What are your Top 10 favorite games this year?

What are your top 10 games of 2012?

Since we’re pretty much closing out 2012, I was interested in knowing what you fellow polynauts’ list as your favorite game experiences of the year. It’s pretty easy I think for most people to list their favorite game or 2 of the year, but it got a lot more interesting for me when I had to list my favorite 10 games in a ranked order from 10 to 1.

I also found it fun to condense down why I love a particular game in a few sentences. So feel free to express what your favorite games were, and give a 2-3 sentence pitch if you’d like to explain why they’re great.

My person top 10 games this year:

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1. Dishonored: The most impactful game experience I've had all of this year. It does what I ultimately want in a video game, by sucking me into an interesting world I both want to explore, and use interesting systems to affect. The degree of possible interactions (causing many emergent moments) in this game you can have with the mechanics and level design is something I rarely see, and even more rarely get condensed into a single avatar I control in real-time.

Note: Well executed interlocking gameplay systems that generate multiple possibilities, color many of my favorite games this year.

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2. XCOM: Enemy Unknown: Like Dishonored, the degree of emergent moments you can have is huge due to how robust the systems are in play, the amount of troops you manage, and the level of randomness built into the setup. Add in the interesting and addicting anthill base customization, multitude of upgrades, permadeath, and it became an experience I'll go back to for years to come.

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3. Far Cry 3: Well this choice was a surprise, because I've only had a week of experience with it on my friend's computer, and was gifted to me for Christmas on Steam. My experience was similar to Dishonored and XCOM though, where the game is composed of numerous interlocking gameplay systems that make each encounter a little different…just with guns, tons of dangerous animals, hang-gliding, and a big open world.

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4. Mark of the Ninja: Another game this year that really did stealth well, especially in terms of how it handled awareness. By awareness I mean the Mark of the Ninja elegantly shows the player if they're hidden or not, by visualizing sound you make, shadowed areas, and strong non-linear (Thief inspired) level design translated well into 2d.

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5. FTL: Faster Than Light: Here you get game that makes a rogue-like experience appealing to a wider audience, through smaller play sessions, and gameplay based around a space ship simulation. What’s so interesting about this game than any other on my list is how starkly random each session is, presenting changing encounters that really sell I’m exploring the galaxy like a Star Trek commander, and numerous gameplay systems that just make it fun to replay over and over…even though I die every time.

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6. Borderlands 2: I didn't quite get the time I wanted to with this game, given I was moving myself to a new state a few days after it came out, but my time with it was memorable. Engaging co-op, improved AI, better visual variety, more gun variation, fantastic characters, and to top it off probably the funniest thing I've played all year.

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7. Guild Wars 2: Another game I wanted more time for, but overall an interesting change-up for MMOs having entirely dynamic quest content. Differing from other MMOs, combat forces you to keep moving, with Diablo-influenced skills limited to 10 at any one time, and is setup to eliminate the annoying "holy trinity" grouping. Add in an emphasis on exploration and a fantastic art style has brought back my interest in the MMO.

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8. The Walking Dead: Sadly haven't completed all the episodes, but I've made it far along to see the biggest moments people rave about. It's the one adventure game since The Longest Journey that has sucked me into a mostly narrative experience, even though the player interaction is somewhat minimal. Choices fit into grey areas of morality, each with harsh consequences, meaning they're actually hard to make…which is why Mass Effect 3 is not on my list, because it has none of those.

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9. Orcs Must Die 2: Another game where I played it at a friend's house, before recently acquiring it during a holiday sale. It's a nice sequel to a game I loved, but with more traps that up tactical variety, more levels to suck up hours, and co-op that makes it just that "pure fun" game with friends.

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10. Diablo 3: Despite many people being disappointed, I found the game a pleasurable co-op experience with one of my close friends. I'm not fanboy over the series, but I found it a mechanical improvement from Diablo 2 (barring later game balance issues). I also enjoyed the flexible progression system where I could change up skills on the fly to experiment with builds, and the rune system altering skills beyond numeric buffs.

So what is your top 10?

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