The Complete Magnificent RPS Advent Calendar 2012!

By RPS on December 25th, 2012 at 2:00 pm.

John drew this. All glory to the Walkerman.

And so it is complete, all 24 doors ripped open, the destination reached. What a time it’s been, as we’ve divulged our 24 favourite games of 2012, and you’ve expressed why we’re wrong. Please do continue to do so, as you spend a tired Christmas afternoon exploring our celebratory articles, while your relatives begin the traditional zebra jousting in the courtyards.

Each number above uses some form of internet voodoo to link to the relevant article. Remember, they were in no particular order, except for the 24th which is our game of the year whether you like it or not. We only don’t include Horace’s Endless Christmas in the list out of misplaced modesty. You can see the complete list of included games below.

Day 1: FTL
Day 2: Borderlands 2
Day 3: Waking Mars
Day 4: The Walking Dead
Day 5: Stacking
Day 6: Thirty Flights Of Loving
Day 7: Guild Wars 2
Day 8: Legend Of Grimrock
Day 9: Lone Survivor
Day 10: Dark Souls
Day 11: Dear Esther
Day 12: Thomas Was Alone
Day 13: Mark Of The Ninja
Day 14: The Secret World
Day 15: Torchlight II
Day 16: Mass Effect 3
Day 17: Tribes: Ascend
Day 18: Planetside 2
Day 19: Day Z
Day 20: Crusader Kings II
Day 21: Dishonored
Day 22: Hotline Miami
Day 23: XCOM: Enemy Unknown
Day 24: Far Cry 3

, .

127 Comments »

  1. Rather Dashing says:

    It saddens me that The Line didn’t get enough love.

    • tmargul says:

      Haven’t played it, but from what I’ve heard about it, it’s a great story, but fairly mediocre gameplay. It’s tough to know what to do with a game like that when making this kind of list.

      • povu says:

        The gameplay is painfully average yeah, perhaps intentionally so considering the whole story and game critique they’re going for.

        It’s most definitely worth playing for the story though. The third person shooting gameplay isn’t bad, it’s just simple and mediocre.

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          drewski says:

          I don’t really get that criticism – it felt exactly like every other shooter in the genre to me. Duck behind a wall, pop up and shoot something. Repeat ad infinitum.

          • Dances to Podcasts says:

            “exactly like every other shooter in the genre” – in other words, mediocre?

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            draglikepull says:

            After hearing so much about Spec Ops I figured I’d download the demo on Steam and see if it was worth buying. I played with a 360 controller, but I found the aiming to be way too loose and adjusting the sensitivity did not make it any better. I also found the level design to be incredibly bland, just narrow corridors with nothing to do other than stand in place and shoot at enemies. And the gameplay seemed to lack any interesting features. It was just pop, shoot, move forward, repeat ad infinitum. So I ended up deciding to avoid the game.

            However, people keep going on about how great the story is. I’d almost consider trying to trudge through the banal gameplay for the story if it was good enough, but I’m concerned that it’s actually really ham-fisted. So, people who think the story in Spec Ops was great, what are some other games you would say had great narratives? I think it might be helpful if I had some comparison to know what else people found as interesting.

            For example, if you liked the story in Spec Ops, were you also impressed by the major plot twist in Bioshock? Did you think it was a powerful statement on games and gamers? (I didn’t, I thought it was a less-well-executed version of Metal Gear Solid’s major reveal).

          • subedii says:

            Spec Ops supposed bad gameplay is something I find to be ridiculously overstated.

            Personally I can’t say I found it any worse than any other TPS games. Most of them I find to be pretty bad, which is why I don’t like most of them.

            Spec Ops actual shooting mechanics were marred slightly by what I felt was a clunky cover mechanic, but other than that I didn’t really have issues with it. And the thing is, the weight of the narrative and the characters on the proceedings really did override all that as I was playing, it gave everything going on so much more impact to me. Especially witnessing the way the characters change over the course of the game.

            EDIT: @ draglikepull:

            A few things:

            1) I also avoided it at first because I found the demo lackluster. Like I said I find most games of this type dull. But when I picked it up on the cheap, I felt as if it was something I would have gladly paid full price for if I had known what I was getting into. As with all things of course, this is subjective.

            2) In regards to the Bioshock / Spec Ops, this is something I’ve wanted to say for a long time but: People give Bioshock FAR too much credit in that respect. VERY Subjective on my part of course (so YMMV), but I never felt the big plot twist in Bioshock was meant to be a meta-commentary about the player and their behaviour in any way. I loved Bioshock when I first played it, was surprised (in a good way) when I reached the plot twist, and felt it had a decent narrative, but that moment everyone’s thinking about was quite literally a plot twist, it wasn’t the devs saying “oh hey, you see how you players behave in a certain fashion?” Or any real questioning of player behaviour.

            If it had been, the second half of the game, after the plot twist, should have been structured fundamentally differently to emphasise this and in particular emphasise player choice now. As soon as the twist came I was waiting for that to happen but it never did. It’s clear the devs had always intended to keep everything the same. And IIRC I’ve never seen the devs claim this was their goal either, I think people just ascribed a deeper meaning to something that doesn’t really have any.

            I don’t say this to slate Bioshock. Not at all. I say this because I feel that Spec Ops is the real deal. Although by this stage, the very nature of the game (as well as its plot points) has already been pretty heavily spoiled, so again, YMMV.

            3) As for other games with a great narrative, that’s a difficult question to answer. In terms of Third Person / action games where the narrative is presented by characters in this form? None, or at least none quite like this. It’s not just the narrative itself, but the excellent voice acting and execution that really does pull it off. I’ve played text adventures and text heavy RPG’s that have had good narratives, but I’d almost class them as separate entities because the narrative style is very different, and more book like.

          • mouton says:

            @draglikepull

            I can’t think of any other game that portrays war trauma and the slow descent into insanity as well as Spec Ops: The Line. Any attempt by, uh, any modern military shooter or a war game I have seen is either laughable or outright ridiculous. From different genres, a veeeery far relative might be Defcon. Also Close Combat series portrayed screaming panicking soldiers nicely, in a pixelated way.

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            drewski says:

            - “exactly like every other shooter in the genre” – in other words, mediocre?

            Well, if you’re not into That Sort Of Thing in the first place, Spec Ops probably isn’t really aiming it’s cannon at you anyway.

            It’s a bit like saying you find a tank sim to have mediocre gameplay because you drive a tank.

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            Nogo says:

            draglike: the demo was a major screwup on their part and I’m still baffled they thought it’d be a good idea, so it’s best just to ignore that.

            But really it’s worth playing simply because it just wouldn’t work at any other time but now. Without all the tropes of Modern SHOOTFACES to subvert and play off it would lose a lot of its impact. For the $10 it costs on steam right now it’s very much worth it.

        • Runs With Foxes says:

          You Spec Ops defenders are too much. Yeah, I’m sure people whose job description is GAME DESIGNER deliberately made a game with shit design. It couldn’t possibly be that they’re just not very good at their jobs and the game is actually shit.

          • Wreckdum says:

            The only shitty part of Spec Ops was literally the first minutes AKA the demo. Everything after that was a great game.

            Do yourself a favor and play it. I will always remember that game as the one that made me think about what I am doing in a video game.

            The whole first half of Far Cry 3 I was paranoid it was going to be a Spec Ops plot twist. It was sooooooooooooooooo good. And it’s hard to tell you what’s so good about Spec Ops without ruining the story.

