My Favorite Games of 2011

So I'm at a point where I'm pretty much done with new games for the year. I might pick up Skyward Sword but even if I do I won't finish it before the years out. So I've decided to make a top 10 list, because well, I enjoy writing stuff like this every once in a while.

Now, this is a list of my top 10 favorite games and not a list of the overall top 10 best games. A game can be busted as hell or half finished, but if I really loved it for whatever little reason I'll put it on this list. I don't care if something else is considered technically better.

As a heads up I don't own a PS3, and I haven't played Batman Arkham City, The Witcher 2, MW3, and probably some other notable games I can't think of off the top of my head. I've limited my games to 10 because that seems like the thing to do. You have to stop somewhere.

No Caption Provided

10) Bastion

Most people who love bastion will go on and on about the narrator. While I also liked the narrator it alone wouldn't get this game into my top 10. When it comes down to it the game play is what got Bastion here. While I've heard some people complain that the combat was too simple I really enjoyed it. Every weapon felt very unique and viable for any encounter. This left me constantly going back and forth between weapons and agonizing over what I should be upgrading. It never felt as if one weapon was designed to be better than another. To me this is the mark of a great weapons system in any game that offers this sort of weapon upgrades. Thanks to this the game play felt fun and fresh right up to the end of the game.

No Caption Provided

9) Terraria

In the most basic sense Terraria is a 2D take on Minecraft, but what makes the game stand out from the myriad of Minecraft clones that have now come out is how the amount of effort they took into making it a unique experience of its own. Having a more diverse library of weapons and armor to forge than anything at its time, and unique areas such as the floating islands and underground jungle gave the players great incentive for exploring their personal randomly generated world in the search for new treasures and hidden areas. On top of that features such as bosses, a final dungeon, goblin invasions, and meteor crashes made this feel like more of a traditional game with goals to achieve than the Minecraft of its time did. In the end I enjoy Minecraft a little more than Terraria because I feel the 3D nature of the game makes for a better Lego-esque building game, but Terraria is the one spin-off of the Minecraft phenomenon fans shouldn't miss.

No Caption Provided

8) L.A. Noire

L.A. Noire is not a game for everyone. It's an old school action adventure game with a little bit of grand theft auto mixed in. Those who were looking for this year's Red Dead Redemption were most likely left disappointed by the title. In fact I found the gun battles to be some of the weakest moments in the game. If it wasn't for the fun scripted chase sequences I would say the game might have been better off removing the action elements all together. What really sold me on this game and led to it making my top 10 list was the sense of immersion L.A. Noire cultivates. From the attention to detail in the environment to the excellent voice acting you're drawn into a late 1940's world until the moment you put down the controller. The story takes a bit of a downward turn after you finish the homicide desk, but that doesn't stop the overall experience from being one of my favorite of the year.

No Caption Provided

7) Saints Row the Third

With Saints Row 2 the series began to take its place as the crazy over the top counterpart to Grand Theft Auto's growing serious tone of game. In Saints Row the Third I feel they have secured that roll for the time being. Even the incredibly fun Just Cause 2 doesn't come close to the crazy shit that goes on in this game. There's so many moments I would like to talk about, but the game is still relatively new and it would be terrible to ruin it for anyone looking to pick it up in the future. In the end I'll say this is an very well polished open world game with a similar sort of humor to what one finds in Amped 3, and several missions that will go down as the best open world game missions of all time.

No Caption Provided

6) Rayman Origins

I had never played a Rayman game before this and as such had little expectations for it beyond it looking really pretty. Well I'm a sucker for a pretty game so when it came up in a lightning sale on Amazon at $40 I picked it up immediately. What I ended up with was not only an extremely beautiful 2D game, but an amazing platformer with great levels, fantastic feeling control, and a wonderfully memorable music score. The game even ended up being much longer than I anticipated. When I thought I was almost done I turned out to only be at about the half way point. As far as I'm concerned Rayman Origins is the best platformer to come out to the HD Consoles. It can stand toe to toe with New Super Mario Bros Wii and Donkey Kong Country Returns as one of the best 2D platformers of this generation.

No Caption Provided

5) Dark Souls

When Demon's Souls came out it was one of the few PS3 exclusives I said I definitely wanted to try if it ever came to a platform I owned. Well 2 years later a sequel came out and I found myself apprehensive to buying it. Even though I wanted to try Demon's Souls I ended up really worrying the repeated deaths that is a part of the series would end up with me getting frustrated and hating the game. Well after agonizing about it for a week or two I decided to give it a chance and dive in. Luckily this sort of frustration rarely came up when playing the game. Instead what I got was a constant feeling of doing just a little better than the last time I died, and the desire to keep improving. It's a feeling I haven't really gotten in a game since the heydays of Mega Man, Ghosts'n Goblins, and their like. The only times I truly got frustrated was when I had to face more than one enemy in a boss fight. Nito, I'm looking at you and your little skeleton bastards. This was alleviated somewhat by the ability to summon others but in my experience that worked so infrequently it was better to just go in with an AI companion when available. This is the only game on my list with a definitive end that I have yet to complete, but at 90 hours in I feel I've played long enough to know it deserves a spot on my list. Even if the last few hours end up being bad that can't retract from the good time I've had up to now.

