Hey, hey, hey. Happy New Year.
You know, the Rev’s had a pretty decent New Year’s. Was able to completely make an ass out of myself in the Happy Ending Employee World Shuffleboard Championship at.. uh.. Barney’s Beanery on Sunday night (after viewing a great Patriots shutout over the ‘Phins); made some good money watching a bunch of hipsters make asses out of themself last night (and had some champagne too; more than I expected. Shh…); and today, watched my Wolverines make a valiant effort in the Outback Surprisingly Not A Cagey Rugby Bowl. My BLUE lost, but we had no QB accuracy or pass rush all game. And it was fun to watch.
With that, I got up, got angry, and finally decided it was time to present a piece many of our followers have been craving for. Because it’s video games, and video games don’t suck.
One thing to keep in mind, however, friends, is that we own a XBOX 360, nor were we initially high proponents of the new Pii-U. So, yeah, we’re sorta biased over here. Sadly. And when I say “we” I mean me. Which means — despite having the audacity to almost complete every major blockbuster game of 2012 — I didn’t get to play ALL of them. So there’s more than a share of favorites this fellow wasn’t able to include, or just barely registered.
–Hitman: Absolution – Hey, at least my roommate loved this. And apparently a shit-ton of gamers from E3 and across the net. I, for one, have never been big on Hitman games (just never got into the franchise; don’t ask), so it may be a while before I give this a twirl, but there’s no doubt the reviews are really good.
–Prototype 2 – Just didn’t get enough of this game in.
–Need For Speed: Most Wanted/Forza: Horizon – Didn’t have time to do much racing other than from my prior experiences at Comic Con in the XBOX Lounge. Both games rock, though.
–The Witcher 2 – I was enjoying this sadistic sequel to the role-playing PC hit nearly as much as the Elder Scrolls series until less time-consuming games were released. Oh, and that bad-ass Skyrim DLC, “Dawnguard”. Sorry, Witcher. the Rev shall return someday.
–Madden ’13 – The game blew me away initially, but as the season progressed the flaws became more apparent. Still, it’s great to know this franchise is well on its way of becoming legit once again. Bring on custom arena music! And — obviously — offline multi-team careers. Here’s the review. 3.5/5
–Transformers: Fall of Cybertron – Not sure what went wrong here. Got really hyped for a franchise I’ve always been a big fan of in terms of comics, cartoons, toys, and movie (yes, movie – singular), and now, finally, a game worthy of the hype. Then, during my time with Activision’s multi-platformer at E3, the graphics sorta putrid. The gameplay sorta boring. The hype sorta wearing out. So the game comes out to.. excellent reviews!? The hail!? Fall of Cybertron also comes out during a mist of Darksiders II and Borderlands 2. Never hadda chance.
–Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes/Lego Lord of the Rings – Playing with the Justice League — especially Superman! — in Lego form in an open world game was a lot of fun! I even went lengths to label the game, “Grand Theft Lego!” But, something just appeared to be missing from the game, or maybe just smashing blocks for coins got a little wearisome. As for Lego’s newest installment, which is catching on to some stellar reviews, this player just hasn’t played it yet, playas. I do read comics, watch movies, watch TV, watch sports, work, and have an occasional social life, too, ya know.
–NHL 13 – Last year, in NHL 12, I played all 82 games and had many deep round series going on to win the Stanley Cup. It was easily the finest hockey game playing experience ever. This year, NHL 13 made the skating a little more realistic and then… the lockout happened. I honestly lost all my interest for hockey from that point on, and haven’t been able to explore the depths of this game like I wanted. That, and I don’t believe EA Sports has put enough thought into their overall game presentation. Where are the highlights from around the league between periods? What makes your season games feel like a season? Hopefully, those fixes will come to an already excellently played game physically.
–Darksiders II – Nearly cracked my Top 10 for no better reason than spending so much time with it! It’s a hellish long game, but it’s rather good. Now, while DS2‘s story had its share of flaws — and there’s a hell of a lot of travelling and mistake-making up going on — there’s no doubt in its place as one of the Year’s Best Platformers, perhaps only this side of an Italian plummer. Here’s the review. 3.5/5
–The Walking Dead – This monthly episodic game, which was released in five separate 2-3 hour increments, has been the talk of the town among the Year’s Best Games. But if it’s indeed an XBOX Live exclusive, wouldn’t that sorta disqualify it from the list, anyway? That’s sort of like not allowing mixtapes on a Best Album list. Oh, who am I fooling — just trying to make excuses because I haven’t played it yet– and, you know, it won the GOTY Award at the Spike TV VGA’s, among a ton of other media outlets. Not having XBOX Live for a few months killed, and from what I hear, this game that’s more so like the comic than TV show (that one is coming soon, don’t you worry) killed, as well.
