Now then, as great as last year was for me personally, that’s nothing compared to how good a year this was for gaming. With Nintendo announcing and releasing consoles, and Sony releasing a handheld, we were not short on hardware for sure. Then there was the question of the games, not only did we have one of the best years of games to date, they came at us consistently throughout the whole year, leaving us almost no time to sit down and appreciate one game, before another game smacked us in the face with its awesomeness and made us play it. In fact, personally, 2011 left me with a backlog of games to play that I’m still chipping away at even now. So to celebrate this amazing year of gaming, I’m going to make a top ten of my favourite games of 2011.
Right, now before we start, I’m just going to clarify a few things, so nobody (hopefully) bites my head off about anything. Firstly, there will be no PS3 exclusives on the list. There is only one reason for this, and that’s that I do not own a PS3 (yet), so have not been able to play any of these yet, so unfortunately, games like inFamous 2, LittleBigPlanet 2, Killzone 3 and Uncharted 3 (and more) that I would have considered for the list, will not be on here, sorry. Secondly, this is a list of my ‘favourite’ games, which, essentially just means they may not be my top 10 games of 2011 if I had to give them all scores. Lastly, do not hate me if your favourite game is not on here, I am merely one person, I have had not had the opportunity to play every game this year, if you feel like a game should be on here, please comment and tell me, and I’ll try to get round to playing it. Right, now let’s get to it
10. Might and Magic: Clash of Heroes
Okay, now first off, this is kinda cheating, because technically this came out on the DS in 2009, however, it was released on XBLA and PSN in 2011, and that’s when I picked up and play it, and well, this is my list, so it can count. This brilliant game is an RPG with puzzle battle mechanics, and wow, does it work well. It works on a fairly simple grid system, in which you just align your units in different ways to attack/defend. Simply put, it’s a game that will last you 30+ hours, plays great, and looks great. Plus, it will only set you back 1200 MS points, (roughly £10) so you’re getting plenty of bang for your buck. If you haven’t played it, I would highly suggest this great game.
9. The Binding of Isaac
The Binding of Isaac is the lovechild of the original Legend of Zelda, and a messed up imagination. Let me tell you right now, it works. With randomized dungeon layouts and bosses, multiple characters and hundreds of items, there is literally no identical playthroughs in this game. Throw in the difficulty and this game becomes devilishly addictive. I can’t even imagine how much there is for me to still discover in this game, not to mention the fact that DLC is on its way adding even more stuff to the game. Normally, a game being short is a bad thing, however, in The Binding of Isaac, it almost adds to the experience, and stops frustration occurring if you die, which I more than likely will. Plus, yet again, it’s rather cheap, so you really have no excuse to try this rather wonderfully disturbing game.
8. Batman: Arkham City
Now, Batman: Arkham Asylum was one of my favourite games of all time, finally giving the dark knight the game he deserves. So, what could you do to top that, well, as a wise man once said, you make it bigger, better and more badass. That’s exactly Rocksteady did with the sequel, Arkham City. Adding more villains, awesome obscure references, gadgets, things to do and riddles to solve than we could have ever even hoped for after playing the original. Not to mention giving us a giant playground to play in, both as batman and catwoman, and my word did they make me one happy gamer. Oh yeah, and I almost forgot, this game has some of the best writers around, great story, witty dialogue and fantastic characters, this game is an absolute god send, to bat fans, and non-bat fans all around the world.
7. Dead Space 2
What could possibly be scarier than a zombie game? how about a zombie game in space. Okay, okay, I realise that they’re not zombies technically, but are in fact necromorphs, which, are like zombies, but faster, stronger and scarier. Dead Space 2 is a survival horror game, with a twisted, captivating story and some great characters too. With great re-playability thanks to the new game plus feature, which you will almost certainly need to complete the hardcore difficulty setting (3 saves only, punished with a return to your last save upon death). Truly a triumph to the survival horror game, dead space 2 took everything that made the original game great, and turned it up to 11. If you like to scare the pants right off yourself, no game will do it better than dead space 2.
