Blog #052 - You Should At Least Try These 2011 Games + Awards

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

So many great characters

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

Chrono Trigger

(The only nomination...)

Chrono Trigger DS

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).

And Finally...

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.

8. Bastion

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.

3 Comments
3 Comments
Posted by AlisterCat

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

So many great characters

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

Chrono Trigger

(The only nomination...)

Chrono Trigger DS

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).

And Finally...

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.

8. Bastion

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.

Posted by AlisterCat

I know this is late but I completely forgot about renegade ops. After being given it by rentfn a few months ago I didn't play it until a week ago, and really should have talked about it. One of the most explosive and smooth gaming experiences I've had. A bit shallow and light, but that suits what it is.

Gordon Freeman seems like the best character. Airstrikes are cool, but they are area of effect. He has Antlions that will chase people down and follow you around. Makes the character DLC obsolete, though he is exclusive to the steam version.

Posted by JackSukeru

I've also sort of been opposed to the limiting "Top 5" or "Top 10" format of the end of the year lists. So much so that, at the end of last year, I resolved to make a list of every game I played and finished during the coming year (that was released during that same year) so that I could more easily remember them when it came time for Top 10 lists. I would then make a top "whatever the total number of games was" list and post it. Is that hipster-ish? If so then I'm a hipster.

Like so much else in my life it fell through when it came time for execution, but the 'prototype' can still be found here.

It's kind of a flawed system if you were to look for my favorite games because it doesn't list any games that I played the year after they came out. Two such games that won't make it to next years list because of this is Mighty Switch Force and Xenoblade Chronicles, the latter of which I'm quite enjoying at the moment. Another example is Duke Nukem Forever which I played, but didn't finish (because it's terrible).

As for your list, I like it. Ghost Trick was phenomenal, and even if it in my mind belongs on a list of "games that don't need sequels" the status of the main character have changed enough that a new game could be really different and interesting so long as enough work was put into it to make it so.

I've only played a few hours of The Binding of Isaac but boy is it a fun game. Despite playing Super Meat Boy last year I was somewhat put off by its style. This was before I played it. Having played through a lot if not most of SMB with only keyboard controls the lack of joypad support (by this time I had purcased an Xbox controller to be able to play Bastion properly) didn't bother me at all. It also opened me up for the idea of playing other Rougelikes, even if I have yet to try one out. It might also have been the reason I spent a bunch of hours playing the original Zelda on my 3DS yesterday...strange as it might seem.

I've spent over 200 hours on Dark Souls, starting different characters and trying slightly different playstyles before settling on my favorite one and finishing the game. It, like Demon's Souls before it had a lot of elements that I miss from other games, namely the way your character's strength is balanced to the giant monsters he's facing, but also smaller stuff like costumizability. Some experiences were lost, for example I never had one as grueling as struggling against the Mindflayers in Tower of Latria, perhaps in part because of more generous checkpointing and a easier upgrading system, or perhaps because the game is simply easier. I still regard Dark Souls as the superior game and if not for all its annoying jank it could've easily become one of my uncontested favorites.

Rock of Ages never appealed to me no matter how many trailers or quicklooks I saw of it. Maybe I should try it and give it a chance, but nothing about the gameplay as it looks from outside seems like it would acually be "fun" to me. I've never played any of the Dead Risings either, not so much for a lack of interest as I simply lost interest and forgot about it before I could try it out.

Clash of Heroes might be my #2 for the year, because its fundemental mechanics were so easy to grasp I could play it with a wide variety of people, both people who play videogames regularly and people who didn't. This really elevated its appeal for me. As for the story, I got mildly invested in the premises of the 3rd and 4th chapter and thought that the characters were well done. The ending was weird though. So weird how the whole evil-possession thing ended without any consequence for the people involved, as well as Jeezebeth's and Aidan's relationship never had any conclusion.

I still have 2 Ace Attorney games that I've yet to finish, the thought that someone can play them over and over again boogles my mind, but then again it probably gets a lot easier after the first time. That said, if I recall correctly Miles Edgeworth 2 won't be localized outside of Japan, that must be such a bummer.

I also had a desire to play Chrono Trigger once the Endurance Run really got going, although I never put in the effort to find a playable version (Virtual Console might have one?) and now that they're at the end of the quest that desire has subsided significantly.

If I could name one thing that defined videogames for me in 2012 it was the fact that it was the year where I started playing a lot more smaller games, either portable or downloadable, and stopped buying some of the bigger releases for the sole reason that they were big releases. It has hurt me in the past where I've bought games like Arkham Asylum or Dead Space, good games that I lacked any passion for and while enjoyable, they were far from engrossing to me. I decided to change that this year thus I've avoided their sequels. Deus Ex was in a similar position in that I was ready to get invested based on the hype, but something put me off once it was released and I managed to hold off of getting it, maybe I really would have enjoyed it?

I was all set to get Skyrim yet somehow between 200 hours of Dark Souls, 58 hours of Zelda and watching coverage of it I lost interest. Maybe I'll pick it up eventually this year, or maybe I'll just "wait for the next one", something I kept telling myself while looking at the recent Fallout games.

Phew~ that was quite a rant, this is what happends when you don't run your own blog I guess. You ruin others's

Ok this final part might seem like it came a bit out of the blue but have you played any of the Oddworld games? When you mentioned games you should at least try I thought back to these puzzle platformers (platform puzzlers?), in part because they've been on my mind the last few days what with the release of the HD remake of Stranger's Wrath. If you enjoy puzzle games the first two are pretty inventive and are only like 3 bucks on Steam.