Deranged Midget

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DM's Top Ten Games of the Year!

With 2012 finally over with, I can put together my top ten games of the year and boy, was it hard nailing it down to simply ten. A quick note before continuing on with the list, I have yet to complete the last few chapters of Telltale's The Walking Dead and currently in the process of playing throughFar Cry 3, so I didn't find it fair to include either of those in my list since I'm far from completion. Alright, down to business!

10. Resident Evil 6

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Alright, it's fair to note right off the bat that Resident Evil 6 wasn't the best game in the series, nor was it exceptional among it's competition either, but that didn't stop me from enjoying the game as a whole. Yes, the controls took a little getting used to and perhaps some of the changes or lack thereof might have been infuriating, but Resident Evil 6 did succeed in crafting some exciting moments throughout it's three (or four) separate campaigns even if it never came close to living up to series standard that Resident Evil 4 had established.

The changes made to the combat actually worked for the better, allowing for movement while aiming, which was a first for the series and while some disliked this change, I found it to be one of the more appealing aspects that RE6 provided and hope to see it pass onto future installments. While the story fails to provide any true survival horror that the series had once been known for, it boasts some fun, yet ridiculous boss battles, a few interesting new characters and some overall fun co-op moments.

9. Sniper Elite V2

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A mostly overlooked and underrated game, Sniper Elite V2 is a remake of 2005's Sniper Elite released by the same developer; Rebellion. A simplistic third person shooter taking place in 1945 near the end of second World War, the player is thrown into the shoes of an OSS Sniper operative who makes his way through war-torn Europe tracking down and eliminating any scientist involved in the German V2 program.

Despite the simplicity that the game provides, the gameplay is top notch, throwing in some of the most gruesome and exciting shoot-outs that I've experienced from either a WW2 shooter or any shooter regardless. This is all due to the fantastic sniper combat and basically re-invents the "X-Ray" kill cam that the original so well established. Sniper Elite V2 allows you to play the game whichever way you please but awards the player for taking stealthier precautions and even allowing moments of synchronization with elements in the world such as thunder or artillery strikes to mask Sniper shots to best emphasize a stealthy approach.

While it's severely lacking on the story front, the constantly amusing and gruesome Kill-cam provides never grows tiresome and kept me entertained for hours on end.

8. Transformers: Fall of Cybertron

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It's no surprise that I thoroughly and genuinely enjoyed the latest installment in High Moon Studio's Cybertron series. Considering the poor treatment that the Transformers have endured on the video game front in the past decade, it was a relieving breath of fresh air when High Moon took the reigns and brought the franchise back to it's roots. While still taking partial inspiration from Michael Bay's films, the series evidently pays massive homage to the G1 era in both character design and story.

I can't stress enough how impressed I was with the entire package that Fall of Cybertron provided. Fantastic and nearly flawless gameplay, an intriguing story that separates it from those that came before it and don't even get me started on the multiplayer. Sadly, this is where the game was mostly overlooked. Lacking a cult hit that big hitters such as Call of Duty, Gears of War and Halo have all achieved, FoC doesn't manage to draw in a massive crowd in the same regard but that doesn't mean that it doesn't succeed either. In fact, the multiplayer is easily where the game shines most and I've wasted a dozen hours taking the fight of Cybertron online.

Alongside all of this, Fall of Cybertron boasts a fantastic voice cast that even borrows some of the talent from previous shows and even the Bay films. Here's hoping that the next game in the series builds upon and finally receives the recognition it deserves.

7. The Witcher 2

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Before I continue on with my thoughts on why I so enjoyed The WItcher 2, I'd like to point out that I despise RPG's for the most part. Don't ask me why, but it takes a special kind of RPG to draw my attention and The Witcher 2 succeeded effortlessly. Yes, I know, The Witcher 2 originally came out in 2011, but the Xbox 360 version came out back in May so I can throw this on my list.

Back to my praise. CD Projekt absolutely nails every aspect in this game from the story, wonderful cast of characters and fantastically difficult combat -- the works. Not to mention that it also might be the best looking game on the 360 to date and that's just throwing more fuel to the fire. I, for one, hate most combat systems that are introduced by your standard RPG. But thankfully, the combat in Witcher 2 throws away with that and despite being more difficult than most average "hack and slash" titles, it's appeal lies in it's strategic outlook. It's something that most games, if not all seemingly don't even bother to attempt and it only helps benefit The Witcher 2 here.

