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It's that time of year when Federal regulations mandate that all media organizations publish their Top Ten lists. All of Player Affinity's gaming department will be rolling out our choices for Best Of in these last few days of 2011, and the PC Department is starting off with Fergus Halliday's choices for Ten Best PC Games of 2011:
10: The Binding of Isaac - Last year’s Super Meat Boy was one of the big surprise hits that snuck in towards the end of 2010, it combined challenging and technical gameplay with great presentation values. The Binding of Isaac is a very different game but appeals to gamers for similar reasons. While Super Meat Boy was a throwback to the old ultra-difficult technical platformers of the Ghosts and Goblins era, The Binding of Isaac is a unique fusion of arcade shooter gameplay and the random elements that makes roguelikes so much fun.
9: Dead Island - I was a huge fan of Gearbox’s Borderlands and I enjoyed Techland’s Dead Island for some of the same reasons. The game combined a brutal RPG-inspired melee combat system with a massive open world and the dark and gritty setting of a remote South East Asian island under threat from a zombie pandemic. While the game’s crafting system might not have made the most sense in the story , it worked immensely well, turning it into a cycle of zombie slashing and weapons upgrading.
8: Terraria - While on the surface it’s quite similar to Minecraft, Terraria really has become a success in its own right. It combines a lot of the aspects that made Minecraft successful and brings in its own expanded focus on crafting and 2D platforming. Visually there are quite a few similarities between the two games but they actually couldn’t be more different. In Terraria you can venture far deeper into the earth than in Minecraft and there is an absolutely huge number of different monsters to fight and an even bigger number of items to collect.
7: Bulletstorm - Much like Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine, Bulletstorm understands that you don’t need amazing graphics or vast open worlds to make a good game. It combined the technical talents of EPIC Games with the talents of the guys behind Painkiller and the results show. Bulletstorm throws its own brand of fun and creative first person shooting at gamers and succeeds totally. On top of that, I found the tone of the story and characters to be quite refreshing and a good example of how humor in games can be done and done well.
6: Crysis 2 - While Skyrim still astounds me with the sheer scale of the world, Crysis 2 absolutely blew me away with the detail in the game. The stunning overhaul of the concepts of the first game worked immensely well and its rendition of a New York under siege from aliens was truly something to behold. In Crysis 2, the promise of freedom that Crytek have been touting since the first game was finally fulfilled and players could truly experience the game in whatever way they wanted.
5: Minecraft - Minecraft has made gaming news headlines more frequently than Jack Thompson did and with thousands of videos flooding Youtube of the game, it’s clear that Minecraft is a phenomenon of its own. It seems contradictory that a game like this should be so immersive. Despite it’s blocky art style, (And thanks to it’s superb soundtrack) you really lose yourself in a world of pure creation. It has been a long journey for Minecraft to come from Alpha, through Beta and then finally to its official release last month but it’s been a journey well worth taking and it puts Minecraft as one of the best games to be “Released” this year.
4: Bastion - As I’ve said many times, Indie games keep getting bigger and the number of indie games making top ten lists is just another sign of this. Supergiant Games’ Bastion is an absolutely stunning indie that combines colorful and excellent presentation (In particular its excellent use of a narrator) and fun and addictive isometric RPG gameplay. Bastion is proof that indie games can surpass their AAA counterparts, no other game has been able to utilize narration in the unique ways that Bastion does and it’s certainly a game that’s going to become part of the eternal “Are Games Art?” debate.
3: Dead Space 2 - I’m a huge fan of games like the original Dead Space (System Shock 2 for example) and I had big expectations of Dead Space 2. It certainly delivered. Both Isaac Clarke and the dark horrors that haunted him throughout the first game return and offer up some of the most intense third person shooter/survival horror gameplay of this year. Dead Space 2 improved almost everything from the first game and on top of that, the absolutely brutal multiplayer proved that sci-fi horror gameplay can work outside the world of single player.
2: Space Marine - While another game tops my Best of 2011
list for a multitude of reasons, Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine comes in second for one simple reason. It’s an
absolutely blast to play. It combined the epic scope and setting of Warhammer
40,000 with a brutally entertaining combat
system that allows you to effortlessly shift between ranged and melee combat
and truly feel the power that comes with being a Space Marine. The great
gameplay would be huge on its own but when combined with the faithfulness to
the Warhammer lore and fantastic presentation values, Space Marine becomes one of my favorite games of the year.
1: Skyrim - There really isn’t much to say about Skyrim. Anyone who has played Bethesda’s latest entry in the Elder Scrolls series will tell you that it is a masterpiece of gaming. Between the revamped combat and experience systems, Bethesda have literally fixed every problem that has stopped me from finishing the previous Elder Scrolls games. On top of that, they’ve brought their most interesting and ambitious setting to life and filled it with more content than most players will ever finish. With Skyrim, Bethesda have brought together everything they’ve learned from all their previous games into what is undoubtedly the best game of the year.