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
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
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.