Why is it that at the end of the year, there has to be a countdown for everything? Well, I’m not sticking with that tradition. Instead, I’m just going to skip right to my top choices. So without further ado, here’s my personal best & worst looking back at gaming in 2011.
Best Game I Played in 2011. This is a hard call because there have been some really good games this year. But I think I have to give the title to Skyrim. Any game where I can be over 70 hours into it, not even remotely close to done & still be going strong deserves praise. The sheer size of this game is balanced out by the freedom it offers in how you play it. After all, a huge world is not fun if it’s the same old thing over & over. The ability to not only play your character however you want, but also the freedom to change tactics even 30 levels in is what really sets this game apart for me. Tired of dual wielding? Mix it up with a sword in one hand & a spell in another. I played the previous Elder Scroll game well into last year, & I expect to be playing this one into 2012 & beyond.
Worst Game I Played in 2011. Before I say the game title, I want to preface this by stating that any game on the Wii is automatically going to be at a disadvantage because I suck at motion controls. I’ve yet to understand how waggling a remote around is easier than pressing a single button. With that said, the worst game I played this year was the New Super Mario Bros. Let me pause for a moment to let the flames die down. Are we finished?… Okay. I rented this game & couldn’t make it past the first world. I just had zero motivation to play. I mean, it’s basically the same as the Mario games on the SNES but with a few newer abilities. And let’s face facts, that’s why people bought it. Games like this thrive on nostalgia. So if you’re like me & have never been a big Mario or Nintendo fan, these type of games just don’t appeal to you. And before people start saying it’s only because I suck at Wii controls that I didn’t like this game, let me remind you that Ju-on had crappy controls too, but I was able to slog through it because the game itself was moderately interesting. I don’t want to play the same game I played in the 80’s. If I did, I’d just start up my old SNES & play that game.
My Best Gaming Moment in 2011. I think that, hands down, my best moment in gaming this year was playing through the ending of the Overlord DLC for Mass Effect 2. While I don’t think this was the best out of the three DLC’s available (I think overall Lair of the Shadow Broker was the best) the ending to Overlord was just so powerful & moving. It’s very rare for a video game to move me to tears, but the ending seriously had me choked up. I’ve heard others similarly comment that even though they were playing as a full Renegade, they simple could not take the Renegade option (I do applaud BioWare for having even Renegade Shepard disgusted with what’s happened but taking more of a means to an end outlook). The way the story builds up for the horror of what happened to the “volunteer” is brilliant. At first it starts out as any other mission, but as you visit each base, you start to realize that this experiment wasn’t so innocent. This is especially true in the last station, Atlas, where you can begin to understand what the VI is saying & realize he’s crying out for help. I really wished I could’ve shot the doctor, but at least a Paragon interrupt let me pistol whip him. I really wish more games could grasp this sort of emotional resonance.
My Worst Gaming Moment in 2011. There have been several less than stellar gaming moments for me, but I think the worst was in Assassin’s Creed, near the end where Altair confronts de Sable in front of King Richard. That entire section is nothing but melee combat with large groups of enemies, which is sort of the opposite of what being an assassin is about. It certainly doesn’t help that the combat is horrible. Since you have to hold down the right trigger just to open your combat menu, by the end I felt like my hand was going to permanently be in a crab claw position. On top of that, you can’t actually fight anyone. Because enemies block (all the bleeding time!) unless you want to die fifty bijillion times you have no choice but to stand there waiting to counter. If you’re going to force me to fight, at least make the fight interesting. Otherwise it comes across as a drawn out quick time event. And something else that bothered me was why didn’t King Richard call de Sable out on making Altair fight all of those people? Shouldn’t he have been like, “If God is on your side, why not fight the assassin yourself? If you’re right, what are you afraid of?”
So there is my super-to-the-point list of best & worst for my gaming year. Tomorrow I’ll be posting a Looking Forward at gaming in 2012.