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Bracken's Best Games of 2012

Tera Screenshot

2012 is officially in the books, which means it can be time for only one thing: this year's installment of Bracken's Best Games of the Year. If you've already listened to our year-end awards extravaganza podcast, then you're well aware of what my top four games of 2012 were—but don't bail yet! There are six other games that made my top 10 of the past year, and you'll want to stick around to see what they are. Plus, if you haven't heard the podcast, the entire list is a mystery to you at this point!

Video: Realistic Fighting Game

This is why the fighting game genre will never go away. The real thing just winds up making you look like a useless wimp.

Caution: Crude language

Brad's Honorable Mentions of 2012

Minecraft Xbox 360 Edition Screenshot

So in the last post, you saw my top ten games of 2012. However, I think the last twelve months were fabulous for gaming overall. It seemed as though there were a neverending stream of titles that ranged from "pretty good" to "pretty great,"and I never had much trouble finding something that was worthwhile.

Extra Credits: Aesthetics of Play

Extra Credits comes with another interesting game design breakdown. It is, as they readily admit, a bit heavy in game theory, but being aware of this aspect of game creation can go a long way toward a gamer understanding how limiting our current genres actually are. We might also see how limited our game creators are and why some titles simply miss being that breakout hit.

Eric's Top 10 Games of 2012

Halo 4 Screenshot

2011 (not a typo) was an odd year. Its general theme seemed to be games that I considered good (such as Portal 2, L.A. Noire, and Batman: Arkham City) getting incredible amounts of praise, to the point that I would end up being the voice of dissent on games I actually liked. Hell, at one point somebody gave Batman: Arkham City a 6 stars out of 5. Now, people liking games more than I do is perfectly fine and not all that uncommon, but this happened constantly throughout 2011 for almost every AAA game, and it left me wondering what had happened to critical discussion.

You can't always CYOA

Fallout 3 Screenshot

Something interesting I noticed this year was a trend of push-back against "choice" games in which the player did not get to control every outcome. The two biggest examples which spring to mind are, of course, The Walking Dead and Mass Effect 3.

Back to business!

Damnation Screenshot

Without fail, every single person I've ever asked about Damnation said it was utter trash, but the box was so intriguing and the subject matter (Steampunk/Wild West/Civil War/Robots/Magic) was just too much up my alley to ignore. I think I got it for something like $4, and at the time that I picked it up, the clerk literally told me that I shouldn't buy it.

Brad's Top 10 of 2012

Persona 4: Arena Screenshot

Another year, another breakdown of the year's best games…according to me. Before writing this list, I went back to my archive and looked over what I'd said in years past. The funny thing is that while plenty of folk were saying that the "big" games disappointed in 2012, I also found that to be true in 2011 and 2010. Perhaps the trend is becoming more noticeable now, but in hindsight, it definitely seems to be a trend that's been happening for a while.

Consoleation: The grass isn't greener

Super Mario World Screenshot

When I think back to my 20-something self, during the 16-bit era, I remember how starved for video game information I was. We had monthly magazines to keep us in the loop back then, and information was relatively limited. "Oh, this game looks cool!" I would think to myself, but after reading a few paragraphs and seeing a couple of images, that was it.

Extra Credits: Beyond Fun

The guys at Extra Credits ask if the video game industry can move beyond games that are simply "fun." Where are the tragic gaming experiences that don't provide a happy ending? Where are the deep, thoughtful experiences that can't be summed up in a catchy subtitle on the box or communicated clearly via box art? We've seen this question pop up frequently during the last few years and we've even seen the creation of a category of games called "serious games" come out of that discussion. As the name implies, it includes games that provide gamers with something other than entertainment. We've also seen the indie games industry pick up the mantle and releasing promising experimental games across the various platforms.

But efforts like that do not reach the mainstream and Extra Credits argues that it is well past time for the industry as a whole to head in that direction. Without true breadth of content, games will never escape the children's plaything or disposable diversion stigma. An entertainment medium seen as having little to no value cannot fight censorship attacks as we are now seeing in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook massacre. The Obama Administration and Congress might not be so quick to act if there were anything more than grey military shooters and primary-colored wish fulfillment populating store shelves.

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