ArbitraryWater's Best of 2011 (that actually came out in 2011)

Best of 2011

Alright. I figure now is as good a time as any to put out my GOTY list for this year, as I probably won't be playing any more new stuff for the remainder of December. Unlike last year, I actually played an acceptable amount of actual console releases this time, and not just the downloadable stuff either. List is in order, but as always take it with a grain of salt. I'm particularly bad at numbering things in any specific order, and most of these could probably switch places with one another with very little disagreement.

Anything marked with an asterisk has additional comments below, assuming you're reading the blog and not just the list.

1. Dark Souls

While I have not finished it, it's safe to say that unless something HORRIFICALLY BAD happens in the last 1/3rd or so of Dark Souls, it wins my Game of the Year. *

2. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

As you may expect, the competition between these two was fairly fierce. Skyrim is, in essence, everything one would want out of a new Elder Scrolls game, without most of the stuff that one wouldn't want out of a new Elder Scrolls game. *

3. Deus Ex: Human Revolution

The gunplay may be mediocre, the stealth may be somewhat artificial, but Deus Ex Human Revolution represents a rather logical progression to update the first game into the modern era, without sacrificing what made it good (i.e. The ability to approach any given situation how you would like.) As someone who has played all 3 games in the series this year, this is easily my favorite. Loses points for having perhaps the singular worst Boss Fights this side of Alpha Protocol.

4. Portal 2

Portal 2, while not some sort of messianic title you people seem to claim it is, is (once again, like practically everything else on this list) more of the previous game, but done better. Indeed, this game is as high as it is thanks to Cave Johnson and Cave Johnson alone, who is by far the best new character this year. Now let's do some science!

5. The King of Fighters XIII

I like Fighting games. King of Fighters is a good fighting game. Less crazy than Marvel vs Capcom 3(or indeed, Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3), more sophisticated than MK, it is different enough from Street Fighter to be interesting but close enough to be comprehensible.

6. Bastion

Bastion earns its place, even disregarding my love of anything Greg Kasavin related, for being the kind of game that surprises one how good it actually is *

7. Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective

It took these forums to remind me that Ghost Trick did come out this year. Other than perhaps having too much melodrama for my tastes, Ghost Trick succeeds at being both a puzzle game and having a totally crazy story in the vein that you would expect from the Phoenix Wright team.

8. Dragon Age II

No. This is not a dream. Yes. This is on my list. I'm sorry. *

9. Frozen Synapse

Because everyone needs a Dark Horse pick, this one will be mine. Even when I'm not being TOTALLY AND UTTERLY DESTROYED by British people (because the UK servers are the only ones with life in them), I still totally enjoy Frozen Synapse's unique brand of asynchronous Turn Based Strategy. If anyone wants to play, I'd be down.

10. Might & Magic Heroes VI

Ehhhhh.... Just read below *

And now... explanations and special mentions for games that didn't make it on the list:

My 2011 Game of the Year: Dark Souls

It's only been a week since I posted my impressions blog, but yes, this beat Skyrim. Dark Souls is the kind of game that rewards caution when it isn't constantly smacking you across the face. I can't tell you if From Software is genius or batshit insane for making a game where, clearly, everything is the way it is on purpose, but I'm ok with that. The measured feel of the combat, the surprisingly consistent difficulty curve, and the totally bonkers multiplayer all come together to make something that is more enjoyable than frustrating... even if its still hella frustrating. As I said though, have yet to finish it all the way through (because its hard and I can only take so much at any given time). My opinion may change, but I doubt it at this point.

Oh yeah. If someone came up with a theory that this game is a commentary on repetition and failure in the human existence, I'd totally believe them.

My not-2011 Game of the Year: Skyrim

In essence, Skyrim is everything I wanted it to be. A progression from Bethesda's previous works, taking what worked and tossing what didn't, it is at least a few steps above Oblivion and Fallout 3 mechanically, if not structurally. However, since nitpicking things people really like is the cool thing to do, I might as well mention that it doesn't peak as high as Oblivion in terms of quest design. Certainly, the Daedric Shrine quests are all some variation of amazing, but the questlines themselves are noticeably shorter and filled with more procedurally generated stuff than the previous title. There are like what, 3, Dark Brotherhood missions that aren't the generic "Kill dude here" stuff? Then there's my problems with the difficulty, and how remarkably easy the game gets once your stealth is high enough, even on Master. These are just small things though, and don't really detract from how amazing and impressive this game is.

