GAF Games of the Year 2011 - Voting Thread - Voting's Over, Folks!

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CrankyKong

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Dec 31, 2010
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1. Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together
2. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
3. Radiant Historia
4: Xenoblade Chronicles
5. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
6. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D
7. Uncharted 3: Drakes Deception
8. Ghost Trick
9. Driver San Francisco
10. LA Noire



2010 Game of 2011: Civilization V
 

spirity

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Aug 4, 2007
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Went back to my list and added Xenoblade. Thanks for the extension, I would have felt awful not voting for that game.
 

ZarraN

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Nov 2, 2009
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1. Uncharted 3

It's the new gold standard.

2. Resistance 3

Singleplayer were really impressive, I have not had so much fun playing a FPS in years. The story and the characters are really well done, think it is the most under rated game of the year.

3. Portal 2

A complete package, the reason why it isn't placed above Resistance and Uncharted it's because it didn't have any replay value at all. It is still good game but it was a disappointment to not being able to continue playing it.

4. Battlefield 3

Impressive multiplayer, disapointing singleplayer. The singleplayer didn't feel like Battlefield game I want squad based singleplayer in the next version of Battlefield.


5. Payday

Perfect concept for a game and easily the best coop game of the year, only complaint I have is the limited amount of maps.


6. Rage

It feels like a tech demo for Rage 2 but when the tech actually works the game looks like next generation game. I also loved the characters in the game and it why is putt so high on the list.

7. Infamous 2

Really good game but I lost interest half way into the game.

8. Batman Arkham City

Arkaham Island were a better game.

9. Killzone 3

Decent nothing more, multiplayer were a huge disapointment


10. Dead Space 2

First Dead Space were a better game. Loved the first game because they had build a unique universe and interface, it felt fresh. The second time around it felt just booing I want a new IP with the same ideas next time.

Honorable mentions

Socom 4 & Little Big Planet

Game of the Year 2010

Heavy Rain
 

Pie Lord

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Jun 3, 2010
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1. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
2. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
3. Battlefield 3
4. Portal 2
5. Total War: Shogun 2
 

LiquidMetal14

hide your water-based mammals
Jan 18, 2007
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1.The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - What can I say, with the minor flaws that have affected me, this is far and beyond my favorite game of this year. It's also my favorite game ever of it's genre (WRPG).

2.The Witcher 2: Assasins of Kings™ - Great combat, killer visuals, good story, well rendered naken bodies, and a general joy to play. 360 players better buy this game which deserves GOTY.

3.Terraria - This one caught me off guard. Outside of Skyrim, this has the most play time of any other PC game. Super fun and not HW intensive. This should be in everyone's library.

4.Q.U.B.E. - No one might know about this one but here in the OT. It's such a new game and I don't know whether I can count it but I have to mention it. NEEDS MORE ATTENTION.

5.The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky - I pity anyone who doesn't own a PSP or just frankly doesn't even know about this fun romp of a portable game. I can say so much but the game is just a joy to play and very entertaining. I wish it was even longer since you just want more. Cannot say enough great things and for me to put this on my list to begin with speaks volumes if you look at my list.

6.Portal 2 - Great co op, top notch production and lovely puzzles. Even better with a buddy online. It's the real deal.

7.Hard Reset - Yes this one is one I haven't beaten but it left an impact and I can put it on my list without hesitation. A definite must play and a fraction of what retail shooters are selling for.

8.LittleBigPlanet 2 - More of the same? Yes but even more refined and perfected. Don't come into those threads which turn into physics based platforming banter. This game is more than just platforming and anyone who's put the game through its paces knows that.

9.Bastion - Great little game which I haven't beat and I put this down because it's good enough to make my list even with partial completion. Most people reading this know what that game is all about and for good reason. Sharp game (PC version).

10.Xenoblade - I've actually put more time in this that Bastion but that just goes to show how good that game is in particular. Here it is though. I wish I could rank it higher but the best thing I can say for myself is that this is the best JRPG I've played since DQ8. Arguably one of the best JRPG's ever. When this hits the US Wii market, people better buy it.
 

Bert

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1 - Portal 2 - Not been amazed by a game like this in years, probably helps that I hadn't played Portal

2 - Uncharted 3 - Completed this yesterday, some really nice sequences, didn't get frustrated with it like I did number 1

3 - Arkham City - Not as good as Asylum IMO, but you're still Batman!

Those are the only three non-mobile games I played in 2011 :( (Marriage & 1 year old mean less gaming for me :/)
 

Ignis Fatuus

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Feb 17, 2009
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1. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
2. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D
3. Mario Kart 7
4. Xenoblade Chronicles
5. Super Mario 3D Land
6. Star Wars: The Old Republic
7. Portal 2
8. Resistance 3
9. Dead Space 2
10. Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3
 

timetokill

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Oct 19, 2004
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Pullblox not shown in the big list, do I need to do anything for my vote to register there?

I have double checked my votes and it is formatted correctly.
I manually update the big list every once in a while. The game doesn't have to be listed in the big list to be counted. The list is really just there so that people can remember what came out this year.

Any eligible game that is voted on in your ballot will be counted.
 

Riposte

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This is my first time voting/listing on NeoGAF and I’ve been looking forward to it since I got my membership this year. Man, did I play a lot of games. (Though I played virtually no STGs (as usual; shitty, I know), but this at least ends up differentiating my list from those of people with similar/good taste who played a lot of them). All in all, it has been a really good year for videogames: from notable improvements made in a several AAA sequels to some surprisingly fun indie games and, best of all, the great games which sit between those crappy labels. I am going to use this opportunity to burn off the left over energy of last year and write cleansing rants on my top ten games in a self-important, verbose manner. Comparing such wildly different genres directly to each other is a messy effort, so it should go without saying the order these games are placed is volatile (but not entirely so). (Images link to a soundtrack sample.)



MMX


n/a
I’ve decided to skip out on picking a winner. Don’t really feel motivated to make a case for the three games I would consider, but I guess I should spare a sentence or two for each. For this post, I rather just focus this year’s releases.

999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors (DS)
Chunsoft, Aksys Games
999 creates a captivating dark mood (music is fantastic, hate the character designs) and has a RPG/visual novel story structure written cleverly into an overarching narrative, but its puzzles didn’t satisfy me and it relies too much on repetition while showing the full story. Best played at 3 A.M. in bed and in complete darkness with some headphones.

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow (PS3)
MercurySteam, Konami
I found LoS to be better than most western efforts in the 3D Action genre (loved the magic system) and it has a lot going for it in the audiovisual department (epic, AAA, etc), but it suffers from a lot of technical problems, has a mostly weak third act, and on further inspection showed some pretty bad balancing issues. There are some bad gimmicky boss fights mixed in with a pool of good ones.

Fallout: New Vegas (PC)
Obsidian, Bethesda Softworks
This was a remarkable improvement over the crappy Fallout 3 (even in the idea of being a FPS “Fallout” game) and features a deep, open RPG story, however NV is still a middling open-world game with equally mediocre combat even when I played it with some great mods (which I think should disqualify it in the first place). Anyway, Obsidian > Bethesda.



X


Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective (DS)
Capcom, Capcom
This is the only game on the list which kills you faster than Dark Souls. Ghost Trick is a homerun in atmosphere; just about the most polished, charming thing I’ve played all year. Its presentation amazed me on every level I can think of: the music, the plot, the characters, the visual style, and the animation. Shu Takumi’s style takes on a better form by dropping the adventure game pace for something with more momentum and it is elevated by a better set of game mechanics (though I say this as someone who has a lot of love for his games). Ghost Trick introduces a fresh idea and capitalizes on it enough for me to see it as something more than a novelty. There were a few tricky parts I enjoyed and GT is at its best when it throws strict timing into the mix. However there isn’t nearly enough brain teasing going on for me to consider it the up there with the rest of the puzzle games I’ve played this year, especially since I played some of my new all-time favorites of the genre. It really isn’t until the final chapters your set of tools expands. There is also a comparative lack of puzzle challenges to consider, but I prefer it slim if adding more just meant padding it out with more of the easier puzzles and killing the smooth pace. In other words: I demand a harder sequel. Despite this, I feel a burning desire to recognize it with a slot on my top 10.


