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Top 10 games of 2012: A middling year still produced a great apocalyptic story

Published January 8, 2013 10:45 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Overall, as we wind down this current generation of gaming consoles — as early as next year, there's expected to be new releases of the PlayStation 4 and/or the next Xbox — developers should know how to make the best possible games.

But alas, 2012 was for the most part a tepid year in gaming where sequels, remakes and me-too titles dominated the interactive-entertainment landscape. The games that make my Top 10 list this year might only be runners up any other year. Yet these are still worthy adventures to embark on. There might be some holes in this list — I didn't have the time to play "Journey" or "Assassin's Creed III," for example — but consider these my favorites of all the new games I played.

1. "Borderlands 2" • This first-person shooter in an apocalyptic wasteland is the perfect combination of graphics, role-playing elements and blistering action. But it's the hilarious story and voice acting that puts this now-classic game to the top of the heap. It's loaded with knee-slappingly funny dialogue and healthy doses of pop culture references, making it a must-have title for all of gaming.

2. "Super Stardust Delta" • If there's a single game I played the most, it's this overhead space shooter for the PlayStation Vita that's the year's best example of pure gameplay joy.

3. "Torchlight II" • While "Diablo III" is the hack-and-slash role-playing game that got all of the attention, this much less expensive independent version of "Diablo" got all of the gameplay mechanics and fun just right.

4. "Sound Shapes" • Perhaps the most innovative game of the year is this side-scrolling platformer for the PlayStation Vita, in which you play a blob that ignites musical notes on a colorful landscape. By the time you finish a level, you've create a musical piece.

5. "Mass Effect 3" • The epic finale to this science-fiction trilogy still left a lot of questions and some degree of disappointment, but there wasn't a story in gaming with as much depth as this one. This hybrid of shooter and role playing was the most adult and ambitious of any game this year.

6. "The Walking Dead" • This adventure game is a wonderful return to the point-and-click games of yesteryear (it was developed by a team well known for those classic adventure games), but it also offered a hair-raising experience akin to the show and comic it's based on.

7. "XCOM: Enemy Unknown" • Another return to classic gaming, this reboot of the well-regarded strategy game pits the player against an army of aliens invading Earth. This isn't a simplified, action-oriented cop-out but a full-fledged strategy game that doesn't water down the complexities.

8. "Resident Evil: Revelations" • Forget the disappointing "Resident Evil 5" or "Resident Evil 6." The real return to the survival-horror series was this version for the Nintendo 3DS. It may have been downsized for the system's small screen, but it wasn't downgraded in terms of scares and game play.

9. "Dishonored" • A lot of games pretend to give the player full control of their destiny. But this steampunk-styled first-person shooter really allows the player to take a number of different paths — from using stealth to going in guns ablazing — to achieve the mission.

10. "Far Cry 3" • Open-world games usually aren't my favorite, but this first-person shooter about a vacationer trying to escape an island of crazies allows you to choose a mission from an extensive variety of choices. Its story may be shallow, but the graphics (at least on the PC) and the freedom to do what you want make this a fun journey.

vince@sltrib.com