Saturday, December 31, 2011

GotY is a lot harder, this year.

At first, I thought it was just me. I've narrowed down my list, of course. Five or six games are reasonable contenders for Game of the Years, 2011.

Dead Space 2, which dropped in January, is still very high on my list. It is a wonderful total-package game, with phenomenal presentation, fantastic pacing, exemplary art direction, refined mechanics and wonderful sound design. I am, frankly, amazed it's not on more folks' GotY rundowns.

Portal 2, thankfully, is still getting the praise it deserves this far from its launch - but let us remind ourselves, that was a supernaturally well-constructed experience.

inFamous 2 is, without question, the funnest game of the year for me. It's also gorgeous. It also has incredible music and story presentation and impressive tech. There almost nothing I can point out in inFamous 2 that's a genuine flaw.

Dead Island may not have lived up to the emotional hype of its ridiculawesome trailer, but it stole the show in September from big names like Resistance 3 and Gears of War 3, for me. The game's atmosphere at its shockingly wonderful combat cemented it as one of the most remarkable titles of the year.

Batman: Arkham City is, like Dead Space 2 and Portal 2, an incredibly well-constructed machine. It is polished to a mirror shine, and it still gives me warm-and-fuzzies to acknowledge that a licensed property - and Batman, of all things - is actually one of the best games to drop in 2011.

Finally, Skyrim is the game everyone expected to get all the Game of the Year nods - and it has, in places - but not all. There's actually been a touch of backlash against Skyrim because it is not, in fact, a 10/10 title, and is, in fact, riddled with bugs that render it nigh-unplayable.

Is Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception the single best game of the year?

Unlike other years, it's not an easy call in 2011. Usually you can check out your five favorite gaming sites and they will all agree on the five best games of the year, and generally the single GotY.

Not this year. This year there is simply too much awesome, and what it seems to come down to is personal preference - or who was able to make the most moving speech in their choice's defense, when sitting around the editors' table

Here's the problem - Eurogamer, GameSpot and GameTrailers aren't necessarily wrong when they each pick a different game as their GotY. Portal 2 and Skyrim and Uncharted 3 may all be the best game of the year - if that makes any sense. In the past weeks I've had friends come up to me and ask what the best game of 2011 is - and instead of just rattling off a single name, I have to pose them a question;
"Well, that depends on what you're looking for."
The best games of 2011 are so disparate. They view each other across massive expanses of design, structure and mechanics. How do you compare them when they're largely incomparable? This is like choosing the world's most delicious apple over the best orange that's ever been plucked from Florida's foliage.

It will, I suppose, come down to my own opinion - what my favorite games of 2011 are - but I fear that would be doing you something of a disservice.

Take Uncharted 3, for example. It's got fantastic gameplay and mind-blowing presentation, but its structure and narrative design really hampered my ability to enjoy it as a game.

To be honest, I wouldn't even put it in the running for GotY - but watching GameTrailers' explain why they gave Uncharted 3 their GotY, I found them hard to disagree with. It is gorgeous and it does have fantastic gameplay and its narrative pacing is exemplary - I agree with them, even while I would never give it a similar nod.

2011 has been an absolutely stellar year for gaming, and as such that makes pointing to a single title as the best game to release in the past twelve months a near-impossible task.

I will do it, of course. It's the end of the year, and that's what one does - but before I do, let me offer this; if you want to play the best 2011 had to offer on the PS3, buy these nine games:

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