IX


The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings (PC)
CD Projekt RED, Atari? CD Projekt?
The Witcher 2 stands out in a year where we’ve seen some of the best story-telling/atmosphere gaming has ever offered. The game’s world is downright incredible: peerless in appearances and with so few constraints it is hard to believe it can exist at all. With every screen it blasts your eyes with stunning detail, a full use of the color spectrum, and a non-goofy approach to fantasy (I almost said “mature”). Frankly, it is the best looking game I’ve ever laid my eyes on (and the music is no slouch either). The story and characters which inhabit it are fully realized, not hokey, and are easily the most well-done in a game with a RPG story structure. That RPG storyline includes the very ballsy scenario-split choice in the middle act and allows you strive toward many different endings, both of which impressed the shit out of me. TW2 is the game BioWare wished they could dream up and Obsidian wished they could craft. The combat is notable for taking the style of grounded prancing between enemies, a la Assassin’s Creed and Batman: Arkham, and making the player fear death, mainly in the form of an outnumbering mob. While failing to capture the precision of a “full-blooded” action game like Batman and suffering from the same balance problems common to just about anything that wants to call itself a RPG, it makes up for some of that by having one of the more deadlier beginnings to a game in awhile (do not play the neutered bullshit they patched in) and unlike Batman using your secondary tools comes naturally. Sometimes I feel like I am being too kind to the combat, other times I feel like I’m being too harsh (right now, I’m trying to be neutral and give it a low spot on my list). It is at least a functional and entertaining system in a gratifying dark fantasy adventure. And let us not forget what is most important of all: Fantastic tits and ass.


VIII


Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 (PS3, 360)
Capcom/Eighting, Capcom
With this choice I am representing my love for both the original and sequel/expansion. MvC3 (meaning both here) probably has my favorite cast of fighters ever (or at least this side of Guilty Gear), and more so with the Ultimate additions. So many cool ideas wrapped up into 30+ characters (who are also solid choices as far as diverse flavor and fan service go). Dante, just… Dante. I adore the vast openness of the system (again, Dante!). I recall spending my first ten or so hours of “Penultimate” MvC3 exclusively in training mode, just having tons of fun seeing what I could do with all the characters and the synergies between them. I liked the subtler changes to the things strictly inherited from MvC2 (like team order/DHC rules), but overall the games feels very different (unsurprisingly, it isn’t a complete improvement). It took until Ultimate’s changes for me to like Aerial Exchanges. I also felt all the other additions they made centered on sabotaging your opponent’s meter was exactly what the game needed. Then there’s X-Factor. For every good idea in X-Factor there are two bad ones and the fact it has so many ideas is the real problem. It decides too much, enough to simplify the game at times by making other choices inconsequential. With Ultimate, they’ve at least tuned it a little, but not enough for my taste (and especially not with Phoenix Wesker, who got a second “X-Factor” built into him for no good reason, though I gladly use him to my advantage). I feel like the game would benefit from being less “OTG” centric, which can end up making combos too ridiculous and also limit teams (though in Ultimate OTGs have been spread better to solve that). Would it be trite to simply describe the face to face multiplayer experience in these two words? “Salt” and “Hype”. That sums up why it can quickly become a favorite among a circle of friends. Visually it is like watching an atom bomb go off in a volcano, resulting in a disco ball mushroom cloud. The art design with 3D models works way better than SF4 or TvC did (or SFxT will) and it wins points by being such a spectacle. The character and stage music themes are great (underrated, even?) and how they switch is neat. I admit my inclusion of Ultimate could have been challenged if I managed to play King of Fighters XIII or Arcana Heart 3 this year. However, I don’t want to sell it short either.


VII


SpaceChem (PC)
Zachtronics Industries, Zachtronics Industries
This was probably my biggest surprise of the year. It’s not a game that needs to be qualified first as an indie game to be considered great. SpaceChem has you building (two) automated sequences in order to turn an input into an output, all to the theme of chemistry and a strict adherence to the periodic table. What I loved about SC is that constantly I’d ask myself “how the hell do I even start to do this?” After a bit of a struggle, I’ll finally get a rough start and work my way to an answer. I became even more impressed when I looked up in-game YouTube uploads of a puzzle and discovered wildly different answers from mine (often putting me to shame in their elegance). I love how SC manages to be so open-ended, yet doesn’t fall prey to mistakes that make for an easy game (at least, I have yet to run into any perfectly repeatable plans). I believe it does this by having some simple, but smart rules to limit cheesing. Stuff like a small area of play, disallowing elements to touch, one instruction and one arrow per space, limited amounts of reactors, etc. The openness means you’ll be referencing your passed solutions as building blocks for more intricate problems. The game then throws a curveball by taking you outside the black room and giving you multiple reactors to play with. Your outputs become inputs for other reactors, and so on. This increases the complexity and length of puzzles exponentially. Single reactor challenges manage to keep up by becoming much crazier. Outside the parts where they are very sleek and simplistic, the visuals look ugly and cheap. The music more than makes up for it though. It is almost inappropriate how good and atmospheric it is, like it belongs in a JRPG or something instead. Arguably this is the best (pure) puzzle game of the year (and of several years), but my heart belongs to action-based games.


VI


Total War: Shogun 2 (PC)
The Creative Assembly, Sega
I’ve seen Shogun 2 lauded as a return to form by Creative Assembly. I have to say I agree. There were plenty of neat ideas in Empire and Napoleon like naval battles, attrition, and dropping in strangers for campaign battles, but they weren’t in a game I wanted to spend much time with (also Total War and firearms based combat isn’t a good combo). The clearest improvement here is that the AI knows how to actually play the game, both on the level of tactics (RTS battles) and strategy (TBS campaign map). Apparently Sun Tzu-inspired, I’ve been surprised with it doing things like feinting charges, using “abilities” to their fullest, and using terrain to set up ambushes. Not to say it’s perfect: You’ll see the odd suicidal cavalry or general. Sieges are also rarely satisfying. Battles move at a faster pace and morale can fall quickly, demanding smart use of your generals. Routing the opposition is still my favorite thing about the series (and genre as a whole). As for naval battles, I’m undecided whether I like them or not. The campaign map portion is deep enough to hold its own against games which only do that, with trade and diplomacy mechanics I really like (to put it bluntly: I like it more than all of Civilization V). The harder difficulties are outright brutalizing, especially if you happen to start as Oda or Uesugi (the two coolest clans in all of Sengoku Jidai, let’s be real… too bad they tend to die instantly as AI). I think the AI might be cheating a little when it comes to army sizes, which is a shame, but I’ll take it if it makes for a better game (along with changes like scaling the map back from Empire). There is online to consider, but I lost interest the moment I saw I had to level my character, my armor, my army, AND my access to units. Maybe I’ll give a shot in the expansion. With the Japanese theme you can see a lot of love and attention to detail put into everything from the individual soldiers (which you need to zoom all the way in to fully appreciate) to the woodcut style UI. Full land battles can be staggering in breadth, blowing away what passed games did.


To be continued, lol.
 

Des0lar

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May 31, 2007
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Dude, even if it's your first time posting in this thread and you have been looking foward to this since you joined GAF, you are ignoring the most simple rules and your voting won't be counted this way.

Just keep it simple.
 

Riposte

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Dude, even if it's your first time posting in this thread and you have been looking foward to this since you joined GAF, you are ignoring the most simple rules and your voting won't be counted this way.

Just keep it simple.
My voting list (basically a pure list with no descriptions) will be at the end of the next post. Hence the roman numerals.
 

Riposte

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Previously, on NeoGAF...

Continuing where I left off...

V


Dark Souls (PS3)
From Software, Namco Bandai Games
Why is the game every other publication should put as their own “GOTY”, but won’t, all the way down at number five? Dark Souls is a beautiful and awesome game, but it has some flaws I can’t overlook. The game does everything Demon’s Souls did right, but better. It also does everything it did wrong, but not as a bad. Obviously the star of the show here is the beloved combat system. It is the best “deliberate”, grounded system there is and it puts you in a wider variety of situations than its peer Monster Hunter does. The problem surfaces when you pick up a strong shield and/or projectile magic. Yes, you will die… unless you use magic and shield. And there is the grinding/leveling system which can at times bog down the challenge of at least the first “game” (which counts the most). However, DkS is still a tremendous game, a perfect answer to Demon’s Souls. The harmonious blend of online and offline, with friend and foe? Made more complex with allegiances and more methods to use. Glorious bosses, e.g. King Allant? Meet my friends Ornstein and Smough (now with even better music!). Weary, dangerous areas, e.g. Valley of Defilement? Blighttown, oh god! (I fared better in frame rate than most.) Occasional Traps? Welcome to Sen’s Fortress. NPCs get the same treatment. And of course, so does equipment as there are more unique weapons and spells (as well as an improved Vancian system for magic). Virtually every concept in Demon’s Souls returns with an innovative spin, almost like a wink and nod to fans. Most importantly it doesn’t lose the dreading that comes with advancing and with malicious areas like Tomb of the Giants it hits a new high (invading in there is like playing the killer in a slasher flick). The awe-inspiring, seamlessly linked world rivals The Witcher 2’s in its contribution to immersion, and unlike something like an Elder Scrolls game it doesn’t sacrifice quality for quantity. DkS, with its minimalist approach, also manages to squeeze out a lot of flavor from a little. Its Greek-like dark fantasy mythology and the politics which puppeteer you gain an exciting enigmatic quality as you slowly uncover it (or not).


