(PC, PS3, XBOX 360)
Published by Bethesda – the studio who brought us Skyrim – few titles of 2012 have been as eagerly anticipated as Dishonored. Set in Dunwall, a fantastical steampunk-inspired city reminiscent of 18th century London, this first person action-RPG is enthralling on the eye from the off. Gothic spires and imposing citadels nestle alongside downtrodden streets and filthy dockland alleys, with each area oozing its own sort of eerie atmosphere.
As a wronged killing machine, your character is tasked with dishing out revenge on those who sent you to death row. How you do this is entirely up to you. You can pick off your prey carefully or go on a rampage through Dunwall. Either option is rewarding, though as the plot unravels and you gain a few unusual powers, you can always choose to change your tactics.
Good to look at and fun to play, Dishonored lets you loose in an atmospheric, eerie world crammed with interesting characters and entertaining plot twists. A must have winter title.
Resident Evil 6
(PS3, XBOX 360)
There was a time when a new Resident Evil title would be such a big deal gaming fans would be talking about it for months in the lead up to its release. While there’s no denying the horror franchise is still one of the biggest out there, the last few efforts have failed to capture the creepiness and suspense of the first two titles.
While hardly revolutionary, the sixth instalment at least offers us something different. There are numerous playable characters and storylines to enjoy, as well as some excellent cut scene additions. But – and it’s a big but – the game is completely linear. From start to finish you have very limited options in how you tackle each task. Frenetic fights against waves of enemies often descend into nothing more than furious button bashing sessions. The emphasis is also solidly on action, meaning that all the trademark suspense and shocks of the series are replaced by shootouts and set-pieces.
It might be pretty and smoothly scripted, but the clunky, pre-planned feel and lack of spooky scrapes mean this is one of the weakest Resident Evil offerings overall.
XCOM: Enemy Unknown
(PC, PS3, XBOX 360)
The original XCOM was released in the early 1990s and is regularly cited as being one of the best games ever to have been put together. This 2012 remake might not be the loveliest game you’ll ever play, but it’s certainly one of the most engrossing releases of the year. Perhaps most importantly, more mature gamers seem to think that it’s also extremely faithful to the original classic.
Set in the present day, XCOM places you at the head of an elite taskforce charged with fighting back against a seemingly unstoppable alien invasion. Rather than being thrust into the action yourself, you play more of a background role. This involves giving individual soldiers orders, buying weapons and upgrading your secret base. It’s tough to get the right tactical balance, and the urge to throw everything you’ve got at your enemies is pretty overwhelming, but the steep learning curve and smart opposition gradually make you a more thoughtful battlefield general.
Painstakingly difficult at times, this is also a really rewarding title and, as you and your men progress, the desire to kill every alien you encounter only grows stronger. All in all this is certainly the most fun you can have preventing an extraterrestrial Armageddon.