'Dishonored' tops a diverse year in video games - Quincy Herald-Whig | Illinois & Missouri News, Sports

'Dishonored' tops a diverse year in video games

Posted: Updated:
This video game image released by Bethesda Softworks shows a scene from "Dishonored." (AP Photo/Bethesda Softworks) This video game image released by Bethesda Softworks shows a scene from "Dishonored." (AP Photo/Bethesda Softworks)

By LOU KESTEN
The Associated Press

The video game universe in 2012 is a study in extremes.

At one end, you have the old guard striving to produce mass-appeal blockbusters. At the other end, you have a thriving community of independent game developers scrambling to find an audience for their idiosyncratic visions. Can't we all just get along?

Turns out, we can. For while some industry leaders are worried (and not without cause) about "disruptive" trends — social-media games, free-to-play models, the switch from disc-based media to digital delivery — video games are blossoming creatively. This fall, during the height of the pre-holiday game release calendar, I found myself bouncing among games as diverse as the bombastic "Halo 4," the artsy "The Unfinished Swan" and the quick-hit trivia game "SongPop."

Some of my favorite games this year have benefited from both sides working together. The smaller studios get exposure on huge platforms like Xbox Live or the PlayStation Network. The big publishers seem more willing to invite a little quirkiness into their big-budget behemoths. Gamers win.

1. "Dishonored" (Bethesda Softworks, for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC): Arkane Studios' revenge drama combined a witty plot, crisp gameplay and an uncommonly distinctive milieu, setting a supernaturally gifted assassin loose in a gloriously decadent, steampunk-influenced city.

2. "Mass Effect 3" (Electronic Arts, for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii U, PC): No 2012 game was more ambitious than BioWare's sweeping space opera. Yes, the ending was a little bumpy, but the fearless Commander Shepard's last journey across the cosmos provided dozens of thrilling moments.

3. "The Walking Dead" (Telltale Games, for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC, iOS): This moving adaptation of Robert Kirkman's comics dodged the predictable zombie bloodbath in favor of a finely tuned character study of two survivors: Lee, an escaped convict, and Clementine, the 8-year-old girl he's committed to protect.

4. "Journey" (Thatgamecompany, for the PlayStation 3): A nameless figure trudges across a desert toward a glowing light. Simple enough, but gorgeous visuals, haunting music and the need to communicate, wordlessly, with companions you meet along the way translate into something that's almost profound.

5. "Borderlands 2" (2K Games, for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC): Gearbox Software's gleeful mash-up of first-person shooting, role-playing and loot-collecting conventions gets bigger and badder, but what stuck with me most were the often hilarious encounters with the damaged citizens of the godforsaken planet Pandora.

6. "XCOM: Enemy Unknown" (2K Games, for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC): A strategy classic returns, as the forces of Earth fight back against an extraterrestrial invasion. It's a battle of wits rather than reflexes, a stimulating change of pace from the typical alien gorefest.

7. "Fez" (Polytron, for the Xbox 360): A two-dimensional dude named Gomez finds his world has suddenly burst into a third dimension in this gem from indie developer Phil Fish. As Gomez explores, the world of "Fez" continually deepens, opening up mysteries that only the most dedicated players will be able to solve.

8. "Spec Ops: The Line" (2K Games, for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC): This harrowing tale from German studio Yager Development transplants "Apocalypse Now" to a war-torn Dubai. It's a bracing critique, not just of war but of the rah-rah jingoism of contemporary military shooters.

9. "Assassin's Creed III" (Ubisoft, for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii U, PC): A centuries-old conspiracy takes root in Colonial America in this beautifully realized, refreshingly irreverent installment of Ubisoft's alternate history franchise.

10. "ZombiU" (Ubisoft, for the Wii U): The best launch game for Nintendo's new console turns the Wii U's GamePad into an effective tool for finding and hunting down the undead.

Runners-up: "Call of Duty: Black Ops II," ''Darksiders II," ''Dust: An Elysian Tail," ''Far Cry 3," ''Halo 4," ''Mark of the Ninja," ''Need for Speed: Most Wanted," ''Paper Mario: Sticker Star," ''Papo & Yo," ''The Unfinished Swan."

  • Local HeadlinesLocal HeadlinesMore>>

  • 'I never thought about dying that day'

    'I never thought about dying that day'

    Sunday, April 20 2014 12:13 AM EDT2014-04-20 04:13:03 GMT
    It's still not easy for Katie Lentz to look at the car she was driving Aug. 4, 2013. Twisted metal and broken glass are all that remain of the car -- affectionately known as the "green bean" -- that was hit head-on by a drunk driver near Center, Mo. "It's still amazing every time I stop and think I was trapped in there, to look and see where I was seated in the driver's seat, and I can't believe there was enough room for me in the car," Le...
    It's still not easy for Katie Lentz to look at the car she was driving Aug. 4, 2013. Twisted metal and broken glass are all that remain of the car -- affectionately known as the "green bean" -- that was hit head-on by a drunk driver near Center, Mo. "It's still amazing every time I stop and think I was trapped in there, to look and see where I was seated in the driver's seat, and I can't believe there was enough room for me in the car," Le...
  • Local marathon runner eager to return to Boston

    Local marathon runner eager to return to Boston

    Saturday, April 19 2014 11:59 PM EDT2014-04-20 03:59:14 GMT
    Jeri Conboy doesn't expect too much to be different when she takes her place near the starting line at the Boston Marathon. "I don't anticipate what happened last year will dampen the mood," Conboy said. "Boston has hung tough through this whole experience." The 118th running of one of America's most famous marathons will be held Monday morning. Last year, tragedy struck when two pressure-cooker bombs exploded, killing three people and wounding...
    Jeri Conboy doesn't expect too much to be different when she takes her place near the starting line at the Boston Marathon. "I don't anticipate what happened last year will dampen the mood," Conboy said. "Boston has hung tough through this whole experience." The 118th running of one of America's most famous marathons will be held Monday morning. Last year, tragedy struck when two pressure-cooker bombs exploded, killing three people and wounding...
  • YWCA to honor 'Women of Achievement' at gala

    YWCA to honor 'Women of Achievement' at gala

    Saturday, April 19 2014 8:35 PM EDT2014-04-20 00:35:06 GMT
    A group of four women will be recognized Saturday as part of the YWCA of Quincy's 23rd annual Women of Achievement Gala at the Oakley-Lindsay Center. Lynn Niewohner, Debbie Reed, Denise Conkright and Gabrielle Green...
    A group of four women will be recognized Saturday as part of the YWCA of Quincy's 23rd annual Women of Achievement Gala at the Oakley-Lindsay Center. Lynn Niewohner, Debbie Reed, Denise Conkright and Gabrielle Green...
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and Quincy Herald-Whig. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service and Mobile Privacy Policy & Terms of Service.