The Best Videogames of 2012

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

Xbox 360

Xbox 360
90+ Games by Year
(2007 - 2012)
2012 Avg. Metascore 69.5
Xbox 360
vs. 2011 Avg. 68.5

While the PS3 once again bested Microsoft's console in average Metascore for the past year's releases, the 360 had a slight edge over the other console in both the total number of great (90+) games and the total number of positively reviewed (75+) exclusive titles in 2012.

The average Metascore for all 360 releases in 2012 was up a full point compared to the previous year, though the percentage of all Xbox games receiving positive reviews dropped this year from 43% to 41.6%. Still, there were 101 Xbox games receiving positive reviews this past year, which was the highest total for any console by a wide margin.

There were also fewer notable exclusive games on Microsoft's platform to differentiate it from other consoles. For the second straight year, just two of the 15 highest-scoring 360 titles were exclusive to the console. And the number of positively reviewed Xbox exclusives dropped from 12 in 2011 to just 8 this past year.

Xbox 360Best Xbox 360 Exclusives, 2012
#1 #2 #3 #4 #5
Image bar Image bar Image bar Image bar Image bar
90 89 87 86 85
Trials Evolution
Microsoft
Fez
Polytron
Halo 4
Microsoft
Dance Central 3
Microsoft
Forza Horizon
Microsoft
Xbox 360Best-Reviewed Xbox 360 Games, 2012
  Game Publisher Metascore
1 The Walking Dead
Xbox 360 Game of the Year
Telltale Games 95
2Mass Effect 3 Electronic Arts93
3Far Cry 3 Ubisoft90
4Trials Evolution Microsoft Game Studios90
5Mark of the Ninja Microsoft Game Studios90
6FIFA Soccer 13 EA Sports90
7XCOM: Enemy Unknown 2K Games90
8Borderlands 2 2K Games89
9Fez Polytron Corp.89
10The Walking Dead: Episode 5 - No Time Left Telltale Games89
11Dark Souls: Artorias of the Abyss Namco Bandai89
12Dishonored Bethesda Softworks88
13Pinball FX 2: Marvel Pinball - Avengers Chronicles Zen Studios88
14The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Warner Bros. Interactive88
15The Walking Dead: Episode 3 - Long Road Ahead Telltale Games88
16NBA 2K13 2K Sports88
17Halo 4 Microsoft Game Studios87
18Spelunky Microsoft Game Studios87
19Dance Central 3 Microsoft Game Studios86
20Max Payne 3 Rockstar Games86
21Trials Evolution: Origin of Pain Microsoft Game Studios85
22Forza Horizon Microsoft Game Studios85
23UFC Undisputed 3 THQ85
24Need for Speed: Most Wanted - A Criterion Game Electronic Arts84
25Assassin's Creed III Ubisoft84
26The Walking Dead: Episode 2 - Starved for Help Telltale Games84
27F1 2012 Codemasters84
28Borderlands 2: Mr. Torgue's Campaign of Carnage 2K Games83
29NHL 13 Electronic Arts83
30Darksiders II THQ83
... and the worst:
209Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse Activision39
210Battleship Activision38
211Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor Capcom38
212The Expendables 2 Videogame Ubisoft32
213AMY Lexis Numerique25

Games are ranked by Metascore prior to rounding. Only games with 7 or more reviews are included in this and other rankings on this page.

PlayStation 3

PS3
90+ Games by Year
(2007 - 2012)
2012 Avg. Metascore 70.3
vs. 2011 Avg. 69.5
PlayStation 3

While the average Metascore for all PS3 releases was a touch higher in 2012 than it was in 2011, Sony's console had half the number of "great" games (scoring 90 or higher) released this year than the year before. There were also just six titles exclusive to the PS3 to receive positive reviews from critics, a sharp decline compared to 2011's total of 13 well-reviewed PS3 exclusives.

However, 40.7% of PS3 releases in 2012 received positive reviews (scoring 75 or higher), an improvement compared to the previous year's 38% success rate (though still not quite high enough to beat the Xbox's percentage). Another improvement: fewer than 7% of all PS3 releases in 2012 received negative reviews (scores of 49 or lower) from critics, a figure that bests last year's mark of 8% as well as leading all consoles this year.

