Sunday, December 29, 2013

Movie Review: The Wolf of Wall Street

The absolute best film of 2013. A darkly comedic, downward spiral of a hot shot stock broker shown in graphic detail from start to finish.

Scorsese knocks it out of the park with his best film in years and his best collaboration with DiCaprio to date. The screenplay is sprawling and all encompassing but never falters.

Fantastic performances all around from Jonah Hill showing some great range to DiCaprio in his career best role, this film really has it all.

Wolf of Wall Street is three hours long but you'd never know it. Thanks to Scorsese and Thelma Schoonmaker's deft hand in the editing room this feels like a brisk hour and 45 minutes at the most.

I can't stop thinking about this film and I doubt I'll be able to stop for quite a while.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Movie Review: American Hustle

A phenomenal film featuring some of the best work of this cast's respective careers.

A beautifully crafted film from director David O. Russell with a sharp script and cinematography that's perfect.

As I stated before, the entire cast is aces, from Christian Bale in one of his most impressive roles yet to Jennifer Lawrence and Amy Adams both bringing their A games. There isn't a weak link to be found with this impressive group of actors.

One of the best films of 2013 and I wouldn't be surprised if it makes my top 3 when all is said and done.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Movie Review: The Last Stand

A fantastic modern western from director Kim Jee-Woon. The way he shoots an action scene is very impressive with every shot adding to the greater whole. I'm going to have to make a point of checking out his other work.

This has some fun characters as well with some charming performances from Arnold Schwarzenegger, Luis Guzman and Peter Stormare topping the list.

All in all it's great to have Arnold back as the focal point of an action movie again. I'm really looking forward to what he does next with his "comeback."

Movie Review: Elysium

Elysium was...good. Though it was entertaining to be sure, I wanted it to be so much more. Sadly, it was simply a highly entertaining sci-fi adventure. I'd still recommend it though.

A good film overall, but some of the characters, Copley and his henchmen mostly, were a bit much. I could've without the lecherous aspects.

Jodie Foster was truly surprising though. Personally I liked her "Ritzy" accent and would've liked to have seen more of her to be perfectly honest. She plays a delightfully wicked villain and I would love to see more of that from her.

In his two features so far, Blomkamp has yet to truly disappoint. Both District 9 and Elysium are fine films, though the latter is nowhere near as provocative or heartfelt as the former.

Side note, the dude knows how to design some insanely cool weapons.

Movie Review: Carrie

A thoroughly enjoyable remake of the DePalma classic.

Carrie, updated for the modern era, is quite entertaining for what it is, though we've seen it all before.

Major credit to Moretz and Judy Greer who shine in this film. Moretz's Carrie has a much less "Deer in Headlights" look than Sissy Spacek which definitely helps elevate her performance. Greer on the other hand is great as always, bringing a nice touch to the gym teacher.

Juliane Moore, while great as the troubled and fanatical Mrs. White doesn't soar as high as Piper Laurie did in the original film. Still she was impressive as the religious mother that the character calls for.

Some nice added touches from the novel also help lift this above most of the dreck of modern horror films. Sure it basically follows the book/original film, but there's enough here to keep it interesting. The introduction of cyber-bullying was an especially nice touch, helping sell the story to a modern audience.

I was never bored with this remake of Carrie, something I honestly can't say for most other modern remakes.

Movie Review: Scream

An undeniable classic and one of Wes Craven's best films, Scream was a welcome shot in the arm for the horror genre in the 90's.

The film has been spoiled and parodied to death so to go into the plot is moot. Needless to say, Craven is at the top of his game here, weaving tension and humor throughout each scene. The screenplay by Williamson is top-notch as well, if a little dated by today's standards, with vivid characters and believable situations abound.

Simply great stuff all around and a pure delight of a slasher film.

Movie Review: Alien

For years, this masterpiece has been trying to be my favorite film of all time, well tonight it finally happened. Sorry Ghostbusters.

