Eurogamer Readers' Top 50 Games of 2012

Your votes, your comments, your games of the year.

Here we go again! Thousands of you voted - thank you so much for taking the time - and now we have the results. What follows is your 50 favourite games of 2012 and a selection of the comments you submitted along with your selections.

The voting was closer this year than it has been in a while. Your top game was out in front by a reasonable margin, but nothing like the gap that Skyrim built up in 2011, and there wasn't much to separate the handful of games that followed. It seems fair to say that there was a broad selection of very strong games this year rather than a few that dominated all others. It's also great to see so many independent games on the list, including our writers' game of the year and plenty of others.

Putting this feature together certainly gave me a few ideas for things to play over the holidays, and I hope you all enjoy browsing the results. Thanks again if you took the time to vote and, since it will probably take you over 24 hours to read everything on this page, Happy New Year for when you finish!

50. Legend of Grimrock

grimrock

I still have nightmares about the giant snails.

What we said: "Legend of Grimrock walks a very fine tightrope with outrageous confidence. With its ruthless adherence to 1990s design it shamelessly panders to nostalgia, but it never feels like it relies on that inherited fondness to get by. That's a trap too many retro-inspired indies fall into: letting the past do all the work to mask holes in the design. Grimrock doesn't do that. It reminds us that the old ways still have value, but its thoughtful construction and nuanced balance ensure that it can still stand on its own two feet in 2012 and justify its existence on its own terms."

krayzkrok wrote: "This won't be on everyone's list, but it's provided the most compelling gaming experience for me this year, and the Workshop intergration has given it enormous legs."

Therapist wrote: "Proper old school gameplay - reminded me of Bloodwych on the Amiga all those years ago."

persus-9 wrote: "Nostalgia? What nostalgia? I never played this sort of game when I was young. This may owe a lot to certain games of yore but for those with shorter memories Grimrock isn't a throwback, it is a breath of fresh air that gives realism the boot in favour of pure adventuring fun."

49. New Star Soccer

What we said: "New Star Soccer is one of those games that makes you wonder how no one thought of it before now, because it's such a strong idea and so brilliantly executed. It's better on the iPad, where you can be more precise with your actions, but it's hugely entertaining on iPhone or Android too. If you like football at all, New Star Soccer is a must-buy."

-cerberus- wrote: "The best football life simulator since Footballer of the Year on the Commodore 64 and a game that I've sunk countless hours into."

secombe wrote: "Appallingly addictive, surprisingly robust mechanics and great fun. I've never spent so little and gained so much."

mkreku wrote: "First mobile game that's ever been able to keep my attention for longer than 30 seconds. Who knew Tomas Brolin scored 56 goals in 45 appearances for Arsenal at the wee age of 22?"

Fourwisemen wrote: "The only game that has ever had me make an in-app purchase..."

Seffers wrote: "The best footy management game ever - had to delete it from my phone to stop playing. Flying the indie flag too."

48. Binary Domain

What we said: "Binary Domain is a third-person shooter with a few problems, but everything is forgiven once you start shooting its robots. These enemies are made up like Meccano sets, and though they lack the cutthroat threat of Vanquish's droids, they more make up for it in the details. Their destructible bodies hide endless delights - shoot an arm off, and watch the robot re-align its torso and pick up the gun with the other hand. Shoot off a leg and the robot falls, but quickly balances with one arm and a leg while taking aim. Best of all, shoot off the head and it starts shooting at other robots."

SubCyc wrote: "Great fun, fast-paced combat with responsive controls, made even better with the fact that the storyline was actually well thought out and developed, by computer game standards, giving it a Gears of Blade Runner feel. This is by no means bad."

VyseHazuky wrote: "Binary Domain confirmed how Nagoshi and his team could do this sort of game as well as any western developer, all the while taking it in new directions. Even if voice control didn't work 100 per cent you can't fault them for trying - it still provided a fresh experience in a bloated genre, mixing proven core mechanics with a feel of Japanese science-fiction."

47. World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria

pandaria

Pandering.

What we said: "For all its stumbles - and there are an awkward handful - Mists of Pandaria nevertheless represents a WOW participating in the massively multiplayer genre rather than revelling in the cult of its own personality. Influences abound; the scenarios are a source of instant gratification sorely underutilised since they appeared, as skirmishes, in The Lord of The Rings Online's Siege of Mirkwood expansion, while the pet battle system nods to any number of turn-based RPGs, including Pokémon of course. Yet Blizzard has managed to stamp its own mark on these features while introducing an unprecedented maturity to its storytelling."

benpotter wrote: "It may have come too late for many people after the dull Cataclysm, but this expansion puts the adventure back into Warcraft."

Nanonine wrote: "Blizzard's best expansion by far - wonderful level design and music as always and on top of that a million fun things to do once you hit the level cap."

Apaar wrote: "The best balance of quality and quantity Blizzard has ever reached with an expansion. Wonderful new atmosphere and great gameplay variety."

46. LittleBigPlanet Vita

What we said: "In defiance of the expectation that this out-sourced handheld update would be a second rate knock-off, the game builds on the past, rather than merely riffing on it. And in its own squall of ideas and creativity it invites you to contribute to the spectacle of ingenuity. I can't believe I did that, it hopes you'll say."

mattius30 wrote: "Feels like the Vita was designed for LittleBigPlanet and LittleBigPlanet should always have been a game for Vita."

BabyWuigi wrote: "It's LittleBigPlanet, just portable. One of the greatest gaming communities ever. Now if Nintendo could only do something similar with Mario."

MrFlump wrote: "While I don't expect it to come close to being in the overall top chart due to the slow uptake on Vita, LittleBigPlanet is a joy for me and my nieces to pick up and play through. Perfect use of the Vita system and just a shame that more people haven't got around to picking up the best handheld console and best handheld game there is."

frunk wrote: "The perfect version of the game in a game in a game. Who thought anyone else but Media Molecule could do it? Delightful and inventive in equal measure."

SomethingOriginal wrote: "Being able to play one of this generation's most creative games in bite-size chunks would be good enough, but clever use of the Vita itself elevated this game, for me at least, above even the high standards of its PS3 counterparts."

45. Okami HD

okami

Between this and MGS, it felt like a better year for HD remakes.

What we said: "The stunning ink-and-watercolour visuals are just the start of it. Washes of pastel colour fill in the bold, thick, black lines of a calligrapher's brush, which are then animated with trembling urgency. It's very, very beautiful, and you cannot fault the sumptuous 1080p widescreen presentation of this new version. If it doesn't have the impact you expect it to, it's only because the original artwork was so timeless, and dodged technical limitations with such grace, that Okami can't really look any better than how you remember it."

Hieronymous wrote: "One of the most beautiful games I have ever played. The art, the characters, the humour, the fantastic gameplay. And here I was thinking only Zelda could give me that majestic feeling. This is a gem I am glad I bought."

Tekkirai wrote: "From the Capcom we once knew and loved."

higgins78 wrote: "I'm as big a Zelda nut as is possible and even I can admit (albeit hesitantly) that Okami made Twilight Princess look and feel dated and trite... I said it, happy? The fact we now have Okami looking easily on par with the best-looking games available today only increases its value. A true masterpiece."

Prodigy_BE wrote: "The last good Zelda game ever made."

44. Dear Esther

What we said: "Dear Esther is an interactive fiction - one which you can never derail or change by your input, only interpret. But if the act of interaction seems slight, then the act of interpretation is far more complex, confounding and enriching than in most other games you might care to name."

TheDevilTesla wrote: "Games have a tendency to overtell their stories, to put it mildly. Dear Esther is in many ways a reminder that players can think for themselves, and it's more satisfying to fill in the blanks of what a story means than to have it dictated to us. That was accomplished in the original mod, but the remake manages to pair that with an unparalleled sensory experience, and the result is amazing."

eggfillet wrote: "Whether it is a game or not, I don't care. This work of art is an evocative experience that will remain with me for the rest of my life."

