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New Times / Commentary

The following article was posted on January 3rd, 2013, in the New Times - Volume 27, Issue 23 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from New Times [newtimesslo.com] - Volume 27, Issue 23

So long, 2012!

Take a look back at the top games and bits of geeky news from 2012

BY NICHOLAS WALTER

2012 was a good year for geeks. They’ve found what makes us solid, the world didn’t end, and Master Chief got a new trilogy, to name but a few highlights.

Higgs Boson

After nearly four decades of searching, scientists working at CERN in Switzerland discovered the Higgs Boson. Why should you care? It’s the sub atomic particle that, physicists believe, causes all matter to have mass. Just think about that for a minute.

Merida, Jasmine, Ariel, Belle—and now Leia

Disney bought Star Wars (well, Lucasfilm anyway) and is planning Episode VII, VIII, and XIV. Reactions in the geekosphere seem to vary. At one end is the emotional response one could conceivably call “rage.” At the other end is bemused optimism of “How could it possibly be any worse than the prequels?”

No Apocalypse

We’re still here. And the Mayans are laughing their collective asses off.

But what about the game, man?

The Walking Dead: The Game (PS3, 360, PC): Following Lee and Clementine as they try to survive in the same world as the TV show, Walking Dead harkens back to the days of adventure gaming on the PC. No twitchy headshots or platform jumping, just a (very) well-crafted story with long consequences to your actions.

• Year of the Cube(ed)—Assassin’s Creed III, Mass Effect 3, Far Cry 3, Diablo 3, Max Payne 3: With no fewer than five part-three’ers released last year, it’s surprising that only Diablo felt a little flat. Assassin’s Creed’s Revolutionary War setting made for a great mix of gameplay and was a worthy successor to the series. Sheppard and Co. had their swan song in Mass Effect 3, and while the original ending stirred up a bit of the nerdrage, overall, the game was all that a final installment should be. Far Cry and Max Payne mixed gritty storylines with great eye candy and gameplay. Even Diablo, while falling short of expectations, was still a decent outing for the series.

Halo 4: There was worry that a new studio’s take on Master Chief’s story couldn’t possibly live up to expectations. There didn’t need to be. A compelling campaign storyline, spectacular visuals, and plenty of online content made the first entry in the new Reclaimer Trilogy a worthy addition to the Halo franchise.

Borderlands 2 (PS3, 360, PC): With over-the-top fights, characters, cel-shaded eye candy, and enough firepower to equip a standing army, Borderlands 2 took the formula of the original and knocked it out of the park. Mixing RPG elements with FPS co-op fare, the sequel has plenty of replay value.

Journey (PS3): A digital-only PS3 exclusive, Journey is a more-than-refreshing dose of originality in a landscape of franchises. Dropped in the middle of the desert in control of some surprisingly endearing robed figures, it’s up to you to figure out the mechanics of the game. While the single player campaign is a treat, it’s the multiplayer that really sets the game apart, as you come across other wanderers in the game. It’s a surreal, slow, and most importantly, original title.

X-COM: Enemy Unknown (PC, 360, PS3): A remake of the 1994 title, X-COM kept the nail-biting tension and core gameplay mechanics of the original while making it more accessible to a new audience. (Let’s be honest, the original game was rad, but “learning curve” is putting it mildly). A mix of turn-based cover combat and resource management, the game puts you in control of a global organization tasked with fighting an alien invasion.

• Honorable Mentions: SSX, Sleeping Dogs, I Am Alive, Dishonored, Darksiders II.

Nicholas Walter wants to wish everyone a Happy New Year. Contact him via Managing Editor Ashley Schwellenbach at aschwellenbach@newtimesslo.com.