2012 has been an overwhelmingly amazing year in gaming. Tons of titles, big and small, were released and no doubt it’s not easy to keep up with all of them. While AAA games with big budgets and massive marketing campaigns may have received most of the limelight, there are definitely other games you may have missed. There were a lot of games that went under the radar by many people this year, but were worth every dime spent to purchase and play. Sure you may have heard about some of the following games, had discussions, and so on; But did you actually play the games? Unfortunately, the masses haven’t.
Here are some games (in no particular order) that you may have overlooked in 2012, but you should actually play:
XCOM: Enemy Unknown
Old-school PC gamers will recognize the name XCOM and the legacy is left behind – but the series is back and better than ever. “Threatened by an unknown enemy, the Earth’s governments unite to form an elite paramilitary organization, known as XCOM, to combat this extraterrestrial attack. As the commander of XCOM, you control the global defense team in a battle against a terrifying alien invasion by creating a fully operational base, researching alien technologies, planning combat missions, and controlling soldier movement in battle.” The game has been a hit with many fans of the original and newcomers too. A critical success, XCOM Enemy Unknown is a challenge yet rewarding game that will put your strategies to the test.
GameInformer gave the title a 9.5/10 stating,
XCOM is a singular achievement that every gamer deserves to experience.
Journey follows the line of free-spirited and almost spiritual indie games that ThatGameCompany has come out with for the PlayStation 3. Taking you on a journey through magical lands and beautiful environments – The game is simple yet exquisitely deep in meaning and gameplay experience. This beautiful and majestic game will take you on an emotional journey unlike any other; Even incorporating an innovative anonymous online multiplayer function. You may have heard it being hyped throughout the year. The hype is warranted. Journey is critically acclaimed, even accomplishing the feat of being the first video game whose soundtrack has been nominated for a Grammy award. The title is quite different from anything else you may have played and is surely a game you should not miss.
We at GamerXChange, gave the game a 9.5/10 praising the title, stating:
Journey is a masterpiece on the scales that [we] have not seen in ages.
Capcom delved into a new world in this fresh IP from the minds behind Resident Evil and Devil May Cry. Dragon’s Dogma is an open-world RPG that many compare as an Eastern-Skryim. The massive maps and innovative social gameplay (although no multiplayer) creates an action game that will keep you entertained for hours without end. The game received enough acclaim to spawn plans for a sequel. If you’re a fan of dragons, warriors, wizards, archers, and an all-around good time, Dragon’s Dogma is one of those titles you should probably pick up.
GameTrailers gave the title an 8.7/10 score with the following conclusion:
If you’re the kind of player that can get completely lost in these sorts of open world RPGs, you’re going to eat Dragon’s Dogma alive. However much its reach exceeds its grasp in certain respects, this ambitious game succeeds in taking the form in an altogether welcome direction–one that does not sacrifice minute-to-minute gameplay on the altar of expansiveness. If you have a few dozen hours to spare, we could think of much worse ways to spend them.
The Unfinished Swan
The Unfinished Swan in an indie game that has resonated in the hearts of many gamers this year – but not enough. A title that most may have never even heard of, The Unfinished Swan is all about exploration. It tells the story of a boy entering a magical yet “unfinished” world, after the loss of his mother. Beautiful scenery, a compelling story, and simple gameplay makes the game not only accessible to gamers of all types but also appealing to them too.
Machinima gave The Unfinished Swan an outstanding score of 10/10 with the following comments on the title:
“…Every little piece of The Unfinished Swan is magic, an example of incredible design, vision, and originality that simply isn’t matched anywhere else.’
…this is one of the best games of the year.”
What started out as the next entry into the True Crime series, turned out to be a missed opportunity for Activision. True Crime: Hong Kong was shelved by Activision and later picked up by Square-Enix who turned United Front’s project into a new IP, Sleeping Dogs. This high-flying crime action/thriller has been highly regarded in the action-game category since its release. No doubt if you’re a fan of that type of thing, Sleeping Dogs is a game you might have passed on but you really won’t want to miss.
PlayStation Lifestyle gave the title a 9.0 out of 10 exclaiming,
“Sleeping Dogs is an all-around excellent game…
Rockstar Games needs to take note and step their game up for Grand Theft Auto V—Sleeping Dogs has set the bar very high”
Platforming mixed with music is the basis of this new title. Despite the worries many had going into playing another rhythm based game, Sound Shapes has broken all barriers and washed away all doubts. Appealing music mixed with challenging and creative platforming levels makes this a one-of-a-kind game that truly stand out from the crowd. Add the already made campaign to the community content creations, there are tons of levels to experience without end. Sound Shapes will have you nodding your head, tapping your feet, and mashing some buttons to the sound of the beat. A simple concept turned into a detailed and unique game, Sound Shapes is a platformer that gamers should definitely give a try.
