It’s time for the nigh-obligatory year-end “best of 2012” list so here it is—the best PC games, gaming keyboards, PC headsets, and gaming mice I’ve played with in 2012. Zombies, a franchise reborn, a new franchise launched, and the nigh endless quest for loot dominated much of my gaming.
And among the gaming gear I got to play with The Most Expensive Gaming Keyboard Ever, some very comfy headsets, and some slick mice.
Best Games of 2012 (in no particular order):
XCOM: Enemy Unknown
Publisher: 2K Games
XCOM: Enemy Unknown basically resurrected the XCOM franchise in this updated turn-based strategy game.—and launched it on PCs as well as consoles (a rarity for the genre). More importantly, it stayed true to its roots while updating the game with triple-A visuals, sound, and most importantly, gameplay.
Developer: Arkane Studios
What's not to love about sneaking, teleporting, and stabbing people in the back? I’ve long been a fan of games such as Deus Ex and Thief, and now I can add Dishonored to that esteemed list as well. Although the most recently released Dunwall Trials DLC for Dishonored didn’t interest or excite me enough to buy it, the main game is still a richly delivered stealth-FPS game set in a semi-open world environment you can easily glean more than 20 hours of play in. (On a personal note, this is one of my absolute favorite games of 2012, and even my personal "game of the year" pick if I had to pick just one.)
The Walking Dead
Developer: Telltale Games
Publisher: Telltale Games
Telltale Games’ story-based adventure game tells one of the most compelling and heart-wrenching stories ever experienced in an adventure game. This isn’t your standard hunt-and-click adventure game. It’s a taut and tense game punctuated with a little action and highlighted by the extremely difficult emotional decisions you must make throughout the game. It may actually make you cry.
Developer: 2K Games
Publisher: 2K Games
Loot, loot, and more loot. Borderlands 2 is largely just an improved/new version of its addictive predecessor, and it’s been bolstered in recent months with some pretty solid DLC with the Pirate’s Booty and Torgue add-ons. I’ve played both—the Pirate’s Booty is the slightly better and longer of the two, but I’d still argue that a Season Pass—which gives you the main game and the first four DLC packs to be released—is still a good value. I've dumped around 100 hours into this game this year and eagerly awaiting the next DLC.
Developer: Runic Games
Publisher: Runic Games
Built on the same formula as its predecessor and other games of its ilk (i.e. Diablo/Action-RPG games), Torchlight II delivers a high quality and highly-addictive action role playing game that’s also considerably lighter on your wallet than most games (typically $10-$20).
Developer: Hi-Rez Studios
Publisher: Hi-Rez Studios
The free-to-play Tribes Ascend is still one of my favorite go-to FPS games that I play on a regular basis, and I think Hi-Rez did a great job of resurrecting and modernizing the nearly defunct franchise.
Great games I missed but wish I hadn’t:
Mass Effect 3
The final game in the Mass Effect trilogy sparked controversy with an ending that left some players unsatisfied. Regardless, it still proved itself good enough to get millions of gamers to play it to the very end—whether they liked the conclusion or not. I played the first two games and especially enjoyed the second, so I'm still keeping my saved games in tact from it so I can play the final chapter.
It’s probably a good thing that Skyrim didn’t make it to my PC this year because I know enough people playing it to attest to the fact that this fantasy role-playing game is quite possibly the world’s biggest time suck this side of Borderlands 2 and Torchlight 2.
I can only make so much time for games like Borderlands 2 and Torchlight II, and Diablo III just slipped through the cracks this year. I may pick it up when (or if) Blizzard lowers the price and a "hole in my schedule" opens up--or I may just have to pay the devil his due.
Best Gaming Gear of 2012
I got buried in gaming gear to review in 2012 and some of it I'm still wading through some of it. A lot of it was good, some was great, some not so much. Here's a list of some of the standouts among gaming keyboards, gaming mice, and headsets I played with in 2012.
Logitech doesn't make a lot of gaming stuff (compared to their entire product line) but pretty much everything they make is awesome--and the G710+ mechanical gaming keyboard is another testament to that. The G710+ is based upon Cherry MX Brown switches and offers virtually every feature I think is essential in a gaming keyboard, including 6 dedicated macro keys and an array of other dedicated keys for media control, profile switching, and more. I wish the backlight color was something other than white.
Mad Catz S.T.R.I.K.E. 7
I'll admit the S.T.R.I.K.E. 7 just gets a lot of points for being cool and shiny. It's generally a very good board, but at $300 it's a tough pill to actually recommend. Regardless, it’s still a nice board with a ton of features, and the touch screen is actually useful. Overall I think it beat out Razer’s Deathstalker, the only other keyboard I reviewed this year even close to the S.T.R.I.K.E. 7’s price range.
I finally got my hands on some Roccat gear this year and I was not disappointed. The ISKU is an excellent gaming keyboard with a wealth of features and some nifty innovations. Plus: it talks to you. And for a non-mechanical keyboard it feels surprisingly crisp and responsive.
Best PC gaming headsets of 2012
SteelSeries Siberia V2 “Frost” Edition
The Siberia V2 is still the king of comfort among PC gaming headsets, and the USB-based Frost Blue edition adds some cool blue LED lighting to the mix. The Siberia V2 is a long-time favorite and a consistent recommendation from me to my friends.
Razer Tiamat Elite 7.1
Second only in comfort (by a slim margin) to the Siberia V2 Frost Blue, the Tiamat Elite 7.1 surround sound headset from Razer sounds amazing and sports one of the best inline controllers I’ve ever had the pleasure to use. It’s pricey but you wouldn't regret the expense.
Best Gaming Mouse(s) of 2012
Logitech G600 MMO
Score another win for Logitech, even if they did copy Razer’s basic Naga MMO mouse design. Unfortunately for Razer, Logitech improved their design with sculpted buttons, a third mouse button that provides additional functionality, and a slightly larger form factor. I've always liked the Razer Naga, but the G600 won me over.
Mad Catz MM07
This is still my favorite all-around go-to gaming mouse. It offers a low form factor, unparalleled customization options, and a wealth of buttons to use and abuse.