Review Fix’s Top 10 Video Games of 2011

What a year for games, especially Indie ones. Who would have thought that there would have been so many high-quality independent PC and iPad games out there? Regardless, it was the 360 and PS3 that took the cake this year, as the four highest ranked games on our list call those systems home.

Now sit back, relax and put those controllers down as Review Fix shares its picks for the top ten games of 2011.

10: Blazblue Continuum Shift II: With the type of visuals that emulate the best in manga and anime, a cast of weird characters and online play,”Blazblue Continuum Shift II” is the best fighter on the PSP this year. Its look will remind many of “Darkstalkers” and “Guilty Gear.” Uber colorful and bizarre, the game fits right in with the aforementioned titles. However, the graphical edge has to go to this title due to the 3D backgrounds and amount of polish in the cinemas. When combined, “Blazblue Continuum Shift II” is one of the best looking 2D fighters on the PSP.

To read our review of the game, click here

9: Squids: “Angry Birds” watch out. The squids are out to get you. Taking anywhere from 5-6 hours to complete with a host of unlockables and promised additional content in future updates, the game has the type of gameplay that most mobile games can’t get close to. The story, which is a cross between Final Fantasy and Star Wars, has a team of squids fighting an evil force to save their kingdom. While the plot isn’t as developed as those aforementioned titles, it has the best story of any mobile game released up to this point this device generation. After a few levels, you get attached to the characters and quickly develop favorites. When was the last time a mobile game did that?

To read our review of the game, click here 

8: Battlefield 3: BF3 is a simply Frankenstein’s monster of every Battlefield game DICE has ever developed with a sprinkling of EA’s Medal of Honor series and Mirror’s Edge to boot. In fact, it seems that almost every EA-published first-person-shooter that has ever existed before this release was simply extended beta testing for BF3. At the same time, it makes a visible attempt to divorce itself from the borderline goofy antics of the originals like kamikaze helicopters,C4 propelled flying Humvees or even, my personal favorite, two snipers lying prone on the wings of a P-51D Mustang, making it into a bad-ass flying sniper-bomber of epic devastation. Even Bad Company and Bad Company 2 ‘s “realism” was tinged with enough tongue-in-cheek sarcasm and melodramatic, Michael Bay-esque action flair to fill a cheap B movie.

To read our review of the game, click here

7: To the Moon: Imagine if there was a medical procedure that would allow people to spend their final moments reminiscing about achieving their wildest dreams, even if they didn’t. That would be quite a lucrative business wouldn’t it? Freebird Games blasts off with this novel concept in their latest release, “To the Moon,” which is equal parts “Inception,” “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” and “House M.D.” thrown into a blender with Square Enix’s “Chrono Trigger” and set on purée. The plot follows Dr. Eva Rosalene and her assistant, Dr. Neil Watts, of Sigmund Corporation, a company whose sole purpose is to tackle the single most common emotion expressed by people on their deathbeds—regret.

To read our review of the game, click here

6: Deus Ex: Human Revolution: Due to the variety of choices you can make as you play your way through the game, Human Revolution can remain different and entertaining through multiple play-throughs. It’s certainly a game worth playing more than once, because the choices you make will eliminate certain storylines. Deus Ex opened our eyes to a new world of gaming where players had choice available to them. Over a decade later, Human Revolution continues to build on that idea, giving you another opportunity to build your character the way you want, while experiencing plenty of high-octane action and enjoying a film-worthy story that will keep you guessing and wanting more.

To read our review of the game, click here

5: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword: Despite some minor gripes, “Skyward Sword” is still an enjoyable Zelda game that’s worth playing. It may not be a classic the likes of “Ocarina of Time” or “A Link to the Past,” but it is still a solid addition to the series. Graphically, the game is beautiful. The world has vibrant colors and everything is nice to look at. The character designs are also some the best in the franchise history. The world, both above the clouds and below them, is massive. It’s very easy to get lost in them and immerse yourself in it.

To read our review of the game, click here

4: Saint’s Row The Third: Developed by Volition, Inc. and published by THQ, this game is the “Pineapple Express” to GTA IV’s “Godfather.” It’s a pure lampoon of every open-world, carjack-happy urban shoot-em-up released from Rockstar Games’ Grand Theft Auto series to lesser known titles like Activision’s True Crime: Streets of L.A. or Team Soho’s The Getaway. It is, however, a fully functional satire of heroic proportions. The humor is beyond meta. Basically, it’s a video game glorifying violent, sociopathic criminals whose storyline hinges on the media’s glorification of violent, sociopathic criminals. Think “Natural Born Killers,” but with fur suits, dub-step and Burt Reynolds. The action is also larger than life.

It’s just about 15 minutes into the game when “Boss,” the fully-customizable player character, nonchalantly dives through a cargo plane’s cockpit and out of its loading bay (after snatching a replacement parachute, of course) following a sequence of events that would make even Michael Bay say: “That’s just not physically possible.”

To read our review of the game, click here

3: La Noire: Ultimately, there’s a reason why it was shown at the Tribeca Film Festival this year; the game resembles a movie and you can’t help being curious what happens next. Overall, that’s what makes this game truly unique. It feels like you are watching a movie and at the same time you take part in it. It’s up to you what happens in the next scene. It is a truly empowering feeling and it makes you stuck to the game for hours, no matter what “South Park” has to say about it.

To read our review of the game, click here

2: Arkham City: Rocksteady Studio’s 2009 release, Batman: Arkham Asylum, was one of the few games to break the trend of poor virtual representations of licensed super hero characters. Perhaps the most integral factor in their success was that they made you feel like you really were capable of beating the snot out of two dozen thugs and henchmen all at once using a vast array of martial arts and street fighting techniques. They made it look even nicer than it felt, too. Well, the big, bad, bat is back in one sequel that is surely superior to the original. Batman: Arkham City brings back all of the things that made its predecessor a critical and commercial success, improves on virtually all of them, and adds in some new features that help create an altogether stunning, enjoyable and rewarding experience.

To read our review of the game, click here 

1: Skyrim: There is a certain childlike glimmer in the hearts of gamers, nerds, geeks and anyone who has ever rolled a d20 (or even knows what that means) when they are told that they can slay a dragon. Dragon slaying, since the dawn of civilization, has always been the quintessential “hero’s victory,” the type of warm, youthful nostalgia that bubbles up at the resolution of a good story:

“The dragon was slain by the brave knight and the people of the town were saved. The end.”

However, with Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, developed by Bethesda on their new “Creation” engine, there is no “The End,” just more “and then.”

“The dragon was slain by the brave knight and the people of the town were saved and then the brave knight had a cash fight in a bar with a butch female warrior named ‘Uthgerd the Unbroken’ who became his loyal second after being beaten and then he and Uthgerd rooted out an enclave of vampires in the side of a snowy mountain and then he became a vampire one night at the inn and fed upon Uthgerd, killing her accidentally, and then the town began to hunt him, as he was now feared far and wide as a monstrous vampire and then he became a freelance baker, baking apple pies in the dead of night and then—”

The tale of Skyrim is never-ending and never the same as anyone else’s due to its intuitive “Radiant Story” and “Radiant AI” systems, first introduced in Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion(2006), but perfected here. It keeps track of not only where the player has explored, but what they’ve done, who they’ve ticked off and who they’ve killed so each quest can be tailored specifically to bring them somewhere new or to further the plot in an organic way. For instance, if the player hasn’t explored a nearby dungeon, of the 150 dungeons within Skyrim, the next side-mission they receive will send them there.

Simply put, the world is alive.

To read our review of the game, click here

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