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Digesting the lowest rung of pop culture so you don't have to!
The Culture Cast with Zack and Nick has long relied mainly on the talents of Hollywood filmmakers and television producers to give us the content to review that we so crave as pop culture junkies. Video gaming is another huge part of my pop culture obsession and thus far hasn’t gotten a lot of love from us here on the blog. So many professional communities out there offer a better job of discussing and dissecting video games than we could ever hope to do. Just recently, the guys over at Giantbomb devoted an entire week of podcasts, write-ups, and video entries on their Game of the Year 2011 awards. I highly recommend checking out their content and subscribing to their excellent gaming podcasts.
Having said all of that, I decided I would go ahead and compile my list of my ten favorite video games from 2011. This list is by no means official and/or comprehensive. I am not a professional games journalist, nor a journalist of any kind at all. This is not a list of the “best” games of 2011; it is merely a list of my favorite games of the past year. I hope you’ll enjoy this list. Please leave your feedback/hateful comments for us to consider for future write-ups.
After a nearly universally panned second entry in the Resistance series, part three had a lot to make up for in the hearts and minds of fans. It almost accomplishes just that. Despite feeling somewhat derivative of other popular games in the genre (Half-Life 2, various Halo entries, and even Uncharted 2), Resistance 3 offers a fairly compelling father and son story in the vein of Cormac McCarthy’s hailed novel The Road. Though it dragged a bit and relied too much on dark and/or bland environments, Resistance 3 still offered a ton of fun to be had as well as an interesting (if unnecessary) PlayStation Move compatibility control scheme.
NetherRealm Studios’ Mortal Kombat reboot should not have worked, and yet it does, and does so rather well. The story mode, long the bane of the fighting game genre, is not only fantastically done, but is the rare retcon that works. Developed strictly as a 2D fighter, character models are gorgeous and the 3D is absolutely amazing.
Catherine is not a game for everyone. It succeeded at being a fan favorite while receiving very mixed reviews from critics. But this Mature-rated action puzzler/dating sim is exceedingly weird, and that’s what I love about it. Featuring the year’s oddest story, Catherine succeeds at telling a tale of growing up, maturing, and finding love in a messed up world. While its graphics aren’t great, it’s cutscenes and incidental animation (done by the excellent Studio 4C) are fantastic. Definitely one of the weirdest games ever released in North America.
Despite not receiving the same welcoming reviews of its predecessor, Killzone 3 actually builds upon the experience of Killzone 2 in many ways. Featuring jaw-dropping graphics, great mo-cap work from actors like Malcolm McDowell, and an overall professional, polished experience, Killzone 3 is one of the best games of the year and a worthy entrance in the series.
An overall more polished game than its predecessor, inFamous 2 kept me busy for hours with its great missions, fantastic controls, accomplished graphics, and cool, comic book-esque story. Can’t wait for the third entry.
Featuring two of the best PlayStation 2 games of all time, updated graphics, 3D modes, and a host of great additional features, the Ico Collection is a fantastic value for its price and a great nostalgia bomb for gamers.
Sony’s mascot series couldn’t “save” the PlayStation 3 when it was originally released in 2008, but it was a fantastic game overall. LBP2 builds upon that experience while strengthening the user-created content, the graphics, and the general scope of the series. LittleBigPlanet is now a marquee, flagship series and I look forward to future installments.
A fantastic experience and a ton of head-scratching, puzzle-filled fun, Portal 2 is an amazing game that deserves every accolade in the gaming industry. My only question is this: How can developer Valve possibly top this experience?
This iPad/iPod Touch/iPhone release was perhaps the biggest surprise of 2011. Featuring old-school 8-bit-esque graphics, absolutely fantastic music, and a compelling story, Superbrothers is truly an amazing game and a fantastic experience.
Yeah so maybe it didn’t live up to the glorious heights of Uncharted 2. But so what? Uncharted 3 is an amazing game, featuring some of the best console graphics ever. The ship graveyard and desert levels are worth the price alone. It may be time for Nathan Drake to retire, but Naughty Dog’s run of games this generation rivals any other studios’ in the industry.