Video gaming in 2011 had its share of imagination and innovation. Sure there were the motion control gaming device battles between the Xbox Kinect, the PlayStation Move, and the ever trusty Wii ‒ but it was the strides in traditional console gaming that truly caught our eye. Gaming studios this year that deserve some major kudos are 2K, Ubisoft, and Sucker Punch who produced great games; some of which did not make it to the list. Below are a collection of games, most of which have already been released. Each are included based on factors including but not limited to the quality of execution, the large fan following they have attracted, everlasting and fulfilling gameplay, and timelessness. Here is our list starting from number 10 and ending with what we consider the top game of the year.
10. NBA 2K12
The NBA 2K series has largely maintained its commitment to authentic and challenging basketball gameplay. I personally have experience with last year’s title NBA 2K11 which truly got me to covert from a strictly RPG/Action Adventure kind of gal to someone who is mad about sports games. Ironically the reason that I have come to love the NBA 2K series is thanks to its RPG-like elements. My Player mode is as good as ever in NBA 2K12 according to the fans and critics. There is something insanely satisfying about building up a rookie who can’t even so much as lift his body 2 feet off the ground into the spitting image of Jordan defying gravity. So if you want a sports game that not only mimics what its like to be in the game but live through the game…NBA 2K12 is for you!
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is yet another addicting offering from Activision’s COD franchise. While the later editions do have their share of problems and leave a lot to be desired ‒ they still manage to get fans coming back for more. Glitches and map repetitiveness aside, it is the sprawling community of players that COD has garnered that earned it this spot on the list. Where the creators slack in creativity, the players make up for it by making each COD multiplayer session a new chance for thrills, spills, and body kills. The chats you share with players can be an amusement in itself thanks to ranging from tear-jerkingly comical to outright bizarre.
Batman: Arkham City does its predecessor major justice. The game is teeming with amazing attention to references from the gargantuan Batman universe. What could be better than to have Mark Hamill himself, the man who gave Joker his quintessential laugh from the animated series, reprising his role oncemore in this new addition to the franchise? While being seduced by eye candy is not always the wisest of choices, the screenshots themselves are a work of art. They have just the right blend of cartoon and realistic influences to create an awesome vision of the mean streets of Gotham’s Arkham City.
Many have grown up enamored and enchanted with the Legend of Zelda tale. Skyward Sword is a game in the series that attempts to reinvent the formula a little and utilize the Wii beautifully. Thanks to the Motion-Plus upgrade, Skyward Sword can play awesomer than any of the other Wii titles thanks to achieving 1:1 accuracy in swordhandling. Wii praising aside, fans and critics appreciate the enhanced cinematic gameplay of this entry in the Zelda series as well as the improved dungeon crawling. Even side-quests have been made a bit more purposeful which is a refreshing thing to see from a Zelda game. This is definitely a must have for any Zelda fanatic worth their salt.
Its interesting how many of the top ten games this year were sequels. Could this be a sign that game makers are getting the message and learning not to push inferior successors? I hope so! Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception couldn’t have continued the Uncharted franchise more excellently. The only way the Uncharted series could be even better is if it went multi-platform. So far Sony is in no mood for charity and proudly touting their stellar product…anyone catch that subway commercial with Drake? Lets not get too deep into video game politics though. The point is, if you ever wanted to play a game with the boldness of tomb raider, the comedy of Indiana Jones’ scripts (the early ones), and multiplayer that puts other FPSes to shame ‒ Uncharted 3 is for you!
5. inFAMOUS 2
Watch our inFAMOUS 2 review here.
It shocks me how many people are unfamiliar with the gem known as inFAMOUS 2. While I was a little disheartened when the main voice actor for Cole was changed, it was shortlived thanks to the amazing platforming and storyline that inFAMOUS fans know and love. Need more concrete details? I’ll give them to you! The inFAMOUS series is an action adventure infused with tons of parkour. You play as former messenger boy Cole who is imbued with electric and other elemental powers. There is karma system in place where you can chose between learning destructive and devastating talents or non-lethal crowd control attacks and enhanced healing capabilities. In inFAMOUS 2 Sucker Punch added on a mission editor with unlimited potential. The game has massive replayability thanks to the countless karma moments that lead to alternative outcomes.
What game do you think I’ve seen most on my Twitter timeline lately? That’s right…Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. The sheer amount of character customization and world exploration in any Elder Scroll game will quote, as one friend said, “consume your life.” If you want one of the most prime examples of why certain RPGs were just made for the PC, besides titles like Dragon Age, it would certainly be Skyrim. The environments are breathtaking, the painstaking pixeling on each character perfect ‒ one could go on and on. The drawbacks you ask? Bugs, crashing, dodgy UI…nothing that will devolve the game into unplayable though. If you’re looking for the perfect time suck this holiday season, Skyrim is waiting for you, do you dare answer its call?
3. Portal 2
One word…GLaDOS. For the uninitiated, this is the name of the sadistic and sardonic supercomputer stored away in the confines of Aperture Science. Though one could say it is the mind bending puzzle solving and trippy platforming that puts games like Portal 2 in a class of their own ‒ I say they’re all wrong. Its all about GLaDOS baby. The mean machine is back on the scene and ready to put you through more torturous “tests.” This time she’s joined by other computer personalities like the excellently voiced Wheatley. Even if you don’t like platformers, seriously, just pick up the game. I’ll send GLaDOS after you if you don’t.
2. Diablo III
Woah, woah, woah I know. Diablo III isn’t released yet. However, it has been the talk of the town since before 2011. Blizzard has been pulling several dwarf beards by constantly changing the release date. The sheer cult-like following the game has drawn caused us to give it this place on the list. The Diablo series set a precedent for many of the modern day dungeon crawlers to aspire to. While its hard to say whether such a hugely anticipated game will reach the same heights as its hype ‒ you and I both know, we want it, badly. Like, NOW!
I can hear you all collectively saying: “WHAT? Another Zelda game…and an old one at that! What gives?” Simply put, this is the game that 3DS owners have dreamed about having since day one of its release. Ocarina of Time is Nintendo’s Gone With the Wind of RPGs. Never has the company given us such a compelling game, with such an enthralling storyline, and so user-friendly “my-grandma-could-play-it” kind of controls. Young and old will have fond memories of OoT and enjoy reliving its genre defining moments. While the 3DS hasn’t really reinvented OoT, it provides players an amazing new visual experience of the world of OoT. C’mon who wouldn’t want to hitch a ride across Hyrule on the trusty Epona and break a warehouse full of pots again? Oh the memories…
Thus ends our list. Dragonblogger readers give us a shout out. Think our list hit the mark? Share your personal top 10 video games of 2011 in the comments below. We’d love to read them!