Game of the Year 2012: 5-1
It’s time to conclude our hunt for the Game of the Year for 2012. With such a range of fantastic games to pick from, it was a difficult choice, but the results are in. Agree or disagree with the outcome? Let us know in the comments.
5th. Max Payne 3
With Rockstar taking the mantle from the more idiosyncratic folks at Remedy Entertainment, Max Payne 3 is an altogether different game than its quirky predecessors. The series’ self-referential and unconventional tone replaced with a gritty narrative seeped in real-world issues that provide a stark contrast between the rich and poor in São Paulo, Brazil. It’s violent and disturbing, centred on a protagonist suffering from alcoholism and depression. It’s his fascinating character arc – a tale of redemption – at the heart of everything that makes Max Payne 3 such a fantastic game.
Bullet-time still feels fresh and exciting, even with the inclusion of a conventional cover mechanic. A distinctive conceit that exudes frenetic and exhilarating action, allowing you to hurtle through the air, bullets spraying with reckless abandon. Max Payne 3 may be a far cry from its influential predecessors, but Max remains a constant source of joy, whether he’s diving from a helicopter or donning the worst shirt you’ve ever seen. Max’s arc carries the story forward, and its accomplished gameplay complements it in every way.
4th. Far Cry 3
The omission of Black Ops 2 or Halo 4 from our list is a testament to universal fatigue of the FPS, so what sets Far Cry 3 apart from the higher-grossing competition? Simply put, Far Cry 3 is an exploration game that merely features shooting as a necessary component. Learning from the looseness of its predecessor, this is a heavily plot-driven game that never forces its significant number of distractions on the player. Similarly to last year’s Skyrim, its environments beg to be traversed, but unlike Bethesda’s colossus, fatigue rarely sets in because seeing the entire island never feels unachievable. The shooting is unremarkable and side missions quickly become repetitive, but the Rook Islands demand your attention and will force few to outstay their welcome. Far Cry 3 goes against the grain in 2012 by being the only truly essential blockbuster.
3rd. Hotline Miami
Hotline Miami is a funny one. Violence in videogames is an immensely sticky subject and sparks heated debates across the world. Hotline Miami is pretty sick. But it could be so much sicker. When you add in the authentic ’80s inspired soundtrack, the animal masks, the vibrant neon colour palette and the mysterious, intriguing story, it becomes slick. A drug-induced cocktail of blood and combos, of tension and relief. Kills stack up like pieces in a puzzle, with the final piece being the last thug’s brains spread on the carpet floor. It’s brutal, it’s beautiful and it’s thrilling, and it should never be classed as offensive, because that’s missing the point completely.
2nd. XCOM: Enemy Unknown
If I could choose one game this year to enter a civil partnership with, it would be Firaxis’ superb turn-based tactical alien blaster. Perfectly straddling the line between paying homage to a beloved classic and attracting a modern audience, XCOM provides countless hours of blissful strategic combat and base-building, all wrapped up in the skin of an alien invasion B-movie pot-boiler. You will lose countless hours guiding your small band of desperadoes through the campaign, agonising over every single decision and weeping in anguish when your star corporal turns a corner and gets an impromptu amateur appendectomy from a hulking death-beast. It’s lovingly constructed, genuinely challenging and endlessly rewarding and if you haven’t played it yet you should do so immediately. Like right now.
1st. The Walking Dead
The Walking Dead captured its audience in a way no other video game has before and is far superior to its filmed TV counterpart, perhaps another first for this medium. By creating a story first and then putting in game mechanics where they fit, rather than vice versa, Telltale Games’ episodic series was both mature and well written. The wait between each episode led to us booking a night out once the next release date was announced. Tear-jerking, tense, humourous, captivating, and with a pitch-perfect musical score, The Walking Dead is our Game of the Year.