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The 13 Games that Defined 2012 (For Better or Worse)

12/30/12 3:30pm
tl;dr

Screwattack does what Crackedon't (had to use that joke again, sorry)

 

NOTE: There is NO RANKING. Its all Alphabetical based on the g1's name. All the entries are equal (well, some are better than others, but you get what I mean.

Editor's Note: Great job guys!

O hello there G1's. Would you look at the time, 2012 is almost over. The year when a Korean rap became the most watched video of all time, where politics turned into more and more of a sideshow, and where The Avengers became a actual reality.

But you don't care about any of that, so lets talk video games. As most of you don't know, I asked people to think of a game that they thought defined 2012. Not their Game of the Year mind you, but a game that defined this year. Be it due to controversy, innovation, or just existing. 

The response was better than I could ever hoped for, so together with 12 of my g1 friends, here are the 13 Games that Defined 2012 (For Better or Worse).

Blazerxz: The Walking Dead

 

These days, video game development focuses on the gameplay or the multiplayer over anything else. In most cases, storytelling has always taken a back seat to many other things. Take for example, the Call of Duty franchise. Every year a new game is released with changes and tweaks to the multiplayer. But what of the story? To put things simply, it’s the same, bland story every year. There’s some enemy force (usually terrorists of some nature) and you have to stop them. It’s like that in every single Call of Duty. Most games these days don’t make storytelling a priority.

That can’t be said of Telltale Games’ newest and arguably biggest hit: The Walking Dead. In this point and click game, everything takes a backseat to the story. This game has already won a number of Game of the Year awards from multiple sources like Spike TV and IGN, and having played the game, I can basically guarantee it was due to the story. I won’t spoil anything major here, but the writing makes you like certain characters and hate others, yet you always feel sad when someone dies. The voice actors also deserve to be recognized for their realistic and emotional portrayal of the characters in the game. The story and voice acting are so good that by the time I was done with the game, I was getting a little misty-eyed, an effect that no other game has had on me.

To put things simply, The Walking Dead is a game that defined 2012 for me because it did what so few games do these days: Have a deep, compelling story that really made me care about the characters and what happened to them.

Burf12345: Pokemon Black/White 2

 

Let's talk about Pokemon Black 2/White 2. The games are extremely familiar, with the battles being the same as they were since Diamond/Pearl, the same linearity as ever, the standard "gym leaders, Elite Four, then get some legendaries" structure, the standard sized map, and almost everything else we've come to expect from a Pokemon game.

With that said, the games does offer some big changes, and some small additions that do make a difference. The amount of legendaries to catch is pretty big (for me at least), the story is somewhat decent this time around, many more unique trainers to battle, the new hidden grottos, battles which are unlocked if you've played Black/White, a difficulty setting (kinda), many unique locations, and many more that make the game feel familiar, yet fresh.

In a way, that is 2012, we’ve been getting stuff which is expected by this point, IE Halo, CoD, a bunch of generic military shooters, Assassin's Creed, Mario to some extent, sequels, more attempts from Capcom to suck their customers' money dry, and more idiocy from EA.

On the other hand, 2012 saw the release of a bunch of surprises, such as the surprise hit that is Dishonored, the indie scene completely exploding in the form of a lot of bundles selling more than ever, the Steam Greenlight which gives smaller developers their time to shine, The Walking Dead (game) being much more popular than anyone could have predicted, Diablo III actually being released, Fez coming out,, and so much more.

2012 feels like it's still latching on to the past, but at the same time moving forward to a brighter future, which is why I pick Pokemon Black 2/White 2 as my game which defines 2012, because it sticks with the formula, but adds many changes which are more than welcome, and should most definitely stay, much like everything new in 2012.

Canadian Brony: Borderlands 2

 

I hate to be the one to say it, but 2012 contained a lot of wars. What is a big part of any war? Guns. And which game focused a lot of its gameplay on using guns? A lot of games actually, but Borderlands 2 made sure to give you plenty of guns to choose from.

