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

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Sax Russel

location: beach
Jun 10, 2004
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1. Portal 2 ; What else is there to say. Take me now, Valve.
2. Deus Ex: Human Revolution ; A better first person RPG than Skyrim. YEAH I SAID IT. Fantastic art.
3. The Witcher 2 ; Great action RPG. Amazing visuals. Polska!
4. Battlefield 3 ; Single player campaign stinks, but my 204 hours of multiplayer have been a blast!
5. Skyrim ; Very finely detailed and massive world. Immersive experience. Still, felt like a game that's taken an arrow to the knee.
 
Nov 9, 2007
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1. Deus Ex HR; my favorite game of the year, very immersed into the game world, exploring the town, finding new ways to enter or finish a mission, the sense of discovery is second to none, even compared to Skyrim, and the story is interesting enough that it hold my attention through the whole game.

2. Ghost Trick; I love visual novel, this one in particular, have interesting premise that mesh really really well to it's gameplay, which I didn't see often in a visual novel that usually rely on the story and characters, actually have really ingenious game mechanic also, doesn' t hurn that the story is also amazing.

3. Witcher 2; my love to this game is similar to Deus Ex, very immersive, I got sucked into the world, interesting story and world too, it just lacks the sense of discovery like Deus Ex, although making you face the consequence of your action and having wildly different storyline depending on your choices is great.

4. Uncharted 3; when it come to linear set pieces driven game, no one does it better than Uncharted, pacing is not as tight as U2, but the gameplay is the best the series have been, new melee mechanic work great, and more aggressive enemies force you to move more often and make the whole game felt more dynamic and frantic. the multiplayer co-op is a blast to play too

5. Rochard; my favorite downloadable games this year, great mechanic that keep adding new thing to discover through the whole game, the game never got stale because they add new element as you progress through the game, physics driven mechanic give you room for experimentation to complete objectives as you like, controls felt great. by the end of the game, I can only hope there will be more of Rochard.

6. Rayman Origins; the game that make me love 2d platformer all over again, it looks beautiful, running through the whole level felt great, it's Sonic done right, it's fast, but not fast enough that I have to rely on trial and error or memorization like Sonic, challenging, and co-op is a great fun.

7. Dead Space 2; great, tense action horror, I like the 'metroidvania' structure of Dead Space 1 better, but this is still a great game with more refined combat and weapons

8. Little Big Planet 2; what LBP1 should have been from the start, imaginative and very creative levels, just playing it through is an awe-inspiring experience, playing it with my 2 young cousins is a very memorable moment for me.

9. Dark SoulsMaybe if I managed to progress further into the game, this might placed higher on the list, but as it is now, I recognize it's greatness, but it's punishing nature didn't make it a very fun experience now and then.

10. Yakuza 4; this game have to compete with Skyrim for which game takes the 10th slot, in the end I enjoy and have more fun with Yakuza 4 than Skyrim.

Honorable Mention:

Skyrim; Skyrim is a massive game with tons of content and great looking open world that really pull you into the world, my first 10 /15 hours into it is a great experience, but at the end of the day, I find the combat a bit dull, discovering new caves or tomb to explore sounds great, but it doesn't matter if what I do inside those dungeon is just more combat, which I don't really like. fighting Dragons also got stale after a while.

LTTP: Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep; finally manage to beat it this year and this is the best Kingdom Hearts game. really really awesome game. I wish I beat it last year so that I can vote it for last year's goty poll/
 
Nov 3, 2011
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1. Uncharted 3:Drakes deception Unfortunately it's the only (New) game i could play this year, or had any interest to play. Not as entertaining as 2 but then again 2 wasn't my game of the gen. That would be MGS4.

Game of 2010: Gran turismo 5

This is what i've been playing the whole year. Number 2 for my game of the gen and my game of the year honestly.
 
Feb 7, 2005
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1. Rage ; My thoughts while playing Rage were that it was the best game I had played in a long time. The shooting has a great feeling and in coop the action has more of the old school feel. Everyone should give this game a try in coop.
2. Brink ; While flawed I still felt like I played a lot of Brink. Splash Damages objective modes made drop in play a lot of fun. Vaulting, sliding, and wall jumping are things I would like to see more of in future games. The pistols had the best weapon feeling in the game and I mostly stuck to them. Although the game was never huge and seemingly dieing I got into some good games a few weeks ago. If Splash Damage can improve with their next game we should have something very special.
3. Deus Ex: Human Revolution ; Love those city hubs in my RPGs. Fun take on stealth and open but linear gameplay.
4. Battlefield 3 ; Nice to go back to Wake, Karkand, and Sharqi
5. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim ; I have always liked games with country side to roam and Skyrim has a lot of it. I need to get into more of the games systems and will probably enjoy it more as I explore it at my leisure.
6. Saints Row 3 ; The skydiving party crash puts this game on the list.
7.Red Orchestra 2 ; Made waiting around and getting shot out of nowhere “fun” :)

I spent a lot of 2011 enjoying games that are not 2011 games, both old and new. I played a lot of the Witcher, Vampire the Masquerade Bloodlines, and Counter Strike on one end and Trbies Ascend on the other.

If the prior year pick returns next year I can see myself going for Fallout New Vegas DLC or the Witcher 2.

For this year I will go with
2010. Super Meat Boy ; try try again. a nice pure game to play for a few minutes or hour. I see it was in my didn`t play enough list from last years ballot.
 
Jun 8, 2008
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1. Deus Ex: Human Revolution
2. Rayman Origins
3. Portal 2
4. Batman: Arkham City
5. Saints Row: The Third
6. Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception
7. Dungeons of Dredmor
8. Alice: Madness Returns
9. Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3
10. Mortal Kombat

2010. Vanquish
 
Nov 19, 2010
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1. Saints Row: The Third; This game blew me away. I didn't like the original Saints Row nor the Grand Theft Auto series all that much, so obviously I wasn't expecting much here. After hearing a lot of good things I decided to give it a shot and I fell in love with it. There's so many things that happen in this game that simply haven't happened in any medium before.

2. Portal 2; I really liked Portal but the sequel raised the bar with some amazing characters, memorable writing, fun puzzles, and an amazing co-op experience.

3. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim; I know the PS3 version is fucked but I played this on the Xbox 360 and quite simply this is the first 'one of these games' that felt like it was moderately polished and didn't ship in a completely fucked state. That along with some good tweaks to the formula helped push this up to number three.

4. Dead Space 2; I liked the first one but it definitely had some issues. I went into this expecting a decent game and left feeling like I'd played an absolutely great one. Between the great pacing, stronger action, and better narrative I was sucked in from start to finish.

5. Dark Souls; This game took a good step forward from the template Demon's Souls had laid out. The open and connected world was a great improvement from the hub world featured in the previous game and some of the tweaks to various systems plus that same demanding gameplay made this stand out in a way no other game can. My one complaint is the online was pretty busted when I played and that made the experience a bit less unique, though it's possible they've fixed it since then.

6. Catherine; This is an example of another game that does stuff never done before. The idea of taking some of the social aspects of Persona, condensing them into a bar, focusing the narrative on the story of a conflicted man trying to decide between being faithful and cheating, and then wrapping that all up in a puzzle game was unique and satisfying.

7. Gears of War 3; It's the best one of these games. I think the story was laughable but the fun to be had was found when playing with friends, whether you played co-op, horde, beast mode, or the competitive multiplayer.

8. Driver: San Francisco; Wow, to think a good Driver game would be released ever again. Not only good though but fresh and unique for a driving game. With missions that weren't just race over and over again, and the fun shifting mechanic this was a surprise hit.

9. Shadows of the Damned; While the gameplay was mediocre, the setting, characters, and writing were great, helping the establish a fun ride from start to finish, excluding 'taste my big boner'.

10. Super Mario 3D Land; This was an enjoyable experience for a handheld Mario game, probably the best one to date. While it tread familiar ground in a lot of ways, it managed to combine these familiar ideas into a new experience that was pleasantly enjoyable.

x. Mortal Kombat; I'm not a big fan of fighting games but this one offered the most fully fleshed out single player options to be found and that helped raise my enjoyment of it greatly.

x. Bastion; This game was a tightly woven, splendid package the whole way through. My only problem with it was I just didn't find the gameplay very engaging which was a shame given the high quality of everything else.

x. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3; While not breaking any new ground and having bad multiplayer and ruining Spec Ops, it did have a fun, if familiar, roller coaster campaign.

2010. Demon's Souls; I got around to this game late, hesitant on playing it and skeptical that it was actually any good. I decided to pick up the Greatest Hits edition one day and I was amazed by the depth and intricacy of the gameplay. While extremely hard I very rarely felt 'cheated' by the game. I learned from every mistake and often knew it was my fault that I died.
 
