• GOTY 2011 - Discuss your favourite Video Games of the Year

    Rather than focusing on statistics, this year we are going to tell each other about our favourite games of the year. These might be chart toppers or hidden gems or both. Please use the comments area to tell everyone your top picks for the year. Regardless of whether you have time to read all of ours, we are very much looking forward to reading all about yours!

    My GOTY in terms of time spent on it is Battlefield 3. It's flawed in many ways and appears rushed, but once it has the talons in, it doesn't let go easily. It's also fairly daunting initially to newcomers and takes a frustrating amount of time to get interesting power-ups due to the massive scope of weapons, classes and vehicles, so you have to be prepared to be in it for the long haul. Worth it though.

    However, talking about BF3 unlock trees doesn't make for a very interesting read, so instead I'd like to talk about Ikenie No Yoru which I reviewed here. "But you only gave it 6/10!" I hear you say. "What's it doing in a GOTY topic?"

    A good question, but when I started thinking back to the games I'd played this year, some games were more memorable than others. Gears of War 3, even though it's the ultimate GOW game, the very definition of a complete package, with some nice gameplay tweaks, it's just wasn't memorable enough to me, being the 3rd in the series and with so much of it having been seen before. Similarly the single player campaign for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 was a suitably fitting in-your-face explosive ending to the story, but thinking back, I barely remember any of it. And the Multi-Player disappoints me in many ways that don't need discussing here. Which leaves me with games that were memorable.

    Of those, Ikenie No Yoru stuck out in my mind. Never have I been so tense and scared when playing a videogame. Ghost games have been creepy and scary before and some have even gone as similarly far as to deprive you of any weapons, but the simple addition of the balance board to control walking/running ramped up the immersion levels higher than certainly anything I've experienced before. In a totally dark room with the speakers on loudly, reality faded away leaving only the small pool of torchlight, aimed by the Wii remote and the fear of what new reality lay just beyond that pool of light. I'll always remember curling up in a locker, hiding with the torch off as something nasty prowled around the room. I held my breath for real as it came near. It's a shame that the innovation was somewhat damped by repetitive gameplay, because the story built up cleverly around the group of characters, leaving you wanting to know how it would all pan out. It also had a pedometer to show that gamers can keep fit whilst being scared witless. If someone asked me right now which game I'd rather play through again from this or the CODMW3 campaign, much as I enjoyed the latter, I'd go for Ikenie instead. In fact, I need to do that anyway using the Nightmare mode which penalises you for running away too fast!

    Looking forward to see what developers can squeeze out of the current crop of consoles in what will probably be their final year, 2012.

    Coming from Tetsuya Mizugichi, the creative mind behind such games as Space Channel 5 and Lumines as well as the game that it is a spiritual successor to - Rez - Child of Eden was always going to be something of a known quantity in that it revolves around music. What sets this apart from Mizuguchi's previous work is the element of interactivity. Opening Ubisoft's E3 2010 press conference, the game was revealed to be one that would make use of Microsoft's Kinect peripheral and suddenly "You are the Controller" became a slogan that started to prick the ears of the more dedicated gamer and not just the more mainstream element.

    Working with the traditional Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 controllers as well, Child of Eden, as mentioned before, follows a similar gameplay style to Rez. An on-rails shooter, objects must be shot down and doing do adds musical effects to the background music. Where it differs from its predecessor however, is that as well as a lock-on mechanic, the gameplay also introduces another firing option, this time a steady stream of bullets that can be fired where the player wants, essential for getting rid of the new prurple projectiles that threaten the player. Having this new threat makes the game feel more challenging that Rez, adding something else to keep an eye out for. For those using Kinect, gunfire is aimed by hand movement, a clap changing from one shot to the other. Both controls schemes are responsive and fluid, something which allows the player more time to appreciate the compelling atmosphere of the game.

    Moving away from the pounding Techno of Rez, Child of Eden features music from Mizuguchi's Genki Rockets project. Fitting in with the story of saving an A.I known as Lumi from a virus, the music is still electronic but less in-your-face than Rez and more upbeat and uplifting. It is here that Child of Eden really shines. When it clicks, the music and visuals come together perfectly, making the task at hand feel even more necessary to complete. To say that the last stage and its subsequent lead to the credits is emotional is truly an understatement.

