OpEd: The Best Games I Didn’t Play Last Year

The Room

We’re well into February now and everyone is pretty much done with their GOTY conversations. When I put my list together last month, I kinda depressed myself. I’m totally satisfied with my higher choices. But by the time I got past number five or six, I found myself making a lot of concessions, saying “I guess” when adding games to the list. At the time, this realization was implying to me that 2012 wasn’t a very good year for gaming.

Before I go any further, here’s my personal GOTY list for 2012 in its unedited version:

1. The Walking Dead
2. Far Cry 3
3. Xenoblade Chronicles
4. FTL: Faster Than Light
5. Halo 4
6. Diablo 3
7. Max Payne 3
8. Borderlands 2
9. Street Fighter X Tekken
10. Legend of Grimrock

Again, I’ll stand by everything up to number four. After that is when things fall apart. Halo 4 is there only because of the amount of time I spent in multiplayer, and since then I’ve found that I actually like Halo: Reach more. Diablo 3 belongs on the list but maybe shouldn’t have been number six. (Candidly, I almost gave it a 3/5 when I wrote the review.) After that it becomes more a list of games that I played than anything else. Now that things have calmed down, though, I’ve had a chance to go back and play some of the things I missed and I feel this is my chance to make amends. A game has one chance to be recognized before fading into obscurity, until it’s purchased for $4.99 during a Steam sale and never played. These are the games that should have made the cut.

[box_dark]Sleeping Dogs[/box_dark]


Now, I know we gave Sleeping Dogs a 3/5 in our review. It might just be because my favorite movies star Tony Jaa or Donnie Yen and Sleeping Dogs positively reeks of Hong Kong cinema, but this game hit the spot. I actually wrote it off at E3 for using the same attack/counter system from the Batman: Arkham games. I now know the combat to be dynamic and fluid. It has just enough variation to make you feel in control of your moves without being over complicated, which is something Batman didn’t quite nail down. The vehicles don’t handle in a way that I would call realistic, but in a way that someone who knows nothing about cars would assume is realistic, which is more fun. The aiming left a little to be desired, but there wasn’t that much shooting so that’s easy to overlook.

Ok, I’m going to gush a bit but my god, United Front Games. Could you have made a better looking game? Graphically, Sleeping Dogs isn’t perfect. No game is. But the team has covered that up with excruciating detail, especially on the PC, where they released a free high resolution texture pack. That’s notable since PC ports have taken a huge backseat to their console versions.

[box_dark]Torchlight 2[/box_dark]

Torchlight 2

I blame Diablo 3 for missing this. Being a huge Diablo 2 fan, it was a no-brainer when deciding how to spend my time. But to be fair, I also blame Torchlight 1, which I really liked. The problem I had with TL1 was the broken equipment upgrading system and the fact that I didn’t trust myself enough to not use it. The huge improvements to Torchlight 2 combined with the added multiplayer feature have turned it into a game that I can sink hours into easily. I shouldn’t have dismissed it so quickly.

[box_dark]Mark of the Ninja[/box_dark]

Mark of the Ninja

Klei Entertainment melted my face off with the uber-stylized Shank in 2010 — I loved it! If only I had known about Mark of the Ninja sooner. I didn’t find out about it until January somehow, and by then it was too late. What impresses me so much about MotN is its super fluid controls. That’s really the secret to making you feel like a bad-ass. Whether it’s dangling enemies from a streetlight like Spider-man, climbing through air vents, or dumping bodies in dumpsters, Mark of the Ninja can make the most panicked random button presses feel somehow planned. That’s not easy to do.



I can’t actually put Fez on my GOTY list even retroactively, because I still haven’t played it. Fez was one of those games that I had my eye on since the first game play videos. Unfortunately, I built a PC in 2012 and neglected my consoles hard, missing out on pretty much everything that didn’t have a PC release. Still, my anticipation combined with the 89% Metacritic score means that it probably would have been if I had played it.

I don’t think any of these games could have dethroned The Walking Dead this year, but Sleeping Dogs could have easily been number two. Have you ever ran into a situation where a game you played later would have been your GOTY for the year it was created, if only you had played it then? Let us know in the comments!

Author: Michael Bachmann

Mike is a professional amateur, dabbling in many things. One of those is writing of course, but also co-hosting and producing "Fistful of Pixels", an improv comedy show about theoretical video games.

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