Let’s look at the beginning of the game. You wake up in a frozen wasteland, no doubt reminding us of the inevitable second ice age that's coming. From then on, you infiltrate the homes of "bad" people and blow them to smithereens using whatever weapons you have at the time. Let me get this straight. So you go from place to place, killing people you don't know, for the sole purpose of "getting them before they get you" and then stripping them of their resources. HMMMMMMMM.

Okay, okay. Maybe I'm looking too much into this, but overall, Borderlands 2 is a pretty good game to use when defining what 2012 was like. It was cold, the world was miserable and it didn't take itself too seriously.

DRQ: XCOM: Enemy Unknown

Well, if I were to think of a game that defined 2012, I would say XCOM: Enemy Unknown, and I know that it’s also my game of the year as well, but hear me out. The game screams innovation, and there are a lot of innovative games that came out this year (if you look at all the new indie games that came out this year you know what I’m talking about). It’s also a big title that kind of went under the radar by most people, just like most games went under the radar this year, cause there where so many good games this year. I think this game did not just define 2012, I think its the symbol of 2012.

Fjveca: Dishonored

 

This year has been a very interesting one for gaming, a lot of big name games were delayed (BioShock Infinite & The Last of Us for example), and there are others that are almost as good as cancelled (The Last Guardian). There was a void to fill and in the age of current gen gaming you would expect that a fast made sequel would have been used to try and fill it for an easy cash grab, but actually this year was very prolific for new IPs, Lollipop Chainsaw was the biggest selling game for Grasshopper Manufacture ever, and Capcom officially made Dragon's Dogma a new franchise while Resident Evil 6 was heavily criticized, so in the mid of this there was a game that even I didn't think it was going to be as impressive as it ended up being: Dishonored.

Bethesda really hit the nail in the head, in my opinion, publishing this game doing what most major publishers are so afraid to do, bet on a new IP that could actually bring something fresh to the scene, but the curious thing is that this year there were more publishers doing this, Capcom pushed 2 completely new IPs (Dragon's Dogma and Asura's Wrath), Sony published The Unfinished Swan, Warner Bros published Lollipop Chainsaw and Telltale Games has managed to publish a 5 episode game that has been not only well-received but also managed to grab various Game of the Year awards, and while many of those games weren't heavy sellers a lot of them did actually manage to get some big recognition, and a good chunk of them were really good games.

From all of those games the one that stands out as the most complete package for me has to be Dishonored it managed to not only be a good game but it also achieved commercial success, a game that nobody expected until Bethesda released the first trailer, a fresh new intellectual property that based on its own merits managed to absolutely steal the show from the usual suspects (that actually showed up) in the gaming scene, in a year where games without a numeral in the title indicating it's place in the saga were the most interesting part Dishonored managed to make many gamers wow, and that's why I think it's the game that defines 2012.

Flapperdoodle: Journey

 

JOURNEY JOURNEY JOURNEY! ALL DA JOURNEYZ!

Seriously, if this is not #1 on your list, there's a serious problem. Like, for real, see a doctor.

There are so many things that make Journey a game that defines this year. It's not even worth going through every aspect, cause we'd be here for hours. HOURS. But, I'm going to do my best to help make some kind of connection. It's time for the some true mind blowing, MatPat style.

So, have you played Journey? If not...

*flips table while hitting you with a chair*

*waits for you to wake up from your coma*

Sorry... a bit much, but let's continue.

Journey places you as a strange unnamed thing in a robe. I pretty much call him "The Robed Figure". That's what Wikipedia calls it, so I guess that seems legit (AMIRITE?). As this strange... thing, you are in a vast desert. In the distance, you see a mountain with a blinding light. This is your ultimate destination in the game, and you must travel to this said place. To do this, you'll need to use the power of your handy dandy scarf!

Yes, it sounds silly. Keep reading.