IV


Serious Sam 3: BFE (PC)
Croteam, Devolver Digital
To be honest I’ve never given Sam the time of day. Now that I have, what I’ve found is one of the best FPSs I’ve ever played. What a breath of fresh air (or a splash of cold water for the shooters of 2011). True to the days before Halo, this game gives you a bunch of weapons to hold and it wants you to use all of them at once. It throws tons and tons of enemies at you at an increasingly mad pace, but this isn’t what makes Serious Sam special (that’s somewhat common by now). It’s that the individual enemy types are well designed and vary greatly down to their movement and methods of attack. Best of all, they all fit together to create a well oiled machine out to get you. You add “Kleer” skeletons to any encounter and it just becomes better. Among those types are enemies that will shoot visible projectiles (collectively making walls of them) that you are meant to dodge/strafe (or hide from, but cover only lasts for moments before crumbling or you are rushed down). For each foe you will find your preferred method of execution and when the game begins to get harder (surprisingly, it eases you in), you will live or die on those methods by switching between them on the fly. You will face waves upon waves of enemies full of this variety all at once from all sides; that is when SS3 reaches a state I can only describe as brilliant pandemonium. This mesh between weapons and enemy types is enough to supersede the need of level design, but the huge arenas (including enemy spawns) and “quieter” moments are well thought-out. Its long, consuming stages are a collection of long, consuming firefights, which left me mentally exhausted at times. When I did two of the later stages back to back I felt a slight case of PTSD coming on. Auto-saving is done correctly so playing without using quick saves is definitely the way to go. On top of all this, it has a natural, unforced scoring system. And damn, I haven’t even touched the two hardest difficulties or the ridiculous “Survival” mode or the co-op (which apparently can go up to 16 players!?). To call this game “old school” would be misguided; it is one of the most forward-thinking shooters I’ve played this generation.


III


Catherine (PS3)
Atlus Persona Team, Atlus
Catherine is a puzzle game that puts a gun to your head and demands you build and climb an endless case of stairs. These long-winded puzzle marathons don’t waste your time with content padding or bite-sized gaming experiences; it dives straight into wanting to kill you and it constantly introduces new patterns and trick blocks all way to the end of the game. There are also vicious bosses to increase the antagonism. Once I learned a few “techniques” and started reacting to patterns as second-nature, the mechanics and pace they work at began to look sublime. It has its “eureka!” moments like any puzzle game, but those are much more satisfying when you are forced to endure a tense, towering challenge instead of many peaceful, weaker ones (thanks to the scoring system, this game is best played without using checkpoints). The only real downer is that the controls are awkward at times, which compares unfavorably to my top game of the year which has perfect controls befitting its high speed. Based on a strong foundation, the multiplayer modes are naturally pretty fun, though it fails to reach its full potential due to a lack of polish and effort. The Vs. mode I like in particular because it combines the thrill of checkmating and “teabagging”. One of the best things about Catherine is that difficulty modes completely rearrange the game, making “Hard mode” a new game (and more so without the game-manipulating “undo”). And let me tell you, it is on a whole other level. Catherine won’t get you laid, but this game will fuck you. Mix in four challenge modes and a “pure” puzzle mini-game in “Rapunzel” and it is nice to see that a JRPG developer didn’t rest on their laurels because of the fancy production values. Speaking of which, the storyline is quite an engrossing (in the way of a soap, I guess), funny tale up until the end (though pretty disconnected from the puzzles). The anime-themed character models and environments look fantastic. The soundtrack is among the best this year, with or without the excellent remixes of classical music.


II


Anno 2070 (PC)
Related Designs/Ubisoft Blue Byte, Ubisoft
Being the best and latest in its acclaimed series, it is no surprise that Anno 2070 is a damn good game. It helps that it's an exceptional visual splendor; it has no equal among strategy games. It would be one thing to simply reward a player’s effort with a mass of buildings and units at this level of detail, but what Related Designs does so well is make the world more lively and animated than anyone else, even out in the untapped forests and seas. I hesitate to call it a city-builder or a 4X game (I want to say the latter, since city-builders are pretty one-note) and I think this speaks to what makes this game great. It captures the best of both worlds, ultimately making a more intricate (if smaller in scope) approach to exploring, expanding, exploiting, and exterminating (surprisingly accessible too, but not by too much). “Exterminating” is key here, since Anno has never had much going on in the combat department until now. The game is still primarily concerned with economic and diplomatic affairs first and foremost. Stuff like setting up trade and supply sea routes and whatnot, so you can properly build and expand your population and production. Anno 2070 adds a twist to keeping a balance by factoring in the environment. The two main factions are based on this conflict (giving it diplomatic significance), asking the player to either protect or rape his island’s ecosystem. The campaign is little more than a tutorial, but continuous games are where it’s at. On the hard difficulty you are faced with a low-resource, high-pressure situation where your efficiency and RTS prowess are regularly tested, while the easy difficulty plays out more like a relaxing sandbox (which can be fun for its own reasons). At first Anno 2070’s flooded sci-fi world (cool!) might seem like a reskin of the series’ island colonization theme, but as you delve deeper into the game (there is a lot to uncover), you’ll realize it mainly facilitates change by ridding itself the restrictions of realism or at least the reality of pre-industry Europe. Undersea colonies, hell yeah! Anno 2070 also has some of the most interesting multiplayer/online features I’ve seen this year (thanks in part to Ubisoft’s “War on Piracy”). You got MMO-ish “World Events”, the cross-game political system, persistent bonuses, and some flexible co-op options (including the ability to drop and add players freely and splinter saves between players).


I


Hard Corps: Uprising (360)
Arc System Works, Konami
This fucking game, man… It lives up to its name. I knew I was destined to love it when I saw the Giant Bomb guys rage-quit their “quick look”. It's become my favorite Contra, which is another way of saying it is one of my favorite games of all time. Uprising has more techniques and speed than most players will know what to do with. You got double jumps, air dashes, dodges, follow-up attacks after dodging through an enemy, bullet reflecting, obstacle tackling, wall climbing, and characters like the swordswoman Sayuri (DLC only, ha). It can lead to interesting alternative styles of play, like full sprinting and dodging (basically hurdling) through the game with minimal kills. Even with all those neat tools, this game wouldn’t be what it is worth without the kickass level design/enemy patterns and bosses. It is definitely the former which puts it over the top, having some the best stages the Contra series has ever thrown at us. Just pure run ‘n gun greatness filtered through a Guilty Gear-like approach to the move-set. And yeah, I ended up liking the stupid stealth level, so there’s that. The scoring system is pretty busted on some stages, with countermeasures to milking being too weak, but I don’t feel like the game is lacking something without it. There is the customizing “Rising mode” if to want to bask in the glory of a version of your character with a full access to techniques and crazy power-ups (with scoring issues, it is a short-lived joy). Alternatively, you could play with a build that makes them weaker than their “Arcade mode” counterpart (or something in between). It is mainly useful as a way to make the game seem more appealing to your more scruby friends, for co-op in Contra remains one of the great videogaming pastimes. Its attempt to create anime-themed polygonal graphics can be kind of weak visually from time to time (and audibly it’s weak all the time, Daisuke Ishiwatari’s compositions aside), but it makes up for it with awesome moments. For example when you have a high-speed gun fight on a futuristic highway or surf a missile while being barraged by a nearby flying battleship. And fuck, the entirety of Capital Tower is magnificent. Guess I should get back to work on that “I’ll make them pay…” achievement…


Honorable Mentions (Alphabetical order)


Child of Eden (360)
Q Entertainment, Ubisoft
Better than Rez. I really like its rhythm-based combo/score system. It can be quite striking with its uncommon visuals and music (something something synesthesia buzzword). CoE might be my “11th Game of the Year” or “real 10th Game of the Year” depending on my mood. (I could say something nice about the Kinect, but honestly, don’t play it that way.)

