Kotaku Reviews All Of This Year's Biggest Games

This year has been chock full of games. With the Christmas holidays approaching, we've rounded up some gift guides covering all sorts of bases for you. Price range, platform, etc. But what if you just want to refresh your memory of this year's highlights?

Here are all of our reviews of the biggest games this year. Hopefully it will help in your holiday purchases, and to occupy your non-family time with some good game choices.

If you don't see a title you're interested in, try our review tag page where you'll find a full list.

Need For Speed: Most Wanted is a laser-focused, unblockable gut-punch of constant acceleration. Speed freaks, rejoice. More »

Because it may not be the best Assassin's Creed but it is a refreshing recharge to a well-made series. It's an important game about America, about killing bad guys and about climbing beautiful trees. More »

Assassin's Creed Liberation brings the series to Playstation Vita in strong fashion and adds inspired new mechanics to an already strong formula. More »

Halo 4 is an emotional, beautiful look at Master Chief's struggles in war. More »

Nintendo Land is the best way to experience all the wonderful weirdness of the Wii U. More »

Far Cry 3 does so much right: It's an exhilarating and empowering adventure that marvelously combines player freedom with shiny technical polish. More »

Hitman: Absolution is a sprawling, satisfying game that offers dozens of vicious possibilities with each new scenario. More »

Like most Mario games, it never stops feeling fun. More »

Black Ops II feels great to play, especially when futuristic weapons are involved, yes-but it also makes you think. More »

It offers a continuation of the World of Warcraft experience, but at this point that experience just isn't quite enough. More »

Medal of honour Warfighter is slipshod, uninspired, unpolished, and unfun. More »

007 Legends is not only terrible a homage to James Bond, but it's a mediocre shooter too.

More »

Skylanders Giants, like Spyro's Adventure before it, gives collecting colourful pieces of plastic a purpose. It's a chimerical combination of two passions, and hey, the kids seem to dig it. More »

Forza Horizon lets down its parent brand's hair and gives you the fantasy lifestyle of racing gorgeous cars in the prime of your life. More »

XCOM: Enemy Unknown takes a classic PC strategy game, improves it then makes it playable for console owners as well. More »

Where most games have strict rules and guidelines, Dishonored has suggestions. Suggestions that it encourages you to mess around with at every turn. Blending the do-what-you-want structure of Deus Ex with the masterful world design of BioShock, this game is really something special. More »

NBA 2K13 serves the flashiest sport and sports lifestyle in North America with rich gameplay and deep career modes. More »

The interesting changes in this Resident Evil can't save it from feeling bloated and boring. More »

You have to catch all the things, and revisiting old friends and exploring the aftermath of events two years prior is an entertaining way to do it. More »

With a mix of familiar MMORPG tropes and new, modern approaches to delivering them, Guild Wars 2 is an excellent, welcoming take on the genre. More »

A fresh style, new stages to tear apart, and expansive story / training mode and solid online play, this is a Dead or Alive sequel that's finally worth its new number. More »

Torchlight II is a sprawling, ambitious game that does one thing very, very well. It gives you a world you'll want to explore, filled with enemies you'll love to destroy. More »

Borderlands 2 is a charming, funny, hell of a cooperative game with lots of style and personality that you can spend hours with. More »

It is one of the most unique games to come out of Japan in the last decade. More »

The offline action represents one of the best Tekken games in years and the online portion is promising, though it still needs to be properly tested by hordes of players. More »

For a real-time physics engine that keeps you in the action, and a brilliant career mode that unites players of all levels of interest. More »

It's the grown up version of grabbing a bunch of Transformers from your toy box and acting out the final days of their doomed home world. More »

Like putting on your favourite sweatshirt or curling up in bed and re-reading a great book, New Super Mario Bros. 2 is a familiar, warm, comfortable story. More »

Although the game is entertaining and fun to play, the sheer number of bugs encountered in the PS3 edition really need a patch. We're waiting for confirmation on if the Xbox 360 and PC versions are plagued with the same issues or not. More »

