Friday, January 6, 2012

Destroyed Controller's Top 11 of 2011

I was giving some post-thought to my "Best of" awards posted earlier, but one thing I fell in love with recently is I've been addicted to their lists, and once you start, before you know it, you've aged 10 years and your family has deserted you.

Well, I've decided to doll out my top 11 games of the year. Think of it as a condensed version of the "Best of" awards.

11. Dead Island
Release Date: September 6
System Played: Xbox 360

Fantastic open-world game, stunning visuals, intense combat muddled by strictly first-person view (no third-person driving) and lack of solidarity between you and NPCs. It would have been great to recruit some survivors that are hanging back at safe houses to help with some missions, as those on Xbox LIVE can be complete twits. With 95% of combat restricted to melee (which can be troublesome), any firearms you'll want to keep for the big boys later in the game.

10. Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary
Release Date: November 15
System Played: Xbox 360

Revisiting Installation 04? Please and thank you. Take the first Halo game - arguably the best game in the series - and give it a fresh coat of paint, along with a handful of the best multiplayer maps made updated for Reach and bam, you've got a winner. The technology behind the game is astounding, but please, for the love that is holy, bring some much-needed improvements, like sprinting, or hi-jacking vehicles that appear in every other game since.

9. Dead Space 2
Release Date: January 25
System Played: Xbox 360

This is a fantastic horror-survival game, with a digital twist. You'd think in an age of space travel and planet cracking, you'd have something more than mining tools at your disposal to take care of the transfigured undead, but given the situation and weapons, I wouldn't want it any other way. Some levels can be confusing and boss fights are forgettable, but Visceral has crafted one hell of a sequel, especially with how intense the transformations can get.

8. Infamous 2
Release Date: June 7
System Played: PS3

This sophomore attempt had a few problems - such as a badly written story, especially how they "ended" the first game - but it delivers nonetheless. Sucker Punch quickly became a favorite developer once I played the first game, as I never played Sly Cooper anything until the HD collection (I can not wait for Sly 4). The new abilities are fantastic, but I wish you could eventually have your electrical abilities with ice and fire, not either or. The DLC add-on turned Cole into a vampire, so I avoided that one. The karma meter is still as cut-and-dry as it will ever get, but the difference in abilities is a huge drawback; the Good side of the karma chain has much better abilities, especially the ice pillar you can create to make navigating a battlefield or rooftops much easier.

7. Assassin's Creed: Revelations
Release Date: November 15
System Played: Xbox 360

I love Assassin's Creed, so it pains me to put this far down the list. Out of all four games, this one is only slightly better than the first game, whereas ACII and Brotherhood are vastly superior games. Revelations shows poor structure, as it was originally intended as a 3DS game. However, the introduction of the hook blade is fantastic, but that can't be said for the bombs; crafting and using bombs felt like a chore, but I do admire them bringing in new elements trying to give players something other to do rather than climb buildings, stab people and climb buildings. The "revelations" the game promises happens far too early on - try within the first 10 minutes - and doesn't build from there. The relation between Ezio and Alta├»r does become stronger towards the end of the game, and once the game does finally end, we see Ezio becoming the better man and knowing his place in this chronicle is over.

6. Shadows of the Damned
Release Date: June 21
System Played: Xbox 360

I'm a Suda 51 fan. Not a huge fan, but I do love his games. They're fresh, they're enticing, they're new, they're...different. And that's a problem, because people don't want different; they want the same damned thing over and over again (look at Madden and Call of Duty). However, Shadows isn't that far removed from other games. There is a small RPG aspect, but most of what can be upgraded is easily ignored. However, the gameplay shines through as Shinji takes his experience from Resident Evil 4 - one of my favorite games of all time - and drops the gameplay mechanic right onto Suda's head and churns out this wondrous beauty.

5. Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception
Release Date: November 1
System Played: PS3

Oh how I expected this game to be - just like Assassin's Creed - much high on the list. However, the game doesn't come close to what Uncharted 2 was. This is still a great game, obviously, but Naughty Dog didn't deliver to people's expectations. Perhaps they set the bar too high with the previous game, but it was still fantastic. The story was a little wonky, but it delivered. When shit starts going down near the end of the game - you know what moment I'm talking about - I nearly had a panic attack. When you are in Ubar, the landscape is amazing, but holy fucking ass crackers, the pacing and fights you endure are ridiculous.

4. Batman: Arkham City
Release Date: October 15
System Played: Xbox 360

What we learned with Arkham Asylum is that superhero video games do not have to fulfill the prerequisite of being absolute shit. Hell, that Guinness World Record it won should be proof of that. But when that award is promptly taken away from you by your younger, hotter sister, well, it's hard to avoid making eye contact. Arkham City is a masterpiece, building on top of what was created in the original, with a much larger map, new(ish) enemies to fight, discover or simply come back and talk to (Calendar Man). The new weapons and upgrades to the original weapons are fantastic, and traversing the city isn't as bad as you think. I just wish there weren't so many damned Zsasz side missions...

3. Portal 2
Release Date: April 19
System Played: Xbox 360

Ahh, the top 3. Where better to start than a sequel to a remastering of a college team's senior project. Portal 2 takes place, what seems to be, forever after the original, back in Aperture Labs as Chell, and you find yourself wading through the ruins with Wheatly, this charismatic little shit who turns into the bad guy real quick, and the bad guy - GLaDOS - becomes your new buddy. With the quirps and charm from Cave Johnson (voiced by J.K. Simmons; the Farmers Insurance guy for the children) leading you further into your explorations of old Aperture with the different gels, the puzzles, attitude and environments you come across (not to mention the hidden mind-blasting story elements, supreme fascination with the moon and the related elements hidden through the game), Portal 2 is required playing.

2. Deus Ex: Human Revolution
Release Date: August 23
System Played: Xbox 360

If you took DXHR and put it into a centrifuge, you would get a handful of some of the best games from the past ten years that doesn't have the words "Call of Duty" or "Battlefield" in the title. DXHR blends so many elements from so many games together in such a fantastical way that it does a good handful of these elements far better than where the inspiration came from. LA Noire, Resident Evil 4, Metal Gear Solid, Splinter Cell, Heavy Rain...all of these games are absolutely fantastic games, and their key elements are pooled into this game. The upgrades for your augmentations - or should I say, about half of them - can be completely ignored, as they are merely fluff. The story can get wonky, but only for those who have never played any of the older games in the series. If you love cover-based, first-and-third person shooters mixed with detective work, investigative aspects and RPG elements to upgrade your cybernetic badass character who has sunglasses permanently installed in his dome-piece, you should have already played this game.

1. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
Release Date: November 20
System Played: Wii


(spoilers ahead!)

Finally, the reason why 2011 happened. Skyward Sword, chronologically the "first" Zelda game in the now-officially-released timeline - details a few things. Firstly, it shows how the Master Sword came to be. It also reveals where the element of "boy saves princess over and over and fucking over again" comes from (spoiler! Demise is basically Ganondorf). This is a world before Hyrule, a world where the people of Skyloft - an entire community that is within 100 feet of each other, several miles above land - have no fucking idea what is going out outside of their protective little bubble that the Sky Goddess has created for them. Near the end of the game, when shit starts falling apart/into place (literally), things start to make sense for those that are well versed in Zelda lore (me). The biggest problem with the game is the forced motion controls, and they don't work about 10% of the time. 10% may not seem like much, but that 10% of my 40 hour experience (yes, 40 hours) was for battles that required precision that wasn't matched by the fucking MotionPlus. Motion controls should never be mandatory, let alone, the only form of control for the entire goddamned game. If Mario and Metroid can get by with "conventional" controls schemes, I'm pretty damn positive that Zelda can. Asides from iffy motion controls, Zelda wins with phenomenal art style, somewhat delicious story and a rich game to be able to do just about as much as you want, when you want, how you want. That is, after you get over the 2 hour tutorial...