    Although the game is short, containing only five stages, each one can only be unlocked with a certain amount of stars, earned through high-scores. Although this means repeating stages over to earn enough stars, if the game pulls the player in this feels like a privilege rather than a chore. Once the story has been finished, there is the option to replay stages for high scores, giving the game a degree of replayability.

    What the game lacks in content it more than makes up for in music selection and atmosphere. Those who appreciate an emotional involvement in their games need to give Child of Eden a go, as do those who are fans of Rez and have been wanting a follow-up all these years. It is that game that is really the only thing similar available and Child of Eden sets itself apart in a sea of brown and grey coloured first or third person shooters. That has to be a good enough reason to give it a go.

    Despite its successor appearing in all regions at the start of the year, 2011 was a great twelve months to be a DS owner. The early part of the year saw the likes of Ghost Trick, an inventive and beautifully animated adventure game from Capcom and directed by Shu Takumi of Phoenix Wright fame, Okamiden, the follow up to the captivating Okami, and the European release of the first Inazuma Eleven game, a football RPG from Level-5 all released.

    The RPG theme continued with such heavy weights as Pokemon Black & White, Dragon Quest VI and Kingdom Hearts re:coded joining others that included Dragon Quest Monsters Joker 2 and Radiant Historia.

    As well as a couple of other major releases, such as the delightful Kirby Mass Attack and Professor Layton and the Last Specter, there were a couple of games available on import that may have passed some people by. All Kamen Rider: Rider Generation was perhaps the best example of this. A side scrolling 2D beat 'em up, it features a whole host of playable characters from the Kamen Rider universe, sure to please fans of these series. For those not in the know though, there was a hugely enjoyable game underneath.

    Even with the 3DS finding its stride last year and with a lot more games scheduled for this year, 2012 looks good for the DS as well. Inazuma Eleven 2 is sure to please those who gave the first a chance. Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2 is sure to be popular among RPG fans and there's even the somewhat baffling Pokemon X Nobunaga's Ambition to keep an eye on on import. And who knows, Nintendo and other publishers may see fit to release some previously Japan-only games in the US and Europe.

    Alex WS
    2011 will probably be remembered as a monumental year in terms of big game releases. Almost every genre had several very prolific games released. Whether it’s shooters, driving games, fantastical RPGs or even 2 dimensional platformers, there where several games to represent each category. Despite this enormous amount of titles, and sheer breadth of types to choose from, I found the year to be largely uninspiring.

    Many of the banner titles could easily be called “more of the same”. Many titles give this away simply by ending their title with a number (3 seemed to be the popular number of 2011). Being overall solid productions didn't prevent games like Uncharted 3, Resistance 3 or Modern Warfare 3 feeling too familiar to games I had already played and payed for. Other games suffered from being made too accessible. The recent Zelda game had Link’s latest sidekick explain every puzzle to me, repeat my main objective ad nauseum and ruin the general mood of the game by intruding on my playing with superfluous talk. Add to that the new overworld which is so condensed that there is no fear of the player accidentally exploring at all, and you have a game that feels like a product for a completely different audience than myself.

    I enjoy the Uncharted games, I really, truly do. Now that I have deployed the flameshield, I feel safe to write a few critical thoughts about them. Every time something spectacular happens in an Uncharted game (about once every seven minutes I would guesstimate), I’m not only thrilled, but also hit with an ever increasing sense of apathy. Barely escaping a rampaging tank in mountain village sure looks cool, but it always looks much more breathtaking than it actually feels. The Uncharted games instill the player with a smothering sense of safety. There are small if any consequences if you ever screw something up (a checkpoint ten seconds back in time), and all you need to do to progress is to follow the narrow path with little chance of getting lost or trapped anywhere. This removes any feeling of fear or achievement proportional to the task you encountered and completed. Blowing up a helicopter takes no more skill or ingenuity than simply traversing a quiet area in the jungle. So while everything looks very cool, it never manages to feel anywhere near as rewarding. Again, I do enjoy these games, yet I am extremely thankful that there are games out there which manages this task I just described.

