2012 has been a pretty good year of video games for me. I have played through a plethora of titles that I have been waiting for, some I’ve been meaning to get around to sinking my teeth into, and others I approached with skepticism and apprehension. I won’t waste any time with my boring, long-winded prattling, I’ll just get right to the deal. Some of the games on this list may surprise you. But first, an ad break from my sponsor;
That certainly wasn’t worth it.
BEST GAMES #5.
King of Fighters XIII (PS3)
The KOF series in my humble opinion has had one of the biggest facelifts in a fighting game franchise since the turn of the new century, and the thirteenth entry not only adds a complete story mode that concludes the Ash Crimson Saga (something crucial missing from the last game), and features the return of some of my longtime favorite SNK girls like Mai Shiranui and Yuri Sakazaki, but it’s revamped gameplay is absolutely stellar and enjoyable. I understand that people shy away from SNK’s fighting engine because it felt dated and cumbersome up until the twelfth entry and preferred Capcom and Namco’s more adaptable Street Fighter and Tekken franchises, but with bland efforts from Tekken 6 and Super Street Fighter 4, I went back to what works for me. The game came complete with a soundtrack the features the best tunes from each game over the last 15 years, giving die-hard fans a special treat and a “thank you” for your dedication. Now, if only they would fix that final boss issue….
#4 Battlefield 3 (XBox 360)
I’ll say it here; I hate the Call of Duty series. It’s brain-dead, run’n’gun, shoot first, ask questions later formula NEVER worked for me. It’s grossly overrated and dumbs down first person shooters worse than the Left 4 Dead games. Call of Duty is the Prince of Persia of FPSs, with its inabilty to do anything different or fresh. I gravitated towards EA’s Battlefield franchise instead. Now I’m not very good at FPSs and I believe they overflood the market with very few of them providing innovation to inject a bit of life in them, but Battlefield 3’s 3 minute trailer that aired on television as a teaser had me salivating to get my hands on it! The game did not disappoint and I gave it the nod over Crysis 2 because of its genuine difficulty and presentation. The attention to detail in Battlefield 3 is simply phenomenal, from the cinematic cut scenes of the soldier retelling the story to his superiors to crumbling buildings and debris clouding your vision, and using infrared laser guides to aim airstrikes on enemy targets. Fluid controls allow for pinpoint accuracy with any gun, all have various options that cycle through scope modes, recoil and firing speed, etc. Manning and piloting vehicles like F14 Tomcats and armored tanks boast flawless control as well. This was the best, most complete shooter I’ve played and had the most fun with since Quake 2. Suck it, Raven! If I want wanton destruction, I’ll play Contra!!
#3 NIGHTs: Journey of Dreams (Nintendo Wii)
Sega’s sleeper 2.5D adventure game makes my heart ache that while this company can produce some very stellar media, it saddens me that still, even after nearly 14 years, that this company does not make consoles anymore, and NIGHTs Journey of Dreams is a strong reason why. I fell in love with the original game on the Sega Saturn and was one of the best games on that console and an innovative concept, as it would be the first time and analog stick would be utilized. Journey of Dreams was one of big reasons I bought a Nintendo Wii in the first place, and this game did not disappoint. The Wii Remote controls are flawless, whether you’re using the nunchuk or just guiding manually using the cursor pointer. I played this game endlessly to get very good and ace all the stages, especially the Sky Concert Stage (pictured above), where you and Elena have to harmonize with the game’s theme song in perfect rhythm. This portion of NIGHTs is such a perfect storm of gaming greatness, that I think I achieved Nirvana. Not only is it a great challenge (think flipping Guitar Hero on its side and flying through the notes instead of pressing a button.), but the music is fantastic, though that may be the cheery pop music fan in myself, and when you hit a perfect stride, the Nightopians (these adorable little critters that I want a plush made in their image) sing along with the song. It’s a feeling of completion that I only got from games I played growing up and only a company like Sega can stir those memories. Thank you, and I hope to see a new NIGHTs game for the Wii U, if that’s not asking too much.
#2 Tales of Vesperia (XBox 360)
With Final Fantasy dead on its feet (at least in terms of never being anything close to the games I cherished so long ago before FF7 ruined everything), NIS reducing the Disgaea games into one long-running punchline that isn’t funny or amusing, and Atlus’ Persona, Shin Megami Tensei, and subsequent side games taking over as the leading innovators of traditional RPGs, Namco’s Tales series of games has nestled into a very comfortable 2nd place, it seems, and this offering, one of the first next generation RPGs exclusively for the 360, was a real treat. Yeah, it took me a long time to finally getting around to playing it, but Tales of Vesperia fixed the problems I had with Tales of Symphonia, mainly balancing out the proper use of the 3d battle environment. The Gamecube and PS2 Tales games seemed destined to stick to its 2D roots instead of free roaming, which annoyed me greatly. Vesperia isn’t without its problems (unlocking each character’s Mystic Arte was an overdrawn out chore), but a very good story, a lovable cast of colorful characters, plenty of easter eggs and side quests, and top-notch voice acting made this game very enjoyable and didn’t feel too phoned in. It was a big step up from the unlikable jackasses in Abyss and Legendia and the ineffective twits in Symphonia that I had to play as. I hate you, Kratos.
