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!
Let’s celebrate the PS3 and Sony–because after the rocky patch they had in 2012, the publisher and software giant needs it. If I had trouble picking 360 exclusives to focus on in yesterday’s post, it’s the opposite here–Sony’s raft of PS3-exclusives provided a ridiculous number of thoughtful, funny, strange, and ultimately killer games this year (at least digitally–first party AAA titles were another story).
Let’s look back at the excellent games that made their way to the PS3 in 2012.
So this may shape up to be a rough year for Sony company wide, but they won at the home console game,* delivering a pretty steady stream of downloadable winners throughout the year, even as their AAA stuff experienced an off cycle.
A pair of rhythm-based titles–“Dyad” and “Retro/Grade”–won us over this year with shiny lights, deep sounds, and honest-to-goodness tight gameplay. “Retro/Grade” reversed the shmup formula as you piloted your ship backwards from the final boss fight to the beginning of the game. And “Dyad” felt like trippy spiritual successor to “Tempest” (moreso that even that game’s intentional follow-up, “Space Giraffe”). Speaking of music, “Sound Shapes” was an aurally-excellent spin on the platformer which seems like it’ll be getting supported with more music, sounds, and maps going forward.
“Retro City Rampage” paid homage to old-school gaming by way of top-down, pixel action, and on the other side of the coin, you got to re-paint the world in “The Unfinished Swan.” Also, the winner of he “heartbreaking video game that’s also an allegory about surviving your parent’s alcoholism,” it would be “Papo & Yo.”
On the AAA, third-party side, we’d have a hard time defending “The Darkness II” as a shooter, but as a horror-themed game that did some pretty fantastic stuff with the way it told its twisted crime story, it deserves props. And if we’re singling out the big-budget, multi-platform stuff, allow us to say that “Tekken Tag Tournament 2” was a joy (even if “Skullgirls” felt like a jolt of weird electricity for the fighting genre).
And we’re not here to bury the first-party stuff, but yikes, Sony–not a lot to love here.
Without further ado, here’s the final 2012 list of the best PS3 games:
10. “The Darkness II” (my review)
9. “Tokyo Jungle” (our review)
7. “Retro/Grade” (my review)
6. “Tekken Tag Tournament 2” (my review)
5. “Retro City Rampage” (our review)
4. “Sound Shapes” (our review)
3. “The Unfinished Swan” (our review)
2. “Papo and Yo” (our review)
And the PS3 game of the year goes to:
“Journey” – Thatgamecompany
“Artful” is maybe the best word to apply to the top three games in our list this year–the top three titles in Sony’s stable of exclusives this year were about making you feel things you great big animals, and in that, they succeeded. The top two were about relationships: the need to manage one with a dangerous monster in the alcoholic parent allegory “Papo & Yo” and more broadly, communicating with strangers in the wordless “Journey.”
Thatgamecompany’s “Journey” takes the top spot not only for being a more cohesive game, but for its innovation in the multiplayer space. Here’s a game that gave you a bunch of non-verbal cues in a beautiful environment, then set you loose. I’m notorious among my friends for being the guy who mutes everyone when playing games with competitive or cooperative multiplayer–typically because after trying to engage strangers online for years, all I got were headcases and racists for “comedy.” Some of that’s on me because I know that not everyone on PSN or Xbox LIVE is either an idiot or 12-year-old lunatic, but that doesn’t make “Journey” any less refreshing.
It distills cooperation between players down to its essence, and as you communicate with the other player in the game, it’s for mutual cooperation and survival without the bro-y hype that infects our online play spaces.
So toss this one on the pile of accolades, “Thatgamecompany,” because you deserved it.
*Note, I’m specifying “home consoles” here and not handheld. But the Vita… yeesh.
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