GOTY 2011

Best games of 2011

List items

  • PC - The sense of exploration and discovery that Skyrim brings to the table hits the exact parts of my brain. Plopping down into a random part of the map and seeing a dozen or so black points of interest all around me. Knowing that a bunch will probably have some kind of quest associated to it. Knowing that mostly all of it is optional.

    Stuff like that is why Skyrim sits at the top of my list. I mentioned the battle between SR3 and Skyrim. I mentioned how Saints Row 3 had some low points that where overcast by the highs. In Skyrim I don't really think there are necessarily any low points. I really never said to myself "This is boring" or "This is bad". I consistently found that everytime I went somewhere, or found something and was engaged in some form of content - the content was worth experiencing. Was it always completely memorable? Nah. But I always felt I gained something from experiencing it, be it a piece of world-building fiction. Or a piece of loot.

    Skyrim makes you feel like you're an adventurer. To me that is the most enjoyable feeling a game can give me and - as of yet - nothing beyond Skyrim has delivered it to this degree. And to this degree of volume. I've sunk 90 hours into it, I've seen most of the major dungeons. I've completed the main quest line and been to all the cities. I've finished or nearly finished all the major faction quests. However I still have no touched the civil war quest line. I'm sure there are some locations I haven't found as well. It's that kind of density and volume that make Skyrim the king. No other game delivers this volume and volume at such a consistent quality.

  • PC - I should really play Saints Row 3? I was shocked. I was floored. From the moment I jumped out of the back of a plane only to dive back in (through the cockpit) then pop out the back again - this game had it's claws in me.

    SR3 vs. Skyrim is the literal argument over shorter games with incredibly high peaks vs. much longer games with much more consistent but not as high peaks. There sure as shit some sections of this game I didn't like but the things that stick out are moments like - jumping out of a helicopter and parachuting onto a penthouse while "Power" plays. Listening to my character and Pierce sign the Sublime song to it's completion. Fuckin' Zombies showing up and my character echoing and entire gaming community in the face of more zombies by saying "Fuck my life". The entire Deckers Die mission inside the Tron Matrix. Some of the best on-the-point wrestling references I've ever heard in video games. GANSTAS IN SPACE.

    These moments cast a giant shadow on any blemishes. This is literally the biggest shock of 2011. What interests me most is... can they really follow up on this?

  • PC - This is somewhat childish of me. But this game is Batman as fuck. There has been a lot of debate out in the ether as to if this game is better than Arkham Asylum. Where do I side? I think Arkham City is overall a better game. It makes being Batman much more badass. It has a better storyline with a much better cast of characters. (Mr. Freeze, Penguin, Ra's Al Ghul, Two-Face vs. Killer Croc, Poison Ivy, Bane, Scarecrow). I had a lot more fun moving around the open city vs. walking between segmented zones with load screens. Batclaw + Glide + Divebombing is extremely fun. I also felt the combat and predator situations where better crafted. I really like Batman and not many games make you feel as cool as Batman is. This game does.

  • PC - First and foremost, this game looks fucking crazy. Graphically they pull out literally all the stops. There's texture work going on here that make me want to weep.

    Witcher 2 is a game that commits to it's gameworld unlike many others. The depth and attention to detail in the games locations are so impressive to me. When you enter the riverside town you truly feel you're there. Everything has a real wet damp feel to it, and feels lived in. Then there's the encroaching forest outside is literally the best I've seen in a game to date.

    Design wise- Witcher 2 is nearly flawless. The quests you pick up are never to the volume or SCOPE as something like Skyrim but they are always specific and interesting with characters who are interesting to listen to. The fact that the entire middle of the game can go two different ways and each branching path is completely different to each other. Each taking you into completely different locations with completely different sets of quests is mind-blowing to me. And the fact that both locations are each as lovingly crafted and packed with interesting quests is equally mind-blowing.

    I really love Witcher 2. The only reason it doesn't sit higher at the top of my list is the last act. Sadly it final stretches of the game don't feel as polished and the content you play doesnt feel as strong as anything before it. It's a single blemish but you spend a good deal of time in it. If only. That being said, I still love The Witcher 2

  • 360 - I couldn't play Demon's Souls. I saw what was there but the game was too difficult and I had to stop. I always felt that if a few key gameplay aspects had been different, I would have continued playing Demon's Souls and loved it.

    Luckily exactly that happened. Dark Souls is what I wanted from Demon's Souls. It's just as difficult but having things like... mid-level checkpoint where I can spawn from changes the entire experience for me. I don't think any other game this year delivers the sort of satisfaction of overcoming adversity Dark Souls does.

  • PC - A lot of people doubted this game could live up to the original. It's VALVE, people. Come on, son. They took a simple idea and created an incredibly funny and rich fiction. Some of the best characters to emerge this year come from this game. The way they integrate story progression into puzzle solving is brilliant.

  • PC - I like games that get me to play their predecessor. Mass Effect 2 got me to play Mass Effect and this game got me to play the original Deus Ex.

    To me, this is the best game to have stealth action since MGS3. A lot of people hated on the simple enemy routines however I relished in them because it harkened back to the days of MGS1, 2 and 3. Scripted AI patterns make the stealth action puzzle so much fun for me. Crouch walking out of a room full of bad-guys while I have (basically) Stealth Camo turned on was very fun. I also found the story and writing to be pretty good.

    Also, Adam Jenssen's coat has flowers on it and that's pretty badass.

  • PC - Taking the "Alien to Aliens" approach paid off her IMO. While I didn't like the setting as much as the original, I felt the story they told worked most of the time and the third person action is top in it's class. They managed to fit a few genuinely scary sections in thankfully as well... (unlike Aliens)

  • PC - Being a Battlefield 2 vet, this game was probably my most highly anticipated releases ever. Dice successfully has made another large scale Battlefield game that stays true to the franchise and would make pappa BF2 proud. Also Battlelog is pretty awesome. HOOAH!

  • PC - I think Dirt 2 is better, but the core racing is still the best in it's genre. Racing on rally tracks in Norway driving a Evo Lancer are some of the fun things I've done this year.