The Top “Ten” Video Games of 2012 – #1
Well it’s been a long road and now finally we’ve arrived at the last post. After Space epics, swords and sorcery, allegorical travels, gun-fests and hallways slick with blood, we finally find ourselves in possibly the most human story told this year in a video game. A tale of a man with a chequered past, coming to terms with responsibility, fatherhood, leadership and a world gone to hell in a hand-basket.
Graeme Strachan: OK so. shall we?
Dave Whitelaw: Oh man, here we go
Joseph Blythe: Oh I know it’s coming
Si Wellings: Me too… and YAY!
Si Wellings: Game of the Year. Best characters, best plot, best voice acting, best adaptation of a comic/TV series
Chris Peebles: Another game I haven’t actually played. 😛
Phil Doyle: Point and clicks live again! THEY’RE ALIVE!
Joseph Blythe: I’m so ashamed to admit, but I haven’t had the money to buy it
Alan Williamson: Walking Dead has been game of the year since Episode 2, followed by three victory laps
Dave Whitelaw: OK, I loved The Walking Dead. It’s was a fantastic experience. I’m not going to say ‘it’s not a game’ because it clearly is. For me personally though, there simply isn’t enough ‘game’ there for this to be above the likes of Journey.
Graeme Strachan: Just fucking unbelievably good
Phil Doyle: Full disclosure: only played the first two episodes so wasn’t on my list
Andrew Travers: I absolutely love this game, the whole game is pretty much trying to protect Clementine and it makes you feel immersed into what is happening
Joseph Blythe: I’ve never had so many people tell me they felt so emotional when playing a game
Si Wellings: People love journey for the way it portrays everything with simple gestures and featureless characters. The Walking Dead is as vibrant and as gritty as any film
Graeme Strachan: For me it’s the best told story I’ve ever played in a game. Because I actually cared what happened
Andrew Travers: Also how your choices carry onto the next episodes was really well done
Joseph Blythe: Actually think almost everyone I know that played it to the end admitted they were in tears
Alan Williamson: It’s merciless about killing off cast members, making you do things that most zombie fictions don’t touch like stomping on kids and people killing themselves all over the shop
Dave Whitelaw: I feel Telltale have done far better gameplay experiences with the likes of BTTF and Monkey Island episodes.
Phil Doyle: Here’s the thing; I don’t think that the game is doing anything new or ground breaking. What it is doing it taking that usual point and click style, mixing in some well drawn characters and then giving you decisions to make
Dave Whitelaw: It’s a great story – it isn’t a great game.
Phil Doyle: If it wasn’t for the writing in the game it wouldn’t be half as good
Andrew Travers: I know I kept reloading the game when someone I liked died so I can see if I could change the outcome
Si Wellings: If you don’t fall in love with the relationship between Lee and Clementine, then you really don’t have a soul
Graeme Strachan: I disagree Dave. I think that by telling an amazing story through a game, it proves it is a great game
Dave Whitelaw: I played through it because of the story despite some shoddy gameplay mechanics.
Alan Williamson: See, I think that is kind of ground breaking: to acknowledge that a story can be a game, that changing the story through play is enough a game without shooting things or whatever
Graeme Strachan: On paper it’s a generic zombie movie story
Phil Doyle: Yeah, it’s killing off characters left right and centre but if you didn’t care about them then it’s meaningless
Dave Whitelaw: You don’t change the story though.
Andrew Travers: Story is pretty good…and also it has zombies
Dave Whitelaw: That’s the biggest problem I had with TWD.
Si Wellings: Also if you don’t sit praying that Duck finds a zombie, you aren’t evil enough to be a friend of mine 😉
Alan Williamson: The story bends, but it doesn’t branch
Joseph Blythe: See Andrew I used to do the same with Fire Emblem. The whole “your choices affect the fate of characters thing” isn’t exactly new.
Dave Whitelaw: The complete illusion of choice. Everyone through five episodes hit all the main plot points.
Joseph Blythe: But I think the way the story was told here seemed to be the biggest thing
Phil Doyle: Dave is right is that your choices along the way change your path but (from the sound of it) the ‘end’ is set
Graeme Strachan: but that’s just it!
Dave Whitelaw: It was quite cheap in that regard.
Alan Williamson: All great magical tricks are about the art of illusion.
