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Top 7 Games of 2011 (Chad’s Picks)

If you listen to the podcast you’ll know that my taste in games can be considered unusual at best (and if you don’t listen to the podcast then fuck you. Can I say fuck you? I said fuck you). I put a high priority on weirdness, cleverness, and I tend to value new or risky ideas more favorably than what could perhaps be considered more solid execution. This list is, therefore, not my list of the best, or most technically sound, or most important games of the year. Instead it is a collection of the ones I enjoyed the most, which thus will make them by default the best overall, since my opinion is the only one that matters*. Also this list is in reverse order, because I like to remind you that, in life, things can (and almost incontrovertibly will) get worse. Also, Dark Souls should be on this list but I haven’t gotten around to playing enough of it yet sooo…yeah.

*This may in fact be a blatant lie. Further investigation required.

1) Catherine – Surprise, surprise, my Game of the Year for 2011 is Catherine, the block-pushing soap opera from Atlus. One part puzzle game, one part visual novel, this has been my most anticipated game since it was announced. No superpowers, no good vs evil, world at stake storyline. Instead, you play as a dude. He makes games. He hangs out with his friends in a bar. I could go on forever about the merits of this game, but I’ll keep it brief here. Suffice it to say the writing is great, quite possibly one of the most mature storylines I’ve seen in a video game, dealing with real issues that the main character, Vincent, experiences in his day to day life. It’s rare that a game comes along which causes you to question your own values and think about just how you’d react to a situation. Gameplay wise, yes, it’s pretty damn difficult. I don’t know about you, though, but I play puzzle games to be challenged, and it was nice to play a game for once that forced me to think so hard. In all, this is very close to being a perfect game to me. It has the style, it has the engaging gameplay, and it has the sense of player agency that I really appreciate in games.

2) Portal 2 I love clever things. It’s part of the reason I love being in my own head so much. Its cleverness was most of the reason I loved Portal so much, and its successor capitalizes on that to an even greater degree. While I love both of my top 2 games this year due to their writing, Portal 2’s praise comes for its dialogue specifically. The story is relative simple, but where the game truly shines is the dialogue, which is interesting considering there is rarely more than a single speaker in any given situation. Of course, great writing can still only work if it has the appropriate delivery, and luckily the acting is spot on. The game also manages to balance old and new mechanics wonderfully, so that every second felt both new and yet comfortably nostalgic at the same time. The puzzles weren’t as difficult as I would have liked, but still very solid.

3) SkyrimAs a huge fan of Oblivion, it’s only natural that I would place Skyrim somewhere on this list. As far as game time is concerned, Skyrim represents the most time I’ve spent on any game not called Starcraft 2 in the last year and a half. It shows a marked improvement on the things that Oblivion did well, with additions such as dual wielding and shouts adding to the gameplay in meaningful ways. Like any Bethesda game, it has shown its fair share of bugs. I have personally managed to avoid every single one, for which I consider myself quite lucky. Additionally, the various mods available and the upcoming release of a more comprehensive set of mod tools ensure that I will be playing Skyrim for the foreseeable future.

4) Shadows of the DamnedThis was a game that I held absolutely no anticipation for. Knowing that Suda 51 was involved had piqued my interest, but my dislike for survival horror games made my apathy palpable where this game was concerned. The Giant Bomb Quick Look, however, forced me to reconsider that position, and it’s a good thing it did. This game is not by any means innovative, or even particularly good, but it is damn FUN. It’s got all of the Suda craziness that we’ve come to know and love, and is by far the most playable of his titles. That said, there’s nothing special about the shooting and, though the weapons get more and more ridiculous, the combat can often descend into monotony. Despite that, it’s an entertaining road movie which is worth seeing even with the mediocre shooting.

5) Uncharted 3 Had you asked me at this time last year, I’d have been pretty confident that Uncharted 3 would be in my top 3, yet here it is barely making the top 5. it’s got everything you’d expect out of an Uncharted game, with very little new. Unlike Portal 2, which kept the core of the first intact while expanding on what made it great, Uncharted 3 hits all the same notes as the second. Both the gameplay and story hit so many of the same beats that it’s hard to place this game any higher. Don’t get me wrong, it does what it does extremely well and is still a fantastic game, but it’s disappointing that they didn’t go out of their way to expand on the formula that we were shown in Uncharted 2.

6) Marvel vs Capcom 3 Despite the blatant exploitation of consumers that is Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3, it’s wrong to let that mar the reputation of the original MvC3. It takes the formula of Street Fighter and turns up the speed, as well as the crazy. Like Portal 2, this game represented a risk in that its predecessor was extremely beloved, and like Portal it both lived up to and surpassed the expectations of fans. It perfectly toes the line between the competitive and the casual, providing depth for those who seek it while still allowing casuals to simply hit buttons and watch cool stuff happen.

7) Sonic Generations Since the Genesis days I’ve been a proud Sega Soldier and lover of all things Sonic. Hell, I even bought Shadow the Hedgehog and actually liked it.That said, no one can deny that virtually every 3D offering in the Sonic series has been trash at best. Generations picks up on the good ideas we saw in Sonic Colors and knocks them out of the park. This is the Sonic game you’ve been waiting for…if you’ve even been waiting for a Sonic game. Which I presume most of you haven’t been doing. It features 2D gameplay that actually works (you’d better be taking notes, Sonic 4), and 3D gameplay that finally captures the sense of speed that’s been missing in previous iterations.

Earl Rufus

The owner of this little chunk of the internet. Enjoys having a good time and being rather snarky!

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2 Responses

  1. January 8, 2012

    […] You knew it was going to be on here somewhere, didn’t you? Much like Chad, I was a huge fan of Oblivion, and although I haven’t had as much time as I’d like to sink into […]

  2. March 29, 2012

    […] 2.) Skyrim  – You knew it was going to be on here somewhere, didn’t you? Much like Chad, I was a huge fan of Oblivion, and although I haven’t had as much time as I’d like to sink into […]

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