The 50 Most Talked About Games of 2011: Part I

Over the next five days, I’m going to take a look at the 50 most talked about games of 2011. Most of these are among the best reviewed games of the year, but I also have included some of my favorites that didn’t make the reviewers’ “best” lists. Games are listed in order of release. The number next to the game’s title is the Metacritic score at the time of writing this article. (Metacritic scores games out of a possible 100 points.) Along the way, I’ll also highlight some of my personal year-end awards. So let’s get started!

1/18 Little Big Planet 2 (92)

An incredibly well reviewed sequel to the original, Little Big Planet 2 is a puzzle/platforming  game that provides an unprecedented amount of user-created combat. The general consensus was that the game feels familiar, but it is still a lot of fun to play. I didn’t pick this one up myself because I thought the original Little Big Planet was disappointing; however, if you like platformers or creating content, you might love Little Big Planet 2.

1/25 Dead Space 2 (89)

Like Little Big Planet 2, Dead Space 2 is a sequel to a popular current-generation new IP. I played but did not enjoy Dead Space. I don’t care much for games based in space and, honestly, it scared the crap out of me. Dead Space 2 was received well by critics; the main complaints seemed to be with the multiplayer mode, which really didn’t seem necessary. Note to game developers: stop including crappy multiplayer modes in your games.

2/18 Tiny Wings (86)

 

 

 

 

 

Tiny Wings does what an iPhone game should do: It’s simple, addictive, and takes only five minutes to play. There’s also a decent learning curve and fun achievements to try to get. I’ve played my share of bad iPhone games; this one is well worth the 99 cent investment.

2/22 Killzone 3 (84)

 

 

 

 

 

To be honest, I’ve never played a single second of any of the Killzone games. I prefer to do my first-person-shooter gaming on Xbox, where my friends play and the controller doesn’t suck (a separate article). Among PS3 fans or more-hardcore-than-me FPS fans, Killzone has been a very well regarded game in its genre for this entire generation. The major arguments against the game seem to center around a weak narrative, which you may not care about if all you want to do is shoot things.

2/22 Bulletstorm (84)

 

 

 

 

 

Speaking of shooting things, Epic (the makers of Gears of War) released Bulletsorm, an over-the-top shooter. Compared with its hype, Bulletstorm  underperformed somewhat in the review department. The multiplayer seems to have fallen flat, although the single-player experience garnered good reviews. The problem for a game like Bulletstorm is that when your competition is Call of Duty and Battlefield, a so-so multiplayer doesn’t cut it. I skipped this one, but if you played it, let me know your thoughts in the comments.

3/8 Dragon Age II (82)

 

 

 

 

 

Full disclosure: I didn’t play Dragon Age II. I played the original Dragon Age for about four hours, got tired of it, and then had no interest in picking up the sequel. The fact that this game came out only one year after the original makes me think that maybe they should have used that extra year to polish the first game and fix many of its shortcomings. Of course both games sold well, so I doubt they’re questioning their decision. Reviewers  said the game improved on the original and is still fun to play, despite a linear story.

3/22 Crysis 2 (86)

 

 

 

 

 

The original Crysis has been used to benchmark computers for the past five years. So powerful it couldn’t be made for console systems, Crysis was one of the last exclusive PC games in a genre that used to be completely centered around the PC. How things have changed over the last five years. Crysis 2 released on the same day across both the PC and Xbox/PS3, and it plays pretty similarly on all platforms. This game is currently sitting in my large backlog, so I can’t review it based on personal experience. However, it was well received for the varied play styles it allows.

3/27 Nintendo 3DS launch: Tom Clancy’s: Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars (77)

 

 

 

 

 

The 3DS launched in late March with 18 games available from Nintendo and its third-party publishing partners. However, Nintendo’s own offerings (Pilotwings Resort, Nintendogs+Cats, and Steel Diver were mediocre. The best reviewed game of the bunch was Street Fighter IV, however, the game I played and enjoyed the most was Tom Clancy’s: Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars, a game that didn’t require 3D at all. Nintendo botched the launch in many ways, but in my opinion their biggest error was not launching with a big name game (Mario, Zelda, or Pokemon) that showed off the 3D technology and proved to people why they should buy the system. Since Nintendo no longer seems interested in wowing their customers with graphics, they need a Wii Sports-type game at the launch of each of their systems to show people why they need to buy the system. The lack of games and high price also hurt, although the system does seem to be recovering somewhat. However, the presence of iPhones and Angry Birds seems to undermine Nintendo’s entire market. Can Nintendo recover and convince kids to buy the system? Mario 3DS was a good start. This year will be equally important for Nintendo as their new home console, the Wii U, launches.

4/19 Portal 2 (Top Game of the Year: Number 3) (Best Co-op) (95)

 

 

 

 

 

The first great game of the year, Portal 2 was my favorite co-op game of the year. The ability to play a large number of test chambers with a buddy was a lot of fun. Valve did a great job with the levels, which were always challenging without being frustrating. The single-player game was also a great experience from beginning to end. The voice work in the game was phenomenal, and the inclusion of the different gels made the puzzle solving a joy. Portal 2 was one of the best games of the year in one of the greatest years ever for gamers.

4/19 Mortal Kombat (86)

 

 

 

 

 

A reboot of sorts for the series, Mortal Kombat seemed to right a lot of the wrongs of some of the previous next generation games. I haven’t enjoyed a Mortal Kombat game since MK II,  so I haven’t played this reboot. Fighting games aren’t my favorite genre, and I couldn’t justify spending $60 for it. I did see a montage of the fatalities, and they are some of the most gruesome animations in the history of games. Noob Saibot’s rip fatality stands alone as the best (worst?) I’ve ever seen.

Tune in tomorrow to check out the next 10 games on the list!

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