Best Action / Adventure Game of 2011
Without a doubt, 2011 was an outstanding year for gaming. We were bombarded with good games this year, which makes picking the best of them even harder. Luckily, we’ve got you, the readers, to help us out.
Every day this week, we’ll be revealing our staff choices for the best games of the year in a variety of categories. We’ll also be reporting the results of our Reader’s Choice voting. So, without further ado, let’s get things started with the Best Action / Adventure Games of 2011.
As has been the case in recent years, we had a healthy crop of good Action / Adventure titles to choose from. Many favorite characters returned, like Batman and Nathan Drake. We also had new faces like Cole Phelps, whose face was ultra-realistic thanks to Team Bondi’s new tech. After the dust of the 9-hit combo we had to land had settled, we had finally found our five favorites.
The nominees were:
- Batman: Arkham City – Read our review!
- Dead Space 2 – Read our review!
- LA Noire – Read our review!
- Portal 2 – Read our review!
- Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception – Read our review!
5. Dead Space 2
Engineer Isaac Clark made it out of the disaster at Aegis VII in one piece back in Dead Space, but like any good horror franchise, the real scares were just beginning. In Dead Space 2, Isaac has to survive the giant space station known as The Sprawl, a place filled with people to get turned into the series’ gross Necromorph monsters. Dead Space 2 maintains the third-person shooter controls and perspective of Dead Space, while adding to Isaac’s stash of weapons and the zero-gee sections of the game that broke up the pacing of the original.
There’s a lot of action, a lot of tension and a lot of scares in Dead Space 2, and it manages to make lots of great new locations, like the infamous preschool, really creepy. There’s also an underrated competitive multiplayer mode that pits one team as humans and another as the game’s Necromorph monsters, mixing up the standard deathmatch formula for something more singular.
4. Uncharted 3
That Nathan Drake’s third treasure hunting outing would be a tremendous hit for the Playstation 3 was a foregone conclusion. What was not a given is the way in which Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception would consistently upend your expectations. Almost everything about it was a drastic step forward from previous Uncharted games. Combat was simply better. Set pieces, ranging from an abandoned crusader castle to a sinking cruise ship, were mind blowing. Levels were varied and challenging and nearly every scene gave players something gorgeous to view. Better still, the premise, the search for Iram of the Pillars, essentially the Islamic version of Sodom and Gomorrah, is easily the best in series history.
It’s unfortunate that the story ultimately doesn’t measure up to Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, and as such Uncharted 3 is destined to take it’s place behind that classic. But thanks to it’s many strengths and to the return of its excellent voice cast and dialogue, Drake’s Deception is still one of 2011′s best games.
3. LA Noire
Video games need more human emotions. Human drama. Human beings. Rather than perfecting explosion physics or slow-motion dismemberment, Australia’s Team Bondi poured their resources into groundbreaking facial motion capture technology. The result was a game filled with characters that actually resembled living, breathing people.
In L.A. Noire, you play newly minted LAPD detective Cole Phelps, a likable lug with a terrible secret. Paired up with a variety of colorful partners, Phelps descends into the seamy underbelly of late-40′s L.A., tracking down car thieves and murders and eventually uncovering a conspiracy that goes right to the top.
Many of the broad strokes are lifted lovingly from classic noir fiction, but the setting, voice acting, and hard-boiled writing still make L.A. Noire one of year’s most immersive games. When the bullets are flying, it may not be able to compete with other, more gameplay-focused titles, but in its ability to tell a stylish, affecting story, it is totally unrivaled.