Like the Xbox high scores list, the ranking of 2012's best PS3 games was dominated by cross-platform releases. In fact, only one PS3 exclusive—the wholly unique Journey, from the creators of Flow and Flower—cracked the console's top 25. (Note that we don't count HD remasters of older titles, such as Okami HD or the Ratchet & Clank Collection, as "exclusive" to the PS3.)

PS3Best PS3 Exclusives, 2012
#1 #2 #3 #4 #5
Image bar Image bar Image bar Image bar Image bar
92 83 79 78 77
Journey
Sony
Dyad
Sony
The Unfinished Swan
Sony
Retro/Grade
24 Carat
Starhawk
Sony
PS3Best-Reviewed PlayStation 3 Games, 2012
  Game Publisher Metascore
1 Mass Effect 3
PS3 Game of the Year
Electronic Arts 93
2Journey Sony92
3Borderlands 2 2K Games91
4Far Cry 3 Ubisoft91
5Okami HD Capcom90
6NBA 2K13 2K Sports90
7XCOM: Enemy Unknown 2K Games89
8Dishonored Bethesda Softworks89
9The Walking Dead: Episode 5 - No Time Left Telltale Games88
10FIFA Soccer 13 EA Sports88
11Max Payne 3 Rockstar Games87
12The Walking Dead: Episode 3 - Long Road Ahead Telltale Games87
13MLB 12: The Show Sony87
14Persona 4 Arena Atlus Co.86
15UFC Undisputed 3 THQ86
16ZEN Pinball 2 Zen Studios86
17Assassin's Creed III Ubisoft86
18Street Fighter X Tekken Capcom84
19Need for Speed: Most Wanted - A Criterion Game Electronic Arts84
20The Walking Dead: Episode 1 - A New Day Telltale Games84
21The Walking Dead: Episode 2 - Starved for Help Telltale Games84
22Darksiders II THQ84
23NHL 13 Electronic Arts84
 Sound Shapes Sony84
25LEGO The Lord of the Rings Warner Bros. Interactive83
26Madden NFL 13 EA Sports83
27Ratchet & Clank Collection Sony83
28Sleeping Dogs Square Enix83
29Dyad Sony83
30Hitman: Absolution Square Enix83
... and the worst:
173007 Legends Activision41
174Doctor Who: The Eternity Clock BBC Worldwide39
175The Expendables 2 Videogame Ubisoft34
176AMY Lexis Numerique33
177Smash 'N' Survive Version2Games Limited31

Wii and Wii U

Wii and Wii U
90+ Games by Year
(2007 - 2012)
Wii U Avg. Metascore 68.6
Nintendo Wii / Wii U
Wii Avg. Metascore 67.9

This was obviously a transition year for Nintendo console gaming. With the new Wii U scheduled to arrive in stores toward the end of 2012, few publishers were still releasing games for the older Wii platform this year. And while the Wii U arrived with a few dozen titles in tow, many of the console's first major games—including some that Nintendo is still defining as "launch" games—will not surface until 2013. The result is a very short list of positively reviewed new titles for Wii owners, and a lack of buzz-generating games like a Zelda or a Metroid.

Note also that this year's best-reviewed Wii exclusive also comes with an asterisk. Xenoblade Chronicles, the top-scoring Wii or Wii U title by a large margin, was actually released in Japan two years ago and in much of the rest of the world in 2011, before finally landing in North America in early 2012. Because, for consistency, we use U.S. release dates throughout Metacritic (unless there is no American release), Xenoblade is classified as a 2012 release, and thus takes the Wii crown for the year.

