It’s that time of year again. Game of the Year time! This year we’ve decided to do our own individual top lists since we all had different experiences this year. Not to fret, we will be recording a podcast where we compile our lists and eventually narrow it down to TeaBag Radio’s Top 10. Today, I will be posting my list for my personal games of the year followed by Dub’s tomorrow and Sean’s on Saturday. Once we have our full list, it will be posted alongside the deliberation podcast. Without further adieu, my top 10 games of the year…
I love the Forza franchise. It makes racing simulation fun and attractive to the most casual racing fans and the most hardcore petrol heads. With a new assortment of cars, gorgeous models, superb visuals, outstanding developer support, a new Auto Vista or ‘car porn’ mode and one of the best communities in gaming, Forza 4 is one of my favorite games in 2011 and should keep me busy long into 2012.
10: Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception
Nathan Drake is back in the set-piece driven action experience known as Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception. Drake and Sully are out to find the lost city of the Iram of the Pillars. The supporting cast from Uncharted 2 returns in limited quantities and some new faced are a delighted welcome.
I’m not going to sit here and lie to you. Uncharted 3 was a great game, but it was a disappointment. It’s still one of the most beautiful games of this year, the acting is top notch, as always and the locations are extravagant…but it still felt like it was trying too hard to be Uncharted 2.5. It feels like they built the set pieces first then built a story around them. The gunplay system was changed from U3 and not in a good way. It took a patch to fix it, but I was done with the game before hand and I don’t really think I’m going to go back.
Uncharted 3 was still a great experience and that’s why it’s on my list, but it made it here just barely. I didn’t have a chance to play Saints Row 3 and in good conscience couldn’t add it to this list, but had I, this list might look a lot difference based on everything I heard and have seen.
9: Trenched/Iron Brigade
Trenched was one of those games that I had no idea what to expect. Sure, you can hear every game journalist tell you what it is and how it plays, but until you actually play it, it stays a mystery. I’m glad I gave this one a chance. Trenched is an action game set during an alternate history following World War I that sees you pilot a weaponized ‘Trench” (mech) that adds elements of tower defense.
Other games that have tried to add tower defense have never really flown with me. I hate tower defense, but Trenched makes you feel like you’re part of the action. Most tower defense games do the opposite. Add three other players to your fully customizable, one-mech killing machine and Trenched becomes so much fun you’ll lose an entire weekend to it. Sadly, that’s about it after you get bored of the same locations and objectives over and over. A horde mode would have been welcome from the start, not DLC that came months later when I had moved on. Still, Trenched was one of my favorite games of the year.
8: Battlefield 3
Battlefield 3 was a nerve-racking release for me. I wanted the game to do so well being a long time fan of the Battlefield franchise. After a bug-ridden beta, doubts were had when they only had a fortnight to fix all of the issues. After a shaky release, which is expected from an EA online game release, Battlefield 3 was not only a good game, it was a great game.
Looking beyond a very par single player campaign, BF3 takes Multiplayer to a new level for the franchise. Battlefield 3 brings back everything you loved about previous entries in the series, but Frostbite 2.0 makes it look gorgeous in all of its destruction glory, even on the current gen consoles, not just the PC. Battlefield 3 has solidified itself as my go-to multiplayer game of 2011.
7: Portal 2
Glados is at it again and Chell finds herself in another maze and only her trusty Portal Gun to keep her alive. Portal 2 may seem like ‘more of the same’, and well, that’s because it is, but in the best possible way.
Valve does it again by making a puzzle game, adding a rich story and by adding new mechanics. It feels like a new experience without losing the roots it created with the original Portal. From characters like Wheatley and Cave Johnson added to the mix, poking at you the entire run of the game, Portal had me grinning like an idiot from beginning to end. Portal 2 is one of those titles that, after taking a substantial time away from the game, can have you keep coming back and falling in love over and over again.
6: Gears of War 3
The third and presumed final in the Gears of War trilogy, Gears of War 3 has you take on the roll of Marcus Fenix once again to try and end the Locus threat once again. This time around, however, you take control of multiple characters to get their sides of this final story.
Gears of War 3 would have never made it this high onto any of the game of the year picks for the previous outings. I’ve always liked the stories the games told and the gameplay it presented, but it was all very meat-headed and good fun, but I would have never considered it for much else. Gears of War 3 does something different this time around.
Although the meat-headedness is still present, it’s toned down to almost non-existent and Epic Games lets the characters be something other than killing machines. They’ve been in this war for such a long time. They have emotions; they have regrets. They’re actually people on the brink of extinction. Brothers are lost; heroes are made. With a revamped and amazing Horde mode and same stellar multiplayer effort, Gears of War 3 is a game I’ll never forget and a great end to the current story arc.