6. Gears of War 3
Gears of War 3 is all about blowing stuff up, shooting locust guts out and stomping their alien faces into the floor. You may be able to talk about the story, and yes, it was nice to see and ending to the trilogy, however, (for me at least) it was just an excuse to keep me going and kill more locust. With a great variety of game modes, including horde 2.0, which is definitely the standout mode of the game. Throw the versus, beast and campaign modes into the mix, and you have a great game which you can play for hours on end and have a huge amount of fun with. Let’s face it, there’s nothing quite like making a mans head explode into a million little pieces with your sniper rifle.
Many people just say this game is a 2D minecraft clone, but it’s so much more. With an emphasis on combat and exploration, and building becoming a smaller part of the game, mainly used to make houses for NPC’s you unlock. There are so many things to discover in this game, from rocket boots to giant eye’s trying to eat you, this game will keep on surprising you every time you play it. Play this on multiplayer and let the good times keep on rolling, if you’re looking for exploration, combat and crazy, screen-filling enemies, then you can’t go wrong with this wonderful indie title.
4. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Well, if you’re looking for exploration, combat and massive enemies, but aren’t so big on the 2D aspect of Terraria, then you may have heard of a little game called Skyrim. With a massive world, an unbelievable amount of quests and a huge amount of ways to play the game, it would be an understatement to say this game is big. Players can delve dozens and dozens of hours into this game and still not even scratch the surface of what this game has to offer. I mean really, any game that literally lets you become a dragon hunter…well, who can knock that?
Just one word, creepers. If any of you have played Minecraft, then you’ll know what I am talking about. If not, well, just play this game. Minecraft is an odd sort of game, in that you only get out of it what you’re willing to put in. If you’re not willing to spend time building little huts out of dirt and wood, then you’ll never get the chance to build that blocky empire you’ve been dreaming of…unless of course you play in creative mode, but that’s just cheating. This is a game which can be whatever you want it to be, adventure, resource gathering, level creator and survival horror (trust me, creepers and endermen can be horribly scary) all mashed up into one beautiful blocky masterpiece.
2. Portal 2
If you’re looking something to rattle your brain til your ready to explode (in a good way), then look no further than portal 2. Nobody could have possibly expected how much valve added into the sequel to the already fantastic mind melter that was portal. They added all we could have hoped for and more, gels and lasers added more layers of complexity, the fantastic co-op let us test out the theory of ‘two heads are better than one’ (which mostly ended up in me and friends finder more complex ways of getting the other one killed) and the single player game gave us GLaDOS and Wheatley, two of the best, and funniest characters I have ever had the pleasure on encountering in a game. If nothing else, play this just for the sheer delight of listening to Steven merchant trying to get you to jump into a pit.
1. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
Well, let’s face it, to say the Wii has had a bad year would be an understatement. However Skyward Sword makes up for it and more. This game re-enforces everything I love about Nintendo, the game oozes charm and character, and even the smallest of characters are lovingly memorable. I can’t remember a moment of playing this game without a great big cheesy smile pasted across my face. Ocarina of Time is considered by man to still be the greatest game of all time, but let me tell you now, Skyward Sword gives it a run for its money, and only time will tell which one triumphs over the other. With the WiiU on the horizon, Skyward Sword gave us one last huge reason to dust off our Wii and show it a great time. This was also one of the first games which I have actually felt like motion controls enhanced the experience, With almost everything controlled with Wii motion plus, precision control is the word of the day, putting you one step closer to being the hero, with every slash and thrust being mirrored perfectly by the game. Although the wii is very dated, skyward sword manages to look astonishing, even on this aging system, managing to look like a moving, beautiful watercolour painting. Simply put, this game is a masterpiece, a love letter to Nintendo fans, and the perfect way to celebrate 25 years of one of (if not the) best game series of all time.
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