Best Downloadable Title: Bastion

If there wasn't a narrator, Bastion would still be a very good character action game type thing with an isometeric perspective and a great visual aesthetic. What brings it up however, is the inclusion of the Narrator, who's very pronounced style of speaking and narration actually contributes to a story that, above all else, surprised me with how much I cared by the end, not to mention that ending, which actually caused me to agonize over which choice to make. I look forward to seeing what Supergiant puts out next for sure.

Most Apologetically Present Game: Dragon Age II: Dragon Harder

It must say something about me and my tastes that I'm willing to put my least favorite Bioware game (that I've played mind you. No Sonic RPG here) since Jade Empire on this list, even if I still don't like Jade Empire more. But whereas the internet was on Bioware's side back in 2005, it isn't here. Dragon Age II is the sequel to my favorite game of 2009, a game that I straight up consider to be Bioware's best work since Baldur's Gate 2. But whereas Origins will likely be remembered as a classic, DA2 will likely be remembered as a disappointment, rightfully so.

Then why the fuck is this even on this list, if I still admit to it being a screw up on most levels? Because I still like the parts where it isn't a screw up, perhaps more than I should. I consider most of the supporting cast in DA2 to be some of Bioware's best, and they do a good job of making them interact with the world, your current situation, and each other. I also find the combat to be just as good, even if it is more blatantly MMO-ish in its structure and enjoys making the combat hard by throwing waves of reinforcements at you rather than making the initial wave super challenging. Those aside, the main story is a trainwreck. Not because of the presence of Hawke, something that I have no problem with, but more the way it doesn't exist for the first 15 hours, then gets crazy, then gets incredibly, utterly, entirely stupid and not in a FFX2 way of something I can get behind. I feel like I could go on and on discussing the faults, but I'll suffice to say: This game is on my list and I like it more than I probably should. Sorry internet.

Most personally conflicting game: Might and Magic Heroes VI

Like Dragon Age II, I probably like Heroes VI more than I should. It has a lot of interesting ideas that shake up the game in some major ways, and they work quite well for the most part, but I'm not sure if they actually make the game more fun or not. After writing that Heroes VI blog, I went back to the previous games, namely III and V, and realized that yep, they're probably more fun. That's not to say that this game doesn't still have its chance. Mind you, Heroes V didn't become great until its second expansion, so I'm hoping that something like that happens here. Maybe they can fix the AI while they're at it too.

Stuff that didn't make it on the list, but is still worth mentioning

Game number 11: Mortal Kombat

After deciding that I really did like Frozen Synapse that much, MK had to be axed, unfortunately. It deserves its kudos for being the only fighting game with a single player worth playing for reasons other than "unlocking everyone", having something resembling an interesting story that is miles ahead of the crazy nonsense stuff like King of Fighters or Blazblue seem to vomit out on regular occasion. It's not art, by any means, but it's still better than most video game stories, which is sad in a way. Where it falls apart is the actual fighting, which I find perhaps a little too stiff for my liking, but I guess its still enjoyable overall. As a bit of a sidenote, I bought this game to distract myself from a rather malicious rejection that I had suffered from a girl I liked at the time. It worked. Mortal Kombat > Female Companionship?

Most inoffensively bland game: Divinity 2 The Dragon Knight Saga

Divinity 2 has its heart in the right place. It wants to be an epic adventure of epic proportions. It just lacks the budget, the talent, and the design to get it there. What you get instead is something that feels rather Singleplayer MMOish in its quest design, with skills that don't really feel any more powerful when you put points into them and enemies that always seem to be a little stronger than they should be, not to mention somehow making being a dragon the least exciting part. It also tries very hard to be funny on occasion (it isn't), and tries to convey a story that the player might ostensibly care about (nope). Personally, I'd rather play its poorly named predecessor: Divine Divinity instead. Or maybe Two Worlds 2. I didn't play enough to make any sort of serious judgement, but it seemed better than this from what I played of it.

Most Minecraft-like game to not actually be Minecraft: Terraria

I have no real interest in playing Minecraft. I'm sorry. If I wanted to play with Legos, I would go back home and get out the tupperware bin containing all of them. That being said, Terraria offered a similar experience for a lower price, in addition to being slightly more game-y. Still, I had my fill after about a week, so I'm totally cool with never playing it again.

