Games Xtreme's The Games of 2012
LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes
The Lego games are often really great and well, Lego Batman 2 is no exception. It features full voice work from an accomplished voice cast and it's the oddest thing to hear those little guy and gals speak, when like the Sims, they've always had their own unique sounds and grunts. The game features expansive levels and some mechanics changes, including mid-mission save-points. The game also has a massive cast of DC heroes/villains as well as featuring a full Lego Gotham City for you to explore in an open-world manner. A GTA style Batman game, we never thought we'd see it from Lego first. But we did!
LEGO Lord of the Rings
Sticking with Lego, one of the biggest fantasy franchises (and it was only a matter of time) to hit the games so far comes in the form of the Lord of the Rings. Taking cues from all 3 massive films the game weaves a wonderful series of levels inspired by key plot points, brings in loads of new mechanics and wraps the whole thing up with a free-roam/open-world Lego version of Middle Earth, from Bree, to Isengard and Mordor – it's all there. There are a load of characters to unlock and a vast array of secrets to uncover. Like Lego Batman 2 this game has full voice work and most of it is taken directly from the films, with a few extra performances for NPCs and the like.
A sleeper hit, once a True Crime franchise game, Sleeping Dogs wowed many of us here with combat mechanics taken from games like Arkham City. Free-flow moves, counters, combos and the like. It had a great story, cool characters, tons of action from Kung Fu, slow-mo shooting, action-hi-jack driving and more. It had mini-games which made sense in the context of the game and brought Hong Kong to life with some high octane movie-style action. A great cast of actors assembled for this one with some superb performances across the board. Later on Square released a Big Trouble in Little China inspired Halloween addon which allowed us to battle demons, hopping vampires and more on the streets of Hong Kong.
Darksiders was a game we loved. It mixed a bit of God of War, with Metroid and Zelda in a post-apocalyptic wasteland Earth after the End of Days. War was a brutal combat driven machine and a tough cookie, yet the sequel brings Death out to play and improves on Darksiders in every way possible. It adds an expansive overworld, some fiendish puzzles and traps, lots of great action, RPG skill tree and Diablo-style random loot drops. The fast travel system is a joy and Death is an acrobatic fighter who prefers to dodge and leap out of the way, compared to War who basically stood there and put his head between himself and the enemy blow. Death takes advantage of an improved traversal system and a refined combat system to make Darksiders 2 the best game in the series so far. THQ's troubles aside we hope to see at least 2 other games with Fury and Strife.
Welcome back to Pandora Vault Hunters. We loved Borderlands, so much we put hours and hours into the game. We've done the same with Borderlands 2 and the 5 (yeah 5) new character classes are pretty amazing. The Siren is certainly quite cool with her new slew of powers to set her apart from Lilith in the previous game and Borderlands 2 takes everything up to 11 literally across the board. There are new expansive areas to explore, better designed quest systems and rewards as well as Badass Ranks, persistent points that give you upgrades across all of your characters. Looting and shooting does not get much better than this one. With upgraded systems and graphics, Borderlands 2 is a welcome addition to the Borderlands franchise and a game with constant DLC packs that add even more awesome content.
Mark of the Ninja
An XBLA game which came from Klei Entertainment, the folks behind: Shank etc... Mark of the Ninja marries old school platforming fun, great level design, excellent storytelling and superb stealth action all together to make a really addictive and pretty long game. It has unlockable costumes which can impact the way the game's played, gadgets and even ninja skills for you to play with. The controls are spot on and the gameplay is engaging, it is one of our top XBLA titles for 2012 and thoroughly deserves to be in everyone's collection that has a hankering for some old school ninja-tastic action.
Kingdoms of Amalur
KoA was a game which took ideas from Skyrim (Ken Rolston was involved), saw the demise of the game studio which made it, and produced a fantastic lore-filled romp through a massive fantasy world with a great combat system, some really cool action and some superb character-driven game mechanics. Fate played a big role in the game and the presentation of Fable-esque dynamic battles, with a mix of magic, ranged and melee thrown together were great. The game also has a dynamic class based system which really lets you mix/match your ideal playstyle... and the core rogue was an amazing mix of assassin and thief.
Witcher 2: Xbox 360 version
The Witcher 2 blew us away on the PC. It was a mature action-adventure with a non-linear storyline and amazing brutal combat. It had sex, violence and is in many ways a truly mature game set in the dark world of Andreas Sapkowski's devising. CDPR are amazing developers and they proved it by bringing the dark fantasy epic onto the Xbox 360 with a excellent enhanced version, complete with new quests, updated combat mechanics, a spanky new intro and several cool outro sequences to further define events at the end. If you missed out on Geralt's adventure, get it now!
Torchlight was amazing; it was a Diablo-clone with epic heart and soul, great graphics and a really solid action. Torchlight 2 takes all that, adds cooperative multiplayer and overland areas plus a slew of enhancements and fixes to the Torchlight mix. There are new takes on the old classes, new companion animals and a reworked system for those. Overland areas mean that the dungeon delving takes on new meaning and in many ways a lot of us prefer Torchlight 2 to Diablo 3.