Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Dave's Top Games of 2011

It's that time again. Every year it seems my format changes. This year is no exception. There are three categories, and each will have a definitive winner followed by a couple runner ups / honourable mentions.

Without further ado...

The Game i wanted to play the most in 2011 but haven't yet...

Catchy title huh! And the winner is...


It's by Atlus, it's a Q*bert-esque block puzzle game with a story set around relationships and possible adultery. It sounds right up my alley and yet i haven't gotten around to acquiring it yet. This will have to be rectified soon.

Runner ups: El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron & Gray Matter

El Shaddai i actually own, i am just waiting till i finish Zelda, but i still need to get my hands on a copy of Gray Matter. El Shaddai seems to be a visual feast, and i always appreciate unique art styles in games. We're at this point that the only limitation to what we can achieve in computer graphics seems to be our imaginations... and yet departure from normal artistic tropes in the games we play are so rare. The question with El Shaddai will be if the style can overcome the supposed lack of substance i have heard about.

Gray Matter is an adventure game that finally was released this year after being in development forever. It's by Jane Jenson, the creator of the Gabriel Knight series, and my favourite entry in the King's Quest series (KQ6). Like El Shaddai, a lot of what i've heard isn't good... but i have to give this one a try. I hope for the best.

Best Game of 2011

The best game i have played released this year. The winner is...

Deus Ex: Human Revolution.

Granted i haven't played most of the heavy hitters this year but Deus Ex just floored me. The gameplay was incredibly engaging and it gets bonus points for allowing me to play through most of the game as a non-lethal stealth character. Sure there were issues like the boss fights, and the story choices not having any consequences but rather a final choice being given to you at the end of the game. In my mind Deus Ex wasn't just a good game, it was good science fiction. As much fun as i had playing it, the moral backlash and ethical decisions revolving around augmentation technology i found fascinating, and one could see a similar outcome when this technology becomes a reality in our future.

Runner up: L.A. Noire

For all its faults (and it had quite a few) L.A. Noire had a very engaging story littered with intriguing characters, which really played its hand during the arson missions. As evident earlier in this post, i'm a sucker for the adventure genre, and this was a modern day adventure game. That facial capture technology was pretty amazing too... ooo, and how the game handles the Black Dahlia killings? Incredible. I dunno how many gamers will enjoy the experience but i had a blast.

Best Game not Released this year

While Deus Ex was fantastic, i wanted to create a category for games from other years as i spent most of this year not only playing catchup from 2010, but even further back. Readers of Monday Musings will probably pick the winner right away.

Persona 4

What more can i say about this title that i didn't during the months i played through it? It's one of the best RPGs i've ever played (And definitely my favourite since playing The World Ends With You). The story is expertly woven alongside the gameplay. Helping your friends overcome their problems makes you more powerful, and along the way you grow attached to this collection of characters. The game is also laugh out loud funny at points which seems to be rarer and rarer in this medium. The combat is interesting (though can be unforgiving), and while somewhat necessary, the game is not grind heavy. This is one for the longhaul however. I achieved the normal ending while plowing through the game and my gametime at the end was about 50 hours. I am so glad that i finally took the game out of the drawer to play and complete.

Runner ups: Civilization 5 & Fallout New Vegas

Both these titles are from the previous year. I acquired both at quite a discount (as PC prices tend to drop  nicely if you're patient). The original Civ destroyed me back in the 90s. I would play for days at a time and have fond memories of trying in vein to upgrade my castle before game's end. I've related this story here before but i actually held off installing Civ 4 for a few years after buying it because i was scared that it would overtake me. Funnily enough when i finally played it, it didn't. Civ 5 did. I joined forums, watched youtube plays, bought some of the extra civs on DLC. I love this iteration of the game. I haven't played it since the big update in June/July but i did pick up all the extra civ DLC for $4 in the autumn steam sale. I shall have to check it out sooner or later.

Fallout 3 really didn't do anything for me, but man did New Vegas suck me in. I dunno if it was the wild west setting or the faction system or even the story, but i spent 38 hours on this game, completed every side quest i could, reached level 30 and had a blast. In that autumn steam sale where i picked up the Civ 5 DLC, i also bought all the New Vegas DLC. I think i might put aside a little bit of time after Zelda to play through them. We shall see.

Wrap up

Well that's my awards and top games for this year. A little different i know, and actually this is the first year in a couple that an indie game didn't hit the top of my list (2010 - Super Meat Boy, 2009 - Flower, 2008 - No More Heroes, 2007 - Super Mario Galaxy... for those that are interested). Like this year it looks like 2012 will be spent playing catch up on years passed (including this year), but that's never altogether a bad thing. Still, some big releases to look forward to, and i look forward to another year of talking about games.

Till next year, happy gaming all!

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