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2012 IN REVIEW | Top Ten Best Video Games of 2012 (Plus The Five Worst)

By
Posted on January 2, 2013 AT 01:25pm

With 2013 gaming now about to start it’s time we look back at the games we remember both fondly and smugly at from year’s past. Because it’s fun to trash-talk, let’s start things off with five of the worst games to come out this year!

THE WORST OF 2012

5. Skullgirls

I still cannot understand why Skullgirls got so much praise. The AI is damn-near impossible to defeat even on the easiest of settings, and the game is unplayable on a regular controller. I love fighter games just as much as the next guy, but to have to drop $15 for Skullgirls for less than ten characters and then be expected to fork over another $150 for an arcade stick is not just highway robbery, it’s borderline laziness from the developers! If Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat can be played with ease on a regular controller, then so should this! Sorry, Autumn Games, but while I loved your past work Skullgirls was a really bad misstep.

4. Ninja Gaiden 3 (PS3/Xbox 360 version)

Before it got all fixed up on the Wii U and placed in the “decent” category Ninja Gaiden 3 was a buggy, too easy slap-in-the-face on the Xbox 360 and PS3. Not only did it look bad, but the actions portrayed by Ryu Hayabusa were so uncharacteristically like his past incarnations. I still remember that scene where he slices up a soldier who’s begging to be sparred, and when you found that the only option was to cut him to size then you could not help but feel the urge to vomit. Let’s hope we never see Ryu in this state of despair ever again.

3. Kung Fu Strike: The Warrior Rises

Boring and repetitive, Kung Fu Strike: The Warrior Rises was the poor man’s Asura’s Wrath. Visually decent with a subpar story to boot the game basically had you be dropped into battle over and over again with the same baddies and the occasional boss battle for five hours straight. I know this was Qooc Soft’s first game, but the copy-and-paste setup they showcased here in Kung Fu Strike was just downright lazy.

2. Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor

Broken in every sense of the word Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor was near-unplayable. Using the Kinect instead of the awesome control scheme that was featured in the regular one this takes the once-legendary title and puts two bullets into its brain while its wife and kids watch all horrified. How Capcom and From Software managed to release this game as is is a crime against gamers everywhere. I dare you to try the demo, and see how long you last before you feel the need to jump out the nearest window.

1. Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City

Congrats, Capcom! Not only were you able to take up the top two spots on the list, but you managed to leave a massive Cleveland Steamer on your most-prized franchise! Too dark to see anything, an AI that’s unforgiving, and challenges that will make you throw your controller through the TV instead of make you feel worthwhile Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City is the absolute worst in the series. It might even be this year’s biggest cause for hair-loss, thanks in part to the plethora of moments that will make you pull yours out. For once, you can literally blame Canada for this one (the country’s Six Slant Games developed it), though Capcom should be smacked around the block for even giving it the go-ahead for release.

And now, presenting…

THE BEST OF 2012

10. Wreckateer

This one took me by surprise at E3 this past year. Sure it may have been greatly influenced by Angry Birds, and the characters looked to be knockoffs of any CGI character Craig Ferguson has played, but Iron Galaxy’s Wreckateer was the most fun I’ve had with any Kinect title. Using your movements to launch, glide, split, and explode your ammo onto castles and goblins not only gave way to some destructive hilarity, but also gave players the most unlikely type of competition they’ll have with friends. A must-own for those with Kinect.

9. Trine 2

Visually enchanting Trine 2 gave players a wonderful story, quirky dialogue, and some of the best puzzle-based gameplay you’ll find in any game. Controlling the three characters to solve brain-teasers, battle goblins, and nasty bosses was more easier than expected, and its game length and RPG elements felt rewarding instead of a gaming mechanic chore. With three-person co-op, as well, you and a couple friends can join in on one the coolest adventures you’ll find on any console or PC.

8. Mark of the Ninja

 

Klei Entertainment’s beautifully-animated stealth game was everything Ninja Gaiden 3 wished it could’ve been. A great story, wonderful gameplay elements, and fun-yet-hard challenges helped give reason why Xbox Live Arcade is the place for great downloadable titles. Though still violent Mark of the Ninja was the polar opposite of Klei’s other popular franchise Shank, rewarding for sneak attacks instead of Leroy Jenkins-ing it throughout the game. It’s a title that gives a pat on the back to gamers who know how to be patient, and in return gives them an enthralling gameplay experience that hardcore gamers can truly appreciate.

7. ZombiU

Everything a survival horror game should be, and with it on a next-gen console it’s the future of what’s to come in zombie gaming. ZombiU knows how to frighten its players, as well as showcase the true potential of the Wii U system. One of the very few zombie titles that follow’s the mythos’s canon the one-bite-and-die scenario added much to the challenge, especially when playing on Survival Mode. (Getting to kill your previous self to gain your stuff back was tons of fun, though.) Add on a couple of fun multiplayer modes that brings out the jerk in some people, and you have yourself a game that will bring the biggest scares you’ll see this year. Take a bow, Ubisoft, for you just might be our new hope when it comes to survival horror.

