Saturday, December 31, 2011

TL;DR Top Games of 2011

Well holy shit, you guys; where has the time gone? Where have all my blog posts gone? I swear I've been dropping three or four posts a week for the last six months, what is this I don't even.

OK FINE. I haven't been around. Sorry, but it really isn't like those who read this know that I've been busy, and that everyone else apparently has as well. However, since this is New Year's Eve, I suppose I shall grace this Earth with a Top 10 of the year, even though the shelf life on this list is about another six hours.

This list is a compilation and combination of what the contributors of this site (or, just the list) have provided. I have some perspectives on some games, others I haven't even had the ability to get into yet because I've been so busy playing other games on this list. One of my resolutions for next year is to be more diligent about wasting time reviewing games that you've already played and won't even read this. However, here goes anyway:

Now the Contributors of TL;DR present:

10. L.A. Noire

Earlier this year, I was torn between the awesomeness of the presentation and beginning of the story, and the eventual letdown and WTF moments in how that story unfolded at the conclusion. Even if you could boil this game down to Grand Theft Auto of the late 40's playing good guy, that really isn't a bad place to start.

9. Dead Space 2

Some of us really liked it, some of us didn't, but Visceral Games' follow up to a Sci-Fi horror classic is back for more with less frights and more action. I, for one, was perfectly fine with less fright because I can now sleep at night. While the multiplayer is very forgettable, the campaign doesn't disappoint. 
8. Deus Ex: Human Revolution

(from IGN): 

"While Deus Ex: Human Revolution can't be the revelation that Deus Ex was in 2000, it's an achievement nonetheless. It's a visionary, considered piece of work, and while my thoughts drift to the things that could have been and the compromises made due to the possibilities of video games in 2011, they're just as quick to consider playing through it again. Human Revolution is a smart, rewarding piece of transhumanist noir that does justice not just to Deus Ex, but to the fiction that inspired it"

7. Dead Island

I mean, come on, who can hate a game with ZAMBIES? Dead Island was almost exactly like Borderlands for me; a game that came from out of no where when I was waiting for other games to come out. It pretty much is Borderlands. On an Island. With Zombies. The game was insanely addictive from start to finish, as I pretty much went to look to upgrade killing utensils. By the way, in playing this, prepare to die: A LOT. 
6. Uncharted 3

(from Lord Bling): 

"Here's a franchise that lives and breathes set pieces.  No matter where Nathan Drake is in the world, expect everything to go tits-up and you'll be racing to escape a crashing airplane, a sinking ocean liner, etc.  They also included some multi-segmented MP maps, which felt different from everything else I've played this year.  So why isn't the game higher on this list?  Part 2 was #2 in 2009.  Unfortunately, this one doesn't live up to the gold standard of that game.  The campaign's story and dialogue aren't nearly as sharp, and weakly ties the set pieces together.  The aiming and shooting mechanic was tweaked, and now it felt a lot sloppier (Naughty Dog has since patched this, but I haven't replayed any of the campaign since).  Worst of all, I wasn't really rooting for Nathan in this one.  His motivation is largely selfish and stupid.  But wow, those set pieces."

5. Gears of War 3

Another in my failure to get on the 'reviewing games' ball. Gears was one of those games that kind of got lost in the flood of games that came out between September and November.

Gears was a very satisfying conclusion to one of the better shooter sagas of this console generation. Both single player and multiplayer were solid, as I finally got to enjoy Gears' multiplayer instead of being pulverized by people running around using Host Shotguns to their advantage. Horde Mode was great, but the best part was the 4 player co-op campaign. Finally, as the franchise concludes, Epic gets it. 
4. Batman: Arkham City

Batman is so hot right now. But in seriousness, Arkham City is a great expansion of Arhkham Asylum of a few years ago. One of our contriubutors, who will not be mentioned, put this game as their number one game of the year.

(from GiantBomb):

"If you want to be reductive about it, Arkham City is more Batman, and if you want more Batman, there's no question: you should play this game. But there's more to it than that. In the two years since Arkham Asylum, there hasn't really been anything like it until now. Getting another chance to use Batman's considerable combat talents as you engage in one of the best fighting systems going today is a joy. The city looks terrific, like it's one step away from just bursting into flames as criminals crawl across every single surface doing... whatever it is that criminals do when they're locked in a city-shaped prison. The interior areas look just as good, giving you a sense that, again, this is a realistic place that's been overrun. The voice acting, featuring plenty of the same cast members that performed so perfectly last time around, is incredibly sharp, with writing that fits what you'd expect from most of the different characters you face. But to sum it all up, it's hard to imagine any fan of action games coming away from Arkham City disappointed. It might not rewrite the book on Batman video games, but when you're building off of such a strong position--and you're only shipping the second game with such similarities, rather than a third or fourth--it's hard to bicker too much about what changes the developers did or didn't make."

3. Portal 2

(again, from Lord Bling)

"Expectations can be a bitch.  When The Orange Box was released, Portal was the sleeper hit of the year, and for good reason.  The first-person puzzle gameplay was one-of-a-kind, and the writing was whip-smart and laugh-out-loud funny.  It not only told a compelling story, but did so in about two hours.  So here comes a sequel, which is around six  to eight hours long, and adds a meaty 2-player co-op mode.  And people still flooded Metacritic user reviews to complain.  "It's too short!  It's not worth $60!"  Wrong wrong wrong wrong WRONG.  They added to an already deep and rich universe, with new gameplay mechanics that somehow don't break what had been established previously.  That alone is worth celebrating.  And then there's Wheatley, the best character in a video game in a long damned time.  I had very high expectations for this game, and it met every single one of them."

2. Battlefield 3

This is THE BEST Multiplayer Shooter of the year. I don't care if the single player campaign is dull, un-original, short, and forgettable. There isn't a better place to squad up and shoot other people in the face. The fact that many here will still be playing this game well into 2012 is one of the reasons we all voted this game so high on our lists. Gameplay is well balanced between classes, you actually HAVE TO PLAY AS A TEAM, and kill-whoring basically gets you nowhere. Did I mention, you get to fly FUCKING JETS?!? 
1. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

(from Joystiq):

"This is the deepest, loveliest world ever created for a single player to explore, and one that no one should deny themselves. This is a game about following Emerson's advice, leaving the trail and finding that the most powerful force on Earth or Tamriel isn't fire or sword, but the ever-insistent desire to know what lies beyond."

Let us all be honest with ourselves: this comes as a surprise to precisely no one, considering Skyrim is pretty much on everyone else's GOTY lists.
Bethesda pretty much writes its own ticket when it comes to these type of Role Playing Masterpieces. This game is like Second Life with Dragons; you can engross yourself in the world of Skyrim for hours upon hours, and not even touch the main storyline. Some complain that there is somewhat of a lack of overall story, but I disagree: Skyrim is a world where you can dictate your own story, at your own pace. Do you want to mine ore and smith? Ok. If you want to affectionately count blades of grass, and cultivate flowers? No complaints. People have leveled multiple times over without having killed a single creature. Skyrim is what you make it; and for us, we've made it the best of 2011.