By Sarumarine 24 Comments
Due to limited time and money on my part, I'm not qualified to make any real "best of" list. I've missed plenty of promising looking games in favor of other promising games, so all I really feel comfortable with is handing out some awards for some of the things I thought was pretty great (or terrible) in the year 2011. It should go without saying that this is merely my humble opinion, and your results may vary. You know, video games! So without further adieu...
HEADS UP: There are spoilers for Dead Space 2 and Portal 2, if you're worried about that kind of thing.
Best Evil English Accent Award: Queen Myrrah - Gears of War 3
If you live in the United States, the short hand for villainy is a slick English accent all because the US and England have had some serious beef in the past. This is especially true if an English accent makes zero sense in the context of the video game world it appears in. The clear winner of this year I found was Queen Myrrah from Gears of War 3. As the leader of a vicious underground monster horde, she uses her accent to spit game about genocide, the dominant species, and people named Fenix young and old alike. Her mannerisms get extra mileage in multiplayer where she has plenty of amusing one liners and at least one hilarious laugh that is completely out of character as she vaporizes targets with the Hammer of Dawn.
A round of applause for voice actress Carolyn Seymour. Clearly there is nothing more evil than Killer Underground Monster British.
Runner Ups: Katherine Marlowe - Uncharted 3, Wheatley - Portal 2
Grossest Moment Award: Isaac Clarke's Do-it-Yourself Eye Surgery - Dead Space 2
If you don't know this about me, I don't deal well with eye horror. Sticking anything sharp and metal in the soft tissue used to look at things is enough to make me wretch inside. So it was especially tough to play through Dead Space 2 when the story suddenly demands Isaac jam a long, steel needle into his right eye. This scene gets extra points as a playable sequence where you have to carefully guide the needle into a very unwilling Clarke laying down on a bed. Why is this in the game? Something to do with those crazy Markers. It gets even worse if you fail this part, as the machine goes haywire and tunnels out Isaac's eye socket in gut wrenching fashion.
Runner Up: Stuff with the Night Mother Coffin - Skyrim
Handheld Hat Trick Award (Music, Gameplay, Story): Ghost Trick - Nintendo DS
Ghost Trick is a game that came out of nowhere to kick some ass and lay down some amazing character animation for a quirky puzzle game on the DS. It does what it says on the tin, involving ghosts, tricks, phantoms, and detectives. How that all runs together as the story unfolded threw me for a loop over and over again until I couldn't wait to see how it all played out. To be fair, this is a very "one and done" sort of game with zero replay value except to relive the magic over again. But Sissel, red headed girls, blue skinned hitmen, and Pomeranians make for a compelling mystery about truth and identity. Avert that fate, ghost that trick, and detect those phantoms.
Will Smith and Norm Chan's Stare of Disapproval Award: Okamiden - Nintendo DS
I really can't express how much I hate Okamiden without going overboard or sounding unrealistically mean. It has one of the worst final boss battles I've ever seen (with terrible execution to boot). So instead I'll let Will Smith and Norm Chan of Tested.com express how I really feel deep down inside about this game.
Favorite Franchise with No Release in 2011: Advance Wars
One of my favorite game series, handheld or not, is Advance Wars that first came out on the GBA in 2001. The mostly bright and colorful take on managing armies of tanks, planes, and soldiers had shown me lots of good music and quirky characters. I've taken the lack of news about a new installment after Days of Ruin/Dark Conflict pretty hard and can't help but wonder if we'll ever see another one. It's easy to be a pessimist on this one considering Intelligent Systems also makes the far more popular Fire Emblem series. And I've come to accept the knowledge that if they ever do make another one, I'll probably have to buy a 3DS to enjoy it. Either way, sad to see nothing Advance Wars related this year. The wait continues.
