It’s that time of year where we celebrate the memorable games from the last year. The best, the best-looking, the one’s that kept us on the edge of our seat, and the ones that nearly had us tossing the controller in frustration. Be sure to check out the other MTV Multiplayer Best of 2012 lists!
At the beginning of 2012, I proposed a list of 10 suggestions for the video game industry heading into the new year. Could 2012 see the resurrection of a classic gaming genre a la the fighting game in 2011? Would AAA games start looking beyond nukes and the apocalypse for new games under development?
It was an optimistic list, in many ways not quite in sync with the realities of game development (a 2012 list would really be a list for games of 2014 and beyond). Still, let’s look back at a couple of selections and see what, if any resolutions came to fruition this year.
Death to the QTE?
In 2012? I was still wearing out my X button.
With its rat killing-neck-snap sequence, I thought “Battlefield 3” would end up being the worst that this played-out mechanic had to offer. Then Ubisoft served up a simply atrocious boss battle in “Far Cry 3,” whose oddball timing resulted in me having to listen to the same tired speech from an NPC over a dozen instances (I only get worse at QTEs the more frustrated I get with them, it seems). And of course, “Resident Evil 6,” couldn’t help but make button mashing key to its boss battles, but that was really only one of a host of issues with that particular title.
Still, Capcom (via developer CyberConnect2) found a way to make the QTE… work in what ended up being one of my favorite gameplay experiences of 2012: “Asura’s Wrath.” Designed as essentially a couple of hours of interactive animation, the gameplay in “Asura’s Wrath” might not have justified a full retail price tag, but getting its raged-filled demigod protagonist fully charged up to take down world-crushing gods never lost its charm.
Start saying “no” to the apocalypse, nukes, and zombies?
In 2012? I still had a season pass to dead brown town.
This was mostly me being tired of the same drab, brown and down environments and settings that so many developers seemed hung up on in recent years, particularly among AAA studios. How many more times did we need to see the grim unreality of the shambling living dead in irradiated wastelands, threatening you by day as bloodsuckers waited to menace you at night?
However, it was refreshing to see “Black Ops II” avoid the nuclear option, I should single out “Far Cry 3” for adding color and something outside of a wrecked, brown environment to 2012’s shooter landscape. And Telltale gave zombies fresh un-life with “The Walking Dead” by telling a cracking good story using the extinction of most life on Earth (or at least Georgia).
Still, among the high profile releases of 2013 are “Metro: Last Light,” and “The Last of Us,” and I would be lying if I didn’t say that THQ and Naughty Dog’s games were two titles I was most excited about headed into the new year.
Revitalize another dead genre
In 2012? The stealth game was ascendant…
Never really my favorite genre, I typically gave up on or avoided most of these exercises in tedious trial and error and battles with hard-to-understand enemy AI. Plus, who has fun hunkered down in a crouch for minutes at a time, waiting to learn NPC walking patterns?
Four releases this year–“Mark of the Ninja,” “Hitman: Absolution,” “Hotline Miami,” and “Dishonored”–each did something to make hiding in the shadows… exciting? Whether it was the excellent audio/visual feedback from Klei’s digital release to Agent 47’s ability to see and anticipate enemy movement, each of these games gave players new tools for sneaking.
Look for an extensive piece later this week where I talk to the developers of each of these games about how they made sneaking fun in 2012.
So besides that, did the needle shift on any of the other resolutions on my list? Motion controls are still as useless as ever (although I did have a great time kicking and punching at my TV with “Marvel Avengers Battle For Earth”), while I personally still haven’t figured out a dependable cloud saving option for my games (it works on Steam… could someone tell me how so I don’t lose my “Walking Dead” profile again), and we can’t stop worrying about the next hardware cycle because it’s nearly upon us.
Still, for all my grousing, 2012 was a year full of impressive titles across smaller, indie-developed digital titles and big budget AAA games. It was a challenging year for an industry seeing the end of the life cycles of a pair of consoles, an expansion of the audience, and the realization that it might have to start responding to all of those girls, women, and minorities out there who like playing games.
But more on that in my resolutions for 2013, tomorrow.
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