Best game to be like a game that is on my other GOTY list, but is less deserving and therefore not on this one: Mount and Blade With Fire and Sword

When I eventually release my other GOTY list to the public (Best of 2011 that didn't come out in 2011), Mount and Blade Warband will probably be on it. But, being the fool that I was I bought the entire series even though they're literally all the exact same game. What makes With Fire and Sword worse than Warband however, is the inclusion of muskets. Muskets suck all the way, both from a giving and receiving end and manage to make the otherwise chaotically enjoyable multiplayer significantly less fun when you are being one-shotted by some german dude halfway across the map, not to mention the singleplayer where a single lucky shot to you can ruin the entire battle. Still fun, and probably would be on this list otherwise if it were not for the presence of a superior title that already exists.

Most Pokemon-ass Pokemon Game: Pokemon Black and White

You people. You people. How can you justify this game? I had my fill after around 5 hours, because apparently that's all I can take without the nostalgia of Gold and Silver keeping my interest. I'm not interested in any of the metagame shit, because I'm not crazy and because I apparently am not on a college campus where people are way into pokemon for semi-ironic reasons. Without that, all I find is a game that is disgustingly similar to previous games. Very little, if none at all effort has been made to streamline or otherwise mix up the mechanics from the structure established 17 years ago (because Japan got Red and Green in 1995). I'm totally cool with Skyward Sword being another Zelda game (if only because the general consensus is that its better than Twilight Princess), and may even ask for it for chirstmas. But these games? Nuh uh. No. Why. Why do you do these things.

Oh yeah. 5 Internet Dollars this is the paragraph I get the most crap for. Not the Dragon Age II one

That's it for now. I guess. You can expect my other list next week, when I am done with finals and am heading home for the holidays. Until then.. bye?

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40 Comments
Posted by ArbitraryWater

Best of 2011

Alright. I figure now is as good a time as any to put out my GOTY list for this year, as I probably won't be playing any more new stuff for the remainder of December. Unlike last year, I actually played an acceptable amount of actual console releases this time, and not just the downloadable stuff either. List is in order, but as always take it with a grain of salt. I'm particularly bad at numbering things in any specific order, and most of these could probably switch places with one another with very little disagreement.

Anything marked with an asterisk has additional comments below, assuming you're reading the blog and not just the list.

1. Dark Souls

While I have not finished it, it's safe to say that unless something HORRIFICALLY BAD happens in the last 1/3rd or so of Dark Souls, it wins my Game of the Year. *

2. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

As you may expect, the competition between these two was fairly fierce. Skyrim is, in essence, everything one would want out of a new Elder Scrolls game, without most of the stuff that one wouldn't want out of a new Elder Scrolls game. *

3. Deus Ex: Human Revolution

The gunplay may be mediocre, the stealth may be somewhat artificial, but Deus Ex Human Revolution represents a rather logical progression to update the first game into the modern era, without sacrificing what made it good (i.e. The ability to approach any given situation how you would like.) As someone who has played all 3 games in the series this year, this is easily my favorite. Loses points for having perhaps the singular worst Boss Fights this side of Alpha Protocol.

4. Portal 2

Portal 2, while not some sort of messianic title you people seem to claim it is, is (once again, like practically everything else on this list) more of the previous game, but done better. Indeed, this game is as high as it is thanks to Cave Johnson and Cave Johnson alone, who is by far the best new character this year. Now let's do some science!

5. The King of Fighters XIII

I like Fighting games. King of Fighters is a good fighting game. Less crazy than Marvel vs Capcom 3(or indeed, Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3), more sophisticated than MK, it is different enough from Street Fighter to be interesting but close enough to be comprehensible.

6. Bastion

Bastion earns its place, even disregarding my love of anything Greg Kasavin related, for being the kind of game that surprises one how good it actually is *

7. Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective

It took these forums to remind me that Ghost Trick did come out this year. Other than perhaps having too much melodrama for my tastes, Ghost Trick succeeds at being both a puzzle game and having a totally crazy story in the vein that you would expect from the Phoenix Wright team.

8. Dragon Age II

No. This is not a dream. Yes. This is on my list. I'm sorry. *

9. Frozen Synapse

Because everyone needs a Dark Horse pick, this one will be mine. Even when I'm not being TOTALLY AND UTTERLY DESTROYED by British people (because the UK servers are the only ones with life in them), I still totally enjoy Frozen Synapse's unique brand of asynchronous Turn Based Strategy. If anyone wants to play, I'd be down.

