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Carrie Gouskos' Top 10 Games of 2011

EA Mythic producer and friend of the site Carrie Gouskos draws a bead on her top 10 games of 2011.

Carrie Gouskos has been following Giant Bomb for nearly 23 years. When she's not disagreeing with Jeff's opinion on just about everything, she's working as a producer at BioWare Mythic on the upcoming free-to-play title Warhammer Online: Wrath of Heroes. She's also recently taken up crocheting during video game cutscenes, and has made to date, one very uneven scarf.

Honorable Mentions

As a game developer, looking after live games in particular, it sometimes takes more than a year to get to the games I want to play. So it's usually about halfway through the next year, I find myself regretting not to have added one title or another to my previous year's Top 10 list. Which is why I want to give an honorable mention to VVVVVV, which would have made my list if I'd actually played it in 2010.

Another Honorable Mention goes to Star Wars: The Old Republic, which I can't in good conscience slot in my Top 10, given that it's made by a number of extremely talented people at my employer. That being said, I can't neglect to mention what a tremendous achievement it is and how proud I am of the team that made it.

10. Gears of War 3

Gears 3 doesn't take any huge steps forward--but in a year jam-packed full of sequels to games that did (and then failed to live up to those standards), Gears is a great example of how not to break a winning formula.

9. Burnout CRASH!

It's the best thing about Burnout plus the best thing about a slot machine... plus 10-second clips of the world's catchiest '80s and '90s jingles. There were plenty of other games coming out around the same time... but I just couldn't stop playing Burnout Crash. Doc-doc-doc-doc-doctor beat!

8. To The Moon

Gameplay is not the reason to play To the Moon. In fact, it often feels like a barebones device to push you through the story. But oh man what a story...

Is it me or is it a little misty in here?

7. Battlefield 3

I'm sort of horrified to have Battlefield on this list and not Call of Duty. I have long been a CoD player and never gotten into any of the Battlefield games. But this year's Battlefield is a tour de force--not only does it have all the elements that make it uniquely Battlefield (vehicles, destructible environments, giant maps), but it may have just one-upped The Duty as the game in which I like to be called a newb by 15-year-old boys the most.

6. Dungeon Raid

The only reason Dungeon Raid is not in the top three is that I believe it technically came out around the end of2010. But Dungeon Raid feels like a 2011 game, as suddenly, after some critical patches in the beginning of this year that added classes and other options to the core game, everybody was playing it. And not only is it one of the best games of 2011 (or 2010), but it's probably one of the best games ever released on iOS. Never has there been so much legitimate gameplay in a Match 3 puzzle game before.

5. Bastion

Despite having a particular affinity for the crew at Supergiant Games, I don't feel there's any display of bias by including Bastion on this list. It has wonderful story, art, music, and gameplay. And where many indie games get "forgiven" if they fall short in one or more of those departments, Bastion raises the bar in all of them. Not only do the "little guys" have a new standard, but the big guys do, too.

4. Catherine

One of the best things about Atlus' games is how daring they are. Catherine may not be the best testament to healthy relationships, but it certainly is the most interesting combination of story-driven morality choices, puzzle solving, and sheep nightmares. This is not a game you've ever played before, or ever will again. And while that might feel like a shame, it's a big part of what makes it so wonderful.

3. Batman: Arkham City

Arkham Asylum was nearly perfect, so it was hard to imagine how Arkham City was going to meet those expectations, let alone exceed them. In order to do it, however, the developers at Rocksteady gave us what we didn't realize we wanted--the ability to freely roam through Gotham City. Sure, there are more Batman villains and more Waynetech upgrades, but most of all? You're able to glide as Batman all over Gotham City. It's video game fantasy wish fulfillment at its finest.

2. Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception

No game this year had a higher bar to meet than Uncharted 3. And while there were times where it felt like it was meeting that bar in spite of itself (the combat felt particularly frustrating this time around), you still find yourself on this incredible and epic journey that is unmistakenly Uncharted. From the moments of riveting, breath-catching wonder to the beautiful character interaction and storytelling, Uncharted 3 is wonderful as both a game and an experience.

1. Portal 2

It's hard to imagine a game adding to and then improving upon the original Portal, but Portal 2 does it. In particular, it shines in the co-operative gameplay mode, which is as nuanced as the single-player in its humor and charm and one of the finest co-operative gameplay experiences around. Partners in science!

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Posted by Ryan

Carrie Gouskos has been following Giant Bomb for nearly 23 years. When she's not disagreeing with Jeff's opinion on just about everything, she's working as a producer at BioWare Mythic on the upcoming free-to-play title Warhammer Online: Wrath of Heroes. She's also recently taken up crocheting during video game cutscenes, and has made to date, one very uneven scarf.

Honorable Mentions

As a game developer, looking after live games in particular, it sometimes takes more than a year to get to the games I want to play. So it's usually about halfway through the next year, I find myself regretting not to have added one title or another to my previous year's Top 10 list. Which is why I want to give an honorable mention to VVVVVV, which would have made my list if I'd actually played it in 2010.

