The first Borderlands quickly established itself as one of the best co-op experiences back in 2009, and succeeded despite being forgettable in the realm of story. Not so with Borderlands 2, which not only builds on the RPG systems and excellent shooting of its predecessor in practical ways, but tells a compelling story full of memorable, endearing characters. There are few arguments for a better time with friends in 2012.
It's good to know your limits, but apparently Retro City Rampage creator Brian Provinciano doesn't have any. What started out as an experiment to see if he could port GTA 3 to the NES hardware for fun eventually turned into Retro City Rampage, a quirky, retro-inspired sandbox crime game. The genre has been done to death, but what helps differentiate Retro City Rampage from the rest is snappy, hilarious writing and tons of fan service – homages to old video games, pop culture and the like reign supreme throughout. Retro City Rampage is a shining example of what one man can accomplish with an idea and some determination.
It's hard to believe it's been six years since the last Dead or Alive game and, while initially I didn't feel like Dead or Alive 5 had augmented the series much since Dead or Alive 4, side-by-side comparisons don't lie. Going back and playing Dead or Alive 4 instantly proves that Dead or Alive 5 is a much faster game, requiring even speedier responses and reflexes. For someone who's logged in thousands of hours playing this series, Dead or Alive 5 feels much more dangerous and new, and established itself as my favorite fighter of 2012.
Not many games can tell you a lot about yourself, shining light on your inextinguishable perseverance or complete cowardice. Spelunky is one of those games, a 2012 Xbox Live Arcade port of a freeware Windows game created by Derek Yu – and quite possibly the toughest game of 2012. I learned I'm part of the former camp, sweat amongst my brow as I died over and over and kept pushing forward regardless of the inevitable, expedient doom lurking just ahead in the darkness.
At first glance, The Walking Dead: Assault may seem like a tactical-action game on auto-pilot – you tell a little dot where to stand and watch it mow down dozens of tiny little pixelated zombies. But just beneath the surface, The Walking Dead: Assault shows it's quite the deep strategy experience, with intermingling systems of active and passive buffs to consider and numerous class-based strategies to employ. We've only seen the first episode so far and The Walking Dead: Assault came at the tail-end of the year, but it quickly established itself as my go-to iPad app.
There are numerous certainties in one's life. We all lose our baby teeth, we've scraped a knee at one point in our childhood and we all most likely remember our first scary movie. One of the certainties in my life is that I will buy every game that Criterion puts out, because no other outfit has mastered the arcade racer quite like them. Only within their games can you find this crazy dimension where spinning your wheels actually makes you go faster and where going 299MPH feels like going 299MPH. Need for Speed: Most Wanted is an excellent addition to the studio's catalogue and a worthy spiritual successor to Burnout: Paradise.