I feel like these end of year awards (especially from users) devalue the point of them. You should play these games. By limiting it to 5, or 10, you leave out some other games that you might want to include. Still unemployed, I've been playing a lot of games so I need to give props to those that I can't fit on a neat list.
The important thing is that I'm not saying...
HEY! YOU! THESE ARE THE BEST GAMES THIS YEAR AND EVERYBODY ELSE IS WRONG!
These are some games that you should at least TRY. Not every game is for every person, and I recognise that. By trying a game, and not just talking shit about it, you can at least feel confident that something is not for you, or it is how you discover a whole new world of gaming (strategy games blew my mind a few years ago).
What Games You Should Try From 2011
Just give them a go. You don't have to like them.
|1. Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective|
Who would have guessed that a quirky, super weird DS game from Japan wouldn't sell well? What makes Ghost Trick special is the writing. Characters are memorable and insane, and the story goes of a cliff with batshit craziness. This game isn't interested in reality, or your notions of how a story should play out.
The presentation is very enjoyable and unique and the gameplay is novel (and can get very tough, if not frustrating). I'm not surprised many people didn't play it, but I will say here that you should try it. There is no other game like it
Also, the ending is fucking insane.
A time travelling ghost dog from the future, trapped inside a lamp from the past. Incredible.
|2. The Binding of Isaac|
I didn't know the meaning of rogue like until hearing about this game, and while I see this is a more simplified version of that concept this game has so much more going on. A game session can last 1 minutes, or 30 minutes. Even played out until the end it isn't long but the game compels you to finish it over and over to see endings and the temptation of better loot.
Sometimes I feel like I get shafted because I pick up terrible loot, so I tell myself that next time things will be different. That conversation can repeat itself for a couple of hours because the gameplay is so compelling. The thing that holds it together for me is the aesthetic and tone. This game is completely messed up. Wearing your 'mom's' clothes and makeup, peeing everywhere. Loads of blood and poop. It is disgusting but justifies itself by being a messed up premise and setting.
Give it a go. It isn't expensive (99p on steam today) and even if you play it for an hour that is absolutely worth it.
|3. Dark Souls|
This will be on a lot of individual's lists, and I put it here because I think everybody should try it. Even after a lot of time spent playing this game I can't decide if I like it or not. The difficulty and the exploration make playing this game rewarding and satisfying... but a lot of the design isn't as intuitive or well made as it could be.
While some elements feel budget, where Dark Souls really excels it is fantastic. I might scream when I die like no other game, and yet I keep playing. You might be able to tell already that I articulating why I both do and do not like this game poorly, which is precisely why I think everybody should try this for themselves.
Make up your own mind, give it a shot.
|4. Rock of Ages|
Gameplay is fun, and the setting, premise, characters, music, aesthetics and boss battles are insane. This game enjoys it's own stupidity and absurdity. For that alone just give it a go. If you don't find it funny you might not enjoy it, but it isn't a huge investment.
|5. Dead Rising 2: Off the Record|
A lot of people give the series a hard time for unintuitive design and not learning lessons from past mistakes. A lot of this is fair, and never bothered me personally but Dead Rising 2: Off The Record goes a long way to addressing these issues. There are checkpoints between areas and there is a sandbox mode.
These two reasons alone should give a lot of people a reason to check back in with the series and give it another chance. Missions are still timed (but you don't have to do them) and there are annoying design choices (animation still take priority over anything else).
|6. Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes|
I never expected to enjoy the puzzle part of a puzzle game so much. The story and characters aren't bad but they are incredibly forgettable. The 'combat puzzle' that this game presents is so satisfying when you get it right. Mastering the strategy in this game is rewarding.
|7. Star Wars: The Old Republic|
A lot of people want or expect this to fail. I can see why, but at least play t first. I am not an MMO veteran. Huge fan of KOTOR, not MMOs. Playing this by myself I am really enjoying it. The abttle system isn['t that different from KOTOR, and all of the conversation systems and cutscenes are what you might expect from a Bioware game.
It has been fun playing with friends but as they out level me I have less and less opportunity to play with them. That is OK though because I have fun playing solo. Companions lower the burden and allow you to play with allies that don't have to be real people. Server queues can be an issue, but in general I am able to play when I want.
Give it a chance.
