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My Top 10 PC Games of 2012

10. Planetside 2

Before playing this game, I believed that the 64 player servers of Battlefield were the limit for large scale, open warfare. So when I first picked up the game, I was awestruck to see several large transport planes picking up players from the spawn point and then taking off. It looked like one of those departure scenes of war movies. The scale of the maps are massive with the battles taking place on a world split by three continents offering various terrain to fight on – mountains, death valleys, open plains, even the sky. However I did notice a lack of dense forestry which is a bit disappointing. I really enjoyed the fact that there weren’t really any limits to any type of vehicle or aircraft to teams. So basically what you’d end up seeing extremely common are people forming tank columns of about like 5-10 tanks with transport vehicles to allow infantry to spawn in when deployed. Imagine a scenario where you’re trying to capture a base or defend it, only to have several enemy aircraft come in and bombard you or maybe imagine what it would look like to see an enemy large tank column rolling in over the hill. At these moments there’s not really much you can say. I was awestruck by the sense of scale. Air skirmises between friendly and enemy airborne vehicles can be amazing to see especially at night when everything is shooting tracer rounds. However I felt this game was really restricted by its Pay2Grind model where it practically takes forever to unlock new items, weapons or other upgrades.

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9. Blacklight: Retribution

I’ve always had a soft spot for multiplayer first person shooters and Blacklight is definitely no exception. Like most FPS these days, there a serveral game modes from TDM, CTF, Domination and KotH. There’s also a siege mode which is basically kind of like TF2’s cart mode.
Aspects of Blacklight that I really enjoyed included your visor which basically acts as a temporary wallhack you can use to gain awareness of your enemy’s position, mines, depots and weakpoints on hardsuits. However you can’t perform any actions while using it, so you’re very vulnerable and need to be cautious about when you should use it. It also has a cooldown and refresh time depending on how long you actually use it. I also liked the vast amounts of customisation the game offered. You can customise your avatar by giving it certain utilities such as exploding tomohawks, proximity mines, turrets all while changing your appearance and playstyle at the same time. Different types of armor offer various types of bonus such as run speed, stamina, health, etc. Weapons can also be customised, from deciding a base weapon type (AR, SMG, etc) you can then change the default muzzle, stock, magazine, barrel, etc. Doing so changes the weapon’s stats, appearance and your own playstyle. So in every game you’ll always encounter different types of players – you’ll have heavy type soldiers that can take a big punch, players who go for a hit and run style, players who sit back to snipe. However to reach this level of customisation, upgrades and new equipment are extremely costly. One permanent unlock can take approximately the equivalent of the rewards gained from 20 wins if you get roughly 300 points from each one. You also need to reach a certain level to use certain items. However Blacklight also offers an alternative to use the items on a more short term basis through their – 1 day, 3 day, 7 day borrow feature.

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8. Guild Wars 2

Guild Wars 2 is probably the game I spent the most time playing this year. I keep thinking that It should be much higher on my list given the many hours of fun I had with it and the fact they did a good job in trying to break the MMO mold. The inclusion of dynamic events over traditional methods of quests made Guild Wars 2 extremely fun to level at launch. Leveling various crafting professions also gave experience making the time taken to max level much faster. Crafting nodes were shared, enemy tagging was shared, almost everything was shared to promote players to enjoy each others company rather than be frustrated at each other for stealing nodes, mobs, etc. Combat was exciting as it was focused on the dodge mechanics and the fact there were no dedicated healers to save me meaning I had to rely on my own skills. Some boss fights were crazy given their size and how early they appeared in the game. Although the AI did seem really weak and the fight seemed quite linear.World vs World was very fun at times but quickly became a chore as it lacked incentives to keep playing it. The culling issue of not being able to see enemies and getting killed by invisible armies was also frustrating to deal with. I was also extremely disappointed by how loot and rewards were handled in this game. For the most part, everything was done through RNG.

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7. Far Cry 3

One of the few games I have played to create a threatening sandbox world. Whether it was tigers leaping out from bushes, a flock of ostriches turning on you after killing one of them, a pack of dogs chasing you or getting attacked by crocs as your cross a river, Far Cry 3 was one crazy jungle. The main villain of the game – Vaas is one crazy yet awesome guy that you inadvertently fall in love with. He’s just one of those bad guys you end up loving due to how crazy and evil they seem. I thought the exploration aspects of the game were really rewarding as you could climb towers to clear the fog on your map and gain free weapons at the same time. Hunting animals for their skin in exchange for bag/pouch upgrades was a crafting system done right. Attacking bandit could also become hilarious on the occassion that some wild animal would appear and do the dirty work for you. The main story also had some fun missions like burning a field of marijuana with a flamethrower while listening to dubstep reggae.