Quite possibly Ridley Scott's best film and the reason he's my favorite filmmaker, Alien is a bonafide classic that holds up all these years after its release. Scott himself has called this his Haunted House movie and it has all the trappings of one. Dark locations, a mounting body count and an unrelenting villain in the form of H.R. Giger's beautiful creation, Alien is one of the best horror films ever made.

Everyone in this cast is pitch perfect, from Sigourney Weaver in her film debut to industry veterans like Ian Holm and John Hurt. They're just so good, you believe that they've actually worked on the Nostromo together for quite some time.

Scott knows how to pull off suspense and it shows. The scene with Dallas traversing the air-shafts is incredibly intense, almost too intense at times. Every scene could possibly be the best scene in the movie, from Kane finding the eggs to Brett's search for Jones the cat, there's never a dull moment.

Direction, editing, the score, set design, special effects, all are amazing and some of the best you're ever likely to see.

I'm not ashamed to say that this is my favorite film of all time, it's endlessly rewatchable and a high point for one of my favorite genres of film. A great horror film, a great slasher film and in the end, simply a great film overall.

Movie Review: Frances Ha

What a delightful little film. Having never seen any of Baumbach's other works, I can't comment on them but Frances Ha is one of the most charming films I've seen all year.

Greta Gerwig's lead performance was truly amazing, she plays such a great "poor thing," I just wanted to hug her every time something went wrong.

Fantastic music, stellar direction, believable down to earth performances and a good story make this one of the best films of 2013.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Movie Review: The Hobbit- The Desolation of Smaug

An entertaining enough film bogged down by far too much unnecessary CGI and some pacing problems.

Peter Jackson returns with his second (!) Hobbit film and I dare say the cracks are starting to show. Myriad parts of Tolkien's appendices make an appearance here including the completely redundant fan-service of Legolas. 

McKellan is great yet again as Gandalf the Grey and Martin Freeman continues to put his own stamp on Bilbo, but when these two aren't on screen the film suffers for the most part. The other performances range from decent to mesmerizing but Jackson just can't seem to stay focused for very long. I found myself deathly bored for extended periods of the film which is something that rarely happens with this series. 

Those gripes aside, it was pretty enjoyable overall and I'll certainly buy it when released on home video, if just to complete the set. 

If you see this for one thing, see it for the titular dragon, Smaug. He truly is a sight to behold and in a film filled with overzealous CG effects, the work put into this beast is very effective. Smaug, like Gollum before, looks like a living breathing creature. So much so that I half-expected a "Dragon Wrangler" credit during the ending scrawl. 

If you're a fan of the series you're going to ignore all of my gripes and see it anyway, and who am I to stop you? It's an entertaining adventure for the most part just don't expect the heights of the original trilogy.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Movie Review: Only God Forgives

In his follow up to Drive, one of my favorite films, Refn takes a look at the seedy underbelly of Bangkok to mostly great results.

There's a serious dip in quality from Drive when it comes to the narrative but OGF is an exceptionally well photographed and acted film, even if Refn doesn't reach the heights of his past triumph. The real flaw here is the lack of characters you actually want to root for. These are some truly despicable humans on display.

Then again perhaps that's the point. Not every story needs to have characters you like or even respect for that matter, some people are just wretched and OGF is proof of that.

Gosling is great as usual, bringing his now trademark stare to almost every scene, even moreso than he did in Drive. It works here though, as the character of Julian seems off-kilter from the start, an aspect that becomes cemented once his domineering mother enters the film. Kristen Scott Thomas is completely insane in this film and it might be the best performance of the bunch. She's a cold, hard bitch who couldn't give two shakes what anyone thinks of her and even though she isn't likeable in the least, her command of the screen makes up for it.

This is a film where even the apparent good guy, a cop named Chang who wields a mean sword, is despicable in the way he goes about serving justice. Vithaya Pansringarm plays one tough dude who isn't afraid to beat you with his bare hands and then go out for a little karaoke. After the twisted nature of Thomas it was shocking to find that Chang might be just slightly more twisted.