      • Eight Rooks says:

        The thing about The Line is I loved it more for what it tried to do than what it actually ended up doing. It’s a bold, bold game in an industry dominated by Brofield, CoD and simulators for the PC Master Race that actually dares to say to the player “Look, what are you even playing this for? Yes, you could just turn the game off and walk away – seriously, go on, I’m not stopping you”. That all but states flat out that men of war typically have no idea what they’re doing in any sense that counts. It’s genuinely grim, dark and unforgiving stuff (you’re a bull-headed manchild desperate for validation using other people’s suffering for your own gratification, yes, you, what the hell do you mean you thought you were going to be the hero?) yet it does all this with some genuinely stunning art design, scripted set pieces and several great, great passages of writing.

        It’s just at the same time the central premise is flagrantly ridiculous from any angle, it pushes the whole lack of choice far, far too much in places (one of the key set pieces is badly hurt by the fact you can plainly see it coming, could plainly have avoided triggering it, even, yet you’re not allowed to do so) and while it’s a solid third-person shooter it is by no means an exceptional one, with a couple of awful, terribly mishandled close-quarters firefights so badly checkpointed they’d make baby Jesus (Horace?) cry, pointless door-gunner sections, too many dull corridors where shootouts play pretty much the same way every time… it felt like a game I was enjoying because I could see the game it ought to have been in my head, much more than I liked the actual game I’d ended up with. I’m pleased I played it, I’m hugely impressed it got made, and I’d like to see people follow it up. But I can totally understand why someone who liked it still wouldn’t think of it as GotY material.

        Oh, and as for games with good writing by way of comparison – no Metal Gear game I’ve played has anything even approaching good writing, for starters (most of 1, beaten 2, 3 and 4) let alone commentary on war, man’s inhumanity to man and all the rest of it. Off the top of my head – Planescape: Torment, Vagrant Story, Silent Hill 2 (terrible technically, but the storytelling’s solid), most of FFXII, Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together, parts of Mass Effect 2, lots of Dragon Age 2, Bioshock 2, Max Payne 2, parts of the Thief games’ lore. Probably went a bit cool story, bro there, but it always bugs me when people criticise something with a general “It stinks, it stinks, it stinks” and never provide any examples of what doesn’t.

    • Pop says:

      It’s certainly one of two stand out games of the year for me, the other being Proteus (though I don’t know when that actually came out).

    • CMaster says:

      http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/tag/spec-ops-the-line/

      It clearly just didn’t engage the interest of the Hive Mind. Hence no mention.
      Seemed to get plenty of readers going though.

      • subedii says:

        Alec Meer’s take on it seemed pretty impressed, in the sense that it left a hefty impression on him, judging by the final paragraph of his WIT.

        • D3xter says:

          There’s also some other videos looking at the game, like Extra Credits: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kjaBsuXWJJ8 and Errant Signal (this contains lots of Spoilers though): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wlBrenhzMZI

          • D3xter says:

            Someone even wrote a book looking at every part of the game in detail calling it “Killing is Harmless: A Critical Reading of Spec Ops: The Line”: http://critdamage.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/killing-is-harmless-is-out.html
            I really can’t recommend it enough, especially since it’s often available for as low as $5 or similar.

            It’s certainly up there in my personal best this year e.g.: Dark Souls, Spec Ops: The Line,The Walking Dead, Dishonored, Tribes: Ascend, XCOM – Enemy Unknown, Torchlight II in that order. xD

          • Runs With Foxes says:

            Keogh’s book is nothing but a self-important Let’s Play filled with whatever rambling thoughts popped into his unknowledgeable mind as he played. It’s worthless, much like Spec Ops itself.

            Extra Credits is also an abomination.

          • theleif says:

            @Runs With Foxes
            Stop being coy, just tell us. Do you like the game or not?

        • subedii says:

          I was pretty surprised that even Yahtzee liked it. But I generally agree, it’s a game that’s a sign that the games industry is maturing.

      • CMaster says:

        @D3xter – so lots of other games journalists had lots to say about it. I don’t see your point. RPS seemed to care little for it, not discussing outside of the WIT. So expecting it to be a game of the year for them seems odd.

        • subedii says:

          Really not sure what you’re trying to get at here.

          I mean, if you’re saying that Spec Ops didn’t have much discussion on it, I count over 15 posts on the tag you posted, a fair few of those involving significant discussions on the game’s nature (if not the SOLE objectives of those posts). Waking Mars gets five. Thirty Flights Of Loving gets four. Thomas Was Alone, three.

          Spec Ops certainly had a significant presence here if that’s what you mean. Heck, I’d consider The Walking Dead to have been the more popular title in general, and that got the same number of posts. And that’s including the fact that they basically made a new post every time it got a new episode.

        • mouton says:

          RPS is not just any gaming site, it is probably the most mature game-related place out there. Spec Ops: The Line is exactly the game that I would suspect to be of particular interest to the hivemind and thus it saddens me that apparently only Alec ever got to playing it.

        • D3xter says:

          I don’t really put much value in what “RPS cares about”, other than that I generally like similar games and I might give some of them a second look and they’re one of the biggest PC Gaming site around. I was just sharing some opinions of other people since it was one of my favorite games this year and deserves to be played.

    • Runs With Foxes says:

      Spec Ops is a worthless game because its clumsy ‘critique’ of shooters completely misunderstands why people play violent games in the first place. It considers nothing but the fictional icing on games, not the actual interaction of players with games.

      It’s the same reason why, when you were a kid and your parents expressed concern that you were murdering a bunch of people, you didn’t understand the fuss. Because you weren’t murdering a bunch of people. You were pressing buttons and engaging with gameplay systems; the fiction does not matter in the moment-to-moment act of playing a game. Putting a bullet in someone’s head is mechanically no different — no different whatsoever — from hitting the ball in Pong. You’re placing the crosshair in the right place at the right time, and feeling satisfaction for overcoming an obstacle. That is the core experience of playing a shooter.

      All this bullshit about how Spec Ops makes you do awful things, and how people felt sick and dirty, and how harrowing the experience was, is no different from Jack Thompson a decade ago banging on about ‘murder simulators’. We dismissed him then because we knew he didn’t understand what playing a game was actually like. If Jack were to read all these people writing about Spec Ops, he’d be laughing his ass off.

      I certainly am.

      • jalf says:

        So… why do shooters look like, well, shooters? Why is it always guns and headshots and blood? If the mechanics are the only thing that matters, if the fiction is irrelevant?

        Sorry, but that’s a bullshit argument.

        Which isn’t to say that SpecOps should or shouldn’t be on the list, and is or isn’t a clumsy critique.

        But simply dismissing everything you thematically do in shooters, everything you see, everything that happens in the story, seems disingenuous… and silly.

        • Runs With Foxes says:

          I said the fiction is irrelevant when actually interacting with the game. You put a bullet in someone to overcome an obstacle, i.e. for mechanical reasons, not because you get enjoyment out of killing someone. Because you aren’t actually killing someone.

          To clarify, that’s why Spec Ops’s critique is worthless: it asks why we would enjoy doing terrible things, and doesn’t understand that we actually are not doing terrible things.

          • FuriKuri says:

            I’ve read a lot of your ‘commentary’ surrounding this game, you seem closed off to any real discussion, propagandizing and proselytizing your opinion above any critical discussion. The more I have the more it feels that the reason you reacted so badly is you’re the exact sort of player it seeks to criticize. Your entire attitude is that games and their players are exclusionary to the usual moral constraints. Everything boils down to mere mechanical entertainment and nothing more. Spec Ops called you so hard on this simply incorrect ideology.