#1 Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword
It’s never a Nintendo console without a Zelda or Mario game, and like its predecessor Twilight Princess, Skyward Sword excels in virtually every regard. It would be hard to offer any other accolades that hasn’t yet been said about this game, so forgive me if I sound like I’m playing the same record. I really got into what is apparently an origin story for what would be known today as Hyrule, though how much that means in Zelda continuity is moot. The Wii controls were excellent, everything from sword swinging, bow and arrow…ing(?), you feel like in control of Link every step of your journey. Like in Zelda games prior to, every item you acquire will be used, so nothing is wasted. I even got a kick out of the colorful yokels that qualify as townspeople this time around, even if they do kind of scare the crap out of me. Perhaps the only problem I had with the game was very minute, and that would be Ghirahim, the wispy, disgusting, undignified clown who makes Tim Curry from Rocky Horror look like John McClane. Video games need to stop making guys like this just because it’s easy heat. I miss Ghalian, who was a pompous ass and needed a reason for a beating. That aside, Skyward Sword was a fantastic experience that I spent nearly countless hour engrossed in. Being released as the final line of Wii games for the year, this was a great a swan song a console can have.
The Worst Games I Played #5
Xenosaga Episode III Also sprach Zarathrusta
Not from a gameplay standpoint, it was a solid enough engine, though I preferred Episode II’s. This game’s story took turns for the absolute worst. Theology has always been a part of this series, even dating back to Xenogears, but Episode III just takes the whole cake and shoves it into its mouth with all kinds of flavors of what the f@ck!!?? I get that this series was supposed to be six games long, and a lot of very deep context had to be condensed, but that still doesn’t explain why Shion Uzuki became such an idiotic, insufferable bitch completely devoid of reasoning and logic! Not until Samus Aran took the same route in Metroid Other M would another character degrade into such a whiny, self-centered crybaby to the point that even when she eventually saves face, I CAN’T CARE!!!! If your significant other returned from the dead, speaking the same twisted nonsense he was chanting while alive, why on EARTH would think he has your best intentions in mind!? Once Shion began to stab everyone in the back for answers that I could see coming a mile away, this game was a chore to finish. I loathed this game, much in the same way I loathe other “III” movies; TMNT III, Revenge of the Sith, X III The Last Stand, Terminator 3, you get the idea.
#4 Victorious Boxers; Ippo’s Road to Glory
I don’t need to trash this game anymore than I already have, but suffice to say, this was a frustrating, incomprehensibly bad boxing title. I’ve heard it’s sequels are better, and they must be, since they didn’t hit U.S. shores and we got stuck with Orphen Scion of Scorcery (Oh your time is coming. Just wait!!) Anime games on the big consoles never favor well, and while this is a step up from the days of Ranma 1/2 Hard Battle on SNES, it’s a pretty poor offering.
#3 Red Faction Armageddon
Now, while I wish someone had a brain and work ethic to get this sagging series back on its legs, its property of Syfy Games. Yeah, the once proud network that now purposefully misspells its own name and airs Asylum films on a whim thought a shitty made-for-tv movie based on Red Faction would get customers psyched for the latest entry, Armageddon. Sadly, the once revolutionary FPS on the PS2 has reduced itself to simply emulating what’s already been done. Red Faction Guerrella tried it’s hand at a free roaming sandbox game. It was okay, but when your expansive world takes place on a planet that’s a barren wasteland, you’re kind of missing the purpose. Fed Faction Armageddon is a very lukewarm game that feels like a tepid hybrid of Dead Space and Gears of War. Without the EDF to fight against anymore, you now battle generic monsters you’ve seen in every game since Halo. While the Nano Forge was a cool idea, this game just lacked any kind of challenge, mood, or atmosphere. I beat it in a matter of days after buying it and haven’t found a reason to pick it up again. Much like Medal of Honor, if you fail to challenge, you’ll get left in the dust…..on Mars.
