Christmas is over, the goose has got fat – and presumably eaten. So what better time is there to sit back with our full bellies and reflect over the year’s fantastic video game releases?
Each year provides a flurry of great games, but there’s little doubt that 2011 has been the strongest yet. With top games vying furiously for both sales and popularity, it’s been a tough year for games to really stand out from the already soaring crowd. It’s been difficult to choose, but these are the games from 2011, which we feel should be in everybody’s collection.
10. Pokemon Black – Nintendo DS It’s not even a 3DS game, yet Pokemon Black holds the title for being the most played game on our 3DS console.
The new battle systems of three-on-three kept things fresh for us, as did the inclusion of a giant pokeballload of new Pokemon. The storyline was as gripping as any other Pokemon game, whilst the graphical tweaks were a noticeable improvement.
9. Dark Souls – PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 Despite being an insane challenge, there’s something compelling about the trial and error style of Dark Souls. A third-person role-playing game with a cruel penchant to ensure the players death, it also delivers great rewards in the satisfaction of beating its difficult parts.
A true test.
8. Bastion – PC and Xbox 360 A hugely addictive and massively original roleplaying game, Bastion took us by surprise and bowled us over with its unbridled creative charm.
Narrated as the story unfolds, players roam deathly dungeons in an effort to restore the torn-asunder world of Caelondia. Full of weapons, perks and other tweaks, there’s a wonderful level of customisation on offer. We never did finish it completely though.
7. Saints Row: The Third – OnLive, PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 The crazy, mad and worryingly wacky fun of Saints Row is back for it’s most outrageous outing yet.
Over-the-top action mixed with freedom and vehicles, this is easily the best crimebased sandbox game to date.
6. Portal 2 – PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 I’ve still got a headache from this one. The most mindbending puzzle game to have emerged since the original Portal, Portal 2 took everything great about it’s predecessor and made it bigger, better, harder and more insane. The addition of multiplayer was amazing.
5. Dead Space 2 – PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 Despite being dead impressed by Dead Space when it was released back in 2008, nothing had prepared us for what this killer sequel packed. It’s intensely chilling whilst the explosive set pieces created a fire of excitement deep within us.
4. Shadows of the Damned – PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 It took us a while to warm to this, but once we did, we wanted to bathe in a liquid form of it whilst being hand-fed it on toast. But if that thought’s not weird enough image for you, you could just try playing the game; it’s crazier than a potato sack full of demented gremlins.
Weird and sadly overlooked by many this is a crude-fest of bizarre awesomeness.
3. Batman: Arkham City – OnLive, PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 Play as Batman, Catwoman and if you purchase the relevant download pack, Nightwing or Robin. With a heavy emphasis on combat, each players fighting style varies radically, but all play beautifully. A gripping storyline, some enchanting visuals, and a huge amount to do – Batman: Arkham City really is the full package. Embracing the true chocolate box image of Christmas, we played as Robin over the holiday period – loved it.
2. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 If you like punching dragons in the head, you’ll love Skyrim. More of what we know and love from The Elder Scrolls series here, but slicker, prettier and bigger. The inclusion of big bad dragons is welcome, as is the making, upgrading and maintenance of weapons and armour.
There’s little doubt that Skyrim could keep roleplaying game fans happily playing well into 2013, because, like my Christmas belly, it’s huge.
1. Uncharted 3 – PlayStation 3 Easily the best looking game for the current generation of consoles, but it’s certainly not style over substance. Chock full of action and gripping storyline, all polished to absolute sparkling perfection. Not one to sit on their laurels, Naughty Dog took the outstanding Uncharted 2 and improved upon every aspect to create something truly spectacular. There really should be no excuse for any PlayStation 3 owner to not join the wisecracking but unavoidably loveable Nathan Drake on his latest adventure across continents and into the mouth of perilous danger.
Honourable Mentions, in no particular order: Battlefield 3, RAGE, Resistance 3, Rayman Origins, Deus Ex, L.A. Noire, Super Mario 3D Land, MW3, Forza 4, Zelda: Skyward Sword, Pullbox, Gears of War 3, Ico and Shadow of the Colossus HD, Halo Anniversary, Sonic Generations, The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, LittleBigPlanet 2, Dance Central 2, inFamous 2, Dead Island, Mario Kart 7