So, four days into the new year and there are quite a few big games already announced for the year.  Which is why I would like to take some time to go through my top games of 2011.  It’s worth noting that some games will be excluded, such as those in yearly series (i.e. Madden 12) and those that are HD collections of older games (i.e. The Ico and Shadow of the Colossus Collection).  With that said, here you have it:

10.  Crysis 2:

Let’s not forget about this one.  It came out earlier in the year, and many hated it for not being nearly as good as Crysis 1.  Well, it’s not as good as the first, but it is still a lot of fun.  Yet again you use the power suit and are basically a total badass running through New York City and killing aliens.  Come on, who doesn’t like killing aliens?  Plus, it looks really good, and is probably the best looking game on the PS3.  I was surprised to see that it actually focused on the single player campaign rather than the multi-player.  Truth be told, the multi-player is kind of boring and quickly forgettable.  Back to the single player and my main complaint.  Why in the world does your character not talk?  In the first game everyone talked.  I don’t know, it’s just weird and kind of annoying.  Likewise, the story is rather bad and is about as unoriginal as possible.  Under the fancy graphics and alien killing it isn’t really that memorable.  Sure, some moments will be crazy awesome, but there are plenty of times when it can get boring.  Oh well, those parts aren’t overly common, and when there aren’t crazy moments at least you’re still being pushed along the right path.  It’s by no means a bad game and I’d even go as far as saying it’s one of the best sci-fi shooters this gen, but after a few hours of game play it starts to lose it’s wonder.

9.  Goldeneye 007: Reloaded:

A remake of a remake of an original or something like that.  I don’t know, but whatever it is it’s definitely one good game.  I’m not going to lie, it’s not a great FPS by any means, but it has an old school feel to it.  Aiming down the scope of a sniper rifle without having to hold my breath or worry about bullet drop is surprisingly entertaining.  Being able to get a head shot across a map with a little handgun is brilliantly fun, if not completely unrealistic.  It’s a game that isn’t afraid to be as over-the-top as possible.  But then, isn’t that what James Bond is all about?  I think so, and being able to blow up an armored military truck in less than half a clip of an AK47 is plain awesome.  I have yet to really get into the online, but I did a good amount of split screen and I rather like the amount of options to customize the match.  My favorite so far is being able to play with classic health that requires the player to find health and body armor rather than having it recharge automatically.  There’s also a good amount of challenges that can be quite enjoyable.  Really, this is just a crazy, fun shooter that is throwback to the old days when shooters where made for fun rather than annoyingly over serious stories and melodrama.

8.  Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception:

This is a rather good game, but it’s not as mind blowing as the second.  Of course, this is to be expected and it’s not a bad thing.  However, it’s why it’s so low on the list.  Truthfully, the beginning had me worried, but as soon as you begin to travel the world the game gets rather good.  I’m glad they brought back Chloe, as she’s a lot more interesting than Elena, who yet again pops up to be the stereotypical blonde love interest.  Oh well, back to the actual game.  I really don’t know what to say without saying what I’d say for the second.  The graphics are great, the dialogue is entertaining, getting some Drake back story this time around was nice.  Basically, it’s just as awesome as the second one, even with the slight changes in shooting which were a little awkward at first.  The online is more refined than before (though it wasn’t exactly bad before) and the dynamic, changing maps was a neat surprise.  It really came a long way from the beta, which I was not at all fond of.  Back to the single player, basically, who doesn’t want to play a game that’s essentially a mix of National Treasure and Indiana Jones?

7.  Batman: Arkham City:

Truth be told, I haven’t really played overly much of this game yet.  I recently got it and have around five hours into it.  I can’t really judge it based on the Batman history in it since I’m not a big comic book fan.  However, as an action adventure game it is very well made.  Flying around from point to point is great fun, and when I finally understood the point of the Riddler’s puzzles the city became a lot more interesting.  Luckily, despite my lack of comic book knowledge, Batman was one I used to be relatively into and it’s pretty neat to see a so many villains at the beginning of the game (IDK how Arkham Asylum did it since I didn’t play it).  Actually, I find the game a bit difficult, but that’s probably because I felt the need to go into heavily guarded areas expecting to just beat up the gun wielding enemies (not a suggested tactic).  Now I’m using a stealthier approach and it’s pretty awesome to use some stealth in the midst of stealth-less games we’ve been getting.  I also have the Catwoman DLC, which nicely ties into the story and seeing how the stories connect is interesting.  It’s also nice to see they didn’t just add her but actually spent time working on her animations, take downs, how she climbs, and other little things so that it feels like part of the game, which is kind of annoying since it probably was in the game but then they decided to release it as DLC.  I look forward to the rest of the game, and definitely recommend it for those into action adventure games that offer variety.

