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This week, Zero Punctuation shares the best and worst games that 2012 had to offer.

TranscriptEdit

Well, it's time to take stock of my last 365 early morning farts, and just to remind you of the rule, only games I reviewed feature in the top and bottom 5, which may leave a few significant gaps, I admit. Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale, for example, a.k.a. Sony Smash Bros.. But I didn't really want to play that, just abuse it for five minutes. I remember thinking Sony must've been fucking kicking themselves for letting Nintendo use Solid Snake, 'cause it meant they had to do with Raiden instead, the knockoff of the popular one that nobody likes. But then I thought "Wait! Actually, that makes him fucking ideal, doesn't it? He's the fucking metaphor for the whole game!". It's in the same boat as the Justice League movie; it's trying to fight a battle three years too late that you can't win because your opponent isn't on the battlefield. They're at home, rubbing Brasso on their trophy that they got for winning the battle 3 years ago that you just joined and are infinitely less well-equipped to fight.

Still haven't played it, mind. It might be alright. Don't care. Fifth Best:

This one I agonized over a bit 'cause it made two mistakes that stained everything else in the game with original sin; a moral choice aspect that constrained the player's decision-making and dialogue that made every character seem about as lively and engaging as a tree stump with a paper cutout of Kristen Stewart's face nailed to it. But for good world-building and gameplay that managed to do stealth and keep the pace going without too much hiding behind crates waiting for sideburned tosspots to turn around and expose the big, glowing targets on their backs, number five goes to Dishonored and it can thank its lucky stars it didn't come out in a more interesting year.

Fifth Worst:

But from fresh new IP, we move to the very, very old: Resident Evil 6, and it really is resident now, isn't it? We just can't persuade the fucking thing to leave our house. With the entire overarching story of the series completely undermined by the death of the main villain and the continual ramping-up of global disaster to the point of total meaninglessness, Resident Evil very decisively blew its load two games ago, and Resident Evil 6 is the series just refusing to leave the bed. Enough with the quick-time events, enough with the fucking nineteen-stage boss monsters, and enough with the Dutch Ovens, you filthy sod!

Fourth best:

Let's make like pretty much the entire entertainment industry and stay on the subject of zombies for now. This is another one I had to think carefully about but in the final analysis I have a very great interest in interactive storytelling and so, it seems, does Walking Dead. I guess you can't make five million episodic games without getting better at it, and by effectively alternating between slow exposition and quick high-tension decision making, Telltale showed us just how pacing is done. I won't go higher than four though, because the Q key on my laptop still hasn't forgiven me.

Fourth worst:

To be perfectly honest, fourth worst is a game I actually find kind of adorable, for all its absolutely hideously broken design, and that's NeverDead. Is it possible to stay mad at a game where your head keeps flying off without warning to roll clumsily around the floor, avoiding instant-death quick-time events? Well, yes, demonstrably so. But you know, it's only when you try to do something interesting that you crash and burn in the most spectacular way. You may laugh at the bloke who thought he'd invented the parachute coat and threw himself off the Eiffel Tower, but what's history gonna remember you for, funny man? That time you found a copy of Razzle in a hedge?

Third best:

3rd place goes to something of a late entry for 2012, but no less deserving its spot for being fresh in my memory: Far Cry 3, Ubisoft's rather lovely organic mindfuck tiger-'em-up. It's got it all, really; characterization, stealth, explosion, shark fishing, titties, and every player'll come out of it with their own story of how they set someone on fire and fed them to a Komodo dragon. If we as an industry feel we must shackled to franchises for name recognition sales, this seems like a good way for the creative to beat the system; just make something cool and randomly slap a franchise name onto it. We may well be revisiting that strategy before the end of this list, tee hee hee.

