Shea’s Top 10 Games of 2011

*NOTE: Keep in mind that I don’t play/review games for a living, so there’s no possible way for me to play everything that comes out. As with all of my forthcoming lists, I will only be including games that I played, and only games that I played on the proper console in the proper time period. ENJOY!

GAMES I PLAYED:
-Alice: Madness Returns
-Assassin’s Creed: Revelations
-Back to the Future: The Game
-Batman: Arkham City
-Battlefield 3
-Bodycount
-Brink
-Bulletstorm
-Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
-Catherine
-Child of Eden
-Crysis 2
-DC Universe Online
-Dead Island
-Dead Space 2
-Dragon Age 2
-Dungeon Defenders
-From Dust
-Gears of War 3
-God Hand
-Homefront
-inFamous 2
-Killzone 3
-Lego Harry Potter: Years 5-7
-Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars
-LittleBigPlanet 2
-MotorStorm: Apocalypse
-Outland
-Payday: The Heist
-Pokemon Black and White
-Portal 2
-Rage
-Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One
-Rayman Origins
-Red Faction: Armageddon
-Renegade Ops
-Resistance 3
-Saints Row: The Third
-Sonic Generations
-Stacking
-Star Wars: The Old Republic
-Tales from Space: About a Blob
-Temple Run
-Terraria
-The Binding of Isaac
-The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
-The Ico & Shadow of the Colossus Collection
-The Lord of the Rings: War in the North
-To the Moon
-Uncharted 3
-White Knight Chronicles II
-World of Tanks
-X-Men: Destiny
-You Don’t Know Jack

HONORABLE MENTIONS:
-Saints Row: The Third
-Dead Island

10. RAGE
1-Rage

Id software has a pretty hefty pedigree for first person shooters, what with the Doom and Quake series under their belts. So expectations were understandably high when they announced Rage, a semi-open world shooter that boasted from pretty amazing graphics and solid shooting mechanics. But when the game came out, most people were underwhelmed with the seeming lack of story and abrupt ending. And while those complaints had merit, I found a great amount of fun playing Rage, from boomeranging enemies to running them over with my dune buggy to just straight up shooting them in the face. And man, this game was beautiful in a very creepy way.

+ weapons feel great
– ending comes out of nowhere

9. BULLETSTORM
1-Bulletstorm

Bulletstorm isn’t for everyone. It’s way over the top, the characters are bigger “bros” than the cast of Jersey Shore, and it’s crass sense of humor will make the heads of the easily offended explode in the first 10 minutes. But if you can look past the game’s many, shall we say, eccentricities, there’s a very solid shooter with some unique and most importantly, fun, mechanics under the hood. There were few things in 2011 more satisfying than lashing an enemy into the sky and then kicking him into a giant, flesh eating plant. Plus you got points for it!

+ inventing shooting mechanics
– everything the characters say

8. BATTLEFIELD 3
1-Battlefield-3

Multiplayer shooters have become less and less interesting to me over the years thanks to the infestation of foul mouthed 12 year olds and the new playstyle of “lay in a corner for five minutes until someone walks by, rinse, and repeat.” But Battlefield 3 still managed to give me many hours of enjoyment over the two years I played it. There was a greater amount of customization than in it’s rival Call of Duty, and a bigger emphasis on vehicular combat and larger maps gave the game a feel all it’s own. The single player on the other hand, while serviceable, was too short and pretty uninspired. That’s why Battlefield 3 isn’t higher on this list.

+ large scale multiplayer maps
– single player campaign feels like an afterthought

7. BATMAN: ARKHAM CITY
1-Batman-Arkham-City

The thing that made Batman: Arkham Origins a great game was the story, along with some fantastic voice acting. In Arkham City, developer RockSteady swapped the more confined setting of Arkham for a much larger, open world of Arkham City, and I’m not sure it was the best decision. The story was still top notch, the voice acting was still engrossing, and the combat was still some of the best in the industry, but making the world so much larger kind of thinned out the story content. Now, if you wanted to collect all of the riddler trophies, the larger map probably enhanced the game for you. But for someone like me that just wanted to experience the main story and some side quests, I spent more time swinging around the city than I did anything else. But I don’t want to make it sound like Arkham City isn’t a great game, because it is. I just don’t think it improved on the first game in the most important ways.

