So near and yet so far…
Yesterday we unveiled the game you guys chose as the best of 2011, with Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception taking home the virtual award. Now it’s our turn, and over the next couple of days we’ll be revealing the titles that made it into our top ten.
With 2011 being a year filled with a plethora of high quality titles, narrowing down our selection down to ten wasn’t easy, that’s why we are going to start off with a few honourable mentions and then reveal positions 10-6.
Pro Evolution Soccer 2012 (PES 2012)
(Konami | Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Nintendo Wii & PC)
Alan Curdie: Obviously! In all seriousness, PES 2012 isn’t perfect and the series really needs to up it’s game moving forward but in-spite of all that, it was my sports game of choice this year over any other and I’d still be happy to put in a couple of hours play every night if it wasn’t feeding back most of what I desire from a football game.
Adam Neaves: Truly back to form. Konami has done a fine job in taking PES back its core, gameplay roots. Even with the bugs and inconsistencies, it manages to deliver and take home the football gaming crown for the year.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution
(Eidos Montreal | Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 & PC)
Adrian Purser: A slick blend of RPG and FPS, Deus Ex oozes its cyberpunk theme from every pore, supplementing it with a splendid main narrative, plenty of side missions, a huge range of ways to tackle any given scenario, and one of the finest gaming soundtracks in a long time. As a protagonist, Adam Jensen may be about as charismatic as a breeze block with a face painted on, but that doesn’t stop you from loving every minute spent in his heavily (and unwillingly) augmented shoes.
(Insomniac Games | PlayStation 3)
Alan Curdie: Yes, it is a game that borrows more than it innovates, but when you are borrowing liberally from the masters of the story driven FPS in Valve, then such imitation is more than likely to produce something that hits those big beats more than it misses them. A game that brings back old school values in FPS gameplay that ironically makes it feel fresh, Resistance 3 was a surprise but a welcome one at that.
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
(Nintendo | Nintendo Wii)
Aaron Sullivan: The winning formula that was established in Ocarina of Time has stood the test of time for 13 years without withering. It’s a testament to its perfection that each iteration since has not strayed too far from its course. However, with Skyward Sword, Nintendo decided it was time for a change and have taken a leaf out of Mario’s evolutionary book, and managed to add to the greatness that is Zelda. This combined with the best motion controls in any game to date, makes Skyward Sword a must have for any serious gamer. Nintendo have set a precedence with this title, and long may it continue.
Nick Harrington: From the murky depths of a tiring platform comes a great looking, tried and tested gaming design formula that tugs on your nostalgia strings, and at the same time breathes life into gameplay mechanics we thought had long been forgotten.
There you have a few of our honourable mentions, now it’s time for the main course, starting with positions 10-6 (yes, 7th place is a three way tie).
10. Driver: San Francisco
(Ubisoft Reflections | Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 & PC)
Alan Curdie: A game that revels in being a game, with a ridiculous ”high concept” plot at the core of it all and main character Tanner knowingly in on the joke. The overall vibe is one that is not dissimilar SEGA-like ”blue sky gaming” and although not technically the most ambitious game out there, the game world, visual style, superb soundtrack and consistency in performance make it a very fun and charming experience all round. The shift mechanic is implemented superbly and the driving is just bloody good fun. Crammed with side missions, collectables and unlockables, Driver : San Francisco is a triumph of style and substance. I’m not even a huge fan of driving games and here it is, at the top of my pile.
9. L.A. Noire
(Team Bondi | Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 & PC)
Gari Clark: There is nothing quite like this game out there at present and it’s a shame that more developers don’t go down this route, as the film noir style is just superb. The whole game is crafted to represent 1940’s America, and is done so with such elegance. The cases/missions are put together beautifully, tasking you with interrogating suspects with the best facial animation ever seen in a video game. Tie all of this together and you have one amazing title. Team Bondi I salute you!
Tom Mills: Whilst Team Bondi have now gone under amidst a wave of accusations and general unpleasantness, there’s no denying that their final product as a studio was outstanding. The story aruguably isn’t ground breaking, but the way it’s told is. The detail in their recreated 1940’s LA is superb and a genuine pleasure to drive around. MotionScan is put to excellent use to create engrossing cut scenes, and add a gameplay element like no other. It’s just a shame that the system for questioning suspects is so forgiving.
Asim Tanvir: In an industry crowded with shovelware and copycats, L.A. Noire’s release was a breath of fresh air. Team Bondi managed to encapsulate everything that is good about film noir and somehow put all the goodness into this fantastic title. The interrogation aspect might not be perfect thanks to “crazy Cole Phelps”, but the superb MotionScan technology makes grilling every suspect enjoyable. Roaming around 1940’s L.A. was fun, and inspecting crimes scene was always interesting too. Sadly, Team Bondi are no more, but I really do hope Rockstar keep the IP alive.