6.  Dead Island:

True, this game won’t be winning any awards but wow is it fun.  I’m not a big zombie fan but this game has me hooked.  I was a bit nervous going into it since I didn’t like Dead Rising 2 and hadn’t really played much of Left 4 Dead 1 or 2.  Though, it would have been nice if they took a page from Left 4 Dead and added local multi-player.  Still, the option to play with up to four people online helps the game quite a lot.  Not to say that it’s bad going solo, but it’s just more fun to slay zombies with others.  Though, I kind of wish they didn’t try to add firearms, as shooting is rather clunky.  Oh well, I guess I’ll just have to grab my machete and go at it.  As for story and dialogue, well it’s there.  The dialogue is bad but at the same time reminds me of pretty much every zombie movie I’ve seen so it’s fitting, and it’s so bad that it’s rather funny and quite amusing.  Now, it was kind of annoying playing online and after three hours going to do a quest and finding out it didn’t let us talk to the quest giver, so we had to stop the game.  There are various other bugs but it’s a game you play for fun, and on that front it definitely delivers.  That’s why this is at the number six spot on the countdown.  After all, many games now are trying to be so serious, while this is good old hack n’ slash fun.

5.  Battlefield 3:

This was difficult to choose where to put.  I like to ignore the fact that there’s a single player mode, as Battlefield (BF) has always been about the multi-player.  I’ll just say this, the single player mode is there and is serviceable.  Nothing special but it works.  The online, that’s where it’s at.  I really only did rush a few times but it seemed to work well, it’s just not my preferred game mode.  Likewise, I didn’t do much team deathmatch since that’s not really what BF is made for, but it is a good way to get quick experience points.  Now conquest, that’s where the fun is.  With the exception of 1 or 2 maps, most are set up rather nicely and are fun to play on.  I have the limited edition so I got the Back to Karkand maps for free, and they really are the best ones in the game.  It took a bit of getting used to the classes and weapons since it was different than Battlefield: Bad Company 2, but you eventually learn what’s what.  Ranking this so high up was debatable since the online is a mixed bag.  Sometimes you get on a really good squad, but other times they’re just horrible.  By horrible I mean looking at your squad flying around in jets not doing anything or watching them fly in a jet and crash it while your other squad mate crashes they helicopter you’re riding in.  It’s also annoying when your squad goes with you to capture a point but then decides to leave as soon as it’s captured, leaving it vulnerable to future attack.  However, I imagine playing with friends makes it substantially more enjoyable and for some reason the Back to Karkand players are a lot better and actually work together.  This is a case in which the good outweighs the bad, though it would have been nice if the quick match option would allow the player to quickly go into a hardcore enabled game rather than only being able to access that through the server browser.  Still, it’s a fun game and if you are on a good squad it can be very great.

4.  Dark Souls:

Is this game hard?  Yes.  Will you rage quit?  Yes.  Will it make you yell and freak out at people around you?  Yes.  Why should you play it?  It’s just so addictive.  While getting killed for the hundredth time you know you can do better than you previously did.  With the new open world setup you may have to go back and explore an area you missed.  The name of the game is grinding, and there is a lot of it.  But with a world so interesting it never really becomes a problem.  Granted, if you travel the wrong way and end up in a more advanced area you’ll be know it soon enough.  Really though, that’s what makes the game so addictive.  It seems that more and more RPGs level scale the world with your character.   While it isn’t a bad thing it ends up leading to laziness since you can pretty much go anywhere in those type of games and be just fine.  Not here, definitely not here.  Weapons break down and get weak, and so does your armor.  Bosses don’t care if you want to use a health potion, nor does your character as they stop what they’re doing to drink a potion.  Everything wants you dead, and sadly the developers assured that will happen far too often.  I’m all for a challenge (Demon’s Souls was great) but basically making magic useless in Dark Souls made it hard for me to love.  I’m not a fan of close range combat and would prefer to use a bow and spells.  This is what I did in Demon’s Souls and it made it a lot more enjoyable.  While bows are still usable in Dark Souls, magic is rather difficult and for me it’s kind of confusing.  Should that stop you from playing the game?  No, but I’ll tell you what will.  There is a ton of slowdown in the game.  I played one section in the forest area and the game stopped for a few seconds then progressed by a few frames and kept doing that.  Normally I’d turn off the game but in order to not corrupt your data you have to press start, go to exit game, and arrive back at the main menu.  Getting to the start button menu took a good 45 seconds and I thought it wouldn’t even get there.  So it has a rather major problem, but it has only happened 2 or 3 times.  Based on atmosphere and challenge this game should at least be rented or try out Demon’s Souls first (which I actually prefer over Dark Souls).

