To me, this is the perfect game. The engaging, skill-based combat, drop-dead gorgeous graphics and aesthetics, and catchy, emotional music, which all work together to bolster a truly moving story, makes this the top choice of 2011. If any game can tell a story that not only makes me shed a literal tear, but it also draws me back in for multiple playthroughs, it deserves to be given this No. 1 spot. Great job, Supergiant Games!
This is a game that is only as fun as you make it. For me, I've been a life-long fan of Lego. Using my imagination to build any crazy starship, building, mech, or whatever else that was on my mind is one of my fondest childhood memories. For a game to bring this to life in a blocky, survival-based first-person adventure sandbox hits me right in the nostalgia button in ways most games will never be able to do. Being able to do this with friends as well only sweetens the deal.
3. Sonic Generations
If I had such an award, this would be the biggest SURPRISE of 2011.
Most people have fond memories of Mario, but mine is of Sonic. When I was a kid, I remember playing Sonic 2 on my Genesis over and over again, while watching the goofy "Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog" on TV, and reading the comic book. I haven't played any other Sonic games besides 1, 2, 3, and CD, so for this game to come out almost 20 years later on PC, I was excited to finally be able to play a new Sonic game (I never had a Saturn, Dreamcast, Xbox, Xbox 360, PS3, or Wii).
What I found inside was one of the most engaging, challenging, and exciting platformers I've ever had the privilege of playing. The music, with it's goofy retro charm and catchy beats and melodies, puts a smile on my face from beginning to end. The graphics and effects are vibrant, colorful, and alive. The level design is wild and filled with secrets and alternate paths. If you've been disenfranchised by the last few years' disappointing Sonic games, you owe it to yourself to give this one a try. It's every bit as good as the original ones on Genesis.
Taking inspiration from Minecraft's block-based building, this charming, side-scrolling adventure sandbox surpasses it's big brother in many ways. There's simply more game to it. I sank countless hours into this game exploring it's caves, dungeons, sky islands, deserts, and corrupted lands in search of just one more chest or pot to break.
Usually, when I play games, I will play for a couple hours and then take a break. With this one, I started playing in the morning, and didn't stop until I had it beat almost 8 hours later. The raunchy humor, gorgeous graphics, engaging characters, and satisfying shooting mixed together to make a game I just couldn't put down. It's a shame it didn't sell too well.
6. Alice: Madness Returns
I'm a huge fan of platformers. Combining one of my favorite genres with mind-bending environments, visceral combat, brutal sound effects (THAT HORSE HEAD HAMMER IS FUCKING AWESOME), and nonsensical dialogue makes for an intoxicating combination that I was overjoyed to play. Sure, it was too long and a tad repetitive, but that didn't matter, because I wanted to see everything this game had to offer.
7. Deus Ex: Human Revolution
I never played the original Deus Ex, so I didn't have massive expectations going into this one. Holy hell, was I impressed. The writing, the combat, the music, the environments...very few games can immerse you like this one does. Of course, being able to augment yourself to be able to pick up and throw vending machines doesn't hurt, either.
With it's innovative magic casting system, silly referential humor, and mind-blowingly fun co-op, this game easily surpasses most games I've played this year. Watching TotalBiscuit and the Yogscast play this on their Youtube channel proves how funny this game is, when they literally spend the entire time blowing each other up with A.R.S.E. mines and screaming bloody murder as their character flies off the screen.
9. Serious Sam 3: BFE
On the surface, this game looks like a mindless frag-fest. Don't ever judge a book by it's cover, though. The wild, intense battles with huge waves of enemies requires a lot of quick-thinking to effectively deal with. Easily a Top 10 contender for how god damn fun it is to play. The badass music doesn't hurt, either.
10. Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine
This 10th spot was a tough one. I was torn between Darkspore (which I put 150 hours into), Space Pirates and Zombies, and Crysis 2. This game prevailed, though, because of one thing: YOU FEEL LIKE AN ABSOLUTE BADASS PLAYING AS A SPACE MARINE. Holy hell was the combat satisfying. The guns have a huge punch to them, and oh man that hammer. Not very long, not very deep, but who cares when in the end you're having so much fun.