            Imagine if the mechanic surrounded something more unpleasant than headshots. Rape or torture. As if such things are exclusive. Line up your cursor with the hole and fire. Exactly like pong, right? And they’re only pixels, who gives a shit.

            I’ll be goddamned if we’d allow anything judge us our little fantasies, regardless how absurd, unpleasant or immoral they are.

          • Runs With Foxes says:

            If you think my position is that any kind of fictional content is acceptable, you need to think a bit harder about what I’m saying. I’m not saying the fiction has no relevance at any stage, and I’m fine with people avoiding a game because they find its content offensive. My point is that Spec Ops’s approach of forcing players to do things and then saying “look at these awful things you’ve done, aren’t you such a horrible person” is clumsy and useless. Basically, I find Spec Ops offensive because it’s such an egregiously bad game.

          • subedii says:

            Spec Ops never “forced” you to do anything. It’s a fixed story and character arc, and you were never going to get to make choices in how the story ultimately proceeded. The characters take actions as they’re written, and according to a set narrative. You were never going to have the opportunity to change that narrative, nor did it call you (the player) directly as “a horrible person” for doing or not doing so. Personally, I certainly didn’t feel like the game was telling me that.

            Beyond that, there are questions of the nature of player agency in this game and whether that should be allowed to alter the storyline, or what the actual purpose of the game was in that regard, but it’d take going into heavy spoiler territory to do so.

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        Nogo says:

        You claim when we were kids we didn’t understand our parent’s objections because we had some deeper, more nuanced view of what was really going on, but for me personally I had a moment of serious reflection when my mom said “all I hear coming from downstairs is screams.”

        Why do our obstacles have to be ciphers for humans and why is the solution commonly “snuff out their life with pain?” The paddles in pong don’t erupt into flames and scream in agony when they miss, so stop being so disingenuous about this.

        I understand what you’re saying about mechanics and it absolutely makes sense that games employ the age-old obstacle of armed combat. Spec-Ops used that immediately recognizable theme so its world and mechanics made sense at a glance, but it had the maturity to say “maybe we shouldn’t glorify this. Maybe we shouldn’t make you feel like a righteous hero for doing things that are anything but.”

        It took an immense amount of respect on the developers’ part to even attempt an exploration of these ideas with their players, and if you don’t think that’s laudable then I don’t really know what to tell you.

      • D3xter says:

        It’s not only a worthwhile game because of “social commentary”, which largely passed me by, since I’m also of the opinion that a game, may it contain whatever it wants, is just that and I’m more often than not amused at RPS commentary on what they identify as “hot issues”.

        It is a worthwhile experience because it offers a story and experience that lifts it off from all these Modern Military Shooters trying to offer a plot, usually involving some Russians, “terrorists” and atomic bombs. They kind of resemble “Rambo” or “Generic military movie” (for instance “Act of Valor” since that was advertised along Battlefield 3), exalting and glorifying that kind of thing while Spec Ops: The Line offers a more mature and nuanced story that I really enjoyed akin to Apocalypse Now, Full Metal Jacket or Buffalo Soldiers which don’t display everyone as charismatic, patriotic killing machine without faults.

        I don’t think it is going to reach many people that think they are a “hero” for playing MMS, there might be some that actually hold that belief (Although I find it generally laughable since I don’t believe that watching a World War 2 movie will make anyone feel like a “hero” either or that playing a game about the Crusades will make people identify with the Crusaders or that GTA/Hotline Miami players endorse mass murder. It’s even possible to make the protagonist come over like a horrible asshole nobody will like and still have a worthwhile overall experience.), but they’re probably teenagers playing those type of games on their consoles and would show an utter lack of interest in a game like this.

        It also reflects how much Shooters have sunk from even their early days, giving a glimpse of what they could be if they actually cared about plot and character progression in the slightest instead of just “blowing shit up”.

        There were some properly gripping military shooters in the earlier days and some others that actually tried having a proper narrative like Jedi Knight 2, but nowadays they are mostly unabashed gun-wank.

        • SoupDuJour says:

          “It also reflects how much Shooters have sunk from even their early days, giving a glimpse of what they could be if they actually cared about plot and character progression in the slightest instead of just “blowing shit up”.

          There were some properly gripping military shooters in the earlier days and some others that actually tried having a proper narrative like Jedi Knight 2, but nowadays they are mostly unabashed gun-wank.”

          Wolfenstein and Doom didn’t have much narrative. Let’s be honest here: in games, narrative comes down to virtual plastic dolls playing back pre-fab animations and recorded lines to each other. So, pretty much the same as film, except bad. :f

          At some point it will get better, as writing, AI, animation, world-building etc. improves, but until then I’d prefer if the focus is put on the interactivity. That can actually be made really good right now.

          But I agree about the gunwank. Why do most first person games have to be ABOUT shooting? I would prefer it if they perhaps INVOLVE shooting, if it fits the situation, but then also include lots of other interesting things to do. But I guess the shooter formula is proven to be profitable and until other formulas are proven equally profitable, first person games will be shooters. And yes, I realize there are alternatives, but they are statistical anomalies.

          • subedii says:

            No-One Lives Forever comes to mind. Yeah it was shooting, but the game itself was based around being a cheesy 60′s style spy flick. You’d be hard pressed to find any FPS today outside of some very specific examples (Portal, TF2), that try for a more humorous angle on proceedings.

            It’s gotten worse in recent years, and I’d say that’s mainly because of the success of Modern Warfare. Not to blame MW specifically, just the reaction to it. MW came out and was effectively the right concept at the right time with the right implementation, and it sold bajillions.

            At that point basically every publisher decided that they had to copy it relentlessly. We HAVE to have those numbers! Why aren’t WE making those numbers? Quick copy it some more, we might get some of those numbers!

            And so much like with everything else about that freaking game, people are intent on copying the model wholesale without realising that CoD is pretty much a freak occurrence. It gained uber popularity across the board and became a record breaker, but simply aping it in everything it does isn’t going to result in that same success, no matter how much you want it to.

            It’s lead to the current glut of Modern Military shooters all working off of the same sorts of ideas and the same mechanics.

            I think I agree with where one of the THQ heads was coming from when he was talking about this:

            “I think there are definitely trends in gaming that can come from the audience themselves, driven by the media in part, or something can be seen as a success and then people do something similar,” Beynon told me. “I can’t speak for Far Cry or Hitman as I’ve not played either of those, although I’m looking forward to playing both of them.

            “I have had a chance to play around with Dishonored, which I’ve hugely enjoyed and I’m thrilled that they’ve had success with that – it’s probably the game that’s interested me most this year and am glad to see it get the critical and hopefully commercial success that it deserves.”

            Beynon reckons first-person shooter fans are ready for a change of tune. “I think it’s probably very true to say that there’s reaction to what used to be a small subset of the genre of a military shooter,” he went on, “which has ballooned and mushroom-clouded to almost define the genre, and kind of stamp out memories of what I remember being great about first person shooters, whether that was Half Life, System Shock or GoldenEye – where a first person shooter didn’t necessarily have to involve military material, it just meant an invitation to a fantastic other world, which to me was always the point of video games in the first place.”

  2. Fumarole says:

    Merry Christmas RPS! Thanks for the past years and for more to come; 2013 is shaping up to be a good one.