Third worst:

In this age of big money and outsourced quality assurance, it's rare to find a game that's completely unplayable. If a game's bad, it's usually because not enough people cared, not because development was formulating a murder-suicide, but that's the only explanation I can think of for Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor. And whatever thought process decided that the best direction for a series previously based around massive, ridiculous controllers would be no controller at all! Microsoft brandished the Kinect and said "We'd like to make this relevant to hardcore gaming!", and the universe looked down upon it and said "Yeah, we'd all like a lot of things, Microsoft!"

Second best:

It's a sad fact, but by simple virtue of video gaming being so much more widespread than it used to be, yes, perhaps a certain amount of translation is necessary when re-introducing popular tactical games from the '90s. So what you do is to trim off the fatty bits, make the interfaces less horribly designed than a '70s government housing project, and roll the difficulty back from 3 A.M. influenza fever dream. And the result is the very absorbing XCOM: Enemy Unknown. What you do not do is to slap the name on a fucking shooter, Syndicate! We're good for shooters, thanks, although I hesitate to use the word "good". Case in point:

Second worst:

Yes, it's confirmed. "Warfighter" is actually a word used by the actual military, but I don't see how that makes it any less dumb, or Medal of Honor: Warfighter any less obnoxious, incoherent and boring. In the year I started referring to schizophrenic, overly-linear modern military shooters as 'Spunkgargleweewee' with the good taste and maturity you've come to expect, I felt it would be remiss of me not to represent the genre here. A genre I would've been tempted to now put alongside one-on-one fighters, real time strategy and train simulators as shit that's just not for me and not worth opinionating on, if it weren't for:

Best best:

Spec Ops: The Line! And thanks a fucking bunch, Yager Development, 'cause now I have to keep playing modern military shooters just in case they turn out to be the most exciting thing to happen in video game narrative for fucking years! It's my game of 2012, not necessarily for being the best game functionally, but for being the game that most fucking deserves to be played. And anything I'm still taking every opportunity to bang on about however many months after release is kind of beyond comparison. It's one for the history books, or at the very least it'll make you want to pick up a history book and hit yourself with it until you're a less horrible person!

Worst worst:

Perhaps the plan was to release this game right at the start of the year so that it might be forgotten about by now, or at least eclipsed by something even worse, like for example, a game that comes with free crystal meth. Yes, it's Amy, an uncontroversial choice perhaps, but my god, there's offensively bad and then there's the kind of bad that dresses up like Hitler and starts doing impressions of people with cerebral palsy. It is notable in being the first indie game I put in the bottom slot, so that's one accolade it can put on the box blurb, alongside "World's best argument for post-term abortion!"

AddendaEdit

Wringing out the old: Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw

So it turns out the world didn't end this year so you'd better pull your fucking socks up, humanity, I want to be living Mad Max in ten years or less.

I hate when the year ends in a prime number

Good game sound effect was '20110409 choir 01' by freesound.org user 'doboide', www.freesound.org/people/dobroide.

Bad games sound effect was my windy bottom.

ScreenshotsEdit

Top 5 of 2012 1

Sony Smash Bros.

