So 2011 has come and gone and it was another banner year for gaming. I’m a little late getting this up and out there so here we go. I spent a ridiculous amount of money on games and had a blast along the way. Putting together a top 10 list is always hard, because I always feel like there are some games that deserved mentioning that got left behind, so like last year, I am going with a top 20. I put a lot of time and consideration into my list, and some hard decisions had to be made, but I think for me, this list represents the best of the best from 2011 as I see it.
Now obviously, I did not play every single game that came out this year, so if you don’t see a certain Zelda game on the list, that’s because I don’t own a Wii, so it wasn’t considered.
One other noticeable exclusion is The Witcherer 2. Now I have a pretty beastly computer and could have totally run it, but the announcement that the game is going to be released on XBox 360 made me decide to wait until then, so I am positive it will end up on my 2012 list. Sorry, I may be packing a GTX 590 in my rig, but I’d still rather play my games on a console whenever possible. That’s also another reason why there are probably some deserving PC games that missed the party as well.
Without any further ado, I present to you, the ShockblastMedia.com Top 20 Games of 2011:
20. Mortal Kombat – I am not into fighting games, but how could I not include this game in the running for the best of 2011? All the classics were back, and throw in some characters like Kratos and Freddy Kreuger, and it was over. It was awesome to see one of the classic games of my youth get the current gen treatment it deserved.
19. Saints Row: The Third – This game is as over-the-top as it gets and really just a bucket of fun. The absolute only thing that prevented it from ranking higher on my list was the fact that every single time I accidentally run over a rival gang member, I end up getting bum-rushed by that gang until I either die or find a hideout, which is not always such an easy task. I didn’t spend as much time with it as I wanted to with Skyrim dropping a few days later, but I know there are hours of fun waiting for me now that my Skyrim time is waning.
18. Killzone 3 – So Killzone 2 was the first Playstation 3 game I purchased and I never really made it that far. It just didn’t do a whole lot for me. So when Killzone 3 came out, I was tentative. There was no way I was buying it at full price, but seeing the super special edition on clearance for $30 certainly caught my attention, and I am glad that it did. To be quite honest, I enjoyed this more than I did any Halo game I have ever played, and overall it was a solid effort. The graphics were solid, even though the game froze my barely used PS3 a few times.
17. Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 – I almost considered leaving this game off my list this year, but that would have been a tad bit ridiculous, because even with a cookie cutter template to work with, the artists still kind of known as Infinity Ward and Sledgehammer did manage to put together a solid game, and even an average Call Of Duty game is still better than most. The Kill Confirmed game type was the first time I found myself enjoying Call Of Duty multi-player in a long time, and there is absolutely no denying that Modern Warfare 3 packs a ton of content in the over-all package. Hey, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?
16. Crysis 2 – The original Crysis had been the benchmark for graphical standards for quite some time, and the folks at Crytek definitely pushed the limits with their entry into the world of consoles on Crysis 2. With the original Crysis having been remastered for XBox 360 later on in the summer and having had a chance to experience both, I have to say that Crysis 2 definitely took the franchise to a new level. It was very fortunate that the campaign was so much fun, because the multi-player was very flawed and I didn’t enjoy it as much as I had hoped. With that said, the game itself was simply outstanding, and easily one of my favorites of the year.
15. Bulletstorm – A space-pirate with a potty mouth and insanely awesome guns for toys. Sign me up. So I had higher expectations for the game over-all, but early on in 2011, I couldn’t wait to get out of work to go home and keep playing this game. It wasn’t perfect, but the graphics were fantastic, the characters were memorable and it was flat out fun. That’s about the most that can be asked for.
14. Trenched/Iron Brigade – Wow! I have never been a big tower defense player, but this is the game that totally put that genre on my radar. While the game has been rebranded as Iron Brigade, I will forever know it as Trenched, and the four player co-op was a ton of fun. I played this for hours on end with three of my friends until we got perfect scores on every single level, and the customization of the actual trenches was pretty cool. I loved spamming mines in front of the spawn areas for the enemy waves. It just felt so dirty to insta-kill them before they even had a chance. Because of the cost and amount of time you’d get out of it, it’s an absolute no-brainer purchase.
13. Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception – This game belongs on my list, because it really was a great game with great graphics and killer cinematics, I just had a really hard time finding where to put it. The absolute high quality of the game made me feel like this was a little low, but at the end of the day, I really am not a huge fan of this game. I enjoyed Killzone 3 more, but there was no denying that this was better. If you are actually a fan of the franchise and style of play, it was probably easily in your top 3.
