Red's Top 10 Games of 2011

This was a hard list to make. Which games to add was pretty easy, as I barely played ten games this year. The order, however, was more difficult, as there were a lot of really great games this year, but not a clear standout like Mass Effect 2 of 2010 or Uncharted 2 of 2009. Honorable mentions to LittleBigPlanet 2 and InFamous 2, which I just never got around to beating.

List items

  • Ok, spoilers.

    You shoot a portal at the moon. I mean, come on. You shoot a portal at the moon. Cave Johnson and Wheatley are the funniest, best-acted characters of the year, and the new portal equipment offer some fiendish, although never frustrating puzzles. It proves Valve is at the cream of the crop in pacing and story, while adding in some amazing gameplay mechanics. And then there's the co-op, which is the best I've seen since the original Rock Band. One puzzle had me giving a solution as "LET'S SHOOT OURSELVES INTO THE SKY AND THEN DO A CHEST BUMP!"

    And that is why this is my game of the year.

  • I think Bastion crashed on my once. The framerate dropped a couple times, too. Those are the only problems I have with Bastion. The perfectly minimalist story broke my cold heart. The narrator made me question my own voice, and if there was any heavy object I could drop on my throat to make me sound so damn sexy. The art design is gorgeous, and paves the way for the best world building I've seen in a long time, downloadable game or not. Lastly, the action is the best I've ever seen in a hack 'n slash. It's fast-paced, but never becomes button-mashy. The timing is as delicate as a good fighting game, but it isn't fussy. While I doubt we'll ever see a Bastion 2, this has me watching SuperGiant Games with a close, constant eye. and not just for Greg Kasavin's handsomeness anymore.

  • Oh Skyrim. I still haven't finished you. Damn Star Wars interrupted our love, but man are you amazing. What astounds me about this game is the sheer openness of the mechanics. The thread discussing the best moments we've had within the game is one of the most interesting game discussions I've ever seen. The combat is a little mashy, but 40 hours in I feel as though I've barely scratched the surface. Outside of MMOs, you can't say that about any other game.

  • The filmreel may have unwound a couple times due to some mis-timed X buttons, but UC3 remains the best action game of the year. Refined shooting, amazing graphics, a gripping story, a great score, Nolan North at his finest, and a pretty good multiplayer. Yeah, it's more of the same, but when you're the same as Uncharted 2, I think you're doing just fine.

  • Had this game not been released a week ago, it'd be higher on this list. KotOR is one of my favorite games of all time, and the aspect of a neverending KotOR is an amazing one. There may still be a host of glitches, and the game's lifespan is currently up in the air, but damn if this isn't a fine MMO. It copies WoW in several ways, but it has enough BioWare and Star Wars charm to scratch a unique itch in its market. And come on, this game has like, 60 novels of voice acting. Good voice acting, too.

  • I rented Black Ops last year. I sped through it, and played the multiplayer for about an hour. My limited playing of BLOPS ended up preparing me for MW3. I found the campaign far tighter than MW2, while still featuring some of the best setpieces of the year. The multiplayer improvements, while small, made the "just one more match" formula more addictive than ever before. Some games higher up on this list may have taken over my playtime of the multiplayer, but I'll definitely be coming back later next year.

  • I don't get why Dragon Age 2 gets such a bad rap. It's perhaps the most polarizing game of the year, but for little real reason. True, the structure of the game isn't great, and it isn't nearly as good as its predecessor, but damn if it isn't a great RPG. Varric and Merill are some of the best characters of the game, and the improvements to the combat system--while taking away some customization--streamlined the gameplay and made for some truly epic battles.

  • Every year it seems to be the same with Pokemon. I'm not talking about the games themselves--they do change slightly. What I'm talking about is my reaction to Pokemon. Every year I pour a good 40 hours or so into the new yearly pokemon game in a week's time, and then swear to never do the same. Last year it was Heart Gold, and the year before it was Platinum. This year, it was Pokemon Black/White, which, while still holding close to the perfect pokemon formula, offered some actually good new pokemon, and decent graphics and animation. My lack of a 3DS may prevent me from playing a new Pokemon game next year, but Pokemon White offered a great goodbye to my most-played series.

  • If Tiny Wings was the iPhone game of the first half of 2011, Jetpack Joyride was the iPhone game of the second half. Filled with upgrades, ridiculously addictive objectives, and the best power-ups of the year, Jetpack Joyride is my favorite arcade-style game of the year.

  • Tiny Wings is simple, yes. It is also fiendishly difficult and frustrating in its final nests. However, its simplicity kept my transits and waiting times exciting for the first half of the year, which is no small feat.