Top 5 of 2012 2

Best of 2012

Top 5 of 2012 3

Worst of 2012

External LinksEdit

Episodes
2007 - 2010
2007
Q3 The Darkness Demo · Fable: The Lost Chapters · Zero Punctuation (Episode) · Heavenly Sword and Other Stuff · Psychonauts · Console Rundown · BioShock · Tomb Raider: Anniversary · Manhunt · Peggle
Q4 Halo 3 · Tabula Rasa · The Orange Box · Super Paper Mario · Medal of Honor: Airborne · The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass · Clive Barker's Jericho · F.E.A.R. Perseus Mandate · Assassin's Creed · Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock · Mass Effect
2008
Q1 Super Mario Galaxy · Silent Hill: Origins · Crysis · The Witcher · Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles · Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare · SimCity Societies · Yahtzee Goes to GDC · Uncharted: Drake's Fortune · Devil May Cry 4 · Burnout: Paradise · Turok · Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure
Q2 Army of Two · No More Heroes · Condemned 2: Bloodshot · Super Smash Bros. Brawl · God of War: Chains of Olympus · Mailbag Showdown · Grand Theft Auto IV · Painkiller · The World Ends With You · The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion · Haze · Metal Gear Solid 4
Q3 Webcomics · Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures · Alone in the Dark · Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures · The E3 Trailer Park · Ninja Gaiden II · Prince of Persia Retrospective · Soulcalibur IV · Braid · EVE Online · Too Human · Spore · XBLA Double Bill
Q4 Mercenaries 2: World in Flames · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed · S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky · Silent Hill: Homecoming · Saints Row 2 · Dead Space · Fable II · Fallout 3 · Guitar Hero: World Tour · Mirror's Edge · Left 4 Dead · Sonic Unleashed · The Year in Review - 2008 · Prince of Persia
2009
Q1 Awards for 2008 · Tomb Raider: Underworld · Far Cry 2 · Gears of War 2 · LittleBigPlanet · Thief: The Dark Project · Skate 2 · F.E.A.R. 2 · Spider-Man: Web of Shadows · The House of the Dead: Overkill · 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand · Resident Evil 5
Q2 X-Blades/Halo Wars · Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars · MadWorld · Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X · Siren: Blood Curse · The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena · Valkyria Chronicles · Velvet Assassin · Duke Nukem Forever · Bionic Commando · InFamous · The Second Annual E3 Hype Massacre · Prototype
Q3 The Sims 3 · Ghostbusters: The Video Game · Overlord 2 · Red Faction Guerrilla · Wii Sports Resort · Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood · The Conduit · Silent Hill 2 · 2.5-D Hoedown · Tales of Monkey Island · Wolfenstein · Batman: Arkham Asylum · Beatles Rock Band & Guitar Hero 5 · Darkest of Days
Q4 Scribblenauts · Wet · Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story · Brutal Legend · Washington D.C. · Uncharted 2: Among Thieves · Dragon Age: Origins · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 · Assassin's Creed 2 · Left 4 Dead 2 & New Super Mario Bros. Wii · Demon's Souls · Holiday 2009 · The Saboteur
2010
Q1 Awards for 2009 · Torchlight · Darksiders · Bayonetta · Dark Void · Borderlands · Mass Effect 2 · Dante's Inferno · BioShock 2 · Aliens vs Predator · Heavy Rain · Battlefield: Bad Company 2 · Final Fantasy XIII
Q2 April Fools 2010 · God of War III · Red Steel 2 · Just Cause 2 · Silent Hill: Shattered Memories · Splinter Cell: Conviction · Nier · Dead to Rights: Retribution · Monster Hunter Tri · Alan Wake · Red Dead Redemption · Alpha Protocol · Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands · E3 2010
Q3 No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle · Super Mario Galaxy 2 · Singularity · Crackdown 2 · DeathSpank & Limbo · Shadow of the Colossus · Split Second: Velocity · Transformers: War for Cybertron · Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days · Mafia II · Metroid: Other M · Video Game Voters Network · Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Q4 Halo: Reach · Dead Rising 2 · Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow · Enslaved: Odyssey to the West · Fallout: New Vegas · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II · Call of Duty: Black Ops · IPhone Games · Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood · Splatterhouse · Epic Mickey · Holiday 2010