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    jmexio says:

    To all those saying Spec Ops should be in (haven’t played, don’t know, I’m not discussing if you’re right), I’m curious… What would you remove from the list to make room for it? I’d love to read your thoughts…

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      drewski says:

      Thomas Was Alone and Lone Survivor I could have excluded comfortably.

      Which isn’t to say they aren’t worthy games, of course.

    • aepervius says:

      Dear esther , an interractive demo no gameplay value. But in comparison Spec Ops the line 1) controversial make one think 2) some gameplay even if not that good 3) the story

      What does dear esther have surpassing spec ops?

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        AndrewC says:

        As with all these arguments, it is useful to see which side bases their arguments on de-legitimising the other.

        I’m afraid when you describe Dear Esther as a ‘demo’, you are implyng it is not complete, not real, not in the same category as real games, and beneath critical analysis.

        There’s *really* interesting stuff here about how ‘games’ are spreading out, creating new experiences and diversifying so far, games from opposite ends of the spectrum can barely seem to have anything in common. Exciting, changing times, with a multiplicity of emerging opinions.

        Trying to pretend such things as ‘Dear Esther’ are not real, and should not be talked about, has no part in the future, and puts you on the wrong side of history.

        Terribly sorry.

        • aepervius says:

          Dear esther lacks too much of what makes a game : interractivity. Maybe I should not have called it a demo, maybe an *expo*/a museum visit would be better.

          “Trying to pretend such things as ‘Dear Esther’ are not real, and should not be talked about, has no part in the future, and puts you on the wrong side of history.”

          Strawman argument I never said that dear esther is not “Real”. What I meant is that the line has all the property of a game which dear esther *lacks*.

          Dear esther type of game are not new. Ever heard of FMV hell ? Well yeah I am that old. Dear esther barely differ from such a game by being fully in game engine. but the type of (barely) interractive story telling is not new, it is not the future, it is a call back from the past.

          I maintain that even a mediocre game like the line has a much better place than a museum walk with no gameplay.

        • Dr I am a Doctor says:

          Wait are you saying that Dear Esther will become a memorable part of the future history? Because if yes then holy shit I’ll just go get drunk and sob for a while.

          e: or video games at all, really

          • Kamos says:

            Dear Esther is a virtual environment. Very pretty and even immersive. But how is it a game? What rules does it have other than movement, and not being able to go through walls? And I’m not saying this in a demeaning way… Just that it is what it is.

            Edit: I was trying to reply to AndrewC, but failed. Sorry.

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            AndrewC says:

            It’s an experience based in games. Like just wandering around Skyrim, or the open world game of your choice.

            It’s not pretending to be anything else.

            I’m not objecting to you wanting a bit of mechanics in your games, I am objecting to demanding Dear Esther not be considered at all. It is like that Wizardry fellow refusing to accept any RPG that isn’t turn based or stat based, or like others thinking turn based, stat based RPGs are not relevant today.

            This thing we call ‘games’ is getting wider and weirder, and this is exciting, not frightening. Dear Esther is focusing on that experiential stuff we get when wandering around worlds and the narrative things you can do with that. That’s all. Wandering around worlds is a part of ‘games’ now.

            Dear Esther is not a threat. It’s a small part of a much larger thing we happen to call ‘games’.

            Calling it ‘not a game’ is a technical argument based on the definition of ‘game’, and any definition strict enough to not allow Dear Esther would also exclude much that you yourself enjoy in this hobby.

            I don’t feel it is an argument worth spending much energy on, if it can be solved simply by changing the name to ‘digital interactive thingies’, or ‘flibberdigibberdies’, or ‘biscuits’.

          • aepervius says:

            Why don’t we have movie in the RPS list ? Why don’t we have books in the RPS list ? Because they are not game. If something is not a game it should not have a place there as as far as I can see only games are in the list, except dear esther. Now you are contesting and say dear esther is a game. I disagreee. But rather than insulting you about the “future”, I simply explained why I don’t see it as a game and why something which is definitively a game should be in. Which is my answer to the original post of this thread…

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          Llewyn says:

          Exciting, changing times, with a multiplicity of emerging opinions.

          Only one of which seems to be valid, with the others being “on the wrong side of history”. That makes for enlightened discussion, for sure.

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        AlwaysRight says:

        AndrewC is not only 100% correct but an incredibly sexy person and a heroic lover.

    • Xocrates says:

      Honestly, this year’s list is composed mostly of games that are as good as they are flawed. Personal subjectivity would be enough to pretty much replace any game with Spec Ops or any other worthy game that didn’t make it.

      Heck, Borderlands 2 is my personal GOTY, and even then I would not be surprised or upset at it being replaced by Spec Ops. The same could be extended to more than half the list.

    • USER47 says:

      Thirty Flights of Lovin, Stacking…hell, I wouldn’t even include FC3, Borderlands 2 or Grimrock.

    • SkittleDiddler says:

      I would have removed any number of games. Dishonored or Dear Esther specifically.

    • aeolist says:

      I haven’t played a lot of the games on this list but I’d certainly do away with Mass Effect 3 in favor of Spec Ops.

      The Mass Effect series is based upon the conceit that your choices will determine the outcome of its universe, which in my opinion is completely laughable by the end of the third game. They never managed to nail the gameplay and did away with a lot of what made the first game good. ME3′s rushed production and shitty DLC and multiplayer microtransaction oriented revenue model made it even worse.

      Spec Ops has simple gameplay that accomplished everything it tries to do, and the story is based on the idea that in a chaotic and violent situation there’s only so much one person can do to affect the course of events with their choices. You make decisions and they mostly don’t matter because you’re in a warzone and bad things will happen regardless. It also has a lot of really smart commentary on shooters and their subject matter, and the only choice in the game that matters: whether to play or not.

    • mouton says:

      A few games come to mind, but Borderlands 2 is easily a prime candidate. It is not a bad game, it is stunningly beautiful in some ways (music! some places! also music!), but there is nothing revolutionary about it – it is essentially a blinged-up BL1. It has sub-standard gameplay based on a horrible diablo model, very prone to balance issues, coupled with no adjustable difficulty level. The actual shooting is, in my opinion, much worse than that of the Spec Ops, grindy and boring despite colorful guns. And the plot is a mess – insanely hilarious at times, but essentially not even remotely coherent.

    • F3ck says:

      The Line – while having such mediocre game-play I found it unbearable – was at least playable…

      …I feel that Dark Souls – while possibly a great game – has no business on any list of magnificent PC games as horribly ported as it is…

      • Isair says:

        It’s more playable than the console versions though.

      • jalf says:

        Why do you feel that? It’s a good game. It is also a good game if you play it on PC. I don’t think anything else should matter.

        I don’t think a list like this is for making some kind of political statement, or saying “sorry, you guys made an awesome game, but I’m going to penalize you and take you off the list because the port didn’t live up to our standards”. The only question that should matter is: “Would I consider this to be a good game if I played it on PC”. And for Dark Souls, well… the answer is yes. (which, of course, is 100% subjective)

        • Dr I am a Doctor says:

          b-b-but GAMEPADS

        • F3ck says:

          I’m sorry, but “take you off the list because the port didn’t live up to our standards“?

          It should not have been released for PC (not without massive caveat emptor stamped on each copy, warning of the broken game within) period.