This is a great film, don't let anyone tell you otherwise. The cinematography is some of the most beautiful I've ever seen, which is striking with a story so dark and unsettling. Cliff Martinez returns for another round as Refn's composer and I would dare say that his score here is more impressive than his output for Drive. This is a loud film and a good set of speakers is highly recommended.

Is Only God Forgives better than Drive? No, of course not, very few things are, that's just science. Does it stand on its own? Certainly. This is a crazy film that only gets crazier the more you think about it.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Game Review: Bioshock Infinite

Not a film per se, but with the way games have evolved, it's easy to rate it as one.

Great storytelling and performances on display here with one of the best tales I've experienced in the medium. Bioshock Infinite sucks you in with gorgeous visuals and an intriguing premise and holds you throughout its length.

Ken Levine is one of gaming's true auteurs with his ability to display his own personal vision on the screen and still allow it to be heavily interactive. Rarely does a game ask me to question myself and my beliefs but Infinite did so on numerous occasions. 

Troy Baker and Courtnee Draper steal the show here with two of the best performances I've ever witnessed in a game. Their chemistry is top-notch and highly believable.

It's rare for a first person shooter to come along and be this good with its story and gameplay. Highly recommended for fans of the genre, Ken Levine's storytelling or just good stories in general.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Movie Review- Rob Zombie's Halloween II

A disgusting movie filled with disgusting characters.

Never before in my life have I actively loathed a film throughout its entire runtime. Shame on everyone involved and anyone that can find a modicum of enjoyment in this garbage.

Heavy handed symbolism, the desecration of the Dr. Loomis character, a horrendous protagonist, and Hobo Michael are just some examples of what is wrong with this "film."

With the exception of one great helicopter shot, this looks like it was filmed by a five year old who just discovered the zoom button on his dad's camera. Absolutely atrocious cinematography is on display here.

The only high points here are the performances by Brad Dourif and Danielle Harris, who should've known better than to sign onto this. Being the freshest part of a pile of street trash is nothing to be proud of.

This is the absolute worst in the entire series, it even makes Part 6 look like a masterpiece. Stay far away from this wretched movie, you'll be thankful you did.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Movie Review - Psycho II

Color me impressed. Psycho II is a surprisingly effective sequel to the Hitchcock classic.

I had avoided the Psycho sequels my entire life because I thought nothing more could be done or said in regard to Norman Bates and damn I was wrong.

To say much about the plot would give away more than one of this film's many twists but I will say it's an incredibly well crafted slasher film that accomplishes the rare feat of complementing the original.

Anthony Perkins gives a suitably unhinged performance in his return to the role and the supporting cast is generally good as well. Perkins may be the star here but credit must be given to the screenwriter Tom Holland for being able to come up with a great story and to director Richard Franklin for his ability to keep up the suspense.

Director of Photography Dean Cundey, whose work with John Carpenter I absolutely adore, is fantastic as usual. Some of his shots are mesmerizing, especially his use of shadow and lighting.

All in all, Psycho II never failed to impress me and while it certainly isn't on the Hitchcock level of suspense, it's still a damn fine film. I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Film Review - F For Fake

"Ladies and gentleman, by way of introduction, this is a film about trickery, fraud, about lies. Tell it by the fireside or in a marketplace or in a movie, almost any story is almost certainly some kind of lie. But not this time. This is a promise. For the next hour, everything you hear from us is really true and based on solid fact." -Orson Welles in F for Fake

Orson Welles's penultimate film, F for Fake, is all about fraud and those who specialize in it.

This "documentary" concerns Welles himself, famous art forger Elmyr de Hory and his biographer Clifford Irving, who in turn forged the autobiography of Howard Hughes. Welles's use of interviews intercut with on-camera narration from the editing room is inspired and the glimpses of Welles the magician are truly charming. It's almost as if he's invited you over and decided to regale you with stories overheard at a dinner party.