    Even with these disappointments, there are still two titles I feel deserve a few words of praise. Firstly, Dark Souls. It doesn’t differ much from its spiritual predecessor, but this is actually a positive point, as that means it still differs from almost everything else out there today. In this game you are immersed like in few others. The game teaches the player that failure does indeed hurt, and that there are no mechanics here to help you in overcoming either its harsh world or the terrifying occupants of it. So when you are descending the stairs into a catacomb filled with living skeletons, you actually feel the appropriate level of fear and sense of mortality a game can possibly give you. The following relief from simply getting through the catacombs gives a rush that no mere visual spectacle can generate.

    Without any fancy segues, I will now talk about a game that not only managed to destroy the poor renown the series had up until now, but also showed up every other game in the genre. What was its most glorious attribute? Kontent.

    Yes, the game I’m describing is none other than Mortal Kombat. Although earlier entries in the series have received decent scores in the press, the series hasn’t been taken seriously by the general fighting game crowd since its days on the 32-bit consoles. The latest entry delivers a robust and balanced fighting engine. Mortal Kombat provides a fighting style that has its own identity as it favors intuitive playing and reflexes more than intimate knowledge of combos and the individual characters moves. This is neither a better or worse style of play, its simply great that it manages to be unique among so many fighting games. The presentation is also more than up to scratch, with each impact in a fight being registered greatly both audibly and visually. But its strongest attribute remains the content the game provides. Modern fighters are expected to include a handful of different modes (tag, versus, team and training are usual names) and give the player a new unlock every time they beat a sequence of 10 or so NPCs with a character. Sadly few go beyond these expectations. Mortal Kombat provides a story mode with length and production value like the ones seen in adventure or shooting games, it has 300 unique challenges, a classic ladder of enemies to fight, several training modes, a bunch of minigames and a place where you can use the in-game currency to unlock new moves, costumes and game art to name a few. All this content in a fundamentally great fighting game, sets a precedent that deserves to be taken notice of.

    What can be said about the year 2011? The number three appeared to be very popular, with a gaggle of franchises reaching their third instalment including Modern Warfare, Battlefield, Uncharted, Resistance, and Gears of War. The last one of those proved that you could revamp an established set of games, throw things around a bit, and actually improve on proceedings. Like many of its ilk, the campaign is there partly as window dressing in lieu of the meaty multiplayer options, but in this case, it was sufficiently large, involving and perhaps needing understated ending to the story line. So we're led to believe. And while the multiplayer isn't especially different to previous incarnations, but it is smoother, less lag ridden in general, and introduces a team deathmatch option that was probably somewhat overdue. It certainly makes the game more inclusive, but then conversely allows you to shout at the TV screen when some useless idiot keeps getting themselves killed every thirty seconds. Still, you can't have everything.

    In terms of further sequels, the other two that got attention were Professor Layton and the Legend of Zelda. The former, while being the fourth in the series, managed to perhaps produce the best playthrough of the lot so far, with a slightly more plausible storyline (although they are all frankly a bit ludicrous to begin with), the most balanced set of puzzles, side quests that were actually fun, and the introduction of a new partner and the history of Luke rounded out the experience. Zelda... well... it was Zelda. Actually, that isn't quite true. It felt better than Twilight Princess, the story seemed more plausible, Zelda herself was more than just a damsel in distress, and the dungeon designs were right up there with the very best. Especially the last dungeon in Sky Loft. It's the type of puzzle that infuriates and turns the air blue to a degree, but when you figure it out, then it produces the greatest of elations. Sure, the motion controls don't always work as perfectly as they are supposed to perform, but it makes a difference to aiming a reticle using a stick and pressing fire.

    Away from the mainstream, one game that has been getting a lot of play from myself was C64anabalt, a Commodore 64 conversion of the Flash/iOS platform game. Platform in the loosest sense, in that like the old helicopter challenge, the aim is merely to stay alive as long as possible, there is no real end bar your own failure. Run, run, run as much as possible, the only control being one button to enable your man to jump over everything in his way. It's never completely fair due to some of the random design factors, but it certainly induces a one-more-play mentality, in the hopes of doing better the next time. Amazingly enough, we were blessed with two different versions in a short space of time, one of which is now available to buy on cartridge if you want to plug something into a real computer.

