What a year for video games, eh? After the onslaught that was October and November, I was surprised to go back and discover the sheer number of games that came out at the start of the year and during the summer drought. While 2011 saw the return of favored franchises, we also saw some great new IP from our favorite development studios. Putting this list together was pretty difficult. I could have easily stretched this list out into a Top 10 Games of 2011, but I couldn't and after losing a night's sleep over it, I feel pretty confident in my choices. In my mind, it isn't enough for a game to be just "good." Great games are those that stick with us long after sitting through the end credits. So, without further ado, here are my Top 5 Games of 2011.
Catherine deserves some mention because it is a game that no one would ever think to make in a time when sequels get top billing. Seriously, a tower-based puzzle game wrapped in a story about marriage and commitment? The ending takes a bit of an odd turn, but what should one expect from the creator of the Persona series?
4. Dead Space 2
Part of me feels bad that my list is filled primarily with sequels, but credit needs to be given where credit is due. Dead Space 2 is a game that is almost entirely different from its predecessor, as it gave its silent protagonist a voice and introduced some really crazy and spine tingling set pieces that still haunt me to this day (I get squeamish every time I think about the bit that involved getting that needle in Clarke’s eye. UGH!). It also had a really amazing soundtrack.
3. Batman: Arkham City
Arkham City does what a proper sequel should: expands on the core concepts of the first game while introducing new mechanics that enhance the experience without bogging the game down or collapsing under the weight of its content. The larger playground for Batman to play in was designed well and side missions didn’t feel shoehorned but instead highlight Batman’s ability with detective work. Spectacular performances by Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill enhance what was an already stellar product.
2. Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Like many others, I find myself addicted to the world of Skyrim, often going into the game and spending hours just fooling around instead of taking on quests. In many ways, it is better than Oblivion and I appreciate the changes they made thanks, in part, to a much needed engine change and their work on Fallout 3. Unfortunately, a few bugs and glitches prevent the game from being a flawless experience, one that I hope future patches will ultimately fix.
1. Deus Ex: Human Revolution
Like, LA Noire, Deus EX: Human Revolution was a title that really resonated with me. One of my all time favorite films is Ridley Scott’s “Blade Runner” and I’ve always wanted a game set in that world. When the movie tie-in adventure game failed in that task, Human Revolution was the one to ultimately scratch that itch. Not only did the game world enchant me, Human Revolution was the one game I kept going back to despite all the other titles being released at the time. An engrossing world, solid gameplay and an immersive story were the ingredients necessary to make Deus Ex: Human Revolution, my game of the year.
Honorable Mention: Portal 2, L.A. Noire, Shadows of the Damned
Librarian by day, Darkstation review editor by night. I've been playing video games since the days of the Commodore 64 and I have no interest in stopping now that I've made it this far.