Top 10 Games of 2011:
Oh 2011… you crazy son of a bitch. 2010 gave us a massive list of wonderful games and yet you come along and just blow it out of the water. Well, the time of the year has come where I’m going to list off my top 10 games of 2011. Like last year, my top 10 are not based on sales, other sites’ reviews or even my own reviews – they are based entirely off of how much fun I had while playing them.
I had a really tough time looking through the massive list of titles and it pains me to have to leave off several great games, as well as games that I didn’t get a chance to play like Gears of War 3. There simply wasn’t enough time to get to all of the big name titles this year because this fall season was just so jam-packed with them.
There was much rage with my top 10 games of 2010 last year, which really I can’t understand. It’s not like I’m the definitive voice of gaming; it’s not like my personal opinion on which games I liked better than the others really should matter to anyone but me, but low and behold, nerd rage ensued. So if you like to get all hot and bothered over trivial bullshit, stay tuned… Roll em!
Released bright and early in the year, Media Molecule and Sony Computer Entertainment’s Little Big Planet 2 was as far as I’m concerned, a massive success in the user created content platforming genre. The funny-cute campaign was enough itself to merit the cost of the title, but the ridiculous amount of user created levels that were as good or better than the content that professional game designers create really seals the deal. And you can play it all with 4 friends locally? If you own a Playstation 3, Little Big Planet 2 should absolutely be in your collection.
Not being a huge fan of the Wii myself, I’m always pleasantly surprised when a big-name Nintendo title is released that utilizes the Wiimote in a fashion that makes the user experience something special. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword tells us the tale of the origins of Hyrule, Link, Zelda, Ganon and the Master Sword in a beautiful water-color painted world. The puzzles are challenging and the dungeon layouts were some of the best I’ve explored in a long time. I don’t typically buy games for the Wii, but Skyward Sword was certainly worth my money.
Coming in at Number 8 in 2011 is Dragon Age 2. While frowned upon by many due to its lack of scale, difficulty and tactics when compared to its epic predecessor, in its own right I found it to be quite good. Dragon Age 2 tells the tale of Hawke and his mission to become the savior of Kirkwall as he deals with the political and religious battles between the Templar and the Mages. Was the game “consolized”? Perhaps, but that didn’t deter me from enjoying the complicated subset of events set in same time and period as those found in the epic Dragon Age Origins. And don’t even get me started on how anxious I am to see how the remainder of the story is going to play out in the next Dragon Age game!
My next pick is a bit of a stretch for some gamers. Atlus’ challenging adult puzzle-platformer, survival-horror, role-playing genre bender Catherine was an absolute blast to experience. You play as 32-year-old slacker Vincent Brooks as he fights off the urges to commit to his longtime girlfriend Katherine. A series of crazy Twilight Zone-like story moments had me scratching my head until the very end while the intense action-packed climbing dream-sequences had me raging for hours on end. While I’m a great fan of puzzle games, especially when you have to think as quickly as you do with Catherine, I think the reason I enjoyed this game so much was due to the fact that I can simply relate with Vincent.
One of the most highly praised games of the year from pretty much anyone who thinks they are anyone, Batman: Arkham City takes everything we loved about Arkham Asylum to the next level, giving us another amazing cast of our favorite DC comic characters from the beloved Batman comic books and animated series. Hugo Strange has taken it upon himself to convince the Mayor to lock up all of the criminals of Gotham into an area of the city and throw away the key. In a wild turn of events, Batman finds himself locked up inside with the prisoners and all hell breaks loose. The story alone was top-notch, but the game-play mechanics make Arkham City a must-play for fans of comics and action games alike!
