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

Thomas Was Alone
Phil Hornshaw

Thomas Was Alone is not the most incredible platformer I’ve ever played, but it is an extremely inventive way to tell a very fun story. Throughout each level, your goal is basically to jump from one end to the other, but as time goes on, you have more and more “characters” with which to work. However, these characters are just various brands of rectangles, each with a different ability.

Where the game excels is in its narrative. First, it’s all told by a single voice-over narrator that lends a whimsical, humorous tone to the proceedings. Second, it manages to infuse a game about jumping rectangles with a serious degree of heart; I found myself more interested in, and caring about more, the characters of Thomas Was Alone than many games I played this year. Their story is a touching one, even if the game’s visuals are relatively simple — and that’s pretty impressive.

Thomas’ humor is great, its gameplay is fun, and its generally a joy to play. It makes you feel good. There aren’t many games I can say that about just in general, so when one comes around, it’s worth taking note. Find it on Steam.

Read our Thomas Was Alone review.


Tribes: Ascend
Devin Connors

We live in a time where the gaming landscape is dominated by the first-person shooter. Sometimes it seems like there’s a new one out every month, coaxing money out of your wallet with the promise of a quality single- and/or multi-player experience. Many of these shooters are fantastic, but many still fail to differentiate from the pack.

Tribes: Ascend demands your attention, if it doesn’t already have it, because it offers one of the more challenging and unique shooter experiences currently available. The learning curve is steeper than your run-of-the-mill Call of Duty or Halo, thanks to its incredible speed and sometimes daunting movement mechanics. This is the franchise that made “skiing” a common verb amongst the last generation of PC gamers; ascending mountains as if they were covered in ice, approaching speeds unseen in even the most twitchy of competitors. Fancy a game of Capture the Flag? Well I hope your defense compares to the 1985 Chicago Bears, because anything less results in a Pathfinder halfway back to his base with your flag in the blink of an eye.

Tribes: Ascend manages to offer one of the most unique shooter experiences of 2012, all while being free-to-play. It’s worth a download and a few hours of your time, so long as you’re willing to put forth some effort into learning the nuances of “Ludicrous Speed” combat.

Read our Tribes: Ascend 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.