This scarf starts out small. But soon, you can gain pieces that will extend the scarf. But why is the scarf significant? Well, the scarf allows you to fly in the game, which allows you to access various areas. The longer the scarf, the more airborne you can be. You can collect various pieces of cloth around this vast world by singing to the cloth, which will bring them to you and help you stay airborne. There's also various other things song notes can cue, which I won't DARE spoil.

But what makes Journey special? Why should you play Journey? What makes this game define 2012?

Well, I'll answer all of these questions. Starting. Now.

Journey is special for many reasons. A big one is that the game involves no spoken words. There is no talking whatsoever. The characters don't talk, there are no captions to display what the characters are saying, and there are no instructions (besides for control explanations). Also, throughout a lot of the game experience, you don't hear much music. As you travel through the vast desert, there are only occasional moments you hear a true song. Most of the time... it's just you and the Robed Figure. Traveling along to the mountain. That is until you meet another player.

One of Journey's biggest mechanics is the multiplayer aspect. Along your trip, it is likely you'll find another Robed Figure, which is just another person discovering this magical world all on his own. If you want, you two can play the game's section together. The catch? You can't speak to each other. The only communication device is through action and singing. Have you ever imagined something like that? A multiplayer experience where you cannot even speak a single word to your partner? Sounds kinda odd, yet intriguing doesn't it? At first... I was a little worried about how well this could be executed. But I soon learned of the power behind this ideal. In truth, it's brilliant.

OK, so that is why the game is special. So... why should the game be played?

Journey is an experience unlike anything from this year. There are only a select few games that I can think of that truly made me feel like it was just the game and I. There was no one else around. There was nothing to distract me. It was the game's world, and I to explore it. Even when a multiplayer character comes in to help, it just adds him/her. It's then you, another person, and the game's world. There is nothing to distract you. No other characters. No other additional quests. No need for currency, no need for leveling up, no need for saving some dumbass damsel. You are on this journey, and it's for you. Nobody else... but you. You are the one who is going on this adventure because the game's world is making you feel like you deserve it. It's a quest for you.

To add to this, there is nothing in the game that feels like a chore. To get farther in the game, there isn't a need for doing something like grinding for leveling, or killing for loot. Sure, there's a scarf, but the scarf mechanic is subtly handled to be a way to explore the world and have some fun. The game's gameplay feels like you are exploring a new world, so there is no chore. There is only discovery and excitement! And when somebody is there helping you, that feeling only strengthens.

But here's the real question... why does this game define 2012?

2012 has been... a bit of an odd year for us. This year, a Korean pop song became a hit song, causing a global sensation to take shape. This year, "Binders Full of Women" became a phrase used by many people to make fun of a presidential candidate. This year, we got a superhero movie that broke the record for the highest opening weekend of all time. Pretty awesome.

This year, we also got hit by a hurricane. Hurricane Sandy was the worst hurricane to hit the East Coast ever, causing massive damage to many people's homes, lives, and belongings. The east was devastated by it, and restoration of various places is still going on. It was an utter tragedy, one we will not be soon forgetting. People from all over came to each other's aid and helped various people. We may not have known who these people were, or even if they were good people or not. We just knew they needed help. We knew there was a situation afoot, and we needed to get it done.

This is the multiplayer aspect in Journey. You don't know this person. There's a good chance you may have never met this person in your entire life. They could be somewhere else on the globe for all you know. But you both are in the game for a reason. You both need to get somewhere. And the sooner you get there the better. So, you have to work with this person. Some difficulties may get in the way, but it's for the good of the game and the good of the adventure. You aren't working together for your own sake, you are working together for each other's sake.