Best Phoenix Wright Game of 2011
I play Phoenix Wright games pretty much every day before I go to sleep. Considering there are only three of them that doesn't leave a lot of room for winners. I must have finished each of them 20 times and it is hard to choose. This category is needed because I play it so often that it is a series of games that deserves recognition from me every year, regardless of when it came out (plus I didn't start playing it until 2010).
And the winner is...
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Trials and Tribulations
As the end of the Phoenix Wright trilogy the story is incredible and wraps up a three game story arc really well. All questions are answered, dire situations are resolved and you see the characters and world in a different way than before. Godot, as my favourite character from the series, adds a lot to the game and provides a strong antagonist throughout.
While it is hard to match the plot of the first game this final entry to the series takes you across over 6 years and puts you in the shoes of 3 different playable characters, a first for the series.
1995/2009's 2011 Game of the Year
(The only nomination...)
New endurance run, more bitching. I hadn't played Chrono Trigger before and this was the perfect excuse to give it a go. Not owning a SNES meant I picked up the DS version, and I am glad I did. It seems as though the translation for the original was unfortunately rushed and that results in the sometimes funny, but generally bad text in the game.
The DS version features a new, more cohesive and literal translation of the game. The graphics looks great on a DSLite screen (not sure about the DSi as that will scale it a bit) which really surprised me. It looks crisp. Even now it still stands up as a fantastic RPG and I'm glad the Endurance Run inspired me to play it.
Game I didn't Get Round To
I bought so many cheap games this year that there is a massive pile of games I didn't get to finish or play at all. Worst of all is when they come out at the end of the year. How am I supposed to play them? Well, at least when I;m playing Skyrim I don't worry about not playing other games but they still stand out.
And the winner is...
Saints Row The Third
After hearing so much about this game on Giant bomb and from friends I broke down and finally decided to buy it. That was yesterday. I haven't put enough time in to it to be able to add it to my game of the year but the opening 30 minutes of this game are incredible. I get the same dreary open world shooter feeling that I do from the previous games or a GTA game but like GTA it's the things around it that I enjoy (characters, story, mind blowing missions/things happening all the time).
My Favourite Games of 2011
You might think my list is predictable, but I'm no hipster. Good games are good games.
|1. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim|
140 hours in 2 weeks. Read my blog to find out about this obsession.
|2. Portal 2|
I completed this in one 9 hour sitting because I could not wait to find out what was going to happen next. The best writing and best story in any game I have every played. Memorable characters, rewarding puzzles and beautiful graphics.
|3. L.A. Noire|
The facial capture technology is incredible, if not rough around the edges but in a rare occurance in graphics/animation technology it actually serves the gameplay. Unless you are going to try and subvert/break the gameplay by trying to 'game' the interrogation system, you actually have to pay attention to character reactions in a lot of cases. An adventure game for modern times. Thoroughly enjoyable.
|4. Batman: Arkham City|
The most satisfying combat system around wrapped up in Batman goodness with a new open world to explore. I disagree with Jeff's review, I think the open world really does add something (mostly to navigation but also allowing something as simple as gang territories).
|5. Gears of War 3|
Story is what I care about in Gears of War. I might be in the minority, but over 2 games I came t care about the characters with the amount of time I sunk in to the game. Seeing that story through to the end was going to happen even if the game was awful, but it helps that Gears of War is still thoroughly satisfying and great looking.
|6. Deus Ex: Human Revolution|
I enjoyed the aesthetic, the philosophical discussion about human augmentation and the ability to tackle situations in a variety of ways. The music is also pretty great.
|7. Iron Brigade|
Great mech shooting. Fun and streamlined tower defence. A great combination that I keep coming back to.
Incredible story, graphics, narration, music and gameplay. Too bad my Xbox Hard Drive failed and I lost my save. Never got to see New Game Plus.
|9. Crysis 2|
I loved the Sandbox gameplay of the original Crysis (my favourite shooter of all time perhaps) and while that is scaled back signifcantly in this sequel it isn't unrecognisable. Characters were OK and the story kept me going along but I love the cinematic look of everything in these games.
|10. Dead Space 2|
This game terrified me, and I love that. Unfortunately I had a series of technical failures early in the year that meant I got 3/4 of the way through the game and had to stop, then start over at the end of the year. I'm glad I saw it through to the end.