Non-GOTYs of 2011

As last year, here is my list of the games that, very deliberately, didn't quite make it to my GOTY list for 2011. These are games I actively avoided putting in my GOTY list. Not just games that came a bit short, but games I actively did not want in there.

List items

  • SR3 is brilliant, funny, bold and consistently dares to shrug off conventional knowledge and go the extra mile for its desired goal. It just seems to assume that silly humour is intrinsic to gaming, which is basically the default setting for most gamers at this point. All that creative energy and a bit more direction and ambition beyond spoofing pop culture would have taken this from the best "Scary Movie" sequel ever, which it very much is, and into all time classic territory.

  • Oh, boy. How to explain this one? Minecraft is revolutionary in many ways. I just happen to not like some of those ways. I don't like relying on forward-paid fan support before release. I don't like the indie games-as-a-service model on it. I'm not even sure I like the open ended create-your-own-experience thing they're going for in the end. It works as a model for Minecraft, but the trend of presenting it as the future of gaming frankly unsettles me. Let's see where Notch takes Mojang next and discuss this again next year, shall we?

  • Witcher 2 is a good game. A bit too good, in fact, as the leftover janky, low-brow, eastern bloc stuff left in the game stands out a bit too much, and its refusal to play nice with its users lacks the artistry and finesse of Dark Souls. It's a game very much worth playing, but it lacks a bit of drive and focus.

  • Infamous was flawed but intriguing. Infamous 2 is flawed, period. It is clearly not failing at doing what it tries to do, but everything from its mildly exploitative setting to its character and mission design is a notch below brilliance.

  • I don't normally put games in here that I haven't played at least for a few hours, but... Ubisoft? Yeah, move it along. Seriously. Remember when this used to be a fresh, audacious concept for a game? Remember when that "this game is made by people of all religions" at the beginning of the game was actually relevant to what the game was trying to say? I want that game back.

  • This goes both for Ultimate MvC3 and for the original, actually. Capcom has been making all the same mistakes that led to them killing the fighting game genre all over again, just faster. Where SF4 was accessible, fun and nailed the basics, UMvC3 is a jumbled mess of endless dial-in combos, obscure, twitchy gaming and unintelligible mechanics. If SFxTekken turns out to be a deep-to-a-flaw, critically praised and commercially disastrous affair, we'll know that the fad has run its course again.

  • So HD collections. Kind of lazy, a lame by-product of dropping backwards compatibility and the result of a one-time transition from SD to HD. I do want my games upscaled and expanded to widescreen resolutions and I do own a bunch of these. As a trend, though, these are very much non-GOTYs, regardless of the quality of the original.

  • So I have nothing personal against this game or the rest of Twisted Pixel's output, but playing their games, and specifically the Splosion Man series just feels... off to me. Maybe it's the responsiveness, maybe the deliberate rough edges, I don't know. Overall, the people making the games seem like nice people to hang out with, but the end product is never tight enough to move me.

  • I wouldn't bother with this one if this wasn't Giant Bomb, but... yeah, patched together, PC-exclusive, user generated content-driven games feel to me like they were rightfully outdone once the 90s were over.

  • Maybe I just don't get Trine. The concept is clever enough, the physics-driven gameplay is fair enough... it just never struck me as anything out of the ordinary when compared to all the other "side scrollers with a twist" populating the downloadable and indie scene for the past few years, and the sequel does little to change my mind.