The Best Videogames of 2012

  • Comments: ↓ 22 user comments
  • Publish Date: December 31, 2012

A far cry from 2011's heights

Image
2012
The Walking Dead [Retail]
(360)
95
2011
Batman: Arkham City
(PS3)
96
2010
Super Mario Galaxy 2
(Wii)
97
2009
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (PS3) 96
2008
Grand Theft Auto IV
(PS3)
98
Metacritic's Game of the Year
(Highest-scoring title, min. 7 rev.)

It's a good thing that 2013 looks likely to be loaded with great games, because, as we look over this year's numbers, it seems 2012 wasn't. Not even the late arrival of a great new installment in Ubisoft's Far Cry series could make up for the fact that the past 12 months paled in comparison to recent years, at least at the high end of the scale.

Just 14 console games—and 18 products overall, including PC and handheld (non-iOS) titles—scored 90 or higher in 2012. Those figures represent a huge drop from the previous year, when 23 console titles (and 32 games overall) met or exceeded the 90 mark. In fact, since we started publishing these year-end reports in 2009, we have never encountered such a low total number of great games in a single year.

We also expect some grumbling about our Game of the Year award, given annually to the year's overall highest-scoring (i.e., best-reviewed) game for any platform. This year's honoree, Telltale's The Walking Dead 95 (Xbox 360), is a terrific adaptation of Robert Kirkman's comic books. But it is also a retail repackaging (with a mere 9 reviews, at press time) of a game that was previously released online in five episodic installments throughout the year—installments which, though well-reviewed, never achieved an individual score north of 89. (There's also the issue of the retail version's reported buginess.) Still, without a solid reason to exclude it from consideration, its score qualifies it for Metacritic Game of the Year honors, even if it is the lowest-scoring such game since 2003 (when the PC version of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City topped the high score chart with a 94).

In the following pages, we'll reveal 2012's best-reviewed games for each platform. Before we do that, take a look at our quick comparison of the various game consoles:

Console Comparison - Games Released During 2012
PS3 Games Xbox 360 Games Wii and Wii U Games
70.3 Avg. Metascore
204 games *
69.5 Avg. Metascore
243 games *
68.3 Avg. Metascore
53 games *
6 Great Games **
90 or higher
7 Great Games **
90 or higher
1 Great Games **
90 or higher
6 Good Exclusives **
75 or higher
8 Good Exclusives **
75 or higher
6 Good Exclusives **
75 or higher
Best Exclusive:
Journey 92
Best Exclusive:
Trials Evolution 90
Best Exclusive:
Xenoblade Chronicles*** 92

* Games with 4 or more reviews in Metacritic's database released between January 1, 2012 and December 31, 2012.
** Excludes games with fewer than 7 reviews; downloadable map packs are also excluded.
*** Though released in 2011 outside of the U.S., Xenoblade Chronicles is a 2012 release in North America.
All Metascore data for this and all other tables in this report is from December 27, 2012. The pie charts reflect the percentage of all releases for each console with Positive Reviews (receiving a Metascore of 75 or higher indicating), Mixed Reviews (receiving a Metascore of 50-74), and Negative Reviews (receiving a Metascore of 49 or below). Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding.

And here are 2012's best-reviewed titles, regardless of platform (iOS games excluded; they're ranked in a separate article):

The 90+ Club: The Best-Reviewed Games of 2012 (Any Platform*)
  Title / Platform Publisher Genre Metascore
1 The Walking Dead: The Game Xbox 360 Telltale Adventure 95
2 Persona 4 Golden PS Vita Atlus RPG 94
3 Mass Effect 3 PS3 Electronic Arts Action-RPG 93
4 Mass Effect 3 Xbox 360 Electronic Arts Action-RPG 93
5 Journey PS3 Sony Adventure 92
6 Xenoblade Chronicles Wii Nintendo Action-RPG 92
7 Dishonored PC Bethesda Softworks Action-Adventure 91
8 Mark of the Ninja PC Microsoft Platformer 91
9 Borderlands 2 PS3 2K Games FPS/Action-RPG 91
10 Far Cry 3 PS3 Ubisoft FPS/Action-Adventure 91
11 Far Cry 3 Xbox 360 Ubisoft FPS/Action-Adventure 90
12 Trials Evolution Xbox 360 Microsoft Racing 90
13 Okami HD PS3 Capcom Action-Adventure 90
14 Mark of the Ninja Xbox 360 Microsoft Platformer 90
15 FIFA Soccer 13 Xbox 360 EA Sports Sports 90
16 Guild Wars 2 PC NCsoft MMORPG 90
17 NBA 2K13 PS3 2K Sports Sports 90
18 XCOM: Enemy Unknown Xbox 360 2K Games Strategy 90

*Excluding iOS games. Minimum 7 critic reviews. Games are ranked by Metascore prior to rounding.