Graeme Strachan: it’s the illusion of choice, which is the essence of 90% of gaming
Andrew Travers: I know, but it really made me get involved in what is happening in the game
Dave Whitelaw: Yes, but we are looking at games which break the mould
Graeme Strachan: That’s not cheap. That’s the art.
Dave Whitelaw: which is the best example of doing things better than the rest, TWD doesn’t
Graeme Strachan: I mean in literary theory there are said to be only 7 stories in existence, by some theories there is only 1.
Phil Doyle: I think it’s filed alongside things like Phoenix Wright, it borders on interactive fiction so Dave is nearly right but not quite
Dave Whitelaw: and the most annoying thing is, the last episode could have offered genuine split endings and based on your gameplay throughout all five episodes
Si Wellings: Dave: In life we are often a slave to circumstance and follies. It’s what you say and do that changes things
Alan Williamson: All games are interactive fictions though. Stamping a genre on it doesn’t achieve much
Dave Whitelaw: to give an example without spoilers……I went to great lengths to get an ‘exact’ ending at the end of episode 4 and 15 minutes into episode 5, was made to feel like that effort was a waste of time, that really annoyed me
Alan Williamson: It didn’t need a split ending, though. Otherwise you just get a Mass Effect 3 “choose your colour of ending” scenario where the possibilities fan out like it’s fucking Outrun and it’s impossible to reconcile all the permutations of story
Andrew Travers: I never got round to do that episode yet
Graeme Strachan: Ok. Valid. some choices are rendered obsolete by story events and character NPC decisions
Dave Whitelaw: I dunno – I am being hypercritical here because we are discussing this as the best game of 2012
Graeme Strachan: but that’s not the point. Life is like that
Dave Whitelaw: I loved it
Si Wellings: I think the voice acting is fantastic. I cannot recommend it enough. It needs awards.
Phil Doyle: I hope that the success of this game gets a bit more money thrown at it so they can clear up the niggling issues with the game engine that take you out of the story, like when it loads up a cut scene to reflect your choices and the game hangs for a few seconds
Dave Whitelaw: I just feel Telltale took their best story and didn’t add gameplay elements from other games they have done which could have made the ‘game’ better, BTTF is a better Telltale ‘game’
Phil Doyle: But make no mistake, this is a high water mark for storytelling in games
Graeme Strachan: Yes, props to Dave Fennoy for an amazing bit of voice acting as Lee
Si Wellings: Not just Lee, but nearly all of the characters. This was not an after thought, and the conversations seem so genuine
Dave Whitelaw: as is Monkey Island Episodes
Andrew Travers: that happened for me as well, it was a bit laggy on “Next time on…”
Graeme Strachan: (Did you try turning off the shadows?)
Dave Whitelaw: It was riddled with bugs
Alan Williamson: I’m glad they took the ‘gamey’ bits out of it, to be honest
Phil Doyle: The first truly successful episodic game?
Graeme Strachan: Yes Phil
Joseph Blythe: Siren Blood Curse says hello
Graeme Strachan: Siren blood Curse was guff
Dave Whitelaw: I did love the ending too
Si Wellings: Phil: I would say so, yes
Dave Whitelaw: I mean the ‘other’ ending
Si Wellings: And for a very reasonable price too
Alan Williamson: I’ve never heard of Siren: Blood Curse. If it’s saying hello, I’m not listening!
Joseph Blythe: Hahaha
Dave Whitelaw: I can’t wait to see what Telltale do with Fables, I love the comic books so I expect it will be high on 2013 lists
Graeme Strachan: I’m curious. There will presumably be a second Walking dead game series. That’s a given since it was so successful.
Phil Doyle: When was the first Telltale game? Was that Sam and Max, what, eight years ago? It’s taken a long time for it to hit a mass audience the way that TWD did, is that just down to zombies?
Graeme Strachan: But will it be welcome?
Alan Williamson: Yes please. More of this sort of thing
Graeme Strachan: Or would folk rather they just start off with a new property?
Si Wellings: I would like there not to be a sequel. It stand alone in it’s own right. A sequel might diminish it
Andrew Travers: Maybe that’s why people played the game, but not the reason people loved it
Graeme Strachan: like Battlestar Galactica by Telltale games?