10. Might & Magic Heroes VI

Ehhhhh.... Just read below *

And now... explanations and special mentions for games that didn't make it on the list:

My 2011 Game of the Year: Dark Souls

It's only been a week since I posted my impressions blog, but yes, this beat Skyrim. Dark Souls is the kind of game that rewards caution when it isn't constantly smacking you across the face. I can't tell you if From Software is genius or batshit insane for making a game where, clearly, everything is the way it is on purpose, but I'm ok with that. The measured feel of the combat, the surprisingly consistent difficulty curve, and the totally bonkers multiplayer all come together to make something that is more enjoyable than frustrating... even if its still hella frustrating. As I said though, have yet to finish it all the way through (because its hard and I can only take so much at any given time). My opinion may change, but I doubt it at this point.

Oh yeah. If someone came up with a theory that this game is a commentary on repetition and failure in the human existence, I'd totally believe them.

My not-2011 Game of the Year: Skyrim

In essence, Skyrim is everything I wanted it to be. A progression from Bethesda's previous works, taking what worked and tossing what didn't, it is at least a few steps above Oblivion and Fallout 3 mechanically, if not structurally. However, since nitpicking things people really like is the cool thing to do, I might as well mention that it doesn't peak as high as Oblivion in terms of quest design. Certainly, the Daedric Shrine quests are all some variation of amazing, but the questlines themselves are noticeably shorter and filled with more procedurally generated stuff than the previous title. There are like what, 3, Dark Brotherhood missions that aren't the generic "Kill dude here" stuff? Then there's my problems with the difficulty, and how remarkably easy the game gets once your stealth is high enough, even on Master. These are just small things though, and don't really detract from how amazing and impressive this game is.

Best Downloadable Title: Bastion

If there wasn't a narrator, Bastion would still be a very good character action game type thing with an isometeric perspective and a great visual aesthetic. What brings it up however, is the inclusion of the Narrator, who's very pronounced style of speaking and narration actually contributes to a story that, above all else, surprised me with how much I cared by the end, not to mention that ending, which actually caused me to agonize over which choice to make. I look forward to seeing what Supergiant puts out next for sure.

Most Apologetically Present Game: Dragon Age II: Dragon Harder

It must say something about me and my tastes that I'm willing to put my least favorite Bioware game (that I've played mind you. No Sonic RPG here) since Jade Empire on this list, even if I still don't like Jade Empire more. But whereas the internet was on Bioware's side back in 2005, it isn't here. Dragon Age II is the sequel to my favorite game of 2009, a game that I straight up consider to be Bioware's best work since Baldur's Gate 2. But whereas Origins will likely be remembered as a classic, DA2 will likely be remembered as a disappointment, rightfully so.

Then why the fuck is this even on this list, if I still admit to it being a screw up on most levels? Because I still like the parts where it isn't a screw up, perhaps more than I should. I consider most of the supporting cast in DA2 to be some of Bioware's best, and they do a good job of making them interact with the world, your current situation, and each other. I also find the combat to be just as good, even if it is more blatantly MMO-ish in its structure and enjoys making the combat hard by throwing waves of reinforcements at you rather than making the initial wave super challenging. Those aside, the main story is a trainwreck. Not because of the presence of Hawke, something that I have no problem with, but more the way it doesn't exist for the first 15 hours, then gets crazy, then gets incredibly, utterly, entirely stupid and not in a FFX2 way of something I can get behind. I feel like I could go on and on discussing the faults, but I'll suffice to say: This game is on my list and I like it more than I probably should. Sorry internet.

Most personally conflicting game: Might and Magic Heroes VI

Like Dragon Age II, I probably like Heroes VI more than I should. It has a lot of interesting ideas that shake up the game in some major ways, and they work quite well for the most part, but I'm not sure if they actually make the game more fun or not. After writing that Heroes VI blog, I went back to the previous games, namely III and V, and realized that yep, they're probably more fun. That's not to say that this game doesn't still have its chance. Mind you, Heroes V didn't become great until its second expansion, so I'm hoping that something like that happens here. Maybe they can fix the AI while they're at it too.

Stuff that didn't make it on the list, but is still worth mentioning

Game number 11: Mortal Kombat

After deciding that I really did like Frozen Synapse that much, MK had to be axed, unfortunately. It deserves its kudos for being the only fighting game with a single player worth playing for reasons other than "unlocking everyone", having something resembling an interesting story that is miles ahead of the crazy nonsense stuff like King of Fighters or Blazblue seem to vomit out on regular occasion. It's not art, by any means, but it's still better than most video game stories, which is sad in a way. Where it falls apart is the actual fighting, which I find perhaps a little too stiff for my liking, but I guess its still enjoyable overall. As a bit of a sidenote, I bought this game to distract myself from a rather malicious rejection that I had suffered from a girl I liked at the time. It worked. Mortal Kombat > Female Companionship?