Bilstar wrote: "I really didn't know what to do with myself after I'd finished it. It hit me really hard and I loved it."

greenspagbol wrote: "No game has touched me quite so deeply. It sang to me."

KopparbergDave wrote: "I've been craving an experience like this for years - just something with no enemies, no boss battles, just something to experience, to utilise all the technology we have these days to create a mood, to explore, to really journey to a place, not a level. Many will pointlessly argue about whether this is really valid as a game... Which is just such a closed-minded attitude. As gamers we should be open to the myriad of experiences this technology can enable, not be enraged when someone decides to eschew high scores to give you a new experience. I loved this, a condensed journey into another life, which at time filled me with awe, and just made me think about it for days afterwards. More of this please!"

43. Darksiders 2

darksiders

In a tumultuous year for THQ, Darksiders 2 was a rare good news story, at least in critical terms.

What we said: "Publisher THQ's current troubles add a slight melancholic sting to proceedings; it's hard not to race through the final challenges wondering whether you're seeing the last of the series. Does Death mark the end for Darksiders? I certainly hope not. The story draws to a close with a number of narrative strands flailing in the wind, and throughout the campaign there are signs that the adventure's borrowed elements are pulling themselves together to create something genuinely harmonious. Two riders down, and you'll still want more. If this is the apocalypse, let's make the most of it."

Cjail wrote: "A game that surely does not innovate but that delivers solid mechanics, great art style, and fluid combat and in the end is funny and satisfying to play."

FladgeMangle wrote: "Before I played this I thought War was the badass horseman. Now I know better! Death oozes effortless cool and the game rewards every button press with gameplay expertly distilled from many classics."

dadriel wrote: "Great fun game that thoroughly improved on the original Darksiders. Only the ending looked a bit rushed."

tobecooper wrote: "It's cute in an apocalyptic way. Looks good, plays nice, I want more."

42. Black Mesa

What we said: "It genuinely feels like something of an insult to its creators that we can all sample the fruits of their extensive labour for free. One can only hope that Uncle Valve might find a way to reward them for their startling act of devotion."

You_shlaaaag wrote: "The result of what happens when you leave the lawyers out of the equation and just let fans make the best mod they can. Black Mesa turned out to be rather special. More of a love letter to one of the all-time greats than a mod. Superb."

persus-9 wrote: "Game of the year 1998. Some things are so good they are worth repeating. That such an epic work can be summoned into existence by nothing but fan devotion is just astounding. It also reminded me just how good Half-Life really was in terms of pacing and tension. FPS of the year 1998, FPS of the year 2012."

muckers wrote: "Having not been a PC gamer really, well, ever I hadn't been following the hype on this one so I didn't have the same amount of impending excitement that many others will have done when it was so close to release. I really enjoyed the original Half-Life so figured it would be worth a punt, but this remake was executed jaw-droppingly beautifully. Those irritatingly stupid platforming sections are still there, but at least it's faithful to the original."

41. Need for Speed: Most Wanted

What we said: "Its sense of character may be not be as forceful as Criterion's other games - but the sense of competition that informs it, the joy of discovery and the plain pleasure of driving haven't been dimmed in the slightest. This isn't quite paradise, but it comes very close."

fifthcolumn wrote: "Burnout Paradise with real cars? Yes please."

SvennoJ wrote: "While Forza Horizon performs better from a technical standpoint, I find myself coming back to NFS over and over due to its fast, addictive and varied gameplay. It's not quite Burnout Paradise, but still very enjoyable for quick multiplayer fun."

Popzeus wrote: "Criterion deserves massive praise for squeezing the spiritual successor to Burnout Paradise onto the Vita in a virtually uncompromised form. That it manages to improve on Paradise in pretty much all areas makes it all the more impressive."

40. Metal Gear Solid: HD Collection

mgs

Good to see Val Kilmer still getting work.

What we said: "Metal Gear Solid is a potpourri of ideas that insists you take the good with the bad. Certainly indulgent, it's also melancholy, exhilarating, clever, and ludicrous. It's never entirely clear what, if anything, Kojima and company are taking seriously - and the end result, in this collection, is a fascinating chronicle of one of video games' strangest successes."

xAx wrote: "Snake? SNAKE? SNAAAAKKKKEEEEEEE!"

artforthemorbid wrote: "It was my memories of Metal Gear Solid 2 that drew me to re-purchase this. But discovering how much I'd overlooked MGS3 first time around kept me hooked. Still one of the best games on any system."

jonc24 wrote: "Putting this game in the list is sort of like cheating but there hasn't been such an incredible package released since The Orange Box. I'm not a massive fan of HD collections as the quality can seriously vary but MGS HD looks incredible! The story is still nutty, the gameplay is still ace, and Snake is still one of gaming's best characters. For anyone who played these games upon their release, they each have moments that will stick with them forever. For anyone who has never played them, open your wallet and shell out the pittance that this game costs and see what the rest of us have gone on about for over a decade!"

lasersrule wrote: "Brilliant just for Peace Walker alone. So much nicer to play on proper pad than the PSP."

39. Sonic and All-Stars Racing Transformed

What we said: "It's managed to step out of Mario Kart's shadow, for sure, but the real achievement is one that's going to be much more thrilling for the Sega fans it so eagerly panders to. This manages to be more than just a tribute to the great and good of Sega's past - it does enough to earn its own place alongside them."

JRPC wrote: "A potent blend of nostalgia, tight handling and multi-faceted racing that adds up to one of the best Sega game in ages!"

MysteryLamb wrote: "Finally a game that captures the joy of the original Mario Kart, and maybe even surpasses it."

Clevinger wrote: "This is the biggest surpise and the most actual fun I've had this year."

elvenscroll wrote: "Took a fine template and improved absolutely everything. The Sky Sanctuary track is worth the asking price alone."

lordofdeadside wrote: "Quite simply the best racing game of the year. Every game mechanic is note-perfect from the multi-use weapons to the boost systems. Handling is spot on with each craft feeling different and yet familiar. The addition of split-screen across the game is utterly fantastic. Oh and it looks gob-smackingly good."

38. Uncharted: Golden Abyss

uncharted

Ah, Golden Abyss. I remember reviewing this last Christmas, back when the Vita was still a hot prospect.

What we said: "For the vast majority of the time, Golden Abyss is a cleverly constructed game that more than justifies its addition to a series already lathered in superlatives. While the absence of multiplayer means it won't last you as long as previous instalments, new control options have allowed the developers to line the seams of Drake's adventure with flashy tassels and detailing that make for a varied and entertaining outing - perhaps even more so than its big brothers. At the very least, that should solidify Sony Bend's reputation as a trustworthy custodian for PlayStation's growing pile of first-party treasures."

chrisno21 wrote: "Back to the style seen in the first Uncharted, which is amazing on a handheld."

samharper wrote: "Every game that comes out for the Vita is a blessing (except Black Ops...) and this was the best of the bunch. Longer than Uncharted 3, a story that did the job, visuals rivalling Drake's Fortune and great new characters meant that I had a lot of fun with this. Sure, the final boss is as anticlimactic as they come (touch-screen QTEs, really?), and the plot may be really predictable, but the controls, touch-screen irritations aside, were of a high standard, with everything where you expect it to be. I was surprised by how intuitive reloading was, and motion sensor aim fine-tuning should be in every Vita shooter."

Markitron wrote: "It's an Uncharted game, that feels like an Uncharted game, that advances the series in terms of its collectables, that I can play on the toilet."

ratboi wrote: "NOLAN F***ING NORTH BUT STILL AWESOME!"

37. Mark of the Ninja

What we said: "You never feel weightless, but are still able to navigate the levels with far more grace than the hapless guards in your path. Avoiding them is entirely possible - every level offers a hefty points bonus for clean runs with no enemy encounters or kills - but the fun really comes from the ever-escalating ways you can toy with your foes."

Humfredo wrote: "The best Xbox Live Arcade title out there and a pure stealth game done right."