An interesting mix of fact and fiction, the film moves at a brisk pace for the first hour or so, not so much telling a story, instead revealing the many facets of fakery in various forms. The last twenty minutes however seemed to drag on, due mostly to the presence of a staged confrontation between Welles and then partner Oja Kodar which sends an otherwise great film experiment completely off the rails. In fact, I'd go as far to say that this movie would've been much better without the inclusion of Ms. Kodar, as all of her scenes tend to be a chore to get through and stop an otherwise richly entertaining experience right in its tracks.

F for Fake is not a traditional documentary in any way and to be honest I found that to be refreshing. I really liked this movie and if it weren't for the detrimental scenes mentioned earlier, I believe I would have loved it.


Friday, June 21, 2013

Hotline Miami Release Date Revealed

Hotline Miami, the engrossing top-down experience from Dennation Games will finally be released on PS3 and PS Vita on June 25th.

Available for $9.99, this highly anticipated release will be a Cross-Buy title and feature a new mask as well as touch screen controls. 

So everyone get your masks and Letterman jackets and get smashing next Tuesday.

(Via Playstation Blog)

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Making The Grade: E3 2013

Another E3 has come and gone and this year was certainly one of the most memorable in quite some time. We witnessed the reveal of two brand new consoles from Microsoft and Sony, respectively, as well as a bevy of new and intriguing games. With both Microsoft and Sony taking wildly diverging paths with their press conferences this E3 was truly one for the ages. Surprisingly though, Nintendo decided to not have a press conference at all this year. The Big N instead opted for one of their Nintendo Direct videos starring Satoru Iwata showing off all of their new games. So, let's see how they did, shall we?

Following their May reveal and a flurry of rumors about the Xbox One, Microsoft revealed a striking gameplan for their upcoming entertainment console. You've all seen the headlines about necessary internet connections and an always-on Kinect so I won't rehash those here but needless to say the reaction was decisive. Microsoft showed off quite a bunch of games but so few of them caught my eye and truly impressed me that I was actually getting more bored as their conference continued.

At first I was ecstatic that Killer Instinct was finally returning after an overlong hiatus that's lasted since the days of the Nintendo 64's Killer Instinct Gold, but as details have started to emerge I've lost almost all interest in what could have been a must-have game in my opinion. 

The fact that all except one of the characters are going to be DLC and that this once technical fighter has been reduced to mere button mashing is a major disappointment. Sure, the game looks fantastic in action but graphics aren't everything as has been proven with many fighters in recent years.

Respawn Entertainment's Xbox One exclusive Titanfall was the game to beat at Microsoft's conference. This multiplayer FPS seems like a total blast with both on foot and mech battles coming at 60fps. To tell the truth Titanfall is the only game for the Xbox One that really grabbed me, from the released footage this release looks like a total blast and I'll definitely try it when it is eventually released.


Overall this was, with the exception of a few good points, a downer of a conference from Microsoft. The anti-consumer angle they're going for truly rubs me the wrong way and the $499 pricetag isn't very enticing either. A D+ is all I can muster for Microsoft this year.


This year Sony really took the fight to Microsoft in almost every way possible. From a price point $100 cheaper than the Xbox One, digs at the used game "controversy", to a heavy showcase of indie developers, Sony didn't falter in their mission for the Playstation 4 to be the home for gamers in the coming generation. Along with the new console they also revealed a few games that were beyond intriguing.

The Order: 1886 from Ready At Dawn Studios and Sony Santa Monica looks to be a truly original beast. Ready At Dawn, known mostly for their PSP releases, seem ready to take the step into the home market with this alternate history take on Victorian London with a heavy technological vibe. 

