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The 25 Best Video Games of 2012
The 25 Best Video Games of 2012

5

Far Cry 3

Jason Brody is the unlikely hero of Ubisoft’s exceptional first-person shooter Far Cry 3, and his transformation from a millennial brat into a vengeful murderer aligns well with a game that transcends emblematic genre tropes. The narrative arc retains a dramatic force that’s lacking in most modern shooters. Furthermore, the developers made the right decision to focus on cultivating a lush open world that takes inspiration from hallmark games such as Red Dead Redemption and Skyrim. Rook Island is a teeming and balmy wilderness that makes one wrestle with real-world concerns such as colonialism, drug culture, and human trafficking. A multiplicity of tactics and paths provide the player with a sense of true psychosomatic and terrestrial exploration. Far Cry 3 is a intrepid sequel that eschews the series’s previous mistakes and leans on its strengths with the relish of a practiced hunter.  Lemmon

The 25 Best Video Games of 2012

4

Borderlands 2

This sequel to Gearbox’s 2009 hit Borderlands carries over the original’s exceptional gameplay, satisfyingly meshing first-person shooting with traditional RPG tropes, and adds a stronger narrative, penned by Hey Ash, Whatcha Playin’?’s Anthony Burch, while retaining the series’s irreverent, mean-spirited sense of humor. (The Claptrap’s Birthday Bash! timed mission might be the most depressing thing in any 2012 video game outside of The Walking Dead.) Borderlands 2 improves on nearly every aspect of the original, with more balanced gameplay and weaponry, superior characters and dialogue, plus an abundance of Easter eggs and in-jokes hidden throughout the expansive and fascinating environments. It’s a hysterical game that oozes personality and is consistently hilarious. Worth seeing through both alone and with friends, Borderlands 2 is a tremendous sequel that is quite literally a blast.  Aston

The 25 Best Video Games of 2012

3

The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead point-and-click adventure game boasts both believable characters and a compelling storyline, and the attention to detail alone vaults it above AMC’s merely adequate television series. This five-episode DLC title, which places you in the shoes of a convict turned hero whose interactions with his small cadre of survivors sends ripples throughout the game’s world, even manages to nearly rival Robert Kirkman’s original tone, vision, and aptitude for rich characterizations in his ongoing comic-book series. The smart, profound narrative is a thrill to experience, but The Walking Dead is also a wonderfully cell-shaded environment that wrenches the heart just as much as it shocks it with fear.  Lemmon

The 25 Best Video Games of 2012

2

Journey

You’ll start out in the desert, descend into a midnight-blue labyrinth, and soar through the clouds into the bitter, icy mountains, but the game’s beautifully rendered settings aren’t the journey. It’s the emotional experience that elevates Journey above others, what distinguishes your poor, red-cloaked character from the billions of specks of sand he traverses. The areas you explore are often massive, but at the height of despair, and if you’re playing online, a second player may appear. Perhaps they’ll feel as you do, wandering around with the wide-eyed wonder that comes with starting out on this journey for the first time—or perhaps they’re a spiritual veteran of the game, serving as a reassuring guide. You’ll never know, as you can only communicate via chirps, but for three hours, they’ll be your best (and only) friend—and should you lose them, you’ll feel a loss that all the 1-Up mushrooms in the world could never salve.  Riccio

The 25 Best Video Games of 2012

1

Xenoblade Chronicles

The Wii is dead. Long live the Wii U. Yes, the Nintendo Wii only gave us a handful of bona-fide masterstrokes, but each and every one of them is a game that doubtlessly invites multiple replays. How suitable is it that the Wii’s tenable swan song also single-handedly revitalized the vintage JRPG subgenre? Xenoblade Chronicles, like fellow 2012 JRPG revivalist Final Fantasy XIII-2 (which, like so many other games, owes a debt to the seminal Chrono Trigger), cleverly uses the thematic components of shifting destinies and humankind versus higher powers as manners by which to depict the oscillating mental states of its central characters. This year, you won’t be likely to find a more fleshed-out batch of heroes than 18-year-old sword-swinger Shulk and his ragtag group of Mechon-battlers. Writer-director Tetsuya Takahashi (Xenogears, Xenosaga) has been in this market for quite a while, and clearly understands that a great RPG starts and ends with its cast, and how well players can identify with their specific, often extrinsic, ambitions and dreams. Monolith Soft’s ambitious epic is boundlessly beautiful, challenging, emotionally gripping, and most distinguishably of all, effortlessly transporting.  LeChevallier

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