And that is why Journey is not only my favorite game of 2012, but the game that DEFINES 2012

Gear12: Retro City Rampage

 

2012 was the year of the little indie that could. To me, no game represented this better than Retro City Rampage. For those who don't know, Retro City Rampage is a sandbox game in a retro 8-bit style. The game started out as a demake of Grand Theft Auto called Grand Theftendo for a homebrew NES cartridge but lead developer Brian Provinciano decided to move to PC to escape the hardware limitations and preceded to fill it with tons of references and jokes that turned the game into a massive love letter to everything gaming culture, and 1980's . The game is jam-packed with references to Robocop, Contra, Metal Gear Solid, Super Mario Bros, Batman, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The A-Team, Sonic the Hedgehog, Legend of Zelda, Punch-Out and especially Back To The Future, just to name a few.

I guess the reason that RCR is such a defining game of 2012 is because it's such a miracle that such a game can even be released. In a time where digital distribution didn't exist, a game as random and strange as Retro City Rampage could never have been released. It's an encouraging thought to all indie developers out there that a game like this can not only be made but also be successful. Now, I admit that the game isn't perfect. It would probably be winning more awards if it was. However, to me it shows an incredible amount of love for not only the medium but every single joke and reference it makes. It's an encouraging symbol for other indie developers and it stands out among the other excellent indie games that came out this year as a landmark of gaming. It's come out for pretty much everything with a screen save for the 3DS and the microwave so you have no excuse not to pick this gem up.

Icipall: Transformers: Fall of Cybertron

 

License games, the eternal swear word of videogame industry. The year 2012 has been no stranger to bad license games, considering we've been "graced" with such abominations as Kinect Star Wars, Expendables 2, 007 Legends and Wreck-It-Ralph. But maybe that's the reason why we cherish even more those license games that take our breath away. Shining example being Transformers: Fall of Cybertron.

If I had to describe Fall of Cybertron in one word, it would be love. The love the game shows to it's source material, the love the developers obviously poured into it when making it and the love we gamers felt and gave to it when playing it. Experiencing such love to a franchise this day and age, I can't help but smile.

Transformers: Fall of Cybertron may not be the best license game to come out in 2012, but when you create a game with such care that even people who don't know about the franchise can enjoy it, you've certainly done something right.

Kaibaman41: Resident Evil 6

 

Capcom has made some horrible decisions this year to piss off their fan base, from On-Disc DLC to make you rage and the cancelation of wanted Mega Man games (XOver is not a wanted Mega Man game) however, I feel that Resident Evil 6 defined 2012. Although it's puzzles and certain sections at first might feel hard or impossible, the latest game in the Resident Evil series is very addicting even with On-Disc DLC (hey it could have been worse) and if you have friends and have Xbox Live Gold or a PSN account with a headset I can assure you that you will have a good time playing this game!.

Madhero15: Medal of Honor Warfighter

 

2012 saw a lot of changes regarding games. The downloadable scene is taking more and more of the scene. Look at several GOTY lists and you'll find gems such as Journey, Fez, and much more. Games have started to innovate.

One company who seems to not notice though is EA, who's whole business practice seems to be: make everything as much of the same as possible. The Medal of Honor of 2010 was an unnecessary reboot that not too many people cared for. Its sequel though, is a more interesting beast.

Its interesting to see just how bland it is. The game might as well be a rail-shooter, considering the amount of freedom it gives. There wasn't a single original bone in its body, and that's exactly the reason why I chose it: because this may be the turning point for other modern military shooters.

While we did see amazing innovation and changes, the modern military shooter remains top dog in the industry. Warfighter however, was a game I saw greeted with a lot of animosity. Or rather, lack of any emotion. Absolutely no one I knew (IRL or online) was excited for this. Nada, zilch. What does that say about this game? It tries so hard to be CoD, and that's where the problem lies. You can't compete with CoD by being CoD, and EA found that out the hard way, by negative reception and disappointing sales. Warfighter has become the antithesis of this year in gaming. A kind of pariah that probably won’t live very long, as people have already forgotten about it. This is why chose it to define 2012.

Smoke108: Deponia

 

2012 was a strong year for the Point-and-Click genre from reaching Kickstarter goals, to winning awards, but out of all of the games that came out this year, I believe the perfect example of this genre for this year was Deponia by Daedalic Entertainment. In Deponia you control Rufus, as you try to make your way off of your junk-ridden planet while slowing discovering a deadly conspiracy.

