The thumbACTIVE team have their Top 10 say of 2012.
Posted on Tuesday, January 1st, 2013 by Mark Dicks
First off, Happy New Year folks!
Here it is then, the thumbACTIVE team have spoken. Clobbering together 8 ‘Top 10 Games of the Year’ lists (with a legit scoring system we promise) we now have a Top 10 Games list that shows off ‘exactly’ what we believe 2012 should be proud of.
Plucked from 48 nominees, it was clear that the games featured below were enjoyed collectively rather than by just one writer with ACTIVE thumbs. So are ye ready? thumbACTIVE’s Games of the Year 2012 begin…
10. Sleeping Dogs
The fact that the game itself is excellent barely even seems relevant, but it really is something special – especially considering that it was originally planned as nothing more than a sequel to a stagnant franchise (the True Crime series) in a genre that was steadily declining in creativity and popularity.
What we ended up with was a highly-polished title with a solid narrative and interesting characters, superb production values and set-pieces and – most importantly – controls so responsive and intuitive that its varied gameplay styles upheld a level of fluency rarely seen in comparable titles. It wasn’t perfect by any means, with slightly uninspired shooting mechanics and a relatively short story, and on a purely objective level there were probably better games made this year.
However, when you consider what United Front had to overcome in order to even get the game into stores, let alone to make it as refined and fresh as it ultimately was, there can be no doubt in my mind that this game has succeeded on a larger and more improbably scale than any others in 2012. In a culture that increasingly airs on the side of complacency and regurgitation, Sleeping Dogs is everything to celebrate about business ingenuity and endeavour. Toby
In general, I hate children. All of them. They trip you up, touch you with sticky hands and can’t speak English properly. I didn’t think this would change. Then I met Clementine, with her charmingly curious tone of voice, timid affection and awesome hair. She was the only one with an unwarped sense of innocence and humanity amongst a cast of characters who seemed to loose theirs so easily.
The Walking Dead broke my heart and I’m not ashamed to say that I cried through the closing credits, and then some. A few technical hitches prevented this game from reaching glorious heights, and I still haven’t quite forgiven it for deleting my savegames, but that’s not to say it wasn’t one of the best games of 2012. #forclementine Aaron
Telltale Games did something with TWD that most developers try to avoid. They sacrificed gameplay for a strong story with memorable characters. We’ve seen this before with games such as Heavy Rain and Indigo Prophecy. What TWD does differently is that it puts you in situations where you must make the hard choice of keeping Clementine happy or doing what’s best for the group, which can range from leaving a group member behind to die or stealing food. Whatever your choice may be, TWD is one that shouldn’t be missed. Jake
Much like the protagonist Corvo himself, Dishonored snuck up on me unawares, creeping out of the shadows fully formed with a knife at the ready. I don’t know how I managed to avoid all the typical hype and bluster that accompanies game releases these days, but it made the experience all the more sweeter.
A rundown, rat infested playground in which to sneak up on unsuspecting prey, with a dash of Bioshock inspired abilities, the game actively rewarded both the violent and the stealthy. With solid game mechanics and one of the best uses of teleportation in a first person game, Dishonored was an original, fresh experience in a year which had its fair share of sequels. Now where’s Dishonored 2? Ryan
Dishonored is case in point that you don’t need a next-gen console to produce an amazing new IP. For all Ubisoft‘s bitching and moaning over the past year, Arkane‘s stealthy adventurer proves that imagination and fanstatic gameplay can easily thwart any offering with a number tacked on the end. Sure the story fizzled towards the end, rather than exploding in the way Dishonored deserved, but stealthily creeping around corners and possesing unsuspecting gaurds, creating inventive chaos has been my highlight of the year. Assassin’s Creed be damned! Alex
2012′s reboot of 1994′s strategic classic arrived to appease the gaming sadists. I guess that makes me one. I never played the original -braces for face slaps-, but better late than never this year I managed to plunge into the XCOM franchise. You can keep your safety rings and ladders as I don’t need saving. I’ve had a hundred odd hours of practise now and I’m ready for Ironman mode in all its unforgiving glory.
