I'm reading more and more lists/discussions around the web, and it almost seems like the cool thing to do is dismiss 2011 when it comes to gaming. I don't get it. Maybe I just like liking things, but this year really feels like a crowning achievement of gaming to me. There have been so many games I've been excited for (seriously, just ask my fiance Stephanie, she deserves a medal for giving me minimal shit for the countless games I was stoked for day 1) and to be honest, I've had very few disappointments.
Maybe Dead Island, but that was disappointing later on, I liked it the first few days but then I got stuck in a bathroom one too many times, and my buddies who I was playing coop with all sold/traded/returned to Gamefly and it's really a shitty single player game.
To be fair, I spent a lot of 2011 mopping up games left over from previous years. Mass Effect 1 & 2, Assassin's Creed II (barely touched Brotherhood, so far so good), Borderlands, Gear of War 2, Heavy Rain. Also, there's a handful of games that could be on this list, but I didn't play nearly enough to make it qualify in my mind, inFamous 2 I'm looking right at you...Orcs Must Die and Trine 2 kind of limp on as well. Orcs Must Die I was really stoked for after playing it at PAX, but it's timing was shit in my mind. It was downloaded right before Forza 4 came out, so I was pushing hard in Forza 3 to get my profile high enough so I got some great cars when I imported. From there it only got worse (actually it got better...my available play time became more sparse is what I man). Trine 2 has been fun, I played through it with a buddy, though I'd really like to try it with two buddies. That'll be clincher on whether or not I would consider it a top game and that's not gonna happen to this year.
Also, a few games that have been thrown around I haven't touched, primarily Uncharted 3. And that's mostly because I haven't played Uncharted 2 ( I know, get the torches!). I beat Uncharted, and it was a great play experience, except when I thought about it, it was a fine play experience. I've heard the second is substantially better than the first, and I'm sure at some point the stack of games I already have to play will dwindle and I'll start looking at buying more games, but an improved sequel to a game I'm a little more than lukewarm about isn't exactly high on the list.
Arkham City is very similar to Uncharted 3 for me. I played Arkham Asylum, I like Arkham Asylum, though I feel like I finished it more out of obligation to finish than I actually wanted to. I'll be picking up Arkham City probably next, I'm sure some time in Q1 2012. Raynman Origin's too. Not so much because I've played the precursors (I know, torches!), but I've heard so much good stuff I feel like I'm missing out if I don't. Assassin's Creed Revelations is way down on the list, and definitely not until I finish Brotherhood. Dark Souls might happen, but probably not.
And now my list.
10. Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon - It's not so much that this was that good of a game, but it was definitely that fun of a game, if that makes any sense. I played through it multiple time (with increasing difficulty) with 2 or 3 friends, and it was a lot of fun. Mindless fun, brainless fun, shooting the living fuck out of bugs and blowing up buildings kind of fun. Do I want more? Not really. I had my fill. Maybe if a better version were to come out in 2013 or later I'd be game, but for now I've had my fill. A few of us had delusions of grinding and leveling all the armor sets all the way up...that quickly disintegrated. I don't blame us.
10.2 (Tie) Stacking - Hilarious game. I played through the vast majority of it with a buddy of mine, couch coop style. Great game to talk through with a buddy, and the final boss fight is perfect. Kinda weird, since almost none of the game had dexterity requirements, then all the sudden you need to have decent timing to pull off a rock/paper/scissors win. But very cool package, very unique, and a great game. And yes, that makes it my top 11 list. Deal with it.
9. Battlefield 3 - Probably the game I've spent the least with on this list, mostly because I've yet to buy into the single player (heard too many bad things about it, and if I was single player there's better ways to go), and I've yet to meet up with any buddies online to play this, either co-op or multiplayer. All my multiplayer experience has been just me, and that's not a great way to go. I've learned this is a gorgeous game, I love the leveling up in it (long time reformed WoW player...leveling up is ingrained to be a good thing), and I pretty much suck at it. But BF3 shouldn't suffer from my lack of participation in online FPS's over the last 5 years, it's fantastic.
8. Gears of War 3 - Far and away the Best GoW. I finished GoW2 the day after I bought Gow3 (I had been slacking) and it was night and day how much more I enjoyed 3 over 2. I never went multiplayer in any form in 2, I've done a fair bit of Horde and ...? Bad guy mode? in 3, and both are a blast. Great way to kill a few hours with three friends, and the single player was fantastic. Sure, some plot holes if you look for them, but the Dom stuff was heartbreaking, and the inclusion of Mad World was phenomenal. It worked so insanely well. I think a few of us are gonna fire it up soon, rock the arcade mode, so I doubt there will be Mad World again, and that's a bummer.
7. Trenched/Iron Brigade - I only wrapped it up a few weeks ago, but this was the game that got me to flip flop back over the 360 from the PS3. A new group of friends (fiance's best friend's husband, and all of his friends) are primary 360 guys, and unlike my longstanding group of friends (who are ps3 guys) actually play a fuckload of video games, so it's nice seeing a friends list populated. Anyway, they went to town on this, and it sounded great, so I dusted off my old 360, crossed my fingers that it wouldn't RROD me too soon, and off I went. This is all early July, and it held out until my fiance surprised me with a new 360 for my September birthday. Anyway, fast forward to a few weekends ago and playing through Iron Brigade the rest of the way. I wouldn't say it's lousy single player, but by comparison to multiplayer it kind of is. Multiplayer is just that good, though now that my trench is a badass I may go through the single player and give it another go. Essentially achievement whore it up. When the DLC comes I'm sure we'll be back. Martian Bears? Fuck yes.