Feb 6, 2007
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1. Portal 2
2. Batman: Arkham City
3. Dead Space 2
4. Gears of War 3
5. Resistance 3
6. Catherine
7. Halo: Anniversary

Didn't have time to play hardly any games last year :(
 
Dec 5, 2008
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1. Deus Ex: Human Revolution
2. Dark Souls
3. Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike Online Edition

x. Shogun 2: Total War

2010. Fallout: New Vegas

There are a lot of 2011 games I haven't bought yet; I'll play The Witcher 2 (haven't finished the first game yet), Uncharted 3 and Batman AC on a later date. My lack of interest in the sequels to my top two 2009 GOTY games (Uncharted 2, Batman AA) might be the fault of the hours I spent playing Dark Souls, I felt I didn't need any more games this year but I also that they were just "more of the same". I also did not care enough about Skyrim, RAGE or Portal 2 and some others to include them in the list.

I also acknowledge that my top three games have a bunch of issues; DxHR has poor AI, Dark Souls' final levels are terrible and 3SOE's online matchmaking is broken.
 
Oct 4, 2009
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1. Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective; I was grinning ear to ear the entire time. Completely entralled by the world Shu Takumi created. The art direction really brought out the game's personality.

2. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword; Did motion controls really well. Glad they added more of an emotional connection between Link and Zelda.

3. Pushmo; Brilliant puzzle game that can get pretty devilish. Like Picross, you'll find yourself saying, "just one more puzzle" until it's early morning.

4. Kirby: Mass Attack; Super cute. Touch controls worked really well and didn't feel repetitive.

5. Super Mario 3D Land; Good change of pace from the usual Mario games. I wasn't sure how I would like the smaller levels and blend of 2D & 3D Mario game style. Wish it took less time to get to the great levels.

x. Okamiden; Sequel to Okami was kind of hit or miss. Compromises had to be made for the DS, but I found the characters and story to be lacking more then the combat or art design. Wish it didn't connect to the original story like it did, it takes away from the original.

x. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D; OOT is one of my favorite games of all time, but it just doesn't feel right voting for the updated 3DS version since it's still fundamentally the same game.

x. Professor Layton and the Last Specter; Thought about putting it at #6, but feel like it doesn't really belong with the other 5. London Life was a nice addition, as was the puzzle mix, but I really wasn't feeling the story and new villian.

x. WayForward; I played 4 of their games this year, none were great, but 3 were pretty darn good. All had them 2D sprites. Mighty Milky Way, Mighty Switch Force & Aliens: Infestation stood out. Thor: God of Thunder was average.

2010. 999: 9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors; Didn't buy it until 2011, would've have been #3 on last year's list.

Disappointment of 2011. Solatorobo: Red the Hunter; I wanted to like it. The lack of difficulty really killed my enjoyment. It's so easy it makes the upgrade system rather pointless which in turn makes the quest system completely boring. First half of the game is too long and the second half really needed a ramp up in difficulty.

Haven't spent enough time with Dragon Quest VI: Realms of Revelation, Mario Kart 7 or Rayman Origins to make a judgement.
 
Mar 3, 2009
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Thanks for the extension because it allowed me to finish Batman: Arkham City, Trine 2 and Bastion. Unless I manage to finish some game until Saturday, this will be my final list (my top 4 is solid, 5-10 could be in any order).

1. Portal 2 ; It's not perfect, it loses it's way a little bit in the middle of the game and it felt a bit like a tutorial but in the end the flaws couldn't detract from the great writing, characters, creativity, mechanics and atmosphere of this game. It's by far the best 2011 game I played.

2. To The Moon ; While the "game" part is terrible the story and soundtrack more than make up for it. This is a game that I will never forget because it managed to tell a great story without using cheap tactics to make me care.

3. FIFA 12 ; After the disappointments that were the last 2 games, FIFA 12 managed to get me excited to play just like when I first played FIFA 09. The main reason is tactical defending which solved one of my biggest problems with the series. Online Seasons was a nice surprise and I consider it the biggest online innovation in 1 vs 1 sports games and one that every sports game should copy.

4. Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception ; Huge expectations didn't helped but while it still managed to deliver another great experience it's just not on the level that Uncharted 2 was. It's definitely a safe sequel that lacks the polish that UC2 had while maintaining the high quality level of setpieces and character development.

5. InFamous 2 ; Infamous was my biggest surprise of this generation. I laughed when they announced it at E3 but after playing the demo I was shocked. Unfortunately the sequel didn't had the same impact, simply because it's more of the same in a new setting, different enemies, more polish and better graphics. But even with the feeling of deja vu, I enjoyed the game a lot because the core gameplay is still fun.

6. Football Manager 2012 ; It's hard to explain why the exact same game with a couple of tweaks is in this list, but I can't deny the fun I have playing it. Maybe it's the depth or the infinite replayability or maybe it's the fact that there is nothing more enjoyable than taking a team from the lowest division and make them a Champions League Winner after 15 years.

7. Saints Row: The Third ; After the first couple of hours I was convinced this would be at least in my top 3 but when the game started to throw me activities disguised as missions all that hope went away. SR: TT is uneven and while it manages to have the best level I played in 2011 it also has some of the worst missions I played this year including one of the endings. If it wasn't for the freedom to break the game (Infinite Health etc.) that allows the players to simply have fun and enjoy annihilating waves of enemies with an overpowered gun without having to worry about dying, it wouldn't even be in my top 10.

8. LittleBigPlanet 2 ; I loved the game when I played it back in January and I was blown away by the new mechanics. The big problem is that I never played it since and that is due to the fact that while I love the content created by Media Molecule, I don't feel compelled to try the community levels because no matter how good they are, they simply don't have the quality of those created by MM. And in a game built around the community aspect, I feel this game - just like the first one - failed to accomplish that.

9. Killzone 3 ; Despite the obvious lack of polish and terrible ending, I enjoyed the campaign a lot and the reason for that is that the gunplay is fantastic and I love the setting even without the awesome dark atmosphere KZ2 had. Multiplayer was a disappointment (terrible map design, TSP, no squad spawn) when compared to the great KZ2 MP but even with all the issues, Warzone continues to be a blast to play.

10. Bulletstorm ; A fresh approach to a FPS that deserved more attention and while it showed glimpses of greatness, in the end it felled to the same mistakes of the genre, especially the last third of the game (and the ending is just terrible). It's a shame they didn't managed to find a way to create a compelling multiplayer mode because Anarchy was awful.

2010. Just Cause 2 ; Tough decision between JC2, Vanquish and Costume Quest, but I went with JC2 because of the large open world with unique and gorgeous environments, crazy story that doesn't make any sense and even crazier tools of destruction to create chaos. If it had the freedom to "break" the game given in Saints Row: The Third, this would be in my top 10 of games of this generation, because even on casual, enemies would find me with perfect accuracy and ruin my desire to destroy everything in sight.

Games that I own but didn't finish/play and most likely would change my top 10 quite a bit: Deus Ex: HR, The Witcher 2, Skyrim, Gears 3, Driver: SF, Rage, Anno 2070.

2011 was a big disappointment. Instead of the 10-15 great games I was expecting, I played 2 great games and a bunch of good but flawed games. Maybe I'm getting tired of playing so many games or this gen has spent all of their ideas. Or both...
 
Jan 3, 2008
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1. Deus Ex: Human Revolution
2. Dead Space 2
3. El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron
4. Saints Row The Third
5. Portal 2
6. Skyrim
7. Super Mario 3D Land
8. Fruit Ninja Kinect
9. Child of Eden
10. Jamestown

2010: Valkyria Chronicles 2
 
Dec 6, 2010
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1. Portal 2 - Loved the characters and the story, was totally immersed in the experience. It's also one of the first game in awhile to actually stump me on some puzzles for a good while.

2. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword - Some of my favorite dungeons from the entire series, and I absolutely LOVED the art style. Gameplay was very fun as well.

3. Deus Ex: Human Revolution - I really enjoyed playing through this. Was definitely not perfect but there were so many things I enjoyed throughout the game that it still places pretty high on my list.

4. Super Mario 3DLand - Very fun game, although very easy. Some of the levels designs were really clever and made me smile.

5. Mario Kart 7 - Good single player but the online is what kept me coming back. I'm forgetting about the Maka Wuhu glitch for this one in favor of all else that is good with the game.
 

Stumpokapow

listen to the mad man
May 21, 2006
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I'll be doing a two-part post. My actual vote will come at the end of the second post.


10. Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer (iOS, Board)
Ascension is a deck building card game. The main difference between a deck building card game and a collectible card game is that with a deck building card game, all players have either the same decks or build from the same decks. It has a similar theme as Magic the Gathering. Ascension is not the deepest card game, but it is exceptionally well balanced and the default card set is both limited enough to easily learn and master and broad enough to allow for different strategies. It has excellent pacing (and one of the main mechanics is a speed control mechanic, encouraging the game to end faster when you are in the lead and slower when you aren't) and good clash/competitiveness.

