1. “Dishonored”

2012 was a great year for games, but few fresh releases made their way to the top like “Dishonored.” From the immediately intriguing storyline to the palpably grim depiction of a totalitarian government, the game seamlessly placed players in its mid-fantasy steampunk world.

Offering a multitude of ways to approach any given scenario and an array of spells that give the player a massive amount of control over the world, “Dishonored” is a stealth game that gives everyone anything they could possibly want. Players can play the game as a shadow, never being seen and never inflicting casualties, or experience the satisfaction of freezing a group of sadistic guards in time and then reducing them all to ash by means of a telepathically controlled, bomb-toting rat. It’s good stuff. “Dishonored” earns its place at the top by delivering solid gameplay and a top-notch story in a year where successful new IPs were few and far between.


2. “Borderlands 2

Sometimes you just need a game that doesn’t take itself too seriously, and “Borderlands 2” answered the call with flair. Want some kick-ass stylized graphics? Done. How about some futuristic tunes to serenade you while you empty a few hundred rounds into an armored midget? Why not! You like guns? Here are a few thousand, complete with shotguns that shoot bullets that then shoot bullets.

With an addicting co-op-centered gameplay and rarer loot when more friends join in the fun, “Borderlands 2” trades realism for fun, serious strategy in exchange for a “Screw that, I’m going in guns blazing” type of spontaneity. And the game even rewards you by increasing the tempo of the music while you begin your rampage. The storyline’s pretty great too, complete with some fantastic voice acting. What more could you want in a game?


3. “Torchlight 2”

The sequel to Runic Games’s hugely successful “Torchlight” came a few months after Blizzard’s dungeon crawling, loot grinding journey to hell and back “Diablo III” hit shelves worldwide. It offers a lighter take on the hack-and-slash genre, with less oppressively dark shouldering of the weight of the world and more indiscriminately bashing through anything that moves. “Torchlight II” provides a more accessible and casual experience to those looking for a less intense play-through than “Diablo” while retaining all of the excitement. A robust endgame comes bundled with the game, something its high-budget competitor lacked sorely until recently, and free downloadable content from Runic Games is expected in 2013, ensuring that the game will continue to provide new thrills to newcomers and veterans alike.


4. “Halo 4

Unsurprisingly, 343 Industries’s reboot of the “Halo” series and the beginning of the Reclaimer saga rocked everyone’s world this year. Without a doubt one of the most graphically impressive console games of the year, “Halo 4” provided the trademark alien ass-kicking and sci-fi story its hardcore lore adherents adore, with new settings and enemies — and brand-spanking new ways to litter said settings with said enemies’ innards.

The multiplayer’s loadout system and depth puts its predecessors to shame and is constantly being updated with new game modes and maps to keep the constant string of profanities flowing from the mouths of hundreds of thousands of gamers. While not full of innovation, the game is a solid and a worthy successor to one of the most popular first-person shooter series in history and a worthy contender for game of the year.


5. “Guild Wars 2”

For those looking for the next-generation of MMORPG’s, look no further than ArenaNet’s “Guild Wars 2.” Where competitors struggled with familiar and boring gameplay mechanics, “Guild Wars 2” crafted playstyles that rely on one’s skill and thinking ability, instead of just mashing the numbers on your keyboard.

And the developers, always with an ear to their fans’ doors, created a stunning environment that was graphically impressive and filled it with voice-acted NPC’s — enough voice-acting to make 60 feature-length films. Combining that with the elimination of factions, a thrilling and addictive PVP mode and the option for some seriously ambitious world vs. world battles; fans and first-timers alike will be blown away.


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