WiiWii UBest Wii or Wii U Exclusives, 2012
#1 #2 #3 #4 #5
Image bar Image bar Image bar Image bar Image bar
92 83 84 80 77
Xenoblade Chronicles
Nintendo
Rhythm Heaven Fever
Nintendo
New Super Mario Bros. U
Nintendo
The Last Story
Xseed
Nintendo Land
Nintendo
Wii UBest-Reviewed Wii U Games, 2012
  Game Publisher Metascore
1 Mass Effect 3: Special Edition
Wii U Game of the Year
Electronic Arts 87
2Assassin's Creed III Ubisoft85
3Mighty Switch Force! Hyper Drive Edition WayForward85
4NBA 2K13 2K Sports85
5Darksiders II THQ85
6Batman: Arkham City - Armored Edition Warner Bros. Interactive85
7Trine 2: Director's Cut Frozenbyte, Inc.84
8New Super Mario Bros. U Nintendo84
9Tekken Tag Tournament 2: Wii U Edition Namco Bandai83
10Call of Duty: Black Ops II Activision82
11Nintendo Land Nintendo77
12Little Inferno Tomorrow Corporation77
13Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed Sega77
14ZombiU Ubisoft77
15Madden NFL 13 EA Sports76
... and the worst:
25SiNG Party Nintendo58
26Rabbids Land Ubisoft53
27Funky Barn 505 Games51
28Tank! Tank! Tank! Namco Bandai45
29ESPN Sports Connection Ubisoft30
WiiBest-Reviewed Wii Games, 2012
  Game Publisher Metascore
1 Xenoblade Chronicles
Wii Game of the Year
Nintendo 92
2La-Mulana EnjoyUp Games87
3Rhythm Heaven Fever Nintendo83
4The Last Story Xseed Games80
5Skylanders Giants Activision78
6Project Zero 2: Wii Edition Nintendo77
7Pandora's Tower Nintendo74
8Just Dance 4 Ubisoft74
9Mario Party 9 Nintendo73
10PokePark 2: Wonders Beyond Nintendo60
11Inazuma Eleven Strikers Nintendo59

More games ...

Continue to the next page for this year's top PC game releases, as well as the highest-scoring handheld titles (for Nintendo DS/3DS and PS Vita/PSP).

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)

New in Metacritic Features

What Our Users Are Talking About

  1. /feature/new-movies-and-trailers-for-the-weekend-of-october-17-2014 Image
    Film Friday (10/17): This Week's New Movies & Trailers
    October 17, 2014 - 1 comment
    1. LamontRaymond : Miss Meadows looks like it should be hilarious.... And Foxcatcher? Holy crap.... got to see it. Read »
  2. /feature/music-releases-for-the-week-of-october-13-2014 Image
    Music Monday (10/13): This Week's New Albums + Videos
    October 13, 2014 - 2 comments
    1. TaoMan1121 : Stars' last album was 2012's "The North" not "The Five Ghosts." But way to fact check the article. ::thumbs up:: Read »
    2. conditionals : A lot of big names who didn't get prime feature spot at the top of the article. OK Go relegated to a simple mention? Read »
  3. /feature/dvd-blu-ray-release-calendar-october-2014 Image
    DVD/Blu-ray Release Calendar: October 2014
    October 7, 2014 - 1 comment
    1. FleshWorld : Easily the best Set of DVDs on this list is Fargo. What you must critically avoid however is sex tape. It was... Read »
  4. /feature/best-ios-games-september-2014 Image
    10 Best iPhone/iPad Games for September 2014
    September 30, 2014 - 1 comment
    1. Headstock67 : My two favourites on the iPhone at present are: Puk It, deceptively easy looking but infuriatingly difficult and... Read »
  5. /feature/videogame-scorecard-fall-2014 Image
    Video Game Release Calendar & Scorecard - Fall 2014
    September 23, 2014 - 2 comments
    1. esymes : NS2: Combat is releasing 31 Oct. on steam. http://faultlinegames.com/ns2-combat-on-steam/ Read »
  6. /feature/tv-renewal-scorecard-2014-2015-season Image
    2014-15 TV Season Scorecard
    August 6, 2014 - 3 comments
    1. MarcDoyle : Very bummed to hear about The Bridge ending. GREAT show. Read »
  7. /feature/best-albums-of-2014-so-far Image
    The Best Albums of 2014 So Far
    July 3, 2014 - 11 comments
    1. lesmartels : Spoon's They Want My Soul score is 81. It should be your #22. Shame on you ! Read »
  8. /feature/tv-premiere-dates Image
    Fall TV Premiere Calendar
    August 7, 2014 - 15 comments
    1. Mario123 : Workaholics January 14 Read »
  9. /feature/best-and-worst-movies-of-2012 Image
    The Best and Worst Movies of 2012
    January 7, 2013 - 4 comments
    1. FearDZ : Zero Dark Thirty was a propaganda movie. As its based on Mark Owen's work ignoring the pakistan media reports.. Read »