Traditionally, a new year comes with the opportunity for a fresh start; a chance to wipe the slate clean and forget the past. So what better way to begin 2013 than dwelling on the past with our favorite games of 2012? Laura and I made a complete catalog of all the titles we played over the last 365-or-so days, and after careful deliberation (read: throwing darts while blindfolded), we have come up with our respective top three lists. Keep in mind, not all of these games were released in 2012, but all of them were new to us when we started them last year. Some people might have a problem with our inclusion of older games in a “Best of 2012” list, and to them we say, “Well, too bad.” Let’s start the commotion with my picks for last year, shall we?
Final Fantasy Theatrhythm: When I first heard the idea of a rhythm game based on my beloved Final Fantasy, I scoffed at the idea. “Look at Square-Enix; after screwing up their flagship series with FFXIII, now they want to twist the RPG classic into a dancing game. The nerve!” Then I considered the possibilities of this game. I already listened to all of the wonderful music from Final Fantasy on a regular basis, and Theatrhythm would allow me to play a game where I could earn points for my obsession. Not only did this fantastic 3DS game allow me to listen to music from the entire Final Fantasy series, but each playthrough included characters, weapons, cutscenes, and inside jokes that flooded my heart with nostalgic joy. Add a robust leveling-up system and fun multiplayer, and I was hooked from the release day. As a bonus, Theatrhythm came out the week of my usual camping trip with friends, so the familiar chords of “One-Winged Angel” and “Searching for Friends” could be heard throughout the wilderness of Upstate New York (along with the manic tapping of 3DS screens).
Shadows of the Damned: I will be the first to admit that Suda51’s virtual road trip across the Land of the Dead is not for everyone. The game is rather violent, extremely gory, and full of potty mouth humor and vulgar jokes. But beneath all of the grind-house viscera is a fun title that embraces so many different types of gameplay that it would be hard not to find something to like about Shadows of the Damned. Over the course of the game, players will enjoy third-person action, side scrolling shooting, tower defense, block-turning puzzles, and a bowling minigame to boot! Each of these gametypes are well planned and executed through Garcia Hotspur’s over-the-top journey through Hell to save the woman he loves. Forget playing the next boring installment of other zombie series this year, and stick with this delightful oddball instead; you will not regret it.
Halo 4: From the start of 2012, I was staunchly against purchasing the Master Chief’s newest adventure. I had played hours upon hours of Halo: Reach, only to have my friends abandon our favorite series for Call of Duty time and time again. I knew that everyone would just buy Black Ops 2 instead of Halo 4, so I decided to avoid shooters completely and resolved to a year away from Xbox Live. Slowly but surely, all of my friends purchased Halo 4, and in bizzare twist of fate, each of them urged me to come and play the very series they had once left in the dust. So I begrudgingly bought the game and renewed my Gold subscription so I could play some Team Slayer with my comrades. I am now pleased to say that 343 Studios has successfully carried the mantle of Halo to a new generation. The multiplayer modes have been updated to include tactical load-outs that provide more options to each player, while the random spawning of weapons prevents the old trope of, “He who has the sniper rifle and the high ground wins.” The main campaign, while a bit rushed and frustrating at times, does not fail to impress and features some of the most impressive graphics of any game on the market.