Snidesworth wrote: "Tightly designed, well-crafted and immensely satisfying. The game clearly communicates information and teaches you how its mechanics work. All of the above makes for a fantastic stealth experience."

benlowther wrote: "Caught me off guard this one. Reminded me of a 2D Splinter Cell when Splinter Cell games were actually any good."

Malek86 wrote: "A mixture of Abe's Oddysee and Thief, and a good one at that. Although a violent approach works well and will make the game easier, getting through a level completely unseen is extremely satisfying."

36. Spelunky

  • Publisher: Microsoft Studios
  • Developer: Derek Yu / Andy Hull
  • Spelunky review (10/10)

What we said: "Spelunky's astonishing creativity and the spectacular depth that opens up as you make progress make it easy to forget that it's also an extremely competent platformer, with tight, poppy controls that work far better on an Xbox 360 pad than they ever did with a computer keyboard. Playing feels tactile and physical yet precise and comfortable. It allows you to bounce around the world with ease, and focus on the meat of the game: the joy of discovery, the hilarity of death, the glorious secrets that pour from every crack."

TheAngryRatel wrote: "The bastard child of Dark Souls and Super Mario, Spelunky elicits those sweet memories of the SNES era - brutal, unforgiving and utterly addictive."

MrMarbles wrote: "Oh Spelunky, how the soundtrack for your Mines levels are firmly embedded in my psyche. I remember my first couple of hours with this game, fumbling about, throwing rocks that bounced back into me. Result: death. Then standing on a ledge carrying a rock (tip: always carry something), standing too close to a ledge, going off-balance and falling off, hitting the ground and having the rock falling on top of me. Result: death. Ooh! A new enemy, what does this one do? Death. But many (many, many, many) hours later, the same red-turban-wearing spelunker is tactically leading the crazy shopkeeper to his death, stealing his gear and luring the Giant Ghost of Instant Death over gems to hike up their value. Whilst still dying constantly. There's a steep learning curve for sure, and even when you have four players who know what they're doing tentatively but efficiently working their way through the levels, it still always inevitably goes to pot at some point, yet you'll be laughing and screaming throughout in the best possible way."

The_Red wrote: "The most addicting game of 2012. Brilliantly designed. Perfectly mixing roguelike and platforming elements. Also angry shopkeepers!"

evanac wrote: "Probably my favourite game of all time. I have played it and played it and played it and barely scratched the surface. Simple to understand but with oceans of depth and endlessly fun moment-to-moment gameplay. Plus it's super cute. Just perfect."

staal2005 wrote: "Starting playing this after listening to the Spelunky Eurogamer podcast and have been in love with this game ever since. I have not completed it yet (just got to the Temple) and most likely never will. However, the sheer amount of fun of just starting a run and seeing how far you can get is fabulous. The randomisation of levels gives the game an unmatched reply value. No doubt in my mind, the best game released in 2012."

35. Catherine

catherine

"A proper adult game for adults," reckons sonicyoda.

What we said: "Life presents you with a number of crossroads, Catherine suggests, and it's only in choosing a way forward that you gain an identity. In Vincent's case, it's the difference between being a mere protagonist and a hero."

sonicyoda wrote: "A proper adult game for adults and one with a bloody excellent story. Even though Catherine is very story-driven it's also a game in the purest sense of the word as it's all wrapped around this amazing series of block puzzles that make for one of the most unique and mature games I've ever played. Proof that Japanese gaming isn't dead."

Hunam wrote: "A game about drinking as far as I could tell. You get rewarded for mixing drinks. You get rewarded for getting hammered every night. I think there was also something in there about the importance of perspective on your own life too, but mostly it was about getting hammered."

34. Crusader Kings 2

  • Publisher: Paradox Interactive
  • Developer: Paradox Development Studio
  • Not reviewed

Discalceaterabbit wrote: "Watch entire days dissapear as you watch your dynasty slowly extend their tendrils throughout Europe."

afroofdoom wrote: "A great twist on the classical strategy game - controlling lineage rather than countries lends a lot of interesting quirks to a rather stale genre. Starting as the King of Scotland but eventually weaselling my family line to be the heads of all of Scandinavia is a personal highlight."

OrgasmicMutton wrote: "I'm never usually one for grand strategy games but the epic stories this game results in won me over. One of the few games where everything going wrong feels so right."

33. Rayman Origins

What we said: "Ubisoft Montpellier has indisputably crafted a delightful, playful, occasionally exhilarating platformer. But while this is a game whose visuals point to a bright, alternative future, its systems too often rely on the dusty past. Half of a classic, then."

rustyhughes wrote: "Bright, and with boundless energy, this was a fantastic experience on either PS3 or Vita."

brn wrote: "One of the best platformers in a while and a complete surprise for me. It's the Vita's go-to platformer, but I mostly played it with my non-videogaming partner on the PS3."

DrDamn wrote: "Works very well on Vita and the only title which challenges, and in many respects surpasses, the mighty Mario."

brandonjohn wrote: "Here is a game that perfectly encapsulates the spirit of the original classic. The beautiful landscapes, quirky animations and fluid controls make for one of the most elegant and charming 2D platformers of all time. Where Mario is becoming stale, Rayman feels fresh and unique."

staal2005 wrote: "A beautiful and charming platformer, which has a bit of a steep difficulty curve at the end. It looks and plays absolutely fantastic on the Vita screen."

32. Dota 2

dota2

Blizzard and Valve eventually settled their differences about the Dota name in 2012. League of Legends just got on with it.

What we said: "More than a few Dota 2 players practically spit in each other's faces. Like the original Dota, Valve's Source Engine update has no sense of sympathy. That's not what you play it for. Nor is it what you expect from the remake of a game whose beginner's guide is simply titled 'Welcome to Dota. You suck.' Highlights include a section on 'DISGUSTINGLY COMMON NOOB ITEM MISTAKES,' you disgusting new person, you."

goldbug wrote: "Easily spent more time on this than any other release. Even though it hasn't been released. Hugely entertaining game."

rivuzu wrote: "As a person who suffers from Altisim in MMOs, there's the draw of the wide pool of playable characters - over 100 Heroes, each with at least four unique skills and up to six different roles in the team and over 150 items that affect stats and how the character plays. It is a complete mindf*** of numbers and the options are so so tasty. And yet the community might as well be a giant quivering pile of gelatanous urine for the trash talk. It gets you annoyed and incensed when you see people mouthing off - and then all of a sudden you too are doing it because you see the mistakes in your team. Their build choices and item decisions and tactical awareness. You have the best of intentions of telling them where they've gone wrong but somewhere between your mind and your hands you tend to freak out and end up mashing the keyboard with obscenities and trollish repetitive comments that seem to never get old. What's worse is you don't feel bad about it either. You feel justified. This one person is ruining something you have to experience for the next 40 minutes because they were too inept to simply read up on how the character or role should be played and put that into practice."

neuroniky wrote: "A great spectator sport in addition to the best multiplayer game of all time, Dota 2 was able to take the crown from Starcraft 2 with his ultra-strategic gameplay that actually rewards using brains instead of reflexes and mechanics. The community also manages to be the best community found in a MOBA game, with a newbie friendliness that's almost strange to find a game like this."

Fenix wrote: "I had never played any of the DOTA-style games until me and a friend got codes whilst attending Rezzed. It has changed our view of multiplayer gaming. Never have we had to work so much as a team."

31. Call of Duty: Black Ops 2

What we said: "Ambition is the word that best describes Black Ops 2 - and that's remarkable enough in itself. This is still Call of Duty, with all that entails, and anyone who has resisted the series so far likely won't be won over this time either. For the fans, though, Black Ops 2 offers the rare sight of a series at its height choosing to experiment and change rather than stay loyal to a proven, but tired, formula. It may be a small victory in the battle for fresh blockbuster thinking, but it's a victory nonetheless. Those hoping to see Call of Duty knocked off its perch will have to wait another year."

johnnydude84 wrote: "In a year where I haven't been able to play many games or have the time to sit through a full story, Black Op 2 has made me like Call of Duty again. I didn't really get along with Modern Warfare 3 and the story, maps, and small changes to this game have provided me with hours of shooting people in the face. If I feel like some mindless fun where I don't have to concentrate too hard, usually after a crappy day at work, this is the game I turn to."

