Posted on December 21, 2012, Phil Hornshaw Game Front’s Game of the Year 2012
Last week, we sat down and figured out which of 2012′s games we felt were the year’s best. It was an exercise in finding the games that had been the most fun to play, the most affecting, and the most exciting for gaming at large — and so while there’s a separate list for indie games, the Game of the Year selection is the widest and most inclusive. The possible best game of the year is not a triple-A game only.
After some deliberation, some voting, and some interesting reader poll results to be found on the Game Front Facebook page, we have our winners. The list was created through a combination of staff input, review score comparison and impact on the gaming landscape. Below are the top five contenders of the original list of 10, followed by the ranked picks by the Game Front Facebook community.
The nominees were:
The Walking Dead — Read our review
Tribes: Ascend — Read our review
XCOM: Enemy Unknown — Read our review
Borderlands 2 — Read our review
Dishonored — Read our review
Sleeping Dogs — Read our review
Mass Effect 3 — Read our review
Crusader Kings II — Read our review
Torchlight 2 — Read our review
5. Tribes: Ascend
Plenty of shooters come out every year, and for the most part, they’re all pretty much the same. They might do things a bit differently from one game to the next, some might include cover and recharging health and some might not, but at the end of the day, if you’ve played one modern shooter — especially among those a militaristic bent — you’ve pretty much played all of them.
And then there’s Tribes: Ascend.
Tribes manages to do two things really well: First, it alters the shooter landscape by turning every firefight into a high-speed chase. Second, for many players, it nails the essence of a quality free-to-play experience, providing a lot of fun for exactly zero money. As far as multiplayer experiences go in 2012, Tribes: Ascend stood alone, and many of us on the Game Front team sunk a lot of hours into it.
4. XCOM: Enemy Unknown
XCOM: Enemy Unknown captured our imaginations this year by providing a tough, often punishing strategy experience well-balanced between base management and tactical warfare. It also provided us with countless soldiers we’d take on missions, learn to depend on and even grow attached to — and then snatch them away through the horrors of mind control, zombie-ism, or just plain getting shot in the face. Yes, many a soldier died during the XCOM Project’s battle against alien invaders.
With a number of great campaign missions, including taking alien prisoners and clearing out some spooky alien bases, XCOM manages to scratch the strategy itch while also providing some scares as we worry about the well-being of our soldiers. It’s the kind of addictive experience that’ll suck up 40 hours and still have you coming back for more.
Arkane Studios’ new IP, Dishonored reminded us of what we loved of the games that inspired it — Thief, Deus Ex and other stealth-based titles that were all about giving players the freedom to approach every level and every situation from a variety of angles and play styles. Thought not everyone has agreed about the quality of Dishonored, it still struck many of us as being a delightful stealth experience set in a strange and interesting new world.
Dishonored also managed to hand out a number of interesting and different supernatural powers, changing the way players attack stealth, and enemies. We had a great time teleporting, bending time and blasting enemies with whale oil in Dishonored, and we can’t wait to see what’s next for the franchise. With Dishonored’s success, it seems Bethesda has a new franchise on its hands, and hopefully that will mean more expansive choice, stealth action, and innovative gameplay mechanics.