Game of the Year 2012: 360, PS3, Multi-platform

December 31, 2012

There were a lot of great games in 2012, but here are the best: our Games of the Year. The Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 have our spotlight today, and we also name our #1 multi-platform release.

It’s extremely hard to take something that everyone loves and make it your own, especially when you’re a studio taking the helm on a franchise as beloved as Halo. But much like Retro Studios working wonders with Metroid Prime, 343 Industries did the same thing and brought us more of what we love in a way we never knew we could love it. Giving us an interesting campaign, tighter controls and a much deeper multiplayer experience than previous entries, the praise this game receives is definitely well-deserved. – Eric Albuen

Runner-up: Fez

Say what you will about Phil Fish, but he managed to create one of the best and most memorable downloadable games of the year. On the surface, Fez is a puzzle-platformer that harkens back to the days of old. With its retro visuals and seemingly simplistic mechanics, this could have been a nice tribute to a bygone era. If you dig deeper, however, you’ll find a much more complex and loving tribute to the days of gaming’s past. Remember when you needed a notebook to finish a puzzle in a game, or to keep track of passwords? It’s remarkably refreshing and, because of it, Fez is the kind of game that appeals to the kid in all of us. – Andrew Passafiume

Runner-up: Dust: An Elysian Tail

Nintendo hasn’t released a 2D Metroid since Metroid: Zero Mission on the GBA, Konami hasn’t released a 2D Castlevania since Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia, and somehow we haven’t seen a sequel to Shadow Complex. The Metroidvania genre went a long time without a good entry, and Dust: An Elysian Tail is just that. Everything you want is here: exploration, fun 2D combat and light RPG progression. It doesn’t hurt that the art is great and the story is interesting as well. It’s made even better by being a fairly cheap downloadable. – Justin Last

There are very few experiences that are quite like Journey. From its gorgeous presentation to its excellent and innovative use of online co-op, this is a game that everyone should experience. Finding the words to describe why is a bit tough, especially since Journey is a game that is truly unlike any other I’ve played all year. Let’s just say that your life will be worse if you haven’t played this expertly-crafted gem of a game. – Andrew Passafiume

Runner-up: Tales of Graces f

Tales of Graces f has the best combat system of any Tales game to date and, while the story and characters aren’t as good as Tales of Vesperia‘s, it does well enough to have a few of the best Tales characters ever. It has the entire package I look for in an RPG: story, music, characters and gameplay. And to top it all off, you actually get to experience the backstory as a prologue at the beginning of the game. It’s not Vesperia, but it’s a worthy successor. – Shawn Vermette

Runner-up: Tokyo Jungle

In Japan, this game was a full price retail release. We had the pleasure of getting this one-of-a-kind game as a $15 PSN download. Since its release, I’ve introduced this game to a lot of friends, and I can never find a good way to describe it to them without telling them to try it for themselves. Discovering the story of how humanity disappeared, as well as fighting to survive either alone or with friends, gives a lot to play for hours on end. – Eric Albuen

Mass Effect 2 is a hard act to follow, to be sure, but ME3 took its own road, adding a surprisingly-solid multiplayer experience and a focus on action to the series. It builds on its predecessor, with plot payoffs you just can’t get from a middle chapter, and it did so looking as impressive as ever. – Graham Russell

Runner-up: XCOM: Enemy Unknown

This is an example of how to both modernize and reboot a series correctly. Firaxis managed to make a tactical strategy game that is equally at home on both PC and console, and appeals to both new and old fans. That is insanely hard to do, and Firaxis deserves all the props it can get for it. – Shawn Vermette

Runner-up: The Walking Dead

Clementine is, hands-down, the best child video game character I’ve ever seen. She feels authentic. The animation and voice work are spot-on for a young girl, and playing through Telltale’s The Walking Dead, I needed to protect her. For the first few minutes, episode one was about Lee figuring out what’s happening and coming to grips with a zombie plague. After he meets Clementine, though, everything changes. He was single-minded in his determination to keep her safe. Knowing that my actions, even small ones, would be remembered and analyzed by Clementine kept me honest, made me make decisions that I might not make otherwise, and made me cry. The Walking Dead is emotionally powerful without feeling cheap, and I genuinely think that it’s a game everybody should play. – Justin Last