Game of the Year 2011: 10-6
We continue our look back at 2011 with our second of three Game of the Year articles. Agree or disagree with our rankings? Sound off in the comments.
10. Mortal Kombat
“Don’t call it a comeback, I’ve been here for years.”
With its well forged visuals, Story Mode, and its stand and deliver features, Mortal Kombat isn’t just the most impressionable fighting game of 2011, it’s the success story of a franchise once down on its luck but now setting examples within the genre. While other developers struggle to create a fighting engine that facilitates the delicate balance between accessibility and honest effort, NetherRealm cracked the code beating Capcom to the punch. Furthermore, Mortal Kombat demonstrated itself as a title that truly cares for the fans with its numerous patch updates, each providing tweaks directly addressing any voiced issues. Capcom, you might want to pay another visit to Training Mode.
9. Rayman Origins
Rayman Origins was one of the boldest, and quite probably, most foolish ‘big’ releases of the year. Here, in the year 2011, Ubisoft put a fully 2D, original platformer on disc, sold it at full retail price and launched it on various platforms that don’t have Wii in the title. It seems strangely fitting that the game itself is just as crazy as the notion of a physical, boxed copy HD platformer. Rayman Origins was unlike any other retail game this year. It’s retro to a default, but whilst doing so, it’s charming and difficult in ways we haven’t experienced since the Super Nintendo and Genesis. Rayman Origins is quite simply a joy and a master class in old-school game design, polished with an exquisite, modern-day shine.
8. LA Noire
Though by no means perfect, LA Noire is a daring and fascinating game that wholly deserves to feature in the top ten of this list. Team Bondi’s creation oozes style and atmosphere. The painstaking recreation of 1940s Los Angeles is striking, yet it’s the game’s unique motion capture technology that will leave the longest lasting impression. Dialogue between characters is transformed with lifelike faces and recognizable gestures. Given that you’re a detective, working to decide whether a suspect is being evasive, truthful or downright dishonest, the ability to read the faces of the characters before you adds a layer of intrigue oft missing in other titles. It’s not a traditional adventure game, nor is it a sprawling sandbox title, and at times it fails as an exercise in traditional action. But if nothing else, LA Noire pays the ultimate homage to film noir.
7. Dead Space 2
Coming out at the beginning of 2011, it’s easy to forget just how brilliant Dead Space 2 was. An adrenaline filled roller-coaster ride from start to almost finish, Dead Space 2 was a Hollywood blockbuster of a sequel. That’s not to say it lost the chilling atmosphere of the original -one level is a literal reminder of that game’s accomplishments in videogame horror. There are many moments where the atmosphere is at its most unbearable – your first meeting with the Stalkers, the opening sequence, or your foray into Titan Elementary School. The story didn’t disappoint with a host of twists and turns and close encounters, as well as a surprisingly well thought out and likeable female character. With its trademark brilliance in pacing, combat, atmosphere, tight controls and the slickest, most innovative interface around, Dead Space 2 fired on all cylinders, and was an incredibly worthy sequel to the much loved original.
Bastion is all about the craft. It’s that rare, special kind of game that captures an appreciation of form. Against all odds it exceeds just about everything released at retail in terms of finesse; there’s simply nothing objectively bad about the finished product. It’s a necessary title that draws equally upon the tropes of genre classics and a unique capacity for inventive game mechanics. Every piece comes together to form a cohesive world that’s alive in color and tonally fit in exposition, striking a delicate balance between a nostalgic appreciation for videogames with the desire of adding new value to a classic formula. Supergiant’s debut does everything so well the first time out that there’s really no need to qualify it. Bastion‘s a great game by any definition.