Games Xtreme presents: in no particular order, the Games of 2011
It has been a great year for games in general, and we've pretty much narrowed down our list of games we really enjoyed in 2011. These are in no order at all, nor are there any numerical value attached to them.Deus Ex: Human Revolution
This is the first/third person sequel/prequel to the Deus Ex series, generally well received and loved by a fair few gamers. It makes a few mistakes here and there and could have been given a better ending. However, it more than makes up for it with engaging gameplay, interesting characters and a pretty solid story. The soundtrack is pretty fantastic and the visuals are extremely well designed.
We never got to do a review of this one, but that's ok, I spent a ton of time over Christmas on my retail version of the game and it's a good Saint's Row game. It feels vastly different to 2 and that's a good and a bad thing. Some of my gaming peers felt it went too far from what made 2 great, it lacked the idle animation quality of the second game and it also lacked the interactivity with the world. These are valid points and the game is missing a lot of the interior exploration, funny actions and NPC crazy that made 2 such a blast. It feels more static than the previous game in terms of the city design and the people that inhabit it. There are not as many ludicrous moments with naked streakers, random fights breaking out and other crazy things.
It's still a good game though, one worth getting! It looks nice and it's got a pretty slick soundtrack. The game still has popup issues and the engine isn't as solid as it could be.Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
It may have some bugs and some issues, but this is the best game that has come out of 2011 as far as we're concerned. It's Wolf's Game of the Year and he certainly has put an obscene amount of time into the game so far. It has a fairly simple combat system but it provides a truly amazing world to get lost in, to explore and it's packed with content with random quests and NPC's galore. Skyrim looks nice and there's a hell of a lot of detail in those graphics and design. A whole world has been brought to life right down to the smallest butterfly wing. Bethesda deserves all the accolades they have already and more, we can't wait to see what DLC will bring to Skyrim since we've been promised something other than Horse Armour!
A special mention to the Skyrim soundtrack too, the music is powerful, sweeping and has some great atmosphere to match the visuals and game sound. Expect to sink around 300 hours or more into it if you want to get the very best out of this amazing GotY 2011.
Rocksteady and Warner Brothers have managed to top the previous Arkham Asylum by a mile or more. Batman AC is packed with more to do, it's got a refined combat system and a fantastic story that drags you in and doesn't let you go even at the end. With several extra game modes, side quests and more the game delivers at least a 30-40 hour story with the core split between Batman and Catwoman, along with side missions and things to collect. Then there are the challenge modes which are also robust and have numerous challenges that demand a good deal of skill.
Basically everything that made Arkham Asylum is back and better than before. With roles reprised by Kevin Conroy and the Batman TAS crew. Mark Hamill is back as the Joker and his dulcet tones are as always perfectly delivered with a hint of madness.
Graphically the game is superb and shows what the engine can do. Definitely a one for Batman fans and non-fans alike!Battlefield 3
The single player side of BF 3 isn't really anything amazing, it has some interesting moments and set pieces - it has the Frostbite 2 engine destruction and visuals, especially on PC which are actually fantastic to see. Where BF 3 triumphs over Modern Warfare 3 is in the sheer scope and size of the multiplayer, especially now that Return to Karkand is finally out and Wake Island is back!
Battlefield 3 features a Spec Ops style co-op mode that is quite tasty, however the main meat of the meal is in the comprehensive multiplayer and the whole crazy slew of weapons, vehicles and the massive maps that make up the whole package. This is the best slice of multiplayer for people who want something a little different to Modern Warfare 3.
Visually, it's nice on console but not as nice as the PC version. It is however a great multiplayer experience and if you're into squad based warfare, look no further than this entry in 2011. Battlefield has never been so great!
AC: Brotherhood was a superb leap forwards for the series, Revelations wasn't so much a leap forwards as a refinement and a finale for both Altair and Ezio. The single player has been well crafted and whilst there are a few new elements in terms of navigation and gameplay, it's still the great AC experience that we've come to know and love. It's a fitting end to the Ezio and Altair story and there's a lot more potential in the new Creed game that should roll around in the next year or so. Visually it's the best looking one yet, the soundtrack is superb and the game feels a bit shorter than Brotherhood did.
The multiplayer has been refined and retooled, it works really well and the new experience/unlocking system seems to level the playing field a lot. It's another title that we considered to be a great game of 2011.Uncharted 3
Nathan Drake returns for another globe-trotting Indiana Jones meets Tomb Raider style adventure. This is Naughty Dog's most ambitious Uncharted yet and boy does this game live up to all the hype. Yeah, it's a solid one and it has some amazing set pieces that prove Naughty Dog is atop of their game regarding Uncharted. The visuals, soundtrack, animations and gameplay are all highly polished and the moment to moment shooting action is excellent. The traversal and puzzle solving is likewise excellent.
Then you have the cinematic multiplayer with cooperative modes and adversarial modes. The multiplayer is fast, frenetic and most of all a lot of fun. If you're a massive Uncharted fan and you have a PS3, Uncharted 3 is the game that really brings out the best in the console and genre.
This game took the gaming community by storm; it presented a gritty slice of life in the 1940's 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 wasn't 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 it's a good game, one that deserves to be on our Games of 2011 list for certain.Gears of War 3
We're no stranger to Epic Games brutal science fiction shooter Gears of War. This is the finale of Marcus Fenix's 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 Raam's 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 it's 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 you're a fan of the series or not.
We're back with the 3's and this is the turn of Modern Warfare. It won't win any prizes for gritty or realistic scenarios. But if you want an over the top, modern warfare story that pushes the boundaries of what's 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.
It's 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 he's 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
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 didn't 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.
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 PC's 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.Dark Souls
From Software took the immensely popular mix of brutal difficulty, adventure and mayhem that was Demon's 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.