To pay homage to Mark Kermode (I am not worthy I am not worthy), I figured I’d have a go at doing a mid-year report on the top 5 games of the year.
Like Mark Kermode, I am putting strict rules on this;
* The game has to have been released between January 2011 and September 2011.
* The game cannot be a remake. Otherwise it would be pretty boring Nintendo re-releases, and we don’t want that.
* It has to have been released in PAL regions.
* Paid DLC will not count.
With those rules in place, here are my top five of the year so far.
5) Bastion (available now on X-Box Live Arcade and Steam)
Bastion is a rarity I feel, a game that is all about the storytelling – to the point the narration by Logan Cunningham drove me onwards, fleshing out the world as it reformed around me. It’s bright, colourful and yet tinged with sadness and darkness, with a conclusion that done right is moving, heartbreaking and an absolute joy. I wish it was longer – I wish it was a big commercial release rather than an attempt at faking an indie game. But it is fabulous and inspirational.
4) Portal 2 (Available now on PC, PS3 and X-Box 360)
I’ll say it and get it over with. Portal 2 is technically not as good as the original. The game tries far too hard and goes way too far. That said, it has a better story; charming, witty and deliciously depraved. Stephen Merchant is a star as Wheatley, Ellen McLain is as brilliant as ever as GLaDOS, and J.K. Simmons delivers one of the finest and most memorable little rants in gaming history over lemons. If you’re looking for it to be a technical masterpiece, you’ll be disappointed, but the whimsical charm, the great voice acting and the absolutely 100% perfect ending (in at #2 on my all time best game endings) make this game an experience that everyone should enjoy at least once.
3) Dungeons of Dredmor (Available now on Steam)
If you’re looking confused, this is a fantastic little indie gem. It’s a Roguelike – floor after floor of randomly generated maps stuffed with secrets, booby-traps and monster zoos full of hundreds of evil meanies. That is rare in itself, Roguelikes are a dying breed, but this comes complete with a great sense of humour and a style quite reminiscent of the Monkey Island series. It’s cheap, it’s great and it’s one of those “Just ten more minutes…” kind of games. It’s absolutely spot on. More of this kind of thing from the indie scene would be much appreciated, thanks!
2) Deus Ex: Human Revolution (Out now on PC, X-Box 360 and PS3)
It’s only been out a week and it is already there. It’s not a perfect game by any stretch of the imagination, but what IS there is done with precision and care. It’s oddly uncomfortable at times, with racist NPCs and uncomfortable questions asked and decisions to be made. And it is in a hurry to get somewhere – anywhere, it would seem. But the fact that Square-Enix and co. had the absolute BALLS to make a game this challenging on an intellectual level, and deliver it in a tight and balanced game, is something I can get behind. We’ve had far too many games playing it safe in recent years… any game that can sell bucketloads AND provide interesting intellectual debate is welcome in my household any day of the week.
1) The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings (Available now on PC)
I am so happy about this game words cannot describe. Brilliantly told, unashamedly adult in tone, tough but fair, balanced, interesting, witty, funny, upsetting, surprising – The Witcher 2 could have been a cheap cash-in on the originals almost cult status. What we got was so very, very much more than that. Everything blends together, bleeds into one, to leave you with a game that is just fantastic in pretty much every regard. A massive thumbs up to this, a nod to RPGs of the past – and an eye to the future.
Do note that in December some of these may not be in the top 10. The winter section of the year usually sees a lot of games getting released, and I’ll do my best to play as many as I can and see what I think of them.
But so far, this is my best of the year. Agree, disagree? Comment below.