The 15 games that kept us busy (and a few other fun titles)

Sleeping_Dogs-1We here at Shortcut Gamer have an interest in all types of games.

However, there are always those games that just keep us coming back over and over. It was tough narrowing down the list to just 10 games so we decided to make it 15.

Oh yeah, and there are a few other fun distractions tacked on too. (You know, because we just couldn’t decide on 15 either)!

15. Uncharted: Golden Abyss (PlayStation Vita)

Kicking off the countdown is a prequel that was a launch title for the PS Vita. It does a tremendous job keeping the pace with its console counterparts in the Uncharted series. It brings to the table a plethora of fun control types, like using the touch screen to climb surfaces, but it also allows the player to use the buttons to perform most of these functions. I like this aspect of the game because it allows for more diversity in how the game is played. It’s a pretty long-lasting adventure, the story is solid and the dialogue, graphics, gameplay mechanics, and everything else is on par with the PS3 trilogy. For a launch title, it’s a great game and a must-have for any PS Vita owner.

14. South Park Tenorman’s Revenge (Xbox Live Arcade)

The second downloadable South Park game on the Xbox 360 takes a more traditional gameplay style than its predecessor and continues the story from one of the most classic episodes of South Park. Players have the ability to play as all four of the main South Park characters, each with their own unique abilities. It’s a great testament to the show and truly captures what makes South Park so fun. I also love the classic 2D side-scroller gameplay.

13. Little Big Planet PS Vita/LBP Karting/LBP 2 Cross-Controller (PS3/Vita)

Okay, so I kind of cheated on this entry but I wanted to make the point that it was a big year for Little Big Planet. First up is Little Big Planet for Vita. Out of everything I’ve played on the Vita, this game is by far my favorite. It takes what made LBP on PS3 so amazing and unique and puts it into the palm of your hand like never before. It does everything the PSP version should have done (IE a proper online system) and uses the Vita’s many control mechanisms in ways that you have to experience to truly enjoy.

Next is LBP Karting and though the name is a bit of a mouthful (why they didn’t call it LBP Karts or Racers or anything else really, I’ll never understand) the game is a great entry into the LBP universe. Developed by the creators of Mod Nation Racers, it takes everything good from MNR and throws out all the bad. The game mixes racing with the quirky gameplay elements of LBP (like using a grappling hook in the middle of a race) and makes an experience like no other.

Lastly, we have something that isn’t so much of a game but more of an add-on. Sony recently released the LBP Cross-Controller add-on for Little Big Planet 2. A pack of new levels and creation tools can be purchased from the PlayStation Store for $4.99. After downloading a small update on the Vita, the system can connect to the PS3 and work as the controller for LBP 2. Players can then play through the pack’s included levels or play the ever-popular user-created levels using Wii U-like functionality that sees Sackboy jumping from the big screen to the Vita screen and back again. After the initial setup, which is a bit of a hassle, it works seamlessly and creates an experience that is a blast, especially when playing local or online multiplayer.

12. PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale (PS3/Vita)

Ah yes, the game that will forever be compared to Nintendo’s Smash Bros. series despite being quite different and a lot more fun. Even before this game was officially announced, gamers everywhere were making comparisons between the two series, but in the end, the game turned out to be even better than expected. I’ve never been a fan of Smash Bros. but this game changed a lot of the things I didn’t like about Nintendo’s series. Mixing a great cast of PlayStation heroes—past and present—All-Stars Battle Royale pits players in a fight to the finish to see who can take home the bragging rights of being PlayStation’s finest. With a great engine, excellent roster (and more to come through DLC), unique gameplay (when compared to similar games), and cross-play with the Vita, PSASBR is a gem that every PlayStation fan should pick up.

