Every year, there are certain moments in gaming that stand out. Whether it’s something that happens in a game such as Andrew Ryan’s revelation in BioShock, or something that happens outside of a game such as the release of a new console, there are certain moments that define what gaming was like in that particular year. As the year comes to a close, our editors have chosen the greatest gaming moments of 2012.
There are a few great moments that immediately come to mind. Firstly, the red-washed, sunset glide down the desert hills of Journey. You float and dance elegantly (hopefully) with another player by your side as the camera pans wide revealing the mountain far in the distance. Jumping and singing, the music changes and all is really nice for the brief interlude. It’s the last bit of joy the game offers until the final ascent. It’s brilliant.
Also, on the complete opposite end of the spectrum if only in appearance, the space flight level in Halo 4 is pure gaming nirvana. The epic music swells as you’re treated to a Star Fox-esque on-rails segment, flying a Broadsword down the channel of the massive enemy vessel. By far the highlight of the campaign, it made me wish Halo was a flight game, not a FPS. It is a lot like Journey in a way: mostly on-rails, beautiful music, creamy-smooth controls.
It’s odd how they both are very similar. They have minimal player-input with ambiance cranked up to eleven. Perhaps in 2012 gaming made more strides than I initially gave it credit for.
One of this year’s best gaming moments came from an unlikely place. While I was playing through the campaign of Call of Duty: Black Ops II, I was having a decent time, but the weak plot was keeping me from being fully interested in the game. At the end of the Farid mission, players are given an incredibly difficult choice. [Minor Spoilers.] Players have to choose between preserving their cover by killing a main character (who I will not name) and blowing their cover by not killing him. Whether or not the player chooses to spare or kill the man, the game takes a dramatic turn either way.
The campaign in Black Ops II isn’t anything special until that moment. After that moment, players are much more immersed in the story, even if it’s full of plot holes. That moment alone pushes the storytelling in the Call of Duty series forward by leaps and bounds. Video games have the potential to be the best medium for storytelling. Video games can immerse people into a story like nothing else can. As strange as it sounds, one moment in an awful story immersed me into the game in a way that no other game did this year. The ending of the Farid mission in Black Ops II is truly one of gaming’s greatest moments of 2012.
I put this piece off on purpose, and initially due to disappointment. Now, despite what many seem to be saying, I believe we’ve had a great year in gaming overall. Mass Effect. Diablo. Dishonored. XCOM. Borderlands. Devoting a paragraph to nothing but a long list of incredible titles released in the past 12 months couldn’t even be considered a challenge. And still, it saddens me to say that none of 2012’s titles were especially me. None struck me as something I definitely had to play day one, and none produced that profound sense of addiction and engrossment to earn a nod for the Greatest Gaming Moment of the Year. A result of personal preferences and not a slight against any of these masterpieces — Heavens no! — yet I hadn’t found a hook this year.
Taking advantage of that eerie calm that comes near the closing days of college classes when course projects are complete yet studying for finals so early still seems unnecessary, I dedicated my morning to Journey. I went in blind, somehow successfully dodging the details since its release back in March. For the majority of the year, I’d made it my mission to avoid reviews, videos, articles, and discussions related to the game with a deep desire for any emotional reactions to be entirely my own, away from the influence of secondhand analysis embedded in my subconscious. A cloaked figure traversing a desert was the extent of my knowledge, and the excitement grew. However, by now I’d postponed the playthrough for so long, been so engulfed by the overflowing hype, that I was a tad terrified to try it out. What if Journey isn’t everything I’ve imagined it to be? Would it be better to let it live on as an amazing experience I managed to miss instead of a lovely letdown?
No, I couldn’t ignore it any longer. I had to go on my Journey…
…And that’s where my greatest gaming moment description ends. Any information relayed beyond what I’ve already said will only detract from your virgin experience with thatgamecompany’s brilliance incarnate, and I simply wouldn’t do that to you.
Have yourself a merry little Christmas and bring home the Collector’s Edition tonight. Plan to make memories you’ll never forget.
Console launches always trigger a childlike glee inside of me. While the PSP never took off the same way the PlayStation consoles have, I still adored my plus-sized launch PSP. With great hardware reviews and decent launch titles, I was absolutely pumped for the Vita. Sure, it’s struggling to gain a foothold nowadays, but the first few days with it were utter bliss. The system felt incredibly solid. The bright and beautiful screen was very responsive and sharp-looking. I got into gaming with the Gameboy and Pokemon; to think I can now play a full Uncharted game is a testament to how far we’ve come in such a short time. The future of handheld gaming may be in jeopardy, but at least for now, I’m loving it.