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Thrifty Nerd’s Top Ten Games of 2012

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#10 Mass Effect 3

by Tim Lanning

This generation’s best space opera concluded in Mass Effect 3. While several issues marred Shepard’s final voyage, ME3 is still a great game. It improved the combat in a number of much needed areas and even added a fun and engaging multiplayer mode that no one thought would succeed. Who knows what the view of this game will be in the future, but for now it definitely earned a place in our top ten, if only barely. 

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#9 Fez

by Michael DiMauro

Fez succeeds on several levels. When you first sit down with it, you will be utterly charmed by the gorgeous 8bit atheistic (including the music), the simple platforming and the extremely clever game mechanic of being able to rotate the entire game space. If that was all there was to it, then Fez would have been a sweet little indie game that would have been great to spend a few afternoons with. That is just the very tip of the iceberg. Beyond the adorable surface of Fez lives one of the deepest puzzlers in years with challenges so fiendish it took the power of the internet weeks to sort them all out. That is, if they really are all sorted out.

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#8 Sleeping Dogs

by Mike Dao

Sleeping Dogs was the biggest surprise of the year, having only picked it up due to the Steam Winter Sale. Though it was only bought because of a discount, it ended up being one of the best experiences a gamer can have in 2012. The story puts you in the shoes of an undercover cop in Hong Kong, trying to bring down one of the major organized crime syndicates in the city. With very believable environments, and top notch voice acting, Sleeping Dogs has provided the gamers of 2012 with a gripping crime story as enjoyable as The Departed, or the movie it was originally based on, Infernal Affairs.

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#7 Mark of the Ninja

by Nick Bristow

If Dishonored is 3D stealth done right, then Mark of the Ninja is 2D stealth done absolutely perfectly. It really makes you feel like a ninja. You are the all powerful killing machine in the shadows you always wanted to be.

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#6 Far Cry 3

by Nick Bristow

Far cry 3 is just packed with fun things to do. There are vehicles, wing suits, and animals to hunt just to name a few. As you go from mission to mission, you will find pirate bases, rare animals, and tons of emergent gameplay. You can approach almost every situation however you like and the fun is what you make it.

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#5 The Walking Dead

by Michael DiMauro

The Walking Dead is a game that will be imitated for years, as it is one of the very few video games that gets “story” right. It sets an unparalleled atmosphere that give a palpable sense of the sense of a post apocalyptic world. Your mind won’t be blown by game-play mechanics, but that isn’t what is important to The Walking Dead. The game aspect really shines with player agency, and how you become even more attached to the characters in the story because of how deeply the decisions you are making affects them. If only my colleagues are human hearts, The Walking Dead would have landed much higher on this list.

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#4 Dishonored

by Mike Dao

The stealth action genre is one that saw a lot of entries this year, but it was a new IP from Arkane Studios and published by Bethesda that took the crown. Everything from Dishonored is fresh, from its steampunk setting to its first person stealth gameplay. Though the voice acting is rather bland, the game plays quite intelligently, providing the player with multiple paths to success. Considering the fact that the universe gets darker with each person the protagonist kills, the game provides ample incentive to go back and replay levels with different approaches. Dishonored is a more intelligent stealth action game and deserves to be on this list.

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#3 FTL: Faster Than Light

by Tim Lanning

Faster Than Light surprised so many with its addictive “just one more try” gameplay and deep strategic ship customization. Its humorous writing soothed your wounds after a poorly devised strategy resulted in the death of one of your valuable crewmembers. Its stop and start battles always kept the frantic pace of ship-to-ship combat in check. And its final boss was so difficult that finally beating it rewarded one of this years best moments in gaming. FTL will relentlessly torture you but it will still find a place in your heart.

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#2 Persona 4 Golden

by Nick Bristow

It may be considered a cop out in terms of best game of the year because as you may know, Persona 4 came out in 2007 on the Playstation 2. While that is a valid point, Persona 4 Golden is an expanded version of that game and more importantly on the Vita. This last point is what, in my opinion, takes it from great to incredible. I don’t have time to sit in front of my TV for hours as I get lost in a dungeon, but thanks to the Vita’s suspend game states, I don’t have to. I can pause at anytime and take the game at my own pace. It’s a huge, meaty RPG with tons to do. It is an experience everyone should have.

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#1 XCOM

by Mike Dao

Permanent Death is something gamers do not encounter often, as from the old days of gaming, even Super Mario Brothers gave the player three lives to start with and the opportunity to earn more. XCOM: Enemy Unknown is a brilliant remake of a beloved PC title, and manages to bring turned based strategy games to the mainstream, removing all of the cruft, leaving behind an incredible experience which makes every single decision that the player makes meaningful. It is a game that makes a war for humanity’s survival so much more personal, and it is a game that deserves to be called the best of 2012.

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