While other games like The Walking Dead added elements such as timed actions, Deponia's greatest strength is its traditional design. In terms of characters and art design, I would compare it to the 1997 classic, Curse of Monkey Island. Rather than using the old technology of the SCUMM engine, it uses a simple two button interface, where one controls your actions, and one controls examining.

Deponia isn't the Persona of the Point-and-Click genre, it does not add new aspects into a pre-established system, and it is not an equivalent to Final Fantasy either. It does not have the wide range success that that has. It is more in line with something like Dragon's Quest, a game that very closely sticks to the norm, and keeps it safe. Deponia might not be the most groundbreaking game out there, but if you want the perfect example of the genre in this day and age, a straight forward Point-and-Click, then Deponia is a top notch choice.

The reason that Deponia is such a meaningful title for 2012 is the fact that it is an example of changes in the industry. Although 70,000 copies in this day and age does not seem like a lot, it still shows an interest of a long thought dead genre.

teh Tommy: Persona 4 Arena

 

2012, what a year it was. We had remarkable games on both AAA and indie fronts, new IPs showing not only established franchises can do well, gamers experiencing emotional reactions on a level we haven't seen before.

And yet, not all is sunshine and rainbows if you happen to live in Europe.

With over 500 million people living in the European Union alone, one could be easily excused to assume it's a market no publisher leaves behind. Sadly, that is not the case as evidenced by both publishers and hardware manufacturers - regional console lockout would be excused if not for the fact that global game releases are still something that the big players struggle with 12 years into the 21st century. We have Sony's own Shuhei Yoshida advising their customers to have foreign accounts (except their flagship handheld system cannot handle multiple accounts in the manner their other systems do), but that shrivels in comparison to one particular company, and one particular game that can serve as an example of "what the hell are you guys thinking".

Atlus' Persona 4 Arena.

Featuring an unprecedented region lock on its PS3 version and no European release window in sight, it exemplifies what European gamers get in exchange for a prospect of playing an Atlus game. When the games do get here, it's usually a solid few months after the fact, which I can see being a problem in case of a competitive fighting game with online play. After snubbing Europe during the PS1 and PS2 generation almost entirely, the pace seems to be here, but it still leaves plenty to be desired in this day and age. Get your shit together, Atlus. There are people who will pay money for your games. Get a deal with Deep Silver or Rising Star Games, they know how to do things over here.

Also, Persona 4 Golden is being released over here (not this year, lol no) by NIS America. Let that just sink in for a moment.

Tommahawk: Mass Effect 3

 

2012, like any other year in gaming, had it's share of controversies. Tomb Raider trailer, Hitman PR controversy, Anita Sarkeesian and her Tropes vs. Women Kickstarter just to name a few. But no other game has cause quite a stir like Mass Effect 3, the bad boy of 2012.

Controversy seemed to follow the game wherever it went. Here’s a quick list: ME Space, day 1 DLC, Tali's photo, gay controversy (although it stems from BioWare's recent work in general, but Mass Effect seems to have been one last drop in glass already full for conservatives), getting blamed for the Newtown shooting tragedy and, of course, the ending. It seems that everything that could've gone wrong went wrong for the game.

Starting with Mass Effect: Space Edition. Sure, it sounds freakin' awesome on paper launch a few copies into space, give early access to few lucky fans. What they didn't account for was that the game may land in pretty inaccessible places and that's exactly what happened, numerous fans claim to have injured themselves while recovering it, resulting in quite a few unhappy people.

