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A rundown of Robert's favorite games of 2011

Robert Bevill, Blogger

December 26, 2011

8 Min Read

It should go without saying that these are just my personal Top 10 Games. There are plenty that I have not played, but these are the ones I have sunk the most time into, or had the greatest impact of me. There are still plenty of games I haven't played, such as Saints Row the Third, Skyrim, and Skyward Sword, but 2011 was just such a great year for games that I need to just stop where I am and write this, otherwise I could be continuously updating it.

10. Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception

I absolutely loved Uncharted 2, with its gorgeous visuals, fun (if silly) storyline, and amazing action set pieces, combined with great gunplay. Uncharted 3 takes all that, and...more or less leaves it the same. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed Uncharted 3, but there was a certain sense of familiarity that dampened the experience. The story wasn't as strong either, including a two-hour section that had nothing to do with the rest of the plot, and villains that didn't feel as threatening, even though they prioritized killing you over their own personal safety. Still, the game was a rollercoaster from start to finish, and the multiplayer is as addictive as ever.

9. Shadows of the Damned

Suda 51's latest experiment did feel rushed at times, thanks to some clipping issues, and shooter levels that felt like filler. However, the excellent art design, as well as likeable and funny characters made the trip into the underworld very engaging. The levels have a constant sense of the bizarre that makes it fun to explore (shooting goat heads in order to spread light everywhere?). The boss fights are creative and fun, though I would not recommend playing on hard mode, as they have ridiculous levels of health. Duke Nukem Forever made me feel like I might be getting too old for phallic jokes, but Shadows of the Damned made me rethink that stance.

8. Jetpack Joyride

It feels weird putting an iPhone game on a Top 10 list, but Jetpack Joyride truly deserves it. I've probably sunk more time into this than any other game this year. It's simple, it's addictive, and the fun visuals and music make it a joy to replay over and over again. Halfbrick have really shown themselves capable of making great casual games thanks to this and Fruit Ninja, so I can't wait to see what they put out next.

7. Radiant Historia

In some circles, the jRPG genre is dying, but not if Atlus has anything to say about it. Radiant Historia is the latest RPG by the Shin Megami Tensei company, and while it doesn't have the teenage angst and cyberpunk charm of those games, it's rather retro in its design, which is reminiscent of classic SNES jRPGs. The time travel storyline is unique, the world fun to explore, and the battle system innovative and engaging. I do have a few problems with the game, such as the supporting cast feeling underdeveloped unless you purposefully seek out their sidequests, and the difficult spike halfway through that nearly turned me off from the experience. Still, Radiant Historia is a great game for starved fans of the genre.

6. Pokemon Black/White

The latest installment of the pokemon series leaves me with mixed feelings. On one hand, I consider it the best game in the series, by far. The gameplay is balanced, the new set of pokemon are loveable, the music is fantastic, and the storyline is the deepest of any game, partly in thanks to exploring how such a world would work, and the consequences of it. On the other hand, battles are still slow, the gameplay feels padded, and I'm not in fifth grade anymore to trade and battle with my friends. I loved the game, but I'm not sure I would buy another one if they just followed the same formula. Nintendo, maybe this is a chance to make that MMO we've always wanted for the Wii U?

5. You Don't Know Jack

I've never played the old You Don't Know Jack games, but this 2011 reboot has told me everything I needed to know. I wouldn't have guessed that a casual trivia game would wow me so much, but the writing in You Don't Know Jack is just histerical. The questions are smartly worded to make you think, and even guessing a wrong answer can lead to a funny joke that makes it worth it. This is a great game to play with friends, since screwing each other over and wowing others with your trivia knowledge never gets old. Also, it's budget price. I reccomend this game to absolutely everyone.

4. Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective

While I wouldn't say I'm a big fan of adventure games, Japan definitely seems to have my eye caught with games like 999 and Ace Attorney. Ghost Trick is the latest in point-and-click detective puzzling, centered around a recently deceased man on a hunt to find out who killed him. He can manipulate objects, as well as rewind time to save the lives of others. The story is Ghost Trick was gripping from start to finish, with some well-executed twists. The animation is great to look at for a DS game, and the characters are some of the best I've seen this year. Definitely check it out if you're a DS gamer.

3. Driver: San Francisco

What's most amazing about this game is that I probably could have completely passed by it without realizing I was missing anything. I picked it up thanks to Yahtzee (Zero Punctuation) and CheapyD (CheapAssGamer), and I was glad I listened. I'm not much of a driving game fan, but the car swapping mechanic is probably the best new game element I've seen this year. Combine it with great graphics, likeable characters, and a surprisingly engaging storyline, and you have a game experience unlike any other. I can't emphasize enough how great this game is, and how likely it is to be overlooked by much larger games. Seriously, grab it.

2. Portal 2

I've always been a big fan of the original Portal, so this one being here was a no-brainer. It is a little too similar to the first game in some aspects, but when you're dealing with a game as perfectly designed as Portal, it's hard to live up to those standards. Nevertheless, Portal 2 tells a great story with very few characters, and adds some unique gimmicks to the puzzles that are difficult to wrap your head around and satisfying to finish. Once again, it's easily the funniest game of the year, especially when dealing with Aperture Science owner Cave Johnson. The co-op play is also fantastic, though most likely you will want to kill your partner by the time you're finished. For most of 2011, it seemed like nothing would top Portal 2. The game that finally did it was...

1. Batman: Arkham City

I thoroughly enjoyed Arkham City's predecessor, Arkham Asylum, but it it was missing just a little something. The combat was great, but it got repetitive. There was only one fight that you could truly call a boss fight, and the story was just a tad bit too cliche and predictable for my tastes. However, Arkham City took the things I liked about Asylum and amped them up, as well as vastly improving on everything else. The result was a game I had to forcefully tear myself away from in order to do things like eat, sleep, and go to work. The already fantastic combat from the first game was vastly expanded on, becoming probably my favorite hand-to-hand combat in any game ever. Arkham City was a joy to explore, and even though it makes no sense for Riddler to leave trophies everywhere for me to find, I'm glad he did, because hunting them was a blast. The boss fights are plentiful now, and plenty of of fun. I admit that the plethora of villains means that there's a bit too much spotlight stealing going on, but I was thoroughly entertained. However, there was one aspect that truly made me appreciate Arkham City. The thing is, I'm not that big of a Batman fan. Sure I've enjoyed some of his stuff, but never truly considered myself a fan. However, Arkham City showed off tons of the characters and the world of the Batman universe without making me feel confused. Instead, it managed to pique my interest, and encouraged me to check out some of his other works simply out of curiosity. That is exactly how a licensed game should work, not just rehashing all the major elements for the fans. It's entirely possible Skyrim can knock Batman out of this top spot, but as far as I'm concerned, I'm happy calling it my Game of the Year.

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