2011 - 2014
2011
Q1 Top 5 of 2010 · World of Warcraft: Cataclysm · Fable III · Minecraft · A Shadow's Tale · Dead Space 2 · DC Universe Online · MindJack · Two Worlds II · Bulletstorm · Killzone 3 · Kirby's Epic Yarn · Dragon Age II
Q2 Pokémon White · Yakuza 4 · Crysis 2 · Nintendo 3DS · Portal 2 · Castlevania: Symphony of the Night · Mortal Kombat · Brink · L.A. Noire · The Witcher 2 · Hunted: The Demon's Forge · Duke Nukem Forever (for real this time) · InFamous 2
Q3 Alice: Madness Returns · Shadows of the Damned · F.E.A.R. 3 · The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D · Call of Juarez: The Cartel · Bastion and From Dust · Catherine · Red Faction: Armageddon · Deus Ex · Deus Ex: Human Revolution · Driver: San Francisco · Dead Island · Resistance 3
Q4 Gears of War 3 · Hard Reset · Rage · Kinect · Batman: Arkham City · Battlefield 3 · Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 · The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim · Saints Row: The Third · Assassin's Creed: Revelations · The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
2012
Q1 Serious Sam 3: BFE · Top 5 of 2011 · Super Mario 3D Land & Rayman Origins · Sonic Generations · Star Wars: The Old Republic · Amy · Resident Evil: Revelations · Darkness 2 · Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning · NeverDead · Syndicate · Mass Effect 3 · Twisted Metal
Q2 Yakuza: Dead Souls · Ninja Gaiden 3 · Silent Hill: Downpour · Kid Icarus: Uprising · Fez and I Am Alive · Prototype 2 · Risen 2: Dark Waters · Sniper Elite V2 · Diablo 3 · Max Payne 3 · Dragon's Dogma · E3 2012 · Lollipop Chainsaw
Q3 Quantum Conundrum · Spec Ops: The Line · Walking Dead · Inversion · The Amazing Spider-Man · Half-Life · Wreckateer and Deadlight · Steam Roundup · Sleeping Dogs · Darksiders 2 · DayZ · Guild Wars 2
Q4 Borderlands 2 · FIFA 13 · Resident Evil 6 · Dishonored · XCOM: Enemy Unknown · Medal of Honor: Warfighter & Doom 3: BFG Edition · Assassin's Creed 3 · Halo 4 · Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 · Hitman: Absolution · Far Cry 3 · ZombiU
2013
Q1 Top 5 of 2012 · Paper Mario: Sticker Star · Black Knight Sword & Hotline Miami · Anarchy Reigns · DMC: Devil May Cry · The Cave · Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch · Dead Space 3 · Aliens: Colonial Marines · Crysis 3 · Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance · Tomb Raider · SimCity
Q2 The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct · BioShock Infinite · Lego City Undercover · Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon · Injustice: Gods Among Us · Star Trek · Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon · System Shock 2 · Metro: Last Light · Next Gen Buyer's Guide · Fuse · Remember Me · E3 2013
Q3 The Last of Us · Deadpool · Animal Crossing: New Leaf · Ride to Hell: Retribution · Dark · Mario & Luigi: Dream Team · Rise of the Triad · Papers, Please & Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons · Pikmin 3 · The Bureau: XCOM Declassified · Saints Row 4 · Killer is Dead · Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs
Q4 Grand Theft Auto V · Lost Planet 3 · Beyond: Two Souls · The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD · Batman: Arkham Origins · Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag · Call of Duty: Ghosts · Exclusives Showdown · Ryse: Son of Rome · Dead Rising 3 · Super Mario 3D World
2014
Q1 Top 5 of 2013 · Knack · Killzone: Shadow Fall · Survival Special · Broken Age · Might & Magic X: Legacy · The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds · Dark Souls · Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII · Strider · Thief · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 · Dark Souls II
Q2 Titanfall · InFamous: Second Son · Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes · The Elder Scrolls Online · South Park: The Stick of Truth · FTL: Faster Than Light · Child of Day-Light · The Amazing Spider-Man 2 · Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure · Wolfenstein: The New Order · WATCH DOGS · E3 2014 · Murdered: Soul Suspect
