In lieu of having to decide only one game out of all the awesome games that have come out this year, we decided to do something different for our overall game of the year awards. While we did drop our “winners” in various categories yesterday, as far as what was the best game this year? That, my friends, is a tough thing to determine. Instead of going with just one, which may lead to hours and hours of back-and-forth e-mails among the staff, we decided to just give you an entire list of the 10 games we thought stood out the most this year.
The 10 games below are not necessarily the only 10 great games this year – our quick list of categories from yesterday lists many, many more. However, they are 10 games we feel, as a gamer, you can not miss out on that were released in 2011. We’ve included snippets from the reviews of all these games and links to the full review itself (sans Star Wars: The Old Republic, which we are still in the process of reviewing thoroughly).
(Note: They’re listed in alphabetical order by the first letter of their official title, so there is no number one game.)
From our review: “Catherine adds up to a title that is about so much more than just killing people, trying to get the highest score or level up your character. Catherine delves into the human mind, and paints a wildly dark picture of what our minds can create and how it can shape our world – which is a very real, very visceral feeling not many titles can produce.
While these sort of games tend to teeter on the edge of being critical hits, but not economically viable, they are the games that will be remembered…You really have to play Catherine to understand it, and I really hope everyone who considers themselves a gamer would take the time to understand what it means for a game to be something more substantial than the sum of its parts.”
DEUS EX: HUMAN REVOLUTION
From our review: “Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a masterpiece. Not only did it nail the formula of the original Deus Ex, it took the time to improve on it, with better stealth, a clearer, yet still clever conspiracy, cities that really feel alive and creative exploration. Human Revolution never underestimates or condescends to the player, instead, the game really allows the player to think for themselves and make decisions…Deus Ex: Human Revolution has it all, the story, the gameplay, the graphics and all other minor things that make a game great.”
DISGAEA 4: A PROMISE UNFORGOTTEN
From our review: “While the plot isn’t the best in the grand scheme of things, the rest of Disgaea 4 is stellar. Even if the plot is predictable, it’s probably the best one the series has done so far, and the systems and gameplay are nearly perfected. It’s easily one of the best, most thought-provoking, deepest SRPGs I’ve ever played, and it’s probably the best one to come out in the past decade.
If you like SRPGs at all, don’t miss this game. It’s the best in the series, and it’s got more than enough content for those that love getting deep into SRPGs…this game is worth learning, worth working through, so you can get to the rich, deep systems underneath.”
GEARS OF WAR 3
From our review: “This game truly is the definitive Gears of War experience…Gears of War 3 brings an exciting and heart-wrenching conclusion to the story and the lives of all these characters we’ve come to love, and you’ll be shocked many times over by the events that unfold.
I went into this review very excited for this game, but as a fan, I wanted to be as objective as possible and I can say with all honesty that I’m having a tough time thinking of a single fault. This is truly everything I wanted from a Gears of War game and then some…This is a nearly flawless conclusion that I’ll be playing for a long time to come.”
From our review: “I’m all out of synonyms for the words “perfect” and “brilliant”, so I’m just going to conclude with this: Portal 2 is the perfect game. I can’t find one thing wrong with it, to the point that it’s almost frustrating/depressing that I can’t. Where do I go from here on out? What video game could I possibly play that could top Valve’s brilliant writing and unrivaled gameplay? How is Portal 3 even going to top this?
Portal 2 is a seminal entry into this gaming generation, and the very first literal “must play” of the year. In the future, when there are classes on playing video games, Portal 2 will be “required reading”…Go play it any which way you can; you owe it to yourself to experience the magic.”
STAR WARS: THE OLD REPUBLIC
It isn’t often that an MMORPG gets chosen on sites’ game of the year list, but I’m pretty sure it deserves it here. BioWare has created a masterpiece of the genre that, while not necessarily toppling other games, will likely go down as the most innovative, progressive and rich MMO to be developed to date. Even if you’re not a Star Wars fan, the rich story, great voice acting, amazing storytelling (for an MMO) and BioWare’s own unique touch of dialog and moral choices to spice things up really make this a true stand-out title of the year, even outside its own relatively small genre.
THE BINDING OF ISAAC
From our review: “The Binding of Isaac is a hard game. But it’s also insanely addictive. I wasn’t kidding when I said I had to force myself to stop to write this, and as soon as I finish I’m going back to try and make it all the way through just one more time.
The Binding of Isaac might not be for everybody…However, don’t go anywhere because what we have here is another shocking surprise that I feel everybody is going to be talking about for a long time to come. The Binding of Isaac is absolutely not to be missed by anybody.”
THE ELDER SCROLLS V: SKYRIM
From our review: “Ultimately, Skyrim is a work of art, a masterpiece by any measure, a wonderful painting so vivid that you can live inside it and become a part of its world, people, culture, dangers and adventures. It also truly shows, once more, that you absolutely do not need a multiplayer experience to make one of the best games available in the history of the industry. I’ve given out perfect scores before, but more than any other game I’ve given them to, I feel that The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim really, truly should be put up on a pedestal as an example to all of what great video games should be.”
THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: SKYWARD SWORD
From our review: “It’s not often that I finish a first playthrough and immediately create a new save file to barrel through as much as possible in one sitting…This speaks volumes of the experience The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword provides players. The environments beneath the clouds are bursting at the seams with tricks to try and secrets to uncover. The story takes the tried-and-tested Zelda formula, drops certain elements and brings plenty of fresh material to let seasoned players’ imaginations run wild and draw connections to titles that take place later in the timeline. After five years of waiting, your Wii remote is finally an adequate substitute for the Master Sword.”
UNCHARTED 3: DRAKE’S DECEPTION
From our review: “There is so much that can be said about this title and yet it wouldn’t be enough to describe how great it really is. It’s making me rethink what other developers are doing wrong and at the same time has me second guessing my own list of all time favorite games. As a game reviewer who’s seen it all and done it all, nothing has really prepared me for this. No matter how high of a score I give I can never say that a game is perfect, but through its pacing, story telling, and emotional roller coaster, Uncharted 3: Drakes Deception is damn close to it.”