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While 2012 was certainly the year of the heavy-hitters, it felt painfully derivative and devoid of inspiration for me. Perhaps I'm becoming jaded. Perhaps it simply takes too much to satisfy me these days. Whatever the case may be, I wasn't particularly impressed with the whole of games this year. However, I was able to weed out a few that I did quite enjoy, many of which feel much more like unconventional choices -- are my tastes changing or is the overall quality of the hundreds of sequels releasing each year declining? Who can say? The only thing I'm sure of is this: these are ten of my favorite games of 2012, and I'm hoping you can get behind my reasoning. Let's talk my favorite games of 2012. 10. Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning Official GP Review Say what you will about this admittedly bland RPG, but I couldn't stop coming back to it. Even when I grew tired of hacking and slashing through the same three dungeons, collecting flowers and herbs, and grinding, I came right back the next day. It's a shame we'll likely never see another, because something about this high fantasy tale rubbed me the right way. 9. Asura's Wrath Official GP Review I'm an enormous Dragon Ball Z fan, and I'll be a shounen anime junkie for life. Perhaps that's why I instantly gravitated toward Asura's Wrath. Maybe it was the Street Fighter IV-esque logo, the over-the-top carnage, or maybe it was the visceral, raw action showcased within. I wasn't even bothered that most of the game took place across several well-positioned quick-time events. It was simply a full-on adrenaline rush that looked as fantastic as it played. Let's not forget how majestic the Brahmastra looked -- seriously, Death Star what? 8. Dyad Rhythm and music games are my forte, but I'm also a huge rail-shooter enthusiast, and the synesthetic sensibilities of Dyad were reminiscent of the many long nights I spent with the classic Rez. Neons, delightful audio puzzles, and pure graphical intoxication made Dyad clearly one of the best downloadable titles (closest to the classics of my personal heyday of gaming) I've had the pleasure of purchasing this year. 7. Halo 4 In many ways Halo 4, like fellow Xbox 360-exclusive stablemate Gears of War 3, is alien to the rest of the series in many ways. But rather than in a disconcerting manner, it hit all the high notes. Updated graphics, a completely retooled soundtrack, and an affecting cliffhanger of an ending were enough to rekindle interest gone by in the long-running franchise, and while aspects of it weren't perfect, it was one of the most human Halo games we've seen yet. And I'm ready for more. 6. Mass Effect 3 Official GP Review Endings be damned, Mass Effect 3 was one engaging ride. Though I was initially lukewarm on the original years ago when I first played through it, the series quickly grew on me with its endearing relationship options, tight combat, and a narrative I couldn't get enough of. I fought until the end, and the backlash meant nothing to me. Mass Effect was a ride I'd gladly take again and again, because you can't denounce an entire franchise when you had so much fun to speak of on the way to the ending. I also cheated on Liara. 5. Minecraft (XBLA) Say what you will about the lack of features in the Xbox 360 release of the wildly popular PC sandbox game, but it drew in brand new audiences and players who may never have been in the line of sight of a creeper on the prowl. Its simplification of a game that might have mystified others with crafting and the various nuances of gameplay turned into a fantastic departure on the Xbox 360, and one I enjoyed with friends who couldn't afford a gaming PC (or PC for that matter) time and time again. It may never be as complete of a package as the PC version is, but it's an extremely competent release that deserves your time and attention, infinitely more so than the mobile version. 4. Borderlands 2 What can be said about Borderlands 2 but loot, loot, loot? While I felt it did little to advance the franchise, it did excel at what the games have done best at so far: giving me stuff to pick up. Handsome Jack was a deliciously devious villain, the additional characters were entertaining (especially latecomer Mechromancer Gage), and I choked back a few tears when some of my favorite teammates were murdered. It was the greatest co-op challenge I had this year, and for that I must thank Gearbox in the middle of wartime debauchery and zombie nonsense for giving me something a little more light-hearted to adventure with. 3. Little Inferno I typically allot little time to independent releases that take only a few hours to complete, but I'm so glad I stopped to see what all the commotion was about here. Little Inferno is a game about burning things: magnets, miniature nukes, cat plushies, and anything you can get your hands on from Tomorrow Corporation's several catalogues, but it's also a post-apocalyptic tale that resonates with the player. You'll laugh your way through the unlockable combos, but come time for the game to end, you'll be singing another tune. 2. Hotline Miami Official GP Review Gaudy fonts, hip techno beats, gore, and violence? Someone tapped into my personal "favorites" list when it comes to design, fashion, and media. All they needed was a little glitter and it would have been set, but Hotline Miami hit the ball out of the park as-is. I won't ruin it for you. Just pick it up on Steam and get ready for some disturbing, action-packed gore -- roll on up in your DeLorean and take everyone out. 1. Persona 4 Golden Persona 4 received a lot more love than my personal favorite, Persona 3, but nevertheless Persona 4 Golden meant the most to me this year in the realm of RPG gaming and more. It sports a phenomenal amount of content packed into a single card. One of the PlayStation 2's greatest role-playing games of all time graced the Vita with slick, vivid aesthetic improvements, loads of additional areas to explore, and tons of reasons to come back even if you've beaten the game into the ground. I'm not one to come back to a game once it's been completed, but this is one re-release that was worth the hype, and quite possibly the most fun I had all year.