          I’ve seen the game played – it looked like fun on a PS3 – but the game I purchased for my computer (been playing pc games for about twelve yrs – video games for well over thirty) is a shameful mess…

          …at first I thought I was alone – but no – everybody had the horrible keyboard layout, the low resolution, the hyper-sensitive controls and the complete lack of in-game advice/help…

          I stand by this statement: it could very well be a fantastic game – but it is a bad PC game…and we’re here to discuss PC games.

          • bigjig says:

            @F3ck

            “I’ve seen the game played – it looked like fun on a PS3 – but the game I purchased for my computer (been playing pc games for about twelve yrs – video games for well over thirty) is a shameful mess…”

            I don’t really get this argument – if the game looked like fun on a PS3, what’s changed with the PC version? If any complaint could be made against the port is that it is exactly the same as the console versions and that it doesn’t really take advantage of PC-specific advantages. The only difference being that with the PC the modding community has given us the ability to improve the controls, the graphics, the framerate etc. – something which isn’t an option on the PS3.

            If you are staunchly a mouse and keyboard only kind of guy and it were a gamepad issue I would understand. But no you say you use a controller frequently..

            I just find it weird that Dark Souls gets labelled a ‘broken game’ when in a 100 hours of gameplay I’ve run into no crashes to desktop and no game breaking bugs (or bugs at all for that matter) – something I can’t say for quite a few games on this list (X-Com for example). The only technical issues I’ve run into is some horrendous lag in a few PVP matchups, and a brief framerate drop in Lost Izalith.

          • jalf says:

            It should not have been released for PC (not without massive caveat emptor stamped on each copy, warning of the broken game within) period.

            I’ve seen the game played – it looked like fun on a PS3 – but the game I purchased for my computer (been playing pc games for about twelve yrs – video games for well over thirty) is a shameful mess…

            everybody had the horrible keyboard layout

            The game supports playing with a gamepad. You can get gamepads for a PC. Therefore, PC games can legitimately be played with a gamepad without being any less PC.

            the low resolution

            Sure, that sucked. But (1) it was easily remedied with a mod, and (2) are you arguing that the resolution, of all things, is what dictates whether a game should be considered “good” on PC? I’ve played a lot of PC games, games which weren’t ported, which were *made* for PC, and which supported only a single (low) resolution.

            the hyper-sensitive controls

            See above comment about gamepad. This may be an issue if you’re playing with keyboard, but again, the game doesn’t force you to do that.

            and the complete lack of in-game advice/help…

            The what now? The console version didn’t have any of that either. I believe most fans of the game would consider that to be an important part of the game. It adds to the feeling that you’re on your own.

            But are you saying that PC gamers need more handholding in order to play a game? That PS3 gamers can just be thrown into a strange, hostile game world with no explanation, but if you do that to PC gamers, it’s unfair, or “not a good game”? Really?
            Whatever happened to PC elitism? I thought we were the hardcore gamers, and games got dumbed down for consoles, rather than the other way around? ;)

            I understand that you didn’t like the game, but I see no reason to consider it a bad PC game, or even a particularly bad port. True, there are things about the port that could have been better, but a lot of people found it very playable. Honestly, there are much worse ports out there.

            It would have been nice if the game supported “proper” resolutions out of the box, yes, definitely. But again, I don’t buy that this makes it a bad game, on PC or otherwise.
            Likewise for the control scheme, the game comes with one control scheme which works very well, and one which, well, most people are unhappy with. But again, that’s true for *a lot* of games. XCOM’s mouse/keyboard support was pretty painful too. Was that a bad port?

            But requiring more ingame help would fundamentally change the game, and I don’t think that’s the job of a port. You don’t have to like the game, but for those who did, the fact that you had to figure everything out yourself was a key part of the experience. And that has nothing to do with it being a port.

      • Gorf says:

        F3ck with DSfix the game looks gorgeous. Also have a look at Dark Souls Nexus for some other mods.

        But if its a gamepad issue, I can understand. Dark Souls is probably not a good game for a game pad virgin to break his cherry on.

        I’m 100% comfy with both kb/m and pad for my games so not I’m bothered, but I can imagine for someone who isnt used to using a pad that the controls for DS may seem odd.
        Heck, even for me, the first hour or so of DS required me to retrain myself and try and ignore my instincts.
        But after that, control feels natural and correct.

        • F3ck says:

          Thank you, Gorf ~

          I use a controller frequently (admittedly, almost exclusively for vehicle control; NFS, the drivey-bits of games like FC3) and yet…

          I have already tried most of the patches, mods and fixes…been all over the Nexus (where I’ve lurked for years)…even tested it on my other builds…

          It only ever get almost passable – until I invariably get a stuck camera, or severe controller lag, major frame-rate issues, or whatever the next glitch is…

          …which is most frustrating: I spent hard earned money on a game specifically for my computer that I truly wanted to enjoy (believe it or not – I didn’t spend almost $700 on games this year simply looking for something to complain about) but cannot.

          The DSFix, DSMFix, and some hi-res UI are helpful…but I have given up…

          Luckily for me there are a plethora of good games to help me get over it.

          • jalf says:

            It only ever get almost passable – until I invariably get a stuck camera, or severe controller lag, major frame-rate issues, or whatever the next glitch is…

            You mentioned *none* of those issues before, when ranting about how bad a port it was…. Why not?

            Anyway, are any of these unique to the PC version? The framerate issues were there on the console version too (and the game ran smoothly on my not-extremely-powerful PC, so on PC, at least you’re able to avoid them, which is already a major improvement over the PS3 version.

            But I see no reason to expect them to *improve* camera handling while porting. I expect a port to give me a similar experience to the original. If they do improve things like the camera handling that’s welcome, but it’s hardly something I’d expect or demand.

      • UncleLou says:

        I can’t think of anything that screams “PC gaming” louder than a mod (out on day 1, no less) that fixes just about anything in a clunky game.

        If you ignore the freedom the platform offers you, I wonder why you play on the PC in the first place.

        • jalf says:

          In fairness, I don’t think the ability to make mods legitimizes shipping buggy or defective or crippled games. The resolution thing really *was* lame, and something they should’ve implemented while porting.

          The fact that we could get around it with a mod was great, and yes, that *is* one of the strengths of PC gaming, but they still dropped the ball on that point. It shouldn’t be necessary to rely on a mod.

          But that’s really the only points of criticism levelled at it above that I think is valid (valid, but nowhere near as significant as was implied above. Hardly a gamebreaker, just an annoyance that could and should have been fixed.

          • F3ck says:

            I bought the game, it played and looked terrible.

            I might understand buying a game that forced you to play it like a console (but actually still wouldn’t – no “PC” game should force a controller on anybody) if there were some massive improvement in visuals or the like – but no…

            The game plays like rubbish, looks like rubbish – even after you do the developers job for them and spend some time (something the devs couldn’t apparently be bothered to do) trying to repair it…

            …and the defense? Me thinks you maybe protest too much…you want to write a manifesto on why I’m “wrong” to think this game is bad and should feel bad, then that’s your business…

            …Hell, RPS will lend a hand…carpet-bombing my comments en masse…

        • F3ck says:

          What if I screamed: adjustable graphics/audio, custom key mapping, higher fps, keyboard and mouse?

          No? Okay.

          Well, I’ve exhausted that “freedom” in days of searching, patching, trying to make the game something worthwhile…

          It sure looks like this game gets a pass (for offenses that would get most other games thrashed…or laughed out of stores) because of its sheer lack of newb-friendliness…

          …but that’s just how it looks to me.

