10. NCAA Football 2012
Pretty much every year, a sports game manages to make its way into my top 10. This might be the best, or at least the most addictive, of them all. The new coaching carousel addition for the dynasty mode gave this year’s NCAA Football game much more reason to keep playing through the years.
9. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D
Being a portable version of one of the best games ever made is, by itself, almost enough to get it on this list regardless of whether it added anything worthwhile to it or not. The fact that it is now impossible to get completely stuck in the Water Temple, which is what kept me from finishing(or ever playing it again, for that matter) the original version, solidifies its spot as one of my favorite games of the year.
8. Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective
This is a game that was completely under the radar for me until I actually got a chance to play it. The humor, puzzles, and gameplay mechanics all made this one of my favorite DS games so far. The fact that the story hit all the right notes for me and that Missile is the best dog ever definitely helped its standing and added to its charm for me.
7. Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together
I’ve wanted a proper sequel to the wonderful Final Fantasy Tactics for more than a decade, ever since I played the first one in college. While this isn’t technically a Final Fantasy game, it may be the closest we’ll ever get to a new FF Tactics game. The updated graphics and the storyline are reminiscent enough of Final Fantasy to make this instantly one of my favorite PSP games yet.
6. Portal 2
Having beaten Portal, I was unsure what to make of a full retail sequel to what was an enjoyable experience, but one I wasn’t sure could handle a sequel. That didn’t mean I wasn’t looking forward to it though. It was one of my most anticipated games this year, and it blew all my expectations out of the water. Not only was GLaDOS an even greater character than the first time around, but the addition of Cave Johnson and Wheatley to the cast makes Portal 2 perhaps my favorite game ever, in terms of writing and voice acting cast. Since I’m also a fan of brain-bending physics puzzles, there was no way this wouldn’t make my list.
5. Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky
Trails in the Sky is a perfect example of the type of game we usually don’t get in the West. At least, not on the PSP. Thanks to XSEED though, we finally got our hands on a great localization of a great RPG. The battle system is a mixture of turn-based RPG and board based strategy, the characters are easy to identify with and the music is pretty nice too.
4. Shogun 2: Total War
My first exposure to an actual strategy game on PC that wasn’t Risk or Warcraft-based was via Shogun: Total War. So, of course, the Total War series holds a special place for me. The improvements that Creative Assembly has made throughout the years, and the care they lavished on this revisit to the Sengoku period (one of my favorite periods of history, I have to admit) made this one of the leading reasons why I felt a need to finally build a new gaming rig.
3. L. A. Noire
If you read my review, you’d already know exactly why I love L. A. Noire despite the problems it has. Even in this year of amazing games, the whole mature interactive virtual novel thing still stands as one of my favorite ideas for a game in years, and the execution and twists in the story compare favorably with just about any game I’ve played.
2. Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception
Oh man, what can I say about Uncharted 3 that hasn’t already been said by this point? I love the gameplay and stories in the Uncharted series. History-based, Indiana Jones-style stories are one of my weaknesses, and the way this story unfolded was ‘blockbuster movie-esque.’ The cinematic gameplay, the set pieces, and the quick time events (I have never had a problem with them, and they worked well here) all added to the feeling of playing through a big budget movie, which is exactly want you want from a series like Uncharted.
1. Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Oh man, what can I say other than what I put in my review? Any game where assaulting a giant is tantamount to assisted suicide, killing dragons gives you superpowers, and you can pretty much do whatever you want whenever you want wherever you want is pretty much guaranteed to get my vote. When it feels as polished and as enjoyable as Skyrim is, it’s a shoo-in for game of the year. Also, I haven’t wanted to play anything else at all since it came out.