Lamentation wrote: "The best COD yet. The Create-A-Class and scorestreaks are amazing fun to use. Little improvement to Zombies and an average campaign, but the very balanced multiplayer can hardly be improved upon."

30. F1 2012

  • Publisher: Codemasters
  • Developer: Codemasters Birmingham
  • F1 2012 review (7/10)

What we said: "It's another small step forward for the series, but that's not quite enough to dispel the suspicion that Codemasters' F1 team doesn't have the resources to create iterations compelling or different enough to justify the annual churn. F1 2012 is a good game, but it's some way off from being the classic it could be."

Jay-ITFC wrote: "Better again than 2010 or 2011 and the closest I will ever get to living the dream of an F1 driver. Interested to see what Codies can do with F1 next-gen..."

harrybower wrote: "A radical remix of the 2011 game, with improved AI and graphics, made this game the ultimate driving simulator of recent times."

heartnet wrote: "Refinement, refinement, refinement. Codemasters is inches away from the perfect F1 experience this year."

McPhilen wrote: "Easily my favourite game to drive a car on. It feels fantastic to hook up a perfect lap on F1 2012, which is something I don't normally get from a racing game. It requires some serious precision and car control, and it really is a good game."

29. Torchlight 2

What we said: "If the first Torchlight capitalised on the continued absence of Diablo 3, the second feels like a genuine alternative to it. It's a colourful, heartfelt and well-judged spin on one of the most reliably engrossing genres knocking around. Pick a class, choose a pet and set a course for Plunder Cove."

Nanonine wrote: "Outshone Diablo 3 with its colourful and easygoing world. Best co-op experience this year."

kdavey2004 wrote: "Much like Trials Evolution, this was exactly the sequel I wanted. A larger world full of a much wider variety of areas and enemies. Tons more loot to be whored. Pitch-perfect combat of an incredibly satisfying nature and four very distinct classes to enjoy. Runic absolutely nailed it and this is a game I'll be going back to long after 2012 ends."

DjchunKfunK wrote: "It says it all that a smaller team in a shorter time frame managed to produce a better APRG than Blizzard did with Diablo 3. Torchlight 2 is a major improvement on the original Torchlight with better loot, more varied level and monster design and a commitment to the community that many developers could learn from."

28. Hitman: Absolution

hitman

Io Interactive must be getting pretty bored of finishing games just in time for Square Enix to turn them into PR disasters.

What we said: "Hitman: Absolution is a slick, responsive and mechanically confident game - and on occasions it's one of the most satisfying stealth games in a year that already includes Dishonored - but a range of compromises to Hitman tradition mean it's still going to rub some people up the wrong way."

Ferral wrote: "The series needed this boost and a slight change in design for the better. Instead of huge open playgrounds you get big chunks of a level to work through. This game does upset the series purists. I have been playing Hitman since the first game many years ago but have enjoyed Absolution and the way they have done it. It is a decent new point in the series that will bring loads of new players to the world of 47."

myms1ps3 wrote: "Not as good as the original titles but has more varied, challenging gameplay than most other games this year, which is a testament to what we expect from a Hitman game - even if the disguise system's all over the place, with a weak story and the awful mission ratings system."

juliankennedy23 wrote: "Setting up hits for your friends to try out never gets old."

27. FIFA 13

What we said: "You can always choose PES 2013 instead this year, because after a few years of rebuilding it now offers a credible alternative. If you do go with FIFA 13, however, then you will find more ways to play it, all of them detailed and engaging, than ever before, and you will probably still be playing it when we're back here again in a year's time for the next instalment."

noelveiga wrote: "It's the best FIFA yet, which makes it the best sports game yet. Fully realises the promise of Impact Engine and, more importantly, it's lots of fun."

Patbateman wrote: "Frustrates and delights in equal measure - just like Everton!"

gintoki wrote: "For once, when they improve the last game, they don't break something else."

Holzbeck wrote: "Not much to say about this. Added some nice new features to the Career modes. The First Touch Control feature can make you pull your hair out, but apart from that can't fault it. "

kasperlundhjorth wrote: "It is very impressive how realistic a football game can be on a 360. All the small changes has made this the best football game ever."

TC wrote: "Such a complete, well-rounded footballing package, not a single male in the world can resist its lure. I sprinted for 15 minutes into town to make it to the midnight launch on time."

26. Gravity Rush

  • Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
  • Developer: SCE Japan Studio
  • Gravity Rush review (9/10)

What we said: "This is largely about the thrill of zipping through the sky, spotting a distant building, and wondering what Sony's magpie artists have put up there for you to find. Kat may be a superhero, but it's telling that she spends a lot of her time behaving as a tourist. Hekseville's a great place for a holiday, in other words, and Gravity Rush makes for a wonderful return ticket. All aboard?"

Vallaurian wrote: "A quirky gem that held my attention for many weeks. Beautiful visuals and an unforgettable score added to the feeling of becoming a real superhero. Surely no game has done flying so well. The steampunk world was refreshingly different and only the truncated ending prevented Gravity Rush from attaining true greatness."

spunkythefunkymunkey wrote: "A great game, very different from the usual stuff you'd find me playing. Brilliant story, likeable characters and mind-bending anti-gravity shenanigans!"

Apaar wrote: "A unique treat with the best female lead in any game ever. Superb art design and wonderful music."

Kangoo wrote: "A perfect example of what the Vita is capable of. Looks beautiful on the Vita's screen, brilliant design and unique use of the touch-screen. But nothing can match the creation of Kat, a genuinely lovable character who deserves a sequel."

25. Diablo 3

  • Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment
  • Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
  • Diablo 3 review (9/10)

What we said: "Diablo 3 is more than slick, and more than deep. It's a turbo-charged romp through the conventions of action, role-playing and online games that plays to the gallery but tears up the rulebook on the sly. It has been awfully compromised by its launch and by the lack of an offline mode, but it deserves better than to be remembered for that. And I'm certain it won't be."

DjFlex52 wrote: "Despite its overblown shortcomings, Diablo 3 was as addictive as any game I've played the last few years."

neuroniky wrote: "The game everyone loves to hate has much more to offer than your average internet dweller would like to admit. After all the patches it also managed to add a lot of substance to the endgame, but well before that the journey to inferno was already the best dungeon romp you could find, and the Hardcore mode offers emotions not found in any other game around."

Phattso wrote: "There's a lot wrong and, especially living in Asia, the online requirement is a massive problem, but this is still an amazing achievement. It has that click-kill-loot loop down to perfection. 120 hours and counting, and I've only tried two of the available classes. This is the only game I played for nearly three months of this year. Hats off to Blizzard for supporting the Mac day-and-date with Windows as well."

Rack wrote: "Diablo 3 turned building a character into a whole game. I have my character who stuns enemies before pelting them with AoEs, but what can I do with a skill that reflects all damage dealt to me? The whole game right until level 60 was a delightful journey of discovery, and when you were done? There were another four classes to try out."

je1881 wrote: "Sure, I've come to this game with no Diablo 2 baggage, but nothing compares to this as far as action RPGs are concerned. Turn off the real-money auction house, find yourself a nice crossbow and quiver, and watch your Demon Hunter blast through hordes on minions like a hot knife through butter."

24. Spec Ops: The Line

What we said: "It tries to do something special, and it tries to create something memorable and something strange. In Dubai itself, it genuinely succeeds, perhaps because the reality of the place is already so gaudy, so cloyingly, oppressively weird, that it provides a good hard shove in the right direction before the first bullet's been fired. There are such a lot of shooters these days, and so many tend to blur into each other if you're not careful. This one won't, however - and that's quite an achievement."

