Friday, January 13, 2012

My 2011 Games of the Year

Sometimes it's silly to name just a few titles your "Games of the Year" but... ehh, Everyone has their favorites and it's fun to share. You may or may not agree with my choices, please discuss that in the comments section :P I decided to just copy the style I used last year and place the appropriate titles. Do note that I've only included title's I've actually bought and played (at least some). *I took the "best fighter" category out because I didn't have a single title to insert.

Genre and Category awards:

Best Music: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

While I considered Skyrim for many a category, it was rather clear that it would win the best music category. MGS HD gave it a run for it's money - mostly because I love the music for MGS games - but seeing as Skyrim's melodies are new and not part of an HD collection, I'll give it to Skyrim. From the opening theme to the quiet scores that accompany you as your journey through the lands, the music is memorable.

Best Graphics: Uncharted 3: Drakes Deception

While some PC peeps may go on and on about larger textures, more anti-aliasing and physics based volumetric effects in their games... Uncharted 3 stands above technical babble and delivers a gorgeous looking treat to your eyes. Sure, there are some high quality poly models and the textures are fine tuned to look great... but it's how it all comes together that makes it special. The way the sand blows around, the way ruble crumbles away when destroyed, the way the sun peaks through holes or how the characters interact with their environment, giving it a surreal feeling.

Best Shooter: Killzone 3

So... I mulled over the winner of this category. I kept in mind the large popularity of Cod/BF and such titles... be realized, "Hey, this is my Goty, not the general gaming audience's goty". So... seeing as I don't care for Call of Duty and merely played the beta for BattleField... those games aren't even runners up. I also did consider Gears3 for this category... but in the end, I enjoyed Killzone 3 more. The amount of variety put into the environments and things for you to do really ensured you never really got bored. The story was alright, nothing spectacular... but it sufficed. The rest of the game shined with delicious visuals, solid sound, music and rock solid mechanics.

Best Racer: MotorStorm: Apocalypse

This was a harder category to fill in... as I hadn't played too many racers this year. I enjoyed the demo for NFS The Run and I've been continuing to play the hell out of NFS Hot Pursuit... but I never purchased The Run and Hot Pursuit was a 2010 title... so I had to do some digging. Dirt3 let me down and Test Drive Unlimited 2 REALLY let me down... which really just left the new MotorStorm title. I actually haven't played it nearly as much as the other two Motorstorm titles... but it's a lot of fun. Avoiding destruction while trying to win isn't easy and it really mixed up the feel of the game from Pacific Rift.

 Best RPG: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Was it really a surprise that Skyrim would win best RPG? Checking over my list of 2011 games, I was wondering what other RPGs would even compete... I noted Dragon Age 2 (which I didn't care for) and Dungeon Seige 3... which was good in it's own right... but not on the level of Skyrim. Does the Witcher 2 count? I actually count that as more of an action/adventure title tbh... and I don't have a single JRPG from 2011... so, Skyrim easily squashed the competition. While it's got it's flaws, I love just losing myself in it's world and doing stupid stuff. Much like Oblivion before it, I can tell that it's a title I'll keep coming back to over the years and enjoying just as much.

Best Adventure: Uncharted 3: Drakes Deception

I debated giving this to the Witcher 2 (as I mentioned above, in the Skyrim for best RPG bit, I felt the witcher2 more action/adventure than RPG)... but in the end gave it to Uncharted3 because of it's superb method of story telling. I like Drake, I love Elena and Sully is prob the kewlest old dude I know :P The back and forth each character has through out the entire game entertain me and make me feel like I'm in on a much bigger thing than just a game of exploration. We get to learn about Drake's past, of his errs as a human and the incredible journey that has taken him and the player to the point they are at now. Rare a game lets you get this close to the characters. I love it for that.

Best MMO: DC Universe Online

I'll be the first to tell you that I really don't care that much for MMO style games. The idea of actually paying per month for them really doesn't sit well with me and while I did buy and play around with DCUO when it first came out... it has since been made into a free-to-play title that anyone can download and try on their PC or PS3. When I think MMO, I think elves, mages and knights with point and click gameplay, hours of level grinding and item collecting. DCUO doesn't seem to fall into that... as it's obviously super hero based on modern times and offers much more 'action-game' like controls for it's combat. Something I appreciate very much and perhaps why it appealed to me. It's far from perfect and I only dabble in it... but the fact that it's held my attention past the first hour or so (such is the fate of most MMOs I drop) is impressive.

