Welcome to Slimgamer’s end of the year coverage. We took seven writers, gave them six categories, and locked them in a room until they’d decided on the Top 36 (or so) of 2012. Each writer picked one item from each category and we compiled the six lists as our take on the “Game of the Year” list. Every day for the next six days we’ll post a different category commemorating the best (and not so best) industry developments of the year.
Yesterday we looked at the biggest news stories of the year. Today, we take a look at our biggest surprises of 2012.
Call of Duty Elite
I pre-ordered my Call of Duty Hardened Edition thinking, like the previous year, that a year of Call of Duty Elite would be included. Well, technically, it is included but it’s no longer the value that it was with Modern Warfare 3. Before, Elite was a paid subscription that included all of the upcoming DLC, similar to the season pass, as well as the benefit of getting said content early. This was on top of all of the other features and stat tracking that Elite provided. This year, Call of Duty Elite is free to everyone, and no longer includes what is now the season pass for all of the upcoming DLC.
Black Ops II
I was really surprised by just how much I enjoyed Black Ops 2! I’ve never really been a fan of Call of Duty. I’d rather have played Doom than COD but – after getting my hands on Black Ops 2 and working my way through the story which was VERY far-fetched but brilliant fun nonetheless – I was hooked. Then there was the multiplayer. I’ve always been pretty bad at competitive multiplayer shooters but I found that I was enjoying Black Ops 2 online more and more, and I was getting better and better at it as I played.
Dragon’s Dogma was surprisingly amazing. A true fantasy powerhouse, rivaling Skyrim and Dark Souls. While it still had its faults (for instance, it had a terrible fast travel system and a nonsensical plot), the epic boss fights and solid gameplay made Dragon’s Dogma an addictive gaming experience. Definitely one to pick up.
Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward
I played Virtue’s Last Reward not knowing what to expect. I had heard of the previous game, 999, before and had always heard positive things about it but I really wasn’t expecting a game as intricate and deep as Virtue’s Last Reward really was. There’s really too much in the game to go into too much detail but, if you really want to know, you can read my review. Regardless, it was a game that was immersive, told a mysterious and dark tale, and had enough plot twists to keep you going through the whole thing. Virtue’s Last Reward wasn’t really even on my radar before I played it but it ended up being one of my absolute favorite games of the year.
I had a very “on again, off again” relationship with Dishonored. Firstly, I managed to watch some pre-release gameplay and was very excited about it – watching Corvo possess a rat to travel through a warehouse unnoticed was a pretty exciting concept. Then I managed to play it at the Eurogamer Expo in London and wasn’t overly impressed with it. It just seemed to feel only half complete – like it was still in the conceptual stage rather than being two weeks away from release. I went away and came back for another play later in the Expo and this time I was ready for how it looked and felt and was determined that I would give it a second chance. I’m very glad that I did. Having played it a second time during the Expo, I found myself entangled in Corvos’ adventures and juggling special abilities and swordplay like a terrible Machiavellian circus performer.
Nintendo has never really understood this whole “internet” nonsense so it was certainly quite the surprise when I first booted up Miiverse and found out that not only was there not a single friend code in sight but that it was actually pretty cool! Miiverse is Nintendo’s take on a gaming-focused social network where Wii U owners can gather and talk about their games and share drawings and screenshots.
It works almost like a forum. Every single game or app has a dedicated community where users can post their thoughts and have conversations (which is very unNintendolike in itself). My surprise comes from just how competent everything is. You can “Like” posts, follow users, and get a feed of all the activity from your friends’ list and followed users. It even keeps track of whether or not you’ve even played the game that you’re talking about which is a feature I’d happily include in all gaming forums if I could. Best of all, the conversation is civil. Sure, Nintendo has moderators prowling its streets to delete any particularly nasty comments (and phalluses) but, for the most part, everyone just gets along. Since it’s even accessible in game, you can even pop into Miiverse quickly and ask for help. Every time that I’ve done so I’ve had a response within minutes, sometimes even with screenshots to show me exactly where to go.
Just about the only thing I don’t like is that it shows the world just how terrible an artist I really am. My stick figures just don’t compare to the miniature Mona Lisas that everyone else can draw. It’s a friendly, fun community and Nintendo should be proud of what they’ve cultivated here. I can’t wait for it to hit the 3DS. Definitely my biggest surprise of the year.
Be sure to check back on Monday where we’ll cover our biggest disappointments of the year.