Most inoffensively bland game: Divinity 2 The Dragon Knight Saga

Divinity 2 has its heart in the right place. It wants to be an epic adventure of epic proportions. It just lacks the budget, the talent, and the design to get it there. What you get instead is something that feels rather Singleplayer MMOish in its quest design, with skills that don't really feel any more powerful when you put points into them and enemies that always seem to be a little stronger than they should be, not to mention somehow making being a dragon the least exciting part. It also tries very hard to be funny on occasion (it isn't), and tries to convey a story that the player might ostensibly care about (nope). Personally, I'd rather play its poorly named predecessor: Divine Divinity instead. Or maybe Two Worlds 2. I didn't play enough to make any sort of serious judgement, but it seemed better than this from what I played of it.

Most Minecraft-like game to not actually be Minecraft: Terraria

I have no real interest in playing Minecraft. I'm sorry. If I wanted to play with Legos, I would go back home and get out the tupperware bin containing all of them. That being said, Terraria offered a similar experience for a lower price, in addition to being slightly more game-y. Still, I had my fill after about a week, so I'm totally cool with never playing it again.

Best game to be like a game that is on my other GOTY list, but is less deserving and therefore not on this one: Mount and Blade With Fire and Sword

When I eventually release my other GOTY list to the public (Best of 2011 that didn't come out in 2011), Mount and Blade Warband will probably be on it. But, being the fool that I was I bought the entire series even though they're literally all the exact same game. What makes With Fire and Sword worse than Warband however, is the inclusion of muskets. Muskets suck all the way, both from a giving and receiving end and manage to make the otherwise chaotically enjoyable multiplayer significantly less fun when you are being one-shotted by some german dude halfway across the map, not to mention the singleplayer where a single lucky shot to you can ruin the entire battle. Still fun, and probably would be on this list otherwise if it were not for the presence of a superior title that already exists.

Most Pokemon-ass Pokemon Game: Pokemon Black and White

You people. You people. How can you justify this game? I had my fill after around 5 hours, because apparently that's all I can take without the nostalgia of Gold and Silver keeping my interest. I'm not interested in any of the metagame shit, because I'm not crazy and because I apparently am not on a college campus where people are way into pokemon for semi-ironic reasons. Without that, all I find is a game that is disgustingly similar to previous games. Very little, if none at all effort has been made to streamline or otherwise mix up the mechanics from the structure established 17 years ago (because Japan got Red and Green in 1995). I'm totally cool with Skyward Sword being another Zelda game (if only because the general consensus is that its better than Twilight Princess), and may even ask for it for chirstmas. But these games? Nuh uh. No. Why. Why do you do these things.

Oh yeah. 5 Internet Dollars this is the paragraph I get the most crap for. Not the Dragon Age II one

That's it for now. I guess. You can expect my other list next week, when I am done with finals and am heading home for the holidays. Until then.. bye?

Edited by mylifeforAiur

Oh, man, way to sell Stephen Merchant's ebullient performance short. :I

Edit: I approve of the Dragon Age 2 placement! Isabela is probably my favourite character of this year.

Posted by ArbitraryWater

@mylifeforAiur said:

Oh, man, way to sell Stephen Merchant's ebullient performance short. :I

Aw shit. I knew I forgot something in regards to that game. Wheatley is the second best thing about Portal 2. You heard it here... 500,000,000th.

Posted by mylifeforAiur

Also, I kind of liked the breezy nature of Dragon Age 2's first couple of acts. I thought that it presented a nice juxtaposition from the previous game's oppressive and consistent narrative. I also prefer Dragon Age 2's implementation of the 'Gift System'; in Origins it so exploitative and gimmicky. I mean, I would end up giving a character a bunch of gifts just so I could sleep with them; it didn't really feel like I was getting to know the character in a meaningful way. But, I should say, I certainly don't feel that Dragon Age 2 is perfect--far from it... I'll stop clogging up your topic now. ;)

Posted by TerraMantis

@ArbitraryWater said:

Oh yeah. 5 Internet Dollars this is the paragraph I get the most crap for. Not the Dragon Age II one

I'll take that bet. I think your list is pretty good and i actually like what you say about the stuff that "shouldn't" be on there. That being said, the only thing i can think when i look at the list is...you didn't play Witcher 2? Com'on meow.