    • D3xter says:

      From the ones I played I could well do away with Stacking (good game, but wouldn’t make my “Top” list), Dear Esther (interesting experience to play through once in an hour or so, but not much of a game), The Secret World (I only played the Beta, but it felt kind of Meh in comparison), Torchlight II (again, good game, would also make my list especially with CoOp, but din’t leave any lasting impression), Hotline Miami (it’s fun to play and a fresh game concept but I wouldn’t include it near the Top of my list).

      Possibly even Walking Dead, as much as I liked the story and the characters and couldn’t wait playing the next Episode to see what happens, I still believe there is too much Hype around it for what it is, it kind of neglected the “game” part.

      I still got to check out FTL/Mark of the Ninja (waiting for a Sale), Borderlands 2 (sometime next year when they finished developing the game and I can get it cheap), Waking Mars/Lone Survivor/Legend of Grimrock/Planetside 2 (have them all installed and ready, but haven’t gotten to play them yet), so I wouldn’t know about them.

    • Morte66 says:

      I’d drop Mass Effect. Down the years I’ve come to despise artificially “intelligent” squadmates, and ME1 was the last straw. I never played one again. So ME3 is out on principle. [And Xcom rocks.]

      To my great surprise, after playing 4000 hours in GW1 and pre-ordering GW2, I could live without that too. Too twitch, not interested.

      The Secret World can go too. I like what they tried to do with the setting/quests/dialogue, but it was miserable as a RPG. And it should have been singleplayer, with a tenth the combat.

      I’d also drop Planetside 2, on the utterly personal grounds that I’m rubbish at shooters — so bad that multiplayer against people who don’t suck like me just isn’t worth it. [I'm currently playing Mirror's Edge, at which I'm abysmal, but it's OK in SP with loads of reloads.]

      But I have no problem with anybody liking those games. Absolutely none.

    • WedgeJAntilles says:

      I would definitely say that Spec Ops:TL was more important and did more to move the medium forward than the turd that was ME3.

    • Kadayi says:

      Dear Esther. Lovely looking caves, and some interesting moments, but I’d put Spec Ops above it in terms of must play experiences.

  4. Rovac says:

    I’m happy with the list, RPS. This is my first advent calendar, can I ask why there aren’t any honourable mention? unnecessary I know
    Anyway, Merry Christmas everyone!

  5. Premium User Badge

    FhnuZoag says:

    Man, this was a great year for games.

  6. AlexW says:

    I feel Black Mesa deserves an honourable mention, incompleteness and harsh gunfights noted, even if purely for its sense of place. I defy anyone to name a game this year that feels as solidly realised as Black Mesa’s disconcertingly mundane offices, its quietly macabre laboratories dosed with touches of a hospital and draped in nighttime shadows, its cavernous tunnels long disused by human inhabitants, and its general treatment of an epic industrial facility complex.

    Anyone that hasn’t downloaded it and played through on Easy to experience it really must.

    • Sander Bos says:

      Seconded. Sure it was a remake but I had tons of fun with it and it was something special to finally come out, and then to be so good.

  7. CMaster says:

    For reference:
    2011 Advent Calendar and honourable mentions
    2010 Advent calendar
    Out of those I’ve played this year, I’d say RPS have included more that did nothing for me than previous years, but I also still have to play a lot of the heavy hitters (all of the last 4 “almosts” save Hotline Miami)

  8. CMaster says:

    Because apparently links that only point back to RPS mark you as a spambots:
    2011: http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2011/12/24/the-amazing-rps-advent-calendar-2011/
    2010: http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2010/12/30/the-rps-important-advent-calendar-2010/
    There’s an honourable mentions for the 2011 one too.

  9. Premium User Badge

    Faldrath says:

    Endless Space was the greatest omission for me, and I wish CK2 had “won”. It’s the only game of this list I can see myself playing years from now, and it’s everything that’s great about the PC – small(ish) developer, very moddable, keeps getting updated, DRM-free, etc., etc.

    But still, I do really like the list. Merry Christmas to everyone at RPS, thank you for yet another year of my favorite site on the internet.

    • khomotso says:

      I’d agree that CK2 is the only one on the list that had greatness in it. At the same time, I had trouble getting into it, and ultimately didn’t find it very fun. It took me a while to realize that it wasn’t a game of conquest or expansion, it was a game about building a family, but even after that epiphany it didn’t play to my tastes. The critical part of my brain recognizes its depth, its quality and craftsmanship; I just found too much of it dull.

      I feel like there are at least two lists: the games people had the most fun with, and the games that were the most well-crafted. I understand that the conventional wisdom is that those two should be the same – every forum wag wants to point out that the bottom line is always fun, and only misguided snobs think otherwise – but it just isn’t so.

      The game I wrung the most fun from this year was definitely XCOM, but I’m very happy it wasn’t number 1. It didn’t deserve it. I wish CK2 had been voted #1: it did deserve it. And I didn’t enjoy it all that much.

    • Nate says:

      CKII was a great game. I learned my European geography. I felt as if I got a grasp on why some of those weird feudal things were the way they were. And of course, I had fun. There was a period during one of my CKII games where everything just clicked, and I felt the paranoia of a genuine leader with everyone conspiring against me.

      And, eventually, it unclicked, as I figured out the mechanisms, and the mystery disappeared. I loved CKII, I got over a hundred hours of enjoyment out of it (too afraid or embarrassed to actually check my steam stats), but I can’t return to it. Still, you know, more than one hundred good, engaging hours. Great game, slightly flawed.

      I got a similar amount of enjoyment out of Dark Souls, the other game on this list that I played. A similar number of hours, too. Not the kind of game I can play forever, though, and criticisms that it was a poor port are valid, even if some people weigh that part of the equation too heavily. Great game, slightly flawed.

      I haven’t played most of the games on this list. I’m a little poorer, a little more demanding, and I can recognize what I’ll enjoy. But the great games that I played this year are on the list (or else they deserve to be on last year’s list, not this year’s). It was a great year for games. CKII and Dark Souls are both games that deserve to be remembered rather than forgotten. They’re games that, ten years ago, wouldn’t just have defined the year they were released, but the next year or two as well.

  10. Premium User Badge

    AlwaysRight says:

    Does anybody else think Diablo 3 should be in there? Not because it was one of the best games of the year (it clearly wasn’t) but because of the extraordinary sales and amount of conversation it inspired demonstrably makes it one of the the years most important (for better or worse).

    DISCUSS!

    • Satanic Beaver says:

      Absolutely not, nothing should be judged on sales when it comes to games of the year, and any game in a series that is painfully worse than the one before it should not be featured. Not to mention that Torchlight 2 trumps it in every possible way.

      • rockman29 says:

        Even if TL2 did trump it in a lot of ways, I found both pretty boring!

    • Satanic Beaver says:

      Also, I just beat ME3 for the first time and in my opinion it does not deserve a spot, it seemed rather bland. I enjoyed the story and characters of ME2 a lot better.

  11. McCool says:

    Merry Christmas RPS! What a lovely calender.

    PS, Crusader Kings II was robbed. That Far Cry nonsense isn’t fit to kiss the (crusading) King of 2012 Gaming’s feet.

  12. Sehnder says:

    The first sentence of your Dustforce review is lies and treachery http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2012/01/17/wot-i-think-dustforce/

    My heart was sad it did not make the advent calendar cut.

    • subedii says:

      Personally I find that to be a good sign. It’s been a pretty awesome year.

    • Urthman says:

      No question at all that Dustforce is on my 2012 Advent Calendar.

