Games You Should Have Played in 2012, But Probably Didn’t

Inevitably, every year, the video game landscape is dominated by huge triple-A sequels and come-from-nowhere smaller successes. These bastions of light dominate the landscape, casting long shadows on other deserving games that, for some reason, just don’t ignite the public fervor that others do. And those games drift away, unplayed, despite their worthiness.

Luckily, as games journalists, we play a ton of games, regardless of their uber-popularity or hype-moistness. And so we’ve compiled a list of great titles we played this year that you, too, should play, before they slip past you and into the dark oblivion beyond. We’ve polled our staff for their favorite low-visibility games this year, but this is by no means a comprehensive list — it’s only a start.

Feel free to leave your own under-appreciated games in the comments, and let everyone experience their greatness. And in the meantime, read about the ones we loved that you might have missed.


Risen 2: Dark Waters
Ron Whitaker

Everyone loves a good pirate game, right? They’ve been few and far between, and Pirahna Bytes’ Risen 2 is one that most of you probably didn’t even notice when it was released in April. Risen 2 mixes swordplay with RPG elements to create a game that is actually really fun to play. Sure, it’s hard, and you’ll want to quicksave every chance you get, but it’s worth braving the punishing difficulty to get a chance to roam the seas in search of a mystical weapon you can use to defeat the Titans and save the world.

You’ll go from drunken foot soldier to bloody pirate and you’ll have a lot of fun along the way. You’ll note that Risen 2 does have some shortcomings, such as stiff animations, stilted voice acting and the occasional risqué line of dialog, but overall it’s a game that anyone who love pirates should play. You may start out trying to talk your way onto a pirate crew, but before long you’ll be sailing the seas in your own ship, exhorting your own sorry bilge rats to haul in the mainsail. Besides, it’s a PIRATE game, dammit. Just go play it.

Read our Risen 2 review.


XCOM: Enemy Unknown
Ben Richardson

I know, I know. You’ve already played XCOM. But maybe you haven’t. Firaxis’ turn-based tactical title came out into the teeth of the fall release schedule, right up against Dishonored. Even people who loved the 90′s original might still be pre-occupied with other AAA titles — with higher profiles and bigger budgets.

To which I say: XCOM is better than all those games. The turn-based tactics are easy to learn but satisfyingly deep. The game presents a real challenge — tough but fair. And no game this year, with the exception of The Walking Dead, transported me to such heights of emotion or excitement. The aliens are genuinely scary. The feeling when you lose a valuable squad member is genuinely anguished. And nothing beats the thrill of taking a shot that you only have a 45% chance of connecting with, but that you can’t afford to miss.

Read our XCOM: Enemy Unknown review.


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5 Comments on Games You Should Have Played in 2012, But Probably Didn’t

psycros

On December 17, 2012 at 6:37 pm

XCOM was one of the biggest disappointments in recent memory. Utterly broken game mechanics, all the depth of a kiddie pool and some of the worst dialog in living memory. I could’ve forgiven the third-rate cutscenes if the rest of the game had lived up to the hype in any way – but it didn’t. Like the overly scripted missions, the campaign was completely linear and after a single play-through you’ve seen everything it can offer. XCOM: EU was an epic fail by any measure. Firaxis chose to take the cheap n’ easy console route and didn’t deliver a fraction of what they promised. Dishonored was almost as bad, but for me, XCOM easily wins the letdown of the year award.

Michael

On December 18, 2012 at 12:21 pm

“Games You Should Have Played in 2012, But Probably Didn’t”
“I know, I know. You’ve already played XCOM.”
>Probably didn’t.

Out of the innumerable quiet but brilliant releases of this year, you pick one for this article that almost everyone has played. Very strange move to say the least. I could name maybe 10 games off the top of my head which were brilliant, but largely unnoticed. I thought that’s the point of an article like this?

Phil Hornshaw

On December 18, 2012 at 12:23 pm

@Michael

A big part of the article was the “Should Have” portion, so while a few of these games are better-known than most, the writers polled wanted to choose games they really felt deserved more attention. I still feel like we have quite a few lesser-known titles on offer as well, but with XCOM it could go either way depending on how tapped-in players are, especially in the PC space.

Michael

On December 18, 2012 at 12:31 pm

I understand what you’re saying, but it says “We’ve polled our staff for their favorite low-visibility games this year” – a poll of *low-visibility* games would certainly exclude XCOM. I understand there are subjective reasons for posting it, but it seems to defy the stated logic in the opening paragraph and title. Just threw me off a little, that’s all. It’s a cool article though and well written I’m not criticizing you in any way.

Ben Richardson

On December 18, 2012 at 1:38 pm

@Michael

I think the blurb acknowledges that it was sort of a strange pick. Still, saying that “almost everyone” played it is needless hyperbole. Based on some quick research, Dishonored out-sold XCOM by a factor of four, despite being a terrible game. So if I can convince some of the people who bought Dishonored to play XCOM now instead, I’d consider that a victory. @Psycros’ complaints notwithstanding.