    2011? Let's go!

    Firstly a rallying call to anyone with a passing interest in versus fighters - forget Capcom and Arc System Works living up to their reputation of endless revisions, and instead look to SNK Playmore. This year King of Fighters truly lived up to its name, with XIII righting many of XII’s wrongs and serving up a solid smattering characters, in wonderfully revised high-definition 2D, battling it out on top of a speedy and demanding combat system. If my praise isn’t enough, it’s presence on the EVO 2012 roster tells you all you need to know - mark it on your calendar now, it will be one to watch.

    Stepping back to a broader view, and when it comes to the grand prize, anyone who’s talked with me about games since October is no doubt very clear that my unanimous choice for game of 2011 was Dark Souls. Put aside all the pretext about it being punishingly difficult; whilst it’s not necessarily wrong, there's plenty of room to counter-argue it's never unfair, and more importantly, it’s a red herring. Much more relevant is its rare quality in not patronising its audience, and in how grand a game world it offers; one in which despite its incredible scale and depth, every minute detail matters. At no point is there a hand holding tutorial or a dull copy & paste environment to pad out the space between set pieces. Despite the game world being steeped in huge amounts of detailed lore, there’s no clichéd exposition to tell you what's happening. Friends and foes are beautifully designed and wonderful, yet often terrifying in equal measure. The feeling of isolation the game creates is peerless, and yet multiplayer is integrated so smoothly within the core of the single player game that you can't imagine it being any other way. I can't recall a single criticism I laid on the game that is not there by the developers' strict design, and I cannot say this with enough emphasis: you should play this game.

    Trying to summarise an entire year in only a few games is tough! In brief, what else is there for me to say about 2011 in gaming? Tragically overlooked, Ghost Trick served as an incredibly charming interlude for those mourning the current Miles Edgeworth-shaped gap in the Ace Attorney saga. El Shaddai wasn't perhaps as complete a package as it should be, but proved that there’s still plenty of room on the current consoles to do something aesthetically new and interesting. Akai Katana was the reason to own an import 360 this year, and served as a scant reminder that amidst iOS ports, Cave are still doing what they do best, and very bloody well too. Deus Ex, Batman and Portal all came back from varying quiet spells in grand style too. Oh, and I'm sorry I failed you, Zelda. I will find the time eventually.

    Special mention goes to L.A. Noire, a game that it's oh so fashionable to hate. It certainly has flaws, with Cole going mental at witnesses at no provocation the chief among them. For many things it's unfairly criticised, though. Players used to having their hands held have complained that going to places in the wrong order leads to missed evidence; well, that's detective work for you. Players expecting Grand Theft Auto levels of freedom have complained that that freedom isn't there; it was never supposed to be. Players have complained at the lack of skill required to progress, completely misunderstanding where the skill lies. There are issues, of course there are issues, but as a technical achievement and as a game in a dead genre there was and still is much to enjoy about it. Elsewhere Xbox LIVE Arcade ruled my Xbox 360 once again, and while not a stellar year, there were some classics. Mercury Hg filled the void left by Marble Blast Ultra. Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes showed how a puzzle mechanic inside an RPG should work.

    Perhaps surprisingly was the emergence of the iPhone as a true contender for all my portable gaming needs. Indeed, numerous PSP and DS titles have fallen by the wayside as Apple's creation monopolised my time. Tiny Tower the main culprit, though something of a non-game. 1000 Heroz, a tremendous port of Hypership Out of Control and the wonderful Tiny Wings all stole hours from me, a willing victim. Temple Run nearly led to four modules worth of university essays to not get written in time. The price for all this gameplay? £1.87.

    Most surprisingly of all, though, is that my game of the year is a PC game, a platform I don't generally game on because my "rig," as I believe the kids call it, can barely even run Minesweeper.

