2012 was diverse year for video games
BY LOU KESTEN Associated Press
Monday, December 17, 2012
12/17/12 at 3:31 AM
The video game universe in 2012 is a study in extremes.
At one end, you have the old guard striving to produce mass-appeal blockbusters. At the other end, you have a thriving community of independent game developers scrambling to find an audience for their idiosyncratic visions. Can't we all just get along?
Turns out, we can. For while some industry leaders are worried (and not without cause) about "disruptive" trends - social-media games, free-to-play models, the switch from disc-based media to digital delivery - video games are blossoming creatively. This fall, during the height of the pre-holiday game release calendar, I found myself bouncing among games as diverse as the bombastic "Halo 4," the artsy "The Unfinished Swan" and the quick-hit trivia game "SongPop."
Some of my favorite games this year have benefited from both sides working together. The smaller studios get exposure on huge platforms like Xbox Live or the PlayStation Network. The big publishers seem more willing to invite a little quirkiness into their big-budget behemoths. Gamers win.
1. "Dishonored" (Bethesda Softworks, for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC): Arkane Studios' revenge drama combines a witty plot, crisp gameplay and an uncommonly distinctive milieu, setting a supernaturally gifted assassin loose in a gloriously decadent, steampunk-influenced city.
2. "Mass Effect 3" (Electronic Arts, for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii U, PC): No 2012 game was more ambitious than BioWare's sweeping space opera. The fearless Commander Shepard's last journey across the cosmos provided dozens of thrilling moments.
3. "The Walking Dead" (Telltale Games, for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC, iOS): This moving adaptation of Robert Kirkman's comics dodged the predictable zombie bloodbath in favor of a finely tuned character study of two survivors: Lee, an escaped convict, and Clementine, the 8-year-old girl he's committed to protect.
4. "Journey" (Thatgamecompany, for PlayStation 3): Simple enough, but gorgeous visuals, haunting music and the need to communicate, wordlessly, with companions you meet along the way translate into something that's almost profound.
5. "Borderlands 2" (2K Games, for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC): Gearbox Software's gleeful mash-up of first-person shooting, role-playing and loot-collecting conventions gets bigger and badder.
Original Print Headline: Video games had diverse 2012