10. FORZA HORIZON- Playground Games had no small task in revitalising the Forza franchise in the shadow of Turn 10’s colossal realistic efforts, yet with Horizon they gave us a beautiful open-world to roam and a compelling narrative to partake in. Sure, the streets can seem a little sparse for AI, and the car visuals may not be quite as breathtaking as in the main series, but all the same this spin-off remains 2012’s defining tour de excellence of racing on the small screen.
9. TRANSFORMERS: FALL OF CYBERTRON- Against all the odds, High Moon Studios provided the best licensed game this year since Batman Arkham City. Yes, there are one or two minor niggles we can make of Fall Of Cybertron, however these are far outweighed by its self-assured representation of the Hasbro license and the glorious potential on offer here for future instalments.
8. LEGO THE LORD OF THE RINGS- Travellers’ Tales got off to a kicking start with LEGO Batman 2: DC Superheroes in the Summer, but it was with their adaptation of Peter Jackson’s The Lord Of The Rings film trilogy. From the Mines of Moria to the Dead Marshes, from Smeagol to Tom Bombadil, the attention to detail in rendering the series lore here was incredible, providing the ultimate LOTR experience ahead of the much-anticipated The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
7. SPEC OPS: THE LINE- How do you make a shooter ‘relevant’ nowadays? This is a question that’s still plaguing franchises like Call Of Duty and Battlefield, and yet 2K Games made it same painstakingly easy with the fantastic new Spec Ops sequel The Line. Adapted from Joseph Konrad’s Heart Of Darkness, this thought-provoking thriller had all of the scale and shocks of a blockbuster films and indeed the solid gun-play engine to match, making for a memorable third-person jaunt that eclipses everything else in its genre.
6. MAX PAYNE 3- Another shooter with an edge, Max Payne 3 was an ever-impressive new outing from Rockstar Games. It could be argued that in its reliance on linear shoot-outs and a tight storyline, this one lost some of the open-world magic that made Grand Theft Auto IV our Game Of The Year 2008. However, what it lacked in freedom this stunning shooter more than compensated for with dazzling visuals and near-perfect gameplay mechanics.
5. MASS EFFECT 3- It’s safe to say that as 2011 drew to its climax, I was predicting the final entry in the hit Mass Effect science-fiction RPG trilogy to be the Game Of The Year 2012. Although that didn’t turn out to be the case, it was still a tight margin- where character relationships weren’t quite resolved perfectly; we instead got the perfect representation of the final Reaper War, a controversial-but-epic ending and a breathtaking set of DLC missions that successfully expanded this concluding masterpiece.
4. HITMAN ABSOLUTION- Before this year, I hadn’t played a Hitman game. The franchise had always seemed too intimidating for a shooter-hardened player such as myself. It’s saying so much, then, that Hitman Absolution lands so high on this Top 10 list, as this new entry is both accessible for newcomers such as myself and a redefining experience for series veterans. Combine a stunning narrative and main campaign with a Contracts Mode that has near-limitless replay value and here you get one of the best overall video game experiences of 2012 by a long way.
3. ASSASSIN’S CREED III- Ubisoft’s latest Assassin’s Creed game felt to me like The Avengers of the games industry for 2012. Combining the biggest and best elements of the Ezio trilogy and the Altair original into one massive finale, ACIII brought us a storyline that wrapped up the apocalypse narrative of the main trilogy, while opening new plot threads just as Joss Whedon did with Thanos (but no ending spoilers here!). Better yet, the gameplay was at its absolute finest, with a stunning rendition of Revolutionary America that remains among my favourite open-worlds of all time in a masterful video game experience.
2. HALO 4- Back in 2007, Halo 3 won our Game Of The Year award with little challenge bar Super Mario Galaxy. This year, the competition has been far more immense, so 343 Industries’ first effort narrowly misses out on the award. That said, it would be impossible to go on without commending the new developers for producing the best entry in the saga yet, fitted with an accessible and comprehensive storyline, innovative game-play that finally rids us of the same Covenant battles and the best graphics ever seen on a current-generation console.
GAME OF THE YEAR 2012: DISHONORED- I’m very glad to announce, then, that a completely new IP has stormed to the top of this list to become our Game Of The Year 2012. Bethesda and Arkane Studios had their work cut out topping Skyrim in the form of their new steampunk RPG Dishonored, yet they have actually managed to do the impossible and accomplish just that task. From its incredible set of nine huge, open-ended levels with infinite replay value to the amazing levelling-up system and set of powers our hero Corvo is equipped with, there is no limit to the level of sheer quality Arkane have endowed their finest project with, and indeed thus to the limit of engagement the player can have with it. You owe it to yourself to play Dishonored, and if you don’t now, then you’ll only be missing out on seeing the foundations of a colossal new franchise begin to be built here, and one day regret playing the first instalment earlier when you find yourself catching-up for the inevitable sequel. Dishonored truly is a game for the ages, a golden final gem for the current-generation that will never be forgotten.