Games You Should’ve Played In 2012 But Didn’t – Part 2
Hopefully, you’ve seen the first batch of titles we think you should’ve played in 2012. If not, you can find those missed opportunities right here. Now, we’ll move on to the top tier of excellent gems that sparkled bright in caves no one was exploring. Let this fresh New Year be the one time that you don’t let some excellent projects pass you by for whatever reason. Let us herald in 2013 with the best 2012 had to offer in smaller packages.
6. Warlock: Master of the Arcane
Strategy games and in particular the 4X genre of explore, expand, exploit and exterminate has seen a rise to attention in 2012. However, not nearly every endeavor received the same amount of attention. The most overlooked title could well be Warlock: Master of the Arcane. With this project, strategy experts Paradox Interactive used their Majesty lore to present 4X from a different perspective. Much like Civilization Revolution, the pace in Warlock is boosted to new heights in the otherwise static designs of building, growing and expanding. Instead of waiting around to create structures, fund research and so on, all focus is directed towards warfare and churning out fantastical units.
However, Warlock doesn’t just stop at merely bringing fluency to strategy games. With extra planes of existence, powerful monsters and unique resources, players receive multiple layers of gameplay to decide their approach. Paired with enhancements available for singular units, Warlock makes for a powerhouse of gratification, as massive armies of bears, mages, goblins and skeletons take down yet another capital. Unfortunately, the purist crowd didn’t take the arcade vibe to heart and others dismissed its seemingly difficult designs, even if this is probably one of the most open strategy games to date.
5. Primal Carnage
Admittedly, the premise and execution of this shooter doesn’t bring a ton of content. Still, what Primal Carnage creates is one of the most entertaining multiplayer romps this year. Players flock together in secluded jungle facilities and abandoned harbors to fight other players that control a flock of dinosaurs. What follows does justice to the second word in the title: Carnage. Gunfire, flames and explosions shake the earth, as a giant T-Rex viciously chomps up its victims in one bite. Flying monsters pick up humans as their players helplessly look on to their last moments before plummeting to their death.
Even if level designs were hindered with resource points, there was a claustrophobic atmosphere merely present from hearing dinosaurs roar in the distance. Any second out in the open needed to be spent anxiously looking around for predators and even then a velociraptor Jurassic Park moment was not far away. A special mention goes to the character classes, which in a rare example actually felt individual in their traits. Not one person was the same and each served a different purpose. It’s hard to believe people would want even more than that from a simple indie title.
4. Planetside 2
Since we’re discussing underrated shooters, here comes our top pick in that category. Sony Online Entertainment is partially responsible for the mildly interesting Bullet Run, yet blew us away with Planetside 2. Hardly ever have we seen such a gargantuan struggle so well presented. Maps are so large that even their division into regions still spreads into miles of mountains, plains and elaborate bases. From there, players jump in, find a heroic squadron of colleagues and take the fight to the enemy in a stunning brawl for supremacy. With tons of customization possible for characters to explore within this universe, the atmosphere of being on the battlefield and serving your army is simply breathtaking. Add to that a series of vehicles that dominate the game and the stage is set for a game of warfare you want to be a part of, no matter how small your role is.
Unfortunately, Planetside 2 isn’t a welcoming game; hiding its prevalent designs deep within the core experience. That, plus the fact that people looked down on another “free-to-play MMO,” made shooter fans miss out on one of the prime examples of their choice. It is more than worth the effort to discover.
3. F1 Race Stars
Here lies a racing franchise doomed to fail. By using the F1 tropes, but changing them for a party karting journey, F1 Race Stars hit all the right notes with the wrong crowds. Using the official figures and licenses didn’t help, as pilots like Vettel and Alonso were presented in super deformed monstrosities of their own self. Yet, what matters about the game, the driving aspect, was top notch. Karting along the massively long tracks of each themed country was tons of fun, with all the loops, jumps, shortcuts and wacky weaponry involved. An original boosting system also used the sport’s method of speeding out of corners. In all, F1 Race Stars did all it could to match the reality and seriousness of Formula One with the silliness of party racers.
It’s a shame that the difficulty of this demanding sport was also partially integrated into the experience, since the project was marketed to children in the end. However, certainly online and in splitscreen, tracks were filled with competitive pleasure and tenacious artificial opponents to fill the gaps. If one game deserves more than the 80 thousand units it did so far, it’s F1 Race Stars for being bold and competent.
2. Endless Space
Let me get personal for a second: I love the 4X genre. I believe that, if well done, this type of feature encompasses anything anyone would want in a game. There are simulation parts, action parts, strategy elements, roleplaying aspects, adventuring; just about all you’d ever want. None of the previous titles enveloped this ambitious design as well as Endless Space this year. With a slick design that flows on the screen and keeps things clean, it brings players in and its accessibility makes sure they keep playing. Its many aspects get crystalized into bite-sized phrases, no more than one or two lines short. That way, any element in the game is distilled into a simple, learnable trait. Endless Space is a paragon of facilitation. That’s without the original exploration element, nor the equally renovating card system for space battles.
Sadly, even I missed out on this game at the time, due to reviewing conflicts, but since I picked it up later on I have cursed myself for not playing it sooner. This is the strategy title to rule them all, maybe even above XCOM. It deserves a ton more sales than it already received. It deserves to be in your game library.
1. Blades of Time
Oh, Blades of Time. I could write novellas on your weirdness, detached from any reality. This, albeit flawed, jewel of an adventure title soared in originality, for better or worse. A strange and completely inane storyline followed an incessantly talking heroine as she leapt through gorgeous level designs, strung together with dazzling details. Action was comprised of swift and satisfying combos, taken directly to foes and immediately switchable to link deaths together in a never-ending ballet of violence. More so, a time element added more depth to that as the player could rewind time to drop into another dimension, while their previous timeline continued as they had played it out. This mechanic was used to create puzzles as well as innovating combat sequences with mobs and powerful bosses alike. The kicker was a strangely powerful multiplayer component that had nothing to do with the story, but still offered players an entertaining venture that could last for hours.
Understandably, gamers worldwide dismissed the game for its strangeness and its flaws, rather than to embrace it for the intoxicating spectacle it offered. With not even a hundred thousand sales worldwide, this work of art truly is 2012’s diamond in the rough.