5) Mass Effect 3 (Xbox 360, PS3, PC)
Mass Effect 3's multiplayer ruled the first half of my year. In what most gamers thought would be a tacked-on feature, the multiplayer for the finale of the Shepard trilogy was actually quite amazing. On top of that, it fit right into the single player campaign's military readiness feature. However, that's not what most will remember it for. The ending — as maligned as it is — was one that I didn't mind. I felt like my Shepard's story wrapped up nicely — even if others may not have.
4) Persona 4 Golden (Vita)
Persona 4 was already a game that fixed the significant errors of its predecessor — there wasn't really much that needed to be changed. Still, Atlus proved that they still had quite a bit of story to tell with Persona 4 Golden for the PlayStation Vita. Not only did they upscale the graphics, but the new scenes all fit in seamlessly with the old content. Admittedly, they did attempt to fix what wasn't broken with the Shuffle Time system and ended up unbalancing the entire game, though it's still one of the best RPGs I've played.
3) Star Wars: The Old Republic (PC)
Technically released at the tail end of 2011, Star Wars: The Old Republic showed how BioWare story could be merged with addictive MMORPG gameplay to provide a cohesive experience. The game didn't do as well as Electronic Arts hoped, mostly due to an update schedule not quite as vigorous as World of Warcraft, and is now a free-to-play title. However, it's one of the best damn FTP MMORPGs on the market, poor marketplace be damned. If you're at all interested in Star Wars or BioWare RPGs, you owe it to yourself to at least try SWTOR.
2) Tales of Graces f (PS3)
Surprisingly enough, if you had asked me if Tales of Graces f would've made my year-end list back when I played it in March, I'm not sure I would've given you an affirmative about it. It started slow and ultimately lacked memorable characters, but features one of the best combat systems to grace an RPG in recent memory. I can't help but wonder why JRPGs of this quality, in terms of combat systems and high production values, aren't more successful.
1) Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward (3DS, Vita)
999 was a great visual novel, despite an almost complete lack of production values and some very annoying repetition. VLR changed all of that, providing a longer, more intricate thread to follow and wrapping it all up very nicely. I can't say enough positive things about Virtue's Last Reward — it does everything it should at a very high level and doesn't have a whole lot of fat in the story. Plus, it's got Schrödinger's Cat in it. Who doesn't love that?
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