Best of 2011.

2011 was a year of disappointing sequels for me. Sure, they were all good and competent, but none of them really stood out - and I think that Batman and Uncharted coming out so close to one another didn't really win either of them any fans - it just became too reminiscent of 2009 - a year where I finished Batman: Arkham Asylum and went on to play Uncharted 2.

So, yeah... worst trend of the year? Sequels. Best trend of the year? Plenty of thought-provoking and fun games!

List items

  • It's true. Deus Ex has issues. Big ones. I won't try to deny them. However, I love this game. The way it manages to set up the story for the old games. The way it gives you so many options in how to finish the game.

    And possibly most important - Deus Ex opened my eyes to prosthetic technology in a way that I had not previously done. It challenged me. No other game this year has done that.

  • Wow. I'll be honest. I'd written Saints Row off - half the reason I decided to play it was coop, and the other reason was the deal I made with a friend. I expected something... more like the Grand Theft Auto games I am *unable* to care about anymore. Maybe 2nd place is undeserved(?) - but no other game has made me howl and snort with laughter this year, which is enough for me to raise it to the skies. Amazing job, Volition. You've got my attention. (Also, thank you for the co-op!)

  • Any other year, I'd probably have put Portal 2 in first place. Even a year as disappointing this has been to me, in terms of gaming - Portal 2 is special. The amazing, measured humor, the clever puzzles. The Co-op. This is a great game.

  • I picked up a DS (XL) last year, my first Nintendo portable console. Unfortunately, there have been very few games to make it worth it. Ghost Trick... is not like that.

    Ghost Trick had a clever story that contained more (ghost) tricks than I gave it credit for - it surprised me. There's also the amazing soundtrack. And those amazing graphics!

  • I've waited a long time for this game. People wrote it off as being a Gears of War clone - I believe that Relic managed to change the mechanics sufficiently to play unlike anything else on the market. People worried that a developer only known for their strategy games could pull of a third-person shooter. Relic proved them wrong. Hell, even the multiplayer is interesting - the only competative Multiplayer I got into seriously this year.

  • Skyrim is a game that is difficult for me to place on this list. On the one hand, earlier this year, I swore off Bethesda games (Hello RAGE, Fallout, Oblivion), but in the end decided to give Skyrim a chance anyway. Turns out Skyrim is pretty good. Unfortunately, I feel it overstays it's welcome - and at about 50 hours in, it became too apparent that the world is made up of a number of entirely independent story lines that do not touch. Like most (not all, see #2) open-world games, Skyrim has that soulless quality where everything looks great, but there's just something wrong - like an Uncanny Valley for worlds, if that makes sense. It's still a good game, and one I've put nearly 80 hours into.

  • A lot of Bastion is pretty great, the soundtrack is probably the best of the year, bar none - it's the only one I still regularly listen to. Bastion also has great gameplay and the narrator is wonderful.

    I think that any arguments about the Narrator just being a cheap illusion is a bit unfair. But at the end of the day, I guess - either it works for you, or it doesn't. For me, it worked amazingly.

    Bastion has, in my opinion, the best Original Soundtrack of the year. Bastion

  • I feel like I've got more bad things to say about Dead Island than good ones. However, this list is about the games that I've had the most positive experiences with this year - the ones that, when I think back, will represent this year. Dead Island is definitely among those, even if that is largely because of it's co-op. And the title song. Who do you Voodoo, SamB, you old Zom-bie.

  • Unfortunately, the troubles Trenched ran into getting released in Europe did temper my hopes for the game. However, it's still a very good game, and there are a lot of stupid fun things in the game - it has that Double Fine label written all over it.

  • Magicka is a strange beast. Indie developed, terrible and amazing at the same time. The voice acting is genious, the gameplay mechanics are interesting and unique - and co-op is just the cherry on top. Good job, Arrowhead!

  • Arkham City annoys me. It's a great game, but... I don't know. There's something off about it? Maybe it's Sequel fatigue - 2011 has been a lot like 2009... Maybe it's something else? However, Arkham City at least had an interesting end.