These are the game's that made me proud to be a gamer in 2011. These are the games that kept me playing long after the end credits. These are the games I loved despite what critics or other gamers have said about them.
So with those words out of the way, let's get started!
Child of Eden
As a spiritual sequel to the amazing and underrated 'Rez' for the PS2 and Dreamcast, 'Child of Eden' has you soaring through digital worlds in an effort to save the AI program project Lumi from a virus sweeping the system. This game is a visual feast, and one that should be seen with your own eyes.
Sucker Punch pulls out a stunner this time around. While the first inFAMOUS had tons of bugs and glitches, along with a story that was sub-par at best, the sequel corrects nearly every issue and then goes the extra mile of making the story relatable, interesting, fascinating and best of all fun. What more could you want from a game taking cues from comic books and graphic novels?
Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together
Tactics Ogre fans, unite! The ultimate remake of the amazing Super Nintendo game is here! Say what you will about SquareEnix, but they have been on a role with their high caliber revisions on their classics. I honestly had to choose between this and Final Fantasy IV Complete, and it was not an easy choice.
I have always and will continue to say this; the Yakuza series is basically like a soap opera to me. I've played every game not only because of the fun fighting mechanics and the overtly Japanese EVERYTHING in the game (hostess bars, golf, karaoke, arcades), but also because I really started to understand the characters in the game. I've always liked a game with a good story, and while the story in the Yakuza series is almost always hit-or-miss the character stories is where they pick up the slack.
Shadows of the Damned
This is a game where they got nearly everything right for me. The characters are hilarious yet believable. The story is simple yet deep. The humor is crude yet disgusting. Nearly every aspect of the game is what I would consider 'game of the year' material. The voice acting is top notch (you can play with the Japanese v/o cast, but the English team did a more than amazing job.), The action is constantly changing and throwing you in different directions, and the script make you want to hunt down every last bit of story in this game. Give it a try, I think most people would like it. Especially if you have a slightly twisted sense of humor.
When I was a kid I loved platformer and puzzle games, but when it came to the PC my love was point-and-click adventure games. From the various murder mysteries like the 'Laura Bow' games or the amazing and hilarious Lucas Arts 'Monkey Island' titles, I treasure any good P&C title. Well, L.A. Noire is basically a new take on point-and-click mystery games. Built from the ground up to be nothing more than an in depth look into the life of a detective in the 1940's, this is a story about the life of Cole Phelps. His triumphs, his mistakes, his faults, and his passion to always want to be on top morally. A life story with an amazing yet subtle conclusion, this is a game with depth.
With the world shaped around him and a constant voice ringing in your ear, you press forward into god knows what, looking for answers. Bastion is a subtle yet extremely well made title on XBLA that had me hooked right from the get-go. The art, the music, the narration; everything comes together in a sort of potpourri of simple yet elegant game design. It's gaming 101, but with a ton of heart. The story shines through up until the very last word is spoken.
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
Is it the best Zelda game? Not to me, I personally found it to be quite simple even compared to Twilight Princess. Is it still a good game? Without a doubt. Skyward Sword delivers on Nintendo's promise to use the Wii motion controls in a way fitting of the Zelda universe and they did a spectacular job. The Wii controls not only always worked for me, but worked better than I could have imagined. The story itself at first seems like standard Zelda fare with evil slowly invading Link's personal space. But the abundance of character changes made this Zelda game feel like a whole new experience. Every character has certain features and flaws that make them seem more real than ever before, even more than my favorite Zelda character game Majora's Mask. Believe the hype.
Welcome back. Enjoy some of the fresh mountain air. There might even be a deer. Portal 2 is the definition of substance with it's creative and hilarious story, and also style with its clever puzzles and amazing environments. Valve steps up to deliver a game that not only had an honest chance of being my number one, but also a game I would consider timeless to stand next to titles such as 'Super Metroid' or 'Final Fantasy VI'. The game flawlessly marries idea that you can have your cake and eat it with every line uttered through the 10 hour experience that is Portal 2. Also, what else could you say about the ending except:
How do you feel about marriage? What about having children? Would you sacrifice yourself for the person you love? These are not only questions asked of the main character Vincent, but they are actually asked of you. Catherine hides behind a facade of puzzle gameplay when the true heart of the story lies in your mind. The story is about love, life, infidelity, sex, and even more concepts most people would rather not discuss unless they really have to. Every choice is your own, and every outcome is because of you, just like in life itself. Atlus's 'Persona Team' hits the nail on the head and delivers a game that makes you not only consider the characters lives, but your own life as well. Highly recommended.
So there you go! My personal favorites from 2011. I honestly hope the tradition of amazing games keeps on coming, as I need so new game to play now that it's 2012.