By takua108 0 Comments
My Top Ten Games of 2011
2011 was a weird year for games. A bunch of good ones came out near the end of the year, sure, but a bunch more were sprinkled throughout the year as well. But that's not to say that it was a bad year for games! It was actually pretty damn good, overall!
Anyways, here's my list for the Top Ten Games of 2011. These are games that I liked the most, and not games that I think are objectively the best or anything, so just know that going in.
I think the biggest bummer this year for me is the lack of indie games that were Top Ten-worthy. Whereas last year I had both LIMBO and Super Meat Boy hanging out alongside Mass Effect 2, Heavy Rain, and other big-budget games (not to mention having Art Style: light trax be my 2010 Game of the Year)... this year, other than Bastion being an obviously fantastic game, there wasn't a ton of indie stuff that really grabbed me. To the Moon is a fine story-told-in-something-resembling-game-mechanics, Terraria is also pretty neat, and yes, Minecraft was in fact released this year, but yeah, nothing else really stuck out this year. Here's to hoping 2012 is a better year for indie games.
|1. Dark Souls|
Yes, Dark Souls is my 2011 Game of the Year. And no, I'm not anywhere near finishing it. I'm giving Dark Souls the top spot because it was unlike anything I've ever played before. Yes, last year's Super Meat Boy was on my Top Ten list, but the two don't even compare; SMB has delicious, fantastic controls and then makes you use them in punishing situations. Dark Souls is something completely different. It forces you to take the game slowly and carefully, because you have absolutely no idea what the hell could be around the next corner when first scouting out a new area. Then you play that area literally dozens of times over and over as you keep dying, and eventually you have the position of every enemy memorized and you just fly through zones with ease. The bosses are similar; they're incredibly fucking hard to beat, and you have to trudge through 2-5 minutes of gameplay just to get back to them from a save point after dying, but man, after killing one, Goddamn it is the greatest feeling of accomplishment I've ever felt in a video game to date. Like I said, I'm nowhere near finishing the game, but I've logged 40 hours in already, and I plan on doing more once I'm in the mood.
When the Bulletstorm demo came out, I played it nonstop for a couple days. I loved the mechanics, the violence, and the idea for striving for a high score by killing as many dudes as possible creatively as possible in as short of a time as possible. I only got around to playing the game late December after it went on sale on Steam, and man, I was blown away by the campaign. They strike a perfect balance between over-the-top "you scared the dick off me" immature violence, profanity, and craziness, AND deconstruction of all of that. The game has a surprisingly solid story, and executes on it fantastically. The gameplay does drag here and there, but overall it's a great experience that had no right to be as good as it did based on its marketing. Oh, and also, Bulletstorm is freaking amazing-looking running at 60FPS on the PC. It's probably the most beautiful-looking game I've seen this year.
|3. Portal 2|
I really don't know what to say here. Portal 2 is obviously a great game, and you already know all of the reasons why. I liked it for all of the reasons you did, and reiterating all of them seems pointless. Portal 2 is a really good game, and playing it co-operatively with my friend, in the same room, our PCs back-to-back was an amazing experience. And yes, the part where you press your left mouse button at the end of the game is easily the most awesome thing to ever be in a video game to date. It wasn't as groundbreaking as Portal, and I think I still like the original better overall, but it's still a stellar game that everyone should play.
Like Portal 2, there's not much I can say about Bastion that hasn't already been said, especially here on Giant Bomb. Bastion is just a great combination of gameplay and atmosphere, straight-up. I really like that it's a video game-ass video game, while still being a fantastic vehicle for great storytelling and showing you amazing art, music, and voice acting. More than anything else on this list, it's just a really good video game, overall. It's what a video game should be.
|5. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim|
I'm really conflicted about how I feel about Skyrim. The world of Skyrim is pretty much second-to-none, in terms of having tons of stuff to do in a gigantic world while still looking great. I'm taking a break from the game as I write this list in order to get other, shorter games finished up, but Skyrim is a great game to go back to again and again to just see more of the seemingly-infinite STUFF in that game. Despite having tons of stuff to do, though, the actual gameplay is still not great. The combat is not, like, actually satisfying to me. The game still has that unmistakable Bethesda Jank to it. I'm not trying to say Skyrim isn't a great game - it is number five on my Top Ten Games of 2011 list, after all - I'm just saying that it's not the best GAME. I had Super Meat Boy on my list last year entirely because of how good it FELT to play. Bethesda made great strides between Oblivion and the Fallout games and Skyrim, and I hope they put some work into improving the actual gameplay in future titles, too.