    SpaceChem was released to little fanfare at the start of the year. It's a puzzle game in the vein of nothing else that's come before or after it. It's an incredibly simple game which at the same time has such incredible levels of complexity that it's really a game for anyone that's ever enjoyed a puzzle. The basic aim is to move an element from one place on a grid to another. This is done by setting up a track (either red, blue, or both) and filling it with instructions and watching as a "Waldo" follows the track and carries out these instructions. Instructions at the beginning are things like "grab" and "drop" so that you can pick up and carry the element from one place to another; "input" and "output" tell the grid to either summon an element at the starting point or that you've placed one at the end point ready to be collected.

    Of course, it gets more difficult than that, with later elements needing to be split or bonded to other elements and various other things. It becomes a puzzle-within-a-puzzle in many levels, too, with multiple grids to manage at once with each having an effect on the others. Even if the player doesn't make it that far, though, there's more than enough gameplay in just those first few levels. There's no solutions, you see. Every puzzle can be solved in an infinite number of ways, and at the end of each attempt the player is graded based on the efficiency of their solution. Going back and refining an old solution with new skills is as addictive as solving a fresh level, and so when the game gets too difficult later on, there's still endless gameplay back at the start - come up with a solution you're particularly proud of (and you will be, sometimes) and it can be uploaded to YouTube. If you believe a solution can't possibly be any more efficient, why not set yourself other challenges? Can you solve a level using just the blue track? Let SpaceChem get to you, and it will never, ever end.

    ... Of course, the chances are that most of my time this year was spent in Trials HD, just as it has been every year since it came out.

    For 2011 there were two games that, for me, stood way ahead of their contemporaries. The first was a title that actually came out the gate to some fairly mixed reviews, Square-Enix's Mindjack. Ignore the naysayers however, those reviewers who decided to spend the bulk of their pieces critiquing this multi-player focused game for it's single player experience or nit-picking over minor technical issues that almost never crop up, especially if you play the game with any skill. Mindjack is a bold, innovative offering that provides a rock-solid competitive affair. It's such a tragedy that with so much potential out there we are still seeing modern shooters churning out the same old basic game types that we've all been playing for the last decade and a half. While other titles concern themselves with upping the player count and thereby reducing the overall impact of each individual player, or creating elaborate experience-based upgrade systems and awards so that no one ever feels like they've lost and over-developing restrictive matchmaking services to avoid straining the gamer's intelligence with a complicated server list, Mindjack takes it straight back to the core of the multiplayer shooter – out thinking your opponent. To succeed players need to maintain full battlefield awareness, fighting for control over valuable NPCs whilst balancing the AI's capabilities with your own. It's not a game where you can just latch onto cover, take down some enemies from your little shelter and then move on. I love it when I find a game that challenges me mentally and Mindjack does just that, it's raw, unfiltered competition and doesn't pull any punches when it comes to punishing the losers of a battle.

    I think that within each genre there are a wealth of sub-genres that are all equally important and viable platforms but what I have found concerning over recent years is the way that a lot of first person shooter developers appear to be toning down some of the complexity and freedoms in their titles because they somehow believe that this is more fitting for the console space. Like I say the existence of such games isn't in and of itself a problem, but the way that they have become so dominant, to the detriment of other styles, is troubling. But then Deus Ex: Human Revolution came out, and it sold a lot of copies, and all was right with the world again. It gave us back freedom, whilst still retaining storyline and emotional involvement, and it gave players a sandbox filled with more than just cookie-cutter fetch quests and demolition missions. And just like that it resurrected all the old feelings for me from the late 90s and early 2000s when developers were doing, new exciting things with the genre instead of just bolting on ever more impressive lighting effects and destruction models. There was a time when this genre was innovative and exciting for more than just it's visual fidelity and Human Revolution reminded the world of this.

    If there's one thing really that ties both my choices together is that both offer, albeit in very different ways, a high degree of creative freedom to the player. They both recognise that there are gamers out there who want to do more than just have their hands held while the developer walks them through the game, pausing at the appropriate moments so they can “ooh” and “aah” at the carefully arranged dioramas around them. Gaming on the PC has always taken a more hands off approach towards the player, letting you figure things out on your own and do your own thing, it's nice to see some of that coming back into the console space this year, it's been too long.

