Games Xtreme's Games of 2011
This game took the gaming community by storm; it presented a gritty slice of life in the 1940ís and provided some controversial gameplay elements. The investigation of crime scenes and the unabashed nature of the graphics in relation to cases like the Black Daliah killer and so on. The game had some pretty great facial graphics and a new system that allows for emotions to work as cues to lying or subterfuge. It wasnít quite married to the body animation and in a lot of cases people felt it looked too false.
It also allowed real facial mapping, so professional actors could take on the roles of characters in the game. Rockstar and Team Bondi produced a fantastic noir thriller though and itís a good game, one that deserves to be on our Games of 2011 list for certain.
Gears of War 3
Weíre no stranger to Epic Games brutal science fiction shooter Gears of War. This is the finale of Marcus Fenixís story and a fitting capstone to that particular arc versus the Locust and Queen Mira. Gears 3 is the best Gears game yet and has some pretty tasty DLC already in Raamís Shadow. It has the most polished visuals of the Gears series to date and the gameplay has been sharpened up. It remains coop, and the number of people has been increased to 4 now with the inclusion of some reoccurring characters and awesome new ones.
The multiplayer has been refined and honed for this iteration and itís a lot of fun. The new expanded Horde Mode is excellent and the additions to the mode such as experience based items to buy and more weapons to use are solid enough reasons to explore it. If you need more, try the reverse of Horde with Beast Mode and take on the power of the Locust Horde etc to put some smackdown on the Cog.
A great soundtrack, a solid voice cast and some solid third person shooting make this one to grab if youíre a fan of the series or not.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
Weíre back with the 3ís and this is the turn of Modern Warfare. It wonít win any prizes for gritty or realistic scenarios. But if you want an over the top, modern warfare story that pushes the boundaries of whatís possible in terms of story and action, then this one is right up your alley. Captain Price returns and this puts to bed the story arc that began in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare.
The visuals are highly polished, the sound is great, the gameplay is nicely balanced and of course the set pieces are just as exciting as they were in Modern Warfare 2.
As for the multiplayer, once more, refined and changed from MW 2 this game has a lot more scope in terms of customisation and a lot more punch in terms of playability. There is also Call of Duty Elite, which provides even more ways to enjoy CoD with your friends and social network amigos.
Itís a superlative shooter that deserves to be on our list.
Originally an Xbox Live Arcade Game, Bastion wowed us back when it came out and totally blew many of us away. It was a decidedly old-skool RPG-lite with lots of action and a genuinely interesting story. It had an amazing soundtrack, a kick-ass visual style and some superb weapons and characters. What it also did was present storytelling in a whole new light, changing the way that the concept of maps and adventure was presented. Bastion still continues to entertain Wolf even now and heís on his 4th play of the game.
Bastion also had the voice talents of Logan Cunningham and he created an amazing voice for the narrator, one that is at odds with his own physical appearance. A talent that not many people can master, Logan makes it appear flawless and extremely easy as he crafts a whiskey and cigarettes Wild West vocal style for the narrator that fits Bastion like a glove.
Bastion was also the first game to feature that style of narration, where the narrator responds to player input and exploration throughout. An amazing journey that deserves to be experienced by everyone, seriously cool.
RAGE garnered some great praise, some interesting hate and was id Software's first big new IP for a long time. It was a dangerous gambit and for the most part it paid off. It was a gorgeous looking post-apocalyptic Mad Max style romp through a short story with some great weapons, some impressive AI and slick visuals. RAGE also delivered a stacked deck of solid voice talent that did a stellar job.
The soundtrack was superb and the game had a dedicated cooperative mode that relied on stories from the single player. You heard about those guys who saved Wellspring right, well you can play them.
There was also a Car Wars style combat rally, Road Rage game that was kind of like a smaller Twisted Metal. It didnít quite hold our interest as much as a core style deathmatch did though, so we played more of the cooperative and single player than anything else. RAGE also had a pretty addictive card game built into the single player that soaked up quite a few hours.
It is a game that totally deserves to be on our list for the console visuals alone. They were stunning really.
The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings
When CD Projekt Red announced the Witcher 2, Wolf managed to do an orbit of the planet and it took us a while to get him down. So when Witcher 2 came out this year, he was given the task of doing the review. It was a crazy time and the game was extremely well received, it pushed PCís to the near limit of insane breakdown and delivered amazing visuals with a kick-ass soundtrack and superb combat gameplay.
Geralt of Rivia was back and he brought with him a whole new legion of fans. CDPR continued to improve Witcher 2, adding new features and content for free as well as removing the Draconian DRM from the game post release. Witcher 2 is probably the best RPG of its type ever made and easily eclipses Dragon Age 2 and other games of its kind. The combat system is visceral and tactical, with a powerful feeling to the character of the Witcher.
From Software took the immensely popular mix of brutal difficulty, adventure and mayhem that was Demonís Souls and opened it up with a seamless massive world ripe for exploration, full of traps, monsters and devilish situations. They layered atop of this one of the most unique multiplayer components in a game to date, allowing for cooperative and PvP style play in the game, whilst still managing to keep a feeling of desolation and loneliness. They sharpened the combat system, hammered out a few kinks here and there and upgraded the difficulty from the previous game to make Dark Souls even harder. It is a game that punishes you hard for failure and rewards success just as enthusiastically. Each victory is hard won and feels more the sweeter for it.
Graphically it's also pretty nice, with a great spooky soundtrack and some suitably twisted visual design. Boss fights are truly epic things. A hard game to play, even harder to master.