Following the character of Geralt, he gets caught between a murder conspiracy with the blame completely landed on him by another Witcher. He makes it his mission to track down this impostor and his adventures lead you to gorgeous locales that will leave your jaw dropping far more often that you'd like. The brilliance of the story-telling revolves all around choice and these choices come back later on in the story and could either benefit you or become your utmost downfall. It's an enticing aspect that will keep you constantly second guessing your decisions and that only helps better the experience as a whole.

6. Max Payne 3

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I'll be completely blunt here, I was never a fan of the Max Payne games prior to the release of the third installment. I was completely aware of them but I never gave them a second thought. Perhaps it was because third person shooters weren't my cup of tea at the time being or perhaps because I just simply hated the entire concept of the games, I don't know. I can say that with Max Payne 3, everything changed.

With Rockstar taking over for Remedy, many people were skeptical at how they would handle a more linear shooter in comparison to all the open-world crime shooters they have become so accustomed to excellently crafting. Let me tell you, I never expected Rockstar to pull this off and I am ecstatic to say that I was completely proven wrong. Rockstar not only knocks it out of the park but re-creates and utilizes some of the most basic yet thrilling gameplay elements and throws Max through hell as he tries to forget his past and push into the future. It's a dark and daring story that will leave you sympathizing with Max at every turn as he sacrifices whatever freedom he originally had to hunt down and protect those who hired him.

So yes, I'm going to go there and say that Max Payne 3 outdoes it's predecessors in every-way and proves that story-telling through cutscenes is still as effective as ever.

5. Borderlands 2

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There can be no other way to describe Borderlands 2 than chaos, absolute chaos. To be completely frank, few games have ever succeeded in achieving such a level of enjoyment that you constantly lose track in what you are actually doing and instead, you find yourself instinctively looting, killing, exploring and looting some more. It's safe to say that Borderlands is the closest thing to the perfect coupling of RPG elements with nearly flawless FPS mechanics.

While it doesn't really live up to the claims of a greater story, everyone already knows that this isn't the appeal in Borderlands 2. Yes, it would've been nice to have a more fleshed out story, building on the new characters introduced, but instead you find yourself so engulfed in the sheer insanity of the game that you end up not even caring. So many games aim for that and fewer even begin to succeed. Continuing on the trend that the original established, Borderlands 2 is every bit as hilarious and will keep you laughing constantly at how completely insane each one of the supporting characters are.

The gameplay and visuals have remained almost completely the same since the original Borderlands three years back, but it matters very little as the art style has always been easy and charming to look at. The biggest change is the new cast of characters and the interaction with the original four. It's intriguing to see what roles each of the original characters play this time around as they fight against a completely delusional Dictator type character known as "Handsome" Jack whose only goal is to destroy all resistance and steal all of Pandora's endless resources.

4. Assassins Creed 3

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It will come as no surprise that I am a massive Assassins Creed fanboy and that the franchise has landed itself as one of my favourite of all time, boasting some of the best and most interesting settings ever graced in gaming. Despite all of this, I have to say that through all of Assassins Creed 3's accomplishments, it also had it's fair share of short-coming that kept it from being higher on the list.

Disregarding that fact, I still enjoyed every single moment of the game and even considering my completionist OSD, I found myself so engulfed in the story that I didn't even bother jumping into the side missions until I finished the main story, which is an absolute first for me. Although Connor's character never connected as greatly with me in the way that Ezio's did, his story was still an interesting one to see unfold and his personality helped completely differentiate him from his predecessors.

Easily the most impressive and successful aspect about the third installation and any other for that matter is the setting. Taking place in Colonial America on the brink of revolution, it's simply a treat to see how events unfolded and how Conner's behind-the-scenes interaction helped "shape" the direction that America's greatest leaders took as they fought for independence from the British and the Templars, who are constantly pulling the strings. Ubisoft brilliantly utilizes this setting and succeeds in creating one of the most enjoyable experiences in gaming this year.

3. Darksiders II

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Here we go again, another RPG Hack and slash making it on my list for Top games of the year and the third spot no less?! Trust me, I was as surprised as you are. While I enjoyed the first game a decent amount, I never expected for a second that I would have so greatly appreciated it's sequel which succeeds it's predecessor in almost every category.

