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With another year in the books, allow me to list my top 10 Xbox 360 games of 2011. While this list may not surprise you, my pick for #10 certainly will. Read on:
10: Duke Nukem Forever - Oh boy, I’m going to get flamed for this one. Look, I will say it right here: Duke Nukem Forever is an awful game, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t awesome. Paradox? The graphics are bland, the AI is horrendous, but it’s still one of my favorite games of 2011. I found it hilarious (In a good way), even if it’s a bit too over-the-top at times (the “Hive” level, for instance). I enjoyed Forever just because I really haven’t played anything like it. Well, at least since Duke Nukem 3D, that is. I was thoroughly entertained the entire time with Forever.
9: Sonic Generations -Wow, a Sonic game on a Top 10 list? I will admit that I’m slightly a fanboy of Sonic’s Genesis days (okay, maybe that’s a bit of an understatement). I love Sonic 1, 2, 3, Knuckles, and I even got some entertainment out of Sonic 3D Blast. Seeing classic Sonic levels such as Chemical Plant Zone in HD and hearing remixed versions of the songs brought so many nostalgic memories back to me. It almost made me forget about 2006’s Sonic the Hedgehog…almost.
8: Crysis - What’s a game from 2007 doing on here, you ask? Well, Crysis was never released on the Xbox 360 until this year, so technically it can be considered a 2011 release. I have the PC version, and it can still hang with the best of 2011. While I didn’t really care for the story, or the main character Nomad, Crysis has one of the best interactive game worlds I have ever seen. Everything you can see, you can probably destroy. You can support deforestation by plowing into trees with a vehicle, or even place an exploding barrel inside a building and watch (from a safe distance) the entire structure blow up into splinters. I spent more time in this game experimenting with the physics than I did with the actual game.
7: Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary - Yes, in theory this game is ten years old, but even in 2011, Combat Evolved is still my favorite game in the Halo series. This is the game that essentially guaranteed Microsoft’s success in the video game world. The story is just so intriguing, and the twist the game pulls on you about halfway through is one of my favorite video game moments. Not much more to say here that hasn’t already been said during the past ten years. Combat Evolved Anniversary makes you realize what made the Halo franchise so great.
6: L.A. Noire - L.A. Noire is probably the most realistic video game I have seen. The movements of the characters are recreated almost perfectly, but like I’ve said before, it can be a bit creepy at times. L.A. Noire puts you in the shoes of a detective, and you truly feel like you are solving cases. I enjoy 1940’s film noir, and this game is able to capture that atmosphere.
5: Portal 2 - The original Portal was the biggest surprise of 2007’s The Orange Box. I bought the compilation specifically for Half-Life 2, but Portal ended up being my favorite game of the package. But once I finished it, I wanted more. Portal 2 offers the same excellent puzzle-solving and superb voice acting that made the original so great.
4: Deus Ex: Human Revolution - I am a huge fan of the original Deus Ex game, but I was disappointed with the “meh” sequel Invisible War. Human Revolution brings the Deus Ex franchise back, and in a big way. The way you play this game is entirely up to you—will you sneak by those bad guys, or will you go in guns blazing? I prefer to annihilate any bad guy I see in my video games, and Human Revolution allows me to play the way I want to.
3: Batman: Arkham City - Take Batman: Arkham Asylum, add more awesome Batman villains and heroes, place it in an even larger world, and what do you get? Batman: Arkham City, of course. As a Batman fan, I was thrilled to see many characters get their due in this game, after being relegated to a mere collectible in Arkham Asylum. The voice acting is stellar, and Arkham City is one of those rare games where you can’t wait until the next cutscene.
2: Gears of War 3 - My choice for Xbox 360 exclusive of the year, and by far. The first two Gears of War games are some of my favorites, and it’s no surprise that Gears of War 3 is high on my list. I’ve noticed that as the series has progressed, the storyline becomes more developed, as the story in Gears 2 trumps Gears 1. I then expected the story in Gears 3 to exceed the previous two, and I was right. Oh, and of course it’s always exhilarating to split Locust drones in half with the chainsaw.
1: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - What more can be said about this game? So much is available to explore and interact with, and you will possibly never see it all. I still haven’t seen everything in Skyrim’s predecessors Morrowind and Oblivion, despite committing over 200 hours to each of them. The Elder Scrolls series, in my opinion, is one of the few “true” adventure franchises out there. I feel like I’m truly there in the world, exploring forgotten tombs and caves, and no other game offers this sort of satisfaction. Skyrim is the real deal.