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Which 2012 games had you all thumbs? JOE GRIFFIN walks you through the year

The year could well be remembered as the last major year in the lives of Wii, PS3 and the Xbox 360. Some complained that conservative studios are biding their time for next-generation machines from Nintendo, Xbox and Sony. But there were more than enough releases to beguile gamers.

For Sony it was a bad year financially but a great one creatively. The

PS Vita is a beautiful machine that deserved to sell better, with impressive horsepower, pristine graphics and some fine first-party releases. PS3 exclusives such as Tokyo Jungle and Journey were special, unusual titles.

Xbox’s controller-free Kinect found its feet, with family-friendly highlights Sesame Street Kinect and Kinect Nat Geo. Some say Kinect is a bad fit for hardcore games, citing Fable: The Journey. But it worked as an optional seasoning for the likes of Mass Effect 3 and Forza Horizon.

At time of writing, Wii U has just hit the market. Speculation for the Nintendo console was mixed, but I expect it’ll have a long life.

Gamers often complain that the industry is clogged up with sequels, and 2012 heaved with familiar names: major Nintendo games are usually sequels or reboots; Xbox marquee releases included Halo 4, Forza Horizon and two Fables. Sony gave us a new God of War, Uncharted and two Little Big Planet spin-offs. And PC gamers gobbled up super-cheap classics re-released on Steam.

Still, there were some promising new franchises, including Sleeping Dogs and Dishonored. And many of the year’s best games were small, low-key gems, such as the captivating platformer Fez and the heartbreaking point-and-click adventure To the Moon. Dust was an engaging RPG, developed almost entirely by one man (kudos, Dean Dondrill).

Irish companies blossomed and unveiled engaging new games (P-3 Biotic) and promising forthcoming ones (Kú, Twisted Faery Tales). Big name talents Cliff Blezinski (Gears of War), Peter Molyneax (Fable) and the Bioware doctors (Mass Effect) changed careers or stepped down.

2013 should be even more eventful, as a new generation of consoles and developers prepare to fire their first shows across the bow.

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