My personal gaming highlights from 2012---

After last year's totally killer array of amazing games, 2012 had a lot to live up to, and the industry pretty much nailed it. Like any year, they aren't all gems (I'm looking at you,

Call of Duty Black Ops: Declassified

), but there were still plenty of incredible, jaw-dropping moments for all of us game lovers. Read on, nerds, for my top gaming moments of the last 365 days! Oh, and there may just be spoilers so, uh, sorry.

Drake goes back to the jungle.
Drake goes back to the jungle.

 Uncharted: Golden Abyss (Vita)
There is a moment in Uncharted: Golden Abyss during which Drake and Sully climb to the top of a South American pyramid. "What a view!" Sully says as we look out over the sun-drenched jungle. The series has come a long way since Drake's Fortune, and Golden Abyss stands with the best of 'em. Though development duties for the beloved action/adventure game were handed over to Sony's Bend Studios, Nathan Drake's foray onto Sony's Vita system was every bit as wonderful as we'd all hoped. Not only was the gunplay perfectly suited to the motion capabilities of the portable device, Bend pushed its technical capabilities to the max to produce one of the best-looking games to ever grace a portable system. Both longtime fans and new converts will find lots to love with this one.

Farcry 3's stealth takedowns

 Farcry 3 (Xbox 360, PS3, PC)
The first few hours of Farcry 3 boasts more variety than the previous installment's entire campaign. Watching Jason Brody's slow descent into a revenge-obsessed and animalistic killer is fascinating to say the least, and the outpost takeovers showcase his skills amazingly. It's like everything Dishonored tried to do but in a smoother and more entertaining way. Add the beautiful locales of Rook Island and some of the greatest writing of our current generation, and you've got a game that can seriously take over your weekend. My advice? Get the Chain Kill skill immediately and go nuts on those awful pirates and privateers!

Exploring the city of Dunwall.

Dishonored (Xbox 360, PS3, PC)

So maybe Dishonored wasn't the greatest game of all time. Maybe it was plagued with a story that was only semi-interesting and stealth mechanics that were only so-so...maybe Corvo made that dude from Bioshock seem interesting, and maybe the voice acting was dull at best. Still, though, there is no denying the potential found within the city of Dunwall. Like some sort of dreamy steampunk wonderland, Dunwall is a city in ruin following events like the industrial revolution, the class war and the terrible rat plague. As protagonist Corvo tears through the city from the slums to the dead empress' palace on a Count of Monto Cristo-caliber rampage, the one thing that never changes is how beautiful it all is, and how rad it is to teleport across the screen like some kind of goddamn magician.

Lee and Clementine.

 The Walking Dead the Game (Xbox 360, PS3, iOS)
Topping countless Game of the Year lists, developer Telltale Games' The Walking Dead the Game has all the trappings of a classic story despite its medium (which I say like games aren't totally art; they are, and this is the kind of game that proves it). Setting aside for a moment how the concepts of morality and ethics play into this 5-episode masterpiece, the main draw of the series is the way in which Lee Everett and Clementine's relationship grows. We know that Lee is a convicted murderer, but the father/daughter dynamic and absolute love that develops between the two shows that he is a caring and passionate man capable of making the hard/right decisions that are best for Clem. Bottom line? If you don't cry while playing this series you may have no soul.

Discovering what it's all about...

 Journey (PS3)
You wake in a vast desert with no clue as to where you are or what you must do. Far in the distance a mountain looms. That seems as good a direction as any in which to head, so you steel your nerves and start walking. What unfolds is one of the most beautiful and awe-inspiring experiences in the history of games. Without so much as a single line of dialogue, developer thatgamecompany shows us what life is all about. Online capabilities are limited (no voice chat or leaderboards), but every single player is in the same desert and may choose to help one another on their respective journeys. This is a game that everyone must experience, be they casual or hardcore, and the solemn realization of what the game is expressing is exactly why we play.

Flinging yourself and your cat across a whole damn city.

 Gravity Rush (Vita)
With no memory of who or where she is, Kat sets out to help as many people as she can while coming to grips with her place in the universe. Oh, and she has control over gravity. From the first moment you fling yourself across an entire city or slide at breakneck speed through the cobblestone streets, Gravity Rush is a complete pleasure to play. Players should note that this title is VERY Japanese, but those with a longer attention span than the Call of Duty set will discover a game bursting with wonder and beauty.

The death of Mordin Solus.

 Mass Effect 3 (Xbox 360, PS3, PC)
Many of the supporting crew members found within the Mass Effect universe are fantastic. Garrus and Talia come to mind for sure. However, not a one of them can hold a candle to Mordin Solus. First of all, he's a total genius scientist (homeboy created the genophage, effectively stopping the Krogan from taking over the galaxy), he's funny as hell and he can set fools on fire with his biotic awesomeness while SMG-in' any mercs who think it's wise to mess with his friends. When he realizes the ethical dilemma in preventing an entire species from reproducing, he goes to any length to stop it and—get this—he dies! Of all the sad gaming moments throughout the decades of gaming I've accomplished, very few have left me feeling so drained. I knew this man...I loved this man.


 Borderlands 2 (Xbox 360, PS3, PC)
The very instant Salvador's special ability became available, I pulled out by two most powerful guns and went effing bazonkers! It never gets old running around and dual wielding your best guns in a frenzy of bullet-flyin' madness. The Gunzerker can dual-wield any two guns (try equipping one of the Tediore guns that explodes like a grenade when reloaded alongside one of your favorites), and adding to the skill tree that allowed me to continue gunzerking with every kill eventually resulted in upwards of 2 bandit slaying minutes at a time! Each and every character in Borderlands 2 may have their high points, but when it comes to aggressive baddassery, Salvador cannot be beat.

This looks soooooo good!

 Halo 4 (Xbox 360)
This is not going to be popular, but I don't love Halo. Yikes, right? But still, I keep picking each installment up so I can play online with my lovely friends. I'll also admit to thinking the games haven't ever looked that great...until now. It's hard to believe Halo 4 runs on the same engine as the last few Halo games and still looks this good. Hell, it's hard to believe a game can look this good, period. The development torch was passed to 343 Industries from series creator Bungie, and I'm pretty positive those Bungie guys are pleased with their decision. 

Haytham's a WHAT!?!?!?

 Assassin's Creed III (Xbox 360, PS3, PC)
I think I was about three or four hours into the Assassin's Creed III campaign when I discovered I'd been playing as a Templar. Say what!? You know the templars, they're those evil bastards who believe mankind has no right to live freely. They're those murdering jerks who demand order above all else. They're that international group of thugs who stand between the human race's last chance for survival and the Assassin's order. The achievement/trophy for playing through these missions is called "How d'you like them apples?" And given how I audibly gasped at learning I had been playing as one of the men I've been trained to hate since the very first game came out, I'd say I liked them a lot. Well played, Ubisoft...well played.

Are there any moments I left out or just forgot? Add your favorite moments in the comments section, friends, and I'll be playing with you next year. See below to connect with me online!

Xbox 360: orale zombers
PSN: sad-sack-forever