With the year drawing to a close, and with the great games we've had in recent months, I thought I would talk about my top 11 games that have come out this year (in the spirit of this being the end of 2011). I have played just about everything that I would care to play for the PS3 this year, and the following are my favorite games to have come out in the past 12 months:
(Honorable Mentions: The Baconing, Madden 12 (controversial, I know), Dead Space 2, Homefront)
#11: Saints Row: The Third - Without a doubt, this is the best GTA-like open world game to come out this year. While it feels very similar to the previous Saints Row, it does have a lot more outrageous activities, customization options, and humorous dialogue. What holds this game back is that it is a very short game (I finished all the missions and side missions in under 20 hours, and there is a trophy for playing for 30 hours...), and that it feels a little too familiar to Saints Row 2. What it does well is make games of its kind fun again, and it keeps you constantly entertained all the way through. But why...WHY...is there no septic avenger here?? (My Score: 8/10)
#10: Mortal Kombat - When a game seeks out to reinvent itself, you can't help but think it will be for the worst. In this case, however, Mortal Kombat has successfully managed to return to its original story and roots, and become very successful while doing so. While it ditches the 3D Soul Calibur-like combat and various fighting styles, this game proves that simpler can sometimes be better. This is a game that unites old school Mortal Kombat fans and more recent fans into one game that caters to both. While some may not like the fact that it retells the original MK story in a different way, this is still a great game, and one of the best in the entire Mortal Kombat series. (My Score: 8/10)
#9 Duke Nukem Forever - This might be a controversial choice, but if you have read my review then you'll know that I am a longtime fan of the Duke. I really think that this game got a bad rep. due to the fact that it was given more hype than just about any game in history, and because it doesn't play like most other modern shooters out there. If you give it a chance though, it really proves to be a fun and entertaining FPS experience. Even the multiplayer is a nice throwback to the Duke Matches of old. This game won't be for everyone, but for those of us who played Duke Nukem throughout the 90's will have a lot more respect for this game. (My Score: 8/10)
#8: Catherine - Catherine is a very interesting game. In many ways, it was the sleeper hit of the year. The developers at Atlus showed us that you could create a game that caters to hardcore gamers while having gameplay that is only made up of a series of repetitive platforming-puzzles. While the story is very well-told, it really doesn't flow in a way that is based on your actions like you might expect it would. This is a game that really challenges your skills as a gamer, and one that will constantly do so, no matter how many hours you put into it. (My Score: 9/10)
#7: Uncharted 3 - This game was largely disappointing for me. While it had a fun and epic story complete with entertaining dialogue and characters, the story just had too many plotholes, and the shooting mechanics took a turn for the worse here. Even the melee combat, which the developers said was vastly improved, just served to make firefights later on in the game much more frustrating. Unfortunately this game is, in my opinion, a total sell-out on Naughty Dog's part in order to cash in on the multiplayer successes that games like Call of Duty have been experiencing. I know not everyone will agree with me, but this game is a big step down from the greatness of Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. (My Score: 8.5/10)
#6: Portal 2 - Portal 2 was another fantastic puzzle game for the less-than-casual gamer out there. While dying was never really a consequence, puzzles would have you scratching your head for sometimes hours here. Put that with a story that had some very colorful and interesting characters, and you have a very fun experience here. While it may not have the length or replay value going for it, Portal 2 was a fantastic game while it lasted. (My Score: 8.5/10)
#5: Plants vs. Zombies - Yes, a PSN game has reached this high on my list, and with good reason. Plants vs. Zombies, like many other games that Pop Cap has done, is hugely addictive and fun. I still play this game on a regular basis, even though it has been out for nearly a year. The hybrid tower defense and survival styles come together perfectly, and make this game a blast to play. Not to mention the variety of different game styles keep this game fresh and fun. This is definitely my pick for downloadable game of the year. (My Score: 9/10)
#4: Skyrim - The only reason this game is not higher on my list is because the gameplay and graphics come off a little dated here. In the time since Oblivion came out, you would think they would have done a major overhaul of the whole engine for this release. However, these two aspects aside, Skyrim is a very immersive experience that will have you hooked for weeks on end. How many games can say that nowadays? If this had lived up to its expectations a bit more, it could have made the top of my list, but unfortunately it just felt like the developers played it safe by sticking with Oblivion's engine rather than improving what was already released years ago. (My Score: 9/10)
#3: L.A. Noire - This game remains one of the best games I have ever played, and easily my favorite that Rockstar has ever released. While the open world aspect to this game is never fully fleshed-out like you would want it to be, the story, cases, and characters make this game a must-play. I'm a sucker for games that play out based on your actions, and this game is nothing but that. The only things lacking about this game are the replay value and the fact that the game world wasn't more utilized for other activities. (My Score: 9/10)
#2: Deus Ex: Human Revolution - Being that I am a huge fan of the original Deus Ex, I had huge expectations for this game, and surprisingly this game lived up to them all. This game combines aspects from all sorts of games that I enjoy: shooter, RPG, puzzle, and action/adventure elements are all present here and used very well together. The only thing this game lacks is a sense of polish, which can easily be overlooked with everything coming together as well as it does. For me this just BARELY missed out on being my game of the year. It couldn't have been made much better, but unfortunately neither could my #1 game of the year... (My Score: 9.5/10)
#1: Batman: Arkham City - This game surprised me a great deal when it was released. I enjoyed Arkham Asylum, but it wasn't anything mind-blowing for me. As a result, I wasn't expecting anything more than another fun adventure with Arkham City. I was so amazed with what I played. This game improved over Arkham Asylum in every way imaginable, and managed to tell a fantastic story while incorporating nearly every memorable Batman character in his storied history. Sure, it may not have the length of a Skyrim or the replay value of a Catherine, but as an overall gaming experience where you are SUPPOSED TO BE BATMAN...this passes with flying colors. I would also say that this game just barely edges past L.A. Noire with having the best story in a game all year. So really, if you take all aspects into consideration, this game is simply the best of 2011. It has the gameplay that makes you feel like you really ARE Batman, the edge-of-your-seat story to keep you invested in the game, the absolutely amazing presentation, and the noticeable improvments over its predecessor all show that Batman: Arkham Asylum is deserving of being the game of the year. (My Score: 9.5/10)
So there you have it, my top 11 games of the year. Feel free to comment or leave me your favorite games of the year. Thanks for reading!
I don't own a 360, so my games were restricted to PS3 only. I also wasn't including re-released or updated games like Resident Evil 4 and Might and Magic: Clash of Heroes. As for Dark Souls...well, I wasn't a fan of Demon's Souls. Honestly I fall into the group of people who thought it was too difficult to play through, even after I tried a few times. When I heard Dark Souls was even more difficult...I decided to just skip over it. No sense in getting frustrated over a game I know I'm not going to enjoy. There were also games that didn't make the list because I was very disappointed in them, such as the new Assassin's Creed. Just my opinions here though...not trying to please anybody.