League of Legends has defied all of my expectations. This was the game I avoided all summer because I expected it to completely devour my life. Unfortunately it did and still does. League is the perfect game for me. A deep battle system, great lore, tons of strategy, and reliant almost entirely upon your skill. There are no overpowered items to bring along into battle; it’s just you and the champ of your choice ready to micro to victory. You can play a variety of roles, and if your team is strong and communicates well, you’re an unstoppable wrecking crew. No other game has been this polished, popular, and just this damn good. I see it holding a place in my heart for a long, long time to come.
My pick for game of the year is Dungeons and Dragons.
First off, best graphics ever — assuming your imagination can beat 1080p, which, I mean, it should, considering it’s generated from within your own brain, the most powerful computer out there.Second off, gameplay is incredible. You think Arkham City’s combos are cool? D&D has so many combos it’s not allowed to have buttons because there wouldn’t be enough. Gameplay is a marriage of skill and chance that prevents power gamers from getting out of control and ruining everyone’s fun (crit fail) while still providing opportunities to maximize your character’s potential. How, you ask? Through infinite customizability. I don’t care what Bioware puts out next; this has more options. There are more feats, spells, skill tricks, inter-character interactions and action choices than Carl Sagan would feel comfortable speculating about.
Oh, and finally? Each adventure is a story written for you and by you. It’s as heart-wrenching, uplifting, engrossing, and heart-stopping as you and your group want to make it. You can do whatever you want. In the past decade, video games have managed to largely rid themselves of the big invisible wall preventing you from walking out into a setting the programmers didn’t bother with. But in D&D, there are no rails. You aren’t limited by levels or objectives or a need to unlock things to find out what happens next. Your only limit is your DM’s patience!*
And that, my friends, is why D&D remains my game of the year.
*Also subject to DM’s ability to improvise, if you are going to go ahead and be that guy.
My game of the year in 2011 was The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. I consider myself to be a true escapist. I game to get away into worlds far more intriguing, magical and magnificent than my own. Worldbuilding is of the utmost importance to me. It’s why the RPG is my favorite genre to play and why only the deepest, most engrossing RPGs will do.
To that end, the creators of Skyrim came the closest I’ve ever seen to crossing the line between creating a game and creating a world. You might argue that BioWare far outdid them with their newest entry into the annals of RPG history, The Old Republic, because that game allows you to explore not one world but many, each with their own histories, appearances and trials to overcome. The difference between the kind of depth provided by ToR and the kind provided by Skyrim is an issue of quality versus quantity. Sure, ToR gives you an entire galaxy to kick around, but most of the experience is on rails to some degree, and always driven by quests.
In Skyrim, however, you can boot up the game and simply wander from one end of the map to the other, and you’ll never be at a loss for intriguing encounters, fascinating landscapes and terrifying enemies. You can forget that Skyrim even has a main questline and still have as much fun with it as you would on a straightforward playthrough. Kudos for that.
This year was an extraordinary year for gaming, especially the latter part of 2011. The year started off with Dead Space 2, a game you know is very near and dear to my heart. The year continued with games like Portal 2, Dark Souls, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Gears of War 3 all pulling their weight. The final months were definitely my favorite, though, with games like Batman: Arkham City, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, Super Mario 3D Land, and Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception. Hell, even Mario Kart 7 was one of the most fun experiences I’ve had all year, but there can only be one.
My Game of the Year for 2011 is both a nostalgia trip and a completely new chapter of a series all on its own. Batman: Arkham City. I could’ve picked Uncharted 3, I might have picked the best Zelda yet in Skyward Sword, or even the hilariously deep Portal 2. Hell, Dead Space 2 was up there for me as well, but somehow Batman: Arkham City managed to nab the award from me.
Why? Well I’ve always been a huge Batman fan, and while others (like our fearless leader) picked Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, I stayed with The Caped Crusader because of it’s own depth and story. I also can’t forget to mention that Paul Dini, (The producer and writer of Batman: The Animated Series) wrote the story for this game. Seeing as how I was obsessed with Batman: The Animated Series as a kid, you can understand why I loved it that much more. You can experience the entire Batman series by exploring the entire city. The game is a landmark in just what you can do with a creative license given the right effort put forth. With so many villains, side-quests, and easter eggs that just keep you guessing, I will be playing this game for years to come. It’s the Game we deserve, and the one we need right now, and it just so happens to be my Game of the Year for 2011.
– Thank you for reading our Holiday Hangover Week! We’ll be back next week Monday, Wednesday and Friday with even more content for you guys to munch on. Until next week, game on.