Games I Enoyed This Year — 2012
2011 left a serious wake in its path in regard to AAA titles, e.g., Call of Duty, Battlefield, Elder Scrolls, etc… and even though 2012 also had its fair share of blockbuster games, I firmly believe this year was an awakening for the underdog. Yet, the underdog is not a pejorative term in regards to its inherent quality — instead it’s a battle cry for those games that don’t receive the backing of major AAA companies; a rallying call sent forth after the battle of 2011.
A majority of the games I enjoyed this year happened to come out on PC, actually all five of my choices happen to be games of the tried and true workhorse. I don’t know what this says about console gaming. It could very well be the cyclical nature of console’s life cycle as it nears the final lap; a true testament to the seven plus years some of these current generation consoles have given us. But, until a new console is unveiled to the wanting public, PC gaming should enjoy an all too needed day in the sun.
“You need some color, PC. You look pale and clammy.”
“Get that Sun block away from me and bring on the rays!”
Well, you know what’s going on, right? Anyways, here is a short listing and description of my games of 2012.
FTL: I haven’t beaten FTL. I say that with the utmost confidence that this is completely okay. Dealing with a rogue-like such as FTL, you get a sense that these games are truly enjoyed when the hull around your ship is crumbling and your crew is being suffocated slowly from within your own ship’s ever depleting oxygen levels. It’s these moments, the times of sheer chaos that let FTL shine; not so much as a game of exploration and empowerment but as a game of terror, regret, and pure fun. FTL isn’t a short game as you can plot and strategize for hours about your crew and destination, but it definitely isn’t a long game, and at a very reasonable price point, FTL will be a standby in my game library for some time.
Hotline Miami: As you descend down the dingy stairs of your 80’s metropolitan apartment, thumping some serious synth tunes, all the while the world around you is a nauseating pastiche of pink’s, green’s, and oranges, you know you’re in for something special. Hotline Miami doesn’t let you enter its world lightly: instead it chooses to drop you off in the darkest alleyway you could imagine and tells you to run blindly down the dank, dripping path to insanity. Hotline Miami is definitely divisive in its portrayal of glorified violence, but that’s okay within the framework of the game. Video game violence should be discussed in an intelligent and mature manner and Hotline Miami might spur such a discussion, but it also demonstrates how much appropriate glee can come from such a violent video game.
The Walking Dead: What hasn’t been said already?
An episodic game that has become the modern day watermark for interactive storytelling and emotional connection in a video game – or, a point and click adventure that cleverly presents the user with a modicum of choice while still holding firm to a linear story disguised as a game of unparalleled choice. Either way, The Walking Dead is such a serious game at times, you forget that you are playing a game and instead are dropped into the wonderfully realized world of zombies and melodrama. I don’t know if I will play this game over and over, but I do know that I will remember the decisions I made when dealing with constantly evolving cast of Walking Dead characters.
Civilization V: Gods and Kings (or XCOM: Enemy Unknown): I’m a sucker for hex-based turn-based strategy; any chance I get to reenter the world of Civilization… well, I take it with unabated enthusiasm. For real, unabated. I feel some distrust with Civilization V: Gods and Kings, specifically because it adds features that were implemented into the vanilla Civilization IV. Oh well. My attention span is intentionally short so that I can buy games, add-ons, and DLC with confidence: confident that I have bought these products before but somehow need it again. Really, I loved Gods and Kings, but if I had played XCOM: Enemy Unknown this year, you bet that would be here instead. Here’s to XCOM, my game of the year that I did not play…
Hearts of Iron III: Their Finest Hour: I don’t think I suspected this, and I don’t think the tens of you reading this will have expected this either. What can I say; I adore the Paradox Interactive Grand Strategy games. What puts HOI3 into my list this year is the sheer amount of time I dedicated to learning this game. I have played other Grand Strategy Games, but none as complex or as detail oriented as Hearts of Iron III. I conveniently used their newest expansion to weasel this game into my top games of the year – a justification for a somewhat flawed but completely brilliant game. If anything, I feel like I know the world map a little better after staring at it for, I don’t know, 30 hours a week.
Some Honorable Mentions: Frog Fractions (Just play this) — Orcs Must Die! 2 – Crusader Kings 2 — Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition
There you have it, and in no particular order to boot. If 2012 has taught me anything, in relation to video games, it has taught me that old ideas can be infused to make marvelous and seemingly familiar games. Let’s all hope that 2013 can continue the excellence that 2012 has delivered to the gaming populous.
“Oh, I think it will be a good year. Indeed, a good year” So sayeth the wise Alex D’Alessandro