Geeks Unleashed continues its Top Ten’s for 2012 with our first annual Top Ten Games of 2012:
10: Trials Evolution
Trials HD was one of the top 5 best-selling arcade games for 360, and has won countless awards. The sequel took every thing players loved about the first game and expanded on that, making this the bigger, better version. The back drops have been gloriously revamped, with players able to ride past open war fare, haunted woods and industrial units. The creativity poured into each map makes them a joy to complete, although as the game progresses some of the tracks become nail bitingly hard. Trials also pays tribute to other popular Xbox arcade games such as Limbo and Splosion Man with inspired levels.
9: Hitman Absolution
Hitman fans have been eagerly awaiting this release for sometime now, and the wait has most definitely been worth it. IO Interactive has refined efforts in past Hitman games, creating a smoother, more organic playing feel. 47 can dispatch his victims in a range of morbidly satisfying ways- death via drowning in pig offal being one. Despite the dark nature of 47’s work, Absolution adds black humor to some of the kills, giving it its own sense of identity. For example, one victim unwittingly exclaims “no one can p*ss on this day!” before being thrown out of their window and inevitably splatting on the side-walk bellow. Absolution also features a contract mode in which players can create some hits of their own and challenge others to complete them, meaning the fun doesn’t stop after the game’s completion. Players can carve their own path through this world; the way in which they take out each hit is up to them, making for a massively re-playable experience.
8: Borderlands 2
After the success of the first Borderlands, fans still felt like the game had potential for even more. The excellent dialogue and fantastic combat is still prominent in Borderlands 2, but the experience has developed into something all the more exciting. Even though Border Lands 1 was a real hit, the plot threads were inconsistent- ends didn’t meet and it felt somewhat jumbled. In the sequel Gearbox have tied these together into a coherent, enjoyable plot. The sprawling world of Pandora has been expanded beautifully, with great back-drops to the action. Finding a big fat shiny new gun after taking an enemy down has also never been more rewarding. The skill tree of each class option has been re written as well, with players having far more leveling points to use, and far more skills to choose from – making point giving a real decision. This diversity also helps make each class play through a distinctly different experience.
7: Halo 4
After Bungie’s departure from the Halo franchise, many concluded the next installment-created by 343 Industries- would simply be, to put it mildly, a “flop”. Oh how wrong they were. Games TM fittingly called Halo 4 a “familiar” Halo; this game stunningly recalls the visual design that gave Halo its unique character the first five releases. There are some stunning set pieces that will have players pausing the action just to get a good look. The original concept has been livened up with an all-new race of foe for The Chief to blast his way through. On top of that, the story line is possibly one of the most affecting in the whole series. Some have slated the drastically revamped multiplayer as mimicking the Call of Duty games, but in truth Halo 4 has added some great additions to the live- much-needed if this franchise wants to stay at the head of its game.
This was one of the most heavily anticipated, controversial games of recent years- let alone 2012. The Mass Effect series has been labeled one of the most epic trilogies in gaming history by a tirade of reviewers, so a lot rested on this release delivering to its fans. Players will not be disappointed. Well, maybe not until the end, at last. Mass Effect 3 has some epic story lines, concluding the lives of some of the game’s most adored characters. Players are able to dictate heart breaking failures, or astounding success for their companions, and their entire species. RPG fans will be relieved to know Bioware have given players a wider range of leveling choices for weaponry, class powers and armor. Maybe not quite as much as hard-core fans would have liked, but it is a vast improvement on the somewhat distant leveling systems of Mass Effect 2. Yes. There has been a lot of debate as to whether this game’s ending lived up to the promises given to players all through the series, of even the tiniest decisions leading to cataclysmically different endings. But, what some may consider Bioware’s failings have led to a gaming community coming together to discuss plot theories, alternate endings and post-game stories like never before.