Though no actual gameplay was shown, the in-engine trailer was gorgeous and gave a bunch of hints as to what to expect when this game finally releases. In The Order the Industrial Revolution was basically enacted in order to better fight the monsters that plague the human race, using a bunch of neo-futuristic weapons and impressive facial hair. This is definitely one of my most anticipated PS4 releases.

Though not a PS4 exclusive, Bungie's ambitious new game Destiny seems like it will turn a lot of heads once released. Billed as a "shared world" shooter by the developer, Destiny will be an ongoing multiplayer battle for the liberation of the planet with MMO elements and on-the-fly matchmaking. 

From the looks of it, this seems like a more serious take on Borderlands with just as much, if not more customization involved. The Public Event that was showcased encompassed a few separate platoons trying to take down a gigantic walking tank. Bungie's design seems better than ever and I couldn't be more excited to play this the day it comes out.


This was a particularly strong showing from Sony this year, righting many of the wrongs from 2012's conference. Though they didn't really show off many games for the Vita, in fact they only showed a few logos, the Vita's second screen capabilities for the PS4 seem like a great fit for the struggling handheld. The Playstation 4 looks to be a fantastic console with some great potential, this Winter should be a very interesting time. I'd have to give Sony a solid B+ this year.


Nintendo, for intents and purposes, made the smart choice this year by not having a flashy press conference like Sony and Microsoft. They chose what was basically a video press release and I'd say it suited them just fine. Nintendo was able to be quick and to the point and show off some pretty cool looking games that they have in the pipeline. 

One of Nintendo's big hitters and a potential system seller for the Wii U, Super Smash Bros. was the game everyone was looking forward to. A high-def sequel to one of the company's biggest and most popular franchises, this entry looks to be bigger than ever and was the one game that everyone has been talking about. 

Though they've only announced three new characters so far, I'm sure that many more will be announced over the next year leading up to the release. Mega Man, the Animal Crossing Villager and the Wii Fit Trainer have all been announced so far and their move set seems pretty intriguing to say the least. Mega Man's ability to steal his bosses weapons looks to be his main draw in what I can only imagine to be a very difficult character to master come next year.

While everyone else was clamoring over Super Smash Bros. and Super Mario 3D World, the Nintendo game that got me more excited than anything else would have to be Monolith Soft's upcoming open world RPG, codenamed X. The highly anticipated follow up to the fantastic Xenoblade Chronicles for Wii, this game seems to be an experience huge in scope and ambition.

 Planned to have a large scale open-world with near seamless exploration, this game will probably push the boundaries of what the Wii U can do from a technical standpoint. Featuring giant transforming Mechs called DOLLS and battles taking place on land, in the air and at sea, X looks to be a crazy good time and is currently my most anticipated Wii U release.


Nintendo did their best this year to drum up excitement for the struggling Wii U and although they certainly didn't hit it out of the park, Iwata and Co. showed off some truly impressive games. As always with them though, third-party support was lacking, but that's par for the course for Nintendo at this stage in the game. So for their exclusives alone I'd have to grade them a decent B-.

So between the two heavy hitters at this years E3 we had two companies with vastly different ideologies that went after different kinds of gamers. We also had Nintendo stop by and say hello with a few great exclusives to show off. Who will win the Next-Generation of the "console war?" Who knows? At least it will be an interesting ride come November.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Sorry About That!

Many many apologies for my absence as of late, sometimes life just gets in the way.

Expect a lot more articles here in the very near future as I'm attempting to get back on track. Some awesome From The Vault reviews are coming your way as well as reviews of recent releases! 

Who knows? Perhaps you'll even see reviews of the random comic book or movie I love. 

See you soon, y'all.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Playstation 4 Revealed

At a press conference in New York Wednesday evening, Sony officially announced their next-generation console, Playstation 4. Though the console itself wasn't shown, everything from a Holiday 2013 launch window to technical specs to upcoming games were, and all in all it was an impressive display for the company. Sony knows that they have a lot of ground to cover if they want to compete against Microsoft's upcoming Xbox, and it seems to me that they're already on the right track. 

