There is always so much to celebrate around this time of year. Whether it's the end of the holiday shopping season, the visit with family and old friends, the mounds of presents wrapped under the tree, or the inevitable self-reflection that comes with the new year, we all anxiously peer forward while looking back at the highlights and lowlights of that last 12 months. For our industry--the world of videogames--this is a time to acknowledge the very best titles from the year while gazing ahead with bated breath in hopes that next year has even more surprises in store. Next year should have plenty of those surprises as we likely end an era with the PlayStation 3 and begin to welcome Sony's next console. That is getting ahead of ourselves slightly, however. For now, we want to reflect on these last 12 months and share our list of the 10 Best Games of 2012, as created by the staff here at PSU.
We welcomed new heroes in 2012 and reunited with old friends. We ventured to real-life settings and travelled to mysterious alien planets. We fought zombies, skags, pirates, and thugs in a hunt for our sanity, freedom, riches, and our own existence. We scratched our heads as some popular storylines came to an end and smiled as brand new narratives seemed to sprout out of nowhere. We took one of our favorite PS3 franchises on the go thanks to the PS Vita and sat with friends around Sony's black magic box to defeat Angry Jack. We were forced to make hard decisions through a game that's genre seemed far outdated and welcomed a stealth-action game that took us by storm. We played as our ancestor and traveled back in time once more in the animus. We took our game to the future again as Commander Shepard and played the role of a spoiled American stranded on a terribly dangerous island. We were mesmerized by the emotions conveyed in many of the year's best games and we leapt for joy as one of our old PS2 favorites arrived on the PS Vita.
Yes, 2012 was not the best year for gamers, but that doesn't mean it didn't produce excellent titles. Join us now as we countdown our picks for the best PlayStation games of 2012. We urge you to share your personal favorites below and let us know what you hope to see in the coming year.
Without further ado, we present to your PSU's 10 Best Games of 2012.
10) Assassin's Creed III
Ubisoft didn't need to take a giant leap of faith with its latest Assassin's Creed title. The franchise has amassed an army of fans that drool at the very thought of any new installment, and the latest chapter, Assassin's Creed III, likely didn't disappoint those fans. Sure, it had its fair share of bugs and had plenty of story element issues, but the fact you could engage in naval battles sealed it in our best of 2012 list.
Here's what we had to say in our review: "There is simply so much to do and see that it's hard not to recommend this title, even to someone completely new to the assassins on-going battle against the Templars."
9) Max Payne 3
Max Payne is one sad dude. He's also a complete mess. He enters this third installment in the franchise in the hopes of laying low and putting his past behind him. But, that wouldn't make for a very fun game. Instead, we join Max through a web of violence in Sao Paulo, Brazil. We were especially impressed with the storyline of Max Payne 3 and the surprisingly successful character study Rockstar Games produced. We also loved the action and it had us on the edge of our seats the entire time.
Here's what we had to say in our review: "Rockstar has magnificently built upon Max’s character from the previous games. They’ve taken his back-story and personality and have created a character that’s exactly how you’d imagine Max would be at this point of his life having witnessed such violence over the years."
8) Mass Effect 3
Ending controversy aside, Commander Shepard's epic sci-fi swansong deserves its spot among 2012's standout titles. Bringing to a conclusion the epic struggle against the Reapers, Mass Effect 3 has it all; compelling narrative, superb combat and a massive galaxy ripe for exploration. Choices you have made in the past two games come back to haunt you, and the addition of multiplayer further supplements the single-player campaign's war effort and makes for some hugely addicting online play to boot as you team up against legions of foes. Friends live or die based on your actions in this unmissable, emotionally-charged epic.
Here's what we had to say in our review: "Mass Effect 3 is unequivocally the game to beat this year. If you're not a fan, this is a great time to hop on board the Normandy."
7) LittleBigPlanet PS Vita
It was inevitable that SackBoy would eventually find his way to the PS Vita, but what we didn't know was how good it would turn out. As a matter of fact, we went ahead and called it the best LittleBigPlanet yet; that's saying an awful lot. With a brand new story, brilliantly executive touch-and-button hybrid controls, and tons of creation tools, LBP PS Vita deserves its place on our list of best games of the year and certainly one of Vita's best to date. This is definitely a must-own for new PS Vita owners and especially those familiar with the popular series.
Here's what we said in our review: "This compelling, imaginative adventure is the best LittleBigPlanet yet and breaks new ground in a hybrid space of touch-and-button-based gaming that is only possible on PlayStation Vita."
