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)

  • JRath  

    Far Cry 3 was the Game of the Year by a mile. Not sure why its Metascore is low because in all honesty it is an instant classic. The Walking Dead, Borderlands 2, and Max Payne 3 are all my following favorite games of this year (in no particular order). All in all it really was a slow year for phenomenal games and PS3 exclusives especially. Here's hoping 2013 is more like 2011. Now excuse me while I go back to playing Far Cry 3

  • Sainto  

    So was I seriously the only I one who didn't enjoy Far Cry 3 that much? It was nice for the first ten hours but after that I just got bored. The Walking Dead definitely deserves GOTY.

  • TitaniumDragon  

    One thing that is very noticable in these roundups is that the console reviewers appear to overrate their games relative to the PC versions; the PC versions are regularly cited as the superior version of these multiplatform games, and yet they receive lower average metacritic scores on the PC than on the consoles.

    This suggests some sort of scoring imbalance between them. Maybe they should be averaged across platforms for analysis like this?

  • DutchFortune  

    I think these figures are even a bit flattering on 2012 (at least for PC Games). If you look at the userscores there were a couple of hyped releases that simply couldn't live up to the fuss. Most notably Mass Effect 3 and Diablo III. The same goes for FIFA13 and Football Manager which are (as ever) reworks of their predecessors for the full price. Adding that to the equation, that really does make 2012 look like a meagre year for PC gaming.

  • Alienware  

    The Walking Dead is amazing and is deserving of the prize of best game of the year but is laughable how after having been underrated for most of his run throughout the five episodes, most reviewers suddenly started to screaming masterpiece after it won the goty handed by gametrailers.

  • GreenHawk99  

    The Walking Dead was incredible, deserved the award no doubt

  • partyintheback  

    2011 was the best year in years. You had fantastic, memorable games like Dishonored, The Last Story, Xenoblade Chronicles, Sleeping Dogs, Binary Domain, The Walking Dead, and many, many more. Previous years were just big named sequels. *Yawn* Yes, some were good, and some were really good, but they're still sequels, which have become trite in the industry. Quite frankly, The Walking Dead was more ambitious than any other previous "Game of the Year" winner, as it's story and character truly mattered, giving consequence to every action. And the other games I mentioned, all new and fresh. Dishonored, a new IP from people who worked on Thief, Deus Ex, and Half-Life, certainly had inspiration from their prior work, but created a whole new, awesomely detailed Steampunk universe. Great art, slick and intuitive controls, etc. made it one heck of a game.

    The Last Story and Xenoblade Chronicles are quite frankly the two most important JRPGs in years, as they both brought great things to the table. The Last Story brought memorable characters and fresh combat to the JRPG, while Xenoblade Chronicles was a bit more traditional, but did it so well that it doesn't matter that it's traditional.

    Sleeping Dogs brought better movement, hand-to-hand combat system, and more things that GTA IV failed at. As it is, GTA IV is highly overrated and Sleeping Dogs is better than the 2008 "Game of the Year".

    Then you have the last one I listed, Binary Domain, which totally flew under the radar, but brought a neat science fiction universe, great combat, stellar boss battles, and compelling characters to the table. Sega's Yakuza team did a phenomenal job on this game. So yup, 2012 was the best year in years. Honestly, review aggregates aren't that important when you use Quarter to Three, Destructoid, etc. as credible.

  • Expectoner  

    Just to say that Diablo III is the game's most unloved of users and is in the top 5 pc games ... Big mistake?

  • FabioSooner  

    Thanks, Metacritic, for clearly showing what I've been noticing and saying for months: the idea that the 3DS has more or better games than the Vita is a big, lazy misconception, just a byproduct of succumbing to shallow first impressions and to Nintendo fanboyism.

    The Vita came after, received as many games as the 3DS last year, and they're generally better. That's not even considering it's a more powerful machine that receives multiplatform titles that are actually closer to the home console counterparts, something you won't see on the 3DS ever. That's why I finally decided to get a Vita this month. 3DS? Only when Shin Megami Tensei V is released, if ever.

  • 89iajo  

    Fabio, what games are you going to get for your Vita? Because it looks like most of them are crap, the other 15 are remakes of 2011 games and, lets face it, it has almost no third party support. Mean while in Japan the 3DS has outsold the PS3's LIFETIME SALES. Just sayin' The statistics point to the 3DS.

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