Top 10 Video Games From 2012

For the first time in years, I did a decent job keeping up with the latest video game releases. There were still many that I missed, but this is the first time I have been able to put together a top 10 list during January. This was a great year for video games, especially when it came to narrative-driven experiences.

Honorable Mentions:
Journey
Dyad
FIFA 13
Call of Duty: Black Ops II

Mass Effect 3
10) Mass Effect 3
This is The Dark Knight Rises of the Mass Effect trilogy, especially in terms of divisiveness. I loved it despite mixed feelings about the ending.

Trials Evolution [XBLA]
9) Trials Evolution
Pretty much the perfect sequel. Expands upon the original in every way possible.

Sleeping Dogs [Xbox 360]
8) Sleeping Dogs
A strong contender for my new favorite GTA-style game. Gotta love the Hong Kong setting, too.

Mark of the Ninja [Xbox 360, 2012]
7) Mark of the Ninja
This could very well be the best stealth game I have ever played. Finishing a level without being seen always feels like a huge triumph.

Max Payne 3
6) Max Payne 3
If ever there were a game that feels like an action movie, this is it. Hell, it’s better than most of Hollywood’s recent action flicks.

Hotline Miami [PC]
5) Hotline Miami
The violence is hard to stomach, but the gameplay is so addictive that I kept coming back for more. Best soundtrack of the year as well.

XCOM: Enemy Unknown
4) XCOM: Enemy Unknown
I’m usually not a big fan of strategy games, but XCOM locked me in and didn’t let go. Easy to learn, difficult to master, but always fun.

Spec Ops: The Line [Xbox 360]
3) Spec Ops: The Line
On the surface, this appears to be nothing more than a standard third-person military shooter. But then the story kicks in, and it’s impossible to get out of this descent into madness. Arguably the best narrative ever found in a shooter.

Borderlands 2 [Xbox 360]
2) Borderlands 2
The original Borderlands was one of the breakout hits of 2009, and the sequel delivers everything that worked so well in an even more refined experience. I can’t stop looting.

The Walking Dead: The Game [Xbox 360, 2012]
1) The Walking Dead
The most emotional experience I have ever come across in a video game. An unheralded art of storytelling in a medium that so badly needs strong narratives.

What I Missed: Far Cry 3, Lone Survivor, Torchlight II, Diablo III, Hitman: Absolution

What did I miss? Do you agree with these choices? If you have your own top 10, feel free to share in the comments!

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26 thoughts on “Top 10 Video Games From 2012

  1. jsicktheslick says:

    Solid selections indeed. We are in the same boat with top honors to The Walking Dead and Borderlands 2. Both excellent titles.
    I had a sort of sleeper hit this year for my top games. Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward for 3DS and Vita was absolutely amazing. Great storytelling, like you mention for The Walking Dead. I suggest checking it out if you can.

    • Eric @ The Warning Sign says:

      You know, I heard a lot about that game and it definitely sounds like something I could get into. I’ve heard it helps to play the first one — that’s 999, right? — so I might try to do that beforehand. Unless you think I could get away with just playing the new one…?

      • jsicktheslick says:

        Yes, 999 is the first one. But actually, I’ve never played that one! Even without the background information established in that game, Virtue’s Last Reward is still enjoyable. It’s an entirely different story from 999, but I understand that playing 999 gives you a bit more incite on a few characters and happenings in the new game.
        My suggestion would be to play both, but I can only speak truths about Virtue’s Last Reward 🙂

  2. Anders says:

    You’ve played a lot of great games man, more than me :p Always nice to hear your take on these games, and I also got reminded to play a few I haven’t played yet 🙂 Keep those lists coming!

  3. Nostra says:

    Have played way too little last year, but Sleeping Dogs has been on my “to buy” list for a while. I’m currently working my way through Max Payne and it is stunning. Have to check out Spec Ops, sounds interesting!

  4. The Heretic says:

    I finished Mass Effect 2, I ended up really enjoying it. Hopefully I will get a chance to play three. I just downloaded all of the other chapters for The Walking Dead, but haven’t had a chance to play it yet.

      • The Heretic says:

        I haven’t played either the first one or the third one. I asked the clerk at Gamestop which out of the three she felt was the best game she said the second one, so I went with that suggestion to start with. As for the ending, I have probably sat through more movies with terrible endings than that game. I think I have sat through entire movies that were terrible all the way through (especially some B titles).

        • Eric @ The Warning Sign says:

          Ah, if you have only played ME2, the ending might not bother you as much. Most people were just pissed about putting 40+ hours into their character between ME1 & ME2 only to reach a mediocre conclusion. It didn’t bother me as much, but the complaints are certainly valid.

          If you get a chance, I would recommend playing through the series in order, importing your character from the previous game each time. ME1 is a bit dated now, but it sets the framework for the rest of the series. I felt myself getting pretty damn attached to some of the characters, too.

          • The Heretic says:

            Sounds like they did like .Hack did with the ability to transition the player character and levels from one game to the next. That is pretty cool.

  5. The Blog of Big Ideas says:

    I’d love to have a bit more time on my hands to exchange notes on videogames but sadly I only get to play and finish about two or three per year. Having said that, Im somewhat familiar with most of your choices and Im not entirely surprised by the ones that made it. I cant wait to get my hands on Borderlands and Sleeping Dogs from this lot you have here.

  6. Tony Costa says:

    Excellant List Eric! I mostly agree with you, especially on Borderlands 2, i would say that was game of the year. If i can suggest a list? top ten games your looking forward to in 2013.

  7. Chuck says:

    Great list with the majority of top titles of the year on there…but you missed two! “dum dum dum!” Journey and FarCry 3! Those are my #2 and #3 of the year, but my #1 is the same as yours so I guess I’ll keep coming by this site of yours 😀

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