According to PS4's system architect Mark Cerny, development of the new console started as early as five years ago, a mere two years after the PS3's troubled launch. Gone will be the days of the developer maligned Cell Processor, which is to be replaced by a new x86 CPU made by AMD. The new CPU is apparently a lot easier to program for and should allow for more parity with various ports from other consoles. Perhaps for once a game's Playstation counterpart won't be the technically inferior version on the market as we've seen time and time again with various releases (I'm looking at you Skyrim and Dishonored).

Sony's new controller, named, not surprisingly DualShock 4 features a touchpad similar to the PSVITA's rear touchpad, a redesigned D-Pad, form fitting triggers and concave Xbox 360-esque analog sticks. The new Share button was prominently featured at the conference as well, it allows "instant" uploading of gameplay footage to the internet. Finally killed a ridiculously difficult dragon in Dark Souls II? Upload the fight in order to share your strategy and help others achieve the same. The Playstation 4 looks to be social media intensified in almost every way, with a Playstation App on the way for use in matchmaking and game purchasing via your iPhone or Droid. These seem like really cool features for the Next-Gen and something that I'm personally looking forward to exploring come launch. 

One sadly unsurprising fact of the Playstation 4 is that it won't be backwards compatible in the traditional sense. Your PS3 Blu-Ray games as well as any game you've previously downloaded from the PSN will not be playable on the PS4 due to the new hardware found inside the console itself. This won't be a problem for someone like me who has 6 systems hooked up at once, but for the average consumer this might prove to be a huge stumbling block for Sony come release. However, Sony plans to at least somewhat solve this problem thanks to their recent purchase of Gaikai, a company known for developing cloud gaming services for various platforms. You should be able to stream any Playstation game, past or present, at the touch of a button, which is a pretty nifty approach in my opinion.

So sure, they didn't reveal what the actual console looks like or how much it will cost, but overall I'd say that Wednesday's conference was a success. It's smart that they didn't show everything yesterday, since I'm sure they'll want to release new information throughout the entire year leading up to the Holiday launch. 

This weekend I'll be posting some looks at the various games that were shown off, but in the meantime what did you think of Sony's big reveal? Excited? Scared? Angry? All three? Let me know in the comments here, on Facebook, or on Twitter.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Hotline Miami inbound for PS3/Vita

The popular "top-down, SNES-style brutality simulator" Hotline Miami is finally coming to home consoles according to publisher Devolver and developer Deannaton.

Available this spring for the Playstation 3 & PSVITA as a Cross-Buy title, this should ensure that even more gamers can revel in the strangeness of this truly unique release. Cross-Buy is great for this type of game, since you'll be able to get both versions for the price of one.

Hotline Miami was one of my favorite games of 2012, and it should be fun to have some mayhem at home and on the go.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

The Last Of Us Delayed

       The Last Of Us, the Spring 2013 release from Sony's first-party game studio Naughty Dog, has officially been delayed. Originally scheduled for a May 7th release, the title has been pushed back about a month to a Friday, June 14th release.

This might not seem like such a big deal to the average person, but to anyone who follows the industry, it might come as a bit of a shock. Naughty Dog have never delayed a game before, they've always had "set-in-stone" release dates that were met. This time however ND decided that in order to deliver everything they have in mind for The Last Of Us, this extra time is needed.

The developer had this to say via Playstation Blog:

As a team we pride ourselves on setting a very high quality bar for every aspect of our games – gameplay, story, art, design, technology and more. We want to make sure The Last of Us raises that bar even further – for ourselves, and most importantly, our fans.
As we entered the final phase of development for The Last of Us, we came to realize just how massive Joel and Ellie’s journey is. But instead of cutting corners or compromising our vision, we came to the tough decision that the game deserved a few extra weeks to ensure every detail of The Last of Us was up to Naughty Dog’s internal high standards.