    2011 was all about Monster Hunter for me. It began with Monster Hunter Portable 3rd coming out in December 2010 and actually arriving very late into the month, thus being passed over for 2010 consideration. It wouldn't have been able to compete with MHTri in the Spring of 2010 anyway. MHP3rd took most of the system from 2ndG/Freedom Unite, also on the PSP, mixed in a massive amount of MHTri and then tossed in a sprinkling of new odds and sods. But still no online play! What the hell Capcom!

    [The] Last Story, for me, was the best game to be released on the Wii in 2011. I was a little unsure about buying it until I saw it was NOT a turn-based RPG but action-based. Playing it was a joy, the story held my attention well as it weaved together the lives and fates of the characters with a decently-paced action game. The music and voice acting bring everything to life, and the soft yet detailed visuals package it up perfectly.

    A mere few months after MHP3rd and news of the "PSP Remaster" version (MHP3rdHD) for the PS3 emerged, and the game itself followed in August. Enhanced 1080p visuals, 3D mode, and it is glorious! Hours more to be pumped into the game without the Claw Grip ruining the experience. There was even an almost a decent online mode using Adhoc Party so that PSP players could also join. Everyone one I played with and spoke to had some kind of issue with connections, and AHP is no substitute for dedicated servers.

    Monster Hunter 3G for the 3DS was announced and released in what felt like a very short space of time but in reality was a good few months. MHTri played extremely well and gave me well over 400 hours of play, and despite it being a handheld title, I'm hoping to get at least half that from 3G. So far, even without an online play mode it has exceeded all my expectations. I can't say that it's my Game of 2011 as it came out too late in the year, so we'll see where it stands in 2012 instead.

    As a free add-on for the 3DS, Swapnote (a.k.a. Nintendo Letterbox, Itsu no ma ni koukan nikki) also took up a decent amount of my time as drawing and sending pictures to 3DS friends was too much fun. Taking 3D pictures and adding graffiti to them, putting them in a note and sending along with a sound effect was basically 3DS messaging and once again goes to show that simple is fun.

    So my GOTY2011 is The Last Story, with Monster hunter Portable 3rd HD coming in a very close second.

    Other games that deserved a mention: Dynasty Warriors Gundam 3 (PS3); Gundam the 3D Battle (3DS); Tales of the Abyss (3DS); Dai-2-ji Super Robot Taisen Z - Hakai-hen (PSP).

    For me 2011's most important game was a return to From Software's cruel approach to gaming with Dark Souls. The spiritual successor to the brilliant Demon's Souls took the punishing mechanics, bosses and environments from an already excellent game and sculpted it into a coherent open world structure. Tense and challenging gameplay, immense atmosphere and a game world that requires supreme levels of investment from its players was by far and away the best game of 2011 for me.

    Not only could you pour hundreds of hours into the single player campaign and still discover new things in a new play through but the online play that allowed silent protagonists to help each other out and the 'evil' invaders to punish the unsuspecting gripped me in a way that nothing else did last year.

    My runner up surprised even me, and now I have to admit it, I love Gears of War 3. While I remember being underwhelmed by the second entry in the series this one dragged me back in brilliantly. The campaign starts badly in my opinion but really ramps up towards the end. I'd also never really got into Horde (or any similar mode from any other game) before but Gears of War 3 changed that. Add in brilliant online co-op (I couldn't do insane without Super Reload!), Beast Mode and a competitive multiplayer mode that isn't Call of Duty. I was surprised at just how much of a brilliant package it all adds up to.

    Special mention: for Unchartered 3: Drake's Deception for much the same reason as above, I was underwhelmed by Unchartered 2, even though everyone else in the world loved it. The third entry had amazing set pieces, a fantastic graphics engine and some realistic banter between characters. A brilliant show off game. Special mention 2: Rayman Origins: nothing to say about this, it is great, go and buy it.

    Right, over to you!
    Comments 2 Comments
    1. Ico's Avatar
      Ico -
      Nice long read.
      My GotY's. In order:

      Good to see Dark Souls mentioned frequently, definitely my favourite gaming experience of 2011. No other title held my attention for as long as Dark Souls did last year. The Souls series may not be the true successor to the King’s Field series I’ve been yearning for all these years but they will certainly more than suffice.