Hunam wrote: "A cure for the disgusting hyperbole of 'The Modern Warrior' bulls*** that Medal of Honor tried to sell us. War is horrible and it's about time a game reflected that."

persus-9 write: "Spec Ops: The Line is a lovely mixture of conservative and radical. The way it plays is as a bombastic third-person man-shoot. What it does with that is everything it can to mess with your head. In an industry currently dominated by jingoistic military shooters The Line is a subversive little gem."

Marjin wrote: "An incredibly brave experiment in interactive storytelling, an indelible descent into madness and an unambiguous condemnation of every other military shooter on the market. Are you not entertained!?"

23. Trials Evolution

trials

You could happily play the UGC forever, but the DLC is so good that it's worth buying anyway. Hurrah for Trials.

What we said: "The inclusion of an enormously detailed track editor - the same tool developer RedLynx used to make the levels you're paying for - means that talented amateurs will be able to drag more life out of the game than you initially get for your 1200 Microsoft Points. But in truth, Trials Evolution is already fantastic value for money. It offers simple, one-player gameplay that uses leaderboards to provoke excitement and competition among strangers, and in this sense it has a lot in common with the original Xbox Live Arcade games. The way that it makes its challenging content accessible to a majority of players, however, is what singles it out as one of the best."

DrDamn wrote: "So polished and full of content for an XBLA game."

rickjoyce wrote: "I always liked Trials, but the user-created content makes this game something very special. I am always blown away by what the community has come up with when I load up Track Central and, even though I met my difficulty wall, I can still dip in and have fun in new levels any time."

AnsemsApprentice wrote: "Creatively, one of the best arcade games out there, with wonderfully varied level design made more wonderful by a thread of childish humour throughout, covering everything, even death, in a warm fuzz."

22. PlanetSide 2

  • Publisher: Sony Online Entertainment
  • Developer: Sony Online Entertainment
  • PlanetSide 2 review (9/10)

What we said: "PlanetSide 2 is much like Guild Wars 2 - a game that will live or die based on its ability to keep its server populations buzzing. For now though, give or take some nasty server problems, it's worth putting those fears on the back burner. There'll be time enough tomorrow to worry about the grand game and its future."

Chromie wrote: "The only good MMOFPS and it's not only good it's great. Great graphics and gigantic continents to run around and kill each other in. PlanetSide 2 is everything PlanetSide 1 wanted to be and the bump in technology really does help."

SClaw wrote: "It's like playing original C&C in first person. And just as zergy."

Chufty wrote: "After playing PlanetSide 2, you'll have a different perspective on other multiplayer FPS games. Namely, that all other multiplayer FPS games are utterly pathetic by comparison. When you storm down a hillside with hundreds of allied infantry by your side, or roll ominously towards an enemy facility in a column of 50 tanks, or make a swooping bombing run on a bridge stand-off between hundreds of players, you can't help but think: why aren't all games like this?"

JonnyCigarettes wrote: "I played PlanetSide 1 and miss the hacking and the jammer grenades. And combat engineering. And my Vanu mosquito. And the Lancer. And a coherent lattice system. And base drains and an inventory. And warp gates that actually warp and having 10 continents to choose from. I also miss the sense that I'm playing a game rather than electively bailing out an ailing Sony with every begrudged upgrade. PlanetSide 2 is still an astonishing experience. For the Vanu!"

Deletys wrote: "At this moment PlanetSide 2 is one third the game I expect it to be someday. Regardless, even at its present form, it is incredibly promising and fun experience."

21. Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition

What we said: "This is a supremely tight version of a classic game that gracefully navigates the limitations of its platform. The pad controls are taut, fast and logical. The Xbox 360's small memory and the lack of dedicated online servers means the worlds created in this Minecraft are smaller, and can never live online independently of their creators. On the other hand, it has never been simpler to share your Minecraft creation with a few friends; there's support for split-screen local multiplayer (a potential killer app for some fans), and simple toggles dictate whether your game will be online and open or invite-only."

lavalant wrote: "Finally as a console owner I get to play one of the greatest games of all time. It has everything - collecting, surviving, creating... You can build a fortress and fight off hordes of zombies, or play a calming game with friends and just build a wonderful world. And it still proves innovation will always triumph over shiny graphics."

MysteryLamb wrote: "The defining sandbox game - and a generous one at that which keeps improving."

UKGN_Zoidberg wrote: "I'd never played Minecraft on the PC so didn't really understand what the fuss was about. One marathon 13-hour gameplay session later, I understood completely."

lazymanschair wrote: "Myself and the kids play this - they like the simplistic fairytale-like setting of the game. Their first experience with the Ender Man was hilarious and heart-warming. Was cool to share my hobby."

cnlfailure wrote: "The best software toy in a generation."

20. DayZ Mod

dayz

DayZ creator Dean Hall was a refreshing presence on the event circuit this year, giving frank and interesting presentations at both Rezzed and the Eurogamer Expo.

What we said: "Even now [May 2012], with DayZ as laggy, unstable and awkward as it is, it's immediately apparent that something special is being discovered here. Something that taps into the same zeitgeist as Dark Souls or EVE Online (whose subscriber numbers have been growing for almost a decade); that desire for heroism to be heroic, for villainy to be villainous. I'm not sure when the AAA developers are going to start heeding that desire, but it'll be a great step for gaming when they do."

Cosquae wrote: "Created a whole new genre, a million and one stories of death defiance and catapulted an old soldier sim to the top of the Steam charts all summer long. Not bad for a mod."

gman7714 wrote: "Wow, what a ride this game can be. Great tension in the music. Spend all night trying to team up with your pals to get some good gear then paaachunnnn it's all over... Well, until it loads again anyway!"

Killface wrote: "The most engrossed, invested and terrified I have been all year."

talber wrote: "The ultimate sandbox. The ultimate apocalyptic nightmare. When the social contract's no longer binding what will you do? Who will you be?"

Roamer wrote: "OK, fine, I haven't actually played the game. But the countless hours spent watching emergent gameplay on YouTube has convinced me of its magnificence nonetheless."

19. FTL: Faster Than Light

What we said: "Developed by the two-man team of Subset Games, it's a simple yet nimble creation that creates bite-sized scenarios on the fly that will unite Star Trek and Star Wars fans in swooning joy. You're the captain of a Federation starship. You're on the run from vicious Rebels who are sweeping through the galaxy. You've got to deliver important data to the rest of the Federation fleet to turn the tide of the final battle. That's it."

DanForinton wrote: "A Kickstarter success and a brilliant game to boot. Hopelessly frustrating but it possesses that special magic that demands just one more go."

LockeTribal wrote: "Great spaceship-based roguelike. Keeps pulling you back for another go. I'm sad to say I still haven't gotten to the last sector, but I'll keep trying."

groovychainsaw wrote: "I'd never have guessed at the beginning of the year that managing a starship in a game that is designed like it could be from 1990 would make my top five with ease. Brilliantly economical design."

JonnyCigarettes wrote: "The most charm and complexity for the least bluster I've ever seen in a game."

afroofdoom wrote: "Oh god the ship's on fire. Oh god there's a hull breach. Oh god we've been boarded. Oh god the life support has been knocked out. Oh god I beamed my crew onto an enemy ship and then blew it up. Oh god I opened all the doors by accident. The best Captain Janeway simulator ever!"

18. Hotline Miami

hotline

What a year for indie games! Can we just cancel the next generation of consoles and stick with these guys?

