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2012 has been a pretty great year for video games. There has been some interesting new IPs released this year such as Dishonored and Journey which prove that original ideas can be successful.
I’ve recently been replaying Borderlands 2. It’s a good improvement on the first game, but I still feel that it’s a little too boring most of the time. I’ve also managed to pick up a Dreamcast, with some great games like Phantasy Star Online and Shenmue. With so many great games being released, it’s inevitable that you will not be able to play all of them, which is exactly what happened for me. I haven’t played the big games like Halo 4 or Far Cry 3, instead I’ve ended up playing through a lot of the lesser known titles from this year. With that being said, let’s move onto my top 5 video games from 2012.
Number 5 – Binary Domain
Coming from the same creator as the Yakuza series, Binary Domain (Alexandra’s review) is a fun shooter with some interesting mechanics. The game ties together squad based combat, great graphics and a surprisingly good story to create a unique experience that will keep you playing until you see the credits roll. The fun mainly comes from the army of robots that you face during the game. As you shoot them, their armour breaks apart and body parts are destroyed in a satisfying explosion of metal.
The cast of Binary Domain are also worthy of mentioning. While main character Dan is an uninteresting stereotypical American, the rest definitely make up for it. The best team member is definitely Cain, a French wisecracking robot. He has some of the best lines in the game, and you’ll want him on your team even if he only uses a pistol during battle.
Number 4 – Ys: Origin
The Ys series has been going for a while now, but many games in the series were never released outside of Japan. Ys: Origin (Patrick’s preview) was one of these. First released in 2006, it seemed unlikely that it would ever see an official English release. Well, thanks to XSEED and Steam, we’re finally able to play this amazing action RPG.
Since Ys: Origin is a prequel, it’s the perfect game for any newcomers to start off with. Gameplay is very fact paced, which means that you always have to keep on your toes. This is combined with a great soundtrack that makes fights feel even more epic. Ys: Origin’s tight controls and challenging gameplay make this a must play for anyone who desires a challenge.
Number 3 – Tales of Graces F
Hey, it’s another Japanese game! As you can tell, I’m very fond of games from Japan and this next game is no different. Tales of Graces F for the PS3 is another fantastic entry in the Tales series, which manages to reach the same level of quality as its predecessors. Like the other main entries in the series, Graces F has a big focus on its characters, with many different side stories that help to flesh out each of them. The overarching story is interesting and takes you across Graces F’s massive world, with a good variety of locations.
Another main feature of any Tales game is its battle system, and Graces F is no different. Battles are still as fast paced as they ever were, but the removal of MP speeds them up even further since you can go all out in battle all the time. I’ve always liked the battle systems in Tales games, and I feel like Graces F’s is one of the best.
Number 2 – Virtue’s Last Reward
Visual novels are also another genre I really enjoy as well as JRPGs, since they’re essentially books but with added animations and voice overs. Virtue’s Last Reward is a great example of the genre, with an intriguing plot and taxing puzzles. You can see why I like it so much in my review here. I don’t think that I need to add much more here, except that this is a must buy for all Vita and 3DS owners.
Number 1 – Persona 4: Golden
Oh look, a second Vita game in my top 5, and in first place, too. Not bad for a console that supposedly has no games. It’s well deserved though, since Persona 4: Golden is the epitome of JRPGs. It manages to be accessible to those who are new to games of its type, while still having enough content and challenge for dedicated JRPG players.
Persona 4 is a very unique game, combining a school life simulator with the dungeon crawling gameplay from many other JRPGs. The way it managed to connect both of them together is what makes this game special. Bonds you make with your friends take the form of social links, which allow you to create stronger personas, the titular beings that you use to fight monsters during battle. This means that you can’t just rely on level grinding to get through the game.
The extra content that has been added to the original game also helps to keep the game feeling fresh for Persona fans. The game lasts for a few in game months longer that the original, with some extra dungeons also being included. With these and other smaller features being included, you can easily get over a 100 hours out of your first playthrough. With Persona 4: Golden providing a massive amount of enjoyment, there was no other game I could pick for my top game of 2012.