10. Assassin’s Creed 3 – Huge technical accomplishment that set the bar higher for future open-world games
9. Spec Ops: The Line – Looks like another Call of Duty military shooter clone but once you get into it, it’s clear that it’s anything but. It’s a rare game that makes us question why we like war games of this sort in the first place.
8. The Walking Dead –No health bars, heads-up displays or experience points, this game is all about human relationships and choices the player makes affect the ‘people’ in the game. There are great example of how games can tell a better – or more involving – story than any other medium.
7. Nintendo Land – Nintendo Land is the shining example of what Nintendo is trying to accomplish with its new Wii U console. The 12 mini-games all show off one or more aspects of the second-screen concept.
6. Journey – Unlike any other game out there, Journey has no words, dialogue or instructions – players are meant to simply figure things out for themselves and to interpret their experiences however they see fit.
5. Sleeping Dogs – A game doesn’t have to be perfectly original to be a ton of fun. This title incorporates a fighting system that’s reminiscent of the Batman Arkham games, a driving system similar to the Need for Speed series and slow-motion gun-fights from the Max Payne franchise, all of which are set in a Grand Theft Auto-like criminal underworld.
(United Front Games)
4. The Unfinished Swan – Every now and then, a game comes along and tries something completely unique with old game standards and absolutely nails it. Like Journey, The Unfinished Swan can be considered an art game – especially given that it takes place inside a painting – but it’s not just thought-provoking, it’s a lot of fun to boot.
3. Halo 4 – If ever there were a template for how to make a super-big budget game properly, surely Halo 4 would be it. The latest instalment of the sci-fi adventures of the Master Chief gets everything right.
2. Far Cry 3 – By perfecting the formula for an open-world first-person shooter, the developers at Ubisoft have made it significantly harder to appreciate linear rivals such as Call of Duty, which offer pre-determined experiences that merely take the player from point A to point B. All of a sudden, compared to Far Cry, such games feel old.
1. Mass Effect 3 – The best game of 2012 is also its most controversial. But even if you hated the ending the sci-fi role-playing saga’s concluding chapter was still outstanding in every other way. From incredibly imagined (and rendered) alien worlds to excellent sound design and voice acting and tremendously engaging gameplay, BioWare nailed every technical aspect, all of which meshed with its traditional strong suit: storytelling and characterization.