Press Start: What We Played for the Last Week of 2011 Plus a Look Back

This is a weekly segment where we share what games we are currently playing for our readers to get to know us a bit better. Said games can range from retro to current and from casual to FPS games. If we’re playing it, we’ll share it. Please feel free to comment with what your playing or your opinions on the games that we’re involved with.

This week’s article also includes a look back at the games and moments that stood out for some of the staff members of The Game Fanatics!

William: Secrets of Evermore and The Old Republic this week. ToR is better than I thought it would be, and SoE is a blast, as always. Got Parasite Eve for christmas though, so I may be diving in to that soon.

As for what games stood out for me in 2011? (And I tend to think backwards here)

Dark Souls – GOTY for me, almost everything about that game was amazing.

Catherine – Did some really unique things in how it made the player analyze their life outside the game. Always recommend playing this game with one’s significant other.

Bastion – Voice acting and writing all the way. The gameplay was very run of the mill isometric dungeon crawler, but the narrative delivery method is enough to not stop talking about it.

Spacechem – Because god damn. Not only is chemistry and awesome game premise, but those were some thoroughly formidable puzzles.

Red Dead Redemption (that is ’11 right?) – This game felt, for a vast majority of it, just like GTA in the wild west. which was fun, but not stand-outish. The ending though. That really kicked it up to great for me.

It has its faults but we still love Dragon Age 2
Dragon Age 2 – The game needed a lot of work, but the narrative style (of progressing across time, instead of across space), was very interesting to me, and I’d like to see more games try their hands at this.

MotorStorm: Apocalypse – Because I realized for the first time, 3D doesn’t have to be pointless bullshit. That game, in 3D, was pretty stunning. Backgrounds, and objects flying past and everything… good stuff.

I… think that’s it. Off the top of my head.

Tavia: Rayman Origins – I tried the demo while we had a friend over and we loved it. the demo shows three different level types and has multiplayer. I picked up the game for $30 at gamestop (they’re having a new year’s sale) and it was so worth it. It was fun and silly and competitive and cooperative. The only down side is that only the primary account gets the achievements.

Jen: Star Wars: The Old Republic will most likely be something that I will play almost everyday (until Mass Effect 3). I started out with a Jedi and now I have four characters. Members of my family who said that they will not pay to play a game, are now playing SWTOR.

During an update for SWTOR, I played a little bit of Saints Row 3. I loaded up my male character so I could work on the achievement where you must play as a female and as a male for two hours.

2011 had so many games, most of which came out during the fall/winter season.

Dragon Age 2: Hard to believe that this game did come out this year and we’ve only seen one DLC (playable). I know there are a lot of people out there who dislike DA2 but I love it! I even have gripes about a few things here and there but overall, DA2 is a good game. The characters are fantastic, right down to their personalities and sense of humor. I just picked up DA2 for PC during Amazon’s end of the year sale. I can’t wait to try it out on the PC.

Oh Catherine, what is there to say?

Catherine: I rented this game because I didn’t think I could get into it. I beat it and sent it back. However I kept thinking about the game and once there was a sale on Gamefly, I picked up Catherine (along with Ensalved). Even after I returned the game, I found myself wanting to play more. I did scream heaps of times during some of the puzzles but that made it more fun in a strange way.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3: I wasn’t up on getting this game (with the whole drama with Infinity Ward) but my husband did. I am glad that he did get MW3 because I love the campaign! **SPOILER** I actually cried when Soap died.**END SPOILER** I’m not one for multiplayer but buying MW3 was totally worth it.

Battlefield 3: Biggest let down for me. The story was weak and before you tell me its mainly for online players, the story for Bad Company was enjoyable. And even though a game is set for a certain audience does not mean other aspects of the game need to suffer (example: MW3).

Forza 4: Best racing game that I’ve played (and I LOVE the Burnout series) so far. I just wish it didn’t launch right at the start of the gaming season. I really need to start playing it again.

Sonic Generations: They finally made a current generation Sonic game fun! Playing as retro Sonic and listening to music from the past is beyond fantastic. I grew up with Sonic and its about time we had a new Sonic game that shows off what made Sonic so great.

Bugs galore but SWTOR still makes us want to fight the good fight or just be an overall bad ass.
Star Wars: The Old Republic: I love KotOR. I hate what Obsidian did with KotOR II but as a whole, I love KotOR. When I heard about an MMO being made, I yelled, “Where is KotOR III?”. Now that I’ve played the beta and the actual game, I am very pleased. I still want KotOR III but at least SWTOR plays like an RPG even though it is an MMO. I happy that I can solo the game (at times) but, like most games, it is not without its faults. The game still has bugs and glitches, it can get repetitive and there are a few things that can be fixed/changed to make the game even more enjoyable, but even so, Bioware did good with SWTOR.

This year had a lot of great games: Portal 2, Deus Ex, Assassin’s Creed Revelations, You Don’t Know Jack, Bejeweled 3, Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Uncharted 3, Skyrim, Saints Row 3, Batman Arkham City and much more. My backlog has gotten bigger but I don’t mind, this is what I enjoy doing.

Chris C.: Received Batman: Arkham City for Christmas. To put it it simply, this game is just as amazing as everyone has said it is. Still managed to sneak in some King of Fighters XIII, Madden 12 & NBA 2K12.

As for what stood out:

King of Fighters XIII
This game is very impressive. Highly technical and very old school. Love everything about it…except the netcode. Hoping Atlus fixes online issues as they promised.

Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike
Everyone that plays fighters knows it and in this HD Remake we were reminded of why this fighter has so much hype. Parry defense system. Fantastic combo system. Amazing roster and is a standard of how fighting games should be made.