I don't want to comment so much on the board game, though. What I want to comment on is the digital version. Ascension absolutely nails everything you could expect a board game to video game adaptation to do. Information is cleanly and clearly displayed. The game moves quickly, but it is easy to understand what opponents do. Matchmaking works brilliantly, play by email or extended turn time is well implemented, there are multiple AI options. It's a universal application, which means it runs on both phones and tablets, but it makes wonderful use of the expanded form factor of the tablet. The rules are well explained, the tutorial is useful, there's a full gallery of every card so you can re-examine stuff. The game is also very well priced ($5).

People say iOS does not have deep games. Ascension isn't a linear or narrative based game, and individual games take maybe 10-15 minutes, but it is very replayable and requires more strategy than most of the other games on my list. If you don't have an iOS device, pick this up when you buy one. If you have an iOS device, buy this now. If you don't plan on buying an iOS device, perhaps you'll at least shut up for a few minutes the next time you go to point out how shitty gaming is on iOS.


9. ilomilo (XBLA)
ilomilo is a puzzle game. Each level consists of an unusual, dimension-bending set of blocks. You play as two separate characters (ilo and milo) who are trying to find each other. You need to switch back and forth between the two, hand blocks between the two, and work with yourself to bridge the gaps.

ilomilo's presentation is sublime. Everything is done in an almost fabric, story-book style. "Plot" is presented through dioramas that the dev team made. Everything is bursting with life. The best part of the visual presentation is the way in which common puzzle mechanics are given life through really rich characters. In this randomly chosen screenshot, you can see a walking box-dog thing that you use to ride from area to area--ilo and milo can't climb--as well as a pop up angry bullet looking guy who blocks certain paths. These aren't mechanically unusual, but they are so cute in presentation. Some reviews criticized the game as being too on-the-nose or self-aware of its cuteness, but I don't feel so. Helpful Hints are provided every so often by a Goonish character called Sebastien, who, we are reminded in flavour text, spent his life savings on the world's largest supply of garlic. In a sense, I'm reminded of the playful grossness of WarioWare. The music is also wonderful, largely done as a sort of cacophonic mix of racket. You hear sort of chintzy accordion-like racket, lots of vibrant percussion and bells. It feels like a patchwork band of Mummers using whatever they can to just make noise. Wonderful.

The mechanics are varied and the game is chock full of content. Hard levels are hard. Some of the hardest levels require an acute awareness of movement across every dimension imaginable--x, y, z, and moving and rotating in each. The level geometry is insane. There are levels where you're walking on the top of a path of spiraling cubes, so you end up on the other side from where you started--and then you need to use blocks to flip around so more to end up back right side up. You need extremely honed sense of geometry and space as you play the game.

Some reviewers complained that the game had certain puzzle situations where you could get yourself in an unsolvable place. I didn't. Restarting levels is painless if you do. The game rewards both collecting and exploring levels as well as solving levels as efficiently as possible. The game is 800 points ($10) and XBLA exclusive. Play the game, or at least listen to the music.


8. Portal 2 (PC, Steam)
Portal 2 does a lot well. It takes a 2-3 hour game and expands it into a 6 hour game without making it feel padded. It takes a brilliant core mechanic, using Portals, and expands it wonderfully by introducing the different paint types, the different turret types, and stuff like lasers. Perhaps most crucially, it takes the sketchy and vague world of Portal 1 and expands it with a real cast of characters, and a real sense of narrative beyond "go forward dude".

In some ways, though, it was disappointing. First, the team seemed unable to capture the wonderful type of puzzles used in Portal 1. Few puzzles involve momentum or reflex, and many puzzles simply boil down to locating the only place on the wall you are able to shoot. In general the puzzles play less with dimensions than the original, fewer corkscrews and twists and flips. The first half of the game ramps up too slowly, and the middle arc where you climb great empty caverns is a total drag. Paint and grates in the back third of the game were largely more engaging. Where Portal was a game-changer, Portal 2 is simply an excellent game. I would prefer to see Valve take the better mechanics from Portal and integrate them into a game than to play another full game of this.

The ending of the final boss fight is one of the most jawdropping, giggle-inducing moments I've had in gaming in years.

I have not played the co-op. I paid about $10 for Portal 2 in a Steam sale and definitely got my money's worth. I think MSRP is around $19.99. I would recommend people who haven't played either game start with Portal.


7. Bulletstorm (PC, Steam)
Bulletstorm has been compared to an older, arcadey period in FPS games. People cite Doom, Serious Sam, and Painkiller. I'm not sure any of those are a good comparison. Unlike Doom, Bulletstorm's levels are linear and enemy deployments kind of arbitrary. It lacks the speed of Serious Sam. What Bulletstorm is more like is a very deadly toy chest, like the sandbox mode of the Incredible Machine attached to an FPS. Every step you take, every corridor you go down, you have tons of toys to play with. All of them work, and you could easily get through the game just doing the same thing again and again. The game's biggest strength is relying that you will do your best to use all the toys and switch things up.

In Bulletstorm, you have a leash which grabs enemies and pulls them through the air towards you. You have a foot, which kicks enemies through the air away from you. While enemies are in the air, you get a sort of slow motion. You can leash->kick->leash->kick enemies repeatedly. The environment plays a big factor. Enemies die from hitting surfaces, getting spiked, falling too fast and hitting something, slamming into one another, etc. On top of this, you also have a very creative set of weapons. Each weapon has maybe 20 or so "skill shots", or special ways to kill enemies. Some involve the weapon's primary fire, some involve the secondary fire. Throughout the game you are slowly getting new weapons, and alternate fires unlock late in the game than primary fires, so you'll always have an old familiar weapon to double back on. To be "best" at Bulletstorm, you need to combine the leash, the kick, sliding, the environment, and a mix of your weapons, using enemies to kill each other in spectacular "fireworks" of death.

The characters are almost Tourette-prone. Every sentence involves swearing, dicks, or tits. While the game's script is juvenile, the tone is generally not. This is totally incongruous. Characters speak fairly eloquently besides their compulsive potty mouth. One thing I really liked about the game's script is that several times throughout the game, characters described very effectively and viscerally (and yes, this is the correct use of the term visceral) what they were smelling. This was a nice touch. The story is insipid and the characters flat and irrelevant.

The visuals are also spectacular. They are clear, bright, and colourful. Some of the colouration reminds me a little of a fever dream Maxfield Parrish, but I don't have the art history grasp to know if I'm right. Expect to see every colour of the rainbow. Expect to also see some really great almost Giger-ish mechanical constructions involving dense gogs and gears whirring in motion.

I paid $5-7.50 or something for Bulletstorm, I think MSRP is around $20. It's very unfortunately GFWL on Windows. I didn't play the co-op or Horde modes.


6. Stacking (XBLA)
Stacking is sort of a graphical adventure slash puzzle game. You play as a tiny Babushka doll trying to rescue his family from a cartoony evil Robber Baron. The main mechanic is that your doll can hop inside a doll one size larger than itself, and that each doll has an ability they can use. A pigeon doll can fly to a perch. One doll slaps people in the face. One doll makes a room-clearing stinky fart. One doll upchucks cookie chunks everywhere. Each level is a series of five or so puzzles which involve choosing the right doll or set of dolls to trigger an ability. What really shines mechanically is that each puzzle has 3-5 solutions, and the game records which solutions you've found. So the emphasis in the game is not merely to solve the puzzle and move on, but to really figure out every possible way you could have solved the puzzles.

If you're still confused or unimpressed, let me explain a little. What follows is a spoiler about 20% of the way through the game where I walk through every way to solve one puzzle in the game. It might spoil a puzzle for you, but you can get a sense for how experimental the game is. You're on a cruise ship that has an Egyptian exhibit. You need to wreck the exhibit to get the curator to complain to the ship's captain. There are five solutions: Stack until you're the right size, hop into a mummy, and walk out of the exhibit; Stack into a doll that can box and uppercut the Pharaoh's sarcophagus; Find a magician doll who can turn an ancient statue into a disgusting plaid pattern; Stack into a shiny sarcophagus, shine to attract the attention of a fussy patron, and then stack into her; Stack into the Pied Piper, find some rat dolls, play the flute to lead them into the exhibit. So yeah, lots of ways to solve it. Each solution is accompanied by a hilarious and slapstick "ending" to the puzzle.

Besides the puzzles, each level has a checklist of busywork you can optionally do. You also have a sort of checklist of available dolls on the level, so there's a collect them all kind of element. In general it's fun to just goof around the levels and torment the dolls with other dolls.

The aesthetic choices are weird. The whole game takes place in a vignetted silent film kind of presentation, the story is about child labour and early industrial capitalism, and you play as an old timey nesting doll, but these three things are never really linked to one another. It's like someone chose three awesome and quaint styles and threw them all together. The game is short and sold for a wallet-crunching $15. I bought it on sale. It also has $5 DLC. It is going to receive a PC port, which I suspect will be both cheaper and go on sale more often.
 

