2011 is behind us. Looking back, it has been an amazing year for games. While everyone has a very different outlook on the past year’s selection, I’ll take a little time to shed light on some of the shining gems (and dull rocks) I’ve had the pleasure (and horror) of playing. Take into account I haven’t played EVERY game, and I don’t nominate those I haven’t played. With that in mind, enjoy the following pages of thoughts and opinions and be sure to leave a comment with your own opinions.
Best Action Game: Batman: Arkham City
With an intuitive combat system, compelling story and wide-open world, Batman: Arkham City built on the already-fabulous foundation Batman: Arkham Asylum started. Most people have the same reaction after playing it, and it was so close to being my Game of the Year winner. It is easily my second favorite game this year and I recommend it to any gamer I talk to. If you haven’t played Arkham City yet, you owe it to yourself to give it a fair sitting. I would be amazed if you didn’t walk away from it praising at least one thing about the game.
Best Platform Game: LittleBigPlanet 2
February is easy to forget. But it’s hard to forget some of the memorable user-created stages you can play through in LittleBigPlanet 2. For me, the story plays second fiddle to what the community has done. In the story you, learn the basics and unlock outfits and things to create your own stages with, but it’s miss-able in my opinion. Despite not being a fan of the floaty physics, I was simply awed running through levels created around various themes I liked, such as movies or TV shows. LBP2 really is a game on its own level when it comes to user-created content.
Best Racing Game: Need for Speed: The Run
A very-cinematic turn for the Need for Speed franchise, The Run takes you through a series of races taking only a few hours to complete. However, the physics and unusual approach to the multiplayer kept me playing well after release. And during the hectic review season, that is an important factor as I usually don’t return to games after the review is written. I continued playing The Run for weeks, and am planning to restart it on the hardest difficulty. (Note: I didn’t play Forza 4, the only other game I see as a contender.)
Best RPG: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this game. Really. I didn’t like Oblivion. I played a little bit of Morrowind and thought it was decent, but from Skyrim’s opening scene onward, I have been entranced by the game unlike any other this year. Sure, I have put more hours into Battlefield 3′s multiplayer, but the sense of reward I get in Skyrim trumps that of Battlefield 3. Since picking it back up a few days ago, I’ve found myself having a hard time putting it down and playing anything else. Something about exploring the wild and battling dragons gets my gamer-jollies off.
Best Shooter: Battlefield 3
What happens when you take an already-solid multiplayer formula and enhance it? As common sense should tell you, it gets better. Battlefield 3 is a great step forward from Bad Company 2 in many areas. Despite a few things I preferred about its predecessor, Battlefield 3 has really impressed me. From the new weapon unlock system to (yes, I’m about to go here) the Battlelog website, I’ve sunk SO many happy hours into Battlefield 3. Each patch seems to make things more and more enjoyable. Some people say there is a campaign, but I have yet to find it on the menu.
Best PS3-Exclusive: Killzone 3
I originally had no interest in the story. I’ve been a fan of Killzone’s multiplayer, mostly because of its slower pace (yes, I kick ass at CoD-speeds too, for the record), but I was surprisingly thrilled with the campaign. Anyone who knows me knows I don’t take very kindly to campaigns in FPS’, so this alone should be a merit. And the medley mode that mixes all the game modes in multiplayer into one long match was so amazing, I yearned for that kind of gameplay in other shooters afterwards. I was left disappointed with Uncharted 3, and have yet to play Resistance 3 (it’s in the mail now), but Killzone 3 left me impressed and entertained throughout my whole experience. Except that one mission where…
Best PSN Game: Dungeon Defenders
A new take on loot-drop and tower defense games, Dungeon Defenders offers more content than many retail games. Priced at $15, it’s a steal too. While I put my fair share of hours into it, I have also witnessed my wife sink close to (if not more than) 100 hours into this game, as has as her friend. If you buy the Steam version, there are even costumes and holiday-themed content. Now, if only that stuff would come to Playstation Network…