Arrow in the Head's Top 10 Genre Video Games of 2012

I believe that 2012 was a solid year for video-games. We had a lot of big studios trying to bust out massive, epic-scaled blockbusters while at the same time we have a hardcore group of indie developers who were chomping at the bit to demonstrate their products as well.

Things are getting exciting these days, kids. The world of social media, kickstarter and free-to-play modeled games is making for some interesting changes in the gaming landscape. Gamers are starting to notice originality, enthusiasm and quality when they see it. One way or another, in 2012, the gamers certainly won.

#4: Assassin's Creed 3

I know this might be a bone of contention among some people, but for me, Assassin’s Creed III refreshed, reinstilled and reawakened my passion for the franchise. This one has another convoluted story that involves a character named Connor as he pursues the baddies of the American Revolution in 1775, trekking across the states in various environments from snow to fog. Freerunning has always been a big part of the Creed series, and this one makes it even more fun- you’ll enjoy every moment of climbing through and jumping around in the trees.

Yes, there are some bugs that occur, but it can easily be argued that this one remains the best entry in the series. The story is tighter, and the game gives you a ton of things to do in its open, sandbox-based environment. You can even participate in naval battles, as you man a ship in a tactical strategy portion of the game that actually works. I don’t really have the time to give you all of the reason why this game is pretty awesome, but know that if you had even a passing interest in the previous titles in the series, this one’s a must play and a solid contender for game of the year, in my books.

Available for: Playstation 3, Xbox 360, Wii U and PC

#3: Dishonored

A rare case of a game living up to the hype, I sunk a lot of hours into Dishonored. You’re Corvo, a bodyguard for an empress. After returning from a long journey abroad, the empress is murdered and her daughter is kidnapped- you’re framed for the gig. Now it’s your job to wipe out the corrupt city officials, picking them off one by one. This is a really endearing, open-ended game that lets you play as you like.

Dishonored has great stealth work, strategy and even some magic at play. There are so many different ways to do things, whether you want to go in guns-blazing, or send a swarm of rats to devour your foes- you can do it! The graphics are unique, with a hint of cartoon style mixed with a distinct steampunk flavor. The city of Dunwall is alive, and feels like it changes based on your actions throughout the game. Your choices certainly affect your gameplay, and that’s refreshing when done right. Great game.

Available for: Playstation 3, Xbox 360, and PC/

#2: Borderlands 2

After going through my list, I realize that so many games that landed on it are sequels- but these are quality titles, folks. If you haven’t played the original Borderlands, you’re missing out. It was a hybrid sort of first person shooter mixed with a role playing game that focused on weapon customization and a whole bunch of killing. The system worked! Once again, this sequel gives you even more of what you loved about the first game, more killing and more guns. Ultimately though, it feels nearly impossible to really convey what this game’s all about. You must pick a class, then head out to save Pandora from the awesomely villainous Handsome Jack, a vicious, sarcastic, pompous jerk who’s really well designed.

The open world of Pandora looks way better than it did last time around as well, with a lot more diversity through each zone instead of a dry desert wasteland. The game’s story is far more developed and really matters more in this title. Ultimately, everything you liked about the first entry has been improved here (although the leveling system is different for weapons), but this game is simply fun. It doesn’t break the mold or innovate tremendously- rather, it sets out to entertain us. This is easily the co-op game of the year.

Available for: Playstation 3, Xbox 360, and PC/Mac

#1: Walking Dead- A Telltale Games Series

This shouldn’t comes as a shock to any reader of our website. Recently crowned game of the year at the 2012 Video Game Awards, this beautiful episodic series provided me with some of the most emotional and gut-wrenching moments I’ve ever had playing a video game. Infused with a unique and beautiful cel-shaded style, The Walking Dead features fully realized characters that span the full spectrum of emotional decisions. Some episodes are better than others, but this is a game that will grab you and not let up. It’s tense, and will unquestionably play on your emotions- your choices matter, and you’re going to make some really, really tough ones as Lee, a convicted murderer who was on his way to prison until the zombie outbreak hit.

It’s up to you to make and break relationships with each character, and its clear that there was a ton of work put into the writing and overall direction of the game. The gameplay is quite simple in a sort of point-and-click style that lends itself to each medium it’s presented on, and each episodes lasts around 2 hours or so. No, you don’t get to aim and shoot endlessly in this title. Like the graphic novels, the game forces you to weigh your decisions, as they vastly change the game each time you play. There’s no real right or wrong decisions, though as the game moves on you’ll find them getting weightier and weightier. I can’t recommend this game enough; as a fan of Zombies or horror in general, you owe it to yourself to at least try out the first episode (and with it being available on so many platforms, what’s your excuse?).

Available for: Playstation 3, Xbox 360, iOS and PC/Mac

#5: Hitman Absolution

I’m a big fan of the Hitman series, and have evolved with it along the years. This game frustrates the hell out of me, but offers the player a ton of options in which to take out your foes (hint: I don’t recommend messing up- stay stealthy). With that being said, jump back into the shoes of Agent 47, our favorite barcoded bald-guy with a presentation style that is practically cinematic and oddly gorgeous in some ways.