Stumpokapow

listen to the mad man
May 21, 2006
17,232
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5. Tiny Tower (iOS)
This was a tough choice for me. Tiny Tower isn't strictly speaking a game. You might hear the name and look at the screen and think that maybe it's a tower building simulation like SimTower. It's not. There's no game here. You can't win, you can't lose, there's no strategy, you simply need to invest more and more time to progress further.

In Tiny Tower, you build a tower. Each floor costs money to build. Once a floor is built, you can put either a business (one of five types) or an apartment in it. Building businesses and apartments are free. Apartments can hold up to five Bitizens. Each Bitizen has a dream job, and performance stats for each of the five business types. You choose a business type and get a random business--when you pick food you might get Mexican or a Burger Joint or Vegan Food or many other choices. Each business can hold up to three employees. The first employee allows you to sell the lowest quality, lowest cost, lowest value item. The second the second item. The third the highest value item. More skilled employees give you more of a discount on items. Dream Job employees stock up double the quantity of the item. Sales proceed automatically and there's nothing you can do to speed them up. When you run out of stock, you restock. If a business runs out of all its stock, it closes until it gets new stock.

So what you do is busywork. Restock. Got enough coins. Build a new floor. Build a new type of business. Build apartments to put people in the business. Day in, day out. You can play as little as about 10 minutes a day or as much as hours and hours a day, but it will take you 2-3 months to get your tower into the stratosphere. You can dress up Bitizens, repaint or rename businesses, evict underperforming Bitizens, read what Bitizens post on "Bitbook" (this is hilarious, just FYI), upgrade your elevator. All of this is nothing. It's not strategy, it's not skill, it's just a time sync.

It seems like I'm being negative here. Why Tiny Tower made my list is the wonderful job they'd made wasting your time fun. Bitizens have costumes and clothing and their own little personalities thanks to Bitbook. The game scratches the min-max itch very well with constant opportunities to optimize your efficiency, even if it's all irrelevant and even the shittiest employee choices will lead to success. Finding out which business you get has a Gashapon style "What am I gonna get this time?" feeling. You play Tiny Tower, and then you want to play more Tiny Tower. The game doesn't have any gross IAP model (in-app purchasing is useless after about your first week and not super useful before then) or friend-spamming. It's just a really feel good game. The presentation is gorgeous, the game has received many updates. It's just a good way to kill time. It's not a game, but it's my #5 game of the year.

Tiny Tower is free, and it's also available on Android but I understand the Android port is totally poop.


4. You Don't Know Jack 2011 (Xbox 360)
You Don't Know Jack is the best trivia series of all time. Whereas other games like Trivial Pursuit and Buzz settle for simply asking you trivia questions, You Don't Know Jack makes it so that every question is as much about understanding the joke they're making (often a multi-layered pun) in order to get to the question they're trying to ask you. In the screenshot above, Buzz would ask "Which US coin does not have ridges?" You Don't Know Jack forces you to think about it.

So much care is put into everything. When you start the game, if you choose not to put in a name, the game assigns one to you. Frequently these names are insulting, and often form a theme (two anonymous players might be called "Dumb" and "Dumber"). Every round is brought to you by a fake product placement sponsor. These are hilarious--Ted's Drop Dead Gorgeous Body Bags. Each round has one INCORRECT answer which is related to the product placement. If you choose this, you get major bonus points. So the game keeps you thinking because if you too quickly answer correctly, you'll miss out on the wrong answer of the game.

Different rounds have different question types. One question type involves the narrator recounting a screwed up dream he had last night, and you need to decide what movie he watched before he had the dream. One question type is the DisOrDat where you are given a series of objects and asked to decide whether they are part of Category X or Category Y. An example DisOrDat would be "Tell me if these things are a type of tree or a medical condition" -- Bladdernut, Buckeye, Saddleback, Black Gum, Club Foot, Shadbush, Old Man's Beard. "Tell me if these are Britney Spears songs or Catholic Popes" -- Innocent, Lucky, Urban, Outrageous, Hilarius, Toxic, Lonely. What a hoot. You can also "screw" your opponents by betting that they will get a question wrong. Especially good when someone accidentally says "I don't have a clue what the answer is".

The subject matter in YDKJ is often pop cultural, historical, and often American. Sorry for any Europeans who feel at a disadvantage. Expect to see questions about Lincoln mixed with jokes about Snooki, often in the same question. The game has a very cynical, hip, Gen-X kind of attitude towards things. I can't stress how funny the game is.

If you've ever liked trivia games like Trivial Pursuit, Scene It, Buzz, Jeopardy!, or even old trivia shows like Win Ben Stein's Money or Reach for the Top, you'll love YDKJ. The 2011 version is $29.99 MSRP on consoles, $19 on PC. The PS360 versions have online play and extra DLC packs (all worth it) while the Wii/PC versions don't. At least I don't think they do. The game comes with 75 rounds of questions. Questions are always the same per round, as are answer orders, so you can really only play a given round once or twice, but you should be able to get several months of frequent play out of the game before you exhaust the content. This is and will be the best game in its genre all generation. There is also a question about Stumps so I am contractually obligated to include the game in my list.


3. Bastion (PC, Steam)
Bastion is probably loosely classed as a sort of click-based dungeon crawler / action RPG. You play an apparent mute Amnesiac wandering around a world that has already ended, playing through stages to get items to rebuild the world. You can choose two from a wide variety of weapons all of which feel very different. As you level up, you gain the ability to equip more tonics. Tonics have specific effects, and so mainly serve to buff. Combat is spiced up by timed dodging/blocking which keeps you concentrating rather than maybe falling into the Diablo-style click-click-click pattern. The RPG elements are very light and the game mostly feels more action and reflex oriented. Levels feel like basically random mazes, so the hallmark of different levels is more their aesthetic than their specific design. Some people claim this makes the game feel same-y or uninteresting, but I don't agree.

The first thing I want to highlight that the game does really well is pacing. Each level is just the right length, maybe 15-20 minutes. Most levels contain a weapon to unlock, so the pace at which you're switching up your armaments is very brisk. You always feel like you're doing something new and when you start to master it, something new arrives again. In between levels, if you want a little nugget, there are shooting gallery style challenges where you are asked to master particular weapons. The game also gives you a list of tasks to complete which require varied play, so you generally feel like you're getting something done. The story is spaced out so that just when you want a little more, you get a little more. Half-way through the game you begin to unlock arena-style challenge rooms which are very difficult. If you find the game too easy, you also begin to unlock penalties not unlike Halo skulls to challenge yourself. Using these gives you more experience but also makes the game significantly harder.

The second thing I want to highlight is that in between levels, you come back to a central home area called the Bastion. This is the area you build up. Building isn't as complicated as something like Actraiser, it's more of a checklist kind of thing. Drawn to Life's town mode is a good comparison. Or Legend of Mana's house. The game does an extraordinarily good job of making this feel like your home base that you want to come back to. It has a very strong sense of its own identity. There's lots of little stuff to play around with and at the end Bastion has quite a few buildings.

I won't spoil any of the game's story but the best way I can describe it is slight but well-executed. There are two possible endings and a new-game plus. The game actually has a fair few set piece moments so despite the less than memorable nature of the levels, you'll still remember a lot of moments. The final gameplay sequence in the game is incredibly good--it's a very, very, very well executed parlour trick and I'll leave it at that. The presentation is probably the best ever in an independent or downloadable game. Crisp, well animated arts, lots of style varieties across the levels, the world really feels dead. The music is great, like a dust-bowl old west sort of feel. The music almost evoked the Grapes of Wrath to me. Not the film, the book. It's nice. There are two vocal songs, both of which have a haunting and memorable quality to them. The menu and non in-game art are also gorgeous. The game has New Game+ and the skull-like penalties provide a great incentive to replay.

Bastion is, I guess, $15 or something. I paid $5 for it. It was a genuine thrill to play. It didn't overstay its welcome and constantly mixed things up. It lasts maybe 6-7 hours, but because that time is properly allocated, you won't feel like you were ripped off due to low length. You also probably won't feel at all bored when you get to the end. The game is on XBLA, PC, and apparently there was some web / Chrome release. I can't vouch for that. PC is the way to go, your toaster can play the game, so you might as well get the best version.


2. Adventures of Shuggy (XBLA) (Disclaimer, I made the OT for this game)
Shuggy is a puzzle platformer comprised of 150 or so levels, mostly single screen. You are Shuggy, a vampire that inherits a haunted mansion and needs to drive the ghosts out. What's cool about Shuggy is that it's basically a kind of a buffet approach to the genre. There are probably a dozen or so different level types throughout the game.

