Saturday, 31 December 2011

Top5 Favourite Games of 2011

As 2011 is drawing to a close I will be doing a couple of countdowns of my fav things of the year. In this episode, my top 5 games!

Now as with all these countdowns, it is merely my personal favourites out of what I’ve been playing this year, not any kind of definitive list. And so without further ado:

5) Dead Space 2 (PS3)

The most apt comparison here is what Aliens is to Alien. Similar to the first Dead Space game but everything is bigger and bolder, with more creatures to dismember and more frantic shooting than the original’s more creepy ‘haunted house in space’ feel.

The fact that Isaac now talks and shows his face in this one made me initially feel a bit more detached from the experience, however with a decent story and cut scenes this soon didn't matter all too much.

Dead Space 2 also gets the award for hardest platinum trophy of the year for me – in order to get it you had to complete the game on the hardest setting using ONLY three saves during the entire game. The fact that I persevered and finally snagged that plat is a testament to this game’s enjoyability.

4) NBA Jam (PS3)

A remake of sorts of the old classic (played on the SNES for me), NBA Jam has been updated and improved in every way - yet still retaining that simple yet highly enjoyable gameplay.

It's at its best when enjoyed with friends – the new alley-oop mechanic especially being a joy to pull off when coordinated just right.

Want to see big-head mode Obama jump 30ft in the air over McCain’s head to dunk and shatter the backboard? In this game you can.

3) Scott Pilgrim vs The World: The Game (PSN)

At first I was slightly disappointed that the game didn't rise up to the high standards left by last years scrolling beat-em up fav Castle Crashers, however in time the depth of the fighting mechanics slowly revealed themselves - especially the more you levelled up.

Being able to smack down enemies and bosses you previously found hard proved immensely satisfying due to the excellent levelling system; and the pixel art and chiptune soundtrack were delightfully retro and yet fresh at the same time - accurately evoking the feel of the Scott Pilgrim comics.

2) Uncharted 2 (PS3)

Why not Uncharted 3, I hear you cry? Well, because I haven’t played it yet! I only got around to playing the second installment of this series earlier on this year and I loved every minute of it.

Great story, acting and animation, beautiful scenery, engaging platforming and shooting mechanics - this game has it all. It's the equivalent of a blockbuster movie for games, but one that ticks all the boxes.

With added multiplayer competitive and coop missions, there is plenty to do even after playing through the story (which I did more than once).

I'm looking forward to playing the third installment soon, even though I don't really know how much more Naughty Dog can improve on the existing formula. To be honest though, I’ll be happy even of its just more of the same – its that good.

1) Dark Souls (PS3)

You knew it was coming didn't you?

I had high expectations of this game after playing the excellent Demon’s Souls last year (also from Japanese developers From Software) but this one still managed to amaze me.

Differing from the hub system of the previous game, Dark Souls presented the player with one huge open world to explore, from crumbling castles to flooded dungeons and eerie hushed forests all stitched together seamlessly. The location is key here – there was a definite sense of place.

Whilst some RPGs have bigger worlds and play areas, you would never find empty expanses here – everything is insanely detailed and serves a purpose to the overall function of facilitating your exploration. If you saw a building in the distance, chances are you could walk to it.

This game is dark too. Both literally - lighting plays a strong role in creating much of the game’s atmosphere; and figuratively – this is dark fantasy. Its all blood splattered, moulding, festering, tentacles and dark gothic spires. Not a comedy orc sidekick in sight.

The music (which only really occurs in boss fights) is also consistently great and adds to the dread, the rush of battle and the eventual elation you feel when facing and then finally overcoming one of the games many gigantic monstrosities. My heart has never pounded so fiercely than in this game's (and precursor Demons Souls') boss fights.

Yes, people are going to go on about the difficulty – but as far as games go – it’s really not that difficult. Having platinumed both Souls games I can say that rather than being unfairly harsh due to bad game mechanics or overly cheap enemies, the game rewards careful progress and thoughtful, calculated movement and combat (when you swing your sword you better mean it!), making every new enemy defeated and every new area discovered an intensely rewarding experience. It’s the kind of game where you can’t wait and yet are simultaneously terrified of finding out what’s around the next corner.

I could elaborate on all of these points for days and I haven’t even started to discuss the character classes and customisation, the blank player-action driven narrative, the souls system, the killable NPCs, the PvE and PvP experience, the sense of isolation - there is no other game experience quite like it.

For those reasons and so many more, Dark Souls is by far the game of the year for me.

30 Dec 2011

No comments:

Post a Comment