Fez Xbox Live
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Fez Product Details
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Best Downloads of 2012
It's been an astonishing year for downloads with a raft of low-priced, mainly indie games that have packed more punch than most triple-A titles. If for some reason you don't think that downloadables can match their boxed brethren, then check out what you've missed and start kicking yourself. Or make it easy on your foot and get downloading instead...
The Walking Dead (X360/PS3/PC/Mac/iOS)
Quick-time events, simple puzzles and a shonky games engine; they're hardly what you'd call marketing bullet points but this is the best TV/film/comic adaptation we've ever played - and a contender for 'game of the year' as well. Set in The Walking Dead universe but with its own characters and story, this five-part adventure sees you playing as Lee Everett charged with looking after an orphan in a world overcome by zombies. It features some simple but contextually-perfect puzzle-powered gameplay plus pitch-perfect characterisations and a storyline that can proudly stand decomposing shoulder-to-decomposing shoulder with the comic and TV series. Most importantly, it packs the kind of emotional wallop that big leaguers like Heavy Rain can only dream of...
Mark of the Ninja (X360/PC)
Lurking in the shadows behind its horribly generic name is this riveting stealth game. The premise is simple - take the key 3D stealth-combat ingredients of Splinter Cell and Metal Gear Solid and turn them into a 2D platformer. Sound like it shouldn't work? Think again - from the makers of the cult The Dishwasher series, MOTN sees you playing as, well, take a guess, hellbent on stopping the evil machinations of... oh never mind - we did warn you it sounded generic, right? The end result though is a masterclass in visceral stealth action as you creep down halls and corridors, crawl through air vents and leap across rooftops, planning and executing the enemy in ever more fiendish ways. Brilliant.
Tokyo Jungle (PS3)
As mad as bag of spanners, well, spaniels in this case, Tokyo Jungle is a highly original take on the jaded apocalypse theme that sees you taking to the mean streets of Tokyo that humankind has mysteriously vanished from. So what role do you play? A veritable zoo-full of critters, that's what! Starting off as a wee dog, it's your job to fight off all manner of species, forage for food and procreate to ensure your species survival - and the best bit? That you can try out being all manner of different animals, proving in the process that it's a dog-eats-dog-eats-crocodile-eats-cat-eats-hyena-eats-hippo-eats-velociraptor world out there. Funny, scary and vicious.
Fez for X360
A labour of love for its creator Rich Vreeland, this 8-bit-style marvel is astonishing to look at and play thanks to its clever use of dimensions, mind-mashing puzzles and oh-so-sweet old-skool 2D platforming action.
Journey for PS3
Sublime graphics marred to a haunting soundtrack sees you trekking across a desert landscape on a quest to reach the top of a distant mountain. With its innovative co-op and arresting sights that stay with you long after finishing, this is without doubt one of the PS3's finest hours.
Trials Evolution for X360/PC
Twitch gaming at its very best, negotiate ever more tortuous tracks on a motorbike. Simple but so dangerously addictive that perhaps the Mayans should have warned us about this instead...
And so another year gallops to a close, thundering through the ribbon into January on a wave of good cheer and over-eating. And what a cracker of a year it's been for gaming, with all the major platforms delivering some absolutely stonking exclusives along with some truly spectacular blockbusters spread across all formats, like warm butter on the crumpet you're hopefully eating right now to ward off the December chills.
For Xbox 360 owners, it's been the year in which Master Chief finally returned to the gaming stage. Absent for five years - an eternity in games terms - his triumphant return in Halo 4 not only kickstarted the new Reclaimer Trilogy, but also introduced new developer 343 Studios to the series. 343 immediately put its stamp on Bungie's universe, crafting a game with sumptuous visuals and a distinctly personal spin on storytelling, as Chief battles not just to save the galaxy, but his AI companion Cortana, whose code is deteriorating. Add in an exhaustive suite of multiplayer modes, a full co-op campaign, and the ongoing Spartan Ops bonus missions and you've got one of the best games of the series, and of this year.
Halo wasn't the only Microsoft legend getting a makeover in 2012. Forza Horizon took the imposing racing simulation and gave it a funky mainstream twist, combining developer Turn 10's impeccable vehicle physics with an open world underground racing vibe. Everything from drift racing to hardcore rallying is covered as you roar around a virtual Colorado racing festival, looking for events and opportunities to show off your talent behind the wheel.
The wonderful land of Albion also showed off a new perspective in Fable: The Journey. This Kinect-fuelled spin-off from the superb RPG series puts you right into the action as a young boy, separated from his tribe and forced to travel across this magical land alone as dark forces gather against him. Using precision motion control, you steer your wagon, fire off spells and even look after your loyal horse. It's an unusual game, offering an experience far removed from the other Fable titles, yet it's also one of the best Kinect games. Immersive and packed with genuine challenge, it's a good sign that motion gaming doesn't have to just mean simple mini-games for little kids.
Definitely not suitable for little kids was The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings. Previously a well-deserved smash hit on the PC, the game crossed over to consoles exclusively for Xbox 360. This was no mere half-hearted port either. Czech developer CD Projekt went out of its way to recreate the game specifically for a console audience, adding four hours of fresh questing content, as well as new cinematics. The result was one of the best role-playing games, not just of 2012, but of all time. A thorny, challenging adventure set in a bawdy, complex world torn apart by racism, political strife and class war.
On the digital frontline, the Xbox continued to thrill. World conquering epic Minecraft came to consoles just for the 360, allowing a whole new audience to experience the genius of Mojang's communal block bashing and building. No surprise that it quickly became one of the most popular online games, challenging even the heavyweight shooters. Indie hit Fez got critics hot under the collar too with its mind-bending puzzle platforming action, and knockabout motocross romp Trials Evolution offered gamers the chance to punish their ragdoll rider in the year's biggest highs and most hilarious fails.
Xbox owners weren't left out when it came to multi-format releases either. The brilliant Borderlands 2, with its lunatic mix of co-op action and loot-swapping mayhem, is what your Xbox LIVE Friends List was invented for, while the online action of hits such as FIFA 13 and Need for Speed: Most Wanted made the most of Microsoft's ever-evolving digital community. Even the biggest game of the year had something extra special for Xbox players, as Activision announced that all the DLC maps for Call of Duty: Black Ops II will be exclusive to Xbox 360 for a limited time.
And that's just this year. Where will Xbox be in another twelve months? Will there be a new console to save up for? How long will we have to wait for Halo 5? And what will developers do next with the controller-free Kinect? One thing's for sure, it's going to be an amazing ride finding out.
Editor's Choice - Best Downloads Of 2012 (24/12/2012)
It's been an astonishing year for downloads with a raft of low-priced, mainly indie games that have packed more punch than most triple-A titles. If for some reason you don't think that downloadables c…
The Best of 2012: Xbox 360 (13/12/2012)
As another year gallops to a close, we look back at the best games to come to Xbox 360 in 2012.…
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