My 5(ish) Favorite Games of 2012

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We’ve been talking about Game of the Year stuff as a matter of course over at Game Front. Everyone makes their top picks each year, and while we’re streamlining the number of awards and hullabaloo that’s going into it for 2012, we’re still doing it.

At Game Front, the system is democratic, and certainly a few of my favorites aren’t going to get mentioned. But I played a lot of really solid games this year, so I thought I’d take this opportunity to run them down and bring back the Tuesday Top 5 list convention, which I’ve fallen off from lately.

And so:

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Why Players Go So Nuts Over Choice

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I know, kind of a lot of video game blogs lately. I’m knee-deep in one of the busiest months of freelancing of the year for the medium, so it’s about all I have to talk about right now. That should be changing pretty soon as I start to do some more fiction work and other things. In the meantime, this is going to have to be about video games again.

And yeah, Dishonored is still on my mind. First, the game started out with a bit of a lovefest. Day One reviews for the game were glowing — it is, after all, a game about a supernatural assassin who has a vast many choices about how to approach those assassinations. And the majority of the praise for the game is for its freedom: You can decide to do a lot of stuff, or not do it. You can pick and choose your way forward, you can avoid things, you can strive for other things. You are the decider, or at least you feel like it, because even if your destination is mandated, your journey to that location is not.

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I Can’t Hear You: Talking About Games With Gamers

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Easily the simultaneously greatest and most disappointing thing about writing about video games for a living is the community. Sometimes you can have some incredible, engaging conversations with thoughtful people about the medium of video games — its ability to convey art, its conventions and tropes, its storytelling prowess, its experiential inventiveness.

Other times, you get shouted down by angry fools because you disagreed with them, and thus you’re obviously an idiot.

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Dishonored and the Art of Indirect Storytelling

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I’ve finally gotten a chance to play through the full experience of Dishonored this week, after having previewed it repeatedly. It’s one of the cooler games I’ve gotten a chance to experience this year — safe to say I enjoyed it thoroughly. I put all the thoughts I had on it into a review.

Something at which Dishonored excels is its storytelling, but it’s weird because storytelling is also one of its weakest points. When the game sets you down and has characters yammer away at you, explaining everything that’s going on and giving you no further ability to interact with them, it’s actually kind of boring. While the characters come to be pretty round and interesting later in the game, those info-dumps of exposition can really break up the flow of the game.

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