This one adds the best elements of previous games, while tossing in a whole bunch of new ones and is clearly suited best for strategic observers, those who like to plan every move. You really learn as you go along in this one, but if you’re not into trial and error, I’d avoid this title. You have to have skill and patience, which is what any good assassin would need- so it’s only fitting. This one’s a tense game, but know that when you are finally able to pull the trigger (or set off an explosive, or use piano wire, or throw someone off a balcony), it feels so good. The AI isn’t perfect, but the game is beautifully designed and easy to control, so the tradeoff is both minor and rewarding.

Available for: Playstation 3, Xbox 360 and PC

#6: Darksiders 2

Saddle up once again as Death during the end of days for Darksiders 2, another quality sequel to a great original title. This sequel is hopefully going to keep the franchise going, as it simply makes almost everything bigger and better in terms of scale and scope. Playing as Death is super-badass- he’s a really interesting character who goes out of his way to protect his loved ones, which is pretty cool. The action-RPG elements of the gameplay will keep you coming back. The game is really an epic adventure that has a ton of content to explore, with side quests that will keep you busy for hours. The weapons are highly customizable and change the way you play the game, which adds a ton of variety. If you haven’t already, you should certainly try to play this one. It’s great!

Available for: Playstation 3, Xbox 360, Wii U and PC

#7: Resident Evil Revelations

Although this is the only 3DS title that’ll appear on this list, Resident Evil: Revelations is an important one because it’s really quite awesome. This was another title I was fortunate to review, and one of the only 3DS games I ever really revisited more than once. A quality title through and through, this one is likely still one of the best games available for the system.

The game's episodic format is really cool, and the use of 3D is actually quite impressive, as are almost all of the visuals in this shrunken-down console game. The game mixes action and survival quite well, and even manages to have a few decent jump scares. A lot of fans would tell you that this is a true return to form for the RE series, and I wouldn’t disagree. This game has awesome production values, a few different modes, and manages to stay unique. In some ways, I wish that this had been Resident Evil 6.

Available for: Nintendo 3DS

#8: The Darkness 2

Here’s another great sequel I was happy to dig my teeth into. You’re once again thrust into the world of Jackie Estacado- you’ve killed the folks who wiped out your girlfriend, but the memories still haunt you. The Darkness demons once again come spilling forth after a botched suicide attempt, which makes for another fun run through New York. This is simply a solid first person shooter that’s drenched in its own atmosphere and theme, and just breaks some of the mold.

You’re again in control of the darkness creatures that will allow you to devour the very souls of the enemy while you hide in the shadows (the beasts don’t like the light, you see). It doesn’t redefine things that the first game presented, but rather refines them and focuses on the story every bit as much as the mayhem. The story isn’t quite as awesome as the first game, but the tightened gameplay really helps. If you’re looking for a nasty, brutal and gutsy game, horror fan, look no further than The Darkness II.

Available for: Playstation 3, Xbox 360, PC, Mac

#9: Prototype 2

This anticipated sequel dropped in April and immediately set out to improve upon the last game. This time around you’re James Heller, a man out for revenge against (gasp!) protagonist Alex Mercer from the first game. It’s got decent characters, and our hero is fleshed out in a far better manner this time around. The game just “feels” better in terms of gameplay mechanics in comparison to the last title, which once again empowers the player with the desire to really wreak havoc with incredible powers.

This one essentially takes everything you liked about the first game and gives you more leeway to essentially play God. True, the targeting system is still a little off, and the AI can be super frustrating from time to time, but there’s too much quality to ignore. Great voice cast, cool powers, a decent challenge and a worthy sequel all around.

Available for: Playstation 3, Xbox 360 and PC

#10: Mortal Kombat- Komplete Edition

I do realize that this is technically a game that came out in 2011 (if you happen to have read my review, you’ll remember I was pretty fond of it), but the Komplete Edition of Mortal Kombat did indeed release in 2012, and it’s unquestionably the best version of the game out there. If you missed it the first time around, you missed a game with great graphics, great multiplayer, solid controls and even a decent single-player story mode.

As a disclaimer though, let me offer that this Komplete Edition is just that- the game and all of the DLC available for it. This extra stuff includes extra skins and a few extra characters- Skarley, Kenshi, Rain, and Freddy F’n Krueger (I realize that it’s the Nightmare remake Freddy, but this is still cool). If you’re an old fan, you’ll find a lot of updates to your old favorites, and if you just like fighting games with a healthy dose of violence, this balanced title will keep you busy for quite awhile. If you haven’t picked it up already, this one’s worth the dough (especially now that the price has dropped!). Let Mortal Kombat Begin!

Available for: Playstation 3, Xbox 360 and Playstation Vita

Tags: Hollywood

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