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Best of 2011

Yes ladies and gentlemen, it's that most wonderful time of year. It's time for my third annual Top 10 games of the year. I write this just as we dawn upon a new year; 2012. 2011, in many ways, produced a smattering of great games. While some sequels may have missed the mark laid down by their predecessors, the list of games I enjoyed this year is much tighter than that of 2010. It was a tough decision to figure out my game of the year. Since I have started writing game of the year lists on Giant Bomb, never has there been such a tight margin for first place than this year. But now, once and for all, the world may now know what MjHealy's top 10 games of 2011 are. Contain your excitement.

Honourable Mentions: Bastion and Driver. Bastion hit me at the wrong place at the wrong time, when I began to experience marginal returns for my games. It's is a great, well-built game but it didn't light the fire in me as in other people. Driver deserves a nod as it's great. YOLO

List items

  • By the thinnest of thinnest margin that Portal 2 is my Game of 2011. No other game left such a lasting impression on me. The proof is in the pudding; that writing. Cave Johnson, Wheatley, SPACE!... man do I love me some Portal 2. Not only is the story good enough to challenge the original Portal but the gameplay and new mechanics give a fresh twist to the established Portal formula. Just thinking about Portal 2 makes me feel warm and makes me remember why I love Valve so much. Portal 2, expectations were met.

  • It says a lot when I say that Saints Row: The Third is something I love. I didn't like Saints Row 2, I couldn't get into it. However, everything clicked in this third instalment. Not only has the shooting improved and the missions are exciting to play, Saints Row 3 is absolutely insane. Like seriously, Volition are geniuses for creating such a video game. It's not just toilet humour that makes me giggle at the Third Street Saints but it's that certain smartness to this game's humour that games me. From text adventures to Burt Reynolds to Sublime sing-a-longs and beyond, Saints Row: The Third is an achievement in stupidity. By sheer luck by a combination of things, Saints Row misses out on first and stays away from third. Tickle me excited pink for a Saints Row: The Fourth.

  • It is a bit of a jump from number 4 to the top three of this list. Any of my top three games of the year could have taken home the prize. It says so much about my top two games of the year that they managed to unseat Skyrim from the summit. I was so excited for Skyrim and my expectations were easily met. Bethesda has taken the proven formula from Oblivion and twists it to create a master-class in open world gaming. That unparalled sense of exploration and discovery is what puts it beyond Saints Row. I could keep talking about Bethesda's latest with innumerable superlatives but we all know it; it's pretty great. In the three decades of Elder Scrolls games, Bethesda has finally crafted their ideal creation. Warts and all, Skyrim is pound-for-pound the best game to be released in the 12 months of 2011.

  • Anything surprise package hiding high up on this list. I never played the supposedly amazing original Deus Ex but I can certainly tell you that Human Revolution is a terrific game. It was a great break from other action games of our day. None only does Deus Ex encourage stealth but I dedicated myself to it. Why, because it just a fun ol' time. Not only that but Human Revolution crafts such a well-realised and gritty cyberpunk world, It gave me a taste of a Blade Runner game made in 2011. It easily rests high on my list, boss fights be damned.

  • Playing as Batman is great fucking fun. The combat system that Rocksteady has crafted in this series is just so fluid and exciting; making it a suprise to me that no one has really copied the formula. While abandoning the more personal nature of Arkham Asylum, Arkham City still is a bleak yet exciting place to roam as the Dark Knight. Overall, Arkham Ciry is a great excerise in just how beating dudes up as Batman is a crazy-fun time.

  • It's been a long time since I last played Rayman. I love me some original PS1 Rayman and this really scratched that itch. Gorgeous, tight and delightful. Wunderbar.

  • Any game that has to follow up a game like Uncharted 2 has a tough job ahead. Uncharted 3 gets close to number two, not quite giving me as good a ride but still a fun romp regardless. It may have frustrated me quite a bit at times (the end of that boat sequence... Jesus) but barring that, Uncharted 3 is still one of the most cinematic gaming experiences that money can buy.

  • Although L.A. Noire grabbed the coveted #8 place on my list, that actually shows my disappointment with it. What started off as an incredible foray into the a film noir world ended up with me realising how simple the gameplay mechanics actually were (along with how dumb the ending was). Nevertheless, L.A. Noire is an impressive feat in video games. It ground-breaking facial technology is a tremendous achievement. I cannot deny that I was truly smitten with Team Bondi's first and last project for quite some time.

  • Hey guess what, Skyward Sword is a Zelda game. And that's A-OK with me. Although, yes, it returns to the time-worn Zelda well, it still is a great one of those games. Don't get me wrong, there are still plenty of great new ideas in Nintendo's latest to make this newest entry in the franchise a cut above Twilight Princess and a memorable experience in the legacy of Zelda.

  • Darling indie game, huh? Seriously this game sounds fantastic and is seriously creepy. It also made me realise that Jim Guthrie is king.