To list a few:
- Every 15 seconds a new Shuggy ghost is spawn and retraces the old Shuggy's path. You need to use your ghosts to hold switches to open doors for you, but if you touch them, you die.
- Shuggy can't move, but you can rotate the stage 90 degrees.
- Chunks of the stage randomly rotate, creating new permutations that may or may not be accessible
- Shuggy can have a sort of bungie cord rope and swing around the level. Use the bungie cord to turn gears, but don't accidentally cut the rope.
- You switch between many Shuggys, controlling them all. Watch that one you're not paying attention to doesn't get hit by an obstacle.
- An AI controller computer partner works with you.
- Autonomous goo is crawling around the floor or ceiling. Touch it and it will jump from ceiling to floor or vice versa. Get the goo to certain areas.
- Potions in the level can make you super huge or super tiny, make sure you're the right size to get through.
- Moonjump; in these stages, Shuggy can jump super high
- 36 unique co-op levels which prove to be a great twist on the above mechanics.

The game is very clearly done by a guy with help from a few of his friends. He worked on it for several years, and it didn't do great on XBLA, fewer than 10k copies sold I think. It's a real quality product, the kind of thing that people would jump on if it were available on Steam. The art is simple although cute, there's no fancy cutscenes, and the game is 4:3 with borders. If you liked Braid or PB Winterbottom or if you like flash games or really any kind of 2D puzzley platformer, you'll like this game. It's a simple, humble game, but it's a good one. I'd like to see the guy who made this hired as a designer for bigger games, because he nails the level design and ideas so well. Adventures of Shuggy is a meagre $10 and while the 150 levels don't last for hundreds of hours, it's great value for money and supporting a good, hardworking developer. It is XBLA exclusive.


1. Hamilton's Great Adventure (PC, Steam)
Hamilton's Great Adventure is also a stage-based puzzle game. It's funny, if you look at my list you'd figure I don't play any action games, just puzzle games. It couldn't be further from the truth. This was simply a bad year for retail releases, and a wonderful year for lower scope puzzle titles. You play as the titular Hamilton, a sort of pudgy Indiana Jones type. The presentation of the game has an older Hamilton recounting his youthful adventures to his granddaughter.

The game is top down, I just chose a screenshot that looked appealing. You walk on a grid-based terrain, square by square. There are essentially no* timed elements, so you get the opportunity to think your way through the levels. You work through fairly standard mechanics, finding keys to match doors, riding moving platforms, avoiding enemies that chase after you, avoiding things shooting arrows at you, collapsing tiles, etc. If you know the type of game this is, you know the type of mechanics you'll get.

I think what appeals to me is that the levels really do feel like old-timey puzzles to me. Most of the levels feature large amounts of collapsing tiles that you can only step on once. While there may be multiple paths through the level, there's probably only one path that will let you collect all the coins while doing so. It was fun to redo levels and really unpack the way they flowed and visualize Hamilton moving through them, finding the perfect path. You don't need to be a genius to play this game, in fact it's easier than most puzzle games. But it's rewarding when you understand how every component of the level fits together and get the job done.

The game looks great and is well presented. THe music is good, the characters are cute, but most important the levels are very well designed and there are lots of them. When I say lots of them, I mean around 50 or so, it's not one of those puzzle games with enormous amounts of padding.

The game doesn't seem epic enough in scope to win game of the year, but it's my game of the year. What I can tell you is that I've recommended it to a lot of people, some of whom have very similar tastes to me and some of whom don't, and all of them agreed with me that the game was a great execution of its genre. If it sounds like the kind of thing you might like, you'll love it. The game is $10 and was also released on PS3, I gather with Move support.

If you do decide to pick up any games based on my recommendation, please PM me as you play them, whether you love them or hate them. I feel like I've done a good job explaining what I like about these games and why I've chosen them. You might not agree, and it's clear that my tastes are not all about polished hyper high profile cinematic action games, so if that's what you like, you might not like these. All the games I've chosen are cheap or free. I'd also love for anyone who reads this and thinks I've said something wrong, right, or interesting to reply. I finished about 75 games in 2011, many of which were 2011 releases, so if you're wondering what I thought of Shadows of the Damned, Tintin, Arkham City, Duke Nukem Forever, Red Faction Armageddon, Homefront, Resistance 3, or any other games, just ask. I own every console including 3DS. My 2010 game of the year-in-2011 was Deadly Premonition. My 2010 game of the year was VVVVVV. My full ballot from last year is available here.

Official Vote
1. Hamilton's Great Adventure
2. Adventures of Shuggy
3. Bastion
4. You Don't Know Jack
5. Tiny Tower
6. Stacking
7. Bulletstorm
8. Portal 2
9. ilomilo
10. Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer
 
Feb 10, 2006
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Excellent list, great work describing what made those games for you, it was a good read, even if I don't always agree (referring to Bastion here). I demand request you do a three paragraph+ write-up of why Homefront is amazing.

Also, no 2010 GOTY choice?
 
EDIT: I added one more, hope that is ok.

1) Portal 2

With witty and hilarious dialogue, a great soundtrack, and great pacing Portal 2 is my personal game of the year.

2) Catherine

Excellent soundtrack, great art style, great cutscenes, good difficulty level, and the puzzles were fun (but got a little tedious) as well.

3) Batman: Arkham City

Added enough to make it feel like a new game, but improved on what was needed, Rocksteady made you feel like the Dark Knight. I enjoyed the big cast of villians and cameos I didn't expect.

4) The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

It felt like the origins story it needed to be. Although I think the art style wasn't the most ideal choice (But it is supposed to be blurry at long distances! blah blah doesn't mean it couldn't have been improved/look better). Motion plus offered slower paced combat and a more difficult experience, which I have been craving for a long time in a Zelda game. Good music as always. Spent about 30-35 hours on my playthrough.

5) Resistance 3

Great atmosphere, much improved story over Resistance 2. Good soundtrack, excellent pacing, great coop.

6) Rage

I enjoyed myself consistently during Rage. Nothing special about it, and I know most people won't agree with me here, it is a personal top 5 GOTY.


Games I haven't played, but feel as though I would have vouched for them if I had played them:

Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Bastion
 

Stumpokapow

listen to the mad man
May 21, 2006
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Kabouter said:
I demand request you do a three paragraph+ write-up of why Homefront is amazing.
My girlfriend is a chronic napper and whenever we actually make plans, she normally drinks Full Throttle to stay awake. So the product placement was for a product I can relate to, I guess.

I liked the initial intro where you were driving through the city, even though it was a bit lame that your mute character apparently had no input on the whole situation. I also didn't dislike the sniper section. The initial climb of the Golden Gate bridge was kind of nifty.

As aware as I am that the plot of Homefront is implausible, I liked the rather detailed timeline they set up through the collectible newspapers you could find during the levels. It showed that they didn't just say "Okay imagine North Korea takes over the world", they actually sort of figured out how they thought it'd happen. I just went to a lecture about democratization efforts in post-conflict or failed states and the group exercise at the end was determining what the first 7 days would look like in a post-Kim DPRK. I was strangely the only person to point out that food distribution would be the first task before anything else. Food distribution was also the first thing the Americans did in their occupation of Japan. I thought of Homefront during the lecture because the exercise's premise (that KJ Un would kick it and the country would open up) was as silly as Homefront's, but at least the person presenting the lecture accepted that it was silly while I'm not sure Kaos ever did.

I played it in one sitting, so thank heavens for small mercies.

Stump, have you played Rayman Origins yet?
I'm about two and a half worlds into Rayman Origins so far, playing single player. It's an unusual experience for me. I like how frenetic some of the game is--the chest chase levels in particular are inspired and truly do feel like an electronic rollercoaster ride and some of the in-level mechanics have a kind of automated or pinbally feel to them almost like the early Sonic games. The visuals are staggering in a lot of ways. The music is very unique. I kind of agree with Unison's thread, the whole thing looks a little... off to me. I don't like the one-hit deaths because I don't feel like the control has quite the precision to pull it off well. I love the verticality to levels so far. I hate that you can't skip the post-level meter fillups. I'm not a huge fan of the movement, although I can't tell you which parameter (speed, acceleration, jump height, jump length, fall speed, etc) that feels wrong. I've mostly been playing as the Globox. I like the domino-like cascade balloon effects, and I like when ballooned enemies are used to get to loot or as a level design mechanic, but I don't really like it on a combat level. So I'm oscillating back and forth on the game as a whole, but leaning towards enjoying it right now. I have the 360 version.

I never played Rayman 3, felt pretty neutral on the Rabbids games, loved Rayman 1 (which I played primarily on PS1), and actually somehow don't remember much about Rayman 2 although I did play it.
 
