With 2012 now a distant memory, it's time to reflect on the year's greatest achievements and rank them in order of their success. Since I hardly ever play new releases, I can't compile a list of the top ten releases from 2012. Instead, I'll be highlighting some of my best articles from 2012. Shameless self-promotion with an opportunity to get some of my favorite pieces on the front page again. Huzzah.
This time I'll be ranking some of my favorite editorials, those opinion pieces where I talk about some aspect of gaming and compare the relative strengths and weaknesses of a few games. Continue reading for the full list.
In which I explain why New Vegas is a better RPG than Fallout 3. Fallout 3 isn't that great of an RPG in the first place, but it's a particular disgrace of a Fallout game. Level-scaling enemies, perks on every level-up, straightforward quests, tedious subway tunnels, all detract from Fallout 3's enjoyability. New Vegas holds truer to the core essence of the originals with a better leveling system, better quests, and better factions, ensuring a greater impact on your decisions and allowing for far greater replayability. Read more of my words on the matter here.
In which I explain why New Vegas is a better RPG than yet another of Bethesda's recent games. Despite being officially billed as an RPG, Skyrim has only the basic essentials of RPG elements, and instead feels more like an action-adventure game. Basically nothing you do in Skyrim matters, which only goes to make Skyrim's world feel even more static and lifeless. Nearly every decision in New Vegas, from character development to completing quests to how you choose to explore the map, they all have some kind of significant impact on the game. Read more of my words on the matter here.
In which I compare the two dark fantasy action-RPGs by From Software. Demon's Souls was a surprise hit back in 2009, and so From Soft attempted to ramp things up for the sequel in Dark Souls but sort of lost sight of what made Demon's so good. Dark Souls is arguably the bigger and better game and there are a number of improvements that I really like, but the sequel felt sloppily designed in critical aspects, and there's a lot of stuff I prefer in Demon's. Read more of my words on the matter here.
In which I discuss my concerned thoughts on day-one DLC. The controversy of "disc-locked content" on Mass Effect 3's release spurred a new wave of discussion about DLC, but no matter what justification developers may have for the practice, day-one DLC is still a very slippery slope. Developers and publishers are running a business, after all, and will do whatever they can to increase their profits. I'd rather see a return to full-sized expansion packs than continue the current trend of DLC packs and microtransactions. Read more of my words on the matter here.
In which I discuss how long-time PC exclusive series were ruined or compromised the moment they made the shift to a multi-platform market. Consoles offer a number of technical restrictions in comparison to PCs, and console audiences also expect different things from their games, leading a number of successful PC series to abandon what made them so beloved in favor of appealing to a wider audience. Read more of my words on the matter here.
In which I discuss how important of a role exploration has in the satisfaction one gets out of playing certain games. Most games are more satisfying when you're able to explore the boundaries of its physical spaces and the mechanics of gameplay in order to discover something new and interesting. Games can be pretty boring when everything is pre-scripted to happen a certain way; the experience is made more personal when you're able to discover things other players might never discover. Read more of my words on the matter here.
In which I discuss how the much-touted difficulty of Demon's Souls was basically over-hyped. Demon's Souls is a fair and manageable game as long as you take your time and approach it intelligently. Every enemy and every encounter has some kind of predictable tell which informs you how to handle that situation, so as long as you study and recognize the patterns, the game can become quite easy. The game is only brutally hard if you rush through things and don't bother to learn the combat system. Read more of my words on the matter here.
In which I discuss why the industry's obsession with aggregate metascores is bad for games and bad for gamers. It's downright impossible to reduce a gaming experience down to a single number, yet companies are starting to use metascores as benchmarks for success. The metascores themselves aren't even accurate or representative because of how Metacritic translates letter grades and star ratings to the 100-point scale, and because early reviews don't always reflect the updated product. Read more of my words on the matter here.
In which I talk about the unique phenomenon of the Day Z mod, and how the community ruined it. Day Z had some really special things going on in terms of being a multi-player survival experience, what it's brutally harsh survival mechanics and permanent death, meaning every action had the potential for grave consequences. Interacting with other players was one of the game's best features, but eventually everyone became so paranoid of griefers and backstabbers that everyone started shooting other players on sight, basically turning the game into a simplistic deathmatch shooter and ruining the game's unique element. Read more of my words on the matter here.
In which I talk about a series that's very close to my heart and which has defined my standards in RPGs for the past decade. The Gothic games are truly special because of the way the worlds are designed, how natural NPCs and quests feel as part of the environment, and how the games reward you for your exploration. Picture The Elder Scrolls with a tighter focus and more emphasis on quality (instead of quantity) and you basically have the Gothic series. Read more of my words on the matter here.
An April Fool's Day article in which I slam the hell out of the world's most beloved game, Ocarina of Time. It was meant purely as a troll article, but the somewhat ironic fact is that most of the complaints I made about the game are totally true and legitimate. Ocarina of Time was near perfect for its time, but if you really think about it there were some things that weren't so great about it. Either way, I had a lot of fun writing this one. Read more of my words on the matter here.
A reactionary piece in which I was pretty annoyed at how Gearbox decided to nerf "The Bee" shield in Borderlands 2. The whole point of the game is to shoot and loot, and once you reach end-game the only incentive you have to keep playing is to keep collecting legendary loot. The Bee was, in fact, vastly over-powered, but it was the one thing making legendary loot-farming a somewhat sane, manageable task. When they nerfed The Bee, I lost all of my will to continue farming. Read more of my words on the matter here.