|6. Saints Row: The Third|
Saints Row: The Third is like a cross between Bulletstorm and Bastion, at least, as far as why I like it. It tops Bulletstorm in terms of over-the-top crazy-ass ridiculousness, and, like Bastion, it is just straight-up fun to play. The gameplay isn't perfect, but it's a joy to play. Holding RB and pressing Y to jump through the windshield of a moving vehicle to jack it is probably my favorite repeated gameplay action of 2011. Also, it has the fantastic thing where, when you press the "dive" button, you do a roll at the end if it's a short enough fall, but if you're diving from too high a place, it turns into a basejumping animation. It's glorious. It's just little touches like that that make Saints Row: The Third a fun game to play. Then you throw the stupid dumb awesome story on top of it, and some of the most genuinely funny moments in a video game that I've ever seen, and you have a game that really shouldn't be as great as it ends up being. I really can't recommend it enough.
|7. L.A. Noire|
Yes, L.A. Noire has a ton of shortcomings when you look at it in hindsight. Yes, the gameplay is incredibly repetitive, and yes, the parts where you shoot like twenty guys in five minutes are incredibly immersion-breaking. But man, when I was playing it at the time, I was having a blast. I opted immediately to play L.A. Noire in black-and-white, a decision I never regretted. The atmosphere and storytelling is fantastic, and the game is really good overall, even if I did think the very end of the game was pretty lame. Maybe I'll replay the game in color at some point, as if it was "Digitally Restored."
|8. Deus Ex: Human Revolution|
As someone who actually kind of liked Deus Ex: Invisible War and is too young to have played the original back in the day (but did eventually play it, years later), Deus Ex: Human Revolution is an amazing evolution of the series' formula. The game has a slick visual style, a great combination of RPG and FPS mechanics, and really incredible world-building. There was a reddit meme early on wherein the player is surprised that there is more than one city in the game; I can say that this was more or less true for me. I knew that there had to be more cities, but after spending several hours just wandering around the first one, doing all the side stuff and finding all the secret areas. I was stupid and played through the game basically as Solid Snake, opting to usually reload a save whenever I was detected, but I still had a blast doing so. The slightly retconny cyberpunk universe they built for the game is amazing, and I had a lot of fun spending time in it.
|9. Battlefield 3|
I'm not much of a competitive multiplayer guy, and when I am in the mood for shooting some dudes over the Internet, I usually just load up TF2. But Battlefield 3 on the PC ended up being an amazing multiplayer experience, and this is coming from a guy who played maybe like fifteen total minutes of Battlefield games in the past. There's not much to say here other than that it looks great, plays great, and is just fun to play. I've grown incredibly tired of Call of Duty's "scan your screen for guys, see a guy, pull the right trigger" gameplay, and this game offers so many more options and so much more craziness that I can't imagine going back to CoD anytime soon (not that I've played CoD multiplayer in about a year). I should also mention that a lot of the fun I had with Battlefield 3 was due to the Giant Bomb community being a generally awesome group of duders to play with. I should probably also mention that I played maybe two hours of the single-player campaign before giving up. It's not great. It looks very very nice, but it's basically a shooting gallery that happens to take place in the Middle East. Not really my thing, but it totally does not detract from the amazing multiplayer in any way.
|10. Sonic Generations|
So Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is my #1 most favorite video game of all time. It is the game that got me into games, and the game that I played more than anything else for the first ten years of my life. Sonic Generations... man. I've played some of the recent 3D Sonic games, and they're not great. I watched a good portion of a Let's Play of Sonic Unleashed, and the daytime levels looked amazing, and the nighttime levels looked like utter garbage. Well, Sonic Generations is those daytime levels, combined with nostalgia from every Sonic game ever. I mean, they have a super dope remix of Super Sonic Racing, for crying out loud. Which reminds me: even though this game plays pretty alright for a 3D Sonic game, I'm really giving it a Top Ten spot because of the music. It's fantastic across the board (except for the Modern remix of Chemical Plant Zone, which I don't care for at all).