Releases by platform

On the next pages, we examine the best and worst 2012 games released for each platform, including the top titles exclusive to each platform.

Comments (22)

  • gustarivrag  

    Mass Effect 3 is one of the greatest games i ever played. With a very weak and not so choice-dependant ending, that's all. And the ending was updated after people complained about it, and was downloadable for free. So get over it, most of the poor user reviews were mostly given cause of the mentioned ending and not the game itself,or the hate for the EA company which bought the Bioware and then people spammed those grades cause they usually react like cattle.

  • aadms  

    Mass Effect3? That game killed the entire series.

  • WestLil0  

    Don't know how any PC game that receives very low scores from users can even make it on this list. For example, Mass Effect 3 has a metacritic user score of 4.7! You have it at 89! Perhaps an annual review of the most popular games by USER score would be more accurate?

  • africanboy  

    i love this site

  • NotTodayThanks  

    The opening statements in this article assume, erroneously, that the reviewing marketplace is the same from year to year. Which they're not. Not even close. Over time reviewers have become much harsher, especially toward the end of a console cycle. A game that would have been a 95 in 2005 is not a 95 today...

  • KevHart  

    Well i hope the year 2013 will be better in game ways, i hope we see some awesome games for computers way!

    Url Shortener

  • quitingBacon  

    Hey there's an error on that list!

    The Xbox 360 version of Walking Dead has 9.2, not 9.5. The PS3 version has 9.5, though out of 4 reviews. Also all three versions should appear on the list since they are all above 9.0. 4 reviews is a really low number and all three versions are functionally identical. While Walking Dead still holds the top rated spot it does demonstrably out of noise.

  • watithink123  

    Haven't tried the walking dead game yet but out of all the games this year, far cry 3 is my goty.

  • kreegan64  

    from 09-12 here are the big 3's Average game score----Number of games----% of Good games. They're in the order of PS3/360/Wii(U)

    (09 has a median score instead of an average score)

    2012: 70.3/69.5/68.3----204/243/53----41/42/45
    2011: 69.5/68.9/62.2----253/261/69----38/43/20
    2010: 70/67.8/64.6----231/260/156----44/39/29
    2009: 72/70/67----228/279/362----43/35/28

    The average score for the Wii(U) has rose in over 6% but this may be due to the U being released in 12, the 360 has varied little, and the PS3 remained around 70. The Wii is drastically dropping in amount of games, the 360 is continuing a steady decrease, and the PS3 has dropped after a slow growth span. The percentage of good games for the Wii has greatly increased from a dropping 20% to over double (due again to the U most likely) the 360 has been rising, and the PS3 is rising slightly from a slightly lowering streak.

  • kreegan64  

    At the time of this posting, the 90+ group and their user review differences:

    Walking Dead-8.4 (-1.1)
    Persona4-9.3(-0.1)
    Mass Effect 3-4.6/5.4 (ps3/360) (-4.7/-3.9)
    Journey-8.7(-0.5)
    Xenoblade-8.3(-0.9)
    Dishonored-8.1(-1.0)
    Mark of the Ninja-7.8/7.4(PC/360)(-1.3/-1.6)
    Borderlands 2-8.2(-0.9)
    Farcry3-8.6/8.7 (ps3/360)(-0.5/-0.3)
    Trials Evo.-7.9(-1.1)
    Okami HD-9.2(+0.2)
    FIFA Soccer-5.9(-3.1)
    Guild Wars-8.0(-1.0)
    NBA 2K13-7.9(-1.1)
    XCOM: EU-8.6(-0.4)

    Only Okami HD has a positive difference between user and reviewer scores, the rest have the user scores lower than the reviewer scores. They should put user 90+ groups in these lists (with a quota for the of user scores of course)

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