  13. int says:

    The constellation Ursa Infinitus.

  14. Xzi says:

    Did anybody else notice how many games are on the list that potentially never end? IE two MMOs (GW2, TSW), a roguelike (FTL), a permadeath mod (DayZ), some level grinds (Borderlands 2, Torchlight 2), and some competitive multiplayer shooters (Tribes: Ascend, Planetside 2).

    Where is one to find enough time to say that they have sufficiently enjoyed all of these experiences? You could be playing these until the year 3013.

  15. Paul says:

    Absence of Sleeping Dogs and Spec Ops is sad, but good list, apart from that FarCry 3 nonsense at the end.

    • woodsey says:

      Sleeping Dogs was entirely mundane, I don’t think it’s really deserving of a spot. But yeah, lack of Spec Ops is a bit surprising now you mention that. The Wot I Think was pretty positive from what I remember.

      • Narzhul says:

        Opinions, yeah? Sleeping Dogs is my game of the year.

        • Satanic Beaver says:

          Sleeping dogs is far from GOTY for me, but i did have a lot of fun with it. Best game in that genre for sure, much, much better than gta, saints row, or just cause.

  16. Ayslia says:

    Kind of surprised Analogue: A Hate Story didn’t make it in, considering Love’s other two works did make it. I felt the other two were better but… Anyways, I think an “honorable mention” list would indeed be nice.

  17. Memph says:

    My highlights from the list have definitely been Torchlight 2, Dark Souls and Walking Dead. Though I’m still perplexed how there’s been little love for PC exclusive Orcs Must Die! 2. It’d been sat in my backlog for a good while, but once picked up I couldn’t put it down again until I’d played the absolute crap out of it – then played it some more. It’s a sheer powerhouse of fun-time gameplay. Also, probably my favourite game-fitting soundtrack since Lemmings. Overall a bloody good year with some bloody good games. And the backlog grows again…

  18. Sigh says:

    RPS Games of Christmas 2012

    Dec. 1: FTL
    Dec. 2: Borderlands 2
    Dec. 3: Waking Mars
    Dec. 4: Walking Dead
    Dec. 5: Stacking
    Dec. 6: Thirty Flights of Loving
    Dec. 7: Guild Wars 2
    Dec. 8: Legend of Grimrock
    Dec. 9: Lone Survivor
    Dec.10: Dark Souls
    Dec.11: Dear Esther
    Dec.12: Thomas Was Alone
    Dec.13: Mark of the Ninja
    Dec.14: The Secret World
    Dec.15: Torchlight 2
    Dec.16: Mass Effect 3
    Dec.17: Tribes: Ascend
    Dec.18: Planetside 2
    Dec.19: Day Z
    Dec.20: Crusader Kings II
    Dec.21: Dishonored
    Dec.22: Hotline Miami
    Dec.23: XCOM: Enemy Unknown
    Dec.24: Far Cry 3

    =========

    RPS Games of Christmas 2011

    Dec. 1: Total War: Shogun 2
    Dec. 2: Don’t Take It Personally Babe It Ain’t Your Story
    Dec. 3: Serious Sam 3:BFE
    Dec. 4: The Witcher 2
    Dec. 5: The Dream Machine
    Dec. 6: Orcs Must Die
    Dec. 7: Cthulhu Saves The World
    Dec. 8: Battlefield 3
    Dec. 9: Saints Row: The Third
    Dec.10: Portal 2
    Dec.11: Fate of the World
    Dec.12: Terraria
    Dec.13: Batman: Arkham City
    Dec.14: Dead Island
    Dec.15: Realm of the Mad God
    Dec.16: Binding of Isaac
    Dec.17: Rage
    Dec.18: Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars
    Dec.19: To The Moon
    Dec.20: Dungeons of Dredmor
    Dec.21: Bastion
    Dec.22: SpaceChem
    Dec.23: Deus Ex: Human Revolution
    Dec.24: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

    ==========

    RPS Games of Christmas 2010

    Day 1: Battlefield: Bad Company 2.
    Day 2: Just Cause 2.
    Day 3: S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat
    Day 4: Space Funeral.
    Day 5: Neptune’s Pride.
    Day 6: Dead Rising 2.
    Day 7: VVVVVV
    Day 8: Digital: A Love Story.
    Day 9: Bioshock 2.
    Day 10: Recettear: An Item Shop’s Tale
    Day 11: Plain Sight.
    Day 12: Dragon Age: Awakening.
    Day 13: Alien Swarm.
    Day 14: Metro 2033.
    Day 15: Warhammer 40,000 Dawn Of War 2: Chaos Rising
    Day 16: Sleep Is Death.
    Day 17: Desktop Dungeons.
    Day 18: Lara Croft & The Guardian of Light.
    Day 19: R.U.S.E.
    Day 20: Super Meat Boy.
    Day 21: Starcraft II: Wings Of Liberty.
    Day 22: Amnesia: The Dark Descent.
    Day 23: Mass Effect 2.
    Day 24: Minecraft.

    ==========

    RPS Games of Christmas 2009

    Dec. 1: Zeno Clash
    Dec. 2: Canabalt
    Dec. 3: Warhammer 40,000 Dawn of War II
    Dec. 4: Machinarium
    Dec. 5: Burnout Paradise
    Dec. 6: Batman: Arkham Asylum
    Dec. 7: Arma II
    Dec. 8: Red Faction: Guerilla
    Dec. 9: Time Gentlemen, Please
    Dec.10: Men of War
    Dec.11: The Sims 3
    Dec.12: Blood Bowl
    Dec.13: AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!!
    Dec.14: Saints Row 2
    Dec.15: Risen
    Dec.16: Spelunky
    Dec.17: Left 4 Dead 2
    Dec.18: AI War
    Dec.19: Empire: Total War
    Dec.20: Torchlight
    Dec.21: Borderlands
    Dec.22: Plants Versus Zombies
    Dec.23: Solium Infernum
    Dec.24: Dragon Age: Origins

    • Satanic Beaver says:

      I was unhappy with far cry 3 as goty, but looking back at these lists, i vehemently disagree on all of their gotys. Which is strange because otherwise rps’s opinions and mine go hand in hand most of the time.

  19. Premium User Badge

    yandexx says:

    But… SUPER HEXAGON? No? :(

  20. Alexander says:

    Thomas was a moan but no SpecOps… oh…
    Anyway, here’s wishing everyone the best for the new year and the holidays and thank you for existing, RPS. Cheers.

  21. Chimpyang says:

    I’d have stuck Unity of Command up there – an excellently made game that was both simple in execution but devillishly difficult to do well on. One of the few strategy games where I felt like the AI could at any moment kick my ass (in a transparent and ‘fair’ manner). Wargame:European Escalation should get an honourable mention – for the most amount of steam hours racked up of any game – 600+ and counting, in no small part thanks to its intoxicating multiplayer and continued free DLC support.

    Of those games up there, Planetside 2 and DayZ are probably the most exciting. Whilst I think the former is still a bit green and still finding its roots for further growth and may prove to stand tall in 2013, the latter has proven to be one of the leading lights for PC gaming this year, garnering widespread attention to the unique possibilities of the PC platform. Without DayZ, I don’t necessarily think this would be the year of PC gaming, with the rest of the list showing that the PC had a strong year of very good but unexceptional games. Just try to imagine 2012 without DayZ; and then try the same with the other games.

