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The Essential Video Games of 2012

by William Schwartz


If you’ve been following Attack of the Fanboy over the years, you know that we usually do a reader’s choice for our Game of the Year. This year, we’ve decided to do things somewhat differently. We’ve decided to lock ourselves in a room and conduct bareknuckle boxing matches to determine the outcomes of our top 25 games of 2012. Ok, we didn’t do that, but we might as well should have. Narrowing down this great year of games into the 25 best, was no small feat. But we did it, and here is Attack of the Fanboy’s Essential Video Games of 2012.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Dragon Born


Sure, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim released back in 2011, but Bethesda’s RPG is still going strong with new content having arrived throughout 2012. First the Dawguard expansion arrived, then Hearthfire, and most recently, Dragonborn. This final expansion for the game gave fans what they had been clamoring for since the game’s initial release, with a whole new world to explore in the familiar Morrowind territory of Tamriel.

With a ton of sidequests and a spin-off of the original Dragonborn storyline, this DLC is definitely one of the must play games of 2012 for any fan of Skyrim. There’s so much content packed into this DLC, it gives some full length games a run for their money.

For PlayStation fans who’ve yet to get their hands on the content, Bethesda says that 2013 will hold their first chance at new adventures in the world of Skyrim. That said, you just might see this game here again next year if Bethesda keeps pumping out content for this RPG.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Dragonborn DLC released on the Xbox 360 and PC.



The follow-up to 2009’s dungeon crawling, loot grinding classic delivers more of the same in a bigger and better package. This fantasy style, action RPG adds online cooperative play to the mix in Torchlight 2, and has more loot to uncover than you’ll ever have enough time to find.

Don’t let it’s cartoony exterior fool you either, Torchlight 2 is as hardcore as they come in this genre, and delivers hours upon hours of finely tuned gameplay. The real kicker on Torchlight 2 is that it released at $20 and has more customization options that you’ll find in games three times the price.

Torchlight 2 has a pitch perfect blend of colorful graphics, addicting reward based combat, and stellar presentation that sinks its teeth in deep to those that let it, and those coming from the original Torchlight will find this to be a near-perfect evolution of the franchise.

Torchlight 2 is available on Steam.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 2


Say what you will about the Call of Duty franchise and its lack of innovation, but Black Ops II has seen some of biggest changes in the history of the franchise. The popular multiplayer shooter saw developers introducing a whole new scorestreak system to spice up multiplayer, the new tranzit zombies mode, versus zombies mode, and a branching storyline in the single player campaign. While mileage may vary for any of these modes for any specific player, there’s no denying Treyarch’s prowess in their craft.

The biggest change though is in the game’s “Pick 10” system. Which allows players to build custom loadouts from any of the unlocked equipment that they have. This gives Black Ops II multiplayer more variety than any Call of Duty game before it, and more choice is always a good thing.

With hundreds upon hundreds of thousands of players online at any given moment, there’s always a fight to be fought with players across the globe.

Call of Duty: Black Ops II released on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC, and Wii U.

Professor Layton and The Miracle Mask


Who says Japan gets all the good stuff on the Nintendo 3DS? Yeah we had to wait a little while, but Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask finally arrived on the handheld in North America in late 2012. Best described as an interactive storybook, Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask brings the same whimsical charm that the beloved franchise has delivered in the past.

With a ton of puzzles to wrap your head around and a new mystery to solve, Layton and his companions aren’t venturing into entirely new territory. Level 5 stays true to the traditional Layton gameplay that fans of the franchise have come to love.

Being that this is the first offering on the 3DS handheld, and utilizes the technology in some interesting ways, it’s definitely a must have for the device.

Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask released only on the Nintendo 3DS.

Guild Wars 2


2012 wasn’t a great year for pay to play MMOs, but their loss was Guild Wars 2’s gain. Players paid up front for this MMO, for unlimited access to the massive title. But the payment scheme wasn’t the only revelation in this MMO, NC Soft also changed the way you play the game as well.

Long gone are the static quests of old school MMOs, but players reside in a world that feels more lifelike, with events happening in real time in one of the most beautiful game worlds ever crafted.

While some MMOs might be getting long in the tooth, Guild Wars 2 shows that there may still be some life left if developers try to innovate rather than imitate the success of WoW.

Guild Wars 2 is available on Arena Net.

PlayStation Plus


Your right, PlayStation Plus is not a game. It’s a bunch of games! Sony made great strides with its PlayStation Plus service in 2012, largely in part to the introduction of the Instant Game Collection for PlayStation 3 and PS Vita.

Each month, Sony has been releasing some of the best games in their catalog to PS Plus subscribers and they don’t show any signs of letting up. So far this year, players have seen the likes of LittleBigPlanet 2, inFamous 2, Uncharted Golden Abyss, and other high profile titles arrive for download.

It looks like Sony has found their niche with the PS Plus service, and when compared to others out there, its hard to complain about getting a free online network and a bundle of free games for the same price as you pay for cross-game-chat. If you own a PlayStation 3 or PS Vita and don’t have PlayStation Plus, you are missing out.

- This article was updated on April 28th, 2018

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