It's sort of a bummer that I'll have to wait an extra month to play my most anticipated release of 2013, then again ND has a fantastic track record with their games. If this extra time allows them to release a game on a whole new level than what we normally get from them, I say hell yes, take your time and I'll happily wait until June 14th.

Are you upset that The Last Of Us has been delayed? What's your most anticipated release of 2013? Let me know in the comments below or contact me on Twitter @TheRealMattC.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Best Of 2012 (That I've Played)

The Best Games of 2012

            As 2013 is finally here, I thought it would be a good time to post my opinions on what I think were the best games to come out in the past year. This year brought the usual bunch of AAA titles from the big studios but we also had smaller developers step up to the plate and knock their big budgeted counterparts silly. Remember that I'm only one man, so this list will comprise of only games that I've personally played for an extended amount of time. This article is a long time coming, but it's also been a long time in the works.

2012 saw a new console from Sony in the form of the Vita, a handheld that although not as popular as Nintendo's 3DS, just might have the most power of any handheld system we've seen so far. We also had Nintendo finally join the HD world with the release of their Wii U console, a system with heaps of potential that should prove very interesting in the coming years.

So without further ado, here is my Top Ten of 2012.

Honorable Mention - Dishonored

As a gamer who was burned by Assassin's Creed III, I was more than happy to step into the shoes of Corvo Attano in Akrane Studios' fantastic Dishonored. Set in the fictional city of Dunwall, you set about exacting revenge on those who disgraced you. Dunwall is a superbly designed world in which to go about this adventure, which is basically Bioshock with a heavy stealth element. With myriad ways to dispatch your assassination targets, Dishonored featured some of the most fun to be had on a console. Those looking for a new game to sink their teeth into will be rightly pleased.

10. Hotline Miami

A top-down, SNES-style brutality simulator? The alternate universe, videogame version of Drive? An incredibly fun, yet incredibly challenging experience? A $10 PC game that I'd gladly pay more for? Hotline Miami is all of these things and more. From the first mission onwards, this is a totally engrossing game where you play as an unnamed protagonist (antagonist?) taking on various jobs as a hitman. Things just get weirder from there with quirky, vague dialogue and a Lynchian story, this game is fresh in a way that few are nowadays. The gameplay and soundtrack are truly top-notch and the graphics are a welcome blast from the past.

9. New Super Mario Bros. U

Nintendo did it again and this time in HD, New Super Mario Bros. U is the latest in the long line of Mario adventures. It's also one of the most challenging since Super Mario World way back on the SNES, more than a few times I've cursed my television during a particularly difficult lava level. I used to think that since Mario games had such great art design there was no need for HD, now I doubt I'll ever want to play a non-HD Super Mario ever again. This is a truly beautiful game, from the graphics to the super-tight controls, it's a Mario game for the ages and stands right up there with the classic games from this franchise.

8. Little Big Planet PSVita

Sometimes a portable game comes along that is leagues better than its console counterpart, Little Big Planet PSVita is definitely one of those games. From the upgraded touch controls to the wackier than usual story, this SackBoy adventure is one to behold. The online community is as strong as ever with gamers far and wide creating and sharing their own levels and different takes on the LBP world. This is an step up from LBP & LBP2 in almost every way, so if you're a fan of those superb titles, then get your hands on a Vita and this game and hop to it!

7. ZombiU

As someone who was and still is obsessed with Dark Souls I was very happy with Ubisoft's apocalypse adventure, ZombiU. This game is basically a first person Dark Souls with zombies that's set in London. It's also the truest representation of a zombie apocalypse I've encountered in a game yet, no matter how prepared you think you are, you will die. Even though you will die constantly, this is not a hindrance to your enjoyment of this amazing game however, because each time you die, you have to find a new way to approach each situation. ZombiU is impressive in nearly every way, from the smart use of the Gamepad to the RPG elements, to the pure Survival Horror experience, it's the best launch title for Nintendo's new console and I couldn't recommend it enough.

