Video games have short life spans, as the industry advances so quickly that they’re outdated after just a couple of months. Either that or a sequel that arrives 12 months later that immediately devalues the game. However, some video games have stood the test of time, and even if they feel dated, they’re still so much fun to revisit.
It’s hard to believe that these games are 10 years old already, as they’re still so fresh in fans’ memories. And others live rent-free in gamers’ heads years later for other reasons too, whether it’s because of their controversial releases or for being innovative tentpoles in the industry.
Far Cry 3
Far Cry 3 was the game in the series that established its current style. Though the previous two games were set on islands full of mercenaries where players had to use survival instincts to defeat them, it was Far Cry 3 that introduced satirical elements. It also had such a lived-in, exotic open-world that it was so much fun to simply drive around and admire the sights.
The 2012 classic also features the best Far Cry villain and one of the most iconic video game antagonists ever, Vaas. Every gamer has their own distinct recollections of the villain’s sadistic torture methods, whether it’s simply using his knife or tying people to cinder blocks and throwing those blocks off cliffs. The game is such a classic that fans have even gotten tattoos inspired by Far Cry 3.
Max Payne 3
The Max Payne series as a whole doesn’t get the recognition it deserves. Outside of the video game movie everyone forgot about, the games are hauntingly beautiful, as it’s full of demons and a has dark premise about a man who lost his family in such a tragic way. Interestingly, though the tonally and literally dark approach was the series’ trademark, Max Payne 3 did a complete 180, so much that it’s set in the blistering heat of Sao Paulo, Brazil.
It was a brave change of scenery, and while fans missed the haunting feel of the first two games, it isn’t like those games stopped existing when the 2012 game was released. Max Payne 3 is a fresh approach to the series, and as Max Payne’s story is by far the most riveting of Rockstar’s many amazing series, it’s a compelling third chapter that satisfyingly wraps up the vigilante’s story arc.
Before online gaming became the predominant way to play video games, the thought of an exclusively online story mode game was still a little farfetched in 2012. But that’s exactly what Journey did, and it turned online gaming from competitive battle royales into an art form.
Ironically, though the game is almost silent and sees players wandering over sand dunes with very little action, Journey made any loud first-person shooter released at the time look pedestrian. The game’s graphics are beautiful, the controls are simple but fluid, and the story is completely visual. Few games are as creative as this, and it’s a landmark in indie game development that has still yet to be topped.
Absolution is sandwiched between the phenomenal, boundary-pushing stealth PlayStation 2 games and the overwhelmingly dense sandbox PlayStation 4 games. This era of Hitman is one of the most interesting because it marked somewhat of a transitional phase for the series, and it seemed as if the developer didn’t quite know where to go next.
Unfortunately, Absolution wasn’t received anywhere near as positively as those phases, but it did feature the first truly gripping narrative that linked all of the hits together. It also included the most interesting locations in the franchise, even if they weren’t as open-world. But more importantly than anything, Absolution was full of the funniest disguises in the Hitman series.
Assassin’s Creed III
By this point in the series, Assassin’s Creed had become an annually released game franchise, and while it’s titled Assassin’s Creed III, it’s actually the fifth game. But while the games’ free running and leaping off giant buildings is so much fun, the series’ signature gameplay was starting to feel stale with the previous release, Revelations.
However, this time, the scope of the game was expanded tenfold, and Ubisoft’s ambition to create an epic, open-world 18th-century city with a riveting story paid off. Even to this day, after the series has delved into ancient Egypt and other historical times and places, Assassin’s Creed III remains one of the best.
Few video game series can get consecutively better for four entries in a row without slipping up. Only a select few franchises have achieved such a feat, such as Sony’s Uncharted series, but Microsoft did it first with Halo. Halo 4 is one of the best Halo games, and it turned the series into one of the most beautiful ever.
Between the alien races, the fascinating architecture in other worlds, and the unique range of artillery, the series continues to build the world in intriguing ways. And as is the case with all Halo games, it leaves audiences wanting more.
Mass Effect 3
It seems as if 2012 was the year for threequels. Along with Far Cry 3, Max Payne 3, and Assassin’s Creed 3, Mass Effect 3 is an event game in every way. Unlike the aforementioned sequels, Mass Effect 3 was continuing a unique story that began with the first entry in the series, and it’s most famous for, unfortunately, not sticking the landing.
The finale didn’t pay off in the way that fans wanted. However, it’s just as much about the journey, and the bulk of the game is a cinematic space odyssey, and between the exploration and choices, Mass Effect 3 is a masterclass in role-playing gaming… up until the final hour or so, at least.
Dishonored is one of the greatest stealth games ever made, and it’s up there with the likes of Metal Gear Solid and Hitman. 10 years isn’t a particularly long time, but the game already has a legacy that some decades-old game series don’t even have. The game got a sequel and the mechanics went on to be used for Deathloop, another incredible stealth-action game by Arkane Studios.
The game has such a unique aesthetic too, as it takes place in a fictional town that takes inspiration from 1800s London and Edinburgh during a deadly plague. No other game has combined a unique tone with completely original gameplay and an incredible story since the likes of Half-Life.
One of the most influential video game series of all time is Grand Theft Auto, as it has spawned a ton of inferior copycat games. But out of all of them, Sleeping Dogs is by far one of the best and relatively original. Sleeping Dogs takes place in Hong Kong, and instead of playing a gangster or criminal, players control an undercover police officer who is well-versed in martial arts.
Not only is the in-game Hong Kong thriving and fully interactive, but with the mix between parkour, martial arts combat, and driving, it’s one of the most fluid open-world games of the past 10 years. No other non-Rockstar-developed game even comes close to being as good.
2012 was a great year for innovative indie games, and while Journey is a beautiful and visually stunning game, Fez is the most unconventional and inventive platformer in the 21st century. The movie is a two-dimensional game that’s set in a three-dimensional world, and though that’s difficult to understand, it was a genius idea that had never been done before.
There hasn’t been a platformer as influential as Fez since Super Mario. Fans have wanted a sequel for a decade now, but it still hasn’t happened, and it seems like it never will, as the game’s creator, Phil Fish, very publicly retired from the video game industry.
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