Wishful Thinking/Runners Up: Blast Corps. and F-Zero
The Dead Space Quality Achievement Award: Modern Warfare 3
The Dead Space Quality Achievement Award is given to a game that does nothing new in terms of graphics, gameplay, design or pushing limits... but still manages to be a solid, fun experience anyway- much like when the first Dead Space came out. Modern Warfare 3 has nailed this middle ground as one of the many installments in the Call of Duty series. It's a modern military first person shooter that needs no introduction... but I would be lying if I said I didn't have any fun on the last outing of Captain Price's mustache and other random soldier dudes who keep stumbling into frame. It's big on spectacle as a roller coaster ride with bottomless explosions and all the plot holes you can come to expect. It also has the triumphant return of the AC-130 mission (one of my personal favorites) and the same mulitplayer with a few tweaks here and there. It is what it is.
Whether you hate or tolerate this series, I can take solace in the fact that I'm done with Price and I won't have to care about one of these games unless maybe they come out with Call of Duty: AC-130.
Best Rock Band DLC Song Award: Otherside - Red Hot Chili Peppers
I find it incredible that someone somewhere is still releasing DLC for Rock Band. Week after week, they’re still putting out songs for people to download. One of my favorites this year was Otherside from the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Whether it’s guitar, bass, vocals or drums, this song is an amazing release that I couldn’t wait to get into. Maybe a little low key compared to some of the shred fests... but I love it. I know how tricky taste in music can be, so I don't mean any disrespect to the truck load of other releases in the year.
Runners Up: Edge of Seventeen - Stevie Nicks, Betus Blues (Retro Remix) - dB Soundworks
Awesome Co-op Action Award: Uncharted 3
Uncharted 3’s campaign was solid with some great character moments... but nothing on the level of Among Thieves. I was surprised to enjoy the Co-op campaign much more with it’s crazy, non-canon plot that ends in a gun battle at an airport with most of Uncharted’s major villains. If they had somehow thrown Marlowe and Talbot in there it would have been one of my favorite moments of the year. But along with an arena mode involving various objectives, I’ve had tons of fun jumping, shooting and climbing with two other people in pursuit of body counts... I mean treasure.
Runner Up: Beast Mode - Gears of War 3, Co-op - Portal 2
Most Memorable Set Piece Award: The Tormentor Tumble - Dead Space 2
For the most part, Dead Space 2 did away with boss battles in favor of scripted moments involving rampaging necromorphs. My favorite moment involved a hulking monster known as the Tormentor that shows up while Isaac is trying to deal with a persistent gunship and insane Unitologist people. Shit gets kinda crazy when both of them get sucked out into space and tumble into a gunship for a final scuffle. The motion, soundtrack, and spectacle for this part is awesome as they all spin around in a vacuum until you take the shot. If you fail, the Tormentor re-creates the cover of the original Dead Space with Isaac's body.
Runner Up: The Sinking Cruise Ship - Uncharted 3
Standout Character Award: Cave Johnson - Portal 2
In a game series known for a crazy computer called GlaDOS, it's an achievement to somehow one up her with an even more memorable character in the sequel. The only trace of Aperture Science CEO Cave Johnson in Portal 2 is in the form of old portraits and prerecorded messages as you follow his career in crazy science. But I found myself kinda moved by his final speech he delivers in his failing health due to his relentless drive for progress (or whatever that means to him). J.K. Simmons, as the voice of Cave, did a great job to overcome my mental image of him as J.J. Jameson and the psychiatrist from Law and Order: SVU.
Runners Up: Herschell Biggs - L.A. Noire, Cicero - Skyrim, Charlie Cutter - Uncharted 3
- Favorite Weapon Award: The Digger - Gears of War 3
- Can't Keep a Secret Award: Batman Arkham City
- Good Clean Dumb Fun Award: Renegade Ops
- Unsolved Mysteries Award: Talbot - Uncharted 3
- Coolest Location Award: Greede - White Knight Chronicles 2
And that will do it for the year 2011. I will probably play more games before the year is out, but this topic will make a good representation of some of the fun (and horror) I've seen so far. By the time Christmas rolls around, hopefully I will have my hands on Dark Souls and Fortune Street. I can't wait to get into those.