Dec 8, 2008
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Official Vote
1. Hamilton's Great Adventure
2. Adventures of Shuggy
3. Bastion
4. You Don't Know Jack
5. Tiny Tower
6. Stacking
7. Bulletstorm
8. Portal 2
9. ilomilo
10. Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer
As always an interesting read, you have such unique tastes. I remember your top 10 games of all time list being such a breath of fresh air compared to the rest of the AAA title only brigade myself included :/. I'm curious have you played Pullbox/Pushmo and what are your thoughts on it?

My 2010 game of the year-in-2011 was Deadly Premonition.
One of mine couldn't choose between it, Nier and RDR. Although in retrospect it did leave the biggest impression on me and affected me the most.
 

Stumpokapow

listen to the mad man
May 21, 2006
17,232
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As always an interesting read, you have such unique tastes.
Thank you.

I'm curious have you played Pullbox/Pushmo and what are your thoughts on it?
I'm about 150 levels in. It would have been around #12-13 for me if I expanded my list but I typically don't include any game I haven't "beaten". The thing that I don't like is that there are too many levels that don't clearly differentiate themselves from the last (Picross also suffers from this)--so while I'd like to play it in a binge, I end up sort of picking at it.

What I do like is that it reminds me of a non-video game puzzle. I play a lot of those. Rubik's Cubes, Serpent's Cubes, wood and string puzzles, Towers of Hanoi, etc. I find that in the best Pushmo levels, you progress a bit, realize you've gone up a false start, look at the level a little more, and then like tugging the final string to undo a really complicated knot, you get this decisive move that makes the level look different and then you just go on through to the end.

The Serpent Cube that I linked in that paragraph is kind of a one-off puzzle, once you've solved it onces, you can't really forget the solution, and there's only one solution... but it's a lot like a Pushmo level. Simple rules, not too hard, but you can sometimes go the wrong way. I especially like when you get two thirds or three quarters of the way through, how the last little bit is like a sprint to the finish line. You know you've got it. It feels good.

I can't think of the last puzzle game I played that made me feel like that. RUSH (which had a Rubik's branding on it when it was released on WiiWare) did a little bit, but not as much as Pushmo. Of course, Nintendo's cute characters and polish helps a lot too. I haven't played much with the QR stuff so I'll say a) Not having proper online level sharing is bullshit, and b) QR code sharing is awesome just the same.
 
Aug 20, 2010
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1. Portal 2; Everything I loved about the first one, now with incredible co-op. Didn't play a single second of this game alone, not to say I didn't play the single player. Wife was intent on being part of every bit of it, and that says something about it.

2. Deus Ex: Human Revolution; Few games make me feel like THIS MUCH of a bad ass. Nearly every skill made me feel like I could do something really amazing, and I was constantly excited to progress. This is the growling, cold protagonist done right.

3. Assassin's Creed: Revelations; I have completed every console Assassin's Creed game so far, and by this point, I feel like I know these characters. I was actually sad to be seeing the ends of their stories and rarely do I feel this much connection to the characters I control.

4. Skyrim; I was one of the biggest skeptics going into this game. I didn't get hooked by either Morrowind or Oblivion and I own them both. I was slightly swayed by the hype and by the fact that my local library had it for borrow. After a surprising (to me) number of hours, I was hooked. It then became a surprise Christmas present (after my obvious addiction) and 95 hours later, I can easily say I'm not done with it yet.

5. Little Big Planet 2; Not very often do I play a game, especially this late in the generation, and say "Wow, I didn't know they could do that!" and LBP2 had me saying that constantly. Between awesome co-op and crazy user-made content, I couldn't leave this one off the list.

6. Batman: Arkham City; It actually took a second playthrough of Arkham Asylum for the whole "Batman is awesome!" thing to click with me. Playing through AA on hard, I finally got that "Now I see why everyone loves this" feeling and was eagerly awaiting Arkham City. It did not disappoint. With varied situations, immensely fun and simple combat, and a real Batman feeling, I look forward to new game +.

7. Trine 2; The first game was amazing, and I feel like it never got the attention it deserved. Luckily, Trine 2 seems to be getting the praise that the first one missed. I laughed pretty hard playing this game in 3-player co-op. Whether it was fleeing for cover as the fragile wizard, while my brother and wife dispatched enemies, or taking a poorly deflected glowing orb to the head, it was great fun.

8. Uncharted 3; I'm going to have to go out of the norm here and say, once again, that I enjoyed the co-op most of all. Co-op makes a lot of games for me, and I almost always have the most fun when playing with others. Platforming, climbing, shooting and co-op is a dream-combo for me.

9. Infamous 2; Still my favorite open-world non-RPG. Combat is greatly improved, traversal is unmatched and the characters just make for a great time. I booted it up and played until Platinum in 2-3 days. There are still few things in games as cool as calling down a lightning storm and watching EVERYTHING explode.

10. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3; Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is one of my all time favorite games. None of the CoD's since then have really come close to the same impact that the first Modern Warfare had, until this one. I appreciate the tying up of the story threads and their willingness to end a story before it becomes stale. I found the outrageous set pieces and over-the-top scenarios much more engaging this time than in the last few games. Multiplayer, I feel, finally has a nice set of options and something resembling balance, and if it were only a disc with Spec Ops on it, I'd still be satisfied.
 
Nov 10, 2010
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1. Xenoblade Chronicles
2. Dark Souls
3. The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings
4. Deus Ex: Human Revolution
5. Bastion
6. Shogun 2: Total War
7. Radiant Historia
8. Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective

x. ICO/Shadow of the Colossus HD ; as remakes, I felt it's not really fair to include them with new productions but they're incredible games
x. Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together ; see above
 

Dark Schala

Eloquent Princess
Mar 2, 2010
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The Land of Bagged Milk
I'd also love for anyone who reads this and thinks I've said something wrong, right, or interesting to reply. I finished about 75 games in 2011, many of which were 2011 releases, so if you're wondering what I thought of Shadows of the Damned, Tintin, Arkham City, Duke Nukem Forever, Red Faction Armageddon, Homefront, Resistance 3, or any other games, just ask.
I'd love to hear what you thought of Tintin. The local multiplayer looked fun in videos I've seen, but the main game is apparently short? Is it closer to the movie, or does it throw in a few references to the original comic at all?

Also, uh, any option for French voiceover?
 
1. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
2. Portal 2
3. Bastion

x. Sonic Generations would be here if it weren't for the godawful final boss. Would have been more memorable if they cut out the current generation levels and doubled up on the Genesis / Dreamcast era ones as well.
x. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D is wonderful but I don't like including remakes
 
Jan 13, 2007
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I always feel bad voting in GOTY threads because I usually don't play games in the year of their release, so my lists are very limited.

1. Deus Ex: Human Revolution ; This game has it all. Style and substance. It's like a cyberpunk fanboy's wet dream. The customization was great and, surprisingly, so was the stealth.

2. Portal 2 ; Amazing atmosphere with hilarious writing and puzzles that make you feel smart. Superb voice acting as well.

3. Mortal Kombat ; Just as MvC3 was turning me off to fighting games, this one brought me back. It's also notable for being the first Mortal Kombat game I've enjoyed... and boy, do I enjoy it.

4. Gods Eater Burst ; It may look like a more animu Monster Hunter clone, but it's actually the game that turned me on to the genre. The gameplay is fast and fun and the missions are great for portable sessions. It also has a fantastic soundtrack by Go Shiina.

5. Anomaly: Warzone Earth ; A very fun inversion of the tower defense genre.

6. Jamestown: Legend of the Lost Colony ; I used to be a huge fan of SHMUPs but kind of got myself burnt out of them. I really enjoyed this one, though. A quirky concept and solid gameplay.

7. Yakuza 4 ; My first Yakuza game. A cool look into Japanese culture with fun fighting mechanics and a nice story.

8. Prinny 2: Dawn of Operation Panties, Dood! ; While it can be unfair at times, for the most part it's an enjoyable trial-and-error action platformer.

9. Corpse Party ; I have to admit I haven't played much of this, but it seems like a cool psychological horror (my favorite) story with some passable adventure gameplay.

10. Outland ; Not much to say about this. Nice little downloadable Metroidvania. Great art style.

x. Ico/SotC Collection ; I'd never played Ico before and it was a truly magical experience. SotC is certainly more epic and intense, it's just not art in the way that Ico is.
 

Stumpokapow

listen to the mad man
May 21, 2006
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I'd love to hear what you thought of Tintin. The local multiplayer looked fun in videos I've seen, but the main game is apparently short? Is it closer to the movie, or does it throw in a few references to the original comic at all?
I am just about 1000/1000 for Tintin at about 14 hours. The main game is maybe 6-7. The co-op pretty substantial, maybe 4-5. If you play the co-op mode with another person you'll probably take a little while longer, but I think the co-op mode can actually be played solo as well. The kinda poopy challenge modes are another few hours--the challenge modes also have Kinect variants if you play on 360. I tried them, I didn't feel either way about them.

