Game of the Year 2012

Abraham Ashton Liu's Awards
5) Tales of the Abyss/Tales of Graces f (3DS, PS3)
After years of radio silence, Namco Bandai finally threw western players a bone with English entries of two of the finest entries of the Tales series. Both feature vastly different play styles, but are incredibly enjoyable action RPGs that deserve the attention of JRPG enthusiasts. With Tales of Xillia officially announced for a North American release, the stateside future of the Tales series seems bright indeed.

4) Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask (3DS)
Professor Layton's first outing on the 3DS may be somewhat by-the-numbers, but the inquisitive scholar still has some life left in him, combining a great story that unfolds excellently and logic puzzles that are overall incredibly addicting and interesting. The overuse of visual and verbal tricks can be a bit of a bother, but Miracle Mask's overall quality is not dragged down by some mediocre puzzles when so many of them are excellent. The story ends on a tremendous cliffhanger, making the wait for the next - and final - entry in Herschel Layton's adventure all the more unfair.

3) Xenoblade Chronicles (Wii)
Having already played this in Japanese, I couldn't wait to play through this monster-sized 150-hour quest again in English. That is the power of Xenoblade. Meticulously detailed environments, no small amount of quests, and a decent story combine to make this one of the standout titles not only on the Wii, but also of this entire generation. The game successfully merges MMO-like progression and gameplay with the linear-focused JRPG storyline, and as a result it crafts an experience that is unique and unequaled in the industry.

2) Persona 4: The Golden (Vita)
I considered Persona 4 the best JRPG ever created, so when an enhanced version was slated to appear on the Vita, of course I had to jump on it immediately. Persona 4: The Golden is an enhanced port, but it is the bar by which all other ports should be measured. More questlines and story events? Check. More personae? Check. More equipment and customization options? Check. More player controlled gameplay options and features? Check. Anyone who owns a Vita owes it to themselves to play this game.

1) Mass Effect 3 (Xbox 360, PS3, PC)
I had a hard time deciding between the two contenders for the top spot, but had to give Mass Effect 3 the nod. The culmination of years of storyline choices and lore buildup, Mass Effect's narrative as a whole may not be able to stand up to intense scrutiny, but as anyone who loves the series can honestly say - it's about the journey, not the destination. Seeing the culmination of the player's choices and the final conclusion for many of the conflicts seen throughout the series is an experience unlike any other. The writing and character interaction are both top notch, and some of the best character driven moments in gaming can be seen in Mass Effect 3. That's not even considering that the character progression, shooting mechanics, and weapon customization systems are far and away the best in the series. While I look forward to any new games BioWare might set in the Mass Effect universe, they will never have the same impact as the original trilogy.

Best Non-RPG Game of the Year
Persona 4 Arena (Xbox 360, PS3)
I'm a sucker for fighting games even though I never have the patience to master them. Mixing in the characters from my favorite game into a deep fighting game engine is just gravy. The story may be long-winded and bogged down by needless exposition (as is usual for Arc System Works), but the combat is visceral and intensely satisfying.

Overall Awards
Traditional RPG Action RPG Graphic Adventure Strategy RPG Indie RPG MMORPG Port or Re-release Downloadable Content (DLC) Best Combat Best Visuals Best Sound Best Story
Reader's Choice
Reader's Choice Best RPG of 2012
And the winner is...
Best RPG of 2012
Editors' Picks
Abraham Ashton Liu Andrew Barker Dave Yeager Derek Heemsbergen John McCarroll Kyle E. Miller Neal Chandran Robert Steinman Stephen Meyerink

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