6. L.A. Noire - A few weeks ago I would've said there's no way this game ends up on this list, but then I spent some time thinking about the game, and less time thinking about what I thought about the game. If that makes sense. Let me explain. When I was playing LA Noire I loved LA Noire. I'm a TV/Movie fan, with a decent memory for faces/voices, so I was constantly recognizing people, which was cool, but I loved the story. I loved the delivery. I loved that my parents (who don't actively hate video games have at least some level of disdain for them) loved the game. Dad asked me to play it in front of him for a few hours on Father's Day. He was hooked. The tech was cool, the world was open (my grandparents lived in LA at this time in history, Dad enjoyed the scenery almost as much as the story, I don't blame him a bit), the characters were fantastic. I don't necessarily love how it ended, but all in all it ended pretty well. Kind of ended the only way it could. The DLC was great as well, each of the missions felt right in line with everything else, with the exception of the Nicholson Electroplating case (I think that's what it was called), the one with the dirty bomb. Since I played it long after I finished the game, I had a great feel for what the city was, and then in an instant it changed. Very unique. Months after the game came out all sorts of shit came out about Team Bondi and it made me think less of the game, but in all honesty it's a cool gaming experience.
5. Saints Row 3 - What a pure video game. So over the top in a great way, and really fun to play. I also like that I've finished the game (both endings) and now that I'm invincible with unlimited ammo I can just power my way through to finish the stuff I didn't necessarily love. The skydiving in/raid set to Kanye West's Power was another really cool moment in video games. Looking forward to doing that again when I finish act 1 the other way (gonna S Rank this one I think). Also, I essentially have a speeder from Star Wars (only it can hover too) and that's just fucking cool. Plus beating someone to death with a 3 foot long dildo is funny, I don't care who you are.
4. Bastion - The game play was great. The music was phenomenal. The narration was amazing. And yet the story was the best part. I loved the ending, both of 'em, and my only complaint was it took too long for me to get into it. I went into it wanting to like it, and I spent the first few hours thinking "Ok, it's good but it's not good, so what am I missing?" until suddenly I got it. I think Zia's song was the first of it. For what it's worth, when I played through the second time I still couldn't leaf Zulf's body there. I'm assuming you've gotta clear out all the dicks with the battering ram, but I'll never know. I purchased the soundtrack at PAX (complete with signatures) and it still lives in my car's CD player. There's a number of good tracks, and a couple fantastic ones. In rarefied air with the ending of Red Dead Redemption as games that made it get a little dusty, if you catch my drift. RIP John Marsten. :~(
3. Forza 4 - Such a great racing game. Gorgeous visuals, so much to do (almost to a fault, I know I'll be playing this well into 2013 if I want to S rank it), music was so so but the game play is great. Beyond that, the car club, and more specifically the Giant Bomb Car Club, makes this game top 3 for me. Having 99 other duders to compete with in Rivals, Thursday Night Racing, and weekly timed challenges means this game will be around for a very long time. I know that sounds like I'm saying the longer you play it the better it is, but it isn't a value comparison. I learned long ago with WoW when a game stops being fun, it's no longer a game and now it's an obligation, and fuck that. That being said, I don't see this not being fun for a very long time.
2. Portal 2 - This is a game that had very high expectations, and blew every one of 'em away. The first was so insanely good, and the second is purely better. And more. And multiplayer. And funny. And so many moments that were just awesome. I feel like I laughed constantly, when I wasn't trying to figure out some great puzzles. If it wasn't for Cave Johnson I think the coop would be better than the single player. A buddy of mine and I ran through the coop couch style one afternoon while his wife and my fiance did girl stuff, it was awesome. He kept reminding me if a plan requires that precise of timing that we can probably come up with a better plan, which is completely true. And completely taught me apparently I want to be a member of the A Team.
1. Skyrim - Fus ro Duh. I mean really. This game is so deeply good I can't stop signing it's praises. I'm playing on 360, and have been insanely lucky with glitches or lack thereof, in 80+ hours of play I've had 3 lock ups and one minor side quest glitch, and that's it. Pretty light on the bugs, but I completely understand other people having major issues, and having that soil the experience. That being said, I'm a sneaky archer 1h shield smith who enchants, and I one shot a troll the other day. I'm the leader of the companions, barely into the DB or Thieves guild, I've finished the main quest, and only joined the College recently, though I've yet to decide where I stand on the Civil War. The quest that begins with a drinking contest took me by surprise as purely awesome. The first 10 times a dragon circled me it was legitimately an oh shit moment. Now I welcome it, just another chance to get another soul. I hate the Dwemer ruins, just because it's a great creepy environment, so that's just another good thing. There are so many things to do, that I've yet to, just keeps blowing me away.
My only gripe in Skyrim is Lydia. One day she disappeared (didn't die, I haven't been served her will type thing) and I've yet to find her. It's not so much I want to have her back (I've moved on you heartless bitch, and yeah, you ARE sworn to carry my burdens), but she had a lot of valuable stuff on her when she went AWOL, and that house in Solitude I wanna buy for my wife Ysolda doesn't come cheap. Luckily Steph isn't the jealous type.