The game is really neat. It's a "heavy" platformer in the vein of Prince of Persia or Blackthorne. The game has very light combat elements, but virtually every fight can be won by using the environment appropriately (you can OHKO any enemy you sneak up on, there are many items you can throw at enemies, etc). The puzzle elements are also fairly light, but occasionally neat. The pacing is brisk and the flow is good. There are a nice variety of environments. The platforming is broken up by driving and flying segments which are both total padding and not worth talking about. There are also weird sort of 3D behind-the-shoulder walkaround sequences which really aren't much of anything gameplay wise. Finally, there's a swordfighting level or two which have neat controls but nothing special. But the bulk of the game is the 2D puzzle platforming. I played most of the game in 3D and the 3D works very well. Because it's played in a 2D cutaway perspective, parallax layers make for great popping 3D. One really cool thing about the game is that it takes place in multi-planar 2D so frequently you are moving further into the background or foreground even though the game is strictly 2D. Very cool.

The high point of the game is the awesome animation which very much evokes the comics and the HBO Cartoon. When enemies slip on a banana peel, they slip and trip and wobble, and spin before falling, stars spinning around their head. When you die, you get a funny animated KOed sequence. Enemies fall ass-above-face all the time. Sound effects are a laugh riot. Haddock is even more babbly in the game than in the comics. "Vegetarian" was probably his funniest insult, but all the traditional ones like bashi-bazouk are in there.

The co-op mode has totally different rules. Characters have unique abilities, you can switch between them and there's a collectathon / hidden item element that's not as prominent in the main campaign. The co-op mode involves you playing levels inside the Captain's addled, sleepy brain after Thompson and Thomson accidently knock him out while bumbling around. It's basically a second game for the price of one.

There's an absolute ton of unlockable character models and concept art. The co-op mode has unlockable costumes for each character. So lots of loot to explore. Deformed, big head, and chrome-plated Tintin... so awesome.

I'm a huge fan of the original books and the HBO show. I haven't seen the Spielberg movie. The game clearly hews closer to the movie rather than the books, though (for example Tintin meets the Captain half-way through the game, no Barnaby, Castafiore is in it when she's not in the original story, Omen ben Salaad from Crab with the Golden Claws is in the game as a major plot point, and the events occur out of order from what I remember). My books are in storage and Wikipedia is blacked out so I can't be more precise than that. There are hidden golden crabs in the main mode. The unlockable character models seem to reflect the characters full Tintin histories. You shouldn't expect too much reference-wide beyond that. The captain is merely crazy, not a drunk, and there's no booze in the game.

If you're a fan of the source material and the genre of heavy platforming, it'd be a solid but not spectacular game. I paid $20 for the game and don't regret my money or time :)

Also, uh, any option for French voiceover?
Unfortunately I co-oped it with my bum monolingual girlfriend. I am bilingual and read Tintin in French so I would have rather played it in French. The game packaging does say "game in English and French", so I assume it's at least bilingual. I am Canadian so I'm not sure if the US SKU is any different. Kabouter (who is Dutch) played the game, you might ask him.
 
Feb 7, 2007
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Stump brings the goods as usual. Also Tiny Tower is both free and on Android? Time to see what all the fuss is about, even if the port is crap.

Anyways, did you try Dezaemon Kids? I'm not even sure if my vote for it will count but it's $5.99 on PSN and if you like Retrogame Challenge or Warioware or 102 manuals I think you'd be pleased. Here's some context. It's also kind of fun to mix with Jamestown.

Also please tell me you bought Solatorobo and El Shaddai, they both price collapsed to the levels I think we both always get games at.
 
Jun 23, 2010
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1) Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword; a lot of dragging text and quests but classic Zelda formula plus nice plot is still more interesting to me than any game out there.

My only #1 choice because I don't play much, and I don't feel some others like Duke Nukem Forever I've played though should be on here. :p
 

Stumpokapow

listen to the mad man
May 21, 2006
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Be warned about Tiny Tower; I'm not joking in my review. It's not a game, it's a time sink. The most common reaction in the Tiny Tower thread is that someone installs it, says they have no idea why they enjoy it but they do, plays it for hundreds of hours, and then posts "I just deleted Tiny Tower and it's the happiest moment of my life!" So, yeah.

Also please tell me you bought Solatorobo and El Shaddai, they both price collapsed to the levels I think we both always get games at.
Solatorobo was on my list for Christmas but no one got it for me, and El Shaddai I went to pick up in December due to a sweet sale at EBGames Canada, but it was sold out at all five local locations and nowhere other than EB stocked it in town. I'll pick it up on Amazon shortly. Both unfortunate omissions from my playthroughs this year. El Shaddai was one of the main reasons why I didn't post earlier, actually, I had hoped to get it in. I'll check out the PSN game, I'm playing The Adventures of Rotating Armless Octopus Whatever Long Title on PS Minis right now, but I'm always looking for new stuff.
 
Dec 2, 2007
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5. Tiny Tower (iOS)
This was a tough choice for me. Tiny Tower isn't strictly speaking a game. You might hear the name and look at the screen and think that maybe it's a tower building simulation like SimTower. It's not. There's no game here. You can't win, you can't lose, there's no strategy, you simply need to invest more and more time to progress further.

In Tiny Tower, you build a tower. Each floor costs money to build. Once a floor is built, you can put either a business (one of five types) or an apartment in it. Building businesses and apartments are free. Apartments can hold up to five Bitizens. Each Bitizen has a dream job, and performance stats for each of the five business types. You choose a business type and get a random business--when you pick food you might get Mexican or a Burger Joint or Vegan Food or many other choices. Each business can hold up to three employees. The first employee allows you to sell the lowest quality, lowest cost, lowest value item. The second the second item. The third the highest value item. More skilled employees give you more of a discount on items. Dream Job employees stock up double the quantity of the item. Sales proceed automatically and there's nothing you can do to speed them up. When you run out of stock, you restock. If a business runs out of all its stock, it closes until it gets new stock.

So what you do is busywork. Restock. Got enough coins. Build a new floor. Build a new type of business. Build apartments to put people in the business. Day in, day out. You can play as little as about 10 minutes a day or as much as hours and hours a day, but it will take you 2-3 months to get your tower into the stratosphere. You can dress up Bitizens, repaint or rename businesses, evict underperforming Bitizens, read what Bitizens post on "Bitbook" (this is hilarious, just FYI), upgrade your elevator. All of this is nothing. It's not strategy, it's not skill, it's just a time sync.

It seems like I'm being negative here. Why Tiny Tower made my list is the wonderful job they'd made wasting your time fun. Bitizens have costumes and clothing and their own little personalities thanks to Bitbook. The game scratches the min-max itch very well with constant opportunities to optimize your efficiency, even if it's all irrelevant and even the shittiest employee choices will lead to success. Finding out which business you get has a Gashapon style "What am I gonna get this time?" feeling. You play Tiny Tower, and then you want to play more Tiny Tower. The game doesn't have any gross IAP model (in-app purchasing is useless after about your first week and not super useful before then) or friend-spamming. It's just a really feel good game. The presentation is gorgeous, the game has received many updates. It's just a good way to kill time. It's not a game, but it's my #5 game of the year.

Tiny Tower is free, and it's also available on Android but I understand the Android port is totally poop
I had to uninstall tiny Towers from my Galaxy Nexus because it was taking away my life :(
 
Apr 28, 2007
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1. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
2. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
3. Xenoblade: Chronicles
4. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
5. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D
6. Gears of War 3
7. RAGE
8. Super Mario 3D Land
9. Assassin's Creed: Revelations
10. DiRT 3
 

Dark Schala

Eloquent Princess
Mar 2, 2010
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The Land of Bagged Milk
wonderful response, including:

The high point of the game is the awesome animation which very much evokes the comics and the HBO Cartoon. When enemies slip on a banana peel, they slip and trip and wobble, and spin before falling, stars spinning around their head. When you die, you get a funny animated KOed sequence. Enemies fall ass-above-face all the time. Sound effects are a laugh riot. Haddock is even more babbly in the game than in the comics. "Vegetarian" was probably his funniest insult, but all the traditional ones like bashi-bazouk are in there.
Oh my, I wasn't expecting such a wonderful, detailed response. Thank you. :)

Everything you wrote about all of the modes sounds really fantastic. I haven't seen the movie at all, so that's partially why I was a bit hesitant towards buying it. As long as it's fun, I don't mind a lot of shortcomings, really. If the character animations in the game are solid, that's quite a plus for me. I generally like a lot of personality in my platformers, so stuff like what you wrote sounds wonderful.

The captain is merely crazy, not a drunk, and there's no booze in the game.
D'aww... well, it's directed more to kids. Crazy Haddock must be just as good as Drunk Haddock. Merely keeping bashi-bazouk in there makes me chuckle.