#2 Marvel vs Capcom 3
Didn’t care. I completely did not care about this game. I tried getting excited about it when I heard the rumors were true, I sat down and tried to think about whom I’d want to see to toe to toe with each other in Capcom and Marvel’s expansive universe. The first blow came when NO Phoenix Wright characters were announced (I harped on that in my Street Fighter Fails). That sobering news followed up by the fact that SPENCER would get a main roster slot. Spencer, from that terrible Bionic Commando reboot, did not deserve to be in this game!! Not to mention that in between MvC3 and MvC2, Capcom has done nothing but disappoint me: 4 shitty Resident Evil movies, Resident Evil 5 with blonde, Spider-chest Jill, killed the Megaman X series with X7 and Command Mission, created and subsequently destroyed Dante and the Devil May Cry series, replaced Nick and Miles with watered-down upstarts, Klavier and Apollo, the Sengoku Basara/Dynasty Warriors knockoff, Street Fighter The Legend of Chun Li with Taboo as Vega, and Capcom Fighting Evolution!!!!! I had no reason to care at all about this once much-anticipated clash of titans, I was even disappointed in myself briefly for not liking it. Playing it on the 360 with that lousy D-pad didn’t help matters either. Mortal Kombat 9 and KOF XIII were much more satisfying.
#1 Resident Evil 6
Oh Capcom, if you keep this up, you’re going to enter Final Fantasy-levels of fail. I can’t even say I wanted to play this shit after the previous game put me to sleep faster than a bender of Nyquil and Enya music while wrapped in a warm towel. My brother bought it and suggested we play it in co-op mode and my first thought was how far this series has strayed from its survival horror roots to the point that its attempts as an action game are that much more embarrassing. They did tighten up the controls, but the melee action is still a mess, even though I found it more effective than shooting anything with a gun. Chris’ campaign is an insult to the senses, as running around and just shooting waves of enemies is not fun when you have to do it for 2 hours!! There’s monotony and then there’s just white noise, Chris! And why does he look like Josh Duhamel? The story has always been stupid, but now it’s just headache inducing. The quick action moments aren’t engaging and are just placed in the game with the subtlety of a brick flying at your face! It was like Capcom just learned how to do this like a child and couldn’t stop!! I’m not looking forward to Resident Evil 7 and in honor of its eventual release day, I’m going to play Resident Evil 2.
Man, Aksys games certainly knows how to design a female character. I was actually going to pick Rachel Alucard due to shear awesomeness, but the fact that she looks 12 would warrant the wrong kind of attention my way. Not that Noel brings nothing to the table; with her slender, delicate figure clad in that uniform that shows a lot of leg, and upper back without gratuitous panty shots, combined with her flighty personality and she’s a complete winner for me!!
Male Character of the Year: Yuri Lowell (Tales of Vesperia)
I’ve had to endure Snow from FF13, Darius Mason in Red Faction. Yuri is a great lead, not just in a Tales Of game, but a lead character that more should aspire to be like. He’s got a great sense of humor, he’s friendly and well-spoken, doesn’t go out of his way to judge and belittle others, and treats everyone with honesty and respect. This kind of character doesn’t exist in RPGs anymore, because developers still think the sullen broody hero shtick is money. Yuri is proof that down-to-earth is way more dynamic than standoff-ish and rude any day. He’s also pretty good-looking eye candy for the ladies, which never hurts.
Female Character of the Year: Taokaka (Blazblue Continuum Shift)
This kitty wins it just on sense of humor alone. Tao is hands down the funniest catgirl on the planet. I was in stitches throughout her side quests in story mode in BOTH games and both entries of Teach Me, Miss Litchi. While she has a fair case of ADHD and is virtually uncontrollable at times, she’s kindhearted and has genuine concern for her new mission, if she remembers it. And those kittens are precious treasures!!
Worst Male Character of the Year: Darius Mason (Red Faction Armageddon)
No, really, he’s a total badass who eats nails and tires for breakfast. Look at his bald head and giant gun, and also he has witty one-liners. This character is not to be messed with!! Sure, I’ve seen senior citizen crossing guards who look more imposing than this token, tough-as-nails loser.
Worst Female Character of the Year: Shion Uzuki (Xenosaga Episode III Asslo Sprite Zimbabwe)
Hmm, no. I tried putting her in a bathing suit and even supple lady flesh isn’t making think any more of her. Allen is way too good for you, you insipid twat.
Super Spoils of 2012: Skyrim Collector’s Edition Box
If there will be one purchase that signifies the Xbox 360 on the map for me, it’s this game and box. All $149.00 of it’s ethereal goodness was something I wasn’t going to pass up, not this time after I missed out on Digital Devil Saga some 7 years ago.
Not even to comment on the stellar game itself, the quality of the dragon is pretty astounding alone. It’s one of the best chunks of plastic I’ve ever bought, next to my Lilliane from Princess Resurrection via Good Smile Company (that’ll be my only namedrop for them), and it is worth every penny.
It’s been a busy year and I’ll be back next year even better with much more reviews, insights, speculations, and nitpicks. Until then, thanks for reading and see you again!