3.  Mass Effect 2:

I know, it didn’t come out this year, but as a PS3 owner it is the first year I was able to play it.  As a sci-fi fan, this game is great since it allows me to be part of a giant space opera.  Sadly, it had no Doctor Who references, but instead felt heavily inspired by Star Trek (come on, would one Doctor Who reference have been that difficult?).  Still, it was quite fun being able to go from planet to planet fighting aliens and whatnot.  Playing as Gwen Cooper Shepard, I noticed that the voice acting was kind of weak, and at times felt forced or unnatural.  Did it take away from the story, well no (since there was also quite a lot of good dialogue) but it didn’t help.  It’s kind of a story that you just role with since it’s not overly original and the characters also aren’t overly interesting (well, Kasumi is kind of cool).  Likewise, calling this game an RPG is like calling Call of Duty an RPG because you unlock and upgrade your guns.  I’m sorry, but after 30 hours I managed to max out all but one attribute.  Making me wonder what the point of leveling up was since new game plus allows me to play through without having to do any upgrading.  Wow, I spent a lot of time bashing the game, but trust me it’s actually rather fun.  Playing it as an action adventure game makes it a lot better, as the planets are all rather unique and different from each other.  I quite like the Overlord DLC (PS3 version comes with the DLC) as it has a classic sci-fi ending (sort of reminded me of Doctor Who a little bit).  The shooting is still a lot of fun, and overall the combat is solid and it doesn’t get old using some crazy bionic power to blow stuff up.  Really, I just liked to explore the different world’s and ended up finding the individual character’s missions to be a lot more interesting than the main story.  Speaking of main story, the final boss was so bad.  This isn’t something unique to this game and is why I’m not detracting it from my experience.  Come on though, why can’t developers make a solid final boss (I still say Bioshock had the worst boss fight in quite some time)?  Never mind that, if you like sci-fi you will most likely be a big fan of this game and I think that’s why I looked past my complaints.

But come on, why couldn’t they have made me reverse the polarity of the neutron flow?

2.  Deus Ex: Human Revolution:

A truly brilliant game.  I don’t say that often, and not even my top game of 2011 can have that said about it.  Why is this game so brilliant?  For one, the voice acting is superb.  I know people love and adore the voice work in Mass Effect 2, but it doesn’t feel as natural as the work done in Human Revolution.  It may be dry to some, but the main character, Adam Jensen is written as more of a dark, sarcastic speaking character.  Though, at times it is a bit over dramatic, but overall the dialogue is rather believable in relation to what’s going on in the game.  Clocking in at around 30 hours some may consider it to be short for an RPG, but with so many ways to play the game (i.e. all out action or all out stealth) there will definitely be played through multiple times since you can never fully upgrade all of the attributes in one play through and there is no new game plus.  The actual shooting and controls take some time to get used to, but after 10-15 minutes it no longer is an issue.  Then there’s the boss fights, which are not nearly as bad as critics make them out to be.  Don’t expect anything spectacular, but with only four of them (each lasting at the most around 10 minutes) it’s not that big of a deal in a game that’s 30 hours long (plus, they’re kind of easy as I beat the 3rd one in 10 seconds, seriously).  It’s nice to see a game in this age of shooters and RPGs that has actually managed to fit in a good story, good characters, a unique art design (granted, it’s very steam punk influenced, which kind of makes it that much better), stealth mechanics that for the most part are pretty solid, and shooting mechanics that work nicely without falling apart or turning into a Call of Duty knockoff.  Human Revolution is a game that shouldn’t feel unique, but when shooters are being mass produced as they are now it really shows how good a game can be when thought is put into it (yes, I know there are other solid fps games other than this).

Oh, and if you play it, be sure to turn off the yellow outlining of every item you can interact with, that’s just the lazy way to explore when it’s on.

1.  Skyrim:

Yes, for those who know me this is to be expected.  I hyped the game to no end and thankfully it lived up to all the hype.  Granted, there are those who cannot play it due to game breaking bugs, but with 57 hours on it (PS3 version) I have yet to encounter anything which has halted my progress.  I’m sure by now everyone has at least heard of all the things you can do in the game (i.e. cook, get married, and have a dragon), but what’s surprising is that it all seems to work.  Sure, cutting wood and mining can get kind of boring, but if you don’t want to do them then you don’t have to.  The only annoying thing is crafting/smithing, which is tedious and kind of useless since your weapons and armor don’t break or weaken.  Oh well, that’s one negative against a ton of positives.  At first I was put off by not being able to select a star sign and attributes for my character, but once I got to the level up menu I quickly found out that there are a lot of ways to create your character, which is why I’m a Nord that uses magic, two-handed axes, and bows.  This also kind of leads to another problem (well not problem exactly), and that is everything works this time around (unlike Oblivion, where bows were kind of useless and enchanting weapons was rather confusing since it never said how to do it), which makes you want to level up a little bit of every skill rather than master a select few.  See, not a problem just a lot of options and ways to play, making it accessible to more people.  I also was surprised with the various factions since so far they have all been rather interesting (I’ve done the College of Winterhold, Dark Brotherhood, and Stoarmcloak Rebellion missions and for some reason randomly get Daedric quests), unlike Oblivion where the Dark Brotherhood was in a little basement and the arena was far too easy.  As for the main story, well I don’t know since I have been doing everything else, but eventually you get a dragon shout through it that allows you to summon a dragon, so that should be rather cool.  Oh yeah, almost forgot to mention, there’s dragons and they actually work quite well (except for the 3 hour span where every time I went to Riverwood there was a dragon waiting for me) and contain some good loot.  Overall, I can’t say enough about this game, as it is my top game of 2011 and amongst my top 5 games of all time.  If the DLC is anything like Oblivion’s Shivering Isles DLC then there is a good chance I’ll make an exception for 2012 and add it to my top games of 2012 list.