2012 Top 10’s: Guest Brent Smith
Brent Smith’s Top 10 of 2012
Brent is a writer, and world’s clumsiest ninja. He likes bacon, hot dogs, and that one authentic Mexican restaurant every town has with that crazy huge burrito he can never finish because he was too busy washing it down with fishbowl-sized margaritas.
10. XCom: Enemy Unknown
I am not a strategy gamer. This is apparent within 10 seconds of holding a conversation with me about games. It wasn’t until about my third consecutive hour with XCom until I was at a point where I could sit back and say “Wait a minute, I’ve been playing this game for three freaking hours?!”
It’s unfortunate Syndicate sold so poorly. I have been following development company Starbreeze (The Darkness, Chronicles of Riddick) for a long while now, and their pedigree for games that are way better than they ever should be shines in full force here. The game is a tongue-in-cheek, over-the-top cyberpunk first person shooter. While the parts themselves aren’t terribly original, they pull together to create a cohesive package that is the equivalent of playing a cheesy ScyFy original.
8. Max Payne 3
Having religiously adored the Max Payne series growing up it was nice to finally see a return to form. I won’t lie and say I wasn’t a bit concerned at Rockstar taking over for Remedy but they created a more mature, darker Max. It was an appropriate send off for a late 90’s, early 2000’s action hero.
Remember how fun it is to scream across the room while playing board games with your friends? Spaceteam not only captures that frenetic, fast paced style but the longer you play it the more it allows you to intelligently read the other players. It becomes a game of who has what on their deck, and it can well up a sense of unenviable frustration. For a cell phone game, that’s quite an accomplishment!
6. Persona 4: Golden
Part visual novel, part RPG with tight mechanics and punishing difficulty based off of exploiting weaknesses. Enemies are smart, and the dialogue is some of the best written in a game to date. This game is alive and if you allow it to do so, it will swallow you whole for the entire, demanding the 80 hours it takes to beat.
5. The Walking Dead
Player choice and player agency were always fancy buzzwords in the past 2 years of gaming. In all reality games were only presenting us with the illusion of choice, and while Walking Dead only slightly strays from the path of this illusion the writers at Telltale are getting very creative at presenting this illusion in more epic means. It is also worth noting that across the entirety of the five episodes I was reduced to sloppy man tears on several occasions. Telltale’s immediate talents as adventure game developers are on display in full force. It feels weird saying, but for the first time in several years and adventure game developer is batting with the big dogs.
4. Hotline: Miami
Hotline: Miami is almost sexually violent. Bullets and blood dot the gritty atmosphere as the retro art style and throwback tunes accompany you through the most deranged, original journey in gaming in quite some time. Several performance and save game deleting launch bugs I encountered still couldn’t sully the once-in-a-lifetime thrill I had while playing.
3. Frog Fractions
OHMYGODHEPUTAFLASHGAMEONHISTOPTENLIST! Ok, let’s get that out of the way early. Yes, Frog Fractions is a free flash game on that Internet thing you’ve been hearing so much about. This game is through and through a writer’s game. It’s clever, witty, and throws back to a time when every single gamer’s only reference for what gaming could be revolved around educational games such as Oregon Trail or Math Munchers. The game then takes an odd turn I won’t spoil. Just Google the damn thing, and play it already.
2. Sleeping Dogs
Commentary juggernauts Giant Bomb stated this game was “2012’s Saint’s Row the Third in spirit award” and I couldn’t agree more. This game is hilariously silly, cheesy, but just has enough grit and good gameplay to etch out a level of charm and heart that is impossible to find in video games. This is the perfect game for popping a tub of popcorn, grabbing your favorite soda, and shutting your brain off while you have a good laugh at how janky open world games still are.
1. Borderlands 2
Borderlands 2 and I had a strange relationship. When I first played it, I did so for about 10 hours and put it down for almost 4 months. One day, a friend of mine asked me if we could play it and having nothing better to do I picked up the controller once again. We then beat the game in a sitting, bought the season pass, beat the two DLC’s that were currently out in a sitting, started new characters, and beat the game AGAIN. Borderlands 2 is absolutely infectious and it’s one of the few times I really wished a game wouldn’t tell me how long I’ve been playing it.