Haven’t got time to preamble. Too many games to cover.
Remember when I said something like “maybe I’ll get to Red Dead Redemption in 2012!” ?? That still hasn’t happened! Oh all of those lols and such, et cetera as that guy from that Fallout game would say! What I learned– or continued to learn– above all else, in 2013, is that no one should try too hard to do things. For example, why bother saying you’ll try to eat seventeen bushels of broccoli in 2014? When you end up eating one bushel you’ll be ashamed of yourself. Instead, just buy some broccoli when you walk past it and your eyeballs and brain get together and say I guess that broccoli looks like some of the good eating times. Just do that. And heck, on your way out maybe you’ll grab a peach pie too. What does it matter? At the end of the year you’ll have purchased six quarts of broccolis, let four go rotten, and then eat a taco and buy some dumb games on Steam. Whatever, man.
The American holiday of Thanksgiving marks the start of shopping and gluttony, and also the Hollywood Oscar Season, when movies considered “Oscar-worthy” are released in theatres. The thinking is it keeps important films fresh in the minds of the nominating committee, whereas something that came out last spring is easily forgotten. The same happens with gaming, for different reasons, yet this year’s holiday was a very quiet time. Practically nothing of interest happened.
No, not even that.
It’s that time of year again. A time for quiet reflection. A time for looking ahead. A time for staying up super late and celebrating solar mechanics. Most importantly, though, it’s a time for reminding ourselves of some awesome games we played in the last 365 days – measured in the gaming world as “the time between the releases of Retro City Rampage and Dr. Luigi.”
Some years there are games that characterize my gaming experience. That sum up everything that was most memorable about that year in gaming. Other years, like this one, it’s hard to point at any one title or experience. This last year was, for me, more of a tidal shift. I’m a lot more of an indie player than I was twelve months ago (though that’s a highly relative thing). For probably the first year ever, the pinnacle of my gaming experience didn’t come (at least not definitely so) from a console release from a major publisher. That’s not to say I’m shelving my PS3 and swearing off the AAAs, but the reality of how much they’re losing their power really struck home for me personally, rather than just academically, in 2013.
I am proud to announce that as of 2013 I am finally a qualified games journalist. I got an Achievement that told me so, and that’s the recognition that I absolutely needed. As a fully qualified games journalist, I write Games of the Year articles… kind of like I did in previous years. Some things don’t change.
2012 was a lot of things, as most years are. My colleagues have discussed most of these things quite entertainingly, and so I will spare you from further use of the words “Kickstarter,” “Greenlight,” “Entitlement” and so on. Except for right there, just then.
If you’re intensely plugged into the independent gaming scene then you probably consider 2012 a banner year for the continuing rise of the indie. I’m only slightly plugged into that scene, so I consider 2012 an okay year in which The Last Guardian still saw no light of day and increasingly slight hopes for a new Half-Life could be taken off life support with rumors buzzing that Valve intends to focus their energy on entering the console market.
However, those disappointments have been quelled almost wholly by my games of the year…
When I read Brandon’s post on ‘gamer’s block’ I took a step back to consider whether I’d suffered from it at any point and, truth be told, I don’t think I have. Like many others around here, I’ve got an absurd backlog of games and while the size and my distinct lack of time to make even a dent in it intimidates me, it also excites me, especially when I’ve finished off whatever it is I’m currently playing and have the time to pluck something else from my virtual shelf.
In the dawn of 2012, I tore a leaf from my Starcraft 2 Jim Raynor Wanted Poster keepsake notebook (best thing about that game, really), determined to write down great titles as I played them. I always draw a blank when people ask for stuff I should remember, and Games of the Year articles are too important to leave to memory… especially mine. For twelve months that increasingly defiled sheet survived the chaotic sluice of cords, bills, beer cans, notes to self, and discarded gaming mice that is my desk. I exhumed it the other day.
Now, I admit this hasn’t been the best year for games, but there were more titles scrawled on there than I have medals for. After all, we don’t hand out awards like candy around here. So a whole lot of thinkin’, and even a fair amount of replayin’, was to come before the tally was in. This year I humbly offer five titles worthy of Tap-Repeatedly Special Achievement Awards, plus a handful of mentions of the honorable variety.
It’s 2013, which means we all survived the end of 2012. Despite those rumors we might not! So break out the bubbly, as it’s time for some of us to discuss our games and game trends of the past year.
This year I have the honor of being the first Tap contributor to write a Games of the Year list. My list starts with five games that stuck out to me personally this year. This isn’t just games I enjoyed (though it’s all games I enjoyed). It’s also a list of games that I feel represent some important trends that happened in 2012.
After the game list, I’m going to talk briefly about looking at games from the developer side in 2012 also, so you can get the full perspective of where I lived this year!
Remember the time Armand K got really wasted and wrote that weird paranoid manifesto about how I’d tried to lock him out of the Bordello because he owed me $7.42? Well, I don’t know if Armand’s fully kicked the habit, but I’m pleased to have him back (and apparently lucid) with another guest entry. He’s been enjoying our Games of 2011 series and thought he’d just go ahead and do one himself. Game on, my …
For gaming, 2011 was a year like many that preceded it: from January to October not a lot happened, and in November a bunch of publishers thought it was a good idea to have their games compete with Modern Blopfare and Field of Battles. At least Epic and Microsoft had the sense to get Gears of Beefcake 3 shipped in September so people would care about it for two months.
Ah, but that’s not the whole story, is it…
I’m the last person on the list so far to write one of these, so that means I’m going to tread some ground our other authors have already walked. That’s all right with me, though it does mean there may not be too many surprises on my list.
These are in no particular order, really. As with the other lists, I’m not saying “objectively, these are the best games made in 2011.” These are the games I primarily played in 2011, which define the year for me personally, and which I found most obsessworthy or worthy of conversation. I also decided, so as not to go on forever, to narrow this list down to games actually released in 2011, but I’ll mention other titles below.
When I think back over the last twelve months of my gaming year, the word that instantly springs to my mind is “change”. I began 2011 the same way I’ve started and ended the last fifteen years; as an exclusively console gamer. But mid way through this particular year something changed. I built my own PC. On a personal level this represented a huge undertaking, something I never thought I’d achieve and certainly not successfully, …
Usually I wouldn’t even consider writing one of these lists because my playing throughput is so spectacularly bad that I’m always — and by some margin — behind the curve with releases. The 2011 wave has been a particularly overwhelming one for me with game after game crashing in and yet, somehow, I’ve managed to stay afloat and play enough — merely enough — of them to warrant chiming in.
Ahh, 2011. The year in which we were supposed to have the Rapture (twice), the year of the Arab Spring, of Occupy, of the Whipping Judge and Pepper Spray Cop. The year of Steerpike’s Neglecting To Get His Carpets Shampooed, Even Though They Need It. The year of the release of Titus Awakes, which I haven’t finished but which probably doesn’t include my namesake since he died in Titus Groan. The year Brandon, Amanda, Bearwhale, and Ravious joined us as contributors. The year I gained weight, and the year I played games.
As it happens, all the games I rank below came out in 2011, though that’s not a rule. Our objective is to tell you about the games that we’ll remember most from 2011, whether they shipped that year or a decade before. And we’re each taking it in our stride – ranking, rambling, sorting. There are no rules. These are the ones that stick out in my mind. Some made me irresponsibly happy. Others made me inconceivably sad. I leave the rest to you, because I love you all, and I wish you a glorious 2012. If the world doesn’t end in December, be sure we’ll return with that year’s batch.