2012’s gaming canon: the final five titles you can’t miss from a wonderful year of games
Here we are, the final five. This has been a fun journey, and we had a great time sharing our picks and hearing back from you in the comments. We can only hope for a year as good as this for 2013!
Legend of Grimrock (PC)
Made by a small team inspired by the classic digital and tabletop dungeon crawlers from gaming's past, The Legend of Grimrock may seem intimidating to modern gamers. The player takes a group of four adventurers on a quest to… well, to basically survive. There is a story here, and you can save your progress, but the game certainly feels comfortable stacking the odds against you. You move from square to square, and you need to always make sure you know of a safe place to sleep and run if necessary. The game now comes with a slate of content creation tools, as well as support of OSX and Linux systems of even moderate power. In short, you probably have something that will play this, and it's a quest that's definitely worth taking. Want to read about it? You gotta get low: Legend of Grimrock is a classical dungeon crawl for modern audiences
The Room (iOS)
People have attempted puzzle games on touch-screen devices before, but this is the first instance where it has been successful. You start with a box, and you spin, twist, pull, and explore all the hidden odds and ends of that box until it unlocks, expands, and finally takes over a small room. The interactions work well, your iPhone or iPad is used in interesting and sometimes surprising ways throughout the game, and the experience is scary. This is the first puzzle game I've played where you can feel the mounting tension, and The Room is best played at night, in the dark, with headphones. The less you know about it going in, the better. Want to read about it? What if the Necronomicon was a puzzle box? The beauty of The Room on the iPad When games deal in the fantastic, and then prove to be real: the odd story of the mechanical cabinet
Nintendo Land (Wii U)
There are some stinkers in NIntendo Land, but the winners more than make up for it. If you get some friends together and play one of the five player games you'll see what we mean. Games where one player is a ghost, hunting down everyone else on a dark and stormy night, or teaming up with others to play an action-adventure version of Legend of Zelda show the possibilities of the Wii U and the Game Pad. These are games you can play with your friends, with your children, and with your boyfriend or girlfriend, husband or wife. They're welcoming, fun, and original. This won't set the world on fire in the same way Wii Sports has done in the past, but it's a wonderful way to learn the ins and outs of the Wii U, and will make any party fun. Nintendo still has it. Want to read about it? Wii U’s pack-in stumbles after Wii Sports, still worth buying: PAR plays Nintendo Land Beta-testing the Wii U: how the system’s launch is punishing early adopters
Tribes: Ascend (PC)
My favorite test of free-to-play games is to play them for as long as possible without paying anything. When do I begin to feel that I need to give up some money? My friends and I played Tribes: Ascend for days before we began to pay for new classes and weapons, and you could be an effective player at launch before you paid a single dime. This is one of the games that handled free-to-play in a way that made sense. Since launch more content has been released, more levels and more things to buy, but the core rhythm of the game remains unique and enjoyable. Tribes: Ascend is like nothing else on the market, but once you master the rhythm of skating around the levels and grabbing the flag you can reach a sort of zen state where you and your speed become one. It's free, so go try it! Want to read about it? My week with Tribes: Ascend: enjoying free to play without the pay Free to Play Deathmatch: Tribes: Ascend, as interviewed by Super Monday Night Combat
Spec Ops: The Line (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC)
While it didn't make a huge dent in the sales charts, Spec Ops: The Line may have been one of the most discussed games of the year. It started out looking like a standard third-person shooter, and then delved deep into the whys and hows of our enjoyment of violent entertainment. The game's writing turned dark, you began to doubt what was going on, and by the time you get to the final scene things have turned so far inside out it's hard to tell what's going on. Then a post-credits scene comes in and gives the entire package a satisfying send off. Other games have since gone down the path of waggling their finger at players who enjoy killing other virtual people, but Spec Ops may have done it best. Want to read about it? Spec Ops: The Line ditches faux-heroism for a harrowing look at how war makes villains of everyone Spec Ops is critical of war and the players of war games: an interview with the game’s writer So that's it for our list of the 25 games you must play from 2012. if you had to remove any, which would you knock? What games should we have added? This is your time to let us know!