Best Free-to-play Game - APB Reloaded

When you say the words "Free to play" oft time you think of a half-hearted game that doesn't seem to hold your interest more than a sitting or two. Thankfully, a lot of MMOs seem to be jumping on the trend of 'free to play' status, allowing gamers to jump in without spending a monthly fee. APB use to be a paid service game, but went under and was picked up by a new company and made free to play... and holy crap it's fun. It's heavily action based and gets crazy fun when you start teaming up with others. Sort of like the multiplayer aspect of GTA IV - only done right - you join either the cops or gang like groups in the struggle for the city, earning new customization options as you go through the ranks.

Solid Nod - Portal 2

I wanted to add this category to give credit to a game that didn't win any other category and yet seemed too important not to win something. Portal 2 is one hell of a game. It takes the first and improves on it's charming silliness, while adding a completely robust co-op mode in along with it. Even better, you can play co-op between PS3 and PC which is something I've been looking for in games. It's puzzles seem to be the perfect middle ground of thought provoking and simple to solve and it's sense of humor, style and awareness is second to none.

Best Download Title (original) - ilomilo

I loved the hell out of ilomilo and played it quite a while. The later levels made me want to kill an elf in frustration because they get HARD. I would like to go back and complete the game 100%... but I don't know if I have the patience. The premise is simply. You control 2 little plush looking things, often on separate planes on a 3D cube based maze. You've got to use both, switching back and forth to get them to meet up with each other. It's tricky but rewarding, fun, charming and oozes originality. I loves it.

Best HD Remake (single) - Beyond Good & Evil HD

I'm currently playing Stranger's Wrath HD so... that was some of the stiffer competition... but BG&E it's a better game. I'll admit, I loved the game on the PS2 and it really hasn't lost it's charm. This whole game is charming. It's characters make me smile, it's style makes my eyes smile and it's smooth gameplay makes my fingers happy. I love that it feels so real... even if the game looks cartoony and is set on a world where animals act like humans... I love that it feels about just the right amount of difficult, that it gives me some freedom even if following a decently linear story. I just love BG&E.

Best HD Remake (compilation) - Ico/Shadow of the Colossus Collection

I was going to put MGS HD here... which I own... but haven't played... so... while I know it's good, it's not going to fit my criteria. Ico/SotC however is just as good. Having the two in crisp HD and being able to live their experiences yet again is something special.

Pleasant Surprise - Payday: The Heist

I've said this before, but it's 100% true. Payday really surprised me with how cool it is. I got it free for pre-ordering the pack of games PSN had on sale and if it hadn't been for that I might not of even heard of it. As it stands I still jump in once in a while to play it's unique cops/robbers style gameplay and still enjoy it - which is quite a feat for an online game in my world (as they usually bore me).

Most improved Sequel - Resistance 3

I have to admit... I'm not the biggest Resistance fan. I liked the first... and was pumped for the second one but felt it kind of cheap and I hated the PSP title. Jump to R3's release and it's an understatement to say I wasn't exactly anticipating it. But surprisingly they did it right. The extra year of development time REALLY showed and this game is great. It's not amazing, but it's - by far, the best Resistance yet. Bravo Insomniac.

Best New IP - L.A. Noire

I'll start by noting, I did not finish LAN... but what I did play, I enjoyed the hell out of. The unique take on the detective genre mixed in with the cool special effects they pulled off with the actors really made this one stand out. It sure doesn't hurt that the actual game is fun to play :)

System Awards

Best PSP - Dissidia 012: Duodecim Final Fantasy

So... while Duodecim is a fun and awesome game... it kind of won by default... as it's the only 2011 PSP game that I purchased. lol. Final Fantasy characters are back, beating the hell out of each other in a much more unique way that I thought square would take it when I first heard the concept.

Best DS - Pokemon Black

Again, by default this wins as the top 2011 DS title. Guess handhelds had a crappy year as this too is the only game I bought. I don't love black. It's still pokemon, but I still have nostelgic feelings for games like Red over black.

Best PC - The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings

I actually had a hard time choosing which game on the PC deserved this as there were a number of candidates... but in the end I chose the Witcher 2, for a number of reasons. First, it's a gorgeous looking game - which isn't everything, but it's still nice to see. It's also got some great characters, acting, and most importantly, gameplay. I had issues with the way fighting worked in the first witcher title.... this one takes a more standard method on the issue. I also love that this game is from a small studio whom is all about the love they pour into games :).

Best PS3 - Uncharted 3: Drakes Deception

Counting the amount of games I bought for PS3 really only solidifies that 2011 was a great year for PS3. It had the most titles (for me) to look at and choose a goty for that system. Various games were considered but in the end Uncharted 3 wins. Naughty Dog continues their line of high quality and story rich, character strong games which have a cinematic quality like none other. Drake's latest adventure is as superb and engrossing as the others and really solidifies him as staple character for the company. It looks gorgeous, sounds the same and plays like butter (that's good).

