The final 12. Any of the games on our Top 30 list are genuinely excellent games, an argument could be made for any of them to be the very best, but these final entries are special. Read on after the jump to see which ones made it into positions 12 to 7. You can catch up with 30 to 25 here, 24 to 19 here and 17 to 13 here…
12. Dishonored (PC, PS3, Xbox 360)
Freedom. Empower the gamer. Immerse the player in a rich, breathing world. Give the end user the tools to do what they want to do, play the game how they want to play. These are themes that appear again and again in the games in our Top 30 and Dishonored has them in spades. In fact, it’s the perfect storm. Intelligently designed, developers Arkane show great trust in the player to find their own way. The narrative nudges you just enough to keep you focused but the world of Dunwall is a tantalizing draw for exploration. While admiring the cityscapes, propaganda and architecture, you can’t help but think of the possibilities and endless tales this unique city has. Something Arkane know all too well, Dishonored’s story DLC is amongst the generations very best – telling the tale of another character caught up in the machinations of the mysterious Outsider. Taking inspiration from the likes of Deus Ex, Thief and the Hitman series, Dishonored blazes its own trail as one of this generations finest titles.
11. Tomb Raider 2013 (PC, PS3, Xbox 360)
Unfairly maligned? Its placement at number 11 on our list would suggest so (as would our review). While a minority were left cold by Lara Croft’s much needed reboot, the majority loved it. It is easy to see why. Taking the best of the Uncharted series and the world-building of BioShock, Tomb Raider crafted an excellent story of survival – of an ordinary person becoming someone extraordinary to overcome a hopeless situation. Frankly, it was refreshing to finally see Croft defined as a person and not a sex object. Kudos must go to writer Rhianna Pratchett but also to the animators and design team – Croft genuinely seems out of place; shipwrecked on a mysterious and dangerous island. It’s a thrill to watch her grow as the game proceeds. And what a superbly crafted game it is – tight and focused, harrowing and action-packed. We’re excited to see what comes next.
10. Assassins Creed II/Brotherhood (PC, PS3, Xbox 360)
This duo are undoubtedly the pinnacle of the Assassin’s Creed series, a franchise so entrenched in this generation that it’s difficult to remember when it hasn’t been around. Fatigue may have set in with the ill-judged Assassin’s Creed III but, don’t forget, Assassin’s Creed II and its spin-off Brotherhood are superb adventures. Assassin’s Creed II was arguably the game people wanted from the original – mechanics were tighter, the world more alive, more freedom – bigger and better in every way. The trump card was our new hero, Ezio. Charismatic and engaging in a way the originals Altair wasn’t, the AC franchise had finally hit upon someone we’d root for (the less said about Desmond, the better). Brotherhood refined and improved on the core of it’s elder brother, with a fantastically realised Rome and assassin’s guild management game. While AC II had the better story, Brotherhood had (just about) the better game. Both are brilliant and remain the series shining lights.
9. Telltale’s The Walking Dead (PC, PS3, Xbox 360, iOS)
Can Telltale’s The Walking Dead be judged alongside the other games in this list? Is it even a “game”? It doesn’t matter – it’s one of the finest examples of story telling this, or any, generation. Taking the story branching from Mass Effect and pushing it front and centre was a smart-move; giving you a short time-frame to make your decisions was genius. Every decision has impact sooner or later in the story and some are literally life or death choices for certain characters. And you have less than 10 seconds to decide. Gut-wrenching. Telltale understand the Walking Dead property in way the TV show (which, to be fair is seemingly taking major inspiration from this gaming series) and Activision’s woeful attempt don’t. It isn’t about the zombies. It’s about the people. It’s about emotions. And it’s about ruining you day in the best way possible.
8. XCOM: Enemy Unknown (PC, PS3, Xbox 360, iOS)
Stressful. Intense. Horrifying. Brutal. Challenging. Your worst nightmare. Yet, without a shadow of a doubt, XCOM: Enemy Unknown is one of the greatest games of the generation. Why? Everything matters. You need to train a first team AND a crack back-up. You need to research the correct technologies. You need to invest your money correctly. You need to build the right facilities. You need to keep panicking countries, all vying for your exclusive attention, onside and happy. Otherwise things might go horribly wrong. Get ready for this as it will happen anyway. And you’ll still love it. Firaxis, on the top of their game again, have crafted a sublime RTS that will punish you for your mistakes but every challenge succeeded tastes all the sweeter for it. Pro top. Don’t get too attached to your customisable soldiers… chances are they won’t all make it.
7. BioShock Infinite (PC, PS3, Xbox 360)
If you’re a long-time reader of Low Fat Gaming, you’ll know of our admiration of Irrational’s masterpiece, BioShock Infinite. Make no mistake, masterpiece is the correct term (catch up on our review here). As you’d expect, the shooting is solid – the addition of skyrails and vigors add extra dimensions to what could have ended up a rinse and repeat action-romp. As does the girl at the front and centre, Elizabeth. Worries that Infinite could become an extended escort mission were unfounded as Elizabeth could more than look after herself; just as satisfying, with Lara Croft, Last Of Us‘ Joel and Ellie and the whole cast of Telltale’s Walking Dead, she adds to the last years collection of superbly written, believable characters. Columbia is BioShock Infinite’s star, though. It was a tough challenge to even match the brilliance of BioShock’s Rapture, yet Irrational arguably exceeded themselves. Columbia is a marvel. Elegant and stylish, boasting a bevy of sweeping vistas and stunning architecture – Columbia is a place you’d happily explore, drinking in the sights. It wouldn’t be long until you notice its nasty underbelly; Columbia is rife with political and religious unrest. Irrational go big and brave with the issue of race too – it’s front and centre and a sign that the games industry is starting to mature. As you’d expect from the pen of Ken Levine, the story is big and bold, a sci-fi mind-melder that still has people talking today (here’s our spoiler filled blowout on it). You owe it to yourself to play this.
– Dave Green. He’s on Twitter @davidpgreen83