Sleeping Dogs is both great at making a beautiful Hong Kong your playground, as well as portraying the drama hidden in its streets. More »

It's a nice change of pace to see an MMORPG in a modern setting, the class-free levelling is nice, and the attention to story, detail, and setting are fantastic. More »

Spec Ops: The Line is a considered and thought-provoking game that deserves to be experienced for its flaws as well as for its successes. More »

Despite a heavy reliance on traditional massively-multiplayer role-playing mechanics, Tera's addictive active combat system is a breath of fresh air in a relatively stagnant genre. More »

Slicing up zombies with a chainsaw is incredibly fun, and you get to experience endearingly stupid humour fighting in boss battles. More »

If you want an engaging open-world RPG with action combat to spend way too many hours playing, there are plenty that do what Dragon's Dogma fails to. More »

Ghost Recon: Future Soldier can feel a bit ungainly, but for the most part it successfully balances stealth, tactics and all-out action. More »

The action role-playing game that launched a thousand clones remains the most viscerally entertaining way to click your mouse several hundred thousand times. More »

This unrelentingly grim thriller boasts great storytelling, sharply implemented mechanics and inventive multiplayer. It's the total package. More »

More than just demonstrating some truly spectacular superpowers in an open world, you're doing them with a great character, James Heller, even if the game's story doesn't take any risks. More »

Fez is more than just adorable. It's a world that makes you want to explore every corner, and solve every obscure puzzle. More »

Despite its many flaws, Xenoblade is a great fix for MMO junkies and sidequest nuts. This is a world you'll want to breathe in. More »

If gameplay upgrades are a key demand made by consumers of annual sports titles (ones rarely fulfilled) then Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13's improved swing control, by itself, makes the title recommendable. More »

It's a tedious, uninspiring mess that neither pleases the franchise's old fans nor appeals to a new audience. More »

The three-part chaos is fun but there's not enough to make this Resident Evil feel like something you need to experience. More »

The drama might be lessened but the fighting engine is has improved significantly and the character roster ridiculously huge. More »

Technically, it's a smooth next step in a well-loved franchise and narratively, it's still haunting me days after finishing. More »

Street Fighter X Tekken brings together two of the greatest fighting game franchises of all time in a game that's incredibly accessible to new players. More »

It takes all the best things from old-school RPGs and brings them into a modern format. More »

Journey is a gorgeous, meditative game that combines disciplined design, cutting-edge technology and beautiful art into something remarkable and moving. More »

A beloved extreme sports franchise gets rebooted with realism and asynchronous online play. More »

The unusual combination of storytelling styles, along with the vibrant and detailed art design, make this short experience worth the while. More »

Syndicate challenges your brain's flexibility in chaotic situations, while testing your ability to adapt to new threats. More »

It's like being the Game of Thrones. You build castles and invade Kingdoms, but you also get to bang courtiers and humiliate that disappointment of a son you banished to Wales. More »

For mixed martial arts fans, it's an astoundingly deep offering that could be the only game you play for long stretches. For fighting game fans, there are enough symmetries in its gameplay to make the introduction into a simulation sports title. More »

After all these years it's still the best the vehicle combat genre has to offer. More »

The allure of a portable Uncharted game is strong, but Golden Abyss feels for the most part like a cut-rate version of 2007's Uncharted: Drake's Fortune. More »

The four-arm action is the only interesting thing about this game. And you can get that, and a better overall experience, in the original game. Everything else feels like a step backwards. From a game that came out five years ago. More »

It's an extremely well-crafted action role-playing experience with all the bells and whistles fans of the genre crave and countless hours of quality hack-and-slash entertainment in a fully-realized new fantasy world. More »

The core fighting remains as sharp as ever and gets tweaked with interesting changes. Also: you can fight a furry, or be a furry. More »

It improves upon Final Fantasy XIII in nearly every way. More »

It's a superb Resident Evil game and easily one of the 3DS' most impressive games. More »



    Fantastic game and soundtrack, and the picture of the little Fez dude is my XBL Avatar pic

      Mine too! I'm a bit dissappointed there's no review for Trials Evolution - probably the game I racked the most hours up in this year!