      I had a hunch The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword would cause division of opinion and that is exactly what it seems to have done. Dungeon design was absolutely top class and the water colour art style really made the world feel alive. Controls and overall sense of linearity was a little jarring at first but I got over that quite quickly. I share the same sentiments as Mayhem in regard to SS pretty much.

      Child of Eden was without doubt my most anticipated game of 2011 and it did not disappoint. As Tetsuya Mizugichi did with Rez a decade ago, Child of Eden is a pure assault on all the senses and pulled me into its beautiful world causing me to go into some sort of Hypnotic state each time I booted up the disc. It must be said though; Child of Eden has one of the most unexciting cover arts I’ve seen in years.

      One game that surprised even myself in how much I actually enjoyed it was Catherine. Having not played or liked a block puzzle game since I.Q way back in the Playstation days, I was apprehensive about Catherine at first, but my fears where put to rest as I skilfully guided Vincent past deadly trap after trap Q*bert style! Story was kooky and fun and some of the endings were quite the hoot.
      Multiplayer too was a riot and those Babel stages were a real challenge, yet extremely rewarding once beaten.

      Another game I’d like to mention is none other than the behemoth known as Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Despite its almost laughable amount of technical faults, Skyrim captivated me for dozens of hours on end like very few game ever have. The main story might have been dull and uninteresting as heck but with so much land to explore and places and dungeons to plunder, small issues like that can easily be ignored. Never was a fan of the Fallout titles but the more fantasy like setting of the ES series have always been up my alley and Skyrim was hell of a fun time sink. Not the sort of game I would ever play multiple times but it was great while it lasted.
      I find it Strange there was virtually no mention of Skyrim by anyone though! What gives?

      honorable mentions to Akai Katana Shin, KoF XIII, Shadows of the Damned and Dues Ex: HR.
    1. nakamura's Avatar
      nakamura -
      GotY 2011, in a year that was apparently full of amazing games it should be easy right? Well yeah it was really, all formats had some brilliant titles last year, I would argue it was the best of the current generation.
      Wii had Zelda SS and Xenoblade which were two awesome games. Xbox/PS3 had Forza 4, Dark Souls, Skyrim, Battlefield 3, Child of Eden, Portal 2, Uncharted 3. PSP had The 3rd Birthday, Persona 2, Dissidia 012, Tactics Ogre and so much more over the year. We had the 3DS lauch and more great DS games like Ghost Trick and a host of DRM titles.

      My overall favourite titles of the year is clear to most, Zelda Skyward Sword. It remans the only 3D based Zelda title that I have actually completed! Amazing when you consider I own them all! For me it was a mix of several elements, the control system, the visual style, the music and a fairly strong plot.
      The control system was sublime in almost every way. It never felt off to me and gave a level of interaction unlike anything I had played. The last boss fights were simply amazing as a result. The negative was that it wasn't a game that you could play slumped into a chair but then if you wanted to slump, don't play it.
      Dungeon design was masterful and even though it seemed to lack areas, it certainly didn't feel repetitive in terms of location.

      GotY 2011 and of the generation for me. 10/10.

      Second in line will surprise most, even myself at the time. Picked it up for a tenner as I liked the series but I ended up playing it for 17 hours until completion and I will go again. It is The 3rd Birthday.
      For me it was the ultimate portable game. It had a lovely mix of fast paced gameplay with the production values you associate with Square. The story was a bit ott but I liked it overall. The visuals were fantastic and the music was even better.
      I loved the gameplay style the most, it was such a unique shooter with a massive level of tactical play with gun selection, diving options and traditional, proper boss fights. Even with the lock on mechanic it never felt watered down and it handled well with the PSPs lack of dual analogue.

      Third and final mention goes to Xenoblade. While I have not put enough into it yet due to time, what I have played (8 hours) has been fantastic. At first I found it all a bit messy and confusing as the battle system gives a lot of options but I stuck with it and I love it now.
      Story is very good, localisation is spot on and the music is stunning as expected from Yasunori Mitsuda.

      Honourable mentions to Forza 4, Ridge Racer 3D and Dark Souls.