For this list I’m just going to list in no order the games that I enjoyed and were released during 2011 and my reasons why. I’ve not even played close to all the best games released this year (finishing a PhD until September will do that) so it’s far from a definitive list so don’t get angry if I leave something out, more than likely I haven’t played. Anyway, let the listing begin.
Tactics Ogre: Let us Cling Together
A game I’ve unfortunately played way too little of. It’s basically Final Fantasy Tactics on steroids and possibly the best Tactical RPG ever made. The story is exceptional; a fantasy retelling of the war in the Balkans during the 90’s. A soundtrack by my favourite composer Hitoshi Sakimoto rounds everything off. If you have a PSP you owe it to yourself to play this game.
I thought that the original 4 hours of Portal was the perfect length, ending before the formula had gotten stale. How wrong was I, Portal 2 reminded me that I hadn’t enough Portal in my life. The single player campaign is much longer. Co-op has been added. Also it, along with its predecessor, manages to be one of the very few videogame comedies that isn’t a point and click adventure. It made me laugh out loud and scratch my head in puzzlement in equal measures.
Wizardry: Labyrinth of Lost Souls
This has been the one game this year that has been responsible for more late nights than any other. I’ve been getting really addicted to these old school dungeon crawlers lately and Wizardry is one of the best. For the price it goes for you are getting a lot of content. Just be warned, it’s hard going players starting off and there’s very little hand holding. There’s nothing more rewarding than finishing the mapping of a particularly tough dungeon floor. The problem is the shame you feel when you realise it’s 3am in the morning and you really should be sleeping. It’s punishing but so very rewarding, just like another of my favourites this year.
I’m actually not that big a fan of Sonic CD. It’s still a great game but if I was ranking the 16-bit Sonic games it would be at the bottom vying with the first Sonic. However I have to admire the effort that was put into this port and it’s always great that people can now experience one of the least played games in the series. It’s been built from the ground up yet manages to nail the physics, something that Sonic Generations or Sonic 4 couldn’t manage to do. The US and Japanese music tracks are included and the game supports widescreen natively instead of the horrible bordered or stretched look of so many badly emulated ports on XBLA or PSN. There’s another big addition if you finish the game but I won’t spoil it. It may not be my favourite Sonic game but it’s a good one and a fantastic port. At 400 MS points it was a steal.
Biggest Surprise of 2011: Mortal Kombat
I know the Mortal Kombat series has its fans but as a fighting game it’s so lacking in depth that it’s a total joke. I was pretty sure that the latest Mortal Kombat reboot was going follow in the series footsteps and be another laughing stock. Sometimes it’s nice to be proven wrong. Mortal Kombat was not only a great fighter, but also a competitive and viable fighter for the tournament scene. Even if you aren’t into multiplayer Mortal Kombat didn’t neglect you like so many others in the genre and included a fantastic single player campaign and a challenge mode. Mortal Kombat 9 also brought regular online balance to the fighting game genre, something that I hope Capcom, SNK and other fighting game developers take note of.