Tuesday, January 10, 2012

My Top Five Games of 2011

2011 was an amazing year in gaming. Not only did we see the release of a new Nintendo handheld, fans also got sequels to Kirby, The Witcher, and a new Elder Scrolls. I played so many new and wonderful games, it is hard to narrow my list down to five must play titles, but I will give it a shot. Without further ado...

5. The King of Fighters XIII really blew me away. Not only did SNK make up for the disaster that was KOF XII, they went above and beyond to make the follow-up the best game in the series since the 90s. A fresh fighting system with beautiful battle animations make this one of the best looking and playing 2-D fighters of 2011 or any year for that matter. If you like old SNK or fighting games in general, play this KOF. The netcode may not be perfect, but everything else is pretty damn close.

4. The Witcher 2 is a real RPG for adults. The game has plenty of salty language, sex/nudity, and violence that should keep it solely in the hands of PC gamers until some half-baked console edition is released with censorship covering the developer's asses. The fighting system was refined making for a smoother game play experience and console players can rejoice, because joypad support was added if you hate using a keyboard to move your character. I hooked my PC up to the HD TV in the living room and basked in the amazingly polished graphics and Celtic soundtrack. The game is a little on the short side, but there are multiple routes through the story for added replay value. I hope The Witcher 2 sets the precedent for adult storytelling, because the writing is mature without being insulting like so many other "mature" games try to do but fail in the process.
3. Elder Scrolls: Skyrim has taken so much of my free time. There is simply too much to do in the game. Sure you can fight and steal, but you can also read books, decorate your home, and cook. Skyrim offers so many possibilities for the player that it seems fairly overwhelming at first. The main quest is far more interesting than Oblivion, and fighting dragons is awesome. The game deserves every bit of praise it has received from fans and the gaming press. I have played for over forty hours and have yet even touch the Magic School quests or craft my own armor and weapons. If you can only afford one game from 2011, it should be Skyrim.

2. Solatorobo made me remember why I love Japanese games. The characters and world of the game just ooze charm. The story is fairly simplistic and some have knocked the game for being too easy. I can see those faults, but the level of detail that went into this game must be appreciated. The developers spent around ten years crafting the world of Solatorobo and it shows. Every NPC is unique, the towns look like something from a Miyazaki anime, the animated opening looks breathtakingly good, and the music is great. The game even includes the soundtrack for those interested in the OST. Solatorobo was a refreshing action RPG that brought back nostalgia for Tail Concerto and made me ponder why Capcom canceled Mega Man Legends 3.

1. Catherine was the most unique game I've played in years. The story is adult, weird, and funny. The main character, Vincent, finds himself in a position any man could be in: choosing between two women. However, the crazy part takes place in a nightmare world filled with sheep men and falling blocks. There he must face his own fears of intimacy or die for his sins. The puzzle portions are really fun, and this is coming from a guy who hates puzzle games. The art direction and world design are some of the best I have ever seen. Who wouldn't wanna sleep with sexy Catherine? The game has multiple endings and a bonus puzzle challenge that is insanely difficult. Catherine is a special game, one that reminded me of those weird Dreamcast games like Illbleed and D2 which had unique and cool atmospheres, but played terribly. Catherine carries that cool atmosphere and plays like a dream...or nightmare depending on your point of view. This is my game of 2011, and cheers to Atlus for making such a wonderful title!

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