The great thick layer of icing on the cake is the weird, washed-out aesthetic which brings elements of steampunk, SF and the supernatural together with a Half Life
-ish strangeness and the unsettling feeling that your history has been interfered with.
Honourable mention goes to To the Moon
(it's boxed UK release was in 2012, so I'm counting it). While a bit wet, it did an excellent job of putting 8-bit graphics to work on a really interesting and effective narrative.
Assassin's Creed III
This year, a combination of being busy at my day job, walking large sections of the planet (and nearly being eaten by a bear!) and apathy at the pretty dismal nature of many of the games that were released have conspired to make me play fewer videogames than normal. I DID play games, it's dyed in my wool like the writing in a stick of Blackpool rock. But few of the games lit my blue touchpaper and made me jump around the room like Tigger clapping my hands in a foolish, but enthusiastic manner. I did however, develop a penchant of mixing my metaphors!
I liked Prototype 2
, far more than I liked Prototype 1
I was as ‘meh’ as ‘meh’ can be about Need for Speed: Most Wanted
. Usually the launch of a new Criterion driving game puts me in to a spin of ecstasy. But Need for Speed: Most Wanted
was tedious, and had an overly complex menu system and gameplay that left me perpetually confused. I hated it. Make a new Burnout
is a dead horse, shoot it in the fetlock!
Indeed 2012 could have been a gaming write-off for me had Ubisoft not delivered their now-annual dose of Assassination Delectation.
Assassin's Creed 3
was more of the same, plus a huge dose of the different. The game was as entertaining and immersive as ever, but was set in a new timeframe, and had exciting new aspects such as hunting, trading and shipfighting. These added even more depth and immersion into a game that already had more than most.
The icing on the Assassin's cake is that rather than promulgating the kind of tub-thumping republican jingoism that I had anticipated, the game gives a nicely nuanced view of the period's events. Assassin's Creed III
is my Game of the Year, by a country mile.
The Walking Dead
This was easy for me this year. The Walking Dead
is not only my Game Of The Year, it also might be my favourite game of this generation of consoles.
No other game has been able to grab me emotionally as much as this one. The writing is so good that each character seemed part of my life as I was playing.
Some made me angry, others made me smile, while one little girl changed the way I would think and make decisions. It was smart, tense and is the sort of game I’ll be thinking about for years to come.
It also proves that there is a market for downloadable episodic gaming, and can even work as a tool to help improve writing as well as offer staggered periods of discussion amongst players. Technical issues aside, The Walking Dead
is a masterpiece and one that should be played by anyone who is interested in interactive storytelling.
Considering the amount of time that I've invested in it, there's little wonder that my Game of the Year is Spelunky
. Yes, it's been around for a while, but the XBLA version was the first I'd heard of it when it was released last July... and bugger me, it's one of the greatest games I've ever played, not just of 2012. At first, you fire it up and it just looks like an unassuming little platformer - then you die within about thirty seconds on the first level and realise that this one has teeth.
There's so much in Spelunky
. As well as trying to hunt out the insane amount of hidden stuff in each level, I found myself coming back to it again and again just to see if I could beat it. Looking at my stats is both terrifying and impressive. I've played it nearly a thousand times and have completed the game precisely... once. And I have enjoyed every single gloriously frustrating moment.