Posted by John on January 1, 2012

Top 5 video games of 2011

Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has more quality content than many other games put together,which is why it tops our list. PHOTO: PUBLICITY

Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has more quality content than many other games put together,which is why it tops our list. PHOTO: PUBLICITYElder Scrolls V: Skyrim has more quality content than many other games put together,which is why it tops our list. PHOTO: PUBLICITY

5. Mortal Kombat:

FATALITY! Available on the PS3 and Xbox 360, this notoriously gory fighting game returned to its 2D roots this year, in what turned out to be one awesome game. Not only is this ninth instalment in the Mortal Kombat franchise fun to play with friends over the internet or by sitting side by side, but it also features a very good singleplayer campaign, with a storyline fleshy enough to have Mortal Kombat fans salivating. In fact, the narrative is so good that many critics found MK9 to be the best at storytelling in 2011. Now who would have expected that from a Mortal Kombat game?

4. The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings:

You’ve got to hand it to the Polish developers, CD Projekt. It takes some mettle to release a ‘AAA’ title (game industry speak for ‘big budget’) only on the PC, when most video games tend to find it difficult to recoup development costs without finding release on all major gaming platforms. This gorgeous looking dark fantasy RPG is available only on Windows, and is a clear reminder of how a video game that isn’t held back by mass market appeal, and takes full advantage of a PC’s superior hardware, can be an extraordinarily rich product.

What is most impressive about this game is how so many player decisions have actual consequence in the game world, with real emotional impact. While the game does suffer from weak combat mechanics, and an end sequence that feels a bit rushed, all in all, the game’s gorgeous art direction, its wonderfully rich, dark, and fluid world, and the excellent narrative make this title one of the best RPGs you can play.

3. Dark Souls:

This spiritual sequel to the sleeper hit ‘Demon Souls’ is from the mind of some very twisted developers I must say. A dark fantasy RPG, available on the Xbox 360 and PS3, Dark Souls is difficult, very difficult, but it is exactly this high level of difficulty that has made this series so amazing. The high death penalty adds a real sense of dread to the game’s already morbid setting, and while most fantasy fiction is  derived from the Lord of the Rings books on some level, this title is no standard fantasy fare and features creatures and an environment largely unique to its universe.

Like its predecessor, Dark Souls has a multiplayer component integrated in its singleplayer campaign, a feature which adds more to its exclusivity. While the game is mostly played solo, souls of other players playing in ‘parallel worlds’ can be seen ghosting around, and are able to leave cryptic warnings, all adding to the mystique of Dark Souls.

2. Uncharted 3:

Think of how extraordinary Uncharted 2 was. Now add a lot more awesome sauce, and you have Uncharted 3. Not only does this action adventure PS3 game, look and play better than its predecessor (who would have thought it?), but is brilliantly cinematic, featuring some extraordinary action set pieces. The art direction is also quite gorgeous. Of course, this cinematic feel is in large part due to the fine voice acting, with video game voice acting veteran, Nolan North, doing a fine job lending his voice to the charismatic treasure hunter, Nathan Drake. Uncharted 3 is one helluva game, and considered by many a video game critic to be a masterpiece.

1. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim:  

As a testament to the scale of this gorgeous looking, open world fantasy RPG, I’ve put in 80 odd hours into the game, and still feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface. There are endless things to see and do in the snowy region of Skyrim, where the natives, the ‘Nords’, sound like characters crossed between Mel Gibson’s Braveheart and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Conan the Barbarian, and where you, the player,  are caught in the middle of political strife, all the while fighting against mysterious and sudden dragon attacks.

Released on all major consoles, and the PC, Skyrim has become a bit of a phenomenon since release, having sold extraordinarily well. YouTube videos, highlighting the ‘arrow in the knee’ bug have quickly become a large part of geek culture (perhaps to an annoying degree).

Another bug, which is quite hilarious, is the overblown strength of the giants in the game. While it is expected that giants would be significantly stronger than mere mortals, in Skyrim, they have easily 100 times the strength of ordinary men.

While I could go on and on about the countless amusing bugs in Skyrim, in conclusion I would like to say that overall Skyrim is a fantastic game; easily our game of the year by a long shot. It has more quality content than many other games put together, and if there is one game released in 2011 you should buy, it is this.

Final Words: 2011 was one amazing year for roleplaying games, with three of them making it on our list, but it was actually an amazing year for video gaming overall. Some other titles that nearly made our list, and are worth a mention are Bastion, Portal 2, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Arkham City.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

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