Saturday, December 31, 2011

Top Five: Video Games of 2011

  • Here they are, the five games that defined the year for me. As always, keep in mind that I'm only picking games that I've actually played. So if there is some awesome game that I'm missing, it's likely that I never played it. Or maybe you have really poor taste. Whichever excuse works for you.

  • Bastion - Everyone wants to parody the narrator now, but no one can find the right voice. That's because it is not just some trick. There is a strong, well told story throughout Bastion that only Supergiant Games could tell. But even acknowledging that, it would be a crime to let that distract from the amazing art style and its tight Action RPG roots. It works on every level, as a story, as a game, and as a work of art. Bastion is a game that will stay with me for a long time.

  • Dark Souls - There is no way I can think of that I should have liked this game. Any one of the punishing difficulty, the opaque game systems, or the lack of any direction would normally be enough to keep me from even purchasing a game. But Dark Souls proved to me that I actually can enjoy such a game. I may have put the game aside for now. But I will return. I will return and I will earn every soul that I can take.

  • Portal 2 - Valve was in an impossible position when they built a sequel to Portal, one of the best games of all time. That Portal 2 was not only a great sequel, but arguably a better game is amazing to me. It may not have been as surprising (the twist is not so surprising and Want You Gone is no Still Alive), but the emotional resonance is much more intense. The long, melacholy climb through the history of Aperture Science and the frantic, inspired finale left me stunned when the game was over. It may have been a little long, but I can't think of a single thing to cut. And I love the game this much without ever trying the co-op. It is that good.

  • Rift - Try as I might, I have trouble staying away from the launch of a new MMO. The sense of discovery and the inevitable community discussion are a strong attractor. So Rift drew me in and, for a few weeks, it was great to visit an entirely new world. Eventually I ran aground on the single player content, but I don't regret the time I spent with the game.

  • Saints Row: The Third - The insanity of this game paired with the quality of its systems means that playing Saints Row: The Third is pure joy. The missions are great, the open world activities are challenging, and the exploration is actually fun. If there is one compliment that I can give this game, it is that SR3 is the one game that I would consider attempting to complete one hundred percent and I never do that.

  • My honorable mention goes to Panzer Corps: Wehrmacht. It has one of the most fulfilling tutorial campaigns that I've ever seen. If only I hadn't been distracted before I got very far into the real campaign.

  • Now that you've seen my list, what were your favorite games of the year?


  1. Hrm... that's a hard one. I did finally play Arkham Asylum for the first time in 2011, and lots of Minecraft, so those will have to rate highly no matter their release dates. Other than that, I really liked Might and Magic: Clash of Heroes, and Frozen Synapse is fantastic. Recettear is also really good.

    All that aside, though, Professor Layton and the Unwound Future has to be my absolute favorite of 2011. The emotional resonance was just that much better than any other game, even though the gameplay isn't anything earth shattering.

  2. I'm so glad to see someone else loved Bastion the way I did.s

  3. @ Tesh - I have Unwound Future but I haven't lit up my DS in months. What am I thinking?!?

    @ wemustdissent - That game has stuck with me for a long time. I really need to go back and see the other ending.