Best of 2011

Here it is, folks. A list of my favorite games of the year.

List items

  • Saints Row: The Third is such a wonderfully ludicrous game that emphasizes the idea of fun above all else. When it sets out to do something, it never does it half-assed. Every idea this game contains is taken as far as possible, and the madcap atmosphere is backed up by great gameplay that never hampers or distracts. Do you enjoy fun? If the answer is yes, then you should play Saints Row: The Third.

  • Saints Row isn't the only open world game to get high marks on my watch this year. Yakuza 4 is in many ways the polar opposite of Saints Row; where SR is ludicrous, Yakuza 4 is earnest. It tells a fascinating story with a cast of memorable characters. And, like Saints Row, Yakuza 4 offers plenty to see and do outside of the primary storyline, offering up plenty of variety to last its considerable play time. I have to commend Sega on their localization of the game as well. With Yakuza 4, they did good. And while it will undoubtedly be a very different sort of game, I'm very interested in playing Yakuza: Dead Souls when it's released in the U.S. next year.

  • The best entry in the Dynasty Warriors series to date, no question. It rights the missteps taken in Dynasty Warriors 6, offers loads of content, and a new playable faction that allows the full story of Romance of the Three Kingdoms to finally be told through the context of a beat'em up. And the Xtreme Legends expansion only makes things all the better.

  • It took longer than some wanted, but when Super Mario 3D Land hit store shelves, the 3DS finally had a game that could truly show off the hardware's potential. But that's only second to the fact that this is another high quality outing for Mario and company. It mixes ideas from past 2D and 3D Super Mario titles to great effect, making for a game that's perfectly suited to its platform.

  • This remake of the only Persona game previously unavailable in North America offers an interesting story and characters, and the third-person perspective ultimately makes it a much more playable game than the original first-person Persona. Hopefully Atlus sees fit to remake Eternal Punishment in the near future, as well.

  • I was never really a believer in the idea that one's first Mario Kart will inevitably be their favorite. Mario Kart 7 isn't anywhere near my first; no, that would be the original SNES game. But it is the first Mario Kart title I've put significant time into in years, and that has a lot to do with both how fun the game is as well as a well-done online component that makes it easy to jump into races with people around the world.

  • A gorgeous game to look at, El Shaddai is an action game based on biblical sources with a unique look and style all its own. With gameplay simple to get into and fun to play, there's really no reason not to see the beautiful, strange visuals that the game has to offer.

  • Devil Survivor Overclocked may be just a simple update of a game that's only a couple of years old, but despite the lack of 3D, it has enough new options and content to make it well worth my while.

  • I can't stand the number of bugs that this game has, but I need to give praise where it's due. The Companions storyline was amazingly well done with characters I came to care about more than really any other part of Skyrim I've played up to this point. Well done, Bethesda, on that. But next time, make sure the game actually runs properly before releasing it into the wild.