TA's Holiday Gift Guide 2012: Retail Games

By Rebecca Smith, 6 years ago
Yesterday's guide revealed our selection of the most useful hardware and gaming accessories, while Saturday's guide recommended the best Arcade Games of 2012. The final instalment in our gift guide brings you our selection of the best retail games of 2012:

Assassin's Creed III

For the first time since 2009's Assassin's Creed II, Ubisoft introduces us to a new assassin and a new time period in 18th-century Colonial America. Set during the American Revolution, the game spans a number of decades and features the brilliant story telling that blends the fictional story of the Assassins and the Templars with real historical events and characters.

The game world is the biggest the franchise has seen to date, and offers a number of gameplay tweaks and improvements to previous games, plus a host of new additions such as free-running through trees, hunting, naval battles and much more. With over 50 hours of gameplay in the single player campaign and a fun and unique multiplayer experience that now includes co-op gameplay, ACIII is a must have for fans of the franchise - DaveKinetic

Borderlands 2

I'm a pretty huge fan of cocktails and mixology. The Borderlands 2 cocktail is one part great shooter, one part great RPG, one part co-op amazingness and a splash of (very good) story that has been shaken and poured over a bajillion guns. While there are other great multiplayer experiences this year, Borderlands 2 shines above as the best co-op you'll find on the shelf - osubluejacket

Dance Central 3

The Dance Central series continues its reign as the greatest dance game that Kinect has to offer with the latest instalment. With a more varied set list than ever, there's something for everyone, plus a new Party mode that lets people jump in and out of the game whenever they want. If you want to sit back and play DJ, then you can do so by using SmartGlass to queue up the songs while you admire everyone's smooth moves. It's also a great way of getting fit after a bit of over-indulgence. Dance Central 3 makes a great gift this Christmas. For a full run down, check out my review - http://www.trueachievements.com/ButterflyEdge.htm


In many ways, the choices of Dishonored mirror the choices of our daily lives. It’s always easier to shaft someone to get ahead, but the consequences may not be worth the momentary gain. Likewise, it may be more difficult to stealthily choke out a wandering guard, stash his body in the broom closet, and methodically creep through the luscious scenery, but doing so will serve the greater good better than slicing, dicing, and perforating the entire squad. Either way you go, Dishonored is in an elite handful of "must-plays" for 2012 - osubluejacket

F1 2012

As another racing-sim masterpiece from Codemasters, F1 2012 builds upon the unprecedented success of the rebooted franchise’s two previous iterations. An incredible level of attention to detail, awesome graphics and a brilliant physics engine bring all the official teams, drivers and circuits from the 2012 F1 season to life. Two new game modes, namely Champions Mode and Season Challenge, add variety whilst being supported by the returning Co-op Championship to get a buddy involved. Several multiplayer modes cater for those who prefer human opponents, rather than AI, to race against. Whether you’re a die-hard F1 fan or just love racing in general, then you owe it to yourself to play F1 2012. For a more in-depth opinion on the game, take a look at my extensive official TA review - http://www.trueachievements.com/KeithBGray.htm

Fable: The Journey

This year has seen a distinct lack of story-based Kinect adventures. This spin-off from the popular Fable series shows how it can be done successfully as it immerses you in a deep, engaging story whilst also giving you the opportunity to ride your beloved horse through Albion and face off against all manner of foes using magic-slinging gauntlets. This game is perfect for Fable fans, those who want something more from their Kinect, kids (big and small) and people with equine allergies who would like to know what it feels like to crack the reins and say things like ‘Woah Nelly’ - ChewieOnIce


Every year, there are a number of FIFA fans who tell themselves they are not going to cough up their hard-earned cash for what they feel is essentially an update of the previous year's title with a few tweaks and additions here and there. Then the folks over at EA go and work their annual magic and improve the game again making the predecessor seem outdated and no longer worth playing. An improved engine, smarter AI, Live Match centre, skill challenges... this list goes on. If you have a friend who is a FIFA fan and who has still not got this, then go and get it for them. They will undoubtedly and unreservedly thank you for it - Nexus Grunt