Gears of War 3 (360)
Epic Games, Microsoft Studios
It’s a fun multiplayer game in 2011 relatively free of random bullshit polluting the experience (character progression, “deathstreaks”, no dedicated servers, broken spawns, etc). That’s an achievement in itself! Has a lot of ways to play online, making it the perfect game if your friends are up to “dudebro”-ing it up. I had a much better experience here than I did with 2. (I don’t like the campaign. Play Vanquish.)

Portal 2 (PC, PS3)
Valve Corporation, Valve Corporation
It would be unfair not to list this because it is one of those other games which set standards in atmosphere this year and my feelings on it virtually mirror Ghost Trick, just with less enthusiasm. Might have been ranked if I had a good co-op experience with it, but who knows?

Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike Online Edition (PS3)
Capcom/Iron Galaxy Studios, Capcom
I consider it more of a port, so I am in no rush to count it. However, it might be the “true best fighting game of 2011” I’ve played, so I thought I’d mention it. It has a lot of spiffy features and polish as far as ports go (and some issues, too).

Super Mario 3D Land (3DS)
Nintendo EAD Tokyo, Nintendo
I’m very conflicted about this. It probably doesn’t deserve a mention, really (maybe I’m a fanboy). For a decent amount of time it is your typical 3D Mario, maybe even a little below par; the perfect game for kids at least. Something happens after you defeat Bowser for the last time which slowly, but surely makes this game quite fantastic. When that happens it easily becomes the best 3D Mario I’ve played. Its 3D (the gimmick kind) sold me on putting that slider all the way up on 3DS games.

Yakuza 4 (PS3)
CS1 Team, Sega
I’m purposely snubbing it because of a rule where I am reluctant to recognize annual sequels/expansions back to back so that making the list is fun. An awesome game, though I feel like I am balancing how much I like it compared to others in the series based on “how much fresher going through four unique characters feel” versus “how poorly the game scales as you level up each one and the general drop in difficulty”. I lean toward the former, because at least it resets levels four times. The brutal HEAT actions have never been more entertaining.


Closing Thoughts:

I skipped out on playing Tropico 4, NBA 2K12, and some direct expansions because I didn’t feel the urge to. The predecessors of both examples were contenders for my personal list for their years. It is kind of a shame I didn’t play Red Orchestra 2 given I was so hyped for it, but it was buggy enough at release for me to avoid and I never got the chance to go back. I haven’t put more than 3 hours in Frozen Synapse, so I am not going to bother listing it now. Maybe destined to be 2012’s 2011 Game of the Year? I will also have to consider Arcana Heart 3, King of Fighters XIII, and Red Orchestra 2 if I ever get to them.


In review / for the tally:
1. Hard Corps: Uprising
2. Anno 2070
3. Catherine
4. Serious Sam 3: BFE
5. Dark Souls
6. Total War: Shogun 2
7. SpaceChem
8. Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3
9. The Witcher 2: Assassin’s of Kings
10. Ghost Trick: Ghost Detective
x. Child of Eden
x. Gears of War 3
x. Portal 2
x. Street Fighter III: Third Strike Online Edition
x. Super Mario 3D Land
x. Yakuza 4


If you’ve managed to read all of this, I congratulate you. If the length and showiness really bothered you, I'm sorry for the inconvenience. Here are some other lists I found interesting: (I may or may not find their choices agreeable)
-Tain
-adversesolutions
-Llyranor
-iconoclast
-GhaleonQ
-Kabouter
-TheFightingFish
-charlequin
-GuiltybyAssociation
-Stumpokapow
-Dark Schala
 

Tain

Member
Jun 13, 2004
24,280
3
1,365
horizonvanguard.com
Jesus. Awesome posts, awesome list. Glad you liked SS3 as much as you did.

SpaceChem and Frozen Synapse are both games that might have made my list if I had a chance to put more time into them.

I think Witcher 2 could have made my list in 9th or 10th, depending on my mood. If I had played Yakuza 3 (making Yakuza 4 less fresh to me), it would have had an even better chance.
 

schnarf

Member
Jul 8, 2010
167
0
0
Massachusetts
1. The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings
2. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
3. Dirt 3
4. Dead Space 2
5. Portal 2
6. Deus Ex: Human Revolution
7. Dark Souls
8. Bastion
9. Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception
10. Rayman Origins
 

guest1321

Member
Sep 21, 2010
1,181
0
0
If we go back and change our post now will it count or has a certain number of pages already been tallied up?
 

pizzapizza64

Member
Sep 23, 2006
4,280
0
0
1. Mario Kart 7
2. Bastion
3. Super Mario 3D Land
4. Saints Row: The Third
5. Child of Eden
6. Pilotwings Resort
7. Bit.Trip Saga
8. Pushmo
9. Jetpack Joyride
10. Shadows of the Damned
 

Jharp

Member
Oct 16, 2009
2,054
2
695
1. Dark Souls
2. Bastion
3. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
4. Portal 2
5. Battlefield 3
6. Deus Ex: Human Revolution
7. Batman: Arkham City
8. Crysis 2
9. Uncharted 3
10. Killzone 3

Not a whole lot of love on here for Killzone 3. That mutliplayer was fantastic. I'm probably sincerely in the minority, but I loved it more than KZ2's. Only thing it was missing was bigger maps and larger player counts. Beyond that it was way better. Singleplayer was ten times better.

Edit: Removed ICO collection from number 2 spot as it's disallowed, moved everything else up and added Outland to the number 10 spot.
Edit 2: Totally forgot I played Deus Ex and Uncharted this year. Not sure why that happened, but I removed Outland and Modern Warfare 3 to include those two games.
 

whatsinaname

Member
Feb 13, 2009
11,856
0
880
1) Super Mario 3D Land
2) Portal 2
3) Uncharted 3
4) Pushmo
5) Deus Ex: Human Revolution
6) Layton and the Last Specter
7) Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars



2010: Alpha Protocol - Played through it this year after picking it up in a steam sale. This is a brilliant game with a great conversation system. Technically a bit wonky at time but the story branches, characters and conversation makes up for that and I would actually put in in the top 3 games I have played this year.
 
Jul 6, 2011
17,812
0
0
NC
brianjlang.wordpress.com
1. Skyrim - Game of the Generation for me. I will probably be playing this for the entire year if not longer. So much to do.

2. Crysis 2 - I really enjoyed the campaign, the options to get through levels. The MP was okay, but was basically a clone of CoD with some sci-fi perks.

3. Bulletstorm - one of the most fun games of the year. Cheesy and full of macho one-liners, but a real guilty pleasure.

4. Batman: Arkham City - I really kept to the campaign here, which was solid. So the open world part of this didn't pull me in as much as it could have.

5. Gears of War 3 - not as good as Gears 2 imo from a campaign perspective, but I liked the way it all wrapped up. MP continues to be a hit-or-miss depending on how crazy good some of your opposition can be.

6. Bastion - best downloadable of the year. Really enjoyed the narrative.

7. Battlefield 3 - haven't touched the SP yet, but the MP is easily the best for an FPS in 2011. Destructible environment, the inclusion of new modes. My k/d ratio sucks, but I always feel like it's a fair battle.

8. Torchlight - another action RPG download. I like loot-whore games and this was a good one for XBLA.

9. Portal 2 - I didn't get as much from this one as I did from the first Portal. Probably one of my disappointments this year, as I would have expected this to be a little higher on the list. GLADoS is still funny as hell though.

10. Dungeon Siege III - again, probably here because it's a loot-whore game. This game could have been a much richer experience than it was, but that being said it was a fun ride for what it was.
 

Maximus

Member
Oct 12, 2006
59
0
935
Red Deer. AB Canada
1. Deus Ex: Human Revolution (X360) – It took me a bit of time to get into this one, but once I did I couldn’t put it down. Even after I had finished it and moved on to other games I still keep thinking about going back.

2. Resistance 3 (PS3) – Easily the best FPS I’ve played in a long time. Given my apathy for the first one and not even playing R2, this was also my biggest surprise of 2011.

3. Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception (PS3) – I’m pretty much in agreement that this was not as good as the sublime Among Thieves, but it’s certainly still a very good game.

4. Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective (DS) – The first 2011 game I played. I just picked this back up in order to finish it and I’m glad I did as I may have forgotten about it altogether when making this list. A very cool game with some of the best character animations you’ll see on the DS.

5. Super Mario 3D Land (3DS) – Not quite as good as the Galaxy games for me, but still a really great experience and definitely worth having a 3DS for.

