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Most Completed

Most Completed 2012
Mass Effect 3

Five years, three major releases, a handful of spin-off iOS titles, four novel adaptations, eight comic series, a T.O Entertainment anime, and the possibility of a feature film still looming on the horizon. Who would have thought that the once Xbox 360 exclusive wunderkind of science fiction RPG action would have blown up into such a massive and enthralling universe? The Mass Effect series has always been a major critical and commercial success for BioWare, but the persistence of the franchise itself can mostly be attributed to its fanbase. For half a decade, we have been hanging on the events of Commander Shepard's adventure, growing closer to and developing relationships with the dynamic characters onscreen, paving our own way with dialogue as well as negative and positive actions, and killing numerous robot overlords in the name of our own humanity. It's been a long road to reach the conclusion of this trilogy, but the experience never felt time-consuming or monotonous as a result. In fact, the entire franchise is built upon non-traditional approaches to the RPG experience; action is fast and furious, relationships are more important than inventory, and you actually have an effect on events to come. It makes sense that so many of us would be interested in seeing the story to its logical conclusion. The importance of this series was further echoed by fan reactions to that ending, thereby prompting BioWare to go so far as to both adjust and elaborate that ending in an extended cut. Whether you had positive or negative feelings toward Mass Effect 3, it was a bold finale to an important series — one that we expect many RPGamers played to it's grand conclusion along with us.

Most Played

Most Played 2012
Final Fantasy XIII-2

When Final Fantasy XIII was released, we already knew that the gameplay would have a much more action-oriented focus. In another attempt at trying something new, Square Enix took a substantial departure from previous Final Fantasy titles with XIII. The result, for a lot of people, was a product that did not feel like a Final Fantasy and drew heavy criticism from the community. Square Enix's answer to this widespread rebuke of XIII was Final Fantasy XIII-2, which came with the promise that the people's voices had been heard and that XIII-2 would remedy most, if not all, of their concerns from its predecessor.

The reception of XIII-2 was mixed, much in the same way that we've heard people talk about the only other direct sequel to date, Final Fantasy X-2. RPGamers either loved it or hated it. In spite of this schism, Final Fantasy XIII-2 was the game that most RPGamer staff played. In part, this was due to wanting the story (or at least that of particular characters) to continue. The main draw to play XIII-2, though, would have to be the hope that it would succeed where XIII fell short and show us that Square Enix still knows how to make a Final Fantasy. Final Fantasy XIII was such a departure from the series that some gamers even felt that it shouldn't be called Final Fantasy.

The journey through XIII-2's story wasn't just that of the aftermath of XIII, it was a pilgrimage to see if its creators were still listening and in tune with their fanbase. Ultimately, we can't say that Square Enix was fully successful and the XIII trilogy looks like it will end up being three completely different entities. Whether Final Fantasy XIII-2 was more successful than not in the end does not take away from the fact that the hope and anticipation of a better Final Fantasy experience drew more of us back into its world than any other title in 2012. Then again, maybe it's just the fact that call of a new Final Fantasy is something that most of us find hard to resist.

Best Non-RPG

Best Non-RPG
The Walking Dead

When it comes time to venture from the RPG genre, RPGamers don't always stray very far. There are certain aspects we just can't get enough of, such as an engaging narrative, player choice, and seeing the impact of our decisions. There were a number of non-RPGs that came close to topping this list such as Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward and Dishonored, but the game that stood out as the staff favorite was Telltale's The Walking Dead.

From the dialogue choices upon first meeting Clementine until the very last few at the end of Episode 5, we were glued to the screen as we made Lee Everett's decisions our own. We pissed people off, killed others, and left even more to die, but it was us as Lee making these calls. We were role-playing in the truest sense during our adventure and The Walking Dead was great at hitting us with the perfect emotional impact needed for whatever we decided to do. The Walking Dead succeeded where many RPGs have failed by making you feel the impact of your choices. Even if the game didn't change drastically based on your decisions, the game still made it feel like it was your decision, and that made all the difference.

by Trent Seely, Ken Staples, Michael A. Cunningham

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