No Caption Provided

4) The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

In ordering my list of the top 10 the hardest choice I had to make was between the four and five spot. I've poured and incredible amount of hours into both games and have thoroughly enjoyed them. In the end I decided to give the four spot to Skyrim over Dark Souls by the slightest of margins. I poured hours and hours into Oblivion and Skyrim is everything that game is only better. I really enjoy the worlds of the Elder Scrolls games more than the Fallout series. I like how full of life everything feels as opposed to the desolate nature of the fallout games. It's this feeling along with the overwhelming nature of the amount of stuff I can do that keeps me coming back to this game. The one thing they did take from Fallout is the idea of a perks system. I really enjoy this a lot more than Oblivion's system. This is a great game world with a great RPG system and a nearly unlimited amount of things to do. I think I might never leave.

No Caption Provided

3) Track Mania 2: Canyon

If you were to make a list of the definitive top 10 games of the year this does not deserve to be on it. However, I love Track Mania so much I can't see not putting it high in my list. Game's like this and the fact that I can't play every major release is why this is a top 10 list of my favorite games of the year and not the best games of the year. I first fell in love with the series around '07 or '08 when I tried the free version of the original game. This is the version you should probably try out if you're interested in the series. My love for this game actually comes from F-Zero. On the N64 F-Zero X became my favorite racing game ever. I loved the crazy tracks and having an insane number of racers on them. Well it had been a long time since F-Zero GX when I first got a Track Mania game, and it filled the empty space the lack of F-Zero had left. The multiplayer filled the exact same love of having a large number of racers on crazy tracks. Only this time there were unlimited tracks. Track Mania 2: Canyon is more of the same but with better graphics and a different car handling system. I actually enjoy the way the canyon car drives more than any in the original game making Track Mania 2: Canyon my favorite of the series. It's a game I'm going to continuously go back to over and over again. I also get a bit of a kick out of being ranked in the top 3 of my state, but with less than 50 people that's not much of an accomplishment.

No Caption Provided

2) Portal 2

It feels weird to have a game this high on my list and not have much to say about it. I could go on about the excellent level design, the humor, or the stellar ending but that's all been said 100 times before. I will say when I play a single player game I normally finish it and never return. I only extremely rarely play through a game twice. I've played through Portal 2 three times. That's how much I love this game and why it's so high on my list.

No Caption Provided

1) Mortal Kombat

Mortal Kombat holds a special place in my heart. It was MK2 that first got me into 2D fighting games (now my favorite genre). When arcades and fighting games in general started to die out the MK team completely reinvented the series to something more casual gamer friendly in the PS2 era of games. I can recognize this as a smart move as it kept the series popular, but as a fighting game fan with a great love for MK this was a sad time. In MK vs DC you could see the beginnings of going back to a more traditional variant of the game and now with the new popularity of fighting games they've swung back in full force and it is good. While not the deepest of fighting games in general MK9 is most likely has the deepest fighting engine in the series history. On top of that Netherealms has done a great job being on top of things with balance patches, even if they came a little too often at first, and even fixing the netcode which is something they never would have done in the past. As much work that has been done to appeal to more hardcore fighting game fans they haven't forgotten their bread and butter, the casual gamer. They've put a lot of effort into things a competitive gamer won't care much about. To this endeavor they've got what is without a doubt the best story mode a traditional fighting game has ever had. I could go on about MK9 forever, but I'll leave it at this is the story mode by which all traditional fighters should be judged from henceforth.


Honorable Mention: Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Deus Ex: Human revolution is a fantastic and addictive stealth action game, but what kept this game from breaking my top 10 is the boss fights. I hated them so much I stopped playing the game on the third one. At this point I don't see myself going back and finishing it. It's really too bad because everything else about the game is absolutely phenomenal.

Most Notable Omission: MineCraft

So in my list I said I liked MineCraft better than Terraria, but Terraria is ranked number 9 and MineCraft isn't in the list at all. MineCraft technically came out this year so it should be there right? Well this is something I thought about for a while. MineCraft may have technically came out this year but I paid for it last year and have been playing it since then. In the end I went with my gut feeling and decided not to count it towards this year's releases. I have no real excuse for this beyond that's what just felt more right to me. The core of what I love MineCraft for, building stuff, hasn't changed that much. If I had made a list last year it probably would have been on it.

2011 Game of the Year not from 2011: Baulder's Gate

My history with PC games goes as such: Apogee games, Doom, some shitty early 3D games, Jedi Knight 2: Jedi Outcast, and then balloons forward after that. As such I completely managed to skip over all the great isometric rpg's of yore. This year I decided to fix this oversight by venturing into the world of I've started with Baulder's Gate. It should be noted that I am using the Tutu mod for Baulder's Gate 2 that plays the entirety of the original along with its expansion in the Baulder's Gate 2 engine as it was recommended to me. So technically I'm playing BG2 with the story of the original. This game has been a slow burn for me but a very enjoyable one. It's certainly making me think a lot more than either of the Dragon Age games did and I appreciate it for that. I'm looking forward to trying more games like this next year.