games / Columns

The 8 Ball: Top 8 Games of 2012 – Far Cry 3, The Walking Dead, More

February 20, 2018 | Posted by Marc Morrison
Far Cry 3

Welcome all to another edition of The 8 Ball. This is likely the last of the “Best games of XXXX” year columns, especially since I think I’ve done a 2013 column, if you dig back through the archives deep enough. I do have one more column idea, which you can see below, but after that, I’ll move onto different topics. Let’s begin:

#8: Darksiders 2

I can recognize that Darksiders 2 is both a better and worse game than its predecessor. It’s better in that it has a lot more weapons to pick up (Diablo’s loot system, pretty much), traversal is easier, and it’s generally just set up better, as a game world. However, I think it loses some points for having a somewhat disjointed story, not really following up on the promise of the first game, and some pretty nasty bugs. I remember being asked to review it, and essentially having to scrub that, since a progress-killing bug hit me about halfway through my game. Still, Darksiders 2 was a solid game, once properly fixed, and I hope Darksiders 3 can continue that trend.

#7: Mark of the Ninja

Most stealth games are bad, this is a simple way of life. Not every stealth game, by any means, but a lot of them have the player so under-powered, weak, and without any tools, that they just aren’t fun to play. An exception to this is Mark of the Ninja, though. While the Ninja was weak in direct confrontations, he had a gaggle of items and abilities to use against his foes that really could turn the tide. From insects that could devour enemy bodies, to a never-ending supply of throwing knives, to smoke bombs or noisemakers to distract your foes, you could approach a lot of the enemy situations in MOTN how you wanted to, and usually feel cool for doing so. Oh, also, the story is completely crazy, but in a good way.

#6: Journey

I think I came too late into Journey. While the game came out in 2012, I only played it in 2015, and that was on the PS4. Still, I can completely understand the game’s merits. It’s a beautiful looking and sounding game, especially during some of the bigger set pieces that it has you play. I also appreciate the multiplayer nature of Journey, you don’t opt-in to multiplayer, you just have random players join your game as you go through the world. You don’t even know who they are, until the end of the game where you are given a screen that has the PSN names of the other people. It’s a bold and unique hook for multiplayer, that I kind of wish more games did.

#5: Sleeping Dogs

Sleeping Dogs is basically a GTA game, only with an actually good melee combat system. That’s more reductive than I intend, but it is straight and to the point. However, Sleeping Dogs actually does a lot of other stuff that GTA doesn’t have, or even approached. For example, in Sleeping Dogs, there is a real incentive to actually follow the rules of the road, since you will gain lawful experience, and can upgrade that tree. On the flip side, committing random crimes will fill your criminal experience bar, which nets you more face (respect). If anything, the only problem I’ve ever had with Sleeping Dogs is how the girlfriends really just disappear once you gain their upgrades. Still, it’s a fantastic game to play, even now.

#4: The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead game was and still is a groundbreaking adventure game. It really put Telltale on the map and generally kicked off the whole melding of an adventure game, with some slightly more action-oriented bits. The reason it’s slightly lower on this list is two-fold: One is that it had some pretty gnarly technical issues. So did Darksiders 2 (above), but when the whole conceit of the game is carrying your save progress forward, and that save file gets corrupted, that can really suck. The other issue is that Telltale couldn’t leave well enough alone. The story of Lee, Clementine, Kenny and the rest was told extremely well. In the successive two “seasons” of the franchise, the story gets diluted and takes away from the emotional impact of the first game. If they had to make sequels, it should have been completely new characters, and not just having really weird plot threads/characters pop up randomly. At least, that’s just my view.

#3: Far Cry 3

Far Cry 3 is an amazing game that is undone by one problem. It is a critical mistake that almost breaks the experience. Far Cry 3 gives you a big open world, and tells you “go out and have fun”. You can approach outposts and camps either from stealth, or just go in guns blazing and try to kill everyone in sight. Hunting animals is great also, as is having to craft your player upgrades from their skins. Need a new holster? Kill a few tigers and craft it. Want a bigger wallet? Go hunt some alligators to get it. The problem, as I alluded to above, is that the big bad guy they introduce in the beginning of the game, Vaas, gets taken out about two-thirds through the game, and you’re introduced to the “real” bad guy. This completely breaks the narrative flow of the game, and you lose story momentum. It’s something that Far Cry 4 at least got right.

#2: Forza Horizon

Of all the Forza games, I still think the first Horizon game is the best in the entire franchise history. I really enjoyed the festival atmosphere of the game, as it gave it a really unique flavor. Also, the microtransaction crap that has been infesting the last few Forza games, was pretty minor in this one, all things considered. It was fun just racing around the environment, getting your level higher, or earning more money. This is what EA has been trying to replicate with their Need for Speed games, and is constantly failing at. From what I gather Horizon 3 is also a pretty solid game, so maybe I’ll check that out at some point.

#1: XCOM: Enemy Unknown

Not only did XCOM bring back a beloved, if not dormant franchise, it really showed how you can do a strategy game right on a console. Sure, there are other strategy games on consoles, like Disgaea, but they get too bogged down and overtly complicated. XCOM can get very tough, but the systems don’t get too complex, at least on the surface. XCOM has a pretty intelligent cover system, providing half-cover, or full cover when you’re hiding behind objects. More than that, the gamepad controls feel superb, and better than mouse and keyboard, at least in my view. That was one omission from XCOM 2 that ruined the game for me, alongside the technical problems of that game. If they ever get around to making an XCOM 3, I hope it’s more like Enemy Unknown, than XCOM 2.

For comments, list which games you enjoyed in 2012 and why.

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The 8 Ball (Games), Marc Morrison