Unfortunately I co-oped it with my bum monolingual girlfriend. I am bilingual and read Tintin in French so I would have rather played it in French. The game packaging does say "game in English and French", so I assume it's at least bilingual. I am Canadian so I'm not sure if the US SKU is any different. Kabouter (who is Dutch) played the game, you might ask him.
That's why I asked. The original books helped me with French reading/listening comprehension when I was younger; thus, for anything associated with Tintin, French is preferred. I expect my boyfriend (ie: the person I plan on playing the co-op with) to feel the same way about it, since his French is better than mine. I don't really mind playing it in English, though.

I only have access to the Canadian SKU, so no worries about that, lol. Was the $20 price point just for Boxing Week, or is it the standard price across Canada now? Edit: I see it for $30 at bestbuy.ca, so that isn't too bad.
 
Oct 19, 2004
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Wow. Well then, if I am guaranteed at least ONE reader of my babble, I guess I will bother.
I actually use snippets of people's comments for the entries in the Results thread. I did this last year as well.

That said, I read the thread because it's fun to do so, not for the sake of the Results thread alone. Seeing people's thoughts is great, and I always find great games to try out because of that. I won't try a game that's simply voted on, but if somebody posts why they liked it I can see if it's something I might like. I will probably try at least one game from Stump's list this year, for instance.
 
Feb 10, 2006
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Unfortunately I co-oped it with my bum monolingual girlfriend. I am bilingual and read Tintin in French so I would have rather played it in French. The game packaging does say "game in English and French", so I assume it's at least bilingual. I am Canadian so I'm not sure if the US SKU is any different. Kabouter (who is Dutch) played the game, you might ask him.
Given that they went to the trouble of fully localizing it in a language as minor as Dutch, doing the best localization job into Dutch I've ever seen, I'm pretty sure they'll have done the same for French.

My girlfriend is a chronic napper and whenever we actually make plans, she normally drinks Full Throttle to stay awake. So the product placement was for a product I can relate to, I guess.

I liked the initial intro where you were driving through the city, even though it was a bit lame that your mute character apparently had no input on the whole situation. I also didn't dislike the sniper section. The initial climb of the Golden Gate bridge was kind of nifty.

As aware as I am that the plot of Homefront is implausible, I liked the rather detailed timeline they set up through the collectible newspapers you could find during the levels. It showed that they didn't just say "Okay imagine North Korea takes over the world", they actually sort of figured out how they thought it'd happen. I just went to a lecture about democratization efforts in post-conflict or failed states and the group exercise at the end was determining what the first 7 days would look like in a post-Kim DPRK. I was strangely the only person to point out that food distribution would be the first task before anything else. Food distribution was also the first thing the Americans did in their occupation of Japan. I thought of Homefront during the lecture because the exercise's premise (that KJ Un would kick it and the country would open up) was as silly as Homefront's, but at least the person presenting the lecture accepted that it was silly while I'm not sure Kaos ever did.

I played it in one sitting, so thank heavens for small mercies.
The timeline was a bit much for me, I mean, so much of it hinges on South Korea suddenly accepting annexation by North Korea. Regardless of leader charisma, and replacement fat Kim Jong Un in Homefront has none, that would never, ever happen. It just feels like everything got a lot of attention when it came to the timeline, like financial troubles, the Saudi-Iran war etc. but they just sort of passed over the whole peaceful annexation deal. I mean, regardless of how ridiculous it would still have been, it would have been nice to see them think up a proper reason for such an event.

As far as the opening sequence goes, I thought it was sort of okay. The bus ride and what not was fine, but I thought the parts after your escape were just mood-killing. It would have been great if they had made you as the player feel that you were truly on the run rather than a nigh-unstoppable super-soldier who routinely slays hundreds of Koreans and despite being a pilot has impeccable skill with fully automatic rifles. This is actually something I felt was the case with the entire game, why scale it up like that? Why not make it feel like more of a guerilla fight where you are clearly at a disadvantage? It's an occupation, make the player feel like the inferior force. Between the captured über-tankrobot, the crazy phosphorous grenades and the customized military grade weapons, it felt more like you were at an advantage. I thought that even with the ridiculous premise, they could have done so much more with an occupation game than they did.
 
Dec 22, 2008
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1. Batman: Arkham City
Just the perfect videogame, IMO. Never thought I'd see something with the intricacies and details of a Metal Gear and the open-world breadth of tasks and missions of a GTA, and that it would be a Batman game! The VA's were perfect, the art was top notch, the story was intriguing, and the gameplay was superb. There's very few things I didn't like about it and for me personally it destroyed other games (Skyrim, Uncharted) for the rest of the year.

2. Dissidia [012] Duodecim
It's a tiny little fanservice fighting game with a stupid name. But I put in 200 hours and counting. I play it in my head when I'm not playing it, it's an obsession. Absolutely adored this one. A glorious celebration of one of gaming's best loved series.

3. Mass Effect 2
Finally got to play this masterpiece on PS3 in February and was pleasantly surprised to find all the hype from Xbox friends was very justified. The gameplay was great but it was the drama, characters and choices that really reeled me in. Like playing through a whole season of a great sci-fi TV series.

4. Dark Souls
This would be higher, but for a few freezes/crashes that utterly destroyed some pivotal moments and the online stuff, although ingenious, could be better. Utterly terrifying and full of astounding moments, there's literally nothing in any form of media that makes my heart pound like this game does. Mmmaybe Silent Hill 2.

5. LittleBigPlanet 2
An absolute hive of creativity the likes of which gaming has never seen. When a level astonishes you, it comes with the added layer of knowing that a user made it, and you could too. The best gaming toybox out there.

6. Sonic Generations
A revelation. The retro levels were nostalgic and gorgeous, and the modern levels finally hit a note of perfection that had been brewing at Sega since Unleashed. Cemented Rooftop Run as one of the greatest Sonic levels of all time, and gave us the year's best soundtrack. An unbelievable celebration of Sonic, so fun you'll even completely forgive it for its weaker moments.

7. Driver: San Francisco
I had a special feeling about this one all year, and was delighted to find out I was right. It's all about the cars, the handling, the quantum leaping, the witty dialogue and the 60fps beauty. Some invisible walls and an unreliable online service made sure there's room for improvement next time.

8. Portal 2
I love the characters and world, and it has probably the most devious puzzles ever. It's not as high as others on my list because I played it once, and then never touched it again. Doing all those puzzles and hearing all those jokes and quips, for me once is enough. Great game though, in spite of that. One of the best endings ever, too.

9. Infamous 2
Like Batman, just so much to do and some insane action make this an incredibly compulsive and beautiful game. The story felt a lot better to me as well and I actually liked Zeke this time. Just the right tweaks in the right places made this surpass its predecessor. I loved Festival of Blood as well, it was about two hours of sheer awesome.

10. Back to the Future: The Game
As a huge fan of both Telltale and BTTF, this was an important game for me. Some slightly janky animation and graphics hold it back a little, but generally I adored every second. I do actually consider this to be the canonical fourth BTTF story, which says a helluva lot really, doesn't it? Amazing work.
 
Jun 9, 2011
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www.neogaf.com
1. Saints Row 3; Plenty of fundamental design flaws, but unequivocally the game I came back to the most for consistent fun all year.

2. Dark Souls; Easily the most impressive game I played all year, but the occasional performance issues were problematic.

3. Little Big Planet 2; The physics are fine. Get over it, grab some friends, and jump in the physics sandbox.

4. No More Heroes: Heroes' Paradise; Finally gave this game a second chance and I'm glad I did.

5. Deus Ex: HR; Really interesting attempt at capturing an oldschool feel. Really great stealth gameplay. Really, really yellow.

6. Skyrim; Some may call it boring because of the horrible melee combat and the sense of quantity over quality, but to me it's a fantastic world with lots of different character paths to follow. My issue is the same issue with so many of Bethesda's releases - fix and finish your game before you sell it.

7. Lord of the Rings: WITN; Putting it on my list because no one else likely will. Another engaging game plagued with horrific launch bugs. It's no Champions of Norrath, but it's great for what it is. Mind you, it's only on this list because of the co-op, it wouldn't be in my top 10 as a single player game. Also wouldn't be up here if it hadn't had an effective patch.

8. Batman:AC; Chalk me up as one of those who enjoyed this as much as the first. Great feeling gameplay for a game so overloaded with moves.

9. Catherine; Frustrating, intriguing, disturbing, bizarre, engaging. Interesting combo for a puzzle game.

10. ilomilo; So cute it hurts, but with the substance to back it up.

Games I wish I'd had time to play this year but I suspect would have been on my list:
The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings
Xenoblade Chronicles
Bastion
Shadows of the Damned

2010: Nier.
 
Feb 28, 2005
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1. Xenoblade Chronicles
2. Uncharted 3
3. Super Mario 3D Land
4. Portal 2
5. Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective
6. Catherine
7. Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
8. Dark Souls
9 . Mass Effect 2
10. Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery
 
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