Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Best of 2012 (so far).

I haven't finished Gravity Rush yet - and while I feel a touch guilty about that, I'm fairly confident that it won't end up on anything but a Vita-specific GotY list.  So, let's focus on Sony's monolith.  Now, it goes without saying that this is my blog and this is my list of The Best of 2012 (so far), and my opinions are my own.  That being said, if your opinions differ, your opinions are bad and you should feel bad about that.  

We're halfway to 2013 and, if the world were to end tomorrow, these would have been the games that defined 2012.

Gorgeous, tactical and liquid-smooth, Shank 2 is everything a sequel should be.  It improves on its predecessor in every way, and elevates the franchise from a respectable try to a defining entry in its genre.  If you've been hungry for a brawler this year, you need to play Shank 2.

How to put this... how to put it... let's see... something succinct, and lacking hyperbole... Ah - of course.

Rayman: Origins is the most purely pleasurable experience I've had with a 2D platformer in over twenty years.

Dig that.

Shut up about the ending.  Just... shut up.

Mass Effect 3 is a gigantic, explosive, high-powered, high-production value, high-concept monster of an action-RPG that actually gets the action part right.  It is the slickest, most streamlined RPG I've ever played, and packs a phenomenally impressive arsenal of emotional highs and lows.

Max Payne 3 has surprisingly polarizing gameplay.  It seems the feel of the title either really clicks or it really doesn't - and for me, this is one of the most expressive shooters I've ever laid hands on.  Throw in a snappy script, excellent voice work, gorgeous graphics and absolutely lush production values, and I have to name Max Payne 3 as the current front-runner for Game of the Year 2012.

Like pretty much everything Rockstar puts their mind to, it's an almost-definitive total-package game.


Lollipop Chainsaw is this year's Darksidersthis year's Alice: Madness Returns.  It's short on budget and long on inspiration.

Juliet Starling, for her part, is the most interesting and endearing femme fatale gaming has given us in years.  As insane as Alice Lidell, as badass as Rubi Malone, she's both an archetype and a wonderfully layered protagonist.  A fascinating book with a cheerleading uniform and valley girl vocabulary for a cover.

James Gunn's writing works on multiple levels here, offering a cheesy, exploitive B-movie on the surface, clever nods and references for the cinephile and a rich layer of subversive, pro-equality subtext for those prepared to look closer.

With accessible gameplay that does for brawlers what Dead Space did for shooters and a fireworks display of inspired presentation, from the jazzy art direction to the glorious soundtrack, Lollipop Chainsaw is a low-budget pleasure - even as it becomes apparent that Goichi Suda wasn't in on Gunn's joke.

* * * far.  Now, you may be wondering, where's Journey? Where's SSX and Golden Abyss?  They rest among the crop of games that were wonderful, amazing experiences - but as the year wears on, they've lost their grasp on my mindshare, and there are titles I feel a more profound need to direct your gaze to.

If you haven't, you need to check out Shank 2, Rayman Origins, Mass Effect 3, Max Payne 3 and Lollipop Chainsaw


  1. so who did that femshep running paint picture at the top? it looks so cool.

  2. hey, i haven't brought that up since i started commenting,(and i promise i never will again) *pinky swear*

    but now that you have. . . . did you take a look at the extended cut?

  3. I did, and I actually really liked it. No doubt hardcore BioWare/Bethesda players would have been happier with a cutscene that more directly-addressed the choices a player made throughout their campaign, but I feel like - for the most part - the new endings did a great job of allowing the player to feel that no matter which choice they made at the end, it was the right one.

    I got a little teary watching the extended Synthesis ending, I'll say that much.

  4. @ Leeginn: someone who goes by muju. It's part of a series of femsheps in the same style - very cool.

  5. great. i liked that you liked it. haven't made my way to the end of another play through, and the idea of the synth ending having an emotional punch is comforting.

    BUT, I just got through with spec ops. that. . . was a diamond in the rough, for sure. but coming out into the parking lot, with the bodies hung from the street lights, the city glimmering in the distance?

    god damn. they call that ATMOSPHERE around these here parts.