Now that our official awards are up, I'd like to know what you all personally chose as your game of the year.
2011 brought both a remake of my favorite game ever, Ocarina of Time, and a whole new Zelda game. Naturally, I assumed that my 2011 GotY would be something with "The Legend of Zelda" in the title.
Then I played Portal 2.
During the development of this game, I think someone at Valve said, "Hey, let's make a game for Secret_Tunnel." I loved the original Portal- its puzzles made me feel really smart (unlike puzzles in games like Ico, which make me feel really dumb). Shooting portals to get around might be one of the most fun things I've ever done in a game. Not to mention, it had great writing. Portal was genuinely funny. I love is when something appears to be one thing, but by the end it's something else entirely. Portal NAILED this.
Portal 2, by some miracle, improved on the original in every way possible. All the clever humor that used to be confined to GLaDOS was now expressed through several characters. Some people might poo-poo on the scripted sequences, but to me, they were some of the best parts. They don't feel scripted, partly because the characters are so lifelike. Portal 2 is the closest I've ever felt to playing a movie; the key word in that sentence is playing. Even when you're not doing anything, you still feel involved. The final ten minutes of the game are a roller-coaster ride of absurdity and emotions. Not only is Portal 2 my game of the year, it's also my second-favorite game of all time.
I only played a few 2011 games in 2011, but my favorite without a doubt was Shadows of the Damned. As a huge Resident Evil 4 fan (my absolute favorite game I've ever played; I've beaten it 16 times and counting) who also loved No More Heroes and likes Akira Yamaoka's music (I don't have much experience with most of it, but I love both Silent Hill: Shattered Memories and Contra: Shattered Soldier's soundtracks), Shadows of the Damned was like a dream come true. It doesn't quite topple Resident Evil 4 in my eyes, but it's my second favorite game out of that style that I've played. I like it more than Dead Space (which is also good, but felt kind of repetitive and long, and I didn't care about the story in it much), and way more than Resident Evil 5. It makes me sad that Shinji Mikami is doing to withdraw from directly working on games in the near future.
I guess I played more Minecraft than any other game this year, so that would have to be mine. Except I don't think it came out last year, that's just when I found it?
Honestly nothing really sticks out to me, which is a little sad to me. On the flip side, I didn't really go looking, so it's not the industry's fault or anything.
Oh. Wait. I change my vote: Where's My Water for the iPhone. Game of the Year. I had more fun with it than anything in a long while. Only complaint was I wanted more (which is usually a better alternative than "It needed to end already").
@-JKR- Pretty sure Minecraft officially "launched" last year, so yeah that works! I've also heard good things about Where's My Water...someday I'll have to get a smartphone and bone up on some worthwhile mobile games.
I would agree that Portal 2 was probably the "best" game of last year (of the games I played anyway, which was quite a damn lot). So few games actually have decent narratives that Portal's genuine wit just makes everything else look like utter crap. And oh yeah the puzzles are sweet. I haven't gotten around to doing the co-op. But my favorite game from 2011 is Arkham City. I can't pinpoint any one thing about the game that really thrills me (definitely not the story, which falls apart under any scrutiny at all), but there's just something satisfying about it all.
Radiant Historia and Skyward Sword are up near the top of my list as well.
But Super Meat Boy was the best game I played (for the first time) last year. LOVE.
Now that the dust has settled on the November onslaught, I can also go back and cement Portal 2 as my favourite game of the year. The characters are genuinely likeable, the story is very fun, and the puzzles are perfectly balanced, and keep you truckin' along.
Heck, I named my dog after this guy:
I urge anyone who hasn't tried the series to please do so. Underneath all the forced memes are two absolutely amazing experiences, and that's not even mentioning the fantastic co-op and free DLC.
At the moment I'd probably say Super Mario 3D Land, although I'm only halfway through Skyward Sword and that has a good shot at it.
Portal 2 was pretty fun too but it's sort of a limited concept. True they do a lot with that concept, but yeah. Batman is sort of up there as well, although as stated in other places, it hasn't quite lived up to Arkham Asylum for me. And like Zelda, I'm also only like halfway into that game, if even that.
Portal 2 Batman Arkham City Skyrim Skyward Sword Gears of War 3
Of those, it has got to be Batman: Arkham City. I really got in to every aspect of the game and could not ask for more from a sequel to Arkham Asylum. Any criticism I can come up with is just overshadowed by how much fun the game is to play.
I'd probably say Portal 2 if I had played it...but since I did not, then my vote goes to Arkham City. Was it a perfect example of storytelling in videogames? Nope. However, it let me do all the things that I expect Batman to be able to do. Glide over rooftops, scale buildings, take down tons of thugs at once (with both double AND triple takedowns), fight some crazy supervillains, use a NUMBER of gadgets in some pretty creative ways, interrogate thugs, solve mysteries, and own the city that cries out for him....even if it's a sectioned off part of that city.
I'm surprised to say that Zelda is not my game of the year, as it completely gripped me when I played it. Batman's flaws just bothered me less than Zelda's. AC was as long as it needed to be, with plenty of optional stuff to do if I ever want to go back. It was a great length, with lots of fun surprises along the way.