Best 360 - Gears of War 3

Now flip and... we're back to a system where I am left with a small list of 2011 games I purchased :S I thought I had a larger list of 2011 360 games... but it turns out I just bought more 360 games that were released in a year before 2011, lol. Thus, the biggest for this year is Gears3. I enjoyed gears 3. Visually it really stepped up over Gears2... but gameplay and story wise? I think I still prefer Gears2. I felt like there was just WAY too many areas where you get into incredibly boring firefights with standard grunts, one after another after another after another... gaaah.  I eventually just ran through a good portion of the last third of the game because I was completely sick of mowing them down. So, while it's a good game, it still left a bit of a sour taste in my mouth.

Best Wii - Monster Hunter Tri?

Umm yeah. If it's weird to pick a game for a system's goty from a list of 2 or 3... it's even weirder to pick one from a list of zero. I have yet to pick up Skyword Sword and thus have not bought a single Wii title in 2011 (well, I bought a few, but they were older games). Monster Hunter Tri has entertained the hell out of me and is probable the most played game on that system. But yeah... :P

Game of the Year - Batman: Arkham City

Ahh Batman. I was actually debating on a few titles for Goty. Skyrim was the closest competitor... but in the end Batman won. Skyrim is astounding for sucking you in and keeping you... but IMO Arkham City is a better game. Every damn aspect of it... just oozes quality. The visuals are top notch, the sounds equally as such, the story, characters, environment lay out and so on. I love Batman and this is by far the biggest nod to people like me... in the history of batman. Even something as simple as the combat seems fresh and challenging. There's tons of content to find and unlock, challenges to complete, characters to interact with, references to find, gahh... I just love the title to death. That said, I actually didn't finish it... possibly because I had to restart it 3 times because of my PS3 dying... but also because I'm kind of scared to finish it... as it means it'll be over :|

The Stinkers:

Worst Game of 2011 - Test Drive Unlimited 2

Ugh. A game I watched for some time and loved the hell out of... until I played it. The driving is okay at best and the rest of the game screams amateur to me. Visually it's not as strong as I'd of liked, the story and characters are HORRIBLE and over all... I just got extremely bored of the entire thing. Boourns.

Hardest to get into - E.Y.E.: Divine Cybermancy

Holy Crap. If it's not the SUPER complex system they've built around the lore, or the lack of good tutorials around that system, perhaps the 6000 buttons and menus that need navigated to get the most out of your experience... then it's the complete backwards online infastructure that the entire thing has. It's a very "into itself" cyberpunk RPG/Shooter kind of game which really appealed to me... but the learning curve is BRUTAL. I spent like 4 hours playing with a friend and still didn't have a clue as to half of the stuff I needed to know to understand it. That and it took us a good 2-3 hours just to get up the online. As there was no way for us to simply connect to either each other or a server so we could do co-op... we needed to go to a third party app that created a virtual private network over the internet that fooled the game into thinking we were playing a LAN game. Talk about gaming from 1997 eh? lol.

Most Disappointing Sequel - DiRT 3

DiRT3 isn't a bad game... not by any stretch... but Codemasters took a franchise I LOVED and just made it unplayable for me. I would rip through turns, speed past spectators and go for the gold in both DiRT 1 and 2... but I can barely keep my fucking car on the road in DiRT3. I have no idea what happened... Ugh. I may try going at it again in the future, but right now... I'm just upset with it all.

Most Disappointing Title - Rage

I think the Hype around Rage is what I'm really getting at. By the way they presented it... it was the next coming of gawd... the likes of which would bury Fallout and Borderlands in the dust it kicked up. It's FAR from that. Thus far it's a decent game, but NOTHING compared to what it was hyped up to. Lots of people have major issues with running it too (on PC) meaning they didn't even manage to debug it enough to ship it in a decent state. The whole 'Mega Texture' thing... is garbage is RAGE is anything to go by. It makes landscapes and far away items look GREAT... but if you happen to get close enough... it looks like hell. That's just not a trade off I think is worth it.

The Game no one played -  Two Worlds II

Two Worlds can't seem to catch a break. The first one was a competitor to Oblivion and while it was flawed, it was a kewl first attempt. The second one comes along and it's got quite a bit of improvements and is actually a decent game... but most people who played the first aren't looking for a sequel... and everyone else is waiting for Skyrim. It's actually not too bad of a game... but it got sooo buried and forgotten it's sad.

I would also like to mention Alice: Madness returns. It took seemed to have a tough ride. It's not an amazing game, but very decent in it's own light. It got passed over by many as well.