Forza Horizon

The changes and additions that Playground Games have made to Turn 10's already winning formula help create a more varied, less sterile game that will keep gamers coming back for more. The open-world setting is beautifully created and, whilst it’s relatively small, the varied environments, road surfaces and race types keep the action fresh and enjoyable. Each car is wonderfully recreated across all of the various views available and they look even more impressive than they have in previous games. Online multiplayer gives you a wealth of options to choose from and, if you don’t fancy the standard game modes, you can create your own games. Forza Horizon is an excellent racer that will please both newcomers and Forza fans alike - DaveKinetic

Halo 4

Maybe some of you were content to let the fight just be finished with the conclusion of Halo 3, but many were excited when Halo 4 became a reality. While some might be hesitant to dive in due to the series' original developer, Bungie, moving on to other projects, current developer 343 Industries has treated Halo's fourth installment with a level of reverence toward the series origins that clearly shows through in the finished product. Halo 4 offers arguably the most robust experience in the franchise to date. Not only does it include the typical content - campaign in either solo or co-op and a good range of multiplayer options - but it also introduces the new Spartan Ops mode. Pitched as a co-op experience, though it may be enjoyed solo, Spartan Ops gives us a further look into the story surrounding Halo 4. Speaking of which, another item to this game's credit is that it has one of (if not the) best storyline in the franchise to date. Couple all this with an awesome score and graphics that push the 360 about as hard as it can be pushed (especially in those pre-rendered cutscenes), and you easily have a game that any gamer who is given to FPSes will be thrilled to see under their non-denominational tree under which they put presents for the holiday of their choosing - Matrarch

Hitman: Absolution

The stealth genre is widely under-represented, not just for this generation but in the history of the industry. It's a lot harder to make a deliberate, cerebral stealth game than it is to throw together a point-and-shoot action game. No series has a hold of what it takes to make a good stealth game like the Hitman series. The newest iteration in Agent 47's saga delves deeper into his life and inside his own mind, and thankfully the classic hiding in plain sight gameplay returns with a few 2012 upgrades. Absolution is worth a spot on everyone's shopping list - N0T PENNYS B0AT

Just Dance 4

If you want to let your hair down and get really silly this Christmas then Just Dance 4 will suit you just fine! With a generous set list including artists ranging from Barry White to Skrillex, up to four people can get up and get down and have a good giggle. For more on Just Dance 4, take a look at our review - http://www.trueachievements.com/ButterflyEdge.htm


Do you enjoy colourful and vibrant landscapes that not only treat your senses to a fun-filled story? What about a game with action-packed combat and excellently devised RPG mechanics, but one that also delivers a relaxing and casual gaming experience? If you know of someone or you want to slip this into your own stocking, then Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning may just be the action-RPG that should be on any gamer's Holiday list. Featuring the art direction of Todd MacFarlane and the wit and lore of R.A Salvatore, Kingdoms of Amalur delivers a very fun and memorable fantasy journey - SgtDigglesworth

LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes

Released back in June this year, the game was hailed as the best LEGO game to date. Featuring a whole cast of super heroes and super villains, in fact over 70 characters in total, this is a game that is great for kids and bat-fans of all ages. The game features the puzzling levels that will be familiar to those who have played the first game, but also there is a full LEGO version of Gotham City to explore while hunting down all of those hidden red and gold bricks. Well-known DC heroes include Superman to help you cleanse Gotham of those nefarious master criminals and in between you enjoy the typically quirky cut-scenes that now include voiced dialogue. Great fun and family friendly for the festive season - Nexus Grunt

Mass Effect Trilogy

Video games are full of harrowing journeys: saving the princess, defeating a God, avenging a loss, but none are bigger than saving the galaxy. The story woven across the three games of the Mass Effect series is iconic and will be discussed, dissected, and disseminated for years to come in both good ways and bad. BioWare has been creating this story, this universe for the better part of a decade and gamers have come to know it, love it, cherish it, and heavily invest in it. This journey is one of the highest points in gaming for this generation and represents a pinnacle for developers. In short, if you invest yourself in one franchise this generation, make it Mass Effect — you won’t be disappointed - osubluejacket