What we said: "So many games are really good at one or two things, or they're full of lots of good ideas that you respect individually, and their qualities arrive in your head with great fanfare, like a county parade trailing down your high street. Hotline Miami isn't like that. It only works as a whole, and it doesn't hit you like a flavour; it builds up in your system like an intravenous solution. If you took away the masks, or the blinking colours, or knocking over guys with doors, or the stuff about answerphone messages, or the DeLorean, or the wobble on the screen, or the super-fast movement, or walking back through what you've just done, you probably wouldn't understand why it stopped working, but it would definitely stop working. Fortunately, it doesn't, and that's why there's only one number to dial."

hahayou wrote: "A reinvention of violence."

frostcircus wrote: "This came out the same week I'd been ranting about how gratuitously horrible video game violence has become, with comic book thrills having given way to lovingly rendered acts of deliberate, unrelentingly bleak evil. Graphic torture and execution sequences, presented without critique or even self-awareness, are now as common as jumping on enemies' heads used to be, and the inference that we're supposed to enjoy this sort of s*** had started to put a real damper on my enjoyment of the more inane virtual killings. Then Hotline Miami came along, employed both kinds of violence perfectly, and made this ambivalence not only a powerful tool, but essentially the entire point of the game. With a narrative that screams 'write essays about me!' while also serving almost as an essay in itself it's exactly the game I needed to come out right then. The immaculate gameplay graphics and audio were almost like icing. This is a game I have fallen deeply in love with and possibly the first where I haven't needed to suppress any of my personal beliefs and politics to do so. Even little things like the fact that the first item on the results screen is KILLINGS put a near-rapturous grin on my face every single time. It's just all so bloody, bloody good."

TheBlackBandit wrote: "Bloody and nasty and fast and difficult and oh my goodness far too much fun."

17. Dragon's Dogma

What we said: "Ambitious, grand, at once derivative and pioneering, Dragon's Dogma may not be a classic but it's an important title nonetheless - the first example of a blockbuster Japanese RPG attempting to marry its own heritage with contemporary Western expressions."

Notallowedhere wrote: "Gobsmacked this came out of nowhere and is easily my most played game of the year. The best combat in any RPG and a range of character classes that genuinely feel new and fresh not easy in a field as competitive as it is. "

FladgeMangle wrote: "When I first heard of this I thought it was the game of my dreams and it didn't disappoint me in any way. Sheer wonder and pure visual thrills and the best gaming experience I've had this year by quite a wide margin."

redcrayon wrote: "The key pawn system is a great evolution of online multiplayer for RPGs- developing your own party members and letting others hire, use and rate them. While the story and questlines all revolve around 'go here, kill that', it's the AI and animation of the monsters that make it for me. The way the hydra moves like a giant cobra waiting to strike, bodyslamming it's prey with whiplike reflexes, or a manticore bounds around the field, hunting the player and attempting to shake off its attackers, the combat is just sublime. Better monster-hunting than Monster Hunter."

16. Fez

  • Publisher: Microsoft Studios
  • Developer: Polytron
  • Fez review (10/10)

What we said: "The game's unique artwork, its perspective-shift mechanic, its nostalgia for the 16-bit years and its bewitchingly strange setting all exist in total harmony and make a single, deliberate statement. Maybe it's about perception, reality and subjectivity, like the old man said. But I think it's about something else: what games were to us in their charged infancy, what they've expanded into in the 30 years since, and how to fold those things together into a single, beautiful whole."

mogwins wrote: "It's sugary on the outside and crunchy on the inside. It's the mint imperial of indie gaming."

beelzeboro wrote: "I could feel the love and attention to detail in every puzzle. It gave me the pure joy of being deeply addicted to a video game."

beep wrote: "Love the look and atmosphere in Fez. The music is amazing and one of the best game soundtracks ever."

evanac wrote: "Incredibly warm and nostalgic, but with an all-new spin on platforming and puzzling. It boggles the mind to think that one man designed this. Amazing."

Calex30 wrote: "Eh... What... Oh I see... Where did this come from... Strange symbols... I'm gonna need a pen and paper, aren't I? A flashback to the 8-bit days with even more mind-bending complications.

Snufkin wrote: "The only game I ever played where I found the collectables but lost the door."

15. Forza Horizon

What we said: "It's still not quite cool, but its luscious sensory rush overcomes any resistance: the sweeping scenery, the tactile handling, the throaty exhausts, the insistent thrills of the throbbing Rob da Bank soundtrack. Forza Horizon is a big, exciting game that finally brings car enthusiasts together with the realistic open roads they crave."

Romeric wrote: "They delivered the game we all expected. Beautiful, fantastic handling - the lot. A shame the online was so lacking or this would still be in my disk drive."

Percinho wrote: "Finally the best driving engine available is freed from the track. Who'd have thought just taking a car for a drive would be so much fun?"

stephen wrote: "It's no Forza 4 but I found Horizon to be a refreshing, more arcade-based take on the Forza formula. Some purists were not happy with it, but it was an enjoyable game for racing fans despite being set in some kind of sh***y dubstep festival."

MD128 wrote: "If ever there was a feel-good racer, then it's Horizon. Playground Games have arrived with a buzzing festival-themed open-world, an amazing selection of cars and the best licensed soundtrack in games in a long time."

14. Sleeping Dogs

sleepingdogs

It would be interesting to know how Activision feels about dumping Sleeping Dogs - then True Crime: Hong Kong - in hindsight.

What we said: "When a game is so clearly intent on being a follower of trends rather than setting them, it's hard to feel much passion for Sleeping Dogs' vanilla retread of established ideas. When compared to his open-world peers, Wei Shen's stoic promise to do 'what I always do' ultimately feels more like an apology for low ambition than a rallying cry."

nickmarshall wrote: "Standing between Saints Row 3 and Grand Theft Auto 5, this crime sandbox has mastered it genre. A perfect balance of driving, shooting, fighting and other activities."

TC wrote: "Sleeper hit? Yes. The Hong Kong vibes really sucked me in. Driving on the left means instant GOTY contender."

greenspagbol wrote: "Included everything Grand Theft Auto 4 got right, little of what it got wrong, then added great combat in a Hong Kong action-movie setting."

LionheartDJH wrote: "Infernal Affairs meets Grand Theft Auto in a real sleeper hit. Story, setting and mechanics were all fantastic and I found it to be a brilliantly fun game with not a dull moment in the 20 hours I spent with it. Running over drug dealers while listening to Verdi's Rigoletto, Act III is my gaming highlight of the year!"

13. Max Payne 3

What we said: "You can't escape the feeling that Rockstar just isn't as good at a pure third-person shooter as it is with the open worlds of Grand Theft Auto or Red Dead Redemption, and in this linear context it's much harder to put up with its usual missteps in mechanics and difficulty."

quelch1975 wrote: "I was not a great fan of the first two games and expected this to be just an average cover shooter. Boy was I wrong. It turned out to be a wonderfully told adventure of brutal Bullet Time with superb graphics and challenges that kept me coming back. Less said about the multiplayer the better though."

MrTomFTW wrote: "A neo-noir masterpiece. As a long-time fan of the series I loved the story of his descent to rock-bottom and his attempt to turn things around. The best third-person shooter around."

OscarTangoBravo wrote: "An excellent addition to the series that really showed that Rockstar knows how vintage IP should be treated."

lord_jamie wrote: "Rockstar kept enough of the original intact whilst making it slick and fun to play that it was a worthy sequel."

12. The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings - Enhanced Edition

What we said: "The Witcher 2's timing is prescient. As Game of Thrones dominates the television ratings, just as Skyrim has dominated the game charts in recent months, the cultural appetite for fantasy is as high as it's ever been. Despite the competition, however, The Witcher 2 has an air of unique wonder about it. There's a weight and detail to the mythology that is beguiling, but CD Projekt's skill has been in making this relevant and meaningful to the player."

mazerius1st wrote: "Not only improved every aspect of the first game but it proved that there is still a hungry audience for well-crafted single-player-only games. Even the console version was a masterpiece."

XanderFish wrote: "Completely took me by surprise, I played the first one but never managed to finish it. Thought I would give this a chance and it completely blew me away with the depth of characters and the story."

lucasaitta wrote: "The Mass Effect 2 to Witcher's Mass Effect 1, showing BioWare how it's done in the big epic RPG genre."

simulant wrote: "Best narrative I've ever experienced in a video game."

rtk79 wrote: "Great world, great characters, great game. What every RPG should strive to be."

11. Assassin's Creed 3

assassinscreed3

It took a while to get going, but then it never seemed to stop, and that was a more agreeable situation.