GHG’s Best 10 Video Games of 2012:
10. WWE 13 – This would have more or less been the same game as last year’s great surprise, but then there was Attitude Era. The new, classic match-based seasonal mode is perhaps the best of its kind in a wrestling game…perhaps ever…and I’ve still yet to download CAWs and fully explore the Universe mode. (But blame some XBOX Live issues for that one). Here’s the review. 3.5/5
9. Halo 4 – Perhaps the year’s biggest disappointment — this side of Resident Evil 6, of course — was Halo 4. There’s still many fans and critics alike who label this as “amazing,” “great” or their year’s best (see: IGN, or rather — don’t). It’s just hard for this player to place a game beat with a pal in around 8 hours up towards mega-classic status. Uh-huh, the surefire winner of the mega-franchise this year was “Spartan Ops,” but that also requires a weekly episodic commitment to XBOX Live. Maybe I’m just one of the few critics who didn’t play enough of the multi-player and online modes this year to hand Master Chief’s “crowning achievement” his righteous due. If you remember the original starring point of Halo: Combat Evolved, however, then you would have known it was the sickly epic campaign. Sadly, for some, that’s no longer the case. Here’s the review. 3.5/5
8. Sleeping Dogs – The biggest gaming surprise of the year. Did anyone really expect much from this former True Crime-sequel-slash-Grand Theft-wannabee? Sure, the whole buy stuff/race stuff/punch&kick stuff/kill stuff cycle of undercoverdrugbuster does get a tad bit repetitive. But, who’d a thunk it’d be this much fun? Plus, outstanding voice acting from the cast, which included the likes of Will Yun Lee (Total Recall), Tom Wilkinson (Michael Clayton), and Emma Stone (duh)! And don’t forget the wacky Hong Kong karaoke and rib-cage shattering moves straight from UFC champ, GSP. Here’s the review. 4/5
7. Dishonored – My newest video game review. So just read it, kids! 4/5
*tie* 6. Assassin’s Creed III / Max Payne 3 – Both of these games came awfully close to the 4.5 Bible level. AC3 thankfully proved more than a mere “Revolutionary War” skin to previous games with some incredibly addicting Naval Warfare, all the while Rock Star made up for its lack of a GTA V showing this convention season with the best Max Payne to date. Those levels in lower Brazil, including that immensely scary soccer stadium were insane. And I take it I’m not the only one to learn more about US History from Assassin’s Creed III than countless hours of time in the classroom. AC3’s review. MP3’s review. Both, 4/5
*tie* 5. Call of Duty: Black Ops II / FIFA 13 – A lot of lists are going to flash FIFA 13 as their Best Sports Title of the Year, but there’s no doubt that the franchise is more or less the same as 2012. That’s actually quite an accomplishment because FIFA 12 was great! The graphics somehow found themselves some more polish; the pass-handling and ball-dribbling got even better; and we can promise you won’t be kicking too many balls up to the 40th row. Scoring was even more fun this season — and that’s truly hard to believe. And just when you thought you’ve witnessed it all in the billion dollar Call of Duty franchise, here comes the destruction of Los Angeles. Not that we wouldn’t mind seeing a Lakers game get called for a generator issue; but this international journey actually surprised a lot of longtime players and noobs alike with its intense next-gen gadgetry, stunning widescreen environs, and our favorite video game villain of the year, Raul Menendez. Don’t accomplish enough during the new “Strike Force” missions, and America is going to be fucked anyway. Next up after the super-charged, grind ’em out campaign: more of those juiced-up military zombies! COD: BO2’s review. Both, 4.5/5
4. Borderlands 2 – Made a huge mistake. This siren didn’t take on any of the addictingly absurd side missions that are nearly essential to beating the game. Swooped all the way to end-boss, Handsome Jack, only to receive a massive reality check. A very Madrox the Multiple Man-like massive reality check. So, here’s to going back to conquer many of the levels I’ve skipped in addition to some word-of-mouth good DLC. This second journey through one of the year’s most awesome games — with improved skill progression and weapons galore — should be just as fun, I bet. Not to mention, there was no better game to play with a pal all year. Just make sure you begin your campaign together from the get-go, or you’ll be lagging ass — or dying fast. Cheers to such a great, great game! Here’s the review. 4.5/5