8. Rayman Origins
(Ubisoft | Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 & PC)
Gari Clark: I have been out of the loop when it comes to platforming titles for some time now, and for good reason too. Hardly any releases have given me that “wow” factor, until now that is. Rayman: Origins has set the standard for the rest, and what a fantastic game Ubisoft have created. Addictive, simple and just so much fun, that’s what makes Rayman: Origins one of the best games I’ve played in 2011. Oh and the game looks breathtakingly beautiful too, which just adds to the overall charm. Amazing.
Tom Mills: Rayman Origins is the brightest, most charming game I think I’ve ever played. It’s also brutal at times. The visuals are stunning, the audio is best in class and the level design is challenging yet somehow quite forgiving. With various rewards for beating levels in different ways (time trials, 100% collection etc) there is tonnes of replayability, and the checkpoint system solidifies that “one more go” feeling, keeping you locked in for hours at a time.
7. FIFA 12, Dark Souls & Minecraft
(EA Sports, From Software & Minecraft | Various different platforms)
Dave Duncan (FIFA 12): EA took feedback and generated what is (to date) the best football game ever created. New menus gave the game a new fresh look. The gameplay was improved and three great features were added. Loved the inclusion of the seasons in online play too, as it made matches so much more competitive.
Mark Porter (FIFA 12): It would be rude not to give FIFA 12 a mention, as I love it so much. I don’t play the single player at all because it bores the hell out of me, but the new online head-to-head seasons is so well implemented. I’m also addicted to Ultimate Team, so I love throwing my wallet at EA.
Adrian Purser (Dark Souls): Going purely by the in-game timer, I lost 150 hours of my life to Dark Souls. Factor in the time I spent away from my console – thinking, reading, talking and posting about it – and you can probably double that. The most involving, well-realised, and downright threatening world I’ve had the pleasure to game in for years, and an experience so good that I wish I could erase my memories of it and experience it anew.
Asim Tanvir (Dark Souls): Unfortunately, I haven’t put as much time into Dark Souls as I would like, but what I have played, I absolutely adored. The game never holds your hand, leaving you to explore the menacing world and get totally absorbed in your surroundings. Like any good RPG, each moment you experience is truly unique to you, and there’s so many of them. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry and you’ll probably get frustrated, but you’ll always come back for more.
David Bryant (Minecraft): It has technically been out for some time, but in November Minecraft finally broke free from its alpha and beta shackles, only to be released to the masses as version 1.0. For a game which is so simple in design it’s quite incredible just how much depth and complexity Minecraft offers to anyone who plays it. In a unique, virtually endless world Minecraft is entirely what you choose to make of it and that empowerment is part of the reason it has such a dedicated mass following. Minecraft has redefined what’s possible within the gaming industry and its full release is a milestone which makes it a well deserved GOTY nomination.
Mark Porter (Minecraft): Minecraft stands tall at the top of my list of the best games of the year. Having followed the game since its very early beta, it has been amazing trying out each update and watching the makings of one of the most successful games of its kind. Minecraft version 1.0 is now officially out, and what makes this game amazing is the constant improvements and new content that is added with each update, and I only paid $15 for it!
6. The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings
(CD Projekt RED | PC)
Aaron Sullivan: Anyone who has played the Witcher 2 can not deny the sheer amount and love and dedication the guys over at CD Projekt have lavished upon The Witcher 2. The end product is quite stunning, giving players the chance to play a rare gem in a market full of tacked on RPG elements and easy difficulty settings. What we have here is a real RPG, telling an engaging story that has become the pride of Poland, backed up by the graphical fidelity of the RED Engine. Action here is second to strategy, plot development and even character development, but manages to remain accessible enough to supply something for everyone. It is without a doubt one of the most gorgeous looking games this generation, putting even the mighty Battlefield 3 to the test and I have no doubt that the incoming console version will be just as awesome as its PC counterpart.
Aryel Abrahami: Not a game that sold several million on release day perhaps due to its PC exclusivity and relatively steep system requirements, The Witcher 2 was not made with the primary goal of making a publisher money. It was lovingly crafted by CD Projekt to first and foremost be a great game, and it is certainly that. The Witcher 2 really is a triple A title, it has some of the best gaming visuals ever, the combat is not only varied but also incredibly exciting, and the story is intense, with big game changing decisions placed well throughout.
Nick Harrington: CD Projekt are slowly becoming RPG powerhouses in the industry and The Witcher 2 is one of the reasons why. A deep world and great story telling only rivaled by its own visuals and some of the best combat mechanics you’ll play in the RPG genre, makes me one happy little sword wielding gamer.
Do you agree with our choices so far? Let us know via the comments section below, and be sure to check back tomorrow for part three of the “Game of the Year 2011” feature, as we’ll be revealing our top five. It’s going to be epic, don’t miss it.