Phil Doyle: Like Jurassic Park? =D
Alan Williamson: I’d rather they started with new characters in the same universe
Graeme Strachan: phil: noooo…
Dave Whitelaw: Well they are doing other properties first such as Fables.
Alan Williamson: Don’t want to see Clementine et al. again. I feel that the arc reached a satisfying conclusion
Dave Whitelaw: I don’t mind them going back to TWD as and when.
Joseph Blythe: Battlestar Galactica in the style of FTL, I could get behind
Andrew Travers: That would be interesting
Dave Whitelaw: How about an older Clementine?
Si Wellings: Oh… interesting idea
Dave Whitelaw: I don’t know how that would work into the main narrative mind.
Si Wellings: the future..
Phil Doyle: Depends, everything fits in with the overall WD world so tricky one to judge that
Dave Whitelaw: Yeah Phil. TWD ties into the comic book narrative, not the TV show.
Graeme Strachan: Can we all agree that Telltale have single handedly proven episodic gameplay works in a way Valve never did!
Alan Williamson: I think it’s more a question of whether that story needs to be told.
Phil Doyle: Yes!
Alan Williamson: Telltale planned one game in five parts though
Si Wellings: Absolutely
Alan Williamson: Valve didn’t. Big difference
Phil Doyle: But I think that it’s been a hit with such a wide audience is the big thing
Si Wellings: Maybe they should have
Graeme Strachan: True. I think Walking Dead out of all the games mentioned tonight deserves to be #1 as it’s a truly emotionally invested experience with narrative scope and choice driven mechanics that feel new and exciting
Andrew Travers: Completely agree
Graeme Strachan: Graphically and technically it may not be the next big thing but it’s old tech put to great use
Alan Williamson: I don’t know how I’ll feel about Walking Dead in five years. But it feels like the future of narrative right now, and that’s very exciting
Si Wellings: I haven’t felt as involved in a plot since Deus Ex.
Phil Doyle: How about how it’s been spread across so many formats at the same time?
Dave Whitelaw: Did anyone play it on iOS?
Si Wellings: Hell no
Alan Williamson: I played it on PC, but I’ve good reports from all formats
Dave Whitelaw: Just wondered how it was on that format.
Phil Doyle: Really wanted to play it on iPad, that would have been my ideal format
Dave Whitelaw: Why didn’t you Phil?
Phil Doyle: BTTF worked well so can’t imagine that it wouldn’t
Andrew Travers: It worked really well on Xbox 360
Graeme Strachan: true, I actually played it using Steam Big Picture on my TV.
Phil Doyle: wouldn’t run on first gen iPad like mine
Dave Whitelaw: Ah got you.
Graeme Strachan: With my girlfriend mocking my dubious morality at every turn.
Phil Doyle: Works on my phone but the screen size isn’t great for a game like that
Alan Williamson: It came out on everything except Android, more or less at the same time. But let’s face it: if you bought an Android phone, you shouldn’t expect new games 😉
Graeme Strachan: he he
Dave Whitelaw: I kind of feel that as good as TWD is, there’s a lot of missed potential there. Maybe they were down to budgetary restrictions or technological or whatever. What is exciting is what Telltale could do going forward.
Phil Doyle: Yes
Dave Whitelaw: It’s an amazing base.
Andrew Travers: I am excited to see what they do next
Phil Doyle: A big ton of money thrown at that engine would be great
Dave Whitelaw: Very excited.
Elspeth Ritchie: Damn that Duck.
Dave Whitelaw: Man, there’s one scene with Duck and Katjaa, it’s a very emotional scene.
Phil Doyle: Problem is though, like Graeme inferred earlier, would we fall for the same tricks twice?
Elspeth Ritchie: I know people who hate the TV series but love the game.
Graeme Strachan: Yes, but lets face it. a 5 part episodic branching story replete with character changes and personality differences was always going to be difficult to achieve while also telling a story
Dave Whitelaw: And Duck’s character glitches out.
Alan Williamson: The problem with a spoiler-free discussion is that a lot of the fun comes from talking about the choices you made
Dave Whitelaw: Katjaa is meant to be holding him and his character simply isn’t there.
Si Wellings: Duck is definitely a character out of darkest George Lucas
Graeme Strachan: I love that he actually turns invisible sometimes!
Dave Whitelaw: Takes you out of the moment.
