Games of 2011: What I’ve Played

Games of 2011 will be a three part series. We’ll start out with this one, which will be just games that I played throughout the first half of 2011. The next part will cover games that came out in the first half of 2011 that interest me. The last part will cover games that will come out the second half of 2011 that interest me. These are sort of in the order that I played them, but they are structured more of a logical order because I forgot when I played them, and some of them I was playing while playing another game. I suggest you check these titles out.

For ten bucks, just go out and buy Pacman Championship Edition DX. It’s Pacman with pretty visuals, and new gameplay elements, like chain eating ghosts to rack up a lot of points. There’s something about chaining that is so satisfying. I think there’s a demo, so if you are not sure, download the demo and you’ll see that it is more than worth $10.

I bought a Id and Bethesda collection from Steam a while back (last QuakeCon I think) and so I’ve had The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion in my collection for a long time. I hadn’t played any of the Elder Scroll games before, but I had played Fallout 3. I had beaten it once, and I didn’t want to play it again after that. I tried, but just couldn’t. My friends kept pestering me to play Oblivion, and so I did over winter break. Steam says I’ve put 66 hours into the game. I’ve started a few characters, and beat the main story with one of them. The game is old, and using a crappy engine, but the game is beautiful. One of the coolest moments was I was climbing a mountain at twilight, and I looked outward and saw a beautiful colored sky, river and forests and it was awesome in every sense of the word. Not to mention I like the gameplay and story of the game. I am now excited for Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.

I picked up Vanquish for cheap. I really like it. It’s a fast paced, cover based, third person shooter. The abilities such as power sliding, dodging, and slowing down time  mix up the gameplay so you are not always in cover. You can tell this game is created by a Japanese company, but it is refreshing to see their take on the cover based, third person shooter. The bosses are very hard. Some of the challenge is just frustration (like bosses have a one hit kill move). The last few bosses are tough. I played the game on Normal, by the way. I was tempted several times to turn it down to easy, but I let my pride tell me not to. Now I’m stuck on the final boss and it seems impossible. But all around, it is a great game and I am recommending it.

A buddy and me went through Gears of War and Gears of War 2 together. I hadn’t done it before, and he hadn’t finished the second game, and wanted a refresher before Gears of War 3. I’ve learned that Gears of War is more than horde mode (we’ve played a lot of Horde mode in the second game). The story is good, and I’m looking forward to the third game. Not much else to say.

I bought Bulletstorm, because it looked awesome. I was not disappointed. Finding creative ways to kill enemies is tons of fun. The leash was a genius addition to for creating new ways to kill enemies. The single player story isn’t that interesting, but who cares when you can leash someone towards you, and then click them into a cactus. The online mode, Anarchy, is a coop mode. It is basically Horde mode from Gears of War 2, but to progress to the next wave, you need to score a certain amount of points; you only have a certain number of enemies to do this. This mode is easier with two people, than it is with four. As long as you get the team kill points, you should be able to pass the wave, although that isn’t always the case. It’s fun, but the mode does get old quickly.

Time Schafer helped create the Monkey Island series, and I’ve been following ever since I played the game. He created Psychonauts for the XBox, PS2, and PC, and it is on Steam. I bought it on Steam. I recommend playing it with a controller (I think I played it with the XBox 360 controller… I also have a Nyko mappable controller). I bought this a long time ago (this seems to be a recurring theme) and played a bit of it, but I got side tracked. So I started all over and it is fantastic. The story is great and funny. You play as Raz who sneaks into a psychonauts training camp, because he wants to be a psychonaut. Psychonauts are able to go into people’s minds. Double Fine created some interesting worlds. The abilities that you can unlock are fun to use. The worlds are fun to explore. The boss battles are interesting. A great game all around, and I’m hoping Tim Schafer will make a sequel.