Another Honorable Mention goes to Star Wars: The Old Republic, which I can't in good conscience slot in my Top 10, given that it's made by a number of extremely talented people at my employer. That being said, I can't neglect to mention what a tremendous achievement it is and how proud I am of the team that made it.

10. Gears of War 3

Gears 3 doesn't take any huge steps forward--but in a year jam-packed full of sequels to games that did (and then failed to live up to those standards), Gears is a great example of how not to break a winning formula.

9. Burnout CRASH!

It's the best thing about Burnout plus the best thing about a slot machine... plus 10-second clips of the world's catchiest '80s and '90s jingles. There were plenty of other games coming out around the same time... but I just couldn't stop playing Burnout Crash. Doc-doc-doc-doc-doctor beat!

8. To The Moon

Gameplay is not the reason to play To the Moon. In fact, it often feels like a barebones device to push you through the story. But oh man what a story...

Is it me or is it a little misty in here?

7. Battlefield 3

I'm sort of horrified to have Battlefield on this list and not Call of Duty. I have long been a CoD player and never gotten into any of the Battlefield games. But this year's Battlefield is a tour de force--not only does it have all the elements that make it uniquely Battlefield (vehicles, destructible environments, giant maps), but it may have just one-upped The Duty as the game in which I like to be called a newb by 15-year-old boys the most.

6. Dungeon Raid

The only reason Dungeon Raid is not in the top three is that I believe it technically came out around the end of2010. But Dungeon Raid feels like a 2011 game, as suddenly, after some critical patches in the beginning of this year that added classes and other options to the core game, everybody was playing it. And not only is it one of the best games of 2011 (or 2010), but it's probably one of the best games ever released on iOS. Never has there been so much legitimate gameplay in a Match 3 puzzle game before.

5. Bastion

Despite having a particular affinity for the crew at Supergiant Games, I don't feel there's any display of bias by including Bastion on this list. It has wonderful story, art, music, and gameplay. And where many indie games get "forgiven" if they fall short in one or more of those departments, Bastion raises the bar in all of them. Not only do the "little guys" have a new standard, but the big guys do, too.

4. Catherine

One of the best things about Atlus' games is how daring they are. Catherine may not be the best testament to healthy relationships, but it certainly is the most interesting combination of story-driven morality choices, puzzle solving, and sheep nightmares. This is not a game you've ever played before, or ever will again. And while that might feel like a shame, it's a big part of what makes it so wonderful.

3. Batman: Arkham City

Arkham Asylum was nearly perfect, so it was hard to imagine how Arkham City was going to meet those expectations, let alone exceed them. In order to do it, however, the developers at Rocksteady gave us what we didn't realize we wanted--the ability to freely roam through Gotham City. Sure, there are more Batman villains and more Waynetech upgrades, but most of all? You're able to glide as Batman all over Gotham City. It's video game fantasy wish fulfillment at its finest.

2. Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception

No game this year had a higher bar to meet than Uncharted 3. And while there were times where it felt like it was meeting that bar in spite of itself (the combat felt particularly frustrating this time around), you still find yourself on this incredible and epic journey that is unmistakenly Uncharted. From the moments of riveting, breath-catching wonder to the beautiful character interaction and storytelling, Uncharted 3 is wonderful as both a game and an experience.

1. Portal 2

It's hard to imagine a game adding to and then improving upon the original Portal, but Portal 2 does it. In particular, it shines in the co-operative gameplay mode, which is as nuanced as the single-player in its humor and charm and one of the finest co-operative gameplay experiences around. Partners in science!

Staff
Edited by Atwa

CARRIE

SHOUT OUT FOR MENTIONING CATHERINE

Edited by ThePencil

shazam? EDIT: Aw shucks

Anyways, nice to see Catherine on somone other than my own list!

Posted by Alex_V

Great to see a mention for Dungeon Raid, which I also enjoyed immensely this year.

Posted by Metal_Mills

Has Carrie really known Jeff for 23 years or is that just a joke? I know they go way back but god damn.

Posted by EuanDewar

YEAHHH Portal 2!

Posted by ZipCrash

@Atwa said:

CARRIE

SHOUT OUT FOR MENTIONING CATHERINE

Yea I'm glad to see somebody put Catherine in their top 10.

Posted by Winternet

O Skyrim, where art thou?

Posted by Matterless

Someone finally put the right game at the top of their list.

Posted by Loomies

@Atwa said:

CARRIE

SHOUT OUT FOR MENTIONING CATHERINE

AGREE!! MAD RESPECT FOR CATHERINE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by Animasta

hell yeah catherine

RPS mentioned to the moon too, vaguely interested in trying it out now

Posted by EpicSteve

She would shoot a lot better with her elbow tucked.

