Amid complaints of sequelitis, on-disc DLC, botched endings and online passes, 2012 may have been the best year in console gaming in a long time. It was a year in which we not only saw smaller studios prove themselves with enormous franchises, but game makers transform our expectations of just what games can achieve. With a little help from our friends, here are Games.com's best console games of 2012.
With Bungie out of the picture for good, it was safe to be worried whether the next release in the Halo franchise would be up to snuff. That is, until Nov. 6, when Microsoft's 343 Industries more than met expectations of what a Halo game should be. The result was a booming battle for the galaxy with arguably the best story told in a Halo game to date. Better yet, countless expansions and improvements on the multiplayer made for one of the stickiest shooters around once again.
The Walking Dead
If you were to predict last year that an adventure game would be in the running for Console Game of the Year, you'd have been called crazy. Leave it to Telltale Games to shatter our assumptions of what video games can do. Many knock The Walking Dead for its mechanics. But few games, if any, have crafted such tension and drama through breakneck, gripping choices that shape some of the most emotional relationships in interactive storytelling.
Stealth game makers: Take notes while playing Arkane Studios' steampunk-style adventure. The amount of agency granted to players in Dishonored is unparalleled by almost any game of 2012. Foregoing the tired model of rewarding or punishing players dependant upon their stealth skills, Dishonored allows players to adapt to situations on the fly while reacting to their play styles in return. Ultimately, this fosters some of the most believable combat scenarios in gaming.
Mass Effect 3
The culmination of five years worth of story, choices and promises ultimately ended up a disappointment for fans and critics alike. But that was just the ending. The journey there packed more dramatic and moving moments into a single game than any in the series to date. But what Mass Effect 3 did best was realize one of the most sprawling, detailed and engrossing universes in not just video games, but sci-fi properties, ever.
There's beauty, and sometimes depth, in simplicity. Thatgamecompany's follow-up to Flower embodies that mantra throughout, presenting a painting in motion with much more beneath the surface. Journey tells its story without words, a story about camaraderie. Journey, through creating a fascinating, captivating yet empty world, spurs collaboration between strangers in ways that games haven't ever before. Journey is watershed moment for games, and therefore is Games.com's Best Console Game of 2012.
Michael Fahey, Mobile/Social Editor
John Benyamine, Publisher
Kelly Karnetsky, Editor
Ludwig Kietzmann, Editor in Chief
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