6. UFC Undisputed 3

The best MMA game to ever be released. A plethora of customizations, realistic graphics, a new submission system, career mode, and a great online player mode made THQ and Yuke’s last UFC title one for the books. Plus you got to fight in Pride, with original ring announcers and everything! It’s a shame that EA now has the UFC license, as I’m scared to see what happens to the franchise. (If you don’t believe me, two words: EA MMA.) Until the time comes when that game comes out, do yourself a favor and pick yourselves up a copy of UFC Undisputed 3.

5. Max Payne 3

I was initially worried about Max Payne 3, as Remedy wasn’t returning to develop it. Fortunately all my fears melted away when I jumped right into playing it. Even in bright and colorful Brazil Max Payne knows how to find trouble and be dropped into the coldness of reality. The story may have known how to give players the finger here and there, but Rockstar’s return of its golden boy was one of the most cinematic experiences to be found in gaming this year. It also had one of the best online multiplayer experiences, with a great usage of the trademark Bullet Time fitted into the gameplay elements. Welcome back, Max. Now go relax for a bit before you return to your bullet-riddled days.

4. Spec Ops: The Line

The anti-Call of Duty. With enough twists and turns that would even make J.J. Abrams jump for joy 2K Games and Yager delivered the best war-inspired game this year with Spec Ops: The Line. Watching Captain Walker transform from a strong soldier into a broken man was one of the best-written elements in gaming this year. The conversations between Walker and the missing Lieutenant Commander John Konrad are burnt into my brain, as are the great visual presentation of a storm-ridden Dubai. The game may make you feel guilty for the actions you’ll be force to partake in, but once the end credits roll you’ll feel amazed by everything you just witnessed in this third-person shooter. You might just never want to play another COD or Battlefield game again after going head-on with all the darkness you’ll bear witness to in Spec Ops: The Line.

3. Fez

A near-perfect blend of old-school gaming and 3D puzzle elements. Polytron’s adventure of little Gomez and his magic hat took what was once old and made it new again! Using your side-scroller skills to find those pesky cubes Fez was one of this year’s most visually enthralling experiences, even up to its trippy 2001: A Space Odyssey-like ending. Also the usage of outside sources like QR codes and having to learn an entirely made-up language to find the other cubes made this truly the brain-teaser of the year. Cross your fingers, non-Xbox owners, that it hits your console later next year, because Fez is one of those rare love letter games that will steal your heart.

2. The Walking Dead: Episodes 1-5

Even the most manliest of gamers found themselves crying after playing this one. An emotional roller coaster Telltale Games took all they know about choose-your-own-adventure gameplay and placed it carefully into one of the biggest zombie properties this generation. The result: an amazing story, a great cast of characters (especially the bond between Lee and Clementine), and some of the most heart-wrenching moments you’ll find this year in gaming. With many paths to take The Walking Dead is indeed a game worth replaying over and over again, like a great DVD box set of your favorite television program. It’s no wonder that it was voted by many as Game of the Year, but not here. Instead…

1. Dust: An Elysian Tail

The three-year work of just one man (Dean Dodrill, AKA Humble Hearts) has more going for it than most games with hundreds of developers behind it. The story of an amnesiac warrior out to find the truth behind his past and save the land from an evil tyrant wasn’t just the most beautiful game to play, but also one of the greatest side-scroller titles ever made. A narrative you’d usually find in a big Hollywood production, animation on-par with a Don Bluth movie, hack-and-slash gameplay that never felt tiring, and fantastic characters and voice-acting made Dust: An Elysian Tail a must-own video game. It’s touching, tear-inducing, and on occasions very funny (thanks in most part to Dust’s companion Fidget, the year’s best new character in gaming). It also has one key aspect: the element of surprise; a game that was not even on my radar, and yet blew me away more than any other title released this year. It’s that special component that pushes Dust: An Elysian Tail to the top of my list, making it my pick for Game of the Year.

The views and opinions here are those only of Mr. Bourgault, and not those of ElectricSistaHood, Boston Bastard Brigade, and EGMNOW.com. If you wish to share your favorites, feel free to comment below!

Evan Bourgault is an accomplished music, anime, and video game critic. His passion for discovering new bands, developers and Japanese pop culture began in his college radio days and continues on today. Evan joined the ElectricSistaHood team in 2008 where he is a contributing editor and co-host of one of the network's weekly podcasts. Follow Evan on Twitter at twitter.com/King_Baby_Duck


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