What we said: "Assassin's Creed was once a fascinating mystery wrapped around a fun action-adventure - remember when you first loaded up the original game and it began in the Abstergo offices and you had no idea what was going on? - but that fun action-adventure game has long since eclipsed the fiction that envelops it. That's more true than ever in Assassin's Creed 3, where you're a hunter, a ship captain, a silent killer, an entrepreneur, a swashbuckling sword-fighter and many other things besides. It all serves to make this the biggest and richest Assassin's Creed game to date - maybe not the best, but a place where, for want of a better expression, everything is permitted."

benjones1blj wrote: "Improved on Assassin's Creed: Revelations and chucked away what didn't work. Interesting new time period as well."

kasperlundhjorth wrote: "The best Assassin's Creed so far. The best lead character, the best setting, and of all the games in the series it features the best implementation of historical persons and events into the game's story."

elvenscroll wrote: "A satisfying conclusion to the trilogy, which rounds off one story and starts another."

MaybeLater wrote: "AC3 is the cream of the crop of open-world games. The ship combat alone achieves what so many other games have tried to do but never quite managed to get right. Maybe for the first time, Rockstar North is going to have do something pretty spectacular with the next GTA if it wants to maintain its hallowed position at the top of the tree."

Kantor wrote: "The ending was dreadful, but the main story gameplay was excellent, and the naval battles were a great innovation. The multiplayer is as good as ever, too."

10. Guild Wars 2

What we said: "It's not the levelling, it's the taking part that counts. That's what makes Guild Wars 2 great. Almost every aspect of its design serves the individual player and whole community equally, and there's a breezy willingness to put the content ahead of the grind throughout."

Spekingur wrote: "Only new MMO this year worth mentioning. Get the full MMO experience without paying a monthly fee."

Chromie wrote: "ArenaNet has maanged to spoil me with their combat system. I can no longer enjoy having to worry about 4-6 action bars on screen at any given time. Combat is fast, fun and offers alot of diversity. The world is gorgeous and huge. I can spend hours just exploring looking for mini-dungeons or jumping puzzles. ArenaNet really listened on what GW1 fans wanted and went crazy with it."

gingerjumper wrote: "Flawed but fun MMO. Gorgeous to look at and listen to. Good gameplay that maybe is a little harder than it should be in places. Best played on quiet servers so to avoid the dreaded overflow!"

Limath wrote: "A great stab at evolving an MMO enough to make it fresh while still maintaining a familier gameplay vibe. The developers did a great job of providing players with a world that felt far more alive than certain other, more aged (but brill) MMOs."

pouget wrote: "I've played the game for over 300 hours since launch and still put in hours per day. While enjoying it."

9. Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition / Artorias of the Abyss

darksouls

I could happily play Dark Souls forever - and it sounds like you could too.

What we said: "There are some few entertainment experiences that rise above mere amusement, and the world of Lordran is one of them: an endless feast to be chewed over and digested, each morsel swallowed with lip-smacking relish before returning eagerly for the next. It shows what games are capable of by making its players show what they are capable of. And that is much, much more than you might think."

Snidesworth wrote: "Mods transformed what would have been a slightly expanded version of the console release into the definitive experience of a phenomenal game."

Slavovitsh wrote: "An outstanding RPG. The difficulty of a good old classic title with today's graphics. I love everything about it: the dense atmosphere, the huge but hidden story, the online features and the combat. I love this game too much to share an objective opinion. The first game ever I pre-ordered and it was worth every cent. It amazed me on PS3 and even more on PC. I've spent hundreds of hours in that game with dozens of character and dozens of playthroughs. Haven't had such a great gaming experience in 10 years. One of the best games of this generation!"

SparkyMarky81 wrote: "Great game that just got a whole lot better. Best community I have ever found in gaming and the new additions add to the story whilst fitting seamlessly into the existing game world. This is how DLC should be done!"

popej wrote: "The best game since Half-Life 2."

8. Halo 4

  • Publisher: Microsoft Studios
  • Developer: 343 Industries
  • Halo 4 review (8/10)

What we said: "Halo 4 is authentic, and assures 343's role is more than a mere tribute act. Their delicate yet sprawling work may be more continuation than true expansion - and perhaps the true test comes in the next step - but for now, Halo returns with a bang, not a whimper."

MrTomFTW wrote: "It's all about the multiplayer isn't it? Very generous amount of co-op content and the competitive modes are just as addictive as previous games. The fact it's gorgeous helps too!"

Hunam wrote: "The most unlikely love story of 2012 and a kick up the arse for the Halo series."

The12thMonkey wrote: "It's probably (scratch that, definitely) going to descend into the same quasi-mystic gonads that the Bungie story was, but the gunplay and the multiplayer are still up there with the very best."

Ror1984 wrote: "343 Industries absolutely nailed their first entry into the Halo universe, creating probably the best-looking 360 title to date in the process. They also managed to change up multiplayer a fair bit whilst retaining that trademark Halo feel. A fantastic achievement for a studio's first title."

onyxbox wrote: "They didn't f*** it up!"

7. Journey

  • Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
  • Developer: thatgamecompany
  • Journey review (9/10)

What we said: "Play Journey with a random - and chances are that you will - and all the convenient metaphors and artificiality melt away. The game's lunges at profundity disappear, and you're left to focus on the core of the experience: a pilgrimage, filled with incident, compacted into the space of a few glorious set-pieces."

higgins78 wrote: "This generation has for me fast become one of the most predictable and uninspired, not including Nintendo's Wii. A game like this comes along and really gives you hope once more. Words such as 'stunning', 'magic' and 'poetic' don't do it justice yet it's how I'd best describe it."

Killerbee wrote: "thatgamecompany's latest lived up to expectations and more. That first run through the game - meeting a stranger and somehow managing to communicate via simple call and response, co-operate and accompany one another through to an epic and very moving finale... no other game comes close."

weedar wrote: "I cried at the end of the game. Deeply beautiful. Proof that games can be as deeply spiritual as any other medium."

6. Mass Effect 3

masseffect3

Remember to tell BioWare what to put in the next one so we can all blame you in future.

What we said: "As with any game that dares to be ambitious, deconstruct Mass Effect 3 into its constituent parts and of course there are flaws, but taken as a whole this is arguably the first truly modern blockbuster, a game that transcends the genre boundaries of old and takes what it needs from across the gaming spectrum in order to finish its story in the most compelling, thrilling, heartbreaking way possible. Few gaming sagas come to a definitive close, but this one signs off in breathtaking style."

The12thMonkey wrote: "With so much invested in two playthroughs, it was always going be an end - one way or another. It wasn't quite what I wanted, and it didn't make a lot of sense (still haven't bothered with the extended cut), but it was an end, and the journey was still great."

artforthemorbid wrote: "Let's get this out of the way: Mass Effect 2 is the best in the series. Mass Effect 3 got so caught up in providing a suitably significant end to all our hard work recruiting and readying the galaxy that it couldn't see that galaxy for the planets. But it did show that Mass Effect on an off-day is still better then most other games on their best."

MrFlump wrote: "Sure, it split its audience with what I felt was a perfectly suitable ending and others thinking BioWare had physically turned up in their living rooms to stick things in their eyes. Overall, a great game experience and once again BioWare got a level of absorption with the characters that many other developers have tried and failed."

Ror1984 wrote: "It doesn't quite reach the heights of the first two games, but from Grunt's Rachni stand-off to Mordin's noble sacrifice to Thane saying a final prayer for you, this was still the most emotional game I played this year. It was also packed with breath-taking scenes - who can forget that opening level on Earth, as Reapers loom over the city, or the moon of Palaven as they attacked the Turian homeworld? Also, I quite liked the ending..."

jonc24 wrote: "The ending debacle aside, Mass Effect 3 is one of the most satisfying games I've played this year. To see the culmination of the choices I've made over the five-year span of the games was unparalleled in game storytelling. I saved another race of beings from extinction, I led a friend or two to their death, and I made a date with Miranda that we both knew we'd never see. For me, Mass Effect wasn't about how I saved the galaxy or what colour explosion I saw in the ending, it was about the relationships I'd built with my crew-mates and seeing their fates play out. Speaking about the ending, I didn't think it was that bad actually. So there."