Graeme Strachan: That was amazing
Elspeth Ritchie: Seen some epic glitches with the train. But even those were quickly forgotten with how involved the story was.
Dave Whitelaw: Oh!
Graeme Strachan: Thoughts Elspeth?
Dave Whitelaw: That was another cool thing they did and unique too, having the %s at the end of each episode. I loved that
Elspeth Ritchie: It’s one of the few games I’ve seen where you feel just as involved watching your friend play along as if you were playing it.
Dave Whitelaw: seeing how your decisions stacked up to the ‘crowd’
Elspeth Ritchie: If only they hadn’t put those spoiler trailers at the end!
Alan Williamson: The wee breakdowns at the end of every chapter were very interesting
Elspeth Ritchie: You could have some serious falling out over some of the decisions.
Dave Whitelaw: My wife would watch me play then purposely play through herself making the opposite decisions
Elspeth Ritchie: I like her style. Unless she left Duck hanging.Not cool.
Graeme Strachan: Anyone who left Duck hanging was a dick. That was a genuine high-five moment.
Elspeth Ritchie: Your waaaaaaard.
Dave Whitelaw: That whole Deputy Duck sequence was lovely
Elspeth Ritchie: The end stats reminded me of the confessions in Catherine, but more natural.
Graeme Strachan: Damn, I never played Catherine. I want to, just need to get it
Si Wellings: me neither
Phil Doyle: So in summary, TWD is great but New Star Soccer was ROBBED
Dave Whitelaw: New Star Soccer was amazing.
Chris Peebles: XCOM man. XCOM.
Graeme Strachan: ha ha OK seriously final thoughts on TW
Joseph Blythe: Wait are we on to games that didn’t make it now??
Dave Whitelaw: 😀
Graeme Strachan: final thoughts
Joseph Blythe: Quick, someone tap me the money I need to play this! On top of the £700 I need for Mass Effect, obviously…
Phil Doyle: A great game with even better writing
Elspeth Ritchie: Are these guys hyenas?
Dave Whitelaw: One of the best stories every told in gaming.
Alan Williamson: The most compelling game of the year, and a great gateway drug for game-shunners. Perfect pacing and voice acting, engrossing story, continual dread and agony
Andrew Travers: I thought it was really well done, and was always wanting more at the end of each episode. Great story and good gameplay
Alan Williamson: In a game full of bad decisions, here’s a good decision: buy this game
Si Wellings: And batteries… don’t forget the batteries
Elspeth Ritchie: Clem will remember that….
Si Wellings: It’s definitely a AA title 😉
Graeme Strachan: A new high-water mark for video game storytelling and emotive writing. Definitely a game which will be both influential and remembered.
Elspeth Ritchie: There’s no right path. And I mean that in the non-marketing sense.
The Final List:
6:- Borderlands 2
7:- Max Payne 3
And there you have it. The SquareGo Top “Ten” Video Games of 2012, as voted on by the SquareGo Team then debated to the end of the earth and back. Hope you had as much fun reading our rants as we did making them. As ever, no-one ever agrees entirely, so if we missed your favourite game, why not leave a comment? here is the complete list of the games voted for by the staff in 2012.
10000000, Assassin’s Creed: Revelation, Asura’s Wrath, Binary Domain, Borderlands 2, Chivalry Medieval Warfare, Call of Duy: Modern Warfare 3, CounterStrike Global Operations, Dear Esther, Deadlight, Diablo 3, Dishonored, Darksiders 2, F1 2012, Fez, Theatrhythm Final Fantasy, FIFA 13, Football Manager 13, Forza Horizon, FTL, Hotline Miami, Journey, Mark of the Ninja, Mass Effect 3, Max Payne 3, Minecraft, New Soccer Star, Need For Speed: The Run, NiGHTS Into, Orcs Must Die 2, Outwitters, Pokemon Black/White 2, Prototype 2, Rayman Origins, Saints Row 3, Silent Hill: Downpour, Skyrim, Sleeping Dogs, Slender, Soul Calibur V, Spec Ops: The Line, Spelunky, SSX, Star Wars Kinect, Super Hexagon, To The Moon, Tokyo jungle, Torchlight 2, Tribes Ascend, Uncharted 3, Virtua Fighter 5, The Walking Dead, The Witcher 2, X-COM, Zelda Skyward Sword