2011 is now done so I decided to look back over the year and make a list with my 10 favourite games that released last year. I had to make a few tough cuts (including Skyrim) but I think I’m happy with how this list has turned out.
10. The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings
The Witcher 2 has such a great dark fantasy world with a lot of morally ambiguous choices to make with branching paths based on those choices. The game isn’t just a brilliant dark fantasy story with a great immersive world; it’s also a ploughing good RPG that looks simply amazing.
9. Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective
Ghost Trick was a real surprise for me. It’s a really cool puzzle/interactive novel style game with a surprisingly great story, slick animation and a frankly amazing soundtrack. The game revolves around you (being a ghost) going back in time and using your power to manipulate objects (your Ghost Trick) to prevent the deaths of certain characters while trying to find out who you really are and how you died. The game does a great job of linking together the characters histories and throws in a few genuinely surprising twists into the mix. This is one of the games I think every DS owner should play.
8. Rayman Origins
I loved the first Rayman as a kid. I really, really loved it but I never did like the 3D one. Thank god this game actually came out, and as a retail release no less! Rayman finally returns to his 2D roots and it is great. This game is so much fun, to play, to watch and even to listen to. The platforming is so smooth and flowing and the game is so goddamn beautiful running in 1080p at 60 frames per second. This game is just pure platforming goodness. It is a real shame that there is no online co-op as I’ve not had anyone to play this with.
7. Xenoblade Chronicles
It’s been a while since I’ve played a truly great JRPG and this is one that just so happens to be on the Wii. This is perhaps the most impressive game I’ve played on the Wii in terms of scope and scale. It has some truly epic vistas and a great story with memorable characters (and battle quotes) and more twists than… something very long and twisty. The combat is a lot of fun, playing almost like an MMO and there are enough side-quests and collectables to keep you busy for more than a hundred hours. Definitely check it out if you’ve been looking for a JRPG and own a Wii.
6. Saints Row The Third
I didn’t think that I’d like this game as much as I ended up liking it. I never cared for Saint’s Row 1 or 2, I had no interest in them at all but I decided to give this one a go after hearing about how crazy and insane it got from various forums and other game sites and I’m really glad I did. This game a fun third person shooter/open world crime sim but that isn’t where it shines. Its fricken’ insane plot and scenarios are the main reason to play this ridiculous game. You don’t even need to know anything about the previous entries into the franchise. The game opens with you robbing a bank while wearing oversized Johnny Gat (a member of the Saints gang) heads with a method acting movie star in tow and it gets a lot crazier from there.
5. Sonic Generations
Hey guys, Sonic is good again! Seriously! This game might not be everyone’s cup of tea but it’s a really great Sonic game that fans, both new and old, will enjoy. The game features two Sonics, one classic (from theMega Driveera) and one modern (Unleashed/Colours Sonic), each playing how you’d expect them to play. The levels are all reimaginings of levels from previous Sonic games in HD and they all look fantastic. They even managed to make a level from Sonic 06 fun! There are also a bunch of extra challenges ranging from time trial races to a weird game of tennis using notes with Vector. The game took me around 15 or so hours to 100% according to Steam so there is plenty to do. This game is a great big step in the right direction on all fronts and hopefully Sega keep at it for future big Sonic releases.
4. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
Apart from a slow start (which I for one enjoyed as it set up the world, lore, characters and their relationships) this game is a great through and through. The addition of motion controls really do add a lot to the combat and are used in interesting and intuitive ways with the items and menu navigation. The game looks like a painting come to life and the orchestrated music does a lot to make this origin story feel like a true epic. This is also one of the few Zelda games to have a Zelda that I actually really liked and wanted to rescue and the villain was also great with his campy, over the top way and was very fun to fight against. There were a few points in the game that I didn’t like such as fighting a certain boss three times or how Fi, the Navi like helper, would repeat so many things and always remind you what the item you picked up was but the dungeons and puzzles more than make up for it. This is a great Zelda game that every fan should play and is a fitting swan song for the Wii.
3. Dark Souls
Dark Souls is such a rewarding experience, just like Demon’s Souls. This game brings a few new mechanics to make the whole ordeal a bit less frustrating, such as the refillable Estus Flasks and bonfires that act as check points. I love how bleak and depressing the Dark Souls world is and how it can be just utterly beautiful in places. The game is very similar to Demon’s Souls in the gameplay mechanics and style but that is by no means bad. We really need more challenging games like this around.
2. Portal 2
Portal 2 is everything I want in a sequel. It takes everything that was so good about the previous entry and just goes crazy building on it. The music is better (and gets worked well into the puzzle pieces), it looks a good deal better, there is a more detailed story with more hilarious characters, more potatoes, just more and better everything. It also has one of the greatest moments in videogames ever at the end of the game. The co-op campaign is also fantastic if you can get a good friend to play it with and is just as funny as the main game. The ping tool and ability to see what your friend sees makes the whole co-op experience so smooth and fun.
Bastion is a great game. Its fun to play, the controls feel good and there is a lot of customisability to mess around with including different weapon combinations and difficulty modifiers so you can play the game how you want. When you look at it as a whole package, with the narration, the music, the art, the story and the background lore you get something that is just magical. This game is just so good and has so many great emotional moments. Everything in the game is so high in quality it’s amazing to think that this is Supergiant Games’ first release. I can’t wait to see what they do next.