6. Monster Tale (DS) – Not sure how many people tried this one out, and it’s hard to really describe, maybe Metroid/Castlevania meets Pokemon? Anyway, it was a blast to play, and would have been higher on the list if not for the huge difficulty spike near the end. I guess I should have expected that from the team that made Henry Hatsworth.

7. Tiger Woods 2012: The Masters (PS3) – I rarely ever buy sports games on release anymore, I’m more that comfortable getting them at a huge discount a year or 2 late, but the inclusion of the Masters tournament in this one was enough to pique my interest. I really haven’t played this series since the 2004 installment on the PS2 but this one had my hooked from the start. I think I still prefer the Hot Shots series, and I could never get the Move controls to work properly, but I still had a blast with this one for awhile.

8. Batman: Arkham City (X360) – I haven’t finished this one yet, and while I can tell it’s a good game, something’s just not clicking with me. It may be the wide open environment or the huge excitement I had for this one prior to release. Here’s hoping the more I play it the further it creeps up my list.

9. Gears of War 3 (X360) – I’ve never been a huge fan of the Gears series (I made it a goal to play through the series last year), but I thought this was head and shoulders above the previous installments. The story was ridiculous but the gameplay kept me entertained to the end.

10. Pushmo (eShop) – I just recently grabbed this one but I think it was released in late 2011? This is one of the pest puzzle games to come out in a long time.

X. Mortal Kombat (PS3) - Hardly touched this one single player but had a blast playing it with firends.

X. L.A. Noire (360) - This was probably the game I was most excited for this year and although it didn't come near to meeting my expectation I still saw it through to the end.

2010 Pick – Heavy Rain - I really didn’t play very many 2010 releases this year, so Heavy Rain kind of wins by default here. That’s not saying it’s a bad game, it's just so different I’m not entirely sure what to think of it at this point. I should note that I’m still only about ¾ of the way through it so I may be able to reflect on it better once I’ve finished it.
 

randomkid

Member
Feb 7, 2007
4,144
0
0
Riposte I don't get your Ghost Trick pick. I mean, it's on my list, but you're always making fun of people like me who ramble about art and style and music and charm and premise and don't usually worry too much about mechanics beyond a baseline level, so what gives? DID YOU SECRETLY LOVE EL SHADDAI? 999's an odd duck too (and personally the only thing I could unequivocally enjoy there was the music).

I like the idea of posting interesting lists a lot and your picks were practically identical to mine ha. The best part of these threads are when someone talks about a game in an interesting way, or at least includes a couple non-boring choices.
 

Riposte

Member
Sep 21, 2010
27,716
0
640
videogames?
twitter.com
Riposte I don't get your Ghost Trick pick. I mean, it's on my list, but you're always making fun of people like me who ramble about art and style and music and charm and premise and don't usually worry too much about mechanics beyond a baseline level, so what gives? DID YOU SECRETLY LOVE EL SHADDAI? 999's an odd duck too (and personally the only thing I could unequivocally enjoy there was the music).

I like the idea of posting interesting lists a lot and your picks were practically identical to mine ha. The best part of these threads are when someone talks about a game in an interesting way, or at least includes a couple non-boring choices.
I couldn't be bothered to finish El Shaddai. If Gamestop won't accept it for 5 dollars or more when I go later this week, I might finish playing it one day. So I secretly didn't like it, since I haven't talked about it much.

I wouldn't want to give the impression I'm someone who completely rejects aesthetics(I imagine with this list, I haven't). They are never a deciding factor, but they matter a lot to me (on a 5/5 scale, they might be worth half a star, maybe a full star on certain games). Ghost Trick has a few things going for it which allow me to appreciate the aesthetics more. It wasn't very bloated and it has a perfect pace for game with those kind of strengths(much like Portal 2). I actually liked the mechanics (rather than just finding them novel), even if they were underused. If the game didn't have those tricky parts this probably wouldn't have been enough to sway me to it as a top 10 contender.

It is also a matter of priority. People I argue with often prioritize aesthetics way too high and how they talk about them might look really dumb to me. There is a good reason why Ghost Trick couldn't possibly be higher than my 10th game of the year. Like, it has one of the best atmospheres to ever be in a game and it is still only "above-average" in my book. A must-play only if that's exactly the kind of game you are looking for or we are only looking at a single year. I think the rest of the list, especially 8th and down, blow it out of the water. (999 probably wouldn't have ranked for its year.) I might also be more lenient in my 10th spot, I like the idea of a "wildcard" spot. (Admittedly this might have fucked over Child of Eden and maybe Gears of War 3 on a good day.) Hopefully that isn't too contradictory, because I did genuinely enjoyed my time with the game.
 

Ventrue

Member
Jul 19, 2007
4,101
0
0
28
1. Portal 2
2. Serious Sam: BFE
3. Bulletstorm
4. Driver: San Francisco
5. Rock of Ages
6. Deus Ex: Human Revolution
7. To The Moon
8. Amnesia: The Dark Descent
9: Bastion
10: Gemini Rue

2010. Heavy Rain
 

The Librarian

Banned
Apr 22, 2008
44,148
0
0
27
I'm pretty confident on numbers 1-3. The rest...not so much.

1. Portal 2 ; Marvelous in nearly every respect. Loveable characters, great gameplay, wonderful music, fantastic story and setting. My only complaint about the game is that it isn't replayable, though I sometimes doubt that considering I replayed the game a total of four times when it came out. I've never done that with a game before. This, among any other title released this year, reminds gamers why they play games.
2. Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary ; I feel like I'm being unfair to the games released this year, but if I want to measure the enjoyment I got out of every game release this year, then I have to go with Anniversary as number 2. The achievements were fun, the environments, for the most part, were properly realized and I LOVE the updated soundtrack (for the most part). I had a lot of fun with this release.
3. Resistance 3 ; A surprise third place finish. My surprise of the year, even. Though the visuals are blurry, the game has ADS, the story is lacking, and the health system can get annoying, the gameplay is really enjoyable and the atmosphere, mood, and music are equally excellent.
4. Dead Space 2 ; Not as good as Dead Space 1, I don't think. The ending wasn't too good and I didn't go back and re-play it like DS1. Overall, though, I enjoyed my time with Dead Space 2.
5. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim ; I've put about fifty hours into Skyrim, and in all of that, I never once found a character as endearing or entertaining as Wheatley or Cave Johnson from Portal 2. The game has a lot of content, to be sure, but I found the main quest (from what I played of it) and the civil war quest lacking. I play RPG games for the main quests. No RPG has ever gotten me hooked into its sidequests; Skyrim was no different.
6. Batman: Arkham City ; From what I played of the game it's not as good as Batman: AA. It seems less focused to me and having a lot of the gadgets available to you at the beginning of the game doesn't provide for much in the way of the satisfaction of getting new gadgets and advancing your character.
7. Deus Ex: Human Revolution ; I stopped playing after the first boss battle and haven't felt the need to go back and reduce the difficulty to get through it. I love the sneaky aspect of the game, but I'm not a fan of the shooting. I don't like it when I have to fight FPS games to do something I'm required to do.
8. Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception ; Though I finished this game through to its completion, I found nothing in this game worth writing home about. It's not bad per se, but I definitely wouldn't call it great. I did enjoy the story, but that's the most praise I can give it. No. Wait. I lied. The graphics were superb.
 

jambo

Member
Sep 23, 2009
18,787
1
0
01. Portal 2
02. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
03. Minecraft
04. Battlefield 3
05. Deus Ex: Human Revolution
06. Bulletstorm
07. Super Mario 3D Land
08. Trackmania 2
09. Red Orchestra 2
10. RAGE

X. Serious Sam: BFE
X. F1 2011
X. Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary
 
May 2, 2008
23,867
0
0
Some great games this year, I'm just going to keep it simple.

1.Xenoblade (Wii)
My GOTY, my Game of the Generation. I hope GAF has voted for this one!

2.Catherine (Ps3)
A wonderfully unique game, a breath of fresh air in a sea of sequels

2010.[9] Persons [9] Hours [9] Doors (DS)
Wonderful handheld title, I missed it last year so this is my LTTP Vote
 

sprsk

force push the doodoo rock
May 30, 2004
38,700
0
0
36
saitama, jyapyaon
1. Dark Souls
2. Pushmo
3. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
4. Super Mario 3D Land
5. Superbrothers Sword and Sworcery EP
6. Jetpack Joyride
7. Rhythm Heaven Wii
8. Monster Hunter Tri G
9. Xenoblade Chronicles
10. Child of Eden
 

Triton55

Member
May 9, 2010
757
0
545
1. Portal 2
2. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

That's pretty much all that I'm qualified to vote for. That's a little bit sad. These two games were fairly brilliant at least.
 