6. Binary Domain

From the looks of the box art you'd think that this was your typical Gears of War-esque bro-shooter, and surely it is, at least for the first hour. Once you assemble your Rust Crew of mercenaries, this turns into a whole different kind of adventure. Basically the best Terminator game ever made, Binary Domain seems like a spiritual progression of SEGA's fantastic Vanquish from a few years back with bullets flying everywhere, all the time. You control your squad using a surprisingly responsive voice recognition system into the depths of Japan's Amada Corporation. The bosses are beyond huge and the gunplay is an absolute blast. Shooting robots to little bits is one of the most satisfying things I've done in a game all year.  

5. Darksiders II

Having been unimpressed with the first Darksiders game, I was hesitant to go back to THQ's "God of Zelda" series. Thankfully I did go back because this is a truly captivating game. From its God of War like combat to it's Zelda on steroids dungeons, this game a blast to play. The WiiU version adds a nifty touchscreen inventory and most of the DLC from the original release, making this the most complete version of the game that's available. Death AKA The Grim Reaper is a great character and the people and creatures he meets in this tale are very memorable, the world is a rich tapestry of brilliant art/level design and though not without it's problems is still a fantastic addition to anyone's library.

4. Adventure Time: Hey Ice King! Why'd You Steal Our Garbage?!!!

Oh my glob! This game is beyond mathematical! In this, the first console Adventure Time game, we got the unofficial sequel to Nintendo's Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, so if you have fond memories of that classic, you owe it to yourself to get your hands on this as soon as you can. Playing as series heroes Jake the dog and Finn the human, you traverse the land of Ooo in hot pursuit of the dastardly Ice King, searching for your garbage and helping various characters along the way. Proof that licensed games don't have to suck, Adventure Time takes a proven set up and takes it to the next level with beautiful 2D graphics and a perfect control scheme, it's the best release on 3DS this year.

3. Persona 4: Golden

Bizarre, engrossing, challenging, fun as hell and oh so Japanese, Persona 4: Golden is the rich JRPG that Vita owners have been waiting for. An HD port of the 2008 PS2 release, Persona 4 puts you in the role of a high school student in rural Japan where strange murders have begun to occur. It's up to you and your classmates to save the town and put an end to all the craziness. To tell anymore of the story would spoil it, but let me say that it's some of the weirdest high school drama I've ever encountered. Battle controls are sublime with a great turn based system that's easy to get used to for anyone that's played an RPG before. Great doesn't begin to describe this title, it's truly sublime.

2. Borderlands 2

Fun fun fun 'til Handsome Jack takes your loot all away. Borderlands 2 is the most fun I had with a console game this year, an upgrade to the original in every way imaginable. This is a game you can sink hours into and not progress and yet feel like you achieved great things. Hilarious dialogue and precarious situations surround you on the planet of Pandora and in great numbers. Great controls and visuals are just icing on the cake for a game this large, it's amazing that Gearbox was able to make it all work in the end. Borderlands 2 shows that there's still room for an open world loot-fest as long as it's wildly entertaining and able to keep your attention for vast amounts of time.

1. Journey

Thatgamecompany's Journey is simply put, the most beautiful experience you can hope to have with a video game. This game is a true work of art, from the gorgeous visuals to its simplistic controls, it's a game that everyone should be able to enjoy, regardless of skill level. An emotional triumph, you take away from Journey only what you give it, no true dialogue is spoken throughout the two hour adventure, leaving you to make your own story for your weary traveler. By the end, I had tears in my eyes at what I had witnessed, Journey's ending is beauty in it's purest form. For only $15, this is a downloadable title that will stick with you long after you beat it. Not only is this the best game to come out this past year, it's the best game to come out in many years.

So there you have it, the best games I played in 2012. A lot of work and internal debate went into shaping this list and quite a few games were left off in the end. All in all though, I'd say that 2012 was a fantastic year across the board for gaming, and if what I've read is true, 2013 should be even better.