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Aaron’s Top Ten Games of 2011

Here are my top 10 games of 2011.  It has been quite an amazing year for games, one of the best in a long time for me in fact and I am very excited for 2012.

1. Batman: Arkham City

While not the perfect sequel to Arkham Asylum, it got pretty close. Less Riddler junk and a slightly bigger, more interesting world with perhaps the more interesting characters getting more time in the spotlight would have made it far better, but Batman still takes the lead for me this year.

2. Dead Space 2
I have a soft spot for games that really nail dark, creepy atmosphere, especially in my favorite genre: science fiction.  I was a huge fan of the first Dead Space and in every way possible the sequel was a vast improvement. 

3. Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine
I would have loved a longer campaign with a bigger look at the overall universe of Warhammer 40k, but what Relic did with Space Marine was easily the best game set in the table top’s world I've ever played. It had very solid, fun gameplay and great writing.

dead space 2

4. Bulletstorm
A game so good that  it still shocks me to know just how terribly it sold.  I really don't understand why it failed to gain an audience between the wonderfully silly tone that mocks the hyper-serious modern shooters of today and the arsenal of weapons that were just so fun and satisfying.

5. Portal 2
I'm not as crazy about the Portal games as most people, but next to Half Life they are easily some of Valve's best work.  You could write an entire article on each entry, they are so well crafted. The writing and level design especially makes me wish more developers could deliver this kind of experience.

6. Saints Row: The Third
I still feel a bit weird about SR3.  If you look at what the actual game is, mechanically and design-wise, it didn't really do much of anything that other games haven't already, but the style and feel of so much of it was a nice stark contrast to what many modern games try to be. I just can't get enough of it.  If you didn’t like GTA going all serious, this is the perfect game for you.

portal 2

7. Gears of War 3
It is kind of funny how I went from being disappointed and bored with the first Gears game to having a ton of fun with the second and then going absolutely nuts for the third.  Gears 3, I would argue is the best cover shooter of the generation.  Epic more or less invented the genre and, with the end of the trilogy, perfected it.

8. MotorStorm: Apocalypse
I'm an unabashed fan of the MotorStorm games, by far the best racing series I've ever played, which says a lot since I don't care for most of them.  I really wish more studios would try to make arcade style racers, but I guess with so many selling terribly and the studios that make them going out of business, we won't be seeing too many more ,which is a real shame. 

9. Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception
I didn’t enjoy Uncharted 3 as much as 2 for a few reasons, but Naughty Dog still did a tremendous job with it, proving they are still one of the best studios when it comes to realizing digital characters and telling great stories.

10. Sanctum
Sanctum is an indie-developed tower defense game, but in first person exclusively on PC. I really like tower defense games and this one resonated with me in the same way Defense Grid did.  It has great level design, solid gameplay and a cool art style and they really go out of their way to add all kinds of great references and clever random things, a lot of which are tied to achievements.

Overall, I'd say 2011 has been the best year of games since 2007, a year when we got Crysis and Bioshock, two of my all time favorite games.  What excites me most about 2012 is getting to play all the games that didn't make 2011 for one reason or another, so if you consider the first few months a mere continuation of this year's releases, it has by-far been the best time for video games in history, in my opinion.


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