Monday, January 9, 2012

Happy New Year (Best of 2011)

I figured I'd kick off 2012 with a brief summary of the games I loved in 2011 and end it with my game of the year, which means this will be a pretty long post.

99% of my gaming was on the PS3, so unfortunately while I played a little of some great PC games (Bastion, Terraria, etc.), I didn't play them enough for them to rank on this list. I really hope to get into them in 2012 though cause they're pretty amazing.

So without further ado, my favorite games of 2011, listed in the order of their release:

Ico/Shadow of the Colossus Collection (PS3) - Sadly I didn't get into game as much as I wanted. It was followed with some pretty huge games. But I loved it on the PS2, and once I get a spare moment I will definitely get back to finishing at least Shadow of the Colossus (which I never finished on the PS2 either).

Dark Souls (PS3) - I didn't finish Shadow of the Colossus because of this game. The spiritual successor to Demon's Souls is without a doubt one of the best games I've ever played. But it was also one of the darkest, most depressing games I've ever played. Peter Tell on the Fall Damage podcast put it well in their year end Fallies Award show that the oppressive nature of the game increases the further you get. Unfortunately I haven't gotten around to finishing this either, but Blighttown has to be (lag aside) one of the darkest, most depressing areas of a game I've ever played (outside of pretty much any area in any Silent Hill game). I'm not claustrophobic, but I was while playing this game. Even so, I haven't had that much fun dying in a game as I did in Dark Souls.

Uncharted 3 (PS3) - Want to know why I didn't finish Dark Souls? Look no further than Uncharted 3. Do you see a pattern? October through November was a crazy time for games. I love the Uncharted series. It's probably the best series of games of this generation. Uncharted 2 is still regarded as one of the best games on the PS3. I absolutely loved Uncharted 3. So much that I started it again on crushing difficulty immediately after finishing it. Some of the set pieces were absolutely incredible (although nothing tops the train sequence from Uncharted 2 for me). Still, it was an amazing game. One I look forward to playing through again and again, as I have with Uncharted 1 and 2. It's like watching a great action movie.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (PS3) - What else can I say about Skyrim? The last time I posted about this game my main quest was broken (it still is), and I was frustrated and unmotivated because of it. But then I, reluctantly, started over. Thankfully it was almost more fun the 2nd time. I flew through the main quest, making sure not to trigger the same bug as before, and finished the main story in about 12 hours. While I still have my old save in the hopes of a fix for that bug, I plan on going through all the side quests now with my restarted character. The main quest is done and I still have a ton of content left. Some will be replays of quests I did the first time around, but with as much fun as I had redoing 95% of the main quest again (I was shocked how close to the end I was), I have no doubt I'll love replaying some quests (most of the Mage College), and loving the ones I didn't get to (Companions, Dark Brotherhood, Thieves Guild, etc.). A lot of websites gave this the Game of the Year. There's a reason for that.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Wii)- I've had a hard time with some recent Zelda games. Twilight Princess was really good, but it felt stale, and it took far too long to really get going. Zelda has a certain formula that hasn't changed much in years. That's good I suppose but I needed and hoped for Skyward Sword to change it up enough to get me excited about a Zelda game again. Thankfully it did. The only problem it I was neck deep in Skyrim when it came out. I'm not good at multitasking games, especially with so many great ones. So while I tried to juggle Skyward Sword with Skyrim, Skyrim ultimately won that battle. But I did get to the first Silent Realm, and I really want to get back to it and go through the entire game. The changes they made to the traditional Zelda formula made it feel fresh and exciting to play. Unfortunately it still has all the annoying things about Zelda games, presumably from Nintendo thinking all of it's fans are perpetually 12 years old. But still, it's easy to look past being reminded nearly every time how many rupees you get with a red one (20) when the rest of the game is so great.

Game of the Year - The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (PS3)
This was actually kind of tough. With so many amazing games out within weeks of each other I feel like I didn't really get adequate time with each one (even though I played Uncharted 3 almost 2 full times). But the fact is I keep coming back to Skyrim. And even though a main quest bug nearly did me in, when I restarted I was rejuvenated and excited about it all over again. The main quest, while pretty good, isn't even the best part of the game. There's just so much to do and you feel like your shaping the world you're in. All of the side quests, from the Companions to the Mage College, the Dark Brotherhood and the Thieves Guild are so deep, they could make entire games of their own.

So while 2011 had a lot of great games, I'be got to give the edge to Skyrim.