It's funny, because at its core, Batman is very similar to a Zelda style game. You have an overworld, and you have "dungeons" that you defeat to progress through the game. I actually think Arkham City's overworld is fairly reminiscent of the original Zelda in some respects. You can go anywhere right off the bat (no pun intended). A "dungeon" might not reveal itself until later in the game. As the game goes on, you can more easily progress through the world (though in AC you can get the Grapnel Upgrade WAY too early). You start to own that world a bit. Enemies start to pose a smaller threat as you learn how to use smoke pellets, freeze bombs, and other gadgets. Secrets start to reveal themselves as you get new gadgets. Soon enough, you find yourself doing things unrelated to the main game, just because the overworld is so massive and engaging.
Where Batman triumphs a bit over Zelda in my eyes is that when playing through AC, I'm not thinking about the game like it's a math equation. I'm not thinking about "Dungeon 2" or "Dungeon 3." I'm thinking about navigating the old GCPD building in order to find Mr. Freeze. I'm thinking about finding a new entrance to a building I can't get to. Yes, when it's all said and done, Arkham City follows a very specific formula, one not unlike those found in many Zelda games. However, it does a phenomenal job of masking this, and presenting certain aspects in a way I'm not used to. It plays with my expectations of an "open world game," and game elements feel organically woven throughout the adventure(for the most part).
I'm not getting to a new area and EXPECTING to find some nifty gadget to help me proceed. I'm appreciative when I do get a new gadget, but I like being surprised. I like having Batman get in touch with Alfred all of a sudden, and getting a gadget like a gift from on high. I think AC did a great job of playing with my expectations. You see Batman fiddling with some gadgets like he's figuring something out (mid-conversation mind you), and BAM, he's assembled your new gadget. What a nice little surprise! When a game constantly gives me nice little surprises like that, and plays with my expectations, that's when I really start to have fun.
I love Skyward Sword, I really do. It has moments of sheer brilliance. However, the game was too long for its own good, and it still does bother me a bit that it's stuck in some of the same paradigms it's been stuck in since Link's Awakening. I hate to admit it, but there are definitely moments in the game where I've felt like "I've done this before." I may be doing different things or solving different puzzles, but it's almost like listening to a remix of a familiar song. It's just not as engaging when I know practically ever beat that the game is going to hit.
Batman: Arkham City was by far my favorite non-Nintendo game of last year. It takes basically everything from Arkham Asylum and makes it better. And AA was an amazing game to begin with. I also want to give a mention to Dead Space 2. The end was a little wonky, but other than that I loved it.
Yeah I think I'm going to have to go with Portal 2 as well. Like Secret Tunnel, I was salivating for Skyward Sword. There's nothing I love more than a new Zelda game, especially a home console version. But even I can acknowledge that Skyward Sword does have a few flaws.
Portal 2 though? Perfect all the way through. Puzzles, pacing, script. Brilliant. A must play for gamers everywhere. It mystifies me as to why this wasn't ported to the Wii. Would have worked great with the pointer.
Problem is, I mostly get games a long time after they release, so I don't have the best perspective for GoTY's, but out of what I did play... hmmm... Uncharted 3 takes the cake for me. Honorable mentions to Kirby and Portal 2 and Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3. Did SSFIV come out in 2011? If so, that's high up there too.
Portal 2 was my game of the year until Batman: AC came out which was my game of the year until Skyward Sword came out. And even after a replay of Portal 2 and New Game + in B:AC, Skyward Sword still was the most fun for me and my game of the year.
I spent most of 2011 playing through my backlog, and therefore, at the end of the year, I found myself with a handful of AAA titles that came out in 2011, that I just haven't played. Skyrim, Batman, The Witcher 2, and Saints Row the Third are all apparently fantastic games, and I've only just begun to play Skyrim so I can't say anything about it yet, except that it has, in fact, sucked me in.
There were two big name games that I did make time to play. Portal 2 and Zelda: Skyward Sword. That's a damn tough choice. I loved Portal 2, through and through. From beginning to end, I blew through the game in two play sessions. I love the humor, and the puzzles really did satisfy you in a way almost no other game could.
But Zelda was way more satisfying. I feel the puzzles were HARDER than Portal 2! I would have never expected a Zelda game to perhaps be the hardest game I played all year. I died plenty of times in all those miniature-puzzles some others call "combat," and for many times in the game I sat there, scratching my beard and staring at the screen while dozens of scenarios played out in my head.
On top of the difficulty of the puzzles, the methods used to carry out the solutions was unlike anything I have ever played before in my life. The controls for this game are sooooo good, but they certainly come with a learning curve! I read on this very forum about how the "pointer" functions in the game ARE NOT Infrared, and that is what changed my outlook, because before that I had been struggling for a little bit. Apparently I'm not the only one, since I've seen plenty of little babies on the internet bitch and moan about the controls.
Anyway, before I babble too long about it, I name Zelda: Skyward Sword as my favorite game of 2011.
Portal 2 is not only my game of the year, but on my short list for game of the generation. Just brilliant.
My top 5 as of today would be:
Portal 2 Batman Zelda Dead Space 2 L.A. Noire
I still gotta play/finish a few more 2011 games, and I'm pretty sure L.A. Noire will get bumped out of my Top 5 soon enough. Mario 3D Land I'm working on finishing up over the next couple weeks, then there's Uncharted 3, Rayman, Saint's Row, Dead Island and someday when I have time, Skyrim. I don't see any of them topping Portal 2 on my list. Even though Batman was really good, there's a huge gap between #1 and #2, and 2-4 are really tight.
I will have to let you know in a few months when I have finished playing them all but as of now it would probably be Skyward Sword. The game just reinvigorated my love of gaming and just gave me that warm fuzzy feeling inside. Any year a Zelda game comes out it will probably top my list though.