    Last point – good to see a Paradox Interactive game up there – CK II provided a great canvas for our imaginations to run riot on, but it is held back by the limits of the game structure, whilst our fertile thoughts demands an ever expanding decisions, actions and event trees to carry out our ‘noble’ wills. Lets hope we can get people excited about the grand strategy games within the series, especially with the EU IV announcement.

    Merry Christmas everyone! *hic*

    • Satanic Beaver says:

      In one of the advent calendar posts, he said that he enjoyed unity of command but that it came out in 2011 i believe? XCOM was the post maybe. EDIT: Yeah, here is the quote from day 23: “There have been two turn-based games that have really affirmed 2012 for me. This was one, and Unity Of Command was another. (UoC came out last year, of course.)”

      • Chimpyang says:

        You are right, but then again – but I agree with the Frozen Synapse crusader on the honourable mentions thread – it deserves some recognition, and it wouldn’t have killed them to put a game released in the nub end of last year, but only garnering deserved attention in 2012.

  22. Beelzebud says:

    Dear Esther and Mass Effect 3, but no Natural Selection 2? For shame!

  23. bangalores says:

    ahh 2012, the year i discovered RPS

  24. Outright Villainy says:

    Hey guys! Guys! Guys. I found Spec ops to be overrated.
    *runs off*

    • Alexander says:

      No need to run. Pretty good story, mediocre gameplay mechanics. If the mechanics work as a deconstruction of the genre? Doesn’t matter, they’re still almost garbage. That’s it, I think.

      • maximiZe says:

        How are the mechanics mediocre and almost garbage at the same time? And how does it not matter that Spec Ops is one of the few video games actually reflecting on and questioning its own medium, and masterfully so?
        The so-called gameplay and a game’s narrative elements aren’t always disconnected from each other, and it seems to me that your checklist mindset doesn’t let you appreciate that.

        • Alexander says:

          It’s only the way I phrased it: in this case, mediocre being equal with almost garbage.
          And it matters a lot that the game looks back on its own genre… the problem is it doesn’t do it so great. It might do it through narrative and the transformation of its main character. But the gameplay is shit, sadly.
          Oh, by the way, I love the game. It’s one of my all time favorites. But it doesn’t question its genre “masterfully so”. It’s pretty close, but it misses enough. It’s exactly the problem that RPS recently has with FC3: a lot of “look at how our game questions what you do in it”. Sadly, it does that a lot through its gameplay… which in SpecOps’ case is not in a very good shape.

        • Outright Villainy says:

          “Spec Ops is one of the few video games actually reflecting on and questioning its own medium, and masterfully so”

          I definitely give Spec ops kudos for being one of the rare games to be self analytical, but saying it was masterful would be a stretch for me. Spec Ops has a better story that most games, yes, but the problem is it doesn’t exist in a vacuum, and when it’s gameplay is so mediocre that it doesn’t add any sort of gravitas to the deconstruction (in a way that say Shadow of the colossus does), it’s left to rely on its narrative alone, and when I’ve read books and watched tv this year which dealt with issues of violence much more masterfully, spec ops felt a little lacking.

          I still don’t think it’s a bad game, but I see it as being a small step in the right direction over being any sort of grand work.

          • Xzi says:

            I don’t see what it is about a game that says, “hey you…player, you’re a terrible person” that would appeal to people. Especially since I don’t play other modern military shooters, either. So I guess Spec Ops fails to appeal to me twice over.

  25. Starmeleon says:

    Really wanted to see Warlock: Master of the Arcane somewhere on the list.

    • meatshit says:

      It was a bit rough at release, but, after a few patches, it turned into a great little game that deserves more recognition.

  26. sinister agent says:

    I would have removed all of these games and replaced them with some beef, garlic and rosemary and a healthy dose of red wine with leeks and carrots and mushrooms, and oh god I’m so hungry.

  27. Dowr says:

    I’m sorry but I’ve been meaning to ask this for a long time: What is up with that bear?

  28. Advanced Assault Hippo says:

    I mentioned it in the other article, but I found it refreshing that RPS simply picked their best game of 2012 as the game they had the most fun with.

    I personally felt a couple of other games sneaked ahead of FC3 this year, but the reasoning for having it as their number 1 is sound.

  29. The Random One says:

    Not only The Sea Will Claim Everything didn’t make it, but it even lost the ‘game that should have been on the list and isn’t’ award to Spec Ops.

    …Which I have and should play now.

  30. Satanic Beaver says:

    Far Cry 3 at the top is disappointing, I had a lot of fun with it but it was far from the best this year. 21,22, and 23 all deserve that spot more than it does. EDIT: Also, I just beat ME3 and it has no place on my personal advent calendar. The story was rather boring, while simultaneously thinking it was the most epic thing ever, and i enjoyed the characters in ME2 a lot more. I suppose part of my grudge is that i hate generic “one person saving the world” stories, and this takes it to extremes by making it “one human saving all life in the entire universe.” For star wars nerds, ME2 was what to ME3 what the original trilogy was to the prequels.

  31. thecat17 says:

    Perhaps this isn’t the place to ask this (or maybe, just maybe… the perfect place because it isn’t)…

    But, oh hivemind, I implore upon thee with ironic form of language (for I should be talking like I’ve survived the post-apocalypse instead of pretending I’m part of the “Enlightenment”, simultaneously and puzzlingly knee deep in the dead of the Dark Ages).

    Can we get Quinns’ second Wot I Think on Fallout: New Vegas?

    I always felt like there should’ve been a second one. As things feel now, it’s like a broken limb on the RPS body that hasn’t been stimpacked in way too long. But which is still understandable since we’re all playing on Hardcore mode here.

    • Satanic Beaver says:

      New Vegas’s Wot I Think is probably my favorite thing about this site, the only review in which that game got the criticism that it deserved.

      • fish99 says:

        I never read the article since I wasn’t an RPS reader back then (RIP Ve3D), but I’m presuming the criticism was mostly due to the bugs, because when I played a fully patched New Vegas 6 months after release it was IMO a stellar game which beat the acclaimed Fallout 3 in every area.

        It’s weird to think now, that Bethesda and Obsidian had this 85%-metacritic-or-higher clause in the contract which would trigger a substantial extra payment for Obsidian, and yet as the publisher Bethesda had the final say over when to release and their decision to push the game out of the door prematurely directly lead to the lower review scores.

  32. fish99 says:

    Haven’t really played that many games this year, but of those I have played the best were Hotline Miami, because it’s just pure simple gameplay, and has an awesome soundtrack, and Orcs Must Die 2, for being an absolute (co-op) blast.

    Honourable mention to Planetside 2 for 100 hrs of fun, and getting me back into online shooters, but at the same time the game has many issues, and the premature launch may actually send it to an early grave.

    I’ve got to stop buying games though, I’ve already got a ton of amazing games to get through before I need to buy anything else, but …… I keep buying them.

    Oh and I started FC3 last night and after 2 hours….well, it must get a lot better to deserve GOTY.

  33. unrbcl117 says:

    If you have a favorite one, befriend the sales people so they can give you a heads up when a new batch of used designer duds are shipped. Going into denial will only make matters worse.plagiarismsoftware

  34. GValer says:

    FTL is not standing next to other games, why is it here?)

  35. afarrell says:

    One that that struck me about this list, or more likely this year, is that they’re nearly all available on Steam, even the v. indie ones. The only exceptions are Guild Wars 2 / Mas Effect 3 (and even then previous entries in the franchise are available) and of course Day Z.