Opinion: Top Five Games Of 2011
Deus Ex: Human Revolution – selected by Dave ‘Mack’ McConkey
So, what game did not piss me off all that much on any level this year? While I have been smashing Battlefield 3 the most recently, and Gears of War 3 made me LOL a few times, I still feel they were let down by certain game aspects (the short single player and ridiculous plot respectively). I think Dead Space 2 could have been a contender, but I have yet to overcome my pant-shitting terror for long enough to make any significant progress in the game.
So my Game of the Year is Deus Ex: Human Revolution. In my opinion no other game offered such an enjoyable and satisfying single-player experience. The story was (more or less) comprehensible, the gameworld felt alive and well-realised, and the gameplay itself was satisfying and varied. You can blast your way through the hordes of enemies, or you can sneak around stealing all their shit and knocking them out. When talking to people, you can whisper sweet nothings with your honey tongue, or you can go all Stewie Griffin on their ass and threaten some serious damage if they don’t give you what you want.
Save for the disappointing boss fights, Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a well-presented, well-rounded and altogether satisfying game that is entirely single-player focused – and does not need to rely on deathmatch multiplayer to keep people interested.
Rayman Origins – selected by Jonathan Szafran
Hidden among the Fall season’s blockbuster video games is a little gem that I had been anticipating ever since E3 2010 when it was announced – and that game is Rayman Origins. From the very moment I saw the the initial screenshots and reveal trailer I fell in love with this game, and when it launched here in the US a couple of weeks ago it did not disappoint.
Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception – selected by Dan Jenko
There has been a seemingly never-ending supply of exceptional video games released this year, but it was Naughty Dog’s epic action-adventure title that stood out for me. It’s a game that’s near-impossible to fault in pretty much every respect, and that’s an accolade I can offer no other game I’ve played in 2011. Everything from the art-style to the character development and the gameplay is pretty much perfect, and this led to an experience that was without-a-doubt the best the year had to offer.
With truly great games, there’s usually a moment when they become an experience that you will remember forever, instead of being something you merely enjoy or use to pass the time. Portal had the ‘turning the corner’ moment that revealed the danger of incineration, Mass Effect 2 had the climatic ‘suicide mission’, and Heavy Rain had the gruesome cutting off of your own finger. It’s these experiences that really allow us to separate the good games from the great ones. But Uncharted 3 as a whole offers the very experience that warrants ‘Game of the Year’, and as a complete package is simply a video game that I will never forget. To quote my own review: “congratulations Naughty Dog, for you have created a masterpiece”.
Batman: Arkham City – selected by Jacques Voller
But the excellent combat mechanics aren’t the only highlight from this frankly fantastic game. The story is one of the most well-rounded I’ve seen this year, with every villain well fleshed-out and slotted brilliantly into the overall plot. One returning villain, the Riddler, has a much greater presence than in Arkham Asylum, and now actually presents much more of a challenge in finding the trophies and solving the Saw-light hostage rooms, which make use of all your gadgets and ingenuity. One of the most surprising additions is also Catwoman, who comes with her own missions, gadgets, combat moves and a completely unique identity.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – selected by Mark Butler
At their best, open-world RPGs muster a sense of mystery, discovery, character-progression and adventure that is almost breathtaking in its ability to thrill and enthrall. And Skyrim has to go down as the daddy of open-world RPGs.
Over the 60+ hours I’ve eagerly sunk into the game so far, I’ve become a seasoned dragonslayer, pulled off audacious robberies and heists, helped an embattled empire claim victory in a bloody civil war, and accidentally stood-up my bride-to-be at the altar. I’ve raided dozens of dungeons, conversed with Gods, assassinated nobles, ridden my horse straight off a cliff and gone giant-hunting just for the sheer hell of it. In other words, I’ve made it my mission to try and experience everything this latest Elder Scrolls opus has to offer – yet I’ve barely scratched the surface even now.
Over the past few weeks Skyrim has pretty much become my primary world, and it really does seem so much more compelling and beautiful than our own. Bethesda have surpassed themselves in creating a magnificent landscape which is overflowing with intriguing places to go, jaw-dropping things to see and interesting people to meet. Perhaps the greatest testament to its excellence is the simple fact that after so many hours of gameplay it still frequently surprises and delights in equal measure, and I honestly can’t see myself becoming tired or jaded with it at any point in the near- or distant – future. Now, if you’ll just excuse me, I’m off to pickpocket an orc – and smack that smug Thalmor ambassador upside his head…
What is your own personal favourite game of 2011? And do you agree, or disagree, with our team’s selections? Feel free to add your thoughts on the Game Of The Year debate below.