5: Dead Space 2
Set on Titan Station, also known as “The Sprawl”, a civilian base built the remaining fragments of Saturn’s moon, Dead Space 2 was one of the early releases of 2011 but I still remember how much I loved it. The multiplayer did little to evoke my interest, but the engrossing single player campaign is what keeps me coming back to the Dead Space franchise. I’m not a fan of horror movies or games, but Dead Space has a hold on me.
The second in the series added more action to what was once a more survival horror style. Think Dead Space one as Terminator and Dead Space 2 as, you guessed it, Terminator 2. Isaac knows what he’s up against and can handle himself in a fight with whatever tools he can find. Previously unvoiced, Isaac is now a more relatable character. You see and understand what the events of Dead Space and currently Dead Space 2 is doing to his physically and mentally. We knew he was tortured, but now he’s a more fleshed out personality.
The Sprawl was a great new location for the game, separating civilian and government sectors with both light and darkness sets, making them very different and intense. New enemies kept you on your toes and the new weapons and tweaks to old favorites making defending yourself so much fun. The game was bloody, brutal and a hell of a good time. I went back for seconds and thirds.
4: The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings
The Witcher 2 was a surprise for me. I played maybe 45 minutes of the original Witcher and I didn’t much care for the experience. It controlled terribly and nothing really drew me into the narrative. Enter The Witcher 2.
From the get go, you’re thrown into a plot that sees you witness the assassination of the King and after trying to stop the Kingslayer, you’re discovered over his highness’ dead body. The adventure sets out for you to clear your ‘good’ name and to find the man who did this; bringing him to justice. The Witcher 2 doesn’t hold your hand. It’s hard. It wants you to try things on your own and use the in-game manuals for creation and crafting. It was done in the original Witcher, it expected you to know the lore, which may be a turn off, but don’t let it. It wasn’t that deep of a learning curve. It was fun getting to know the way things worked.
A fantastic, deep, engaging story, amazing character work, one of the most stunning and beautiful engines of the year and challenging gameplay makes The Witcher 2 a fantastic ride. When it lands on consoles later in 2012, I might just grab it again.
A calamity has destroyed the world and it the job of ‘The Kid’ to rebuild it with the help of his trusty Hammer, among other weapons and power ups with the ability to level up. Take control of The Kid to unravel the story being told to you by narration as you play. Welcome to the world of Bastion.
I love Bastion. What could have been a generic arcade beat-em up RPG, Bastion becomes a rich story through use of visuals and superb narration. You being told a story, but you’re also playing it out as it happens, and you do may change the story. It may be minor, but things like only rolling instead of walking or spending too much time looting and destroying walls will all be commented on by the narrator. It always puts a smile on my face.
Bastion does what arcade titles try to do by making it worth your time and money; it does it well. Just when you think it’s coming to an end, Bastion throws something else at you and makes rebuilding the Bastion so much more interesting and fun. Amazing vocal work, tight gameplay and the best soundtrack of the year makes Bastion the best arcade title of 2011 and a game I’ll definitely make a second run through using the new game + mode.
2: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Skyrim was pegged to be GOTY long before it even came out. After playing it, I can understand why. The Elder Scrolls V sets you in the land of Skyrim during a time of Civil War among the Imperial Legion and the Nord Sons of Skyrim, known as the Stormcloak rebellion. This open world epic adventure sets the tone early by having you nearly decapitated before a Dragon shows up and ruins the festivities. From that point on, you’ll make your journey across the land, learning of your Dragonborn roots and your destiny to stop the Dragon ruler, Alduin.
Skyrim does was other games Bethesda has been known for and gives you a massive open world to explore and secrets to discover. The story is one of the best among The Elder Scrolls series and the gameplay has been refined over the years to be the best it can be. I’ve sunk over a hundred hours into the game and have done so much, with plenty more to do, but game breaking bugs keep it from my top spot in 2011.
1: Batman: Arkham City
Batman, Batman, Batman. The best licensed game ever created just got one-upped by its successor. The sequel to Arkham Asylum pits you against thugs after thug, super criminal after super criminal in a walled off section of Gotham known as Arkham City. Sounds crazy right? It is, but it’s a comic book in video game form. Comics get crazy. As foretold in Arkham Asylum, Arkham City finds Hugo Strange in control of the Mayor of Gotham and with this power, orders Arkham City to be built to hold the criminals that Arkham Asylum cannot while it is rebuilt and re-secured. All part of Strange’s master plan.
All of the same mechanics you loved about Arkham Asylum are back and revamped. Batman is faster, stronger and better at being, well, Batman. His moves acrobatic but strong, his movement across the city is faster and his new gadgets make combat strategies a whole new ball game. With challenge maps making sure to make you pull your hair out, you get to become the bat in one of the best looking games of this generation and a solid gameplay style makes you want to keep playing long after the story is over. I’m on my second playthrough with all the gadgets at my disposal from the get go. I am evil’s bane. I. Am. Batman.