5: Guild Wars 2
The death of the MMO is far off yet. Personally, I thought Guild Wars 1 was a massive failure; it was staple, uninspired and linear. There was hardly any quest diversity and the leveling system was closed and dull. Guild Wars 2 is almost a completely different game. Guild Wars 2 ultimately follows the structure of other MMOs-such as World of War Craft- but has a drastically improved questing framework and stunningly superior graphics, which make it a cut above the rest. There is also less emphasis on level requirements, so you don’t have to play for hours in order to find epic battles to join in on. Experience points are offered for almost everything as well, so players will feel that time spent making armor, mining and gaining daily achievements is well spent as it helps improve characters. If you got bored with other MMOs, give this one a try.
4:The Walking Dead
It is no secret that many films/TV series (minus Star Wards, but even that road hasn’t been perfect) that are adapted for video games go horribly wrong. Even Game of Thrones and its fantastical universe didn’t hit the mark with the game. This made me wary of The Walking Dead, but this point-and-click episode based adaptation turned out to be a revelation; the great voice acting and dispiriting violence make this a believable tale. There is also a dialogue options format, similar to that of the Mass Effect Trilogy’s, but The Walking Dead also incorporates a timer. This makes the difference between a friendly chat and a hostile conversation a heart beat decision. This game is going to be just as popular and successful as the series.
This game, is beautiful. Despite being just 90 minutes long, this release is guaranteed to take you on a journey of epic emotional proportions. It was developed by Thatgamecompany, whose philosophy revolves around thinking about what it is they want to evoke in their players, rather than how to slide into a staple genre, evident in previous releases such as Flower. Journey follows a mysterious robed traveler, making his or her way towards the light of a distant mountain. While venturing through barren deserts, captivating ruins reveal an ancient civilization once bloomed. Affecting music ebbs and flows out of the gameplay, commencing at perfect intervals to compliment the unfolding scenes, submerging the player into Journey’s tale. It would be villainous to reveal anymore. Just play it.
I really didn’t know which game to choose as my number 1, because this is an absolutely spot on, original release. This stealth-based game is set in a city that runs on whale oil. It’s teeming with corruption- outlined by the violent assassination of the empress at the beginning of the game. The steam punk style is refreshing after a tirade of hyper modern sci-fi jostling for space in a busy market. The game gives you a huge amount of freedom; it is actually possible to complete the game without killing a single soul, and there are a multitude of consequences depending on the paths you take. For example if you become to trigger happy and go on a killing spree, the rat population will boom, further cursing the broken city. Dishonored also has a perk system, which players can cater to their play style. The game is made up of 9 distinct, memorable missions, with massive replayability. Targets can often be located quite quickly, but its much more fun to explore the maps, look for treasure and listen in on conversations and generally just enjoy the experience.
So here it is! My game of the year; Far Cry 3. This release will not disappoint, because there is quite simply too much stuff to… Well, do. As you explore the beautiful Rook Island you can choose to watch animals hunt one another, or do the hunting yourself in order to gather pelts, which can lead to the fashioning of bigger weapon holsters. The wildlife may even bite back; predators can turn on the enemies you were trying to kill. Oh yeah, and the coast-line is shark infested too. This all helps to add real atmosphere as you’re venturing across the island; regardless of how long you’ve been playing, no matter how many guns you have at your disposal, no matter how many enemies throw themselves at you- when a tiger stares you down, things get real. Drugs are an interesting sector of FC3. You can mix up your own enhancers, or go on crazed intoxicant fueled trips that will leave you unsure of whether your character popped the pills or you did. The game also dips into mysticism, with tribal tattoos giving players new abilities. On top of all that, when players aren’t taking out enemy strong holds or hunting down wild cats, they can hit the black jack and gamble. The voice acting in this release is impeccable; Mando totally captures the cruel, driven, sociopathic nature of Vaas- the game’s villain. He is easily in the running for one of the best this year, it’s just a shame we couldn’t see more of him; his part is relatively small. Nonetheless, this release is absolutely fantastic, and should not be missed!