Q3 Tomodachi Life · Enemy Front & Valiant Hearts: The Great War · Shovel Knight · EarthBound · Transistor · E.T. · Firefall · Sacred 3 · Risen 3: Titan Lords · Daikatana · Lichdom: Battlemage · The Sims 4 · Destiny
Q4 D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die · Hyrule Warriors · Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor · Alien Isolation · The Evil Within · Bayonetta 2 · Sunset Overdrive · Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare · Assassin's Creed: Unity · Far Cry 4 · Dragon Age: Inquisition · Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric · Top 5 Games of 2014
2015 - 2017
2015
Q1 The Talos Principle · Elite: Dangerous · Five Nights at Freddy's and This War of Mine · Lords of the Fallen · Saints Row: Gat out of Hell · Dying Light · Grim Fandango · Evolve · The Order: 1886 · The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D · Resident Evil Revelations 2 · Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number & Ori and the Blind Forest
Q2 Battlefield: Hardline · Bloodborne · Half-Life 2 Update · Axiom Verge & Stealth Inc 2 · Mortal Kombat X · Grand Theft Auto Online · Broken Age: Act 2 · Wolfenstein: The Old Blood · Cyberpunk Double · The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt · Splatoon · Hatred · E3 2015
Q3 Alone in the Dark: Illumination · Batman: Arkham Knight · Yoshi's Woolly World · Cave Story · Godzilla · Rocket League & Tembo the Badass Elephant · King's Quest: A Knight to Remember · Nom Nom Galaxy & Freedom Planet · Everybody's Gone To The Rapture · Volume · Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain · Mad Max · Gears of War Ultimate Edition · Until Dawn
Q4 Super Mario Maker · SOMA · Rock Band 4 · Assassin's Creed Syndicate · Halo 5: Guardians · Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 · Rise of the Tomb Raider · Fallout 4 · Star Wars: Battlefront · Just Cause 3 · Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water
2016
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2015 · Devil's Third · Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam · Assassin's Creed Chronicles · Xenoblade Chronicles X · The Witness & Bombshell · Gravity Rush · XCOM 2 · Firewatch & Layers of Fear · Far Cry Primal · Stardew Valley & SUPERHOT · The Division · Salt and Sanctuary
Q2 Republique · Shadow Warrior · Quantum Break · Dark Souls III · Ratchet & Clank · Star Fox Zero · Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door · Uncharted 4: A Thief's End · Doom · Homefront: The Revolution · Overwatch & Battleborn · Mirror's Edge: Catalyst · E3 2016
Q3 Mighty No. 9 · Inside & Shadow of the Beast · The Technomancer · Furi & Song of the Deep · I Am Setsuna · Headlander & Quadrilateral Cowboy · Quake · No Man's Sky · Grow Up · Deus Ex: Mankind Divided · Metroid Prime: Federation Force · The Curious Expedition & Mother Russia Bleeds · ReCore
Q4 Capcom Five · Clustertruck & Lichtspeer · Paper Mario: Color Splash · Mafia III · Gears of War 4 · PlayStation VR · Battlefield 1 · Titanfall 2 vs Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare · Dishonored 2 · WATCH DOGS 2 · Final Fantasy XV · The Last Guardian
2017
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2016 · Let It Die · Dead Rising 4 · Hitman · Gravity Rush 2 · Resident Evil 7 · Yakuza 0 · Nioh · For Honor · Nintendo Switch & Breath of the Wild · Horizon Zero Dawn · Nier Automata · Ghost Recon Wildlands
Q2 Mass Effect Andromeda · Yooka-Laylee · Persona 5 · Remastered Editions · Outlast 2 · Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 · Prey · Wilson's Heart · The Surge · Injustice 2 · Vanquish · E3 2017 · Strafe
Q3 Get Even · Hollow Knight / Dead Cells · Fifth Console Generation · The End is Nigh, and Yonder: Cloud Catcher Chronicles · Pyre · Splatoon 2 · Hellblade · Agents of Mayhem · Sonic Mania · Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle · Destiny 2 · Metroid: Samus Returns
Q4 Knack 2 and SteamWorld Dig 2 · Cuphead · Hob and A Hat in Time · Middle-earth: Shadow of War · The Evil Within 2 · Super Mario Odyssey · Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus · Assassin's Creed Origins · Sonic Forces · Star Wars Battlefront II

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