11. Far Cry 3 (Multi-Plat)

Far Cry is a series that sort of seems to fly under the radar. In fact, I hadn’t even heard of it until I got Far Cry 2 for free from PlayStation Plus. I was surprised at how good it is and played through the game, enjoying every second of it. So, of course when Far Cry 3 was announced (that E3 trailer!), I got pretty excited. The game didn’t disappoint. Solid gameplay, a beautiful graphics engine and an excellent story make this one of 2012’s best games.

10. Starhawk (PS3)

Starting off the top 10 is the spiritual successor to one of the PS3’s best games: Warhawk. Starhawk isn’t technically a sequel, but more of a reimagining of the series. In a lot of ways, I love the game because the gameplay is just as fun as Warhawk and the addition of the single player campaign, new weapons, build and battle system, transforming walker/hawk planes, etc. added more value to the purchase, but in other ways, I kind of wish they had just made Warhawk 2.

Perhaps, we’ll see a proper sequel for the next-gen systems that is more like Warhawk, but don’t get me wrong, Starhawk is still a lot of fun! It’s just different and I think a lot of people were disappointed in how big of a change it ended up being. In the end, it’s an excellent game and I feel like a lot of people have passed it up because of mixed reviews. I can say this, as a huge Warhawk fan, if you loved Warhawk, you’ll enjoy Starhawk.

9. New Super Mario Bros. U (Wii U)

In my Wii U hands-on article, I didn’t say much about this game because let’s face it, it’s Mario. It’s a tried-and-true formula that just works and this game is no different. It’s an excellent entry in the series and as always, it keeps gamers on their toes every step of the way. The multiplayer functionality is a welcome addition for parties or family gatherings. Nintendo hit the ball out of the park once again.

8. Journey (PSN)

There isn’t much that can be said about Journey that hasn’t already been said. It’s a unique, beautiful, fun, and rewarding adventure that has to be experienced to be fully enjoyed and appreciated. Though, it’s a short game, like its predecessor, Flower, it’s an experience that can be played through multiple times. Journey is not only one of the best games of the year, it’s one of the best games ever.

7. Twisted Metal (PS3)

Twisted Metal came back in a big way in 2012. David Jaffe’s reimagined version of the series that won me over and helped make me a gamer for life definitely didn’t disappoint. Though its launch was met with some online server issues, the single player campaign was a blast and once the online kinks were worked out (mostly), the multiplayer was a truly fun experience that will be enjoyed by this gamer for years to come. Though, I prefer the more traditional approach that we saw in Twisted Metal 2, Eat Sleep Play’s take on gaming’s darkest, most sadistic series is certainly a must-have title.

6. Assassin’s Creed III (Multi-Plat)

I must say that despite lingering bugs and issues, which have plagued this series since the start, AC3 is one of my favorite games of all time. The setting, the stunning graphics, the voice-acting, the gameplay…everything Ubisoft has done here to create a great game, satisfies the player. I’m not sure if I like it more than AC2, but it’s definitely on par. For a series that was getting rusty, stale and everything in between, Ubisoft has done an excellent job redeeming what I can now honestly say is one of the best series of this generation. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for the next entry.

Oh, and the Vita game is also a ton of fun!

5. Need for Speed Most Wanted (Multi-Plat)

Kicking off the top five is a game that went from being one of my most anticipated games of the year to one of my favorites. Criterion’s take on the Need for Speed series with Hot Pursuit was a blast, but this game (I still say it’s essentially Burnout Paradise 2) crosses the finish line in first place.

This is what I want to see the Need for Speed series evolve into next gen. My only complaint with this game is that it’s a pretty short experience. It feels like by the time you really get the hang of it and start really enjoying ripping up the streets in all the gnarly cars in the game, it’s over. So, for that reason I put it slightly lower on my list than the next entry…

4. Forza Horizon (Xbox 360)

Forza has been a beast of a series ever since it first launched and the last three games are certainly some of the best games in the 360’s library, but Horizon takes a stroll down a different road that I’ll admit I wasn’t sure was going to work.

It did.

