Because so many websites and publications have Game of the Year awards that cover many games across many different genres, we created the FEAR Awards, which since its inception back in 2009 has recognized the best and worst horror (and horror adjacent) games of the year. Unfortunately, this means we miss many excellent games. To remedy this, I’m going to recognized this year’s best non-horror games right now. Check them out after the jump!
I’m not a huge fan of turn-based games, but that hasn’t kept me from XCOM: Enemy Unknown. In it you control a multinational military organization called XCOM, which has been tasked with defending the Earth against an alien threat. You command troops in field missions and use found alien tech and prisoners to research and develop new technologies to equip your forces with everything they’ll need to defeat the alien forces. It’s an addictive game that you’ll try to play for an hour or so, only to realize days later you’ve been playing it nonstop, you haven’t eaten and your family is worried about where you’ve gone to.
This whole Call of Duty vs. Halo argument is dumb. Why can’t we lay down our arms so our hands are free to dual wield the badass alien weaponry in Halo 4? With a gorgeous, alien world that truly looks like concept art come to life, finely tuned combat fans have come to expect from the franchise, and an epic score by Neil Davidge, this is the Master Chief adventure fans have been clamoring for since 2007. Bungie may have left the series to work on something else, but they left a solid foundation that 343 Industries has successfully expanded upon. I can’t wait to see what the studio does next.
My love for Dishonored is no secret. I’d yell it from the rooftops of Dunwall if Corvo hadn’t sworn me to secrecy. If you still haven’t played this game, it’s best described as BioShock meets Thief, with a sprinkling of Half-Life. If that doesn’t get you nice and excited, I don’t know what will.
I’m ashamed to admit I haven’t yet played this game, but I’ve heard nothing but great things about it. Far Cry 3 released after everything else, essentially capping off 2012 as the last major game. Good thing too, because I wouldn’t want this year to end in any other way. It’s gorgeous, features a massive world where you can fight sharks, and other than a disappointingly unoriginal story, there’s a lot to love about this game. I’ll be getting my copy soon, I recommend you do the same.
Thatgamecompany is the studio behind Flow and Flower, both of which are great games, but I think it’s safe to say they really nailed it with the PS3 exclusive Journey. The goal of this game is give the player a sense of smallness and wonder, and to create special emotional connections between players, who meet anonymously in-game. There’s no talking, just these adorable chirps you can make to communicate with the players you meet online. It’s a stunningly beautiful game, and if you need any more convincing, you should know it was David Harley’s pick for Game of the Year. That alone makes it worthy, I think.
This is another game I haven’t had the chance to play, though I plan on changing that very soon. There’s been some change in the subscription-based MMO market, with Star Wars: The Old Republic and The Secret World both switching over to free-to-play within a year of their release. Guild Wars 2 took the smart approach by charging for the game, but not adding annoying subscription fees on top of that.
Assassin’s Creed III may have been the most anticipated game in the franchise so far — undoubtedly fueled by its uncommon setting (colonial America!), fantastic showing at several expos (the naval fight shown at E3 sticks in my mind), and because it promised to inject a breath of fresh air into a series that, after Revelations, had begun to stagnate. It also greatly improved on the combat and brought a realistic — though still undeniably flawed — portrayal of native Americans. Unfortunately, it’s a slow burn, and to me, the main character Connor is entirely void of any real personality. But my god, are those naval fights amazing. I say they drop everything else and focus on developing an Assassin’s Creed: Naval Warfare.
I have something to admit, and I’m probably going to make a few enemies here. I did not like Max Payne 3. Like, at all. It looks great, but when it comes to gunplay, characters, and story, I’m just not a fan. Granted, I’ve had a love/hate relationship with Rockstar games (loved Red Dead and L.A. Noire, hated GTA IV), and I realize that I’m in the minority here. I might not see the appeal, but that doesn’t mean this game shouldn’t get the recognition that so many of you believe it deserves. I’d say my favorite thing about this game is the myriad hilarious videos it inspired.
I love Borderlands 2, even if that love doesn’t extend to its mascot, Claptrap. He annoys me. That aside, this is everything a Borderlands sequel should be: it’s bigger, funnier, and managed the impressive feat of adding even more guns. Did I mention how funny it is? Between the hilarious missions (like renaming enemies to Bonerfarts) and Handsome Jack’s consistently amazing dialogue, this is easily one of the most humorous games I’ve ever played.
For all the crap Diablo III took, Mass Effect 3 took way more. It’s unfortunate that Shepard’s sendoff has been so horribly marred by vast amounts of nerd rage, because to me, this series has been one of the best to come out of this console generation. Unfortunately, its ending got many fans riled up, and that ended up being the defining opinion on this game, when it should’ve been how amazing the game was as a whole. I even enjoyed the ending, to a certain degree, and if I never hear another disgruntled gamer complain about it again I’ll die a happy man. Shepard’s story may be over, but in my opinion, she went out not with a whimper, but with a bang. Anyone who says otherwise can fuck right off.
Did I miss a game you loved? Sorry about that. You should definitely let me know what I missed in the comments below!
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