5. XCOM: Enemy Unknown

What we said: "Near the campaign's end, there's a direct tribute to the original game's designers, the Gollop brothers, accompanied by an achievement called 'On the Shoulders of Giants'. It's a beautiful touch, a nod from one development team to another across the generations. They have something in common now. In their own time and place, each made a fantastic game called XCOM."

MrFlump wrote: "Stirring up memories from the original game and terror from the deep, Enemy Unknown was well worth the wait for me. It's just pitched at the right difficulty level to prove a challenge but not put off newcomers, and the feeling of sadness that a team member you've had from the start dying in the last mission gives you is amazing!"

mixit wrote: "Wow, a remake the actually works! And this really works."

mogwins wrote: "Now, here's how you do an update: XCOM streamlines gameplay for the modern age (i.e. consoles) without losing the complexity and challenge of the original. More importantly, it retains the spirit. Cracking stuff."

weedar wrote: "The surprise of the year for me. I hardly ever play strategy games and I had to play easy to be able to beat it. It took 35 hours. But boy did I love it!"

makeamazing wrote: "The original was one of the greatest games ever made, so most people were concerned that this was going to ruin the history of a great game. Fortunately the guys making it got it spot on, this is how a re-envisioning should be done."

4. The Walking Dead

walkingdead

If nothing else, Walking Dead proves that we're all hungry for better storytelling in games.

What we said: "The Walking Dead is a serious, solid, but clay-footed work; in truth, it wouldn't stand out from the crowd if video game storytelling wasn't so impoverished to begin with. But some of the best pop fiction comes not from geniuses but from craftsmen who are given the right subject matter and understand just how to treat it, and that's true of Telltale here."

cheebacheeba wrote: "After the disaster that was the Jurassic Park license, I don't think anyone expected this. Compelling characters and meaningful choices with genuine consequences combine to offer one of the most compelling adventures in recent memory. The best case for episodic gaming yet."

imamazed wrote: "Although the game does overstate the impact of individual choices throughout, the main bones of the story remain an incredibly touching, compelling tale that suprises again and again. The voice acting and the script is great. The gameplay is basic at best, but when you feel part of the story like this, who cares?"

segger wrote: "First game to really make me care about the characters since Shenmue."

Paulie_P wrote: "This should now be the benchmark for character-driven stories in games. Even the child characters were brilliant and that's an area in which TV and film often go wrong too. Never before has a game brought me to tears. A true milestone."

Vanmunt wrote: "When you look forward to speaking to your friends the next day to see what they did and who they saved it has to be a good game, doesn't it?"

DichunKfunK wrote: "Finally, a game that makes you think and reflect on the actions you have taken. Yes a lot of the choices made within the game may have been purely illusionary, but the fact that at the time you believe you were making important decisions is a major achievement on the part of Telltale. Added to that the characters created and the twists and turns that the story took contributed to one of the most engaging and challenging games I have played in a while."

3. Borderlands 2

What we said: "The most satisfying thing to note is that Borderlands has lost none of its untidy charm in the transition from unlikely hit to megabucks tent-pole. The storyline runs a touch deeper now, but it's largely resisted the lunge towards the blandly epic - and while the art sparkles, it's ducked the big-team slickness that can rub away at a game's personality."

HairyEngineer wrote: "Handsome Jack is easily the best-written and best-acted baddie of this year, if not generation. Oh, the game's great fun too, especially with friends, and astonishingly well supported post-release. Good job, Gearbox!"

Kilboy wrote: "Great game. Great story. The only game where I actually listen to the voice-overs rather than skim-reading the text."

MJ wrote: "Probably the funniest game of the year. LOOT!"

roguepope wrote: "From Borderlands 1 it's just more of the same, and that is honestly exactly what I wanted from this game."

Graftonator wrote: "It's just like the first Borderlands but bigger and better and with all the slight annoyances removed! The most fun you can have with four friends on the internet!"

rustyhughes wrote: "It seems one game holds my attention exclusively each year until completion. This year it was Borderlands 2 - only Gearbox packed it so full of content and loot that I kept playing long after I'd finished the story. A gajillion wub wubs indeed."

2. Far Cry 3

What we said: "In the past, Far Cry's vision of a first-person shooter RPG where you explore, master and then control your environment has always been more seductive on paper than any of its developers have managed to deliver on disc. Far Cry 3 changes all that. For me, this is the new apex predator of open-world shooters. Hunt it down as soon as you can."

magicpocket wrote: "Skyrim with tigers and jungle."

VyseHazuky wrote: "Over the past decade Ubisoft has brought us their vision of providing games with a larger scope. As such, they effectively took away Crytek's ridiculous premises from FC1 and instead turned to tales of war and now piratry. Although it misses FC2s more ambitious aspects such as its trademark moments of loss of control (malaria attacks, jamming weapons, in-game map), it became better in every other aspect, still providing a unique FPS experience unlike any other avaiable, and probably becoming a better, more satisfying game experience for it."

Doc-Revelator wrote: "Ubisoft finally delivered the Far Cry that always should have been. Confident, assured, thrilling and huge amounts of fun. Brilliantly polished and varied gameplay and some great performances and presentation provide a very expensive feeling blockbuster with real soul. The gunplay, stealth and action put other games to shame. Jack of all trades, and largely master of them."

JayG wrote: "Got to love a game where you can clear an entire enemy camp, then minutes later get killed by emu. One of the best sandbox games in a long time."

Sodding_Gamer wrote: "Came as an absolute surprise to me how good it was. Best open-world game that has immersed me since Skyrim. I'd say it immersed me more than Skyrim to be honest."

Aos1 wrote: "No-one saw this coming at all! After a very dodgy preview earlier this year, what we've got is a superbly designed open-world game, coupled with a deranged story."

1. Dishonored

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It's another year at the top for Bethesda, this time thanks to Arkane Studios. Dishonored is your game of the year.

What we said: "This is a muscular and confident game, one with the utmost faith in its own fiction and a dedication to gameplay satisfaction at a microscopic level, paid off in dozens of situations that feel completely random and organic, even when they've clearly been planted there for you to find. Tighter control and a more generous approach to replay value would elevate Dishonored to true classic status, but it stands as one of the year's best all the same."

WangFu wrote: "The game that made skulking around on rooftops cool again."

DT-525 wrote: "Just a fantastic new IP. They way they incorporated the stealth and magic was epic. I hope to see many more game with these mechanics. Along with the amazing gameplay there was a pretty good story."

vorpalmaan wrote: "Brand new IP that reverberates dark shades of fantastically grim and all-too-real characters. I hear the heart telling me honestly horrible secrets about all the people I meet. It pulsates with the fear of knowing the truth!"

JackalHeadGod wrote: "A nice departure from the more traditional shooty first-person game that valued patience and some planning. With a decent story and inventive world design I hope we're seeing a franchise in the making."

Modhabobo wrote: "Proof positive that you don't need lots of modes, or huge sprawling levels, when you have an actual sandbox that allows you to play in any way you want. It helps that it is the most beautiful sandbox with Victorian steampunk sand."

Alestes wrote: "Awesome mix of stealth and action. Wish the levels had been larger and more open though."

Phreak_UK wrote: "The works of Looking Glass reflected in watercolours. It's old-school for sure, but doesn't feel it."

Snufkin wrote: "A wonderful example of how empowering the player and letting them loose in a wide, consistent world."

bruno0091 wrote: "Blink. Blink. Blink. Stab. A beautiful game in an ugly and extremely well realised world."

Sir_TimAlot wrote: "Great to fill the Bioshock Infinite-sized hole in the soul. A game with actual consequence, lush art style and fantastically fun core mechanics. A huge triumph for new IP."

Skyclad wrote: "Playing hitman in a dark, Victorian setting? There you blink!"

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