From foreseeable hits like Portal 2 to surprises like Deus Ex: Human Revolution, I take you on a tour of Awesome Games in 2011.
Leave it to Valve to create a game changer in the FPS genre. Sure I haven't forgot about Portal 1, but the introduction of co-op into the Portal world added a layer that brought core FPSers together with casual puzzle lovers. Game innovations aside, Valve also proves that it knows how to tell a damn good story with a silent hero/heroine. Not only is the player exposed to the GLaDOS' origins, but we also get a small view into a wider world where Aperture Science and Black Mesa used to compete. Who knows maybe we will see our test subject from Portal in City 17?
It has been a while since I have stopped playing a game mid-match to recover from the feeling of awe. "Did that shit just happen?" I constantly ask myself as I play Battlefield 3. Most of the time I just have to laugh at some of the craziness that goes on in matches. The combat is so engrossing that I wonder how the hell my computer can render a full scale war. If you are looking for a grade A online gaming experience check out Battlefield 3. Nothing. Like. It. Period.
L.A. Noir is more proof that Rockstar knows how to put out damn good games. You can bash on their image and persona all you want, but goddamn they know how to make games. The storytelling in L.A. Noir is masterful and immersive. The cases you are cracking feel like they have weight and meaning on your character's psychology and the lives of those involved. Some people complained about the interrogation system (most likely because they sucked), but I found it intense and absorbing. L.A. Noir could have been at the top (or physical bottom) of my list, but it lost me after the homicide desk. I felt that Phelp's change was unwarranted and based on shoddy story points. We never got a preview into Phelp's home life or his affair with Elsa. The storytelling was to voyeuristic when it came to Phelp's home persona and didn't really carry the same weight as his professional decisions. To make a huge plot point on something that isn't fleshed out hurt it in the long run.
Dead Space 2
The first Dead Space terrified me so much that I had to torture myself with the sequel. Dead Space 2 is to Dead Space like Aliens is to Alien. The game takes the great aspects of the first game and adds more action. Additionally they take the character/s to a whole different level. The storytellers behind Dead Space realized they can't create a slow burn decent into hell like they did for the first game. What would that do for Isaac Clarke's character arc? Nothing. So, right as Dead Space 2 loads you know you are in for a ride. You get the sense that Isaac (and by osmosis you) has seen these horrors before and feels that is now time to kick some ass. The game plays about the same, but with twice the action and half the horror. This isn't to say that Dead Space 2 didn't scare the shit out of me, because it did. One mission where you enter this old special spaceship (:D) made my stomach turn and shot me into a cold sweat. Overall one of the best games of the year and of all time. Can't wait to see what comes next for Isaac Clarke.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Skyrim. Wow. Shouldn't this be at the top of every RPG lover's list? I thought about putting Dragon Age 2 on this list also, but that was before Skyrim. What is there to say about this game? I could spend a lifetime on it. My wife would divorce me if they made a Elder Scrolls MMO. I am sure she will think about divorcing me even more on my 3rd play through when I try my hand at a High Elf magic user specifying in Destruction spells. For now, my Wood Elf archer will have to do. In fact, I am not really sure why I am wasting time writing this when I could be looking for another dragon soul.
Deus Ex: Human RevolutionIn a world where FPS is spoiled by games that are geared towards macho online bouts with 14-year-olds and schlocky over the top single player campaigns, we get one diamond this year. Deus Ex: Human Revolution reminds me of how much I love FPS's with excellent storytelling and dynamic gameplay. The last giant single player game that I got this excited about was Half-Life 2. Deus Ex is on par with the likes of Half-Life 2 and takes the cake for most awesome game of 2011. It is hard to place my finger on why I love this game so much. It could be the Blade Runner'esque world filled with deep philosophical undertones of humanism vs futurism. Maybe it was the corporate espionage and tech noir storytelling that kept me on my heels. Most likely it is the fact that I got to become a badass corporate spy that was hurt from a lost love and could add cool shit to his body with nano technology. Nonetheless it was my favorite game of the year and will continue to surprise me with future playthrus.