Game of the Year 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 to what you’ve all been waiting for: Game of the Year for 2011.
Ah, 2011. You were a banner year for gaming. All year long, we were treated to great games in almost every genre. Of course, this made the selection of the best games of the year all that much harder. Still, we locked ourselves in with lots of coffee and donuts, and spent hours arguing over what should be included. After much discussion and very little sleep, we finally narrowed the list to five.
The nominees were:
- Dark Souls – Read our review!
- Deus Ex: Human Revolution – Read our review!
- Portal 2 – Read our review!
- Resistance 3 – Read our review!
- The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – Read our review!
5. Dark Souls
A lot of gamers will probably never play Dark Souls, which is a shame. Put off by the reports of extreme difficulty, they’ll miss out on one of 2011′s best titles. In crafting a sequel to 2009′s sleeper smash Demon’s Souls, developers From Software weren’t afraid to go bigger and weirder.
Everything great about Dark Souls proceeds from the combat system, which is both simple to learn and infinitely complicated. Possessing a sense of weight, momentum, and impact that puts competing RPG’s to shame, the game’s melee duels will test your tactics, patience, and concentration.
You’ll need to pay attention if you’re to survive the game’s sprawling, uncanny levels, full of grotesque, silent enemies, cryptic NPC’s, and pervasive sense of dread. In an industry all too fond of cookie-cutter concepts and focused-grouped safe bets, Dark Souls decrepit decadence and unfettered creativity are a both a design triumph and a welcome relief.
4. Resistance 3
It’s rare that a third person shooter sets out to tell a good story, but such is the case with Resistance 3. A beautiful example of how to tell a purely genre story by relying on, rather than running from clichés, R3 comes off as part war story, part road movie and part post civil war drama that happens to be set in the apocalyptic aftermath of an alien invasion. Such a story should have been doomed from the start to be cheesy and impossible to take seriously, but thanks to gorgeous graphics and excellent voice acting, what could have been laughable is instead actually compelling.
It helps that the game never lets up its unforgiving pace, subjecting players to increasingly difficult enemies as they travel the wreckage of the former United States equipped with increasingly awesome weapons. Best of all, Resistance 3 pulls off the rare feat of providing both a great single-player campaign and a kick ass multiplayer experience, proving that you don’t have to nerf one to serve the other. In a market dominated by Call of Duty clones, it’s a breath of fresh air and without a doubt among the best games of 2011.
3. Portal 2
As the illustrious Cave Johnson once said, “Science isn’t about ‘why,’ it’s about ‘why not!’” He also talked about burning down houses with lemons, and Mr. Johnson is a big reason why Portal 2 is so great. A game brimming with some incredibly smart humor, Portal 2 took what Valve Software started with a little first-person puzzle game called Portal and turned it into a full retail release, with all the bells and whistles that went along with it. A full single-player story, lots more humor and tons of the series’ signature puzzles – solved by placing portals around rooms in order to navigate obstacles – made Portal 2 a great game. But it was its co-op features, allowing two players to join together to solve some intricate and brilliant puzzles as a pair of Aperture Science robots, was what pushed it to be one of the best of the year.
Portal 2 has a lot to offer anyone, and Valve is continuing to roll out new features, like Challenge mode levels and a Portal 2 test chamber creation kit that will make it easy for anyone to design new levels. The game might have come out at the beginning of the year, but Portal 2’s brilliance makes us want to venture through the Enrichment Center again and again.