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EGM’s Best of 2012:
Editor’s Choice: Brandon Justice

Posted on December 21, 2012 AT 08:00am

Following my journey through the sea of software that was 2011, I’m quite convinced of a couple of truths I find interestingly at odds with one another. One: The industry’s definitely hitting its stride in this current generation of hardware, offering up so many great games that I often struggle to make time for releases that absolutely demand my attention. And two: Publishers are as obsessed as ever with chasing each other’s tails, resulting in a regrettable lack of genuine innovation in favor of tons of titles I’ll lose little sleep skipping past in favor of more original offerings.

That said, more than a few excellent games caught my eye this year, and while I’m undoubtedly offending someone by omitting a random sequel or shooter, below is my list of games that brought the pain in 2012.

Brandon’s Top 5 Games for 2012

#5: Spec Ops: The Line

Publisher: 2K Games
Developer: Yager Development
Platforms: 360, PS3, PC

It’s easy for games to get in a bit of a creative rut, but Yager’s Spec Ops: The Line took aim at the very fans it was servicing with a title that forced us to think long and hard about what we play and why we play it. Even more impressive was the fact that it did so in the confines of a competent, well-paced shooter. It may not end the flood of gung-ho military shooters invading our consoles, but at least someone’s thinking outside of the ammo box, right?

#4: Sound Shapes

Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Developer: Queasy Games
Platforms: Vita

Media Molecule’s LittleBigPlanet gave us a game that allowed platforming fans an outlet to expose their inner designer, but Sound Shapes’ rhythm-based roots opened up the idea to a much broader audience—using music as a vessel for the sort of joystick-driven joy one rarely sees in this industry. Lots of folks skipped this one, but personally, it’s a game I’ll never forget. Best of all? There’s a wealth of user-generated levels still being uploaded to this day, leaving me with the enticing notion that some its best memories are still out there, waiting to be born.

#3: Journey

Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Developer: thatgamecompany
Platforms: PS3

When I look back with perspective on 2012, no game filled me with as much wonder and hope as thatgamecompany’s Journey. Granted, it’s as much a social experiment as it is a game, but the childlike feeling of awe and inspiration it so effortlessly instilled is the sort of thing that makes a lasting impression: We can do more than ship products—we can bring ideas and emotions to life onscreen in a way that tugs at something much more substantial than our trigger fingers. More, please.

#2: Dishonored

Publisher: Bethesda Sotworks
Developer: Arkane Studios
Platforms: 360, PS3, PC

While some of 2012’s more recognizable titles make grand claims about sandbox gameplay, Arkane’s Dishonored actually delivered, serving up a title that facilitated countless creative solutions to a delightfully depraved set of missions. Oh, and it also saw one of the year’s most creative backdrops in the Victorian steampunk city of Dunwall. You’d be hard-pressed to beat out Dishonored in 2012 in terms of raw originality—and, considering its competitors, that’s saying something.

#1: Far Cry 3

Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Platforms: 360, PS3, PC

Early on, a lot of folks dubbed this one Skyrim with Guns, and while Far Cry 3’s vibrant world and open-ended nature lend a lot to that idea, the game’s so much more than that. Forget the fact that it matches Bethesda’s last Elder Scrolls offering when it comes to overall atmosphere and the core campaign; the main element that stuck with me is the game’s amazing cast of characters. It was just as easy to get lost in the adventure by following protagonist Jason Brody’s attempt at exodus as it was to dick around in an attempt to get your mitts on a sharkskin wallet. It’s one of the most engrossing games I’ve ever played—and my runaway favorite for Game of the Year.

Brandon’s Off-Topic Awards for 2012

The “Eh, OK, So You Can Be a Little Full of Yourself” Award
Phil Fish (of Fez fame)
When I first heard that Phil Fish felt the need to make an asinine blanket statement about the state of Japanese gaming, I thought, “Man, this guy is a either a giant f***wit or some sort of marketing genius.” After playing through his playable response to notion No. 1, I came to realize he might have just been trolling us for recognition. That being said, his perspective-bending platformer was better than all that—so much so that I’ll begrudgingly forgive him for the second-biggest PR snafu of 2012…for now, anyway.
Best Reference to UHF’s “Wheel of Fish”
Curiosity: What’s Inside the Cube?
So, it’s a widely known fact that Peter Molyneux tends to spout off nonsense about lofty ideas that never quite make it into a product, so I had a bit of a laugh when he managed to take that notion and turn it into an actual product. I laughed even harder when I found out people (including our own associate editor Josh Harmon) actually pay the man for said mockery, but you have to hand it to him: When this YouTube video is revealed inside, he will absolutely have the last laugh.
Best Bad Idea
NBA Baller Beats
Kinect games tend to suck as a rule, and a Kinect title where you knowingly endanger your flatscreen by bouncing a basketball in close proximity to your entertainment center seems like the dumbest idea ever. But, in the end, Baller Beats was actually a ton of fun to play—and even more fun to watch—making it one of the EGM office’s most-enjoyed play sessions of the year. Not bad for a game we all expected to, ahem, fall flat, eh?

EGMNOW’s Best of 2012 Awards Schedule

Editor’s Choice: Ray Carsillo Dec
Editor’s Choice: Josh Harmon
Editor’s Choice: Andrew Fitch Dec
Editor’s Choice: Brandon Justice
Editor’s Choice: Eric L. Patterson Dec
Editor’s Choice: Chris Holzworth
Editor’s Choice: Matthew Bennett Dec
Editor’s Choice: Marc Camron
Best of 2012: #25 ~ #21 Dec
Best of 2012: #20 ~ #16
Best of 2012: #15 ~ #11 Dec
Best of 2012: #10 ~ #06
EGMNOW’s Best Games of 2012: #05 ~ #01
Tobias Bruckner Memorial Awards
Brandon Justice, Executive Editor
Brandon Justice spent the last 17 years in the game industry wearing hats as an annoying retail weasel, an overly opinionated journalist, and game-development ninja—until he got tired of the all the caviar and groupies, returning to the ring as a rowdy, rambling writer in 2010 for EGM Media. Follow him on Twitter @jokeontheworldMeet the rest of the crew.

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