Regardless of if you’re witnessing your turned based decisions fall apart in a heartbeat, or ordering your beloved Assault trooper to successfully execute a low percentage Arc Thrower capture, every moment is worth the sweat, blood and tears. There was no bigger challenge than XCOM: Enemy Unknown (well apart from maybe Super Hexagon) this year, and that is why I can’t get my mitts off it. Mark
I love this game because it’s the only one I’ve played that has made me feel like a tactical genius – only to kill my beloved sniper, Sally, and reduce me to a blubbering mess, cursing the aliens for their over-sized heads and superior strategies. After that, I stopped naming my soldiers and resigned myself to the fact that they were always expendable. Oh, Sally… Aaron
After such a long wait Hitman: Absolution was the game I was hoping for and more. I was prepared for some streamlining and I think it has enabled IO Interactive to give the stealth elements a polish that have elevated the game into a mainstream contender for game of the year. It’s my choice and that’s after a bug wiped my save file – I like it that much. Henry
I’m not much of a Hitman fan, but this game came out at the right time as I was still hungry for some sleek, stealth action. Unfortunately, Dishonored didn’t impress me as much as I hoped it would so I was pleasantly surprised when I dove into Absolution for the first time. Plus it gave me a decent excuse to push my new PC to the limit to see how great the visuals could get. Aaron
5. Max Payne 3
Unlike most of Rockstar’s most recent titles, Max Payne 3 abandons the open world, sandbox gameplay that we see day to day in video games and gives us a linear, cinematic, action packed game that delivers with plot twists, tons of violence, a great multiplayer system, and tons of collectibles to keep us coming back for more. Jake
A reoccurring theme this year has been returning game franchises. Rockstar are the new developers of the series and have brought all the qualities we like in their games. The dialogue is brilliant and the animations are spot on. The Brazil level in particular is probably the most atmospheric levels I have played this year. Henry
While I enjoyed Connor’s story and running freely through the Frontier, by the time AC3 actually made its way into my PS3 I wasn’t really as invested as I would have been if I’d not, say, had to play through two equally adequate but ultimately unnecessary side stories. The only reason I played the game was to get to the end of the story, which, for me, was a complete and total disappointment. That’s not to say I didn’t like the game, in fact I enjoyed so much that I put it on my list. Aaron
Despite my gripes with game it is just too expansive and varied to not be on my list. It’s so varied that the Naval battles could easily be a game in itself and the free-running amongst the trees is one of the best gaming moments this year. Henry
Borderlands 2 is quite possibly one of the best social experiences I have played this year. Of course playing solo and grabbing loot has its merits, more so than the last trip, but the real experience is in getting togther a crew and demolishing the bandit scum from the suprisingly picturesque Pandora. With a billion guns and hundreds of different enemy types, variety is the suprise of life here, betraying the repetitive kill loot repeat mechanic and the fact you just shoot stuff continuously.
Filled to the brim with anarchic humour and a barrage of popular meme references. So many references in fact, that one can play a meta game to find every single one. So far the secret Minecraft cave in Caustic Caverns and the double rainbow in the Highlands are my favourite random meme highlights. Anyway, this latest trip to the Borderlands is probably my favourite gaming moment of the year, and it should be yours too. Alex
Gearbox took the best bits of the anarchic Borderlands and tarted up the areas of the first game that were a little saggy and rough around the edges. After a story that was by its own admission mostly “tentacles and disappointment” they could have let the loot heavy mix of shooter and RPG do the heavy lifting for them, but to their credit they went all out with a game that contains some of the best lines and dialogue since Portal 2. Ryan
It gives me great pleasure to announce that Journey made it into our overall number 2 spot! As you may have noticed this list is chockfull of AAA material (not always a bad thing). I would of loved to of seen more indies cut the mustard, but if there was to be one in particular that would bring it home I’m glad thatgamecompany‘s gaming marvel did.
Few, what to say? I’ve sung praise for this game like a broken record throughout 2012 and will undoubtedly do the same for years to come. It’s made me laugh, it’s made me cry, it made me pensive on life and everything else in-between. Please, please if you own a PlayStation 3 at least
give three ponds a month play it once in your lifetime. Because attempting to explain it anymore shall tarnish something of a video game rarity.
I’ve sat upon that famous mountain top with a many anonymous scarfed companion now, and yet to still take those final steps together doesn’t get any easier, I miss them all, every one. No questions asked this is my Game of the Year. Mark
I don’t care about the ending scandal. It never bothered me, because in all honesty, a rubbish ending wasn’t enough to sully what was otherwise one of the best gaming achievements in a long time. Now I may have cried at the end of The Walking Dead, but it didn’t have me in tears at the end of every mission like ME3 did.
For me, Mass Effect was never about the moral choices (although that was a big part of what I loved about it), but instead about the game-spanning relationships with a ton of interesting characters, and seeing these relationships reach their peaks in the finale of the trilogy was a high point for me. Nothing quite matches Liara’s heartfelt words that she spoke into her Shepard time-capsule, or the secret snuggles we had after. I genuinely can’t think of a game I enjoyed more in 2012, which is why it’s my Game of the Year, and probably favorite of all time. Ever. Aaron
Despite THAT ending, I thoroughly enjoyed Mass Effect 3. It continued the refinement of the action gameplay and offered closure for many subplots. Henry
thumbACTIVE’s Games of the Year 2012 fin.
All done? Good. And now for some special mentions to a mix of games that didn’t quite make the cut… Dust: An Elysian Tail, Asura’s Wrath, Far Cry 3, Uncharted: Golden Abyss, Forza Horizon, LEGO The Lord of the Rings, Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance and Guild Wars 2.
What do you have in store for us 2013? As us here at thumbACTIVE can’t wait!