Sunday, 6 January 2013

2012 - My Year in Games

As I’m not a games journalist who gets showered with free games, this breakdown of my gaming of 2012 is of course confined to the titles that I myself have bought and played. So there are some notable exceptions that you would ordinarily expect to see in rundown of 2012’s highlights. Forza Horizon did well, but I’ve never liked the franchise so I didn’t bother. And I haven’t gotten around to getting Far Cry 3 yet, despite it causing a stir at the end of the year.
So, without further ado, here is my 2012 in games:
I bought two games in January, neither of which were new releases. Both Kinect Sports Season Two and PowerUp Heroes were released in 2011 and are great Kinect titles. Kinect Sports 1 and 2 are must haves if you own Kinect and PowerUp Heroes, while simple, is an affective and fun fighting game.
Still no boxed games as I turned to XBLA for Alan Wake’s American Nightmare and I Am Alive. The former is a fun addition to the franchise, if a little repetitive, but I Am Alive is a frustrating mess that looked promising to begin with, but ultimately did little to prevent me deleting it to make room for more Battlefield 3 updates.

SSX made a welcome return and it is a good game, albeit one with less of a difficult curve and more a difficulty wall that you slam face first into about half way through the single player.
Mass Effect 3 was next and while I haven’t finished it yet, this series continues to impress. In my view – the Xbox 360’s greatest trilogy.
I also bought a FIFA game in March 2012. And I’m not a football fan. But then FIFA Street isn’t really football is it, more a bunch of people playing heads and volleys.
And in an effort to stir some enthusiasm in me for Modern Warfare 3, I bought the first DLC collection. It didn’t work.
Alpha Protocol is an old RPG espionage effort from Sega that I picked up for a fiver. When it was in development, they made out you could play as a suave Bond type or a hard as nails Jack Bauer, but ultimately this game turned out to be a complete turd. Absolutely dreadful with a complete prick for a main character.
April also saw the release of Trials Evolution on XBLA. The sequel to Trials HD, this delivers more thrills and spills in a game that will leave you foaming at the mouth in frustration and yet still pressing that back button to restart the course.

Ghost Recon Future Soldier finally arrived and proved that good things really do come to those who wait. A brilliant game that went straight into my list of favourites.
With Battlefield 3 taking up all my multiplayer time, I opted for Premium membership, which ensured me all the DLC, 2 week’s ahead of the hoi-palloi and a bunch of other extras to boot. 4000 MSP but worth it.
A real surprise in June was Spec Ops: The Line. Based on Joseph Conrad’s book Heart of Darkness, this third person shooter delivered a harrowing experience I’m still having nightmares about. You’ll be able to pick this up on the cheap and I recommend it if you fancy a shooter with a difference.
The summer drought really kicked in in July, with no games, but August saw the release of Madden NFL 13, which I bought, obviously, because I am an EA slave who just hands over money while drooling onto the counter.
But then Sleeping Dogs landed -  Square Enix saving it from True Crime cancellation by Activision – and rocked the worlds of everyone who played it. A martial arts Grand Theft Auto that, I’m not afraid to say, did everything better than GTA have done it. How do you like them apples?

NHL 13 was released and I duly handed over 40 quid, expecting a carbon copy of the last three games. What I got was the best entry in the series so far. I kid you not. The gameplay and presentation are top notch with every goal fought for and every lost possession a disaster.
This month saw the released of Assassin’s Creed III, but it would be my Birthday in November when I would finally get my hands on it. And it was…….good. But not the great I was expecting. It’s quite buggy and the long list of frustrations started in AC II are just carried over to this one with a few more added for good measure. I really enjoyed the setting though and the graphics as ever, are fantastic.
XCOM: Enemy Unknown brought the old Amiga strategy game up to date and a gripping experience to consoles. While not to everyone’s taste and with a steep difficulty curve, XCOM proved a hit with gamers and critics.
As did Dishonored – a brilliant stealth game with a wonderfully realised game world in 19th century London-inspired Dunwall. Rich with detail, Dunwall is a place to lose hours in. A fantastic gaming experience.

Halo 4 was the first entry in the series from 343 since Bungie left the franchise behind. And boy did 343 step up to the plate. Cracking sound and music, the best visuals of the series so far and smooth gameplay against some well designed enemies. Add that to the most emotionally charged Halo story yet, and this is one of the games of the year.
November, as ever saw another Call of Duty release – this time Treyarch’s Black Ops II. The campaign is a little disappointing, but the multiplayer is better than MW3 with Treyarch trying their best to innovate in franchise that is rapidly growing stale. Has the Call of Duty bubble burst?
Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed wasn’t a sequel I was expecting, despite the fine quality of the original, but this is great fun with loads to unlock if you can get past the harder difficulty settings.
Hitman: Absolution was my last purchase of the year and so far is…..ok. I can see why people love it, but I’ve never got on with this series and that has only continued with this entry. I think it is more linear than people make out and incredibly frustrating. I will endeavour to finish this one though.
And so we look to the games of 2013. Watch out for a preview blog entry soon.

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