This year I wanted to think a little differently in regards to Game of the Year since I played on different systems more than ever before. I will list my top games, but would actually love to choose one game from each system that I play regularly to make up my top five. I'm going to throw in a few runner-ups as well. Many of these will probably be conventional-ish choices but I chose many of them because they stand out in some way to me that few other games did. Many of them aren't perfect, but provide an experience that is hard to find elsewhere! Anyways, I hope you all enjoy! Nintendo 3DS Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy Official GP Review Two parts rhythm game, one part RPG mix to wonderful effect in Theatrhythm. Even though the musical selection (however incredible) may not be as exciting to non-Final Fantasy fans, the game is no less wonderfully executed. 40 frames-per-second, satisfying lasting appeal, even the unlikely inclusion of local multiplayer and StreetPass make this a 3DS title to remember. Runner-Up: Kid Icarus Uprising Xbox 360 Mass Effect 3 Official GP Review Despite the hullaballoo surrounding the third (numbered) entry into the Mass Effect series, I still feel it deserves praise for its accomplishments. It successfully adds a great co-op multiplayer experience while finding a happy medium in the single player for fans of previous games. The amount of polish and care in all aspects of the game itself bring this series to (me, at least) a very satisfying conclusion. Runner up: Halo 4 Playstation 3 Journey Official GP Review It is impossible to talk about the "Year of the Indies" without mentioning thatgamecompany's Journey. In short, this game is magical in a way that is difficult to describe but easy to understand if you've played it. Even Journey's unique approach to online co-op helps preserve (and even intensify the amazing emotions it conjures up. Everything from the soundtrack to the visuals makes this game stand out even among the best triple-A releases. Runner up: Starhawk Playstation Vita Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward This game has impressed me like few others. On the surface, it is your same old-fashioned visual novel with puzzle gameplay. Apart from a killer story, the game's flowchart menu makes this game easy to navigate and unlocking character endings all the more exciting. Every step you take towards to the true ending (without cheating) makes this game a rewarding, stand-out experience! Runner up: Gravity Rush WildCard (and Overall) Game of the Year Persona 4 Golden Ok, ok, I know. Persona 4 is a game from 2008. Not only did I miss the boat the first time around, this can hardly be called the same game. P4G is amazing from many angles, being a formidable RPG both mechanically and story-wise, but the devil (wakka wakka!) is in the details. The character stories and "non-action" in this game is every bit as compelling as the rest of the game. If all remaining games for the Vita were cancelled and this is the last game I could ever play for the handheld, I'd actually be satisfied my money was well spent. Yes, this game is that good!
John Kidman posted a article in SonyPersona 4 represents one of the last Role-Playing Games that many played before retiring their Playstation 2 consoles. Persona 4 was a great addition to the Shin Megami Tensei: Persona series, but elation cannot begin to describe the feeling for many RPG fans when ATLUS initially announced that Persona 4: Golden is coming to the Playstation Vita by the end of this year. ATLUS officially announced today that Persona 4: Golden will be hitting retail shelves on November 20th, just in time for the big holiday rush. Persona 4 Golden is not a simple port to the new platform, but a true enhancement which will include improved graphics, a new character, new Personas and even more fully-voiced dialogue. Persona 4: Golden will be available in both a standard retail version and Solid Gold Premium Edition. Unfortunately, gamers who are searching for the Solid Gold Premium Edition may soon be looking to third parties for fulfillment. A few companies are still taking pre-orders for the edition limited to merely 10,000 units, but websites like Amazon are already showing limited or no stock remaining for this version.