Posted by John on December 19, 2011

The Year In Review - Part 1: XBox 360 & PS3

That’s right. In the summer we tend to get caught up in the lack of games, enjoying the break from school but wondering if we’ll ever see a AAA title again, and it’s just as easy to feel the joy of the September-November holiday rush of games, thinking that this is the best holiday season in years and that it will never end. But, just before Christmas time comes and just after the last of the major holiday releases, there comes a perfect time to reflect back on this year, and wonder how well it really stacks up.

For now we’ll be looking at the PS3 and XBox 360. These two have to be put together simply for the fact that they have so many of the same games, but we’ll be looking at both exclusives and cross-platforms.

First up, games that branched between both platforms.

Portal 2

Portal 2 was, without a doubt, one of the highest-rated games of the year. In fact, it had the second-highest Metacritic score of all 2011, coming in at a 95 on both the XBox and PS3 versions. The puzzle-platform-innovative game was one that took a simple concept (Put portal at point A, put portal at point B, walk from point A to point B much faster) and made a very interesting console-puzzle game, which we don’t see too much of on the hardcore side of the scale. The sequel added more features and complex maneuvers to ensure that it didn’t become stale, and challenges gamers to find one of the many ways to complete a level, some faster than others. Definitely a game worth your time to check out.

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Modern Warfare 3

A game that, if you can agree on nothing else, took what the previous games in the series did and did it better. Whether you think it’s too similar or not, you can’t argue that point. For gamers who were growing tired of the maps of Modern Warfare 2, or who were simply sitting at 10th prestiege and want the chance to start over, this is definitely your game. For those who have never played a Modern Warfare game… boy are you in for a treat. This game came in at a solid 88 on both consoles at Metacritic, and it’s rating is probably only about half as many hours as you’ll end up sinking into the Multiplayer.

Assassin’s Creed: Revelations

The final chapter in the story of Ezio Auditore, Assasin’s Creed: Revelations is a quite emotional tale of how Ezio Auditore spends the remainder of his life as an assassin. As one would expect from a man of his caliber he does not spend his final days retired, resting in bed late and rarely walking outside his villa. No, Ezio’s last few years are surely as bloody, emotional, and exciting as any others that came before them. The Assassin’s Creed series is one of the most popular Singleplayer series (or at least, mostly Singleplayer), and this addition doesn’t disappoint. Assassin’s Creed: Revelations received an 80 for the 360 and an 81 for the PS3, but for those without XBox Live it may very well be one of the best titles available.

Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Without a doubt, the single most beloved game of the year by critics and fans alike. It has the highest Metacritic rating of the year, sitting at a 96 for the 360 and a 92 for the PS3. The reason for the lower PS3 rating is because the Sony version of Skyrim is currently suffering from some rather frustrating and even game-breaking bugs, including a massively diminished framerate after extensive time in the game. This is clearly seen by the user’s ratings; the PS3 version has a score 3 points lower than the 360.

 

Overall a strong year, but the exclusives are what make it or break it for a number of gamers. Let’s see what came out this year for the XBox 360:

Gears of War 3

Without a single question, one of the best third-person shooter series available for any console. Gears of War was one of the first games to make real use of a cover system, compared to your average Call of Duty game where crouching behind a wall and peeking out only to be shot by a sniper three miles away was fairly common. It was also responsible for, if not the invention, then the popularization of “Horde Mode”, inviting other popular series like Halo and Call of Duty to come out with their own versions, AKA Firefight and Survival.

Gears of War 3 has an epic storyline, a massive possibility list for Multiplayer game modes, and a Metacritic score of 91 to back it all up. For any 360 owner, Gears is a must have this holiday season.

Halo: Combat Evolved - Anniversary

Remakes are a questionable idea at best, though most are well-received some do seem to see them as ways to cash in on nostalgia, especially in the film industry. But a game like Halo, especially with the number of fans desperate for their overpowered pistols, is certain to be a hit no matter how recent or old the game may be. The real kicker for this is that the game comes with additional DLC for Halo: Reach, as Halo: Combat Evolved - Anniversary has no multiplayer of its own. Instead it comes with maps which are then added to Reach’s Multiplayer. For the hundreds of thousands still fervently playing Invasion, Team Deathmatch, or any of dozens of other game modes, this is a game that simply isn’t optional.

Kinect (Dance Central)

Though not a game in and of itself, the Kinect is something that the Playstation Move can’t possibly match up to. Full-body recognition and voice controls for not only games, but the entire Xbox Dashboard, add immersion that’s almost unparalleled by anything else that’s currently on the market. To be fair, I’m going to list the best game available for the Kinect currently, by most standards – Dance Central. Great for parties and individuals alone, one of the few games that is capable of taking anyone and teaching them the dance steps required to have a lot of fun and not feel totally inadequate.

 

Now, let’s take a look at some of the games that the Sony fans have been loving since the beginning of this year.

Little Big Planet 2

A bit like a side-scrolling Minecraft for consoles, this game is one of the most sandbox-style titles available anywhere. With a player base that has a combined imagination that can reach the sky, there’s no limit to how much you can enjoy this game, so long as you have an internet connection. With a Metacritic score over 90 you can be sure that if you have a PS3 and any interest at all in side-scrollers (especially puzzle games), this is for you.

Killzone 3 Resistance 3

The two two major FPS franchises unique to the PS3, Killzone 3 is one of the most hyped games for the PS3. Resistance 3 was a launch title and since then has grown exponentially, along with the size of its baddies (Leviathan, anyone?). Both of these titles have received a high rating, 84 for Killzone 3 and 83 for Resistance 3, and if you own a PS3 you can’t go wrong by purchasing either of these games.

 

These are just a few of the titles… so let’s take a look at the year as a whole now.

 

This year, we have Modern Warfare 3, Gears of War 3, Uncharted 3, and a half-dozen other 3’s sitting as top dog. But let’s not forget that last year we had Black Ops, Halo: Reach, Mass Effect 2, God of War III, Alan Wake (one of the few new IPs), Battlefield Bad Company 2 and Dance Central 1 (which essentially nullify their sequels), Red Dead Redemption, Heavy Rain, etc…

This was a good year for gaming. But last year was every bit as good, and there have been some before where we saw amazing releases stacked on amazing releases, in greater numbers than now.

This year gets a 4/5 stars. Great, but not perfect.

 

Individually:

Xbox 360 – A lot of the best console exclusives this year have been for the 360; everything from Kinect games to Halo: Anniversary and Gears of War 3. The 360 showed strong this year and while the overall year was not great, the 360 as a whole has really shone, both with multi-platform games and with its exclusives.

9/10

 

PS3 – Though Sony fans began this year (as always) with a cry of “This is the year of the PS3!” that cry turned to a whimper and then to a mumble almost as soon as it started. There weren’t many AAA exclusives this year; most of the hyped games were multi-platform like Skyrim, Portal 2, and Modern Warfare 3. Not that this was a bad year, by any means, but even by PS3 standards it was nowhere near great.

7 / 10.

 

What were your favorite games this year? Who do you think won?

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