Biff

Member
Dec 31, 2008
3,410
6
780
Canada
I appreciate all your effort timetokill, but this voting extension is a bit silly and sets a bad precedent for the coming years.

Everyone is either back to work or school now. If GAFers didn't have time to finish their games over the break, then it's probably too late for them. You may see an extra 5% of votes with the 15 day extension at the expense of getting results when everyone was hyped at the peak of GOTY season.

I don't mean to be rude or blame you (because it's the procrastinators' faults, not yours) but I really just don't care that much anymore (-_-')
 

Vrakanox

Member
Feb 10, 2009
504
0
0
1. The Legend of Zelda : Skyward Sword
2. Catherine
3. Xenoblade Chronicles
4. The Last Story
5. Radiant Historia
6. The Legend of Zelda : Ocarina of Time 3D
7. Pandoras Tower
8. Ar Tonelico Qoga : Knell of Ar Ciel
9. Hard Corps : Uprising
10. Dark Souls
 

Cheesemeister

Member
Feb 14, 2005
10,973
1
0
Kyoto, Japan
I appreciate all your effort timetokill, but this voting extension is a bit silly and sets a bad precedent for the coming years.

Everyone is either back to work or school now. If GAFers didn't have time to finish their games over the break, then it's probably too late for them. You may see an extra 5% of votes with the 15 day extension at the expense of getting results when everyone was hyped at the peak of GOTY season.

I don't mean to be rude or blame you (because it's the procrastinators' faults, not yours) but I really just don't care that much anymore (-_-')
You can blame me. I'll be running the automated tallying again this year, but I don't currently have Internet service at home at the moment due to having just moved to Kyoto. I'll have service installed before the new deadline.

That said, I do plan on providing data showing how the votes/ranks accumulate over time and why a precedent for extending voting shouldn't be presumed. That is, most people vote early with just a few vocal people crying for more time. Once ranks are fairly set and the votes slow down, there's little point in drawing things out. At least, that's what I expect the numbers to show.
 

Uriah

Member
Apr 12, 2011
2,801
0
0
1. The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings - An excellent action RPG where the choices you make actually matter. One of the few games I've played where after beating it, I immediately started over to experience the different outcomes for the choices the game presents.

2. Portal 2 - I understand why some may like Portal 1 more, but 2 feels like such an upgrade compared to the first. The puzzles are well designed and the story and writing was great. I also really enjoyed the co-op.

3. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword - A Zelda game where the combat was actually fun. The motion controls work well and add some much needed depth to the games combat. Some slow moments (having to visit the silent realm multiple times, backtracking, ect) hold the game back, but overall an excellent experience.

4. Deus Ex: Human Revolution - A worthy sequel to the original. The combat was great and there where plenty of ways to tackle each situation. However, I would have preferred some more open ended levels like the original and would have preferred if the energy bar functioned like it did in the first game.

5. Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad - Suffered from a horribly buggy launch, but the gun-play is excellent. One of the few FPS games that allows 64 player battles. A SDK was released a couple of days ago so hopefully new maps are forthcoming.

6. Serious Sam 3: BFE - The first few levels are pretty dull but the later levels are what makes this game special. Facing down never ending alien hordes with crazy weapons has never been better.

7. The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim - A ambitious but incredibly buggy game. Overall an improvement over Oblivion even though some features were removed (making your own spells, bartering). Bethesda actually managed to make the combat fun for once.

8. Frozen Synapse - Possibly the greatest strategy game I have ever played. I never touched the multi-player, but the single player was excellent and had an interesting story.

9. Hard Reset - A shooter in the same vein as Serious Sam, though more linear. A brief, but excellent campaign.

10. Bastion - A fun action-rpg with an interesting narrative.
 

Dark Schala

Eloquent Princess
Mar 2, 2010
20,614
0
0
The Land of Bagged Milk
1. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Wii)



I have already elaborated on why I adored Skyward Sword here (and I’ve also elaborated on why I liked the soundtrack here), but to summarize, my time with The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword was 55+ hours’ worth of joy, laughter, sadness and awe. The watercolour artstyle is beautiful, and it brings Skyloft and Hyrule to life, while looking like a moving painting. It also finally felt like what a Wii game was supposed to feel like, with 1:1 control, minigames designed adequately for the motion control, items that took full advantage of the Wiimote (the Beetle being the best example of this), and finally sword-slashes making it feel like you were finally in control of Link’s sword (full disclosure: I played the entire game with my left hand and never had problems).

Adult Link finally looks convincingly emotive, an excellent complement to Child Toon Link of The Wind Waker. Link is angry, happy, disgusted, and even sad in this game and it's very convincing (it's also enhanced by a brilliant orchestral score). The dungeon design and architecture are also marvelous, with Dungeon 4’s ideas being my all-around favourite next to the aesthetics and ideas of Dungeons 3 and 5. There are some things that I didn’t really like in SS, but the good definitely outweighed the stuff I had nitpicky issues about.

Yes, the game is flawed, but I don’t really care. I enjoyed myself a lot and it's definitely one of my favourite Zelda games next to Majora’s Mask. It’s a beautiful way to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of the series with musical, artistic and character nods to previous games here and there.


2. Rayman Origins (PS3/X360/Wii)



To be honest, the reason why I was looking into this game was for its background art and not much else. I imported it from the States for the Amazon artbook bonus, and I certainly wasn’t disappointed on that front. But then came the game itself—it was far better than I had expected. The presentation is top-notch, with the background art seamlessly transitioning into different environments (seen in the third world), and the soundtrack having some dynamism as you go from room to room in each level (the soundtrack is very excellent, by the way, well-composed and very melodic). But the gameplay truly surprised me! I did not expect for the physics to be so fluid. Momentum is built properly, timing is important, jumps work well, and the controls were great. The level design works so well with the backgrounds, the platforming, timing, music and just overall being entertaining and a joy to run through repeatedly to pick up more lums or chase a damn treasure chest.

I adored this game very much. One of the best platformers of the year.


3. Sonic Generations (PS3/X360/PC)



It had to show up on this list somewhere. To be honest, this was originally going to be lower on my list until I had gone through and played through all my GOTY candidates last week. The worst part of it was that I couldn’t stop playing it, despite having the platinum for it. While I don’t like Generations as much as I did Colours since it was lacking in terms of narrative progression, pacing, and cohesion, the gameplay certainly improved—drifting was actually implemented well, and Generations features some of the best Modern Sonic levels I’ve seen in years in Rooftop Run, Sky Sanctuary, Speed Highway and Crisis City. The Classic Sonic levels, while the physics aren’t up to par yet (spindash too overpowered), were extremely well-designed and very fun to go through again and again (particularly Rooftop Run, Crisis City, Speed Highway, and Seaside Hill). There are tons of nods to previous games, and the fanservice is plentiful. The friends don’t have much of an importance except to be saved or to be part of the extra missions that the game uses to extend the replayability of the game.

The aesthetics are absolutely stunning, even moreso on the PC version, and the music is astoundingly beautiful with great arrangements of previous themes or remixes of vocal themes. What the Sonic Sound Team did to create an absolute juggernaut of the album that respects music from Sonic games of the past is brilliant and fan service at its best.

Sonic fans should feel encouraged to pick this up. It’s a very well-written and extremely detailed love letter to both the series and the fans who support it.


4. The Legend of Heroes VI: Trails in the Sky (PSP)



I’ve been waiting for this game for years, and it certainly did not disappoint. It reminded me a lot of the older RPGs that emphasized the “going on an adventure” angle rather than characterization and cool CG. The narrative is built up really well, and the narrative shifts very well from a quest for adventure to a mysterious conspiracy. Despite being part of a trilogy, it delivers very well as a standalone game. Joshua is probably one of my favourite characters in games ever.

I can’t really complement the jazz and big band-infused soundtrack just because I’ve listened to SC’s and Zero’s soundtracks right after, which happened to be better all-around, but it works for the game in general.

Combat didn’t seem to be emphasized as much as the story did, but it works very well too—a turn-based system, implementing a grid/range-based mechanic (much like other LoH games). There is also a bonus system which cycles through per character turn, granting bonuses to both enemies and playable characters like healing, attack boost, more crystals upon defeat, etc. Orbment customization was pretty fun to tinker with as well, playing with the characters’ strengths and weaknesses to make them more efficient and useful in battle. The guild stuff reminded me a lot of Arc the Lad and it made me nostalgia a bit.