        Dude same

        Except for Borderlands 2

    Journey still GOTY for me so far. Only thing left between now and the end of the year with any chance at all of knocking it off is Far Cry 3.

    Last edited 23/11/12 5:12 pm

      I agree wholeheartedly, it was a wonderful case of quality over quantity and even managed to push a few emotional buttons, which is something that I haven't often felt from games.

      I'm sure I'll get a lot out of Far Cry 3, but I doubt it will effect me the way Journey did.

      Last edited 23/11/12 3:26 pm

    Just getting into Crusader Kings II now. amazing game.

    That shallow MOP review still irks me but I don't want to be "that guy" ranting on every article.

    That being said, I definitely feel that 2011 was a better year for games :S

      I'd probably agree with that. I've bought very, very little this year. Especially in terms of boxed, retail games. Looks like the first quarter of next year will probably have more must-buy games for me than the entirety of this year.

        Yeah I was disappointed with a few of the ones I did get.

        Max Payne felt a bit like a shooting gallery, very well written but very repetitive.
        Diablo 3 had no real endgame, altho it was fun to level in.
        Guild Wars 2 just wasn't my cup of tea.
        Mass Effect 3 bored me.
        .. I'm sure there are a few more.

        Games I did enjoy:

        Halo 4
        Sleeping Dogs
        Ultimate Ninja Storm: Generations
        Borderlands 2

        and of course a variety of downloadables who are the real winners for this year.

        ... on second thought I bought a lot of games this year.

        Last edited 23/11/12 4:04 pm

          MoP...twas Good..maybe one day I'll return. Really want a strong 3's team for arena, but I got lvl 90 too quick and was waiting around so I got bored. Played while on hols from work didn't help...over played to much. Just bought Black OPs 2 for under $50 (including Nuketown).

            I'm a raider and the current raid tier is pretty solid, interesting mechanics, not too much trash, skill intensive. Loot could be better spread out but apart from that this expansion is pretty solid on PvE.

              Agree you with on this. MV was heaps of fun, but the guild I was in (still am) preferred to do RGB's. We organised a raid team and it failed miserably. Played 12+ hours a day for a week was too much for me.

                Yeah we're currently about midway in HoF, not groundbreaking our guild is like 9124 in the US and I'm like top 2000 pallys, but yeah MV had some really fun mechanics especially for tanks - mainly on Will, Feng and Stone Guard.

                So far HoF has been quite interesting as well, looking forward to getting Garalon out of the way and into the tier bosses.

        Yes 2011 had so many games I got at or close to Day One:

        Portal 2
        Deus Ex HR
        Dead Rising 2 OTR
        Saints Row The Third
        Battlefield 3
        The Gunstringer
        Arkham City

        Plus Gears of War 3 which I didn't get at launch but has proven to be one of my favourite games this year!

        By Contrast 2012 has had some great games, since August, but the first half of the year was barren with the exception of some good downloadable titles like Alan Wake and Fez and Trials

    No Trials Evolution OR The Walking Dead? What is this shit... >:(

    Last edited 23/11/12 4:49 pm

      Kotaku hasn't reviewed episode 5 if the walking dead yet so they couldn't include it.

    Papo y Yo? The Walking Dead?

    For mine, it's Journey followed by Mass Effect 3 (in spite of the ending), and The Walking Dead.

    Decent year of gaming, although I was a disappointed by a lot. 2011 was a better year, but 2012 wasn't to bad.

    Nice wrap up. There's still plenty of games from this year I need to try and play!

    ME3 was definitely a highlight for me in 2012. I have a feeling will provide a nice late GOTY potential too.

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