| || 1. Bastion |
If you told me that my favorite game of 2011 would be the debut game from a developer I probably would have had some reservations. However, that was not the case. Bastion is a fantastic game; Great story, presentation, game play, and most of all, an amazing original soundtrack. Bastion offers this sense of immersion that is hard to describe to anyone who has not played it. The game shares bits and pieces of the universe of Bastion, mostly through some of the greatest video game narration ever seen in a game, while also leaving some things to be inferred by the player. Even with all of the great "AAA" games that game out this year Bastion stayed with me throughout 2011.
| || 2. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim |
My first Elder Scrolls experience was Oblivion. A great game in its own right, but it never latched onto me as it did for many other people. I loved setting out and just exploring the world, but I found most of its content pretty repetitive. This is definitely not the case with Syrim. Syrim was everything that I wanted for a sequel to Oblivion. A vivid world full of character, in depth character customization, and a sense of endless potential. By simply setting out with some objective in mind, whether it be to do a quest, discover a new location, or just wander about the world, you would stumble upon something crazy. I once came across a necromancer dude shooting electricity at a bunny, it was totally awesome.
| || 3. Dark Souls |
I never played Demon's Souls because I don't own a Playstation 3, but when I heard that Dark Souls would be released on the Xbox 360 I was ready for some self-punishment. I went into the game with almost no information, except for the fact that I was going to die...a lot. I'll admit that Dark Souls made me want to toss my Xbox out a window at times, but it only made the completion of a difficult task a rewarding moment. At least until you come across another moment of punishment. The addition of only cooperative play also added a great element of success. The first time some dude joined my game and we defeated a boss was a very cool moment. Say what you will about Dark Souls and its sinister game play, but it is one great game.
| || 4. Terraria |
I never got into the whole Minecraft madness so it was kind of surprising that I loved Terraria so much. What made Terraria so awesome was that, similar to Minecraft, it offered some great ways to create stuff while also feeling more like a video game. Whether it be building crazy fortresses with endless tunnels to "Terraria hell", fighting a crazy boss battle, or having goblins invade your world, Terraria had a great amount of content to be played. Plus the whole 2D presentation was pretty awesome as it added this sense of nostalgia.
| || 5. Star Wars: The Old Republic |
Knights of the Old Republic is probably one of my favorite RPGs of all time. So when Bioware announced that they were making a Star Wars MMO based on this universe, I was sold. There was a lot of doubt and speculation leading up to the release of The Old Republic, but it seems to have all payed off. The Old Republic doesn't do much to revolutionize the MMO formula, but it does make some welcomed innovations, mostly in the form of its use of story. I dabbled in World of Warcraft on and off, but I always ended up hitting this point where the game play and constant level grinding and loot lust just got old. I'm aware that it is far too early to say that this will not happen with The Old Republic, but there is this sense of purpose that other MMOs lack. There is an interesting overarching story that actually gets you involved in the universe through the use of signature Bioware dialogue options in an MMO system.
| || 6. Battlefield 3 |
The Battlefield series has always been one of my favorite multiplayer experiences. Jumping into a game with a group of friends and crashing helicopter full of people into a tank is fucking awesome. Now, I'll admit, Battlefield 3 does little to change the Battlefield mechanics. You still hop in vehicles and blow stuff up, crazy stuff happens, explosions, etc, but if it's not broken, don't fix it.
| || 7. Dead Space 2 |
Dead Space 2 didn't change much from Dead Space, but more Dead Space is always welcomed. The game offered some of the same great, creepy atmosphere that the original Dead Space had and more. Some of the larger environments were a little hit and miss, but it had a different feel than Dead Space. The story was interesting and offered a deeper look into the horrified space future that is the world of Dead Space. Also, dude. That scene with the eye thing...probably one of the most tense moments of 2011. I didn't get into the multiplayer that much it was cool to try out, but nothing special. I'm looking forward to more Dead Space, but I think it will take a more drastic change to keep me engaged.
| || 8. Mortal Kombat |
A Mortal Kombat game in 2011? Yeah, right. What? It has a crazy alternate dimension plot? I'm listening. Oh, and it's actually fucking awesome? Sold. I was kind of skeptic about Mortal Kombat after playing MK vs DCU. I enjoyed that game, but I was getting pretty tired of the 3D fighting environments creeping into Mortal Kombat. Avoiding Sub-Zero's ice beams by sidestepping? No thanks. Mortal Kombat took things back to the series' roots, literally. It basically resets the entire MK universe in a pretty insane way. Aside from having a surprisingly robust and interesting single player section, which is crazy considering this is a fighting game, the game play is fantastic. It's a perfect blend of old school MK mixed with some of the new mechanics that were implemented throughout the PS2 era games. The only thing that really soured my experience was the broken online play. I literally could not play this game online for the first few weeks of its release. In fact I ended up giving up entirely, which is a shame because I was looking to get crazy into fighting other dudes online.
| || 9. L.A. Noire |
L.A. Noire was an odd choice for my game of the year list. I got roughly halfway through the game's story and I just got pretty tired of it. The modernized adventure game mechanics were very cool up until I realized that I can literally get every question wrong in an interrogation and still complete the mission in most cases. There just didn't seem like there was any sort of responsibility for my actions during these sequences. Particularly when Phelps questions a small girl about the death of her mother and I selected the lie option. Well, Phelps screams at this girl and then seconds later everything is back to being polite and normal. Don't get me wrong, it's difficult to develop aspects of game play mechanics that stay grounded in reality, especially with a game so robust with dialogue like L.A. Noire, but it really stood out. That along with the pretty strung together ending really left me wanting more from the game's plot, but it was a great take on what a modern adventure game could be in 2011.
| || 10. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 |
Again, another odd choice for my game of the year list. I loved the hell out of Call of Duty 4. It is definitely up there with one of my most played games of all time, but after that I was pretty burned out on the Call of Duty craze. Sure, I played Modern Warfare 2 and Black Ops, but hardly anything more than getting my feet wet with the online multiplayer. That seems to have changed with Modern Warfare 3. Maybe it was because I took a few years to really get back into the series, but it seems to have been better that way. The campaign was as expected, a bombastic trek jumping from one area of conflict to another, but I enjoyed it. I had this odd investment in the Call of Duty story. Yeah, I know. Crazy. Aside from that the online multiplayer is still the shining star. We've all played Call of Duty so I am not going to spend too much time explaining why it is so great, but some of the class change stuff is really cool and though I will NEVER be as good as most other Call of Duty players, I'll definitely be having a lot of fun with this game in the future.