My Games of 2011

It’s not an uncommon occurrence this time of year for gaming blogs and publications such as this to be putting out a “Top x Games of the Year” list for discussion purposes, as well as to put some sort of finality in regards the the year’s games.
Leisure Manifesto is, above all else, another one of those blogs. However, I’ll try to refrain from using a numbered ranking system. All of the following games I played this calender year and I think deserve to be recognized and played.

In no particular order:

Portal 2: It’s well established that Portal 2 is one of the best games of the year with it’s creative gameplay, clever story, and fantastic characters. What makes Portal 2 stand above other sequels to successful games is that it somehow managed to add many new elements to the game and yet stay relatively simple to understand and compelling to continue.
I’ll admit, when I first started reading the various reveals of different things that would be included in the game, I began to wonder if I would like it at all. Valve seemed intent on adding a mind-boggling amount of new puzzle elements, which I could only assume would make the game only that much more difficult.
Somehow, I was wrong. Valve managed to balance all the new interesting ways to solve puzzles and keep roughly the same difficulty level as the first game, and also improving the story with old and new characters. This is one of the few games I can honestly say I have no qualms with.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution: While a new “proper” Deus Ex game is an easy buy for fans of the series, I was not previously one of those fans. I pretty much entirely missed the Deus Ex boat, and when I attempted to play it years after the fact it was simply too confusing and old-fashioned to hold my interest throughout.
But the new entry modernized the series while still keeping a good bit of the same charm. The story was decent enough (to be fair, the story itself wasn’t nearly as interesting as the world in which the story took place) to hold my interest, and the gameplay ranged from entertaining to awesome to frustrating (boss fights).
This game is not without its flaws, as the gunplay can be difficult to a generation of gamers used to FPS mechanics of the modern era and stealth is still stealth (love it or hate it, I mean). Luckily, the art direction and pace of the game outweighs the jarring (but not bad!) gameplay, making this game a definite buy for anyone who likes a good action game that will satisfy their need for well-made entertainment.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim: As a huge Oblivion fan, I was promised a better playing, better looking, and all-around better Oblivion in the newest iteration of the venerable Elder Scrolls franchise, and I’m very happy to say those claims were met with truth.
If you’ve played a Bethesda RPG before, you’ll probably know what you’re in for with this game: huge open world, tons of stuff to do, customizable character, loss of social life, et cetera. While only released in November, I may have already put more time into this game than any other singleplayer game this year. Actually, I just reinstalled my OS on my gaming PC and forgot to backup my save, so it looks like I’ll be doing it all over again. Which is OK, because I’ve had new character in mind for a while anyhow.
Anyway, this is without a doubt the best Bethesda RPG released yet, so if that’s your poison Skyrim does not disappoint.

Team Fortress 2: Hats, hats hats hats hats hats. Hats hats!

Dungeon Defenders: Probably my best use of $15 this year was to purchase this game. Seriously, it looks like a deceptively simple action RPG, but really it’s a deep action RPG/tower defense/co-op funbox. What makes this game stand out above other downloadable action RPG’s is the amount of post-release support and DLC released (and much of it free). There’s also a development kit out there, so you can probably expect new levels, mods, and gametypes from the community (I think. I haven’t fired it up for myself, so I just imagine that’s what it is to be used for).
There’s also a big amount of loot-lust driven late-game grinding if you’re into that, and several PvP gametypes are out in the wild (8v8 capture the flag, anyone?) that I admittedly haven’t even tried as I haven’t had the time to max out any of my ‘toons or complete the numerous challenges.

EVE Online: This game deserves a mention because I spent a lot of time with it this year and will continue to at least until February (I’m pretty sure I’m paid up until then). This game has enthused me, challenged me, and occasionally broken my will.
I have to say, though, it’s a game unlike any other, in as many good ways as bad.

I’m certainly forgetting a bunch of great stuff that will come to me, and if that is the case I’ll probably just edit it in. So, if you’re reading this post far after the fact, you’ll be none the wiser. Internet!