In scientific terms, I believe a “metric shit ton” would be the appropriate phrase to describe the amount of games that flooded the market this year. They weren’t flukes either, as some unbelievably amazing titles far outshadowed the crappy wastes of time. As one is to do at the end of the year, I’ve compiled my ten favorites that I played this year in an ever-so-cliche list. So without further ado…
Few games speak to personal issues that most people have, but Catherine managed to do so. While problems I’ve had weren’t directly parallel to Vince’s struggles, they were close enough and it helped me bond a bit more closely to the game. Aside from the many times I nearly chucked a controller at the nearest hard surface, the puzzles were so different and the story was so engaging that I will always remember and love Catherine.
9. Saints Row: The Third
Damn, this game is fucking bananas. Sorry for my bluntness, but that specific phrase always comes back to me whenever I think of Saints Row: The Third. That and the time I chased some gimps decorated in S&M gear in exploding chariots. I could easily list off at least a dozen other moments, but I’ll leave these golden occasions for when you actually play it. You are gonna play it, right?
8. Dead Space 2
I’d be lying if I said I liked Dead Space 2 more than the original, but I’d also be fibbing through my teeth if I said Dead Space 2 wasn’t a disgustingly glorious work of art. While the spawns still remain to be the largest flaw and scares are recycled, just about everything from story to gameplay is done at such a phenomenally high quality that most other games can only aspire to. Also, the Hardcore Mode (which warrants only three saves and no checkpoints) is one of the best ways to experience true terror. Nothing says “fuck you” more than five hours of lost progress, but not much else gives you reason to air guitar when you finally see the credits roll. Yes, I mimed an air guitar when I completed it on Hardcore. Don’t judge me.
7. Resistance 3
I played a decent amount of first-person shooters this year, and while some of them were good, nothing stood out more than Resistance 3. Having an army’s worth of firearms all at once at my fingertips made every firefight an absolute blast to partake in. Choosing which weapon and which path to take made every fight unique and gave me an excuse to upgrade all of my weapons. I felt Insomniac finally got to make the Resistance game they’ve always wanted to make. It’s about time.
6. Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception
Expectations ran rampant in my first playthrough. It took me over a month to temper them, wait for a patch, and give it another go with a fresh, new mindset. I’m glad I did because Uncharted 3 is easily one of the best games this year even if it stumbles in a few new areas. I punched, shot, got shot, solved puzzles, snapped necks, and climbed around the world with some of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen in a video game. Top it off with hectic firefights, larger-than-life moments, and satisfying story and you’ve got one of the best games of 2011.
5. Portal 2
I may have felt like a virtuoso in puzzle solving, but that is nothing compared to the geniuses who created this game. Witty dialogue, deviously designed puzzles, unique co-op, and one of the best endings this year all help place Portal 2 fairly high up on my list. Now I just have to wait to become more stupid so I forget the solutions and play it again.
4. LittleBigPlanet 2
I have a confession to make: I didn’t play as much LittleBigPlanet 2 as I would have wanted. I sunk nearly forty hours into it, but still feel guilty about not putting more into it. To be fair, I don’t know how much would be “enough.” With nearly endless content to experience and create, I could spend years playing it whether it be sifting through the online user-created levels, making my own abominations (although I did think my level was pretty good), or collecting all of the items in the campaign. Few games on this list display such an undeniable whimsy but remain fun enough for all ages and types of people. I can’t wait to dive back in.
3. inFamous 2
inFamous 2 was a worthy sequel to an amazing first entry that improved upon the formula in almost every way. Feeling like a monkey with a battery shoved up its ass felt fresh in the first game, and here they only raised the bar by making it even faster, intuitive, and just giving you a whole lot more to mess around with. Experimenting with the different karmic sides and powers in the beautiful city of New Marais made for some of the best moments I had this year and I’d love to give it another go. Having endings on that polarized on each side of the karmic scale, I have no idea what the future of the franchise will be, but I can’t wait to see it, regardless of what it is.
2. Mortal Kombat
I poured about twenty hours into this masterpiece of a fighting game. I’m sorry, I meant to say I put over twenty hours into the freaking demo. As of this writing, my stats are closing in at ninety hours and I’m not even seeing an end in sight. So many fatalities, so much quality content, and so many fun times to be had. If you like fighting games at all, this should be on your shelf. Or better yet, in your console.
1. Batman: Arkham City
I think that if I fellate this game any harder and louder, I’d probably wake the neighbors up and alert the authorities. Chances are, if I know you, I’ve gushed over this game and probably downright threatened you to play it. I don’t do that with every game, but Batman: Arkham City is just that special. This game has it all starting with deep but welcoming combat, challenging stealth that isn’t too demanding, beautiful visuals and equally great voice acting, boss fights that are actually fun, and it’s all wrapped up in a ballsy story that I’ll never forget.
See? There I go again with the fellating.
Honorable Mentions (in no particular order): Bulletstorm, Killzone 3, Crysis 2, Shadows of the Damned
Yes, those are my top ten for the year, but what about yours? Be sure to tell me in the comments below!
*Note: Games that were “disqualified” were titles that were released in previous years or HD Collections. While I would have loved to throw Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater HD at the top of that list, something didn’t feel so right about that even though it is a classic. Same goes with Mass Effect 2, Limbo, and Vanquish which were all fantastic, I was just late on them.
Also, this isn’t the end-all, be-all of lists. Lists like these are compiled with how I’m feeling at the time so these, besides the first two, aren’t really cemented in but more of a general approximation. Scores also didn’t dictate positions.