We’ve revealed our honourable mentions and positions 10-6, now it’s time to unveil our top five games of 2012. It’s been another great year for gaming, we’re sure you’ll agree, but these are the five titles that we believe stood head and shoulders above the rest. Ready? Let’s go…
5. Tales of Graces f
(Namco Tales Studio | PlayStation 3)
Adam Neaves: I’ve played a lot of JRPGs in my life, with the Final Fantasy series being a personal favourite. Having chosen to review Tales of Graces f earlier this year I will admit I did not know what to expect, but I can honestly say that this is the best JRPG to grace the current generation of consoles. Such a deep story with fantastic characters and beautiful, lush anime graphics. It took me about 40 hours to complete, but it was some of the best gaming hours I have spent this generation.
Aaron Sullivan: The Tales series never disappoints; bringing its patented real time combat to a genre that is no longer on the front lines of gaming. The series is no doubt on top of the JRPG pile. The latest in the long running series manages to make you feel at home, tell an engaging story, while still bringing something new to the party.
4. Mass Effect 3
(BioWare | Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii U and PC)
Asim Tanvir: It’s more action than RPG, that’s for sure, but when both elements are crafted with such high quality it’s hard to care about the exact balance between the two. With Mass Effect 3, BioWare has delivered a title that pushes the boundaries of interactive storytelling, backed up by some excellent core gameplay and stunning visuals. Utterly compelling from start to finish.
Aaron Sullivan: Despite the geek filled rage that followed the ending of Mass Effect 3, Bioware’s epic is still a great example of how to take the player on an epic journey, that feels tailored to the players experience. In a world where even sequels rarely live up to the greatness of the original, Mass Effect manages to entertain us with three amazing titles that culminates in the masterpiece that is Mass Effect 3.
Nick Harrington: The passion of fans outraged at Mass Effect 3’s original ending is perhaps the biggest compliment the game’s creators ever received. We’d all been on a long journey spanning three cleverly interwoven games that all became more streamlined and polished as they went on. This third game was a fitting ending to one of the best and iconic trilogies going.
Charles Le Sueur: The final instalment brought back signs of Mass Effect’s RPG roots, that had taken a back seat in part two, producing yet another epic tale. Although criticised for the way it ended, the journey players underwent to get to said ending gave you fantastic gameplay, visuals and decision making that kept players firmly on the edge of their seats. The new multiplayer feature was a welcome addition to the title too. Loads of fun could be had battling Reapers, Geth, or Cerberus troops whilst experimenting with different classes.
3. Far Cry 3
(Ubisoft | Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC)
Alan Curdie: From its first reveal at E3 2011, I always had some faith in this game. Far Cry 2 was somewhat of a flawed masterpiece for me and the promise by the developers that some of the second games creases would be ironed out has come to pass. A masterful and truly huge open-world FPS with tons to do.
Toby Ross: Who that has spend time on the beautiful Rook Islands can’t regale a dozen tales of uniquely brilliant gaming moments? Between the vicious animals, the well handling vehicles, the impressive mixture of stealth and gun based combat, and the sheer madness of the game’s major characters, this is by far the best Far Cry adventure yet. Unfortunately, the multiplayer features little of what makes the single player great, and too much of what you’ve seen a hundred times in other franchises, but the campaign is good enough to justify the price tag all on its own.
Aryel Abrahami: The open world shooter is back and it’s better than an ever! In a world of boring military shooters, Far Cry 3 is a beacon of hope. Some say it’s Skyrim with guns, but it’s better than that. Far Cry 3 never sacrifices its core gameplay mechanics in favour a rich open world. This is the game that lets you have your cake and eat it too. It also has an awesome jump animation.
Nico Di-Maria – Featuring the best story a game has produced in a long time, Far Cry 3 excels in tearing itself away from the usual pack of first-person shooters. Ubisoft has created yet another amazing game this year.
David Bryant: Far Cry 3 makes my top 3 purely because you can kill sharks with a sniper rifle, which should be a staple of all major games in my opinion. That statement really does sum up Far Cry 3 though because it’s entirely up to you what you do on the island, and you can do literally anything your heart desires.
Normally I find that to be a problem in most open world games because there’s just too much side mission filler and not enough of a meaty story to delve in to. This is where Far Cry 3 really stands out for me because the story is actually very good, the characters are brilliant (especially Vaas) and everything knits together seamlessly. Hunter missions lead you in to caves, which lead you to camps, which lead you to story areas and all of this is covered by a crafting system which is actually a necessity and not a pointless meander in to the jungle.