6) Persona 4 Golden
As a port of the classic PlayStation 2 JRPG, Persona 4 Golden hit all the right notes when it landed on the PS Vita. It features extraordinary characters, a gripping narrative, addictive gameplay, and unmistakable charm. This is one of the best games for PS Vita to date, and certainly fitting for our list of best games of 2012. This is one of the best produced games to grace the PS Vita and everything from the artwork to voice acting are spot on perfect. This version also brought about a ton of new content to make it the perfect title to add to your shopping list, especially if you have any desire to check out one of the finest JRPGs of all time.
Here's what we said in our review: " Persona 4 Golden is a triumph on PlayStation Vita. Hundreds of hours of portable goodness is carried by console-quality presentation, a gripping narrative, and compelling gameplay."
As one of the only true original titles to grace our list this year, Dishonored seemed to come out of nowhere. It initially flew under our radar, which seemed fitting for this stealth-action RPG. We loved the steampunk setting, interesting art style, and unique story. Most of all, however, we loved the gameplay. We could choose to use our magical abilities to quickly teleport around the well-crafted levels, run around with guns blazing, or sneak about and try not to sound any alarms. Dishonored made a great addition to this year's line-up, and we look forward to the inevitable sequels to come.
Here's what we said in our review: "Dishonored is one of the greatest new IPs in recent history, and one of the best games of the year."
Thatgamecompany stole our hearts with Journey. We weren't alone as our community picked it as the runner up in our Game of the Year vote. With its breathtaking atmosphere and addictive gameplay, Journey was not only one of the best downloadable games from 2012, it was also one of the best games overall. This was a simple game, but we found it utterly stunning. In fact, Journey landed a perfect 10 from our reviewer.
Here's what we said in our review: "The emotional aspect of the game really hit home as I was playing Journey with my six-year old daughter; as we were nearing the end of our Journey, I looked over and saw tears in her eyes."
3) Borderlands 2
Borderlands 2 wasn't really a surprise, especially for fans of the original. That doesn't mean it wasn't a freaken awesome game, however. In fact, Borderlands 2 was easily the most entertaining game of 2012; it had a sense of humor like nothing else this year, and it's still so damn addictive. With a brand new quartet of characters--strikingly similar to the original vault hunters--we saw a deeper leveling system, more player options, and one of the funniest villains of all time. Gearbox continues to put out new content for Borderlands 2, so 2013 is looking to be a great year again for the mobs of vault hunters.
Here's what we said in our review: "Borderlands 2 is one of the best co-op experiences of this generation and vastly superior to its predecessor, which is saying a lot. Get lost under a pile of loot as you join friends on the battlefield in your new quest on Pandora."
2) The Walking Dead
Telltale's five-part episodic adventure was an absolute masterpiece. The studio has a knack for putting out this style of game, but The Walking Dead episodes are so far superior to the studio's previous games that it's easy to put it in a league of its own. It provided an emotional rollercoaster through an aesthetically-pleasing presentation. Couple that with an incredible cast, stellar voice acting, and a mesmerizing plot and you have the makings of a great game. Sure, the gameplay may feel truly old school, but that's not always a bad thing.
Here's what we said in our review: "The Walking Dead is one of the best downloadable games of all time."
1) Far Cry 3
Any one of these top three games could have graced the top of the list, but we were so blown away by this open-world shooter that we had to give it the number one spot. Ubisoft gave a master class in how to design an open-world shooter, how to tell an interesting story, how to make the environment of a game feel vibrant, and how to let players choose how they want to approach nearly every situation. We aren't the only ones who loved Far Cry 3. Our community picked it as the Best Game of 2012 recently and we'd like to echo many sentiments and urge you to pick up this game. It gives new meaning to hunting in videogames and sets a high bar for protagonist development, villain voice acting, and replayability. Even as we enter the new year, we look forward to exploring the lush tropical island, securing strategic bases, and even taking part in a co-op or competitive multiplayer match.
Here's what we said in our review: "Far Cry 3 is one of Ubisoft's best games ever and it nails the open world first-person shooter genre on the head. After playing through the crazy story, the addictive gameplay, and lush setting, you may wonder why more developers don't pay this much attention to the little details."
On behalf of PSU, I'd like to congratulate Ubisoft and all developers and publishers who made our list of the 10 Best Games of 2012. Here's hoping you can take these games and build on their success in the coming years. Congratulations!
Honorable mentions: Xcom: Enemy Unknown, The Unfinished Swan, Spec Ops: The Line, Sound Shapes, Hitman: Absolution, PlayStation All-Stars: Battle Royale, Gravity Rush, Need for Speed Most Wanted, Tekken Tag 2, Guardians of Middle Earth