Thursday, 12 January 2012

Best Games of 2011

Now that all the gift giving and receiving is over I’m sure plenty of you opened your stockings to find games ready for you to indulge in. 2011 was a phenomenal year for games and I wanted to take this opportunity to walk you through what I consider to be the best games of 2011.

10. FIFA 12 (all platforms)
FIFA 12 is a self-explanatory pick – as the best sports simulator on the market bar NHL 12, it’s impossible to ignore the limitless replay value this game can offer. Boasting incredible graphics, terrific physics and game mechanics, there’s really no excuse not to enjoy this game.

09. Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3 (all platforms)
Activision continues dominating the first-person shooting market by grossing over $750 million in Modern Warfare 3’s first week of sales. Some may complain that nothing has changed and it’s the same experience as before, but there are noticeable changes that make this installment the best the series has to offer. In particular smaller maps prevent camping, new killstreak variants ensure gamers of various skill levels can enjoy the game online, the campaign concludes in thrilling fashion and endless replay value keep you hooked to Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3.

08. L.A. Noire (all platforms)
Games that came out earlier in the year tend to be forgotten when people write their game of the year lists, but L.A. Noire deserves particular recognition and praise. Rockstar not only created a thoroughly entertaining detective game, but they have influenced the video game industry with the innovative Motion Scan technology used to digitize the faces of the actors in the game. This technology if progressed, could be an integral part of the video game industries future. As a result, L.A. Noire need to be remembered as potentially a pivotal game in 2011.

07. Dead Space 2 (X360 & PS3)
Dead Space is my favourite modern horror franchise. Coming out of nowhere, this psychological thriller boasted incredible gameplay mechanics, terrific atmosphere and a whole load of horrifying aliens to decimate. The hit sequel introduced a voice for lead protagonist Isaac Clarke, which to some may or may not have been an integral addition, however it certainly added an extra layer of psychological menace to the story as Isaac battled against the aliens and himself. That aside, if you’re looking for an intense 3rd person shooter, this is where to go.

06. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Wii)
Skyward Sword continues to do what every The Legend of Zelda does upon release – build upon the same formula bit by bit. Nothing really has changed since the good old days of The Ocarina of Time, but the introduction of some modern-day gameplay elements alongside Wii Motion Plus, makes Skyward Sword one of Nintendo Wii’s best games by a long way. With the Wii U coming out this year, it’s safe to say that there won’t be a better game released on the original Wii than Skyward Sword, so if you’re looking for a dramatic exit, then give Skyward Sword a go.

05. Dark Souls (X360 & PS3)

I wish I could put this game at number 1, I really do – but it’s just too difficult. Dark Souls is an incredible role-play game. It balances a beautiful world with fantastic gameplay, atmosphere and mechanics to create the perfect adventure. The online interaction with other players is also second to none. However, and it’s just such an unfortunate however, it’s too difficult. Dark Souls isn’t cheap, but it’s very brutal and at times, incredibly frustrating. If there was just some way to release a Director’s Cut or introduce some way to make it a tad easier for players who aren’t capable of handling the insane difficulty curve, it would be my game of the year and a much better RPG than The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.

04. Portal 2 (all platforms)

What started as nothing more than filler for The Orange Box has now become an Internet sensation and as a result, spawned one of 2011’s best titles. Portal 2 followed in the glorious footsteps of the original, intertwining hilarious narrative and dialogue with clever physics-based puzzles using a Portal Gun. The story is intriguing, the puzzles are challenging and the whole experience culminates in fantastic fashion. The introduction of a multiplayer mode allowed you to play with a buddy on and offline, which was a brilliant addition to the series. Portal 2 is one the best modern games you’ll play without doubt.

03. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (all platforms)

Some of you will be shocked that Skyrim isn’t number 1 on my list, but I don’t see how it deserves that position in all honesty. The game is certainly terrific – the expansive world and endless quest logging makes for an engulfing but in my opinion, a suffocating experience. There’s too much going on for me and while I understand all of the positive elements of Skyrim, I believe it’s too ambitious and the development team weren’t big enough to cope with the sheer size of the vision they originally set out for Skyrim – why else are there horses flying about mountains and dragons merging with buildings? That aside, Skyrim is probably (sigh) the best role-play game ever made, even though I feel like I’m lying to myself when I say that.

02. Batman: Arkham City (all platforms)

How do you top a game like Arkham Asylum? You don’t, that’s the simple answer unfortunately. What Arkham City does is acknowledges that the original title was just so freaking good that the best thing to do is continue straight along the same path. As a result, Arkham Asylum brings almost nothing new to the table in terms of combat, but introduces a more expansive city to traverse (North Gotham) and a brand new elegantly designed story. With the introduction of new characters the story was entertaining and made Arkham City just as much fun as the original. Lots of side-missions and secrets make North Gotham a dark and vivid place to explore well worth your time.

01. Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception (PS3)

My number one choice is hands down Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception. 2011 was a terrific year for video games but the third installment in Naughty Dog’s series was clearly head and shoulders above the competition. In terms of technical proficiency, the game was stupendous, marvelous, and simply brilliant. Not only was it the most beautiful game of 2011, it was the most exciting and most engaging. Drake is a fantastic protagonist who holds a fantastic ensemble of characters together as a dramatic and thrilling story unfolds in Drake’s Deception. 2011 didn’t have a better game than this.

Hope you had a brilliant New Year and if you didn’t get your hands on any of these games, get down to your local CeX and pick them up – you’ll be in for a real treat.

Igor Kharin.

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