The gameplay certainly doesn’t really shine and isn’t the biggest part of Trails in the Sky, but the narrative, overarching canon and the quests truly make this game shine brightly. Looking forward to playing SC... somehow.


5. Xenoblade (Wii) [IMPORT - from Canada]



I wasn’t too interested in this one until duckroll made the thread for the games that had the top RPGs in Japan based on mk2 scores a while back. The background art drew me to it, and it’s even better to see it in person on the TV. The battle system is fast, positioning seems like it’s more intuitive than it was in FFXII, all characters are fun to use as main party leaders since they all brought something to the table, and the field/dungeon design brings a lot of explorable places and variety along with them. Weather effects are great, being able to move time forward or backward in order to get quests done or just enjoy the atmosphere is great, quick travel is convenient, save anywhere, tons of optional quests, skill trees, gem crafting being really useful, and the character relationship mechanism is really nice. The plot is quite interesting, it’s well-written and the endgame is fantastic. It thankfully lacks the melodrama that I disliked greatly in Takahashi’s other games with the same prefix, and the game works so much better for it.

I will warn people waiting for this game in the US to not get overhyped for it. The game has its share of problems and it is by no means perfect. AI characters aren’t as efficient as I’d like them to be (like they would be in a Tales game, for example), auto-attacking while in battle prevents you from not triggering enemy counters, limited inventory is crap, the game is in desperate need for a bestiary, and some quests are insufferable because you have to grind for drops. But overall, it’s a great game, and any fan of RPGs should give a shot. It’s a damn huge game, and I’m quite sure that audiences will get their fill when they go through Xenoblade for the first time.


6. Radiant Historia (DS)



Radiant Historia is a great game, a wonderful homage to RPGs of old like Genso Suikoden (narrative), Chrono Trigger (character synergy and time travel), and FFVI (art direction) (and thus, in a way, refreshing). Narrative gets a little iffy towards the end, but that's to be expected in JRPGs, I think. Stocke is a great protagonist, and didn't do anything that made me roll my eyes or sigh in frustration, something that feels like a rarity in recent JRPGs. He didn't necessarily "develop", but instead more of his multifaceted personality was revealed to the player as a way of showing "development". It was nice.

Radiant Historia's refreshing nature, however, truly comes from the battle system. It's sheer proof that a game does not need elaborate smoke and mirrors, or "complicated-looking" level up systems. It relies on simplicity with a minor tweak. The battle system is a great take on turn-based combat. It never gets boring. Enemies can be pushed and pulled in different directions on a 3x3 grid. Enemy positioning is rather important: if they are in the front row, they will do more damage to your party. If they are in the back, they'll do less damage. What is the best way to maximize your results in battle is to bunch up the enemies on one area of the grid and combo them with your characters. Enemy and ally turn order is shown on the top screen, and you have the ability to swap turns with either foe or friend to maximize the effects of your combo. In a way, synergy is something that players should bear in mind to combo a set of enemies into submission efficiently and quickly.

If you meet a bad end (even the sidequests have bad ends), it's not the end for you. You just have to go back and make the "right" decision. The true ending is achieved by doing 10 particular sidequests. The best part of this game is that nothing is missable. You can still venture back and forth in time to see what you've missed or what you've yet to accomplish in both past and present.

When I first heard of Radiant Historia, I figured it'd be like Chrono Trigger through-and-through. While this is true to an extent, I found myself looking for other games I loved dearly in past console generations. I found Final Fantasy VI (steampunk), Final Fantasy Tactics (politics), Suikoden (war, friendship and rebellion) and Tactics Ogre (rebellion) in this. I appreciated what it had to offer, and it certainly deserves a place in any JRPG player's library.


7. Tales of Xillia / テイルズオブエクシリア (PS3) [IMPORT - I'm from Canada]



Tales of Xillia is the latest game in the Tales series, and is pretty much the game that celebrated the series’ 15th anniversary. Unlike Zelda and Sonic, which relied on past games to help celebrate their series’ anniversaries, Xillia does its own thing (but this is also partially because every other Tales game has nods to previous games in the series, whether it’d be via the battle system, attacks, cameo battles, etc.).

Tales of Xillia utilizes the DR-LMBS (Dual Raid-Linear Motion Battle System), and includes TP and AC in order for characters to carry out attacks. While I’ve expressed that TP is limiting in the past (and it still is), the Link Artes and Overlimit for Link Chains work very well. What’s problematic is the lack of flexibility introduced by TP and the lack of Link Artes for other partnerships other than Jude/Milla’s kind of prohibits the system from reaching its full potential. Regardless, DR-LMBS is very fun to play around with and it ends battle quite quickly on harder modes. I encourage players to play on harder modes to get full satisfaction out of the battle system. It isn’t as good as Graces’ by a long shot, but it’s good enough.

The cast is great too, with Alvin, Jude and Leia being my favourites to play around with. Unfortunately, the areas aren’t as great as Graces’ were (which followed the same “lack of world map” structure, and sometimes they’re kind of boring). Many parts of the narrative, town design, and character interaction make up for the between town parts. The music is also fantastic as well, with Milla’s battle themes, Jude's final two battle themes, the school outfit DLC battle theme, and the final battle theme standing out the most.

I played it for over 100 hours, so it must have done something right. It was very fun to play through, especially Jude’s portion of the game.


8. Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together (PSP)



I’m a huge fan of Matsuno's games, so when Tactics Ogre was being released on the PSP, I was ecstatic to learn about all of the changes that were introduced to the game. The narrative is excellent, the music is as good as before if not better, and the game is long. It has a non-linear branching plotline, which is very refreshing, Lawful/Neutral/Chaos alignments are expanded and assist with the storytelling very well, “The World” system is really great to see what would happen if you chose differently (much like RH’s system). The choices presented to the player revolve around war crimes and politics, which were very interesting to me as a player as a struggled with some of them in terms of morality and loyalty. The storytelling made this game, and I enjoyed it very much. The inclusion of Chariot is also awesome since it let you rewind the battle a little to rectify some mistakes.

What a fantastic game, and what a ride. Very well-written, and very fun to play during breaks and in bursts.


9. Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective (DS)



What a fantastic start to the year. I had finished 999 prior to 2010 ending, so starting 2011 with Ghost Trick was nice in terms of consistency. The games are quite different, yes, but the storytelling—outside of the ending—was great. The characters were very well-written, especially Missile (best dog in a game ever) and Cabanela (best animations ever). The game’s attention to detail for the animations, the background art and the character art is just amazing. The Panic Dance and anything involving Cabanela is just awesome to watch in action because they’re so fluid and well-animated. Even watching people eat chicken is really nice to watch since the animation flows so well. The music is also composed nicely and the instrument samples chosen make them easy to listen to, and communicates exactly what the game wants the music to communicate. The puzzles are also fun to solve. I’d personally love a sequel in the universe, or at least another game that involves the artstyle and animation like this.


10. El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron (PS3/X360)



As much as I’ve complemented this game based on its art direction and wonderful musical score, the platforming is what drags it down here. The best part of El Shaddai was seeing what the game was going to throw at you next in terms of the art, the area, or even the mechanics of the area. People who may not like constant background switching or gameplay switching may not be into that, but I definitely loved it. The character designs aren’t bad, but Lucifel’s stands above the rest just because he calls God with a cellphone and uses a fancy umbrella. On the same note, both the JP and EN voice acting are nicely done.

The combat is a lot like Rock-Paper-Scissors, where certain weapons beat other weapons, or some bosses change which weapons they’re weak against. The weapons also modify your platforming abilities (one would allow Enoch to dash, one would weigh him down, etc), and they also vary in terms of strength. In order to obtain G-rankings for each stage, one must analyze which weapons would be most useful for certain enemies and combo away while guarding, guard-breaking and stealing weapons.

El Shaddai is one of those games that I'd treat like Nier (which I also loved): it's a great game and tries a few interesting things as soon as you get to newer areas. But like Nier, I would not recommend it to just everyone. People looking for a heavy skill-based hack and slash that require pushing a ton of buttons aren't really going to find what they're looking for here, imo. But people looking for a sensory experience will definitely find something in here. I liked it very much despite a few of its shortcomings.