Giant Bomb gave Sound Shapes a “perfect” score of 5 stars out of 5. The following statements came from their review of the game:
” …an evolution of design that’s more self-assured, more cohesive, and frankly just a hell of a lot more fun.
Sound Shapes is a reminder that great, creative things can be done in the music gaming genre.”
LittleBigPlanet PS Vita
LittleBigPlanet debuted on the new handheld from Sony, the PlayStation Vita. This new installment of the series not only takes everything that made the LBP franchise great, but adapted it for the Vita and turned it into possibly the best LittleBigPlanet game yet. Great platforming, a fun story, mixed with unique Vita controls makes LBP PS Vita not just a must have game but also one of the best titles the PS Vita has seen so far. Community content, online multiplayer, along with the many story levels provides gamers with tons of fun with Sackboy (and girl) anywhere they want to go.
Escapist Magazine gave LBP PS Vita a score of 5 out of 5 stars, declaring:
“…it shows you that the Vita can pack a punch.
LittleBigPlanet PS Vita has a compelling story and is a joy to play through.
If you’ve got a fondness for platformer games or you want to try your hand at building one, do yourself a favor and give this game a chance to impress you.”
One of my favorite multiplayer games of the year, in addition to a quite innovative title, Starhawk performed poorly in sales but was a great game nonetheless. The game mixed RTS elements with third-person shooter action. Online MP combines some of the best team-based gameplay seen on the system. Vast maps, tons of weapons, and dynamic landscapes – you’re sure to have endless fun with friends and foes alike online. Combine the award-winning multiplayer to a solid campaign, Starhawk is a title that many people passed on because of an incomplete beta test or just not knowing much about the game (if knowing about it at all). Regardless of the reason why you didn’t play Starhawk this year, it’s a title that deserves to be supported by more gamers.
Here at GamerXChange, we gave the title a 9/10 with the following to say about the action-packed shooter:
“[Starhawk] deserves loads of praise for this innovative gameplay, pure fun, high-flying, non-stop action, and build & battle system that [...] enhances the experience.”
“A mind-bending, psychedelic sensory overload” – Dyad is one of those unknowns that is passed up by many because it’s a “music-based” game and it’s a downloadable title. It does put it at a bit of a disadvantage when it comes to sales, but critics agree- Dyad is a blast that should at least be tried by gamers worldwide.
Joystiq gave Dyad a score of 4.5 out of 5 stars, commenting:
“Dyad is magic.
Dyad manages to create a beautiful synthesis of music, visual design and gameplay mechanics, and it does so without missing a beat.”
Spec Ops: The Line
Not your average shooter, Spec Ops: The Line combines compelling storytelling with massive action pieces in what turned out to be a surprise hit among those who actually played the game, game critics and game community members alike. You might be tired of the same old military shooter that are prevalent like the sand of the seas, but The Line proves to break out from that mold and provide a complete gaming experience that many gamers might just want to try.
EGM gave the title a score of 9 out of 10, admitting:
“ I didn’t expect to like Spec Ops: The Line, but [...] Yager surpassed my hopes on so many levels. The Line rivals thatgamecompany’s Journey in terms of overall impact, serving as a brave step forward for developers who want to help us get more from games than just gunplay.”
Mark of the Ninja
The indie scene hit 2012 full force this year with loads of great titles and Mark of the Ninja was one of those. This action packed game highlights stealth and platforming that puts you in control of a Ninja whose clan is in danger of extinction. This highly acclaimed game comes from the same studio that brought you Shank – so you can imagine…Mark of the Ninja is one of those games that you’ll want to play.
Destructoid’s reviewer gave Mark of the Ninja an awesome score of 10/10, stating:
“I find Mark of the Ninja to be perfect. Let it stand as the benchmark by which all stealth games are now measured.”
Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed
In a genre dominated by a handful of select franchises, it’s hard to break in and make your mark. Despite any disadvantage that it may have had coming into the game, SEGA’s sequel to its hit 2010 racing game has struck a high note with a lot of game critics and racing fans alike. Sonic & All-Stars Transformed staked its claim and earned a well deserved spot among the great names like Mario Kart and Need for Speed. Offering a fair balance of fun and challenges – If you’re a fan of SEGA games, a fan of party games, or a fan of racing games, this title is one that you should definitely pick up.
