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Christmas Day Gaming: Five Must-Plays From 2012

Posted December 25, 2012 - By Adam Rosenberg

Sleeping Dogs

Whatever your chosen form of worship is, life tends to stop in the United States on Christmas Day. Whether that means family time or a day at the movies, you're still going to find yourself with some free time to play with.

Looking back over the video game releases of 2012, there's something of an embarassment of riches. We've gotten some solid games this year, games that surge thanks to original design and fresh spins on old chestnuts. Why not take today to catch up with some of those? Here are five contenders that you could have easily missed as the year unfolded...

The Walking Dead Episode 4 Accolades Trailer »


The Walking Dead

Fine. It isn't exactly risky to recommend that people play what is widely considered to be the strongest game of 2012. The fact remains, however, that Telltale Games' The Walking Dead isn't cut from the same action cloth that makes a multi-million-selling franchise. Get over it. This is serious gaming for a serious gamer, with the added bonus of telling the most memorable Walking Dead story since the comic book series launched.

 

Mark of the Ninja Official Trailer »


Mark Of The Ninja

The fact that Mark of the Ninja manages to stand out in a year that saw both Dishonored and Hitman: Absolution hit F5 on the stealth genre should be all the convincing you need. Klei Entertainment's 2D side-scroller isn't what you might expect from a stealth game, but it IS pure stealth of the ninja ass-kicking variety. With a slick, stylish set of moves and enemy AI that is unfailingly fun to toy with, this little downloadable game stands easily alongside the bigger-budget stealth offerings this year.

FTL: Faster Than Light

If you own a computer, chances are good that you can play FTL: Faster Than Light. So go do it. Roguelike games have seen a bit of a resurgence in recent times thanks to the success of Edmund McMillen's The Binding of Isaac. FTL swaps out the action for strategy in this completely random set of space adventures. Manage the crew of a starship as you fight through pirates and rebels to cross the galaxy and warn the Federation of a looming rebel threat. A little bit Star Wars, a little bit Star Trek, a whole lot of HOLY CRAP ALIEN SPIDERS!

Seriously: don't mess with those spiders.

Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack - Official Launch Trailer from Ryan MacLean on Vimeo.

Tales From Space: Mutant Blobs Attack

When Sony launched the PlayStation Vita in early 2012, there was really only one must-own game in that initial library. Drinkbox Entertainment's charming platformer mixes side-scrolling 2D platforming with the Katamari Damacy-like ability to outgrow your environment. The more you absorb, the bigger your evil space blob grows. The game is great fun, if not all together challenging. It also features one of the greatest final levels in all of gaming. For real.

Sleeping Dogs Launch Trailer »


Sleeping Dogs

The lone 10+ hour game on this list is here for a reason. Sleeping Dogs may not be the strongest game of this year, but it's a damn solid effort from United Front Games and Square Enix London Studios. The open world action title drops players into Hong Kong's seedy underbelly as an undercover cop. The former True Crime title had everything going against, and yet the game that emerged from its extended development is great fun, with an absorbing, John Woo-inspired story, satisfying hand-to-hand combat, and a memorable cast of characters.

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