Feature: Six months down, six more to go – we take a look back at our favourite games of 2012 so far, rounding them up and ranking them in reverse order because list features!
10. Diablo III
Format: PC || Review: 8.8/10
Diablo III finally turned up, and immediately pissed everyone off by bringing with it its dickhead friend Mr. DRM. Diablo’s always-on internet issues meant you couldn’t even play singleplayer if there was a server issue, or if your connection dropped for a second. That’s a great shame, because the game itself is quite splendid: the Diablo fundamentals streamlined even further than ever before, so there’s nothing standing in the way of your click-clickety-click compulsion.
9. Akai Katana
Format: Xbox 360 || Review: 8.8/10
A brutal and unforgiving shoot-’em-up, Akai Katana is also the most rewarding you’ll play. It cares not about smooth difficulty curves: Akai Katana throws you in at the deep end, and asks you to carefully work out its many interlocking systems, studying the game manual (remember those?) and fumbling with the controller. When it all finally clicks into place, you feel like a god. Stunning stuff.
8. Crusader Kings II
Format: PC || Review: 8.8/10
Paradox Interactive’s historical strategy games are for quite a niche audience, and so they get away with having a few rough edges. But Crusader Kings II came out of leftfield to take us by surprise, emerging as one of the best strategy titles in ages. A steep learning curve doesn’t stand in the way of a game that tells many intricate stories, and is at its most fun when your plans go wrong, as you fight for survival from the back foot.
7. UFC Undisputed 3
Formats: Xbox 360/PS3/PC || Review: 8.8/10
The UFC Undisputed series has long held its place at the top of the mixed martial arts fighting game league table, so the name’s pretty apt. This third iteration is far and away the best yet, though, with subtle refinements to the already excellent and super-physical game mechanics, backed up by some great new additions to the game mode roster. It’s also gruesomely gorgeous to look at, with blood splattering and muscles wobbling. MANLY.
6. SoulCalibur V
Formats: Xbox 360/PS3 || Review: 8.8/10
Play SoulCalibur V for the singleplayer campaign and you’ll be sorely disappointed. But you’ll also be strange: who plays a fighting game for its singleplayer? And in multiplayer, this latest SoulCalibur shines, absolutely mastering the “easy to learn, difficult to master” mentality that has always made the series so excellent. It’s also stunningly beautiful, effortlessly slick, and comes equipped with a ridiculous amount of online content.
5. Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition
Format: Xbox 360 || Review: 9.0/10
The PC version, released late last year, is better. But this Xbox 360 edition of Minecraft is still a fine thing to behold. In many ways it’s more confident and streamlined than the baffling sandbox from which it originated: a smaller, tighter game of mining, crafting and survival, with all extraneous elements stripped out, and a distinctly PC game that feels right at home on a console.
4. I Am Alive
Format: Xbox 360/PS3 || Review: 9.0/10
The much-delayed and totally transformed I Am Alive looked set to slip by unnoticed and disappointing. In fact, though, if you looked past a few rough edges this turned out to be an important and ambitious game, bathed in a wonderful, lonely atmosphere. This is survival horror in the truest sense of the term: a game about the horror of survival, not bashing zombies over the head with a Gibson Les Paul.
3. Mass Effect 3
Format: Xbox 360/PS3/PC || Review: 9.0/10
It’s been difficult not to have STRONG OPINIONS about Mass Effect 3, the long-awaited conclusion to Commander Shepard’s trilogy. Ultimately, many found the endings to be disappointing (read: inducing eternal rage), but the game as a whole – while not quite the triumph its predecessor was – remains an extremely solid action-RPG with some incredibly bold storytelling and a set of strongly defined characters.
2. Total War: Shogun 2 – Fall of the Samurai
Format: PC || Review: 9.1/10
This standalone expansion for Total War: Shogun 2 has enough content that they could probably have got away with releasing it as its own full-price game. It’s a joyous expansion of micromanagement, bloody combat and properly tough decisions. When you’ve a strategy game as strong as Shogun 2 to build upon, and you add so much of such a high quality to it, you’re onto a winner.
1. Dragon’s Dogma
Format: Xbox 360/PS3 || Review: 9.3/10
Here’s one that’s been splitting opinion, then. Dragon’s Dogma, Capcom’s first attempt at a big open-world RPG, has a fair few niggling problems – and many have found themselves disappointed by the game as a result. Here at BeefJack, however, we can’t get enough of it. It’s an ambitious game with a smart only component that merges with the singleplayer game, and it’s home to tight and brutal combat mechanics that leave room for creativity. It has its problems – but it’s a real stunner despite them, making this our favourite game of the year so far.
Disagree? Of course you do, it’s a bloody list feature. Tell us what you’d have chosen in the comments below…