Edited by Cornman89

I wish I understood Dark Souls enough to enjoy it, but from what I've seen during GB's copious video coverage, it at least seems deserving of the accolades. Skyrim is also, you may have heard, pretty good.

DA2 might show up on my list, too (if I was the kind of person who made lists). Which is more of a reflection of the number of games I played this year than anything else.

Posted by ArbitraryWater

@TerraMantis said:

@ArbitraryWater said:

Oh yeah. 5 Internet Dollars this is the paragraph I get the most crap for. Not the Dragon Age II one

I'll take that bet. I think your list is pretty good and i actually like what you say about the stuff that "shouldn't" be on there. That being said, the only thing i can think when i look at the list is...you didn't play Witcher 2? Com'on meow.

I have the Witcher 1 installed on my computer and have been meaning to play it for a while. Obviously, I can't play The Witcher 2 without playing the first one. I need to collect all the porno trading cards after all.

Posted by Skald

If and when I make a Game of the Year list, I think I'll put Dragon Age II on it. Sure, it might not be the best Bioware game, but I felt involved in the story, (until it went waaaaaaaay off the rails, even for a fantasy game) and the fighting was well presented and fun.

Posted by TerraMantis

@ArbitraryWater said:

I have the Witcher 1 installed on my computer and have been meaning to play it for a while. Obviously, I can't play The Witcher 2 without playing the first one. I need to collect all the porno trading cards after all.

That goes without saying. I thought it was funny that CD Projectk (or Atari) edited those cards for the US audience. Guess it was too taboo for us. Strategically placed dangling hair or the ever-blockading cover of a blanket seemed to keep everything just out of eye's sight. Thank goodness too, for a minute there my mind almost got tainted by those dirty thinking pollocks. I mean...what's more risque than a tarot card with a nude nymph with a boob-job? Only gnomes and soldering irons come to mind.

Posted by MormonWarrior

I am finding myself at a complete loss this year...it's the first year since 2007 (I made a list for each of them...check them out!) that I will be unable to make a top 10. I've played that many games from this year, to be sure, but...I haven't found 10 games I really like.

  • Dark Souls is intriguing. I got it from Red Box and played for a while. I think I just got to the sewer depths place is. I'll pick that game up when it's cheaper.
  • Skyrim is cool so far. Just got it today (yesterday?) and put a few hours into it. I'm liking it a lot more than Oblivion (not hard...I hated Oblivion)
  • Dude, I'm totally with you...Pokémon ain't good anymore. I actually enjoy going back to Red/Blue or Gold/Silver more than playing the new ones.
  • Not interested in the slightest in Dragon Age, King of Fighters, Might & Magic, Frozen Synapse...
  • Portal 2 is way awesome. And that means a lot from me since I hate Valve's games almost universally.
  • I haven't played Deus Ex yet. It's cheap enough, I just have a lot of games to play.
  • I'm going to try Saints Row the Third from Red Box as well. If it's as amazing as the GB crew says...
  • Bastion may as well be "The only downloadable game worth playing this year." It's been a really sucky year for PSN/XBLA.
  • I don't have a DS anymore and can't play Ghost Trick. That's BARELY 2011 too, but whatever.
  • Uncharted 3, Dead Space 2, and Batman: Arkham City were all passable, kinda disappointing sequels for me.
  • Decided LA Noire is not for me (too much language, nude corpses, creepy Rockstar stuff)
  • Ditto for Mortal Kombat (the old ones were goofy and fake looking, this one's disgusting and gross)

So my list may very well be:

  • Portal 2
  • Skyrim
  • The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
  • Gears of War 3
  • Bastion? I guess? I liked it but wasn't totally thrilled by it.
Edited by Ghostiet

More Cave Johnson love here? Good work, blog.


Still, no Witcher 2 love. Disappointing.

Posted by Tordah

As I'm eternally stuck in the past when it comes to gaming I can't comment on my personal experiences for any of these games except for Frozen Synapse, but it seems like a pretty good list. It was a good read, at least!

I'm sure Skyrim and Deux Ex would be pretty high up on my list as well had I played them. Will do so in the future.

Posted by MooseyMcMan

An interesting read.

Moderator Online
Posted by Praxis

It's too bad that fear of internet rage is so great that anyone who admits to enjoying Dragon Age II feels as though they must apologize for it in the same breath, though after the flogging Egge received for his Witcher 2 / Dragon Age II blog, I suppose I can't blame you.

Posted by Guided_By_Tigers

I would have liked to see more arbitrary picks.

