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Games of The Year 2012
- Updated: December 31, 2012
As 2012 closes tonight, we think back on our favourite games this year. It’s been an odd one for the industry, with Far Cry 3′s attempt at satirising its own genre, Spec Ops: The Line’s commentary on the player and Mass Effect 3′s Extended Cut all showing a strong sense of introspection about the nature of gaming.
Perhaps the most surreal of these was Frog Fractions, a game really needs to be experienced to be believed.
So in a year filled with games about gaming, what were our favourite games? None of those, actually.
My gaming year was dominated by two quite different titles. The adrenaline-fuelled, mind-blowing futuristic racer, WipEout 2048 on the PS Vita continued my love affair with the legendary series. It was a perfect demonstration of the power of the Sony’s latest hardware. But it was the enthralling and almost hypnotic Journey that fired my imagination and is my game of the year.
Journey is the perfect escapist adventure game. It captivated me immediately with its stunningly beautiful soundtrack from composer Austin Wintory, which has quite rightly garnered a Grammy nomination in the Best Score Soundtrack For Visual Media category. Alongside John Williams and Hans Zimmer no less! It is a soundtrack that is in perfect unison with the game itself.
Controlling a mysterious character on an adventure through a vast and frequently dangerous landscape, Journey simply let you play, explore and have fun at your own pace. By giving you only the most basic method of communicating – a single sound – every interaction with another player was an adventure in the making. How exactly do you tell someone that you want track down a hidden flower using what amounts to a “bleep”?
Even though thatgamecompany designed the game to invoke a wide variety of emotional reactions through my character’s epic “journey”, they made my experiences feel unique and personal. For me, this is the game’s greatest achievement.
Journey is a wonderful videogame. Go play it.
This year has been a bit of a double-edged sword for me. I haven’t been able to get my hands on as many new titles as I would have liked to. However, less games means less to narrow down to one, and I was lucky enough to review Mark of the Ninja for XBLA. And what a cracker of a game it is as well.
For just over £10 (or £12.75, the amount of points you have to add first, curse you Microsoft), you get one of the best stealth games for quite some time. Superlative AI, excellent anime-style graphics and brilliant lighting effects are all perfectly brought together and very challenging to boot. Highly recommended, and light on the wallet.
Runners up: FIFA 13, Borderlands 2
My game of 2012 was undoubtedly Journey. As Nick says above, it beautiful, the soundtrack is incredible and even the coldest of hearts will find the odd emotion fluttering about in the desert. But more than that, it’s about bringing gamers together and in a stroke of genius, it’s actually impossible to grief your companion(s). The worst you can do is leave them alone.
As well as looking good, the design itself sublime, inexorably guiding you to its goal while giving you the freedom to explore at your leisure. If you’ve already played the game, here’s a spoiler-filled post explaining why Journey will be one of my all-time favourites.
This year has been hectic. Many excellent games were released. Some were expected, others weren’t. For me the standout was the PS3 release of The Unfinished Swan. Part puzzle-platformer, part adventure, I was enraptured. Drawn through the shock white world. Feeling my way around the levels with splats of ink, water and light. It succeeded in making me feel small, making me feel like a giant and then making me feel guilty and happy at the same time. Despite the sometimes dodgy controls and platforming, The Unfinished Swan is my game of the year.
Mat Jones runs Oh No! Video Games! and they’ve been posting their GOTY 2012 series throughout December. Go check out why they’ve praised Hotline Miami, Tokyo Jungle, FTL: Faster Than Light and Legend of Grimrock. Also, I loved their Christmas Journey picture so much, I stole it for this post. – Debbie
So what were your favourite games of 2012 and why?