Following the Horseman known as Death this time around, you fight your way to try to free his brother War and clear his name despite the claims that he began the apocalypse that wiped out humanity and re-ignited the war between Heaven and Hell. One of the most interesting and satisfying additions to Darksiders II that drew me in so well was the exceptional combat system which was fluid beyond belief and the introduction of greater RPG elements such as a better fleshed out skill tree and the game's generous loot system.

The world is massive, and although it is a little empty and dry, the gorgeous art style makes it a wonder to look at. Death's character is different from his brother in every-way possible. Where War was honorable and fought for Justice, Death is cocky, arrogant and feared by all. It's a massive change of pace and it's a joy to see how far and deep into the Universe Death's reputation is heard and how he interacts with those he has absolutely no knowledge of despite their knowledge of him.

2. Mass Effect 3

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Words cannot describe how much I adore this franchise. I know that this final game had received a hefty amount of hate due to it's original ending but honestly, how fair is it to disregard everything else that the game and the series as a whole was able to accomplish. The journey that my Shepard has taken throughout the past three games and the decisions he has made finally come to fruition here and the final battle to save the Galaxy comes to a close with what I personally thought was an entirely satisfying and touching ending coupled with some of the most brilliant music ever to grace video games orchestrating the entire event.

Yeah, Mass Effect 3 doesn't really do much in regards to it's visuals but it was already a gorgeous game two years ago and with some final touches, the game holds up alongside the best in the pack and leaves you staring in awe at some of the locales you visit and realize that this is why the Galaxy is worth fighting for. BioWare also manages to also tweak the combat system to it's finest, creating one of the best experiences I've had in a third-person shooter and almost perfectly meshes some of the most brilliant story-telling with an equal amount of enticing action sequences.

To top it all of, Mass Effect 3 adds in a multiplayer component which really is a survival mode that is far more fleshed out than one would originally come to believe. It is here that players are given their first opportunity to play as almost any warring race in the Mass Effect universe from the brutal Krogans to the nimble and deadly Drell. As in the single player campaign, there are 6 classes to choose from and a handful amount of races to select as well, each with their own unique abilities. I can't express how much time I have wasted here, even more so than I did with the game's campaign, which is unusual for me but speaks levels on how successful the multiplayer component turned out to be.

I have yet to experience a franchise or trilogy that so brilliantly and coherently crafts it's entire story into one and can be played all at once without skipping a beat. It truly is a gem among video games and deserves a special spot in history.

1. Halo 4

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Surprise, surprise! Halo 4 tops off my list as my favourite game of the year and yes, I can admit that most of the reason falls upon my biased fanboy love for the franchise as a whole but that's far from the only reason as to why I was so impressed by the most recent installment in the Haloverse. While it matters very little, Halo 4 was a massive graphical achievement over it's predecessors in every-way possible, both artistically and technically. The cinematics alone are so beautifully rendered that it almost appears life-like at first glance. It's truly an accomplishment, especially when it's realized that jump between games was only two years.

Everyone is absolutely familiar with how popular the Halo franchise is in terms of it's multiplayer and to be honest, it has been the only reason that Halo has remained such an adored franchise -- up until now. 343 Industries manages to do what Bungie could never do; craft one of the best stories ever told in a Halo game to date and one that can help establish Halo as not only a magnificent multiplayer shooter, but one with a thrilling story as well. One of the biggest changes comes from the incredible character development and interaction between the two lead characters; Master Chief and Cortana. This time around, John has been given more lines in this single game than he has spoken in the entirety of the past trilogy. You are given reason to care for what he is trying to accomplish and the performance given by Cortana's voice actresses is chilling and will give you goose-bumps on more than one occasion.

As for the multiplayer, Halo 4 accomplishes what every other installment in the franchise has managed to establish and continues to prove why Halo is one of the best shooters around. The combat is incredibly and unbelievably fluid, the game modes engaging and the maps so wonderfully crafted that you'll have a blast playing through them and creating new strategies with every different game mode played.

Despite the love and loyalty that most fans have for Bungie, which is understandable due to the brilliant work they've done with the franchise over the past decade, 343 proves and effortlessly manages to carry on the torch by showcasing their utmost loyalty to the source material and understanding the love that so many have for the beloved franchise and hold true to the best wishes by creating what might be the best Halo experience yet.