Game of the Year 2012.

2012 was the year I decided to ramp up my game reviews significantly, aiming to get at least one done per week. I got pretty close to that goal managing to get through a grand total of 48 games last year, well over the double previous year’s tally. I have to say that I really enjoyed the whole experience as I often found myself going outside my comfort zone in order to find something to review and the number of indie games I’ve played this year is more than all the years prior put together. Now that 2012 is firmly in the rear view mirror it comes time for me to reflect on all the games that I’ve played and crown one of them Game of the Year 2012.

As always here’s a list in chronological order of the games I reviewed during 2012:

Now people who’ve been here a while (and have read my Guide to Game Reviews on The Refined Geek) will know that my review scores tend towards the infamous 7 to 10 scale rather than 0 to 10 but from time to time I’ll venture below that curve for games that really deserve it. Notable mentions that did this include Lone Survivor, I Am Alive and (drum roll please) this year’s winner of lowest score received: Dear Esther. My review of that game was probably one of the most controversial reviews I’ve ever written as I had people telling me I simply “didn’t get it” all the way up to saying that it wasn’t fair for me to judge it as a game because it wasn’t. Sadly nothing of what anyone sad to me could change the horrific experience I had with Dear Esther and it gives me an undue amount of pleasure to give it the Wooden Spoon as worst game of 2012.

Whilst 2011 saw me give a notable mention to Gemini Rue for being a stand out indie game of that year I can’t feel like I can do the same this year: there’s just so many deserving titles and unlike Gemini Rue nearly all of them got the praise they deserved. Indeed the reason I found out (and subsequently played) so many indie titles this year was because of the attention they were receiving in the larger video games press and if it wasn’t for a few kind words from some of my trusted sources many of these indie games might not have seen a review here. Whilst I’ll stop short of giving an award to the indie game scene (because that’s incredibly lame) I will say that I’m looking forward to what the indie scene brings forth in 2013 and beyond.

One game that I’d like to give an honourable mention to, since it is by far my most played game of 2012 by a long shot, is Defense of the Ancients 2 (DOTA 2). Whilst I starting playing it back towards the end of 2011 I really didn’t get that into it until just after I wrote my initial review of it but after then my play time in it snow balled considerably. This was helped a lot by the fact that a cadre of my competitive gaming friends joined along with me which fuelled my addiction to it to perilous heights. Today I’ve played over 600 games and ranked up well over the same amount of hours playing, watching and talking about DOTA 2 and Valve deserves an extraordinary amount of credit for making this game what it is today. It’s not my game of the year since it’s more like a meth addiction than anything else, but that doesn’t detract from its accomplishments.

I’ll be honest, choosing my game of the year (even with the beautiful hindsight granted by having a big list of games I’ve played right there to look over) was tough. Whilst there were a lot of good games there were no amazing stand outs like there was the year previous. Going by review scores the best game of last year for me was Journey and whilst I was very tempted to give it that honour, like IGN has done, I couldn’t shake this feeling in the back of my head that there was another game that was more deserving but I couldn’t figure out which one to pick. The answer came to me, funnily enough, in the middle of a New Years eve party in the early hours of the morning and I still agree with that decision today.

My Game of the Year for 2012 is To The Moon.

If for the simple fact that I’m fighting back tears right now isn’t proof enough that this game had a massive impact on me To The Moon is one of those games that eschewed game play in favour of telling a beautiful, gripping story. Sure the game play was flawed and the disjointed pacing was one of the reasons that it didn’t score better than Journey but if just thinking about it can cause that kind of reaction in me then I know it had an impact that few games have had. I could continue gushing about it for hours if I wanted to but you really need to experience it for yourself as it’s an incredibly personal experience, one that will stick with you for a long time.

I had debated whether or not to continue my 1 review per week deal this year as whilst I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and opportunities it has granted me (2 games this year were sent to me for review, a 100% increase on last year!) it does take a fair bit of time to get through them. However considering the amount of DOTA 2 I’ve managed to fit in the past year I figure that cutting back on that in favour of more games will see more deadlines hit more frequently meaning more regular reviews for you, my readers. I won’t make any grandiose promises about reviewing more games this year than last but I’ll guarantee I’ll try my hardest to get one out a week and continue to pillage the vast reaches of all game genres and developers.

P.S. What was your game of the year? I’m really keen to know.

2 Comments

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  1. Pretty long and comprehensive list there. Out of those I only played ME3, MP3 & Sleeping Dogs. Each had their flaws and most of these you covered in your reviews. I also picked up Batman AC GOTY on a steam super sale but haven’t played it yet.

    For whatever reason I liked Sleeping Dogs the best out of these three. I just loved the oriental setting and atmospheere. Where Square Enix have really dropped the bundle is all the pointless DLC they are releasing. I wouldn’t mind some new storyline content (looking at forums I’m not the only one either) just not a new top or clothes or whatever they’re flogging. There is a Zombie DLC and a Zodiac tournament which looked a little meatier but I haven’t explored them.

    ME3 is blighted by its ending. Enough has been said on this. The issue of day one DLC paled into insignificance for it. No idea why EA are introducing more DLC for the game either. Omega? Really?

    MP3 was shortish and I didn’t feel inclined to run though the levels on different modes and I didn’t touch the multiplayer. I never understood Max’s motives either. He was one dumb gringo. It looked great though.

    My recent finish in 2012 was actually the Witcher 1 which I started back in 2009, stopped in 2010 and started again in December 2012 so I could start Witcher 2 EE. I’ll post on your Witcher 2 review about both games when I finish it. Just near end of Chapter 1 now.

    Anyway keep up the reviews. A independent view of games is a good starting point for me and your site in general is a welcome distraction from work.

  2. I was pretty chuffed that it was so long, especially when compared to last year 😉

    Sleeping Dogs surprised me actually. I figured it was just going to be another GTA clone but it really did feel distinctly different once you got into it. I’d read about the DLC but hadn’t looked into it since I’m not usually a DLC kind of guy but the Zodiac tournament stuff sounded cool.

    100% agree with you on the ending to ME3. Whilst I’ve heard that the extra endings and new DLC go some way to rectify the shoddy ending the damage has been done and it’s a real shame the Shepard trilogy had to end the way it did.

    I enjoyed MP3 for what it was worth (straight up action with little plot) but like you didn’t bother with other game modes or the multi.

    Look forward to it Chaos. I never played the first one and felt like there were parts I missed or didn’t quite understand so it’ll be interesting to see your comments on how the two compare.

    Thanks mate 😀 I really do love doing these reviews (they are probably the easiest articles for me to write, they just flow out) and really do appreciate all the comments.

    I also love being people’s distraction of choice. I used to get angry emails when I didn’t post more regularly (“What am I going to read at lunch today?!?!”).

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