#8 – Sleeping Dogs
- Developer: United Front Games, Square Enix London Studios
- Publisher: Square Enix
- NA Release Date: August 13, 2012
- Read WGTC’s full Sleeping Dogs review
Chad Goodmurphy – To say that Sleeping Dogs had a tumultuous journey from conception to retail store shelves would be an understatement. The third-person sandbox-action game, which began its digital life as a new intellectual property, ended up being cancelled by Activision after the publisher had rebranded it as True Crime: Hong Kong. Looking back, it’s hard to believe that ever happened, considering how great the final product ended up being.
Thankfully, things ended up working out for developer United Front Games after Square Enix agreed to pick up the Hong Kong crime tale’s publishing duties. The promise that the company saw within the game ended up paving the way for its unexpected summer 2012 retail release, gifting the industry with an interactive gem to play during a relatively slow season. Who knows what would have happened if the Japanese gaming giant hadn’t come to the rescue.
After seeing all of the success and accolades that Sleeping Dogs has received since its release, the Activision executives who decided to cancel the project must be kicking themselves. Mistakes do happen, of course, but this one stands out more than others. That’s because, not only is Wei Shen’s undercover mission a standout experience from this calendar year, its engaging storyline, riveting gameplay and immersive game world have all combined to make it one of its genre’s all-time best.
#7 – XCOM: Enemy Unknown
- Developer: Firaxis Games
- Publisher: 2K Games
- NA Release Date: October 9, 2012
- Read WGTC’s full XCOM: Enemy Unknown review
Christian Law – Most people see tobacco or alcohol as the faces of addiction. But gamers this year were re-introduced to the XCOM series, and weeks were suddenly lost to the abyss that is XCOM: Enemy Unknown. Presenting a tactical strategy game that is nearly as immersive as it is unforgiving, this is perhaps the best game of the genre to be released in years.
Similar to games such as The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim or The Mass Effect series, fans who played all the way through had completely different experiences, creating endless stories to share around the water cooler about how terribly their squad was torn apart. Alien attackers come in all shapes and sizes, and the variety serves to tear apart every soldier you’ve spent months training. Watching the lone survivor of the initial assault get struck down by a tiny gray man months into the war is one of the most devastating experiences a gamer can go through, and the fact that you care so much is a testament to this amazing game.
Despite how unforgiving XCOM: Enemy Unknown is, it always seems fair and full of emotion. Panic begins to set in as nations refuse to help your squad, and watching any soldier meet their death is awful. Although they are all faceless and nearly devoid of personality, you develop a connection to the characters that allows you to revel in every success and climb back from the pit of each defeat.
Even gamers who have sworn off the strategy genre for life will find something to love in XCOM: Enemy Unknown. The addictive gameplay and resource gathering/research adds to an already astounding level of replay value, and knowing you hold the fate of the world in your hands will have you running back to your controller or keyboard and mouse every free second you get. Give it a chance, but be ready to lose yourself in the year’s most immersive experience.
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