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As we say farewell to the year 2012, it was a great year in the world of video games with some of them living up to their expectations while others disappointed. From Nintendo releasing a new console with the Wii U, highly anticipated sequels either ending or beginning a new era for certain franchises, and some of the best downloadable games ever, gaming this year had its ups and downs. Entertainment Fuse picks the best games of certain genres and our overall best game of 2012.
Best Shooter- Halo 4
It has been a great year for shooters. While most people can come up with a multitude of reasons as to why the genre is full of nothing but continuous reiterations with little to no innovation, I’m here to tell you that we should be celebrating that fact instead of dreading it. Shooters have hit a wall in a lot of different ways, that much is true, but not in the way that the genre is being held back or not realizing its potential. What we have witnessed this year is the completion of a process that has spanned the entirety of the this console cycle and, arguably, even before then.
Halo 4 is our choice for shooter of the year not because of its graphics or new ideas, but because it is a high quality game no matter how you slice it. Regardless of how you feel about the franchise, it is undeniable that Halo revolutionized the shooter genre for consoles and made the online PC shooters think twice about their “master race” arguments. Halo’s strong history, however, is still not the reasoning behind why it is the best shooter of 2012, instead its the adaptability the game has shown even through the most trying of situations. Halo 4 is a product of blood, sweat, and tears from two separate studios and underwent some major design changes for this release while still maintaining its Halo feel. That is something to be celebrated and something to make note of. By: Christopher Puenner
Honorable Mentions: Borderlands 2, Max Payne 3
Best Racing Game – Need for Speed: Most Wanted
There were a lot of expectations for Need for Speed: Most Wanted ever since it was announced earlier this year, especially for me. Criterion Games proved that they are capable of continuing the franchise in their own way with Hot Pursuit back in 2008 and this year’s Most Wanted proved that they are still the best developers of the genre. The Burnout Paradise formula that was used in this game for a new open city called Fairhaven was executed beautifully. The licensed cars were simple and fun to drive that reminded me of the Burnout games Criterion used to make. Plus, the multiplayer was some of the best times I had in a racing game in a long time. Most Wanted is our favorite racing game of the year and I look forward to what is next for the Need for Speed franchise especially in the next generation of consoles. By: Jeffrey Dy
Honorable Mentions: Forza Horizon, DIRT Showdown
Best Strategy Game – XCOM: Enemy Unknown
This is without a doubt the best strategy game of the year and one of the best of 2012. The sheer amount of control you have over the events that unfold mean that the player really feels connected with XCOM: Enemy Unknown and thus cares about the outcome much more than if you just ran around hoping to stay alive. From the careful planning while on mission to the behind the scenes decisions, the game gives the player an actual challenge and tries to open your brain to the possibility that some video games might actually require some thought. XCOM: Enemy Unknown is one of the best strategy games to come out of 2012, if not ever. By: Emma Quinlan
Best Action/Adventure Game – Dishonored
Dishonored is the Thief-meets-Deus Ex infused with steampunk aesthetics of video games. It is consistently challenging, painstakingly well-crafted and engrossing to no end, and unlike most games this year, caters to just about every conceivable gameplay style imaginable. Brute force is encouraged equally as much as stealth and no matter what combination of powers, weapons and gadgets you choose to employ, Dishonored is a rollicking good time from start to finish. By: Charlie Osterlund
Honorable Mentions: Sleeping Dogs, Resident Evil: Revelations
Best Fighting Game – Persona 4 Arena
Out of the fighting games released this year, and there were a ton of them as if it was the 90s all over again, Persona 4 Arena was the complete package. Atlus and Arc System Works had something special using characters from both Persona 4 and 3 into a fighting game. From the lengthy story mode, accessible yet hard to master gameplay, other challenging modes, and the online play having a superb netcode, there was something for both fighting game fans and Persona fans. It is also one of the best looking 2D fighters in recent memory using a similar style to previous Arc games such as the Guilty Gear and Blazblue franchises. It was a great year to be a Persona fan, whether you’re new or old, with both this and Persona 4 Golden for the Playstation Vita. Persona 4 Arena is our favorite fighting game of 2012 and I’m more excited for Persona 5 whenever Atlus decides to announce it. By: Jeffrey Dy
Honorable Mentions: Tekken Tag Tournament 2, Dead or Alive 5
Best RPG – Mass Effect 3
Putting aside its controversial ending, Mass Effect 3 was a fantastic sequel and end to the Mass Effect trilogy. While many will argue that the game is even less of an RPG than its predecessors, this game features more RPG elements than the previous sequel. Featuring the return of fantastic characters, wonderful worlds to explore, and great customizable weaponry, everything about Mass Effect 3 was satisfying. Most of the character’s side stories were wrapped up in fine form as well, and while many will scoff at the “bad ending” to the series, I thought it was just fine. The extended cut ending did help clear up a few questions I had though. I also can not remember a game that has received so much post-launch DLC support in quite some time. With three paid DLC missions and numerous free multiplayer update packs, Bioware kept you shooting things up with your friends in 2012. By: Kyle Enz
Honorable Mentions: Torchlight II, Guild Wars 2
Entertainment Fuse’s Game of the Year – The Walking Dead
What is there to say about this game that hasn’t already been said many times before? This game has been getting a lot of attention lately in this award season and rightfully so. What started as a pleasant surprise in Episode 1 developed over the season into something which many will look back on as being an important game for the industry. Maybe episodic releases will be the popular thing to do as more games gravitate towards digital distribution. Maybe the next Uncharted will be released episodically, doubtful but not the ridiculous notion it would have been at the start of this year.
Overall I feel like people will have read the reasons why this game is so good many times over. The character development and choices, emotional agony and shocking plot twists are unlike any story told this year. The main reason why it is my game of the year is because I definitely spent more time talking to friends, reading forums and having discussions about this game than any other in 2012. Looking forward to the next episode and pondering over what potential choices I might make have defined this year for gaming for me. When I look back to 2012 in the future without a doubt the first game that will spring to mind is Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead. That is why I can not think of a more deserving game of the year. By: Matt Rowles
I may be preaching to the choir at this point, but I cannot express how impressed I was with The Walking Dead. While at first, I was just excited by a story driven adventure, I never could have grasped how powerful of an experience I would have over the course of a few months. But after all was said and done, and the final credits had played, I was struck by a single word: brilliant. This game is simply brilliant. It digs its talons into you and doesn’t let go like a first love; It takes control over you and draws you back in until the final resolution of the story.
While everything about the game may be simple in terms of mechanics, that simplicity is integral to making the story central, and allows the story to climb upon a throne of emotion. However, the simplicity of the mechanics do not make the game easy by any standards. Where it lacks in complex controller combinations, it makes up in decision making. The decisions feel real, and draw a real response from the player. I’m not afraid to admit I cried. And I’m also not afraid to say this was the best game of 2012 for me. For those looking for a journey to where video games don’t often go, play The Walking Dead. You may not love it as much as I did, but I can guarantee you won’t regret the journey. By: Rick Wawrzyscuk
Honorable Mentions: Far Cry 3, Journey