Speaking of unhappy people. The announcement day-one DLC, which included a pretty major character, "Prothy the Prothean" Javik, upset a lot of fans (me included). And BioWare handled it terribly. That "sugar on top" excuse offered by Casey Hudson was a complete and utter BS. It would've worked fine for a character like Zaeed or Kasumi, but NOT A MOTHERFUCKIN' PROTHEAN. I'd say that Javik is at least just as important as Garrus or Tali (who if you don’t play Mass Effect, are a pretty big deal) to the game. Both of them could've heroically died on an assault of collector base and one could've still played through the without them, just as one could've played through the game without Javik. But Javik is the last of Protheans, the race long extinct and responsible for development of current cycle. While it was reapers who built Citadel and constructed Mass Relay system, it was Prothean data that led FTL development and most of other research. So BioWare gave us a link to our precursors and decided to call it MINOR. That just doesn't make much sense.

But most of the fans gave in bought the game and forked over additional cash for Javik and life moved on and things seem to have settled down. Until fans had finished the game. Tali, and to a certain extent the entire Quarian race, had their face revealed and fans got to experience the ending. I will touch up on ending later, because now I want to shift my focus to bullshit controversies. Okay, back to face reveal, so Tali had her face revealed and quarians looked eerily human, of all things. Some of the craftier fans quickly found the stock photo which was used for that. And while I understand the disappointment of some fans and agree that such major could've been handled better, that is how quarians look now. Also Javik mentioned, that quarians were beautiful in his cycle and, for the most part, we find that beautiful, in terms of attractiveness, is human-like. Deal with it.

Moving on in bullshit department. Gay controversy. It seems that Mass Effect and sex just have that something, that makes people lose their shit over it. Original ME had alien sex and sideboob, ME3 has homosexual romance option, although girl on girl seems to be alright for the most part. But guy on guy just gets rage juices flowing. BioWare has quite a track record when it comes to expressing freedom of sexuality. Zevran in Dragon Age: Origins, entire cast of Dragon Age II is bisexual/gay (I would say that BioWare overdid it a bit with DA2), Liara and femshep is pretty much lesbian. However, they completely ignored the fact that all gay sex is COMPLETELY OPTIONAL. And if your shitty kid is gay, your shitty kid will stay gay, no matter the amount of praying, gay bashing and what not you do. Deal with it.

And we finally reach THE CONTROVERSY. The one which caused the biggest uproar, the one that split the industry in half for a time. We're talking about the ending of Mass Effect 3. Well first and foremost, the original ending was a complete and utter shit – full of plot holes, decisions lacking impact and, most importantly, it provided no closure whatsoever. It gave birth to Retake Mass Effect movement, which did some fun things (cupcakes were funny and smart) and some deplorable things (raising money for charity to increase "cause awareness"). Okay, I will touch up on charity a bit. Charity is good and noble, but it has to be done for the sake of charity and nothing else. If you think otherwise, go fuck yourself. The ending raised issues of gamer entitlement and artistic integrity, good and important discussions to be had on both subjects.

Regardless of discussions BioWare HAD to do something about the ending. Be it defending it to the last breath, which they did for quite a while, or caving in to demands and fix it, which ended up happening to a certain extent. EA and BioWare did various events (some of them may have been coincidental, some of them not so much) to distract and placate gamers and defended their ending for a long time before releasing free Director's Cut DLC, which addressed a few issues. Most importantly, it provided some desperately needed closure for many a gamer in a way that didn't really compromised their artistic integrity, since they didn't change the ending completely or provide a completely new one. But it definitely seemed like a last resort to win back some goodwill and I'm pretty sure that they didn't plan for that DLC. What the ending controversy gave us was totally worth the entire ruckus that surrounded it. It proved that developers and publishers are accountable for what they do, that fans actually have impact even on AAA games and it helped gaming mature. A game cannot not define a year of gaming when it causes a shit-storm like that. I will go out a limb and say that Mass Effect 3 defined A DECADE

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Well guys, that sure was something. If you read all of it, some mad respect to you (seriously, this is longer than I thought) and I hope you enjoyed it. Could you maybe tell us what you thought was the game that defined 2012, and if so, why? I would love to know the answer. Thank you so much for joining us, and I wish you all a Happy New Year!

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