Valve has done it again by adding another golden title to their already amazing lineup of wonderful games. Portal was one of the most clever games I’d ever played so it was simply gaming bliss when I got to play through Portal 2. Giving us a longer campaign, new mechanics, great pacing with difficult puzzles and the infamous co-op multiplayer puzzles, Portal 2 did pretty much everything right as far as a puzzle-platformer should be concerned. Being that my top 10 list consists of games of all genres, it may seem out of place for Portal 2 to be right in the middle, but if I had a category for Best Puzzle Game of the Year, this would certainly take the cake. Get it? Cake?
Coming in at a strong Number 4 is Deus Ex: Human Revolution. After completing this title I knew it was going to be a strong contender for game of the year. The story takes place in our near future where science has developed a method to augment human body parts, making them stronger, faster and better all around. Various political parties want to govern or abolish the technology, and that’s where you, Adam Jensen, Ex-SWAT badass – augmented to hell with body parts that would make Robocop jealous, step in. The game offers strong morality choices woven into a wonderful story and the gameplay mechanics allow you to play as stealthy and non-lethal or a balls-to-the-wall guns-a-blazin motherfucker. The clear attention to the detail put into the creation of such an immersive world makes this a must-play for pretty much any type of gamer.
Uh oh, Skyrim wasn’t my favorite game of the year. Alert the nerds and fanboys! Nah, I’m not here to start a flame war, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim was seriously an amazing game. The shear scale of the game world, its characters, the variety in the ways you can build your character and the epic story you participate in make it a game that all gamers should try regardless as to their preferences in genres. Mix on top of that ridiculously stunning visuals, one of the most kickass soundtracks I’ve ever listened to, and probably largest game world I’ve ever played in and there really isn’t more to say about Skyrim beyond it’s fucking awesome.
My Number 2 game of 2011 is CD Projekt’s The Witcher 2. I pretty much took 2 weeks off of my life when this title was released because I was just so drawn in. Seriously this has to have the most beautiful graphics and art style of any game I’ve ever played. Mix that on top of the dark and mature storyline, a little sex here and there, and some seriously challenging combat mechanics that were significantly improved over those of the predecessor. Out of all of the games this year, this was one of two that merited a second play-through, despite my ridiculously busy schedule. While The Witcher 2 wasn’t received well by many gamers and some critics, to me, it was almost perfect. This game was just amazing and I can’t wait to see what the next chapter holds in store for us!
And finally, my Game of the Year for 2011, which should come as no surprise to those of you who watch my League of Legends Drunk Commentated Game-play Channel, is of course From Software’s Dark Souls. I simply can’t give this game enough praise. Over the past couple months I’ve clocked in close to 200 hours of game-play spread out over multiple characters and completing several playthroughs. I NEVER play games through more than once, so for a game to captivate me so greatly, I’m nearly speechless. This is not a title for those without patience. Dark Souls takes skill – not time, not the right gear – actual skill. Let alone the fact that you’ve got an online community just waiting to invade your game and kick your ass and laugh as you fall. If you’re looking for a game to hold your attention and give you ACTUAL bragging rights when you complete it and then learn to master the online PVP portion, well, this is a no-brainer in my book. I beg From Software to give us another entry in the series. PLEASE!
And that’s it. I’m willing to bet most of you are going to have some remarkably different lists. I didn’t include Modern Warfare 3>, Battlefield 3, Mortal Kombat, Marvel vs. Capcom 3 and many more. This year was simply bogged down with kickass games release after release. I imagine we’re all gripping our piggybanks pretty tightly after this anal raping and yet I still hope that 2012 gives us even more ways for us to cram our money down those wonderful developers’ throats!
Top 10 Games of 2011!
***Warning, Do NOT Scroll Down if you do not want to be SPOILED!***
Number 10: Little Big Planet 2
Number 9: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
Number 8: Dragon Age 2
Number 7: Catherine
Number 6: Batman: Arkham City
Number 5: Portal 2
Number 4: Deus Ex: Human Revolution
Number 3: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Number 2: The Witcher 2
Number 1: Dark Souls
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**Some of these titles were provided to me free of charge from the publishers for review.