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6. Dishonored

Move aside Connor, there’s a real assassin in town and his name is Corvo. Dishonored is an adventure game that combines action/stealth gameplay with first person mode. The new concept and world created by Arkane Studios is intriguing and the lore quite interesting as a fresh IP. Although the world is broken up into small little zones in the game, these zones are Corvo’s little playground for him to exercise his various special powers bestowed by a mysterious figure. They include abilities to summon rats to distract guards, slow time, teleporting in short bursts and distances, possessing animals and people. The greatest fun factor of Dishonored comes from finding interesting and creative ways to kill guards and getting through to the next area. For the most part, gameplay can be split by non lethal or lethal playstyles. Various objectives can be completed via these two styles and interesting enough non lethal methods of eliminating targets can be considered quite more sinister.

5. Chivalry: Medieval Warfare

A multiplayer game that captures the brutality and goriness expected from combat that uses means of medieval warfare. There are amputations and decapitations, heads can be squashed like grapes and bodies be burnt alive. Chivalry is simply a great game to pass some time where you can swing your sword aimlessly and be guarenteed a kill – friendly or hostile. Although it may seem like a skill less hack-fest, there is also actually a level of skill that may be involved. Archery takes a while getting used to, adjusting to bullet drop and flight speed of shot arrows but it is incredibly satisfying to get that headshot on a knight killing him instantly. Combat also includes feint strikes making enemies waste their block and leaving themselves vulnerable and positioning is also important to stay out of striking range. Playing with and against friends can be extremely fun and the exaggerated voices of the characters in the game will only add more humor to your experience.

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4. Sleeping Dogs

Although similar to the GTA games, Sleeping Dogs does many things right to stand out as its own franchise. Taking place in Hong Kong, the sandbox world truly feels like the neon city. I enjoyed the inclusion of Cantonese into various dialogue, the radio stations were great for going on drives and the story was quite well made. The stand out factor was Sleeping Dog’s combat. It used a combo and counter style similar to the batman arkham games and it was actually quite refreshing that you could easily be overwhelmed if you were surrounded by a hostile gang. There are different types of gang members to deal with that had particular strengths and weaknesses which couldn’t be easily beaten just by mashing the counter button (ahem assassin’s creed). I think Sleeping Dogs did an incredible job at immersing the player into Hong Kong. I found myself visiting clothing stores to try out some trendy new clothes, going out to the markets and eating pork rolls, and driving around the city in my fast car, drifting through the streets while enjoying lovely chinese music.

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3. Spec Ops: The Line

I really have to classify this game a piece of art. Spec Ops uses the player’s expectations that the game is going to be a CoD-like generic fps and then turns it upside down and around and slaps you across the face yelling  “Surprise you fool!”. Everything about this game screams generic FPS but once this game slowly contextualises the actions of the game, the only thing you can do is sit and back and be silenced. There aren’t many words I can say to describe the experience I had in this game other than the fact its a game that criticises similar games and the habits formed by the player who plays them. Spec Ops delivers an incredible story dealing with the traumas and harsh realities faced by the soldiers which many other games romanticise and glorify.

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2. DayZ

Although not exactly a game, DayZ does stand out as one of my greatest 2012 gaming experiences. With only one simple objective – Survive, it is surprising  how deep and emotial DayZ could get. The mundane tasks of sating your hunger and staying hydrated can easily become daunting tasks in the hostile environments of a Zombie Apocalypse. However the true danger, isn’t the dead, but the fellow living – other survivors. The interactions between players can become incredible and dynamic experiences. Two survivors might meet, although hesitant to trust each other, decide to cooperate to find food and supplies for each others’ survival, while another encounter could easily spell the instantaneous death of one survivor. DayZ can easily bring out the inner psychopaths of players as they chase innocent survivors across town with a hatchet or lead a horde a zombies to a player unaware of his surroundings. After surviving several days, you feel a sense of accomplishment and that your character’s life is precious and with meaning after the countless hours of crawling in the cities to find a can of beans or a mag for your pistol. The combination of the fact you become attached to your character’s survival and the fact that death spells game over for your character can really create tense and heart racing moments that I have never felt in any other game before. The game does an wonderful job at making you feel like it really is your own life in danger in these hostile situations and really there hasn’t been a game that has ever made me feel this way.

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1. The Walking Dead Game

As an avid watcher of the TV series and a person who is well familiar with games poorly adapted from TV and film, The Walking Dead Game was a shock and a game that swept me off my feet. To be completely honest, the game does a far more effective job of conveying the humanistic and dramatic sides that can only be experienced by a Zombie Apocalypse. Playing as Lee Everett, you act as a foster father for a young child named Clementine. The relationship formed between these characters is amazing and the fact the game does an incredible job of making you feel like you are Lee Everett and not playing as him. This opens up the idea, that as a player you really are putting Clementine into consideration when you need to make choices and act as a good role model. I became conflicted as to whether I should protect the child’s innocence or prepare her for the harsh realities she will need to endure. Not only Clementine, but all the other characters in the game are well written. You will become attached to certain characters, people will die and wow I never expected to feel so emotional over a game. There are some truly heart aching moments in this game that words cannot describe, there are moments where you will become extremely fustrated at characters and there will be moments of bliss that will make you smile. The Walking Dead really brings about genuine emotions and no one really expected such a game to achieve this. Its really great to see a game that has zombies not focus on killing zombies but the drama created by human interactions.

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