I didn’t really like Brutal Legend, also created by Tim Schafer. I skipped over Costume Quest, because I don’t like turn based combat games. So I bought Stacking because I wanted to support Tim Schafer and Double Fine. If I had to sum up the game in one word, it would be “charming.” The story and characters are charming. The gameplay is charming. The world is charming. Everything about it is charming. You play as a Russian stacking doll, the smallest of all the stacking dolls. As the smallest doll, you can stack into the next size up, and stack that doll into the next size up, and so on. Each doll has a special ability to help you solve puzzles. The problem with the game is it does not feel challenging. The biggest challenge was finding out more ways to solve a particular puzzle. Again, the game was charming, and worth $10, but don’t expect something that challenges you.

I’ve had Crysis for awhile, and had gotten pretty deep into the game, but that was a long time ago. I recently started over and the game still looks amazing! I like the openness of the world; you can complete an objective however you want. The nanosuit powers are very fun. I like the game, and plan on getting Crysis 2, when I chip away at my current game library.

I haven’t beaten Okamiden, but I’ve been playing it on and off and I am having fun. I loved Okami for the Wii. The game was also very fun on the PS2. I recommend that you buy Okami. Okamiden takes place a few months after Okami. They explain how that is possible. It has been fun revisiting the world of Okami. Its interesting to see some of the changes that have happened over the months. The touch screen is perfect for drawing with the brush. If you liked Okami, you’ll like this game. If you haven’t played Okami, I suggest you buy Okami for either the PS2 or Wii, because it is a great game. Okamiden is more of the same, with DS graphics, but it isn’t a bad thing because Okami did so many things right.

I bought Just Cause 2 before Spring Break. I played it all through Spring Break, and beyond. I’ve poured over 100 hours into this game and I’m at 99.4% complete, which is the highest percentage you can complete it because of a glitch. The over-the-top action is fantastic. The combination of parachute and grappling hook makes moving around the large, open world, fun. There are thousands of collectibles, and I had fun getting every last one. The story was “meh” but the action sequences made up for it. I highly recommend this title, especially since it is 30 bucks.

Portal 2 is fantastic. I don’t think I need to say more… but I will. I bought it on the PS3, and got my PSN and Steam accounts synced before the the downtime, so I got the game downloaded from Steam for free. I beat the game on the PS3, and on the PC. I played and beat the coop compaign on the PS3 via split screen coop. Fun times. the game greatly improves on the base that the first game created. GlaDOS is back, as well as some new characters.

One of the most recent game that I have beaten is Red Dead Redemption. I was a little skittish of this game, because I did not like Grand Theft Auto 4. However, I got the game for cheap, and it has won several Game of the Year awards, so I bought it. I loved it. I liked the story and the setting. John Marston was a great character. I found myself doing the honorable thing when it came to decisions. I enjoyed doing the side stuff; I put it several hours of poker. I have the game at a little over 90% and I’ve finished the story missions, but I don’t know if I will do anything else. We will see. I highly recommend this game.

Another game that I recently beat was Torchlight. I bought Torchlight when it was first released. It is a game created by Runic games, which is made of people from the now dead Flagship studios. The are made up of people that created the Diablo series as well as the Fate series. The game takes the best elements of both series, and created Torchlight. It is fantastic. For $20, you can’t go wrong if you liked Diablo or Fate. Killing massive amounts of enemies, and collecting loot while exploring dungeons is fun in this game. The story sucks, but the gameplay makes up for it. They are releasing Torchlight 2, which expands upon everything. It is basically going to be like going from Diablo to Diablo 2. So keep you eyes on it.

I beat Crysis Warhead last night. Only took about five hours, so it was a short game. I liked the pacing of this game, over the original game. I liked the story in the first game better. This game focused on Psycho, including his past. There would be brief recordings from missions in the past. The story wasn’t that interesting. Nanosuit is the same, the weapons are the same, and the enemies are the same as the original. I had fun with it, but it is a game you can skip over if you played the first one. I’ll end up buying Crysis 2 as soon as it comes down in price, unless I’m really bored.

So that’s that. I’m waiting until later in the month to pick up Infamous 2. That’s the next game I plan on buying and playing this summer. I have L.A. Noire, but I probably won’t get around to playing it until after Infamous 2. Next post should be soon, and I’ll be talking about some of the games that came out this first half of 2011 that intrigued me, but I didn’t play for various reasons.