Michael's Top 5 Games of 2011

Wow, what a year 2011 has brought us. It seems that every month we were getting high caliber games that could easily make anyone's goty post. Plus we can forget about taking the summer off of gaming with publishers being more aggressive during that season as well as Microsoft's incredible Summer of Live promotion. This was a fun list to make, but I would love to expand this to my top ten, maybe even top twenty games of 2011. Yes, we've had that many great games this year.

5. Resistance 3

Resistance 3 completely took me off guard. The premiere in the series was my first glimpse of a PS3 game and while I was impressed graphically, the game itself did little to enforce that this was the future of gaming. Then came Resistance 2 with its big ideas but failed execution at being anything interesting. R2 became just another me-too shooter that had me questioning Insomniac’s ability to craft an interesting FPS.

But Resistance 3 proved the company can in fact make something of interest but also going in a new direction. R3 followed a new main character that was an engaging story about a dad searching for his family in this war torn era. Interesting set pieces, unique weapons, and a robust multiplayer made this a must play for PlayStation owners. It’s also a plus that the entire campaign can be played cooperatively in which we rarely ran into any hitches in the system. Don’t let Resistance 3 pass you up, this became my favorite exclusive for the PlayStation 3 family.

4. Super Mario 3D Land

I begrudgingly picked up a 3DS early only to enroll into the Ambassadors program, which I admit as duly paid off with some nice GBA and NES picks. But my damn 3DS set on it’s charger bay for months and was only touched by my nieces to not play any games with but take pictures using the 3D camera. Nintendo did nothing for months except releasing older games that I had no interest playing through again. Then finally Super Mario 3D Land was released in this crowded holiday season, and I’m very glad I made time for this game.

Super Mario 3D Land combines everything interesting about the Mario series, but spins it in a new direction. This is a 2D/3D style game where it’s mostly played in a 2D perspective but opens up occasionally for Mario to explore larger areas. The 3D itself looks great, although is not necessary for those who cannot see 3D visuals. When I think Nintendo could be running out of ideas of how to handle side-scrollers, they come up with completely new mechanics that they spread out to help keep the game feeling fresh, you never feel like the game becomes repetitive. It’s a superb entry in the Mario series and the first 3DS game that made me glad I purchased Nintendo’s newest handheld.

3. Minecraft

While the beta was originally released in late 2010, the actual game launch happened in mid November 2011. I was a little late to the party buying the game early in the Spring but have hopped back into this game countless times throughout the year. Some might not classify this as an actual game, but I think the possibilities this game gives you are limitless. Minecraft is a huge sandbox game allowing you to make it into whatever you want.

Minecraft is essentially a digging/forging game. You build a house by day, but must resort to indoor or digging at night in fear of dying from the different monsters that roam the land. The visual style is very simple yet looks amazing for what little visual flair it has. The main draw of the game is the forging and building of whatever your mind can come up with. It’s fun searching YouTube to see the different worlds Minecraft fans have come up with. One major knack I have of the game is that it is simply missing a crafting guide within the game, but their are plenty of resources out on the web that explains in detail what all you can do with Minecraft. The greatest time I had with this game was the multiplayer, in which a bunch of us from Darkstation ran around mining through caves and building crazy obscene homes and statues. I strongly recommend anyone to purchase this with a PC they like to game on, or you could wait for the 360 release coming sometime in 2012.

2) Batman: Arkham City

Batman: Arkham Asylum grabbed a hold of the gaming community and never let go becoming, in my opinion, the greatest licensed character to date. The game had everything: a unique combat system, a compelling story with an interesting setting, and a character that many gaming and comic book nerds love. Batman: Arkham City was everything rad about the first in the entry but gave everyone more of what they wanted.

Batman: Arkham City might not bring much newness to the table, but the game was already refined enough that I did not mind playing a game that was very similar to the first. Arkham City was a bigger world for us to explore and was jam packed with interesting side stories to go along with the 15+ hour single player campaign. It also had a boisterous amount of characters that were all well voice acted. I can’t say enough nice things about Batman; anyone with any interest in the Dark Knight should give this game a try.

1. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Where do I even begin with this game? Skyrim has completely blown me away on all counts and has quickly became one of my favorite games of all time. The depth, the story, the amount of variety and the entrancially detailed world is only a glimpse of what Skyrim has waiting for you to explore. The game could be daunting to some, but gamers who know their way around a RPG will be very comfortable exploring the vast world of Skyrim.

I have to mention the degree of detail this game goes through. Not only is the world map vastly different wherever you are exploring, but I have yet to find a single cave that looked similar to the last. Plus this game has dragons, an enemy type that is a journey to combat each time you fight through one, and is one of the many different random events that can happen. I once was in the middle of a dragon fight which I was losing until a giant and a mammoth came to my rescue and finished the dragon off. You never really know what can happen in Skyrim which is amazing for such an open world game. I have over a day’s worth of play and have barely done anything with the main story itself. Once you start this game, prepare to get completely sucked into the staggering amount of gameplay that makes up Skyrim. Dovahkiin!

Honorable Mention: Dead Space 2