Max Payne 3

With seemingly everyone close to him either dying or stabbing him in the back, Max doesn't have many people on his holiday shopping list, but if you have a shooter fan on your list — or maybe it's you — Max Payne 3 offers up some of the best third-person action this generation has seen. Nothing says "Happy Holidays!" quite like an armed alcoholic leaving bullet holes in bad guys' chests because it's the only world he knows - N0T PENNYS B0AT

Pro Evolution Soccer 2013

Over the course of this generation, the PES franchise has been in decline whilst its biggest rival FIFA has gone from strength to strength. PES 2013 is finally the game that fans have been hoping for, with a much more realistic feel to the gameplay, revamped controls and improved visuals. It's not on par with FIFA yet, but fans will be glad to see a that, after a number of backward steps, the series is once again heading in the right direction - DaveKinetic

Sleeping Dogs

A man without a pork bun is no man at all! Any fan of the open-world sandbox genre needs to pick this title up. Get your family to drive through the busy streets of Hong Kong, thwart off 18K enemies and grab some chicken on a stick, or bet all of your hard earned money on a good old Cockfight down at the docks. Featuring voice acting from Emma Stone and many others, the story in Sleeping Dogs is a gripping and well thought out blend of hilarious dialogue, suspense and some groovy Hong Kong-Phooey that will keep you enjoying a Sunday drive through these murderous streets - SgtDigglesworth

Spec Ops: The Line

Shooters rarely have a story that is noteworthy, but Spec Ops: The Line broke the trend. The story takes players on a rollercoaster ride of emotions as they head further into the madness and depravity that has descended on Dubai. The relations between the three team members deteriorate as their mission turns into hell. Do you follow orders or disobey them? Who do you save? I can guarantee that, in some cases, you won’t be happy with either option. The campaign is one of the most memorable that I have played, even if I was left with an uncomfortable feeling through most of it - punkyliar


The Testament of Sherlock has one of the darkest and most gripping storylines that I've experienced in the Sherlock Holmes franchise. Players get to see a side of Sherlock Holmes that has never been seen before, and watch as his faithful assistant Watson starts doubting the integrity of his friend. Is he really capable of murder? With improved graphics, voice acting and controls, the journey rarely feels frustrating and is definitely a game worthy of a purchase for point-and-click fans - PunkyLiar

The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings

Geralt of Rivia tackles not only the loss of his memories during the great battle, but tours the fantasy of magic, thieves, friendship and sex in CD Projekt Red's The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings. Take on a deep, rich story and choose to help out the citizens throughout the countryside, play an integral role in the bowels of hellish caverns or take up arms with the rebels in this intriguing action-RPG. This is a great game that any gamer should experience - SgtDigglesworth

WWE '13

Fans of The Attitude Era, a perceived golden age of WWE, will lap up this latest instalment of THQ’s annual wrestling franchise. With a solid recreation of some of the main events of 1997-2001, including the rise of legends such as DX, The Rock, Stone Cold and Mankind, we get one of the most engaging and nostalgia-driven story modes of the series. Add that to the usual wealth of fantastic customisation options and an online multiplayer that actually works, and you’ve got yourself a serious title contender with WWE '13 - ChewieOnIce

XCOM: Enemy Unknown

When gamers first saw that the legendary turn-based strategy series, XCOM, was to be "rebooted" as a generic sci-fi FPS, there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth. Thankfully, Firaxis took advantage of the opportunity and decided to give us the turn-based XCOM we all wanted in the first place. Old-school, unforgiving and surprisingly deep, XCOM: Enemy Unknown is a throwback to PC gaming in the 90's. There is a lot I could say about this game, but all of it can be summed up with this: XCOM: Enemy Unknown is my 2012 Game of the Year - Dog of Thunder

Rebecca Smith
Written by Rebecca Smith
Rebecca is the Newshound Manager at TrueGaming Network. She has been contributing articles since 2010, especially those that involve intimidatingly long lists. When not writing news, she works in an independent game shop so that she can spend all day talking about games too. She'll occasionally go outside.