Sunken Treasures Games

Iroquois’ Top 10 Picks from 2011!

2011 was quite a year for gaming, which I’m sure is no secret to all of you. We had a steady stream of both triple-A and indie titles through the months which rose to a climax of dozens of great titles in the last two months of the year. Many of these games were played and either enjoyed or put on a shelf, but these ten I found to be truly exemplary.

10. Bastion (Xbox Live Arcade/Windows)

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Bastion was a surprise to me when I played it. It seemed like a charming hack-and-slash that had a very visually pleasing aesthetic, but what I got was something much deeper. I got a story about everything you know coming to and end and a struggle to set things right with no clear direction. Set in a fantasy world, Bastion is given a Western twang in the form of the constant narrator, Rucks, who tells the tale of your character, “The Kid,” in the form of a campfire story. Rucks always has a comment on what you do, whether it’s breaking boxes, finding a new weapons, battling “windbags,” or simply falling off the edge of the world. I very RARELY heard the same comment twice as I roamed a world that literally BUILT itself before me.

9. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Wii)

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Wii games were always a bit of a hit-or-miss for me and I often felt like motion controls weren’t always necessary in most of Nintendo’s first party titles, but Skyward Sword just seems to work. The motion controls are given a purpose with the addition of the Wii Motion Plus. I’m given free control over the movement of the sword where different movements of the Wii Remote (sometimes combined with the Nunchuk) allow for a variety of attack options. Enemies are clever in the sense that they will make you use ALL those options to dispatch them. The theme combines elements from previous installments like Wind Waker and Twilight Princess which makes it a nostalgia machine and also clocks in at a solid 40-50 hours, one of the longest Zelda games to date. Sometimes the tasks you must complete feel a bit useless, but the game moves along nicely enough to stand out as one of the best Zelda games of all time.

8. WWE All-Stars (Ps3/Xbox 360/3DS/PSP/PS2)

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WWE All-Stars isn’t your typical wrestling game, and that is what makes it great. The playable wrestlers (which there are almost 40 of including the DLC packs), are caricatured but still spot on from John Cena’s hard-lined jaw to Triple H’s over-muscled physique. The decent-sized roster is split into Superstars and Legends so that your can test the classics against the current generation. This is brought to life even more with the inclusion of “Fantasy Warfare,” a series of matches that pit a Superstar against a similarly aligned (or polar opposite) Legend. A set of clips from the wrestlers’ careers explain each wrestler’s significance and why the pairing is important. Up to four players can compete in hectic and crazy free-for-alls or tag team matches to see who can get the first pin or be the last man standing. The wrestler’s exaggerated moves will have them flying 20 feet in the air for some laugh-out-loud moments which had me playing this game match after match with groups of friends.

7. Catherine (PS3/Xbox 360)

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From the creators of the popular Shin Megami Tensei Persona games, comes Catherine, and quirky title that has you juggling relationship problems by day and large magical blocks by night. You play as Vincent, a man stuck between a woman he wants to marry, and a woman who wants to use him for fun. You are left to decide which path to follow: the path of fun and excitement while forsaking duty, or the path of responsibility and true love. However, by night, you must experience Vincent’s nightmares in which he is forced to climb an intimidating tower of blocks with nothing but his underwear, a pillow, and a strange pair of sheep horns. The attractive part of this game is it quirkiness and the fast pace of the block puzzles. You’re forced to think fast and use the undo button constantly to beat the collapsing tower. As you face Vincent’s fears every night, a thick but personal story starts to unfold based on your choices. Accompanied with the trademark Persona art style, Catherine leaves a memorable experience that is worth replaying to get another one of it’s almost a dozen endings.

6. Batman: Arkham City (Ps3/Xbox 360/Windows)

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Arkham City feels like one of the most complete games I’ve ever played. As Batman (and occasionally Catwoman), you’ll have to fight your way through a city of crime in a quarantined section of Gotham to uncover a plot that threatens both Batman and Bruce Wayne devised by Doctor Hugo Strange. It comes with a world that isn’t necessarily “sprawling” but certainly big enough to keep you busy. The cast of characters is immense. Dedicated Batman fans will find the large roster of villains exciting. Players who grew up with Batman the Animated Series will feel familiar with Kevin Conroy’s Batman voice-over work and Mark Hamill’s swan-song performance as the Joker. The fluid combat system from Arkham Asylum returns with some improvements, both functional and cosmetic. Enemies will communicate and take action to make sure you can’t get the jump on them the same way twice. And one of the favorite aspects from Asylum, the Riddler Challenges, makes a comeback but is far more challenging the second time around.

5. Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception (PS3)

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Continuing the tradition of proving that a game can be just as gripping and fast paced as a blockbuster action movie, Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception shines among this year’s game releases. The third installment follows Nathan Drake on his mission to discover the Iram of the Pillars in the Rub’al Khali Desert. Companions Chloe Frazer, Elena Fisher, Victor Sullivan, and newcomer Charlie Cutter join Drake as they race to find the lost city before English villain Katherine Marlowe. The controls remained largely unchanged from the previous games, but the new locales and improved graphics are the real meat of the game. The beautiful scenery lends everything to the high energy action scenes. You’ll swear you’re watching a movie. The way the plot points meld with historical fiction gives the game a sense of realism and your objective a sense of urgency.

4. Yakuza 4 (PS3)

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A game with a deep and twisting story line that crosses over 4 characters, Yakuza 4 took the cake on my list. Tempered with equal parts story, extras, and high-power combat, Yakuza satisfies on all fronts. The four men’s stories meld together perfectly as plot points begin to overlap and the larger scheme of things begins to unfold. As you play as series protagonist Kazuma Kiryu and the 3 newcomers, you’ll uncover a conspiracy involving a mysterious woman, a wrongfully accused man, an underhanded family dealing, and corrupt cops. It all sounds a bit cliche until you learn just how personally involved each main character is in the whole ordeal. It does a great job of really selling you on the men’s fate and makes you want to resolve their problems just as much as they do.

3. Dark Souls

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Dark Souls is a cruel mistress. Like it’s predecessor Demon’s Souls, Dark Souls likes to dole out the punishment by the truckload. It forces you to work hard for everything you have and earn it well, but you always know that it could be gone in a flash. An unexpected enemy ambush could be right around the corner, a twelve story tall demon could be waiting beneath the crumbling floor to crush you, or a particularly malicious player might have it in for you. Your troubles are many, but never impossible to overcome. There is always a light at the end of the long, dark, and painful tunnel. But when you reach it, it’s all the sweeter. Either that, or it’s filled with skeletons who will rip you limb from limb.

2. Skyrim (PC/Xbox 360/PS3)

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It’s hard to run from a dragon when a barbarian choir is chanting your name. As much can be said for most of the game. No matter what it is you undertake, it will always be rewarding in it’s own right. The land of Skyrim is beautiful and terrible. Danger lurks on the plains, in caves, in the riverbeds, and now that the dragons have returned with Alduin the World-Eater, the skies too are not safe. And you will learn this. Elder Scrolls games are good at providing an insurmountable challenge and then molding you to overcome it. Morrowind had the vast and strange world that you traveled. Oblivion pulled you into the perilous Gates of Oblivion. Now Skyrim brings dragons that can swoop down on you at any time and set fire to forests and towns. The living, breathing world around you feels so natural and free, bound only by the laws of nature. Your deeds travel with you and NPC’s will frequently comment on your triumphs or undertakings.

1. Mortal Kombat (PS3/Xbox 360)

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When reboots of old series’ are being made, more developers could take a page from NetherRealm Studios’ book. This year’s release of Mortal Kombat (technically the 9th in the canon series) is a perfect recreation of the classic arcade fighter. All the familiar characters are present and the return of the original control scheme from the first three Mortal Kombat games along with classic move-sets give the game a huge nostalgia factor. Everything you’d come to expect from a Mortal Kombat game is here like fatalities and the powerful, fast combat. Tutorials also make the price of entry fairly low and do an excellent job of helping new players get the hang of the game. A strong onlne mode and several new DLC characters give this old series a fresh facelift.

2011 was and exceptional year for gaming. As such, it was hard to pick only 10 games I found exemplary. What were some of your favorite games of 2011?

3 Responses to “Iroquois’ Top 10 Picks from 2011!”

  1. Really happy to see Catherine, Yakuza 4, and WWE All-Stars on here. Those games really provided a lot of entertainment for me in 2011!

    For me I would have Sword and Sworcery LP on there somewhere, as well as Jamestown. Two fantastic indie games that stole my heart! Man, I might have to write one of these retrospectives up. ^_^

  2. You should!

    Sword and Sworcery was close. I would have to say it sits somewhere close behind 10. There were just too many good games this year!

  3. No competition….. Tiny Toon Adventures !! :0) Okay, no matter what year you give this survey I think that will still be my answer. Followed only by Duke Nukem.

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