Gamer Crash Awards 2011: Game of the Year

Before we move on over to 2012 and forget 2011 forever, lets take a look back on the year and the AAA games that came our way.  We’ve certainly seen a ton of quality games and while my list may be different from a lot of you, I think we can all agree that the games below represent some of the very best of 2011.

So here are my nominees for 2011 Game of the Year:

Dead Space II
Lest we forget this gem came to us all the way back in January, Dead Space 2 builds on the excellence of the first game to give the player an even better experience.  Space engineer Isaac Clarke is back and this time reeling under the effects of Post Traumatic Stress from the events that took place on the USS Ishimura.  In addition, his dead girlfriend is haunting him and better yet, the necromorphs have found their way to “The Sprawl” on Saturn’s moon Titan.  With better weapons, much improved kinesis and stasis abilities, creepy atmosphere, better story, and a tighter sense of action, Dead Space 2 is impressive, fun, and will make you quiver in fear of the darkness.

Batman: Arkham City
Rocksteady had a tall order in trying to top Arkham Asylum.  To many people’s surprise, they managed to create probably the best superhero game ever made.  Ditching the more linear ways of Arkham Asylum, Rocksteady gave players a large section of Gotham City to explore including many well-known buildings including the Iceburg Lounge and the ACE Chemcials Building.  Turns out, former Asylum warden, Quincy Sharp, has been elected mayor of Gotham and decides to turn the slums into a massive facility for inmates and criminals.  Before long, the super villains have all claimed a section of the city and have begun to fight with each other over control.  Worse yet, Huge Strange and his Tyger Security Force has been placed in charge of running the newly formed Arkham City.  Sensing bad things coming, Bruce Wayne leaps into action to find out what’s really going on.  Finally, we’re given a Batman game that lets you live out your fantasies of swooping down and taking down thugs in the streets as The Dark Knight.

Assassin’s Creed: Revelations
It’s amazing how Ubisoft is able to turn around these games on a yearly basis and manage to retain the high quality standards.  Revelations is no different and seeks to put a wrap on the Ezio storyline.  Now in his 50s, Ezio travels to Constantinople to find the 5 Keys of Masyaf to open a Vault sealed by Altair under the former Assassin stronghold.  It is said that there is an artifact that could put an end to the Templar-Assassin conflict forever.  Upon finding each key, you’ll also be able to take up the white robes of Altair again and experience key points in his life.  Finally, due to the events of Brotherhood, Desmond is left in a coma and needs to restore his shattered mind before he can awake once more.  With a strong storyline, cool additions like the Hookblade, and refined gameplay elements, Revelations may be the best Assassin’s Creed game so far.

Portal 2
I was worried coming into this one as the first game really fried my brain.  While there are still tricky segments for you, the humor, voice acting, and writing really make the overall experience a joy to play through.  Waking up in the Aperture Science facility once more, Chell discovers that the facility is falling apart and in major disarray.  Trying to find a way to escape and aided by an AI Core known as Wheatley, the duo accidentally manage to reawaken GLaDOS who is none too pleased to see them again.  J.K. Simmons as the eccentric and hilarious Aperture Science founder Cave Johnson and Stephen Merchant as Wheatley completely steal the show.  The story is solid and really makes the single player campaign feel like a true game and makes you want to keep going to find out what happens next.  Along with a fully fleshed out co-op segment, Portal 2 represents a finely polished and wonderful experience that everyone should play.

Saints Row: The Third
Here’s my pick for surprise of 2011, I figured this game would be fun but I was shocked to see just how incredible the entire experience was.  Essentially, The Saints attempt to rob a bank but don’t realize that it’s owned by a large organization known as the Syndicate.  After an insane battle aboard a plane, you’re placed in the city of Steelport, where you seek to bring down each section of the Syndicate one by one.  I don’t think I’ve ever played a game so over the top and fully aware that it’s crazy.  The missions get wilder and wilder as you progress and never for one moment does it ever get dull or boring.  It’s chock full of humor, dirty jokes, and over the top action stunts.  Add in a huge amount of side content, a fantastic voice acting cast, a robust upgrade system, and an addictive “City Takeover” gameplay element, Saint’s Row: The Third is easily one of the best games of 2011.  While Volition may have missed with Red Faction: Armageddon, they easily knocked this one out of the park.

Gears of War 3
Originally due out in April of this year, Gears of War 3 details the final chapter in Delta Squad’s story of survival against the Locust Horde.  This time out, a new enemy type has emerged after the events of the second game named the Lambent.  With humanity and the Locust now scattered, it’s up to Marcus and Dom to try to finish the fight.  Contacted by Marcus’s father, the group sets out to meet up with Adam Fenix in an effort to use a cure he’s developed for the Lambent problem.  If that’s not enough, multiplayer is back and has been completely overhauled with new modes like Beast, which lets players take down the humans at the Locust horde.  The graphics are some of the best work on the console, the gameplay is easily the strongest that it’s ever been in the series, and the multiplayer is now housed on dedicated servers preventing many of the problems plaguing the past games.  Gears of War 3 is easily one of the best looking and overall best games on the Xbox 360.

Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception
With Uncharted 2 taking the world by storm and seemingly creating impossible expectations for a follow-up, many were wondering just how Naughty Dog could top themselves.   Enter in Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception.  Once again sporting extremely high production values, thrilling moments and an engaging storyline, Naughty Dog is once again pushing the visuals on the PS3.  This time out Nate and Sully are looking to discover Iram of the Pillars and the secret of Sir Francis Drake.  Only, they’re opposed by Katherine Marlowe and her shadow organization who are also seeking the hidden city of Ubar for mysterious reasons.  You’ll be globetrotting all over once more and you’ll love the journey each step of the way.  The fantastic multiplayer returns once again only made more robust with tons of customization options, more match types, and added features like Medal Kickbacks and Boosters. Basically, if you own a PS3, Uncharted 3 is a no brainer.

and the winner for Gamer Crash’s Game of the Year 2011 is…

Winner: Batman: Arkham City

Honestly, this was another extremely difficult category for me.  I mean look at the list.  Those are some top-notch games.  Ultimately, I picked the Dark Knight because Rocksteady somehow managed to basically redefine what it means to create a sequel to an already fantastic game.  For me, the more incredible thing is the fact that they managed to create Arkham City in a swift 2 years.  For the amount of content they put in here, it’s mind-boggling.  If you were disappointed by only seeing your favorite Batman villain in passing or as a Riddler Challenge, Arkham City more than likely has them present in the game.  In addition to side quests, over 400 Riddler Challenges, ambient missions, and a very compelling core story line, players will also play as Catwoman for about 10% of the game.  She plays much differently than Batman but the control scheme remains the same.  It’s also completely empowering to move around Arkham City to swoop in on thugs and thankfully the movement around the city augments this.  I was on the fence about it at first, seeing as Batman isn’t a climber/freerunner.  I was worried about how the overall movement around the city would feel.  Thankfully, Rocksteady nailed the feeling of Batman, giving players a very useful grappling hook and a very well done gliding system.  Overall, this game is very worthy of your time and managed to completely blow the first game out of the water.  A very impressive feat to say the least.

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