This game is amazing. There is more than enough to do in the game and it can actually be overwhelming how much content Turn 10 packed onto the disc. Not to mention, the extensive list of DLC that’s already available for the game. Forza Horizon is one of the best racing games I’ve played this generation. I don’t know if this is what I prefer from the Forza series but if Turn 10 can continue this as a side series and still make the main Forza games, they may just have a beautiful formula on their hands.

3. Lego Batman 2 (Multi-Plat)

Lego Batman is, to this day, one of my favorite experiences on the PS3. I grew up as a huge Batman fan and of course, I don’t think any kid who grew up in the 90’s didn’t play with Legos. This game took everything that made the first one so much fun and turned it up to hardcore. The open world, the tons of unlockable characters, the unique gameplay of each character type—it’s no wonder why I ended up earning the Platinum Trophy in this game. My favorite part of the game though had to be the fact that the Lego characters finally talk. The humor is excellent and the animation is great. Go ahead; call me a big kid for loving this game. I’ll take it as a compliment.

2. WWE 13 (Multi-Plat)

If you’ve been following Sac City Gamer, you know how much I love wrestling games. WWE 13 did not disappoint! The Attitude Era content brought back so many memories of the first two wrestling games I played. The gameplay in this title is excellent and some of the best in the series’ history. Though the game is riddled with bugs, glitches and other issues that THQ is supposedly working on a patch for, the game overall is great. Just the roster alone makes the game worth a purchase if you’re a fan of the WWE’s Attitude Era.

Even if you didn’t grow up watching the likes of Stone Cold, The Rock and Mankind, the game does a great job recapping their stories and there is a ton of content to keep gamers coming back. Despite the bugs, Universe Mode (a story/franchise mode that puts the player in almost complete control), online, and THQ’s unrivaled creation suites make this another excellent entry into the series.

1. Sleeping Dogs (Multi-Plat)

I know what you’re saying, how can this guy who is so in love with wrestling games not put WWE 13 at number one? Well the answer to that question is simple: Sleeping Dogs.

Sleeping Dogs is a game that at one point in time, many gamers, myself included, thought they were never going to be able to play. Activision was the original publisher of the game and they billed it as a new entry in the True Crime series called, True Crime: Hong Kong. For whatever reason though, Activision canceled the game mid-way through its development cycle and it looked like a promising game was lost forever. That is until Square-Enix came along and scooped it up. The publisher allowed the game’s developer, United Front Games to change the direction of the game back to its original form and Sleeping Dogs was released a year or so later.

Set in Hong Kong, players take control of Wei Shen, an undercover cop tasked with the goal of taking down a high-profile underground street syndicate. The game takes players on one of best adventures ever told in a video game. With tons of twists and turns, crude humor, references to Asian pop-culture, and a gameplay system that blows most other open-world games out of the water, Sleeping Dogs is truly one of my favorite games of all time.

My favorite element to the game was the fact that for once, a game developer—in keeping with the way things are done in Hong Kong—didn’t have to rely on guns to make the game fun. Sure, it has guns and they become an important aspect of the game in the later missions, but most of the game can be played by using hand-to-hand combat. With an excellent fighting system in place, this makes the game a ton of fun and sets it apart from the game industry’s loving relationship with guns.

The game also features an excellent soundtrack, polished overall experience, amazing racing/driving engine, beautiful graphics with some of the best looking water I’ve ever seen, and side-missions that will keep players coming back for more even when the story is done. If you haven’t played Sleeping Dogs, do yourself a favor and play it. You won’t regret it.

Some other fun 2012 titles recommended by Sac City Gamer:

Dirt Showdown (Multi-Plat)

Frobisher Says! (Vita)

Max Payne 3 (Multi-Plat)

MotorStorm RC (PS3/Vita)

Reality Fighters (Vita)

Sorcery (PS3-Move)

So, what did you enjoy in 2012? Let us know in the comments.

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