Posted by Video_Game_King

Shit. I still have to get to work on my GOTY list. (I already know what it is; I just have to write it.) Oh, and I approve of Portal 2 being on there. I'd approve of Frozen Synapse, but technical issues have prevented from getting that game to work.

Posted by ArbitraryWater

@Ghostiet: As I've said, The Witcher 2 seems like it is right up my alley. I just need to finish the first game first. I've played an hour or so and it seems alright so far.

@MormonWarrior: That seems like a solid enough list. You're probably good skipping out on L.A. Noire, if only because it's the kind of experience that can be translated into "Let's Play" form with very little lost. Watched a friend play a good chunk of it, but never played it myself which is why it hasn't weeded its way onto the list. If you have a problem with significant amounts of foul language though, I think Saints' Row has that. In spades. Just a heads up.

@Tordah: That was pretty much me last year. My 2010 list had a lot of downloadable stuff and games I borrowed from friends, rather than actually bought. You have Frozen Synapse though? We should totally play that, even if I haven't seriously touched the game in months and am probably terrible.

@Unknown_Pleasures said:

I would have liked to see more arbitrary picks.

The thing is, my regular GOTY list is always full of way more mainstream picks than my tastes would suggest. Heroes VI and Frozen Synapse are perhaps the two least known games on this list and even then they aren't that unknown. I almost guarantee you that my "Best of 2011 that didn't come out in 2011" listblog will be full of way more obscure stuff and probably have entire paragraphs devoted to how awesome Temple of Elemental Evil is (slight exaggeration. I've already had Mento and Video_Game_King do the work for me on that end).

Posted by amir90

I approve this list.

My biggest problem when picking GOTY, is that I haven't played them all yet, so it is kinda impossible for me to say for certain which is truly the best 11 game for me.

Posted by Elyk247

I don't know about Dragon Age II, but to each his own.

Posted by jakob187

Can't complain about that list one bit. Good set of games with good justification.

Posted by Tordah

@ArbitraryWater: Yes, I have Frozen Synapse (on Steam). I'm probably way terrible at it too since I've only played it for about an hour, but I'd be willing to give it a shot.

Posted by Hailinel

Great list, with great reasoning. Though I still think you should write more on KOFXIII if only to send that certain segment of the fighting game community into an utter tizzy.

Posted by ArbitraryWater

@Hailinel said:

Great list, with great reasoning. Though I still think you should write more on KOFXIII if only to send that certain segment of the fighting game community into an utter tizzy.

Don't you remember the last time I tried to speak about fighting games authoritatively? Nuh uh. Speaking about specifics in that particular genre is as good as asking for a death warrant. I mean, I could talk about how I like playing as Ash Crimson because he's like Guile but an effeminate frenchman with more zoning options and better supers (Interestingly enough, same goes for Remy in SFIII), but I'd probably be told very angrily that I have no idea what the fuck I am talking about and should just go back to Smash Bros like the scrub I am.

@CrazyManAndy: No, Portal 2 has a very, very gentle difficulty curve. I finished it in like 7 hours, and can recall only really having trouble with some of the later puzzles in the 3rd act. I seem to recall the first game stumping me a bit more, but neither one is extremely hard.

Posted by Doctorchimp

@ArbitraryWater: The last third of the game actually kind of ruined Dark Souls.

I thought the levels after the lordvessel were really terrible. But hey man it's still a great game, and if you didn't play Demon's Souls I can see why it made such an impression.

Posted by Hailinel

@ArbitraryWater said:

@Hailinel said:

Great list, with great reasoning. Though I still think you should write more on KOFXIII if only to send that certain segment of the fighting game community into an utter tizzy.

Don't you remember the last time I tried to speak about fighting games authoritatively? Nuh uh. Speaking about specifics in that particular genre is as good as asking for a death warrant. I mean, I could talk about how I like playing as Ash Crimson because he's like Guile but an effeminate frenchman with more zoning options and better supers (Interestingly enough, same goes for Remy in SFIII), but I'd probably be told very angrily that I have no idea what the fuck I am talking about and should just go back to Smash Bros like the scrub I am.

I got similar shit for writing about fighting games earlier this year, but frankly, I was writing my opinion, so if some self-proclaimed expert of the genre wants to come in and chime about how wrong I am, he's free to do so, but otherwise, it doesn't bother me because I'm not the one blowing a gasket.