+ same great combat mechanics
– giant world isn’t filled with enough interesting things to do

6. POKEMON BLACK/WHITE
1-Pokemon-Black-and-White

Pokemon Black was the last Pokemon game I played, and while the series has grown a little stagnant in terms of adding interesting new mechanics, there’s nothing that beats the nostalgia of popping in a new Pokemon game for the first time and hearing that battle music. Some of the most important things for me in Pokemon games are the creature designs, and the designs in Black/White were a vast improvement over Ruby/Sapphire. And there was still an immense amount of satisfaction in grinding out levels to completely steamroll a difficult gym leader, as well as the age old journey of catching them all.

+ great new pokemon to catch
– doesn’t really do anything new

5. ICO/SHADOW OF THE COLOSSUS COLLECTION
1-Ico-and-Shadow-of-the-Colossus-Collection

This is a bit of a cop-out because the collection included two games, but since they’re both by the same developer and they’re both HD remakes of PS2 games, I figured it was fair to include it on the list. Both Ico and Shadow of the Colossus were beautiful, tragic games in their day, and the ability to replay them and earn trophies made this well worth the 40 dollar price tag. In general, the gameplay didn’t totally hold up (the camera in Colossus was particularly painful), but the stories and art design stood the test of time. If you haven’t played them, go pick this collection up (assuming you can find a copy).

+ two beautiful games for the price of one
– some of the controls don’t hold up well

4. DRAGON AGE 2
1-Dragon-Age-2

A lot of people didn’t like Dragon Age 2. The first game was a hardcore RPG through and through, but the sequel changed a lot of the mechanics to make it appeal more to a wider audience. By all accounts, Bioware was successful in that goal, but they alienated their original fans in the process. I’m in the minority in that I enjoyed both game immensely, but for much different reason. True, Dragon Age 2 didn’t have the same kind of immersion and customization as the first game, but the combat was a lot sleeker and more satisfying. And once you leveled up in the late game, the powers available made you feel like a complete badass.

+ really fun to use powers
– a lot of the areas felt the same

3. UNCHARTED 3
1-Uncharted-3

Uncharted 3 was a fantastic game in pretty much every way. The story was filled with surprising twists and turns, the graphics were some of the best on the PS3, the motion capture was realistically done, the characters were interesting, and the multiplayer was a lot of fun. Not having Uncharted 3 at the top of this list was a tough decision, that’s how good this game was. But at the end of the day, I didn’t enjoy it as much as Uncharted 2, so that’s why it ended up at number three.

+ playing on “hard” offered the perfect amount of challenge
– enemies at the end of the game were extremely annoying

2. PORTAL 2
1-Portal-2

No hyperbole, Portal 2 is perhaps the best puzzle game ever. There was a crazy amount of challenge in the later puzzles, the story was a lot of fun (if extremely simple), and the actual mechanics were easy to learn but hard to master. Stephen Merchant was completely hilarious, but a lot of the comedy also just came from the situations you were thrust into. There are very few games that made me feel as smart as Portal 2 did.

+ individual puzzle rooms could take you 5 minutes or 3 hours
– I didn’t have anyone to play co-op with 🙁

1. SKYRIM
1-Skyrim

If you’ve seen my Youtube channel, you know how much I love Skyrim. I’ve logged upwards of 300 hours into this game since its release in 2011, so it shouldn’t surprise anyone that this tops my list. I honestly never really got into Oblivion, and Fallout 3 didn’t woo me until after I had already put many hours into Skyrim. I can’t really tell you what clicked for me in this game, but whatever it was, it clicked hard. Maybe it was the wide open world of different areas to explore, maybe it was the ability to create your own character from scratch, maybe it was the fact that no two character build would ever be the same. I don’t know if it was one specific thing or the combination of everything together that got me, but Skyrim is absolutely one of my favorite games of all time.

1-Skyrim-Dragon-Battle

+ infinite replayability
– PS3 version ran like crap

Didn’t see your favorite game from 2011 on this list? Let me know how much of an idiot I am in the comments below!

Also, if you like video games (and I would assume you do if you’re here), then feel free to check out my Youtube channel where I upload gaming videos several times a week!

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