Honourable Mentions

x: The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D (3DS); While Ocarina of Time isn’t my favourite Zelda title, Grezzo did a fantastic job at cleaning this game up and making it look exceptionally polished. The gameplay even improved a little with being able to equip four weapons at once and using the bottom screen to switch on the fly. While I didn’t have a lot of issues with the Water Temple, adding some camera pans in that dungeon to show players where to go, or making a Time block more obvious to the player made for a newcomer-friendly experience. Master Quest and Boss Rush are also welcome additions to a game that players have treaded so many times in search of additional challenge.

x: Super Mario 3D Land (3DS) ; I really like the aesthetic and throwbacks to Super Mario Bros 3. Powerup-wise, it’s really nice to see old friends from back in the day. 3D-wise, wow, the 3D works so well in this game. I’m thoroughly impressed. However, I’m not really liking how sluggish Mario moves in this game. It’s rather odd. Presentation works well to keep my mind off of it, though; it’s a very pretty game. I’m sorely disappointed that the worlds weren’t themed at all as well. I have noticed that unfortunately in comparison to NSMBWii, 3D Land doesn’t carry similar difficulty. Much of the difficulty in later levels seems to be based on item management (ex: keeping a Tanooki Leaf in stock). It’s very laid-back, and the ease of the journey is quite fitting for on-the-go play. The special worlds made me feel a lot better about the game. Why it’s down here in the honourable mentions? Aside from the issues I’ve encountered, I was just wowed by other platformers a little more this year. It certainly is a must-buy, though, for any Mario fan or platformer fan in general.

x: Trinity: Souls of Zill O’ll (PS3) ; I think this game will get overlooked by a lot of people just because it isn’t really a high-profile RPG. But I was pleasantly surprised by how big the game was (so many quests, arena fights, etc), and how much depth there was to the combat concerning elemental strikes and skills (despite the rest of the combat essentially being like Musou). It’s nice to pick up and complete quests or participate in arena battles every now and then if you’re just looking for something to do. The music is also very fitting and well-composed.

x: Corpse Party (PSP); I wasn’t really expecting binaural audio, or the Japanese voice track for that matter, so I became really frightened when I played it, and the fantastic music made things creepier. The localization was well-done and the narrative was also well-written. The chase portions of the game are really stressful, and you know that there’s a major penalty if you get caught. Each chapter of the game has several different endings depending on what you do or things you don't do. The game is quite satisfying and I recommend it.

x: Hard Corps: Uprising (PS3/360) ; Air dashing in Contra is probably one of the most fun gameplay mechanics ever. It’s so colourful, over-the-top, has high replay value, high difficulty, and Rising mode was pretty awesome to go through.

x: Yakuza 4 (PS3) ; While Yakuza 3 had better bosses, Yakuza 4 had better character progression and more variety, imo. It’s probably my favourite in the series next to Yakuza 2. A few of the side stories were really touching. Also I think I liked Saejima and Tanimura’s playstyles the most. All four characters in the game were just a delight, and the game was ultimately a huge timesink.

x: Pushmo (3DS) ; I was thumbing through the Pushmo OT and decided to finally dip into this game, and I don’t really regret it. It’s colourful, charming and very fun to play around with on-the-go. It’s one of the better puzzle games of the year, because it’s pretty laid-back, and they’re genuinely fun brainteasers when you find the right puzzle. Creating puzzles is really fun too.

x: Kirby’s Return to Dreamland (Wii) ; I actually loved Kirby’s Epic Yarn, but this is probably the Kirby that fans have been waiting for. I ended picking this up at the last minute as I didn’t see much media for it, but I’m very glad I did. The new powerups are fun to play around with (Water is amazing and it’s a cute little hat), and the level designs, both aesthetically and functionally (World 5, black and white worlds), work very well to enhance the powerups, co-op play and just make the game all-around enjoyable.

x: Kirby Mass Attack (DS) ; Got this game for Christmas. This was quite a surprise. Much like Kirby Canvas Curse, it takes full advantage of the DS’s capabilities. It’s incredibly charming in terms of art direction and music. It doesn’t act like the traditional Kirby game, but somehow it feels like one. It’s quite lengthy (it took me more than 10 hours to finish, how about that for a Kirby game? :O), the controls are amazing (perfect blend of Kirby and Pikmin), and it has some difficulty at last if you’re going for collecting everything. Doing no damage runs and collecting stuff per level adds even more fun to this platformer. Also, the extra content like the Kirby shmup is welcome.

x: Fate/Extra (PSP) ; While the battle system is essentially rock-paper-scissors with a little thing to mess you up, the gameplay isn’t so bad. It could be better and more engaging for the player, however. What truly makes up for it is the game’s fantastic presentation (the environments are very nice to look at and the inclusion of the Japanese voicework was a great idea), the interesting introduction of the game, the music, and how the narrative unfolds (the localization was great).

x: Mighty Switch Force (3DS) ; The soundtrack is utterly amazing, and it feels so Megaman-esque (despite lacking the difficulty) in terms of the art direction. Puzzles are great, but it’s very unfortunate that it’s so short!

x: Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 2 (DS) ; Overall, I like it a ton better than Joker 1, and I like going through little areas if I have time prior to class or during class break. The game moves much faster (monsters level up faster, monsters are obtained faster), and you can save anywhere (great for portable play). The weather system also makes the world feel more alive (better than running the same maps over and over like in Joker 1). Giant monsters are pretty awesome, but they take up 3 slots on your team and are generally left there to take all the damage.
 

Kilgore Trout

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May 13, 2009
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There were a few games that I didn't get around to playing this year that I would have liked to that would have surely been on my list (namely Dark Souls) but as it is I only have a list of 7 anyway.

1. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Wii)
2. Portal 2 (PS3/PC)
3. Total War: Shogun 2 (PC)
4. SpaceChem (PC)
5. King of Dragon Pass (iOS)
6. Bastion (PC)
7. Superbrothers: Sword & Sorcery EP (iOS)

2010: Just Cause 2
xx. Vanquish
 

mhayze

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Aug 23, 2009
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In my own world
1. Uncharted 3; (PS3) This may seem like a populist choice, being a big budget sequel, but the gameplay, production values and sheer entertainment payload still make it my GOTY.
2. Skyrim; (PC) Massive, immersive world, near-unlimited gameplay, frequent PC mods and eye candy galore. All this in a hardcore CRPG that still has wide appeal in 2011 - amazing.
3. Portal 2; (PC) More than just a gameplay gimmick (which would still be better than any other type of gimmick), this is a clever idea expanded to a full size gaming experience. Gameplay, story & voice acting, co-op - all top notch. All this from the PC gamer's bestest friend in the whole world - Valve.
4. Cave Story+; (PC, 3DS) I preferred the sprite-based graphics of the PC version (especially after the soundtrack updates evened the playing field). Amazing realization of one person's vision, takes me back to the heyday of 8-bit / adventure gaming.
5. Bastion; (PC)
6. Tactics Ogre: Let us Cling Together; (PSP) Yoda-inspired name aside, I think this might be the PSP's swansong (at least for me). The PSP is dead, long live .. Vita (no pun intended?)
7. RFactor 2; (PC) Yes it's still in beta, but a tremendous driving sim.
8. Battlefield 3; (PS3) Purely for the multiplayer. If Origin on the PC wasn't so s!@# I would have voted this higher. Don't like most playing multiplayer FPS games on the PS3 when PC is an option, but I made an exception here.
9. Starcraft 2; (PC) Only 1/3 of the full game, otherwise it would have scored higher.
10. Deus Ex: Human Revolution; (PC) A little rough around the edges, but still great. Couldn't finish it :(

Honorable Mentions List:
Catherine, Resistance 3, Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective, Kirby: Mass Attack, Metal Gear Solid HD Collection, Radiant Historia, Trine 2, Bulletstorm, Tiny Tower

Unplayed Games:
I don't own a Wii but I played The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword for a bit and it seems fun. I'm looking forward to picking up older Wii titles when the Wii U launches.
Dark Souls would have charted for me, I'm sure, but I didn't pick it up because of the time commitment / fear of rage breaking the disc / enticement to wait for a PC version.
 

Team Klimt

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1. Batman: Arkham City
2. Crysis 2
3. Portal 2
4. Uncharted 3
5. Resistance 3
6. Dead Space 2
7. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
8. The Legend of Zelda:Skyward Sword
9. Super Mario 3D Land
10. FIFA 12

Honorable Mentions:
-L.A. Noire
-Deus Ex: Human Revolution
-Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary
-Ico/ Shadow of the Colossus Collection
 

Nert

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Aug 1, 2009
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This deadline extension has been great. I'm going to be able to play through most of Rayman Origins, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, and Alice: Madness Returns now.

(Obviously, the voting has to end at some point, but I'll be playing 2011 games throughout much of the year, so I could tinker with a vote almost endlessly. Hooray for Steam sales and backlogs).
 
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