Guardian Heroes
Been wanting this to be re-released, it was my favorite game released on the Sega Saturn. I never owned the system but this remake was fantastic and was a great opportunity to replay one of my favorite games from the 90’s.

Arkham City gave us a dark playground to explore

Batman: Arkham City
Just got started on this game, but this game is worthy of all the critical acclaim. Amazing graphics, fun gameplay mechanics with a mixture of combat and gadgets, and an amazing story incorporating a lot of characters throughout the Batman universe with voice acting that only enhances the storytelling of this title.

NBA 2K12
2K Sports always makes a good basketball title, but this one set the bar to a ridiculously high level. Now that the rosters are fully updated along with the legends mode. This title is a basketball junkie’s dream

Madden 12
Certainly not revolutionary by any means but Madden 12 has slightly modified gameplay. This game has a proven format and continues to keep football fans entertained. Another winning package in my opinion.

Tom: I’ve been playing Dead Space 2. Never has a game made me jump so much, whilst being so much fun too. I’ve also been playing Portal 2. The sales on Steam has resulted in me getting many games!

Catherine: I’ve been putting way too many hours into The Binding of Isaac for it to be ok. I absolutely love this game. Even though the levels and bosses are essentially the same, the randomization and the the amount of content in the game makes each playthrough absolutely unique. I think it might be my indie game of the year.

Games that stood out for me (they’re not all good):

The Binding of Isaac – See the above.

Skyrim: Good god. This game is absolutely beautiful. Despite the technical flaws, Bethesda has still made a game that has immersion at its finest. Standing in a snowy field, looking up watching the aurora borealis, listening to Jeremy Soule’s beastly soundtrack absolutely did it for me. Skyrim is definitely an experience and a classic. I can’t wait to see what Bethesda does next. I just hope it comes with a little more time to QA test and fix bugs.

Fus Ro Dahing all over the place!

Deus Ex: HR: I’m late to the Deus Ex: Human Revolution party. Although I played the original Deus Ex and loved it, I just never really had the time or the money to throw into Human Revolution. I think it’s amazing that Eidos Montreal was able to perfectly capture the spirit of the original. The game’s got an absolutely solid blend of stealth, hacking, and combat. My only issue’s with the boss fights, but that’s already been said and done. I can just hope that Eidos Montreal keeps up the quality of the games.

Dragon Age 2: Sure, it disappointed me because it wasn’t Dragon Age: Origins. That doesn’t make it less of a solid game and a great RPG. It’s definitely a must-play for RPG enthusiasts.

SPAZ – This kind of reminds me of Star Control 2. It’s definitely a fun space shooter and unique. Another must buy for the year.

Bastion – I heard a lot of positive things about Bastion. So much so that i was a little bit afraid that my expectations for it would be so high that I’d end up hating it. Nope. Absolutely not the case. Bastion was everything positive I heard about it and more. The artwork is gorgeous and the gameplay a ridiculous amount of fun. Logan Cunningham’s smooth narration through the game was a really nice touch, especially when paired with the fact that the game came to life around the Kid… and crumbled away as the Kid stepped away.

Rage – Rage was accused of being a Borderland’s copy and whatnot. Still, I wasn’t expecting much from the story. After all, has id Software’s games ever been strong on story? Nope. The technical side of the game blew me away though. I’ve never seen a game make a wasteland look so god damned pretty… and by golly, I’ve never seen a game with such great shooter mechanics. The vaulting, leaping, and dodging of the enemies makes the single player campaign a challenge and a blast.

Lord of the Rings: War in the North: How could a game that looked so good go so wrong? War in the North is just a giant aggregate of a game that had so much potential, yet went awry. There’s no sense of pacing. Every battle felt like it was the Battle of Pelennor Fields… far too epic. Snowblind has to go back to the lab and re-tool the storytelling. Sure, Lord of the Rings is epic, but everything epic has to build from something small.

Jake: Now that I’m back from New Year’s festivities, I dove back into the same old routine: HoN and SWTOR, with a little bit of the original DotA mixed in.

Ben: I’ve been enjoying Sonic Generations. It’s a nice blast of nostalgia with some genuinely fun bits of new sonic in there too.
Still slowly going through Skyrim. Almost done there.

As for games that stood out this year…

A 2005 gem that is a must play!
Psychonauts – I really don’t care if this game came out years ago, it was one of the best games I played this year. It’s platforming goodness through and through with very few issues.

Portal 2- What to say here… From the co-op, to the writing, to the puzzles themselves, it’s a solid game. Plus it has one of the best ending sequences in a videogame ever.

Skyrim- I may not think that the combat is that great or the story very interesting but there’s no question that after 80+ hours of playtime: Skyrim is a great game. The world is a treat to explore and filled with so much to do and see it really is a must play. Just don’t expect it to advance the RPG genre too much. It’s exactly what you expect and that’s all it needs to be.

Dark Souls- This is my game of the year hands down. You’ve never played a game like this, there is nothing truly like it. Except Demon’s Souls of course. The combat is tight and easy to learn but is tough to… you know.

You will frequently die but the game is never unfair. You died because you messed up. Plain and simple. Dark Souls sets up a strict series of rules for you to play within and you must obey them or die. Towards the last half of the game it gets easier and you die less frequently allowing you to truly enjoy the unique environments. These are locals that you have most likely never seen in a game before, filled with enemies and bosses that are just as out there. Not to mention that it’s a very fun time figuring level and boss strategies in it’s world. Do not miss this game. It’s a breath of fresh air in this land sequels and rehashes.

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