Snackbar Games Holiday Gift Guide 2012: PC

November 22, 2012

Looking for a good game for yourself or someone else this holiday season? We’ve got you covered. There were great releases, large and small, on the PC this year.

Torchlight II: Some considered the original Torchlight the “next” Diablo, with all of its similarities to the first game in that series. If so, many will still draw that same comparison between Torchlight II and Diablo II, as this comparison remains accurate. That isn’t to say Torchlight II doesn’t stand on its own, but knowing its fanbase, the game delivers just what people expect from it. (Full review)

XCOM: Enemy UnknownXCOM: Enemy Unknown, more than anything else, is a game about choice. There are no light side-dark side choices like in Knights of the Old Republic. The choices made in XCOM affect your play from mission to mission, while you drive toward the singular goal of pushing back and eventually defeating an alien invasion. You’ll never have enough credits and resources to cover everybody to the extent that you’d like to, and being forced to make those choices instead of just leveling up for a while make XCOM: Enemy Unknown one of the most replayable games in my library. (Full review)

Guild Wars 2Guild Wars 2 changes the accepted rules of the MMO genre in a way that moves it forward. Not in its major content or mechanics, but in the small changes. How ArenaNet manages additional content will really decide how well this game will grow going forward. (Full review)

Borderlands 2Borderlands 2 succeeds at iterating on a great first entry. The humor is maintained without going overboard, the story is worth paying attention to, and the new character classes complement each other well.[...] Borderlands 2 isn’t perfect, but you should play it, set things on fire and laugh like a maniac with three other vault hunters. Then do it all again with a new character class or build. (Full review)

Ys Origin: Ys Origin came out in Japan in 2006, but wasn’t until the last few years that the US saw an XSEED-fueled resurgence for the series. Now that we have it, how well does it hold up six years later? Pretty well, actually. With great combat, great music and an enjoyable story, if you are a fan of action RPGs and fast-paced gameplay, Ys Origin is a game that needs to be in your collection. (Full review)

Sleeping DogsSleeping Dogs is a fantastic game that does nothing to move the genre forward, but does enough to stand out on its own thanks to its distinct setting, great cast of characters and excellent gameplay. There is enough here to keep you busy for a while, and even with its shortcomings, the main story missions are full of plenty of fun moments and surprises. Even if you are sick of open-world action games, this is one that would be hard to pass up. (Full review)

FTL: Faster Than Light: FTL represents the end result of one of the first really successful Kickstarter campaigns. Its author asked the public for $10,000, and ended up earning ten times that amount. Designed to be a roguelike in space, FTL delivers on this promise and more. Gone are the randomly generated hallways, though the sense of the unknown remains. Also gone is the knowledge that you can take time and explore, as the enemy moves when you do; you can’t stop and poke around every system, as the enemy will eventually overwhelm and destroy you. (Full review)

Mass Effect 3: While it may not appease everyone, Mass Effect 3 offers a satisfying and engaging conclusion to the best gaming trilogy around. This is all thanks to some amazing story moments, great writing, and improved combat. This is a fitting end to Shepard’s story and hopefully not the last we will see of the dense Mass Effect universe. (Full review)

Civilization V: Gods and Kings: Like its predecessors for earlier Civ games, Gods and Kings adds a mountain of content, and really does improve the game for the better in almost every way. After playing a game with the expansion, I think it would be difficult to return to the vanilla version of Civ V. And like every Civ game, it still has a tendency to eat six hours of your life if you aren’t careful. Just one more turn. I mean it this time. (Full review)

Unmechanical: Quality or quantity? That’s a more divisive question than you would expect, and a number of games are made each year that appeal to those who prefer each answer. Unmechanical is the kind of game that definitely prefers quality, and that’s a great thing. It’s only about a four-hour game, but any attempt to make it longer would be a detriment to the whole package. (Full review)

Ticket to Ride: Ticket to Ride has everything that I want in a digital conversion. The boards look nice, it’s easy to see at a glance what routes I have and how far along I am at completing them, it’s easier here than on my dining room table to see how many car cards I have of a given color and there’s a chat window. When nobody else in my house wants to play a game, it opens quickly, and I’m laying down tracks sooner than if I’d gone to get the physical game from my basement and set it up. (Full review)

The Walking DeadI am genuinely sorry that all I can really say is “this game is amazing, and you should play it” without going into details about the story. What I can tell you is that I care more about what happens to little Clementine than any person who realizes she doesn’t really exist should. The story tugs and tugs and tugs at you, and regardless of what else I’m playing, I return to The Walking Dead as soon as Steam finishes downloading the newest installment. (Full review)

Penny Arcade’s On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 3: Don’t let the 16-bit coat of paint fool you. Rain Slick 3 is a fully-featured RPG with beautiful graphics, great writing, and fun mechanics. Exploration is fun and rewarding, and finally seeing a third game made after Hothead decided it wasn’t worth it to continue the project is wonderful. If you like the oddball hijinks that Gabe and Tycho get into in the Penny Arcade comics, then this is the game for you. If you also happen to like classic RPGs, then it’s a match made in heaven. (Full review)

Edna & Harvey: Harvey’s New Eyes: Harvey’s New Eyes is one of the best point-and-click adventure games I’ve played, and its dark, twisted story is definitely one you should experience. That is, if accidental mass murders by a child don’t disturb you. (Full review)

Mark of the Ninja: It’s rare to find new stealth games that feel familiar, yet do so much right that they become as legendary as the games that inspired them. Mark of the Ninja is one of those games. Thanks to its visuals, controls, and all around brilliant game design, this is one of the year’s best games and one you don’t have to be a fan of stealth games to enjoy. (Full review)

Defender’s Quest: Tower defense can be a difficult genre in which to innovate. If you take away either the towers or the creeps then you’re not really playing tower defense, and if you add other things to the formula then you begin to make a different type of game with tower defense elements. The folks behind Defender’s Quest: Valley of the Forgotten have managed it, though, by marrying an RPG to the tower defense formula. Your party makes up your towers, and there’s an interesting story to uncover along the way. (Full review)

Hero Academy: The turns can take as short or as long as you want, the tactical feel is great and the price for the base game is low enough that taking a gamble isn’t a huge issue. Robot has been eating up my gaming time lately. And if you happen to have an iOS device, your account is shared between the two, so if you want to play with the TF2 guys on the go then you can do that. (If you want to use your laptop with your existing Hero Academy account then you can do that, too.) I wasn’t expecting a ton from a game designed to be played for five minutes at a time, but I’m hooked. (Full review)