It’s a little later in the year than usual, but, as is traditional, here’s my list of the best games of 2011. Also as previously noted, this is a list of the best five games I played in 2011, not necessarily those that came out then. As is becoming more common, I’m buying games well after release when they’re cheap.
5. escapeVektor (Wii)
Criminally overlooked, this WiiWare gem is a fantastic Painter-type arcade game. I played it from start to finish in almost a single sitting, and although it’s pretty short, it was excellent fun with a perfect difficulty curve. There’s a 3DS port/update/sequel coming, and I’m really looking forward to it!
4. Red Dead Redemption (360)
GTA with horses. That might sound like I’m putting it down, but in fact, I’m praising it. And, somehow, Rockstar managed to make a world which is 99% wilderness interesting and varied. It’s not without problems – not least the controls, which is a hanger-on issue from GTA – but it’s a great game with a great story. Yes, even the bit right near the end where the MASSIVE SPOILER. And horses.
3. Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars (3DS)
In the run up to the 3DS release, when I still wasn’t sure if I was going to get one or not, I pretty much ignored launch title Shadow Wars because it had yawn-snore-tedious-soldier-game-klaxon-trigger “Ghost Recon” in the title. Then I found it was, in fact, a turn based strategy game from the creator of X-Com. Just like that, my thoughts went from “meh, whatever” to “OMGNEED”, and with my 3DS in my hands (I’m weak) it was swiftly bought. It’s still my most played 3DS game too!
2. Mario Kart 7 (3DS)
The best Mario Kart. I think that’s all that needs to be said, yes?
1. Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood (360)
It was just a chance lull that caused me to pick up Assassin’s Creed II at some point last year. I’d picked it up cheap a while before, but never really thought about actually playing it as although I’d mostly enjoyed the original game, I wasn’t impressed enough to leap on the sequel. I’m glad I did – it turned out to be one of the best games I played all year. So impressed was I, that I desperately needed to carry on with the story, so grabbed Brotherhood. Which was even better.
At first, I wasn’t so sure though. It was too different from ACII. There was only (really) one city. I didn’t like that I’d been “nerfed” and had to regain most of my weapons and skills, although I did like how they achieved that in-game. I didn’t like having to train assassins and send them on missions. And I didn’t like having to buy all the houses and buildings.
Then, of course, everything changed as I played and I started loving those things. Getting to OCD levels with them. Spending longer collecting things and buying things and managing my assassins than actually playing the game. And it was all glorious.
And the rest:
Just a quick mention of some of the other great games I played in 2011. First off, the 5 Back to the Future episodes on PSN. Despite struggling with the controls (partly because of the PS3 pad, partly because they’re just awkward in the game anyway), the story was brilliant and the puzzles better than those in other Telltale games, like Tales from Monkey Island and Strongbad. I’d be more than happy if they turned the story from these 5 episodes into a second BTTF film trilogy, actually.
Pullblox was a surprise bit of downloaded awesomeness for the 3DS. A clever puzzle game with a billion levels and a level designer (which you can swap levels with others via QR code), and, most importantly, Super Happy Fun Blue Skies. Yay!
Then there’s another game that needs a mention, but shouldn’t really appear in the top 5 even though it’s probably better than anything else I played in 2011: Fallout New Vegas. I played through all the remaining DLC, and spent another 60-odd hours with it. I just couldn’t make it the best game of 2011 since I already made it the best game of 2010. Hmm.