Posted by Phatmac

@buckybit: The fuck is wrong with you?

Online
Posted by Make_Me_Mad

Nice to see some love for Catherine! Really enjoy these guest lists.

Edited by gunrobot

Seeing Dungeon Raid on her list reminded me how many hours I sunk into that game earlier this year. Might be time to reinstall it.

And I really need to turn on cheats and finish Catherine. Didn't really enjoy the puzzles, but the story was very interesting.

@buckybit said:

Yikes.

Posted by HyperionXR

Excellent choices. Glad she gave Portal 2 number one!

Posted by LiquidSwords

<3 Forever <3

Posted by craigbo180

@Grissefar said:

Carrie Gouskos? More like Carrie boring PAX Warhammer PR guest segment, am I right?

No?

Posted by Curufinwe

Nice top 3, although I think the frustrating parts of Uncharted 3 should have seen it placed below Batman.

Posted by Jayzilla

To the Moon is a VERY legit game. if you haven't played it you are missing out on a gem.

Posted by oscar

Carrie Gouskos, the laziest Giant Bomb staff member. :p

Posted by Dross

Carrie is awesome.

Posted by FutureNewbApps

Agreed. Portal 2 is my personal GOTY as well, and Batman is my #3, however Skyrim is my #2.

Posted by Little_Socrates

Loving your list, Carrie!

Personally loving that Catherine and Dungeon Raid showed up on this list. I may or may not have already written an extensive review of that second one, but that game does deserve exposure as probably the most interesting RPG-Match 3 combo I've yet played. As for Catherine, it's just wonderful, and I can't really recommend it enough.

Really need to check out To The Moon.

Posted by DFSVegas

No Skyrim? Burn her, she's a witch!

Posted by biggiedubs

@Winternet: Maybe she didn't like Skyrim? Or maybe she just wasn't interested in Skyrim in the first place? It doesn't HAVE to be on everyone's list.

Nice to see Burnout CRASH! in there too, I know a lot of people started putting it down before it even came out simply because it was a 'proper burnout game', but it was still fun, and probably one of the best uses of Kinnect this year.

Also, I am now playing To The Moon, so consider you're list a great success.

Posted by jred250

Great list Carrie!

Posted by White

Carrie with a rifle? I feel funny....

Posted by Lord_Ozma

Agreed. I played an obnoxious amount of Dungeon Raid throughout the entire year. Great to see it get some love.

Posted by RagingLion

I did get rather into playing Dungeon Raid on my housemate's iPad. I eventually learnt to exercise self-control on that on - i's very more-ish. I'll be interested to se if To the Moon makes any other top 10s. I kind of want to play it right now to see how it would rank on my own personal top 10 list of the year.

Posted by Grissefar
@craigbo180 said:

@Grissefar said:

Carrie Gouskos? More like Carrie boring PAX Warhammer PR guest segment, am I right?

No?

Yuck, guess I was wrong then. Ha! Ha!
Posted by RVonE

Man, I miss Carrie. She was great back at Gamespot. It's great to see her on this site.

Posted by Teoball

I totaly agree that Portal 2 is the best game this year. I fucking love that game.

Posted by silentmobius

Really miss you from GS days Carrie. Quit your job and join the GB crew! Would love to see you do a few Quick Looks!

Posted by InfiniteGeass

Really cool that Catherine is on your list.

Posted by toadstule

Hooray that Catherine made it on her list! !It's awesome seeing all the support for Catherine in this thread.

Posted by bybeach

Carrie would work at this site. For pure energy output and enthusiasm probably provide twice her share of impetus and forward motion...and she is just not limited to that. She has long experience now and long past knowing the ropes, of what I saw of her at GS.

Posted by RYNO9881

Awesome list. It seems not everyone is crazy and realizes Portal 2 is actually the best game this year.

Posted by Milkman

Short and sweet. I should really play To the Moon, eh?

Posted by rmanthorp

Portal 2 love! Thanks Carrie

Moderator
Posted by WatanabeKazuma

I feel kind of stupid for never hearing of To The Moon until looking at this list. Worth getting?

Posted by sethshandor

More Carrie! Less Alex!

Posted by phrali

i don't know who this person is, but all i could think was "wow EA employee saying that BF3 is better than COD, WOW I HAVE NEVER HEARD THAT BEFORE"

maybe i'm just jaded

Posted by DiGiTaL_SiN

We miss you Carrie!!! <3 <3 XXOO

Posted by Brackynews
Posted by sungahymn

Portal 2 for (half-)life!

Posted by LiK

Great list Carrie. Btw, love that pic of you for this feature, lol

Posted by artofwar420

Oh snap, I forgot about Burnout Crash.

Posted by kingzetta
@DiGiTaL_SiN said:

We miss you Carrie!!! <3 <3 XXOO

Posted by Bucketdeth

Glad to see some obscure titles and one I have never even heard of (To The Moon), also, still need to play Batman:AC.

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