12. Dead Island – I am not a zombie guy, but I really feel like Dead Island changed the way I look at zombie games. This game sold itself to me off the debut trailer, and I know I am certainly not alone in that regard. It ended up being a smash hit and a few glitches aside, was just about everything you could hope for in an open world game. It was also pretty hard, which made the four person co-op aspect that much more valuable in game play. I had a love/hate thing going on with how hard it was, as the game could be virtually unplayable alone. Then I figured out how to duplicate items and, while I hesitate to say it was a piece of cake, it at least became fairly manageable. This was definitely one of the bigger surprises of 2011 for sure.
11. RAGE – There are a lot of reasons that this game should be ranked much higher, but at the same time, just as many that it could not be ranked all together. With the amount of time it took for the game to be released, it was a bit disappointing that it ended up that the entire experience wasn’t a bit more memorable. Don’t get me wrong, the game is great, the graphics are amazing and it was a bit of a different take on the whole post-apocalyptic thing, but I felt almost no attachment to my playable character and the ending was fairly lame. With that said, there was a lot to really love about RAGE, though it seems like it is going to be one and done instead of a series.
10. Portal 2 – So for most people, this game would probably be much higher on the list, and I don’t deny this was an outstanding game, it just wasn’t my style. I really enjoyed the banter and I can totally see why people adore everything about this game, which is exactly why it made its’ way into the top 10 on my list.
9. Gears Of War 3 – Surprisingly, I had never really played very much Gears Of War until this game, and it was actually Bulletstorm that made me want to give the franchise a try. I had a vague understanding of the story and had seen the main characters countless times, so it wasn’t that big of a deal jumping in right at the end, and my god, what an experience it was. This was a story that did everything you would hope a video game would do, with some of the more memorable moments that would happen in gaming this year. Third person shooters are still not my preference, but I really enjoyed this one, and I plan on going back and playing the first two at some point soon (totally copped the Triple Pack for 10 bucks on Black Friday).
8. Hunted: The Demon’s Forge – This one kind of came out of nowhere for me, and it was easily one of the more under-appreciated games of 2011. It was fun to run through with co-op, and the story was very dramatic and kept me on the edge of my seat. The ending was pretty shocking, and I instantly regretted a decision I made earlier in the game that led me to my ending. I enjoyed playing as E’lara, as the bow-and-arrow game play was pretty much the best I’ve experienced to date. Plus, Lucy Lawless voiced a character. I mean, that’s just an instant win right there.
7. Dragon Age 2 – So I have absolutely no doubt that there are going to be a lot of people that disagree with me on this one, but I absolutely loved this game, and get this, I loved it much more than the first. There may have been a more streamlined or even linear approach to the game, but it worked, and it worked well. I also really enjoyed the fully voiced conversations. The story was pretty awesome, and I am really looking forward to what Bioware does in the third installment. I spent countless hours on this game and it was one of the few I actually ran through completely more than once with a different class and in an effort to get a different ending.
6. LA Noire – This game was not perfect, and as a pure shooter it was actually more bad then good, but I’ll be damned if Team Bondi didn’t hit everything else out of the park. From atmosphere, to graphics, to story and most importantly the facial expressions on the graphics, LA Noire was a masterpiece of a game that in many years, would have been the best. It is sad and unfortunate to hear all of the stuff that has come out since the game’s release about the studio, and I hope this doesn’t prevent a second game in the series that was alluded to at the end of this one from eventually seeing the light of day.
5. Deus Ex: Human Revolution – This is the point in my list where it starts to be difficult to put them in any kind of order, as it almost doesn’t feel right saying Deus Ex: Human Revolution was my fifth best game of the year. This game was flat out phenomenal and Adam Jensen is easily one of my favorite video game protagonists of all time. This is a case where Eidos got about 97% of everything right, and the absolute only gripe I have with the game is how it ended. All four endings.
4. Batman: Arkham City – So I am a huge comic book fan, but for some reason, I have always found myself doing everything I can to avoid Batman. I sort of do the same thing with Superman, Spiderman and a few other uber-popular characters, but those days are over. It almost feels criminal to list Batman: Arkham City as the #4 game of 2011, because it is easily the greatest comic book related video game ever made. I loved Arkham Asylum, but thi
3. Battlefield 3 – If you had told me at the beginning of 2011 that Battlefield 3 would only make it to #3 on my Game of the Year list, I probably would have cried, because this was easily my most anticipated game of 2011. It definitely delivered, but somehow two games came out that managed to bump the single greatest multiplayer shooter experience on the market out of the #1 spot. The campaign in Battlefield 3 was nothing to right hope about, but seriously, who plays a Battlefield game for a campaign? Battlefield is and always has been about the multi-player, and the folks at DICE certainly delivered. Battlefield 3 has something for everyone. If you are purely a run-and-gunner, Team Deathmatch in Battlefield 3 is super-fast paced and right up your alley. I have seen COD bad-kids complain about having to walk forever to actually get into the battle and the second they got there they ended up getting killed and thusly, Battlefield 3 was terrible. Well kids, you’re doing it wrong. I am personally a tank kind of guy, and I absolutely love the tank-play in Battlefield 3. The maps are pretty awesome, and the Back To Karkand map pack really added a new flavor to the game by introducing some classic Battlefield maps to the fray. The graphics are incredible, especially when you run the game at full settings on the PC. This is the shooter that all other shooters should be judged on.
2. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – It actually hurts to list this at #2, because this is very clearly the best game ever made on a console. I was going to do a tie for #1, but that’s a total cop-out, and I had to make a decision, and that made Skyrim a super-close runner-up. Had it not been for a glitch preventing me from getting the last two achievements from Thieves Guild quests to give me 1000/1000 gamer score for the game, maybe my last impression of playing the game would have been slightly less negative and this would have been my game of the year. As a matter of fact, I might even say this was in fact the Game of the Year two out of the seven days in a week. So needless to say, it was close. This was truly an achievement in gaming
1. Star Wars: The Old Republic – I have never been a PC gamer, but this game forced me to go out and drop over two grand on an over-the-top rig that would let me run this game at absolute maximum potential. I am a massive Star Wars junky and Knights Of The Old Republic easily ranks as my favorite video game of all time, so The Old Republic finding a way to beat out Skyrim for my Game Of The Year really shouldn’t be much of a surprise. Even knowing all of that, I didn’t think it was possibly that Skyrim could be topped, but it most certainly has. I’m not going to get into any of that WOW-killer nonsense, because quite frankly, I don’t care. What I do care about is that Star Wars: The Old Republic is easily 300+ hours of story possibilities right out of the box, with eight character classes and all of them having their own distinct path and story. I have already invested over 120 hours into the game with three characters, and I have barely hit the half-way point with my Sith Warrior. The graphics are incredible, the story is a joy to experience and fully voiced conversations between your character and NPC’s are a true achievement in gaming. It may have taken Bioware forever to get this game out and on the market, but they did it right and there is no doubt in my mind that this is not just the Game of the Year for 2011, but easily one of the greatest games ever made.
Top Five Disappointments of 2011:
5. SOCOM 4: US Navy Seals/Operation Flashpont: Red River – A tie because I couldn’t decide which game was worse. Both are games I was really excited about and really wanted to like, but both ended up being games that I think failed miserably. SOCOM was just a bad game. As a shooter, I just didn’t like the way it felt.
4. Brink – So much hype, so much potential, such en epic flop. The premise of the game was great, but the game suffered from massive lag that at times made it completely unplayable. The AI was atrocious, so it wasn’t even worth playing by yourself, even at the easiest difficulty, but early on, there was almost no choice since the game was so damn laggy. Bethesda ended up giving away free DLC because of the horrible start the game got off time, and even though I downloaded it, I never bothered going back and trying it out. This game is regularly sold for 10 bucks a pop at this point and stores still can’t get rid of it. Rough.
3. Homefront – Man, this one hurt. Like a few games on this list, I really, really wanted to like this game, but the multiplayer was just terrible. The single player was OK, with a few overly dramatic moments, but then there was the multiplayer, which I felt like I was playing on low definition and was generally just a mess. It had all the right ideas, just terrible execution. I actually played an alpha build of the game way before launch and to be completely honest, I don’t know that there was a huge difference, and realistically, it should have been all the warning I needed.
2. DC Universe Online – This is the reason I bought a Playstation 3. It was… OK, but it could have been so much more. There was no way I was paying a monthly subscription fee to continue playing that game, and it was borderline impossible to communicate and group up with friends once the game got going. As an open world, RPG style game, this could have been outstanding as a single player game, or even with simple co-op. There is such a vast array of amazing characters in the DC Universe that are fun and exciting to experience, so hopefully the next game of this nature is more along the lines of Marvel Ultimate Alliance.
1. Duke Nukem Forever – I mean, I’m really piling on at this point. It is fairly rare that I flat out give up on a game. Usually I’ll stick it through just to finish the story. This game was so bad, I couldn’t even do that. The Duke deserved better, but at the end of the day, he was pretty cheesy to begin with. Duke was ground breaking at one point, but I really can’t foresee a way to make him relevant again. RIP Duke.