Giving the game a near-perfect score of 9/10, Eurogamer said,
“Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed [...] managed to step out of Mario Kart’s shadow.
This manages to be more than just a tribute to the great and good of Sega’s past – it does enough to earn its own place alongside them.”
Dust: An Elysian Tail
Another indie title, Dust: An Elysian Tail takes you through a beautiful hand-painted world on a search for your true identity. The game has received praise for its combat system, open world, and story, making it another title that is worthy of finding a place in your collection.
The Official Xbox Magazine scored Dust: An Elysian Tail with a high-flying achievement of 9.5/10. The review mentioned,
“[Dust: An Elysian Tail] is an entirely different, though no less surefooted, thrill. Crafted with painstaking attention to inventive detail and charm, Dust is never less than an outright joy to experience.”
Stealth had a nice presence this year and Dishonored was one of those titles at the forefront of the genre. A brand new IP from Bethesda, Dishonored takes you an adventure as an infamous yet cursed assassin. Engaging gameplay, intriguing environments, and diverging stories all come together to make this award winning game a must-play title. You decide the fate of the world.
Our GamerXChange review scored the game at a great 9.5/10. The review mentioned,
“Dishonored is pure art.” With “an engrossing world and experience…”
“…a really fantastic game that is like nothing else…”
RedLynx puts it simply: “Trials Evolution is on every front the next dimension of the smash-hit, award-winning Trials HD. Bust out of the warehouse into an outdoor world of night and day, curving drive lines, and spectacular scenery. Multiplayer comes alive, in your living room or on Xbox LIVE. Build your own tracks with the included editor or download those of any other player from the new Track Central.” Don’t let the “downloadable title” moniker dissuade you from diving into a challenging and creative experience. Trials Evolution deserves to be played without a doubt.
IGN thought the game was amazing, giving it a score of 9 out of 10. Their review concluded,
“Trials [is] an everyman’s game.
Incredibly challenging … thrilling.
Rarely have I played a game that better caters to all walks of players.”
A unique and new IP from Japan Studios, Gravity Rush (also known as Gravity Daze) has been a hit with gamers worldwide. The action title mixes a large open world with gravity defying action as gamers take control of “Kat” a girl whose memories are gone, yet she still finds the time to do good deeds for people all around town. Unravel the mystery and help save the day! Gravity Rush makes use of the Vita’s unique features along with traditional controls for a new way to play – shifting and manipulating gravity as you please. Because not too many people have adopted the Vita, Gravity Rush is another title that has gone unplayed by the masses. This is a MUST HAVE title if you own a Vita and even a title that is worthy of being called a system seller.
Push Square’s review of Gravity Rush snagged the game a score of 9/10 with the following to say about it,
“…an intriguing experience.”
“Gravity Rush is a rare gem.”
“…one of the most outstandingly original experiences of the year.”
PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale
PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale – I don’t think it needs an introduction. Sony’s mash-up brawler, filled with first and third-party game characters, set the internet abuzz when it was revealed in early 2012. The long-time rumored crossover had finally become a reality. However, despite the attention it got online, many people dismissed the game as a “Smash Bros. clone” or a game that wasn’t going to be fun to play. Unfortunately, because of these attitudes (and a lack of marketing), the game didn’t do too well in initial sales. Nevertheless, PS All-Stars was released and received some mixed reviews but a lot of positive ones. With that said, PS-All Stars is not just a game that shouldn’t be missed by PlayStation fans, but any gamer who likes party games or fighters.
The Sixth Axis gave this new IP an unexpected score of 9/10 proclaiming:
“[PlayStation All-Stars is] exactly what a mash-up should be.
It’s a complete package [...] brilliant [...] an absolute blast.”
No doubt there are a lot of games you may have played this year, some that you liked a lot, others – not so much. Whatever the case is, we can all agree that 2012 had a lot of games to keep us busy and we all no doubt have our favorites. Maybe there was a game that you thought was great and didn’t get much attention. This list took a while to compile but it isn’t complete. There are a lot of other games that may have been overlooked including Xenoblade Chronicles, Sine Mora, Hotline Miami, Darksiders II, Fez, Transformers: Fall of Cybertron, Alien Breed, and more. It doesn’t matter what system the game is for, sound off in the comments below! What are some of the games you thought were great but went under the radar in 2012?