Far Cry 3 came out of nowhere really towards the end of the year, but I absolutely adore it. Ubisoft learnt some very hard lessons with Far Cry 2 but to their great credit they’ve eradicated those
2. The Walking Dead
(Telltale Games | Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC and iOS)
David Bryant: Ever since I followed fellow staff member Tom’s recommendation to try the first episode of The Walking Dead I’ve been completely and utterly hooked, even to the point of picking up a few of the books and the TV series. It’s become that serious.
It’s not even really a game in the traditional sense but the story that Tell Tale have put together in this series is beyond anything else I’ve played in the genre. Some of the characters you grow to love and others you grow to hate and some you just can’t make your mind up about but either way, I can’t remember a game ever making me feel that connected to its cast.
From the art style, to the branching storylines, to the agonising decisions, the horror and everything else in between this game (rough edges and all) is an absolute stunner. If a second series ever does arrive it has so much to live up to. For Clementine.
Tom Mills: Whilst there were a few hiccups early on, I think Telltale have tackled episodic releases across multiple platforms incredibly well. I certainly can’t remember looking forward to releases quite this much, even knowing that they’d each be a few hours long at best. They created characters you genuinely cared about and whilst it isn’t sculpted by your input as much as they’d like you to believe, I’m comfortable saying it’s one of the best things I’ve ever played, let alone this year.
Nico Di-Maria: The emotion that The Walking Dead draws from making choices alone is unlike any game I have ever played. The graphics may not be photo realistic (although I don’t think that was ever the intention), and it may not have the same depth as a normal console game, but the fact that this game has won such plaudits says it all. The episodes were an amazing route to go down, allowing for as many further additions to the series that Telltale may want to do in the future.
Alan Curdie: This is how you craft games that could potentially appeal to non-gamers. Does it matter that interaction is pretty minimal when a story is gripping? Telltale Games has delivered one of the most affecting games of this or any generation.
Aryel Abrahami: The Walking Dead can be a hard game to sell, it’s basic point and click scenarios hold few surprises and can be somewhat boring at times. Sure, the decision making can be intense, but is something we have all seen before. Where The Walking Dead really shines is in the character department. They are a mixture of stereotypes for sure, but the combination of some great writing and voice acting make us have such strong feelings for the guys and gals on-screen that we get drawn into the cartoony zombie apocalypse and feel the full force of every decision we make.
(thatgamecompany | PlayStation 3)
Asim Tanvir: It’s only about two hours long, there’s no dialogue and its mechanics are simplistic, but that doesn’t stop Journey from being an absolute masterpiece of a game. Throughout it’s short stay it taps into emotions most titles can only dream about doing. The visuals, soundtrack and gameplay come together to deliver something that you’ll find extremely hard to forget about once you’ve sat there and watched the credits roll. thatgamecompany are known for creating unique titles that push the boundaries of what we know as gaming, but with Journey those talented folks have outdone themselves and then some. Journey isn’t just the best game of 2012, it’s one of the most impressive titles to ever grace our beloved medium.
David Bryant: thatgamecompany do not make bad video games and in Journey they have probably their finest effort to date. When it arrived earlier in the year the concept was almost as mysterious as its cloaked protagonist but that was part of the joy for me, playing something that felt truly different and unknown. There’s just nothing like Journey anywhere in the gaming world at the moment and that’s why it felt so special on my first (and last) play through.
It’s probably as close to gaming perfection as you’re likely to find in terms of pacing and all without a single line of dialogue. I could lavish this game with superlatives all day long and if you haven’t tired it yet, you’re missing out on one of the best games of all time. Buy it.
Adrian Purser: As someone who likes to write about games, Journey presents a dilemma when asked to write to an unknown audience. My experience with it was wonderful, and yet so profound and personal that I’d never forgive myself if I were to dull or cheapen that for someone else by stirring any kind of expectation. After pulling myself back together again at the end (it was slow), I told a good friend of mine plainly – download it straight away, and do not read a single thing about it until you can set aside the 4/5 hour sitting it asks of you. I also made him the promise that if he didn’t like it I’d refund him the tenner it would cost from my own pocket. Whilst I can’t go offering £10 to everyone reading this, I would offer the same subtle but strong recommendation – play this game. It’s quite unlike most other things, and refreshingly brilliant in the process.
Nick Harrington: It would be easy to just sit here and throw superlatives at Journey as a game, but what it manages to achieve as an overall experience far outweighs any ties it has to the gaming medium alone. Beautifully directed, emotionally engaging and the best title I’ve played this year, and probably any other.
Gari Clark: Journey offers so much more than just a gorgeous looking game. Not only is it breathtakingly beautiful to look at, it plays brilliantly too. If there was a title that showed that over-engineering something can be a bad thing, it’s Journey. Simple, intuitive and without a doubt, one of the best titles you will see on this generation of consoles. An absolute classic.
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