is not always pretty and a drastic difference to the super-soldier brothers in arms hero story that are some commonplace in the genre.
At first Spec Ops The Line may come across as your run of the mill third person shooter and for game play sake it is (not that there’s anything wrong with that). It’s once you get involved in the story which is loosely based on Joseph Conrad’s Heart Of Darkness and or Coppola’s Apocalypse Now, that it becomes extraordinary. I’ve played out every scenario and took all paths the game gives you but no matter the end result I still felt awful about choices I made. One scene in particular involving white phosphorous was particularly unsettling but also represented the part in the game where I realized Spec Ops The Line wasn’t your average shooter. Multiplayer on the other hand isn’t groundbreaking but it’s ok because the campaign makes up for it. Shooter fan or not this game should not be overlooked.
This leads me to my final game choice, Papo & Yo. The tiny little Playstation Network game that I like to describe as allegory disguised as a puzzle game. You play as Quico a young boy who through the power of his imagination transforms a Brazilian favela to a magical world of escapism from the harsh realities of having an abusive, alcoholic parent. Monster is Quico’s seemingly friendly giant friend who under the influence of the brightly colored frogs he is addicted to is instantly transformed to a dangerous raging beast. Throughout the game Quico tries to get Monster the help he desperately needs. In the end Quico realizes Monster isn’t real and the person he needs to heal is, himself.
2012 seems to have been the year of the emotional video game. Papo & Yo is the one that affected me the most because in many ways I was once that little kid escaping to her imagination to help heal the hurt I didn’t quite understand. I wish this game existed when I was a child because it took me years to get to the point the game’s ending represented. Thank you Minority Media and most notably Vandar Caballero for creating this often heartbreaking but always inspirational game.
One game I unfortunately did not have the time to finish or even play enough to be considered was Dishonored. I feel the game probably deserves to be on my list and I give major props for it being one of the few new IP’s amongst 2012′s major releases. Looking forward to 2013, there are so many games I want. I have a feeling 2013 could prove to be one of the most epic for gamers. My wallet and social life are already crying out in pain.
So geeks, what was your favorite game of 2012, or what are you most looking forward to in 2013? Sound off below or hit us up on twitter.