Posted by GreggD

@Praxis said:

It's too bad that fear of internet rage is so great that anyone who admits to enjoying Dragon Age II feels as though they must apologize for it in the same breath, though after the flogging Egge received for his Witcher 2 / Dragon Age II blog, I suppose I can't blame you.

Yeah, the response to that blog was completely uncalled for. Bunch of bloody savages around here.

Posted by Claude

I read this from Greg Kasavin and thought of all the Dark Souls fans.
 


GregK
Skyrim was my vacation from Dark Souls. Now that I've finished Skyrim's main quest and the Dark Souls is patch out, I'll be heading home.
2 weeks, 3 days ago via Twitter
Posted by Sparky_Buzzsaw

That's a solid list, Arbitrary. Good explanations and choices all around.

Moderator
Posted by Tennmuerti

I am no longer your friend.

...

...

...

naaaaaaaah

I'd stick a dagger in your back for DA2, but having played through it 3 times myself with the different chars, it would be hypocritical to do so. But I don't have to like it DAMIT ><

Posted by BoG

Those seem like some very arbitrary choices. 
... 
*ahem* 
Well, sadly, the only game on your list that I've been able to play is Skyrim, which I've really enjoyed. I've been seriously considering purchasing Ghost Trick, Bastion, and Dark Souls, though. I've heard so much praise for Dark Souls that it seems crazy not to have it on my Christmas list. 
As for Pokemon, I have to agree that it is losing its charm. I still have a number of friends who I battle with, but I burned out long before any of them did this time around. That isn't to say I didn't play the game more than I should have, I think I stopped playing with an overpowered team just before the Elite Four, and with 40 hours of play time. I had fund for those 40 hours, but when Pokemon Neon and Pokemon Bland come out, I may have to pass.

Posted by ArbitraryWater

@Tennmuerti: See? You've actually played more of that blasted game than I have. I can only confess to only one playthrough, and one playthrough it will probably remain. Anything I'd want to see can be seen through the use of youtube. I think you'll probably like my "Best of 2011 that didn't come out in 2011" list more, even though the current draft only has like two old school RPGs, oddly enough when you compare it to last year.

Also, for some weird reason I haven't actually been following you this entire time. Weird.

@BoG: Congratulations. You are like the 5th person to make that pun. Though, at least it wasn't a condescending one at my expense. That has been done too.

Posted by TehFlan

I'm just gonna say that I thought Black and White had a pretty slow start, but are ultimately the best Pokemon games that have been made, nostalgia be damned.

Posted by jakob187

@Claude said:

I read this from Greg Kasavin and thought of all the Dark Souls fans.

GregK
Skyrim was my vacation from Dark Souls. Now that I've finished Skyrim's main quest and the Dark Souls is patch out, I'll be heading home.
2 weeks, 3 days ago via Twitter

L O FUCKING L!

Posted by MordeaniisChaos

God damnit, thought this was going to be "Best Water of 2011" which had me all interested.

Posted by ArbitraryWater

@MordeaniisChaos:

Best Water: Probably Vitamin Water

Of all the water based beverages I have consumed this year, I'd like to think that Vitamin Water is the one I have to feel the least guilt about. It's not boring like regular water, and it's easily available in the vending machine on the first floor of my dorm. Plus, I understand that 50 Cent is way into it, which obviously means I am as well.

Posted by MordeaniisChaos

@ArbitraryWater: I meant water in video games >:(

Posted by MormonWarrior

@ArbitraryWater said:

@MormonWarrior: If you have a problem with significant amounts of foul language though, I think Saints' Row has that. In spades. Just a heads up.

I looked into it a bit further and I agree: SR3 is not for me...it's too crude in general. I like the craziness and all that but it's not right for me. Thanks for the heads up one way or another!

Posted by jkuc316

Like your description of KOF XIII

Posted by evilCON

I wish this were middle ages and I could hound inquisition on you for mentioning Heroes VI in a list titled "Best of 2011". Then again, I only played demo.

Posted by ArbitraryWater

@evilCON said:

I wish this were middle ages and I could hound inquisition on you for mentioning Heroes VI in a list titled "Best of 2011". Then again, I only played demo.

Well this is a random necropost of a blog I wrote a few months ago. Uhhhhh.... Heroes VI is an ok game as far as I am concerned. It at the very least bothers to try something different, and while it doesn't all pan out I still had fun with it. The Demo is not a great representation of what makes the game good, and basically I would imagine that it is best played with other people instead of the rather predictable AI. It's no Heroes III or even Heroes V for that matter, but I still think it holds up on its own well enough