3. Far Cry 3 – To think I almost didn’t get this in until just a few days ago. Where in the hell did this come from? Maybe it’s because I had never played a Far Cry game before (hey, they never really got rave reviews). Maybe it’s because no one seemed to care about the game when it was on display at E3. Maybe it’s because it came out after several blockbusters that left many gameplayers screaming broke. Maybe we’re all just stupid. If your favorite geek priest didn’t have such a hard on for those franchises just below this, Far Cry 3 could very well be the best game I’ve played all year. Look, no game proved more challenging without all of that insane frustration…kinda. Okay, so there are times when FC3‘s difficultly is downright painful. One mission in particular, “Paint It Black” — righteously named after the Stones’ credit-scene smash in Full Metal Jacket — when your Matt Leinart-lookalike protagonist, Jason Brody, must infiltrate an above-and-underground base camp, smothered with laser-pointing snipers, heavy gunners and sickly-difficult flame-torching baddies in order to C4 a satellite dish to smithereens. Getting past those guys is one thing — or 3 hours of dying for one thing — but making sure a whole horde of these sinners don’t deactivate the bomb is another…hour of sure death. But that’s what makes a really good game so great. The hunting is far more fantastical than, say, AC3‘s (just when I got far in the aforementioned mission, initially, I was then killed by a fricking leopard), with some kills required in order to carry more weapons and loot. That can be a pain if you realize you need to travel pretty far to slaughter some goats, deer, or even wild dogs in order to pack more gats and carry more drugs. Yes, you’ll pick up a lot of random joints, heroine needles and cocaine packets along the way — unfortunately not for recreational use, but to sell. Even when you want to take a break from the hardened missions for a few minutes, feel free to 4-wheel a quad through the splitting jungles, or para-sail above the wondrous views. So amazing. Hey, we also know the story gets a little far-fetched with our Santa Monica-born surfer bro becoming Rambo Plus over night; but the game is entirely, inexplicably thrilling, challenging, and engrossing, nonetheless. The graphics are also among the year’s prettiest, the acting work is among the highest level for any video game, and the music is certainly a nice “moody” mixture of Mass Effect and FIFA(?). There are even some boss battles just about halfway through the game that would cream the difficulty of most game’s “big baddie.” One word used to describe Far Cry 3 in its entirety: intense. Just make sure you don’t select the “alternative” ending situation in front of your grandmaw, please. 4.5/5
2. NBA 2K13 – Best. Sports. Game. Ever. To quote new Executive Producer of 2K’s latest basketball opus, Jay-Z, “cigarette boats, yachts / ain’t nowhere we can’t go.” An already great game just got a whole lot meaner, and cleaner. Even if you don’t care for the NBA or basketball in general, there’s no denying how frighteningly realistic or fantastic this game is. You can also play as either of the Dream Teams this year, in addition to more classic teams. Jordan, Shaq, Barkley, Pippen. Yup! They’re all here. Just make sure you hit up Operation Sports for mkharsh’s slider settings, The Truth for his rosters, and YeLLz for his amazing custom arena music. Takes an already great game to a heavenly level. I mean, come on, really.. how insane is hearing “Warriorrrssss.. come outtt and playyyaaayyy!!!” during 20-second timeouts from Marc Jackson? Here’s the review. 5/5
1. Mass Effect 3 – Say what you want about how it all ended (to this player, the epic, 15-20-minute ending was good enough), but the Mass Effect trilogy is the greatest video game playing experience of my life. Let me repeat that: the Mass Effect trilogy is the greatest video game playing experience of my life. Yeah, period. Mass Effect 2 may have been the perfect mesh of RPG and 3PS a few years ago, but ME3 couldn’t have been any more perfect a journey to the end of it all, either. Hell, Mass Effect 3 is also one of the few games to which I completed all of the side quests and missions. It’s perhaps that particular difference as to why I chose Mass Effect 3 over Far Cry 3; simply put, ME3‘s extra quests were incredible and imperative to the missions. FC3‘s side shit was merely just cash n’ grabs, or elongated backstory. Trust me, it wasn’t easy. But this essentially deserves the top slot for creating a brand new “Star Wars”-level trilogy alone. And, just can’t damn wait for the fourth installment. It’s coming. It has to. Right? Game of the Year! 5/5
There. Whew. And the anticipated list for 2013 is THAT MUCH SCARIER. Imagine. The poll is up for the congregation to select the game that may tickle their pinkie toe the most, and that list is longer than Snooki’s ex-smooshes. From genuinely great film franchise IPs, such as Star Wars 1313 and Star Trek, to the sequel machines of Dead Space 3 and Grand Theft Auto V, to wacky violent comedies like Deadpool and South Park: The Stick of Truth, there’s more than enough choices to make anyone and everyone who’s ever played video games happy. Yet, with my favorite franchise this side of Mass Effect going to be represented next year with its first prequel in Gears of War: Judgment, it’s going to be tough to take that away from…