Well folks – we’re almost at the halfway point of 2011, and we’ve already had some top games. E3 has come and gone, giving us a look into the what’s coming out during the rest of year – but I thought it might be good to take a look back, and ask you guys: what were your favourite games of the first six months?
I’m stuck at home with my arm in a sling after a stupid skateboarding accident – so I thought I’d ask you guys this question to stem some of the intense boredom I’m suffering after being stuck at home by myself!
In the interests of getting some variety, I thought it would be best if we do a top 3.
1. Portal 2
Obvious I know, but really – has a better game been released in 2011 so far? I don’t think so. Much has been said about Portal 2’s smart writing, and its incredible core mechanic but, personally, my favourite thing about Portal 2 is the way in which it teaches the player. Not once in Portal 2 did it feel like I was being guided through any of the puzzles, but in hindsight it’s quite clear that I was.
I think for most players, the original Portal had a handful of choke points, a couple of frustrating sections, but in Portal 2 it felt as though I was being frustrated for the right reasons. I love that this is a first person shooter that non-gamers could play, yet niche and ‘core’ enough for folks like us to feel like Portal 2 was a game made specifically for gamers.
Portal 2 is a new idea to the extent that you don’t require decades of gaming experience to navigate its curious universe. I think that’s why it’s such an incredible game.
It will be very difficult for any game being released this year to knock Portal 2 of its perch.
2. Ghost Trick
To begin with, I completely hated Ghost Trick. It’s barely a game really – quite often I felt as though I was simply being guided through a series of completely spurious set-pieces that made absolutely no sense.
However, once I submitted to the fact that was a game to experience, to enjoy, to engage with on a more passive level, everything sort of clicked, and I just fell in love.
My experience with Ghost Trick was more like an experience with a good book. I’d make myself a hot chocolate, load it up with sugar, put my paisley patterned pyjamas on, and head off to bed like a Grandad, DS in hand, to play through an hour of Ghost Trick before going to sleep. And like most good books – I always seemed to end up spending more time with it than I planned – staying up until 2am, each new twist propelling me through the narrative.
Great writing, fun charaters, awesome design – Ghost Trick is easily my favourite handheld game of 2011 so far.
3. Fight Night Champion
This is a bizarre choice that may surprise people – but for a number of reasons, I think Fight Night Champion deserves to be up there with some of the best games released this year.
This is mainly because of its single player mode – a mode which does something so obvious I’m surprised no-one has thought of attempting it before – creating a scenario which places you, the player, in the midst of a cheesy Hollywood style boxing narrative and asking you to play through it.
I loved this mode not because it had an incredible story, with great writing – because for the most part the story and the writing was mediocre. I loved it because it gave me a reason to play, it cleverly provided scenarios which forced me to use all of the techniques and mechanics in the game.
– ARGH! The ref is bogus – I can’t use body blows or he’ll count them as below the belt shots and deduct points.
– NO! This guy is too fast – I’ll have to slow hm down with body blows.
– OMG! I have to knock this guy out using counters and power shots, because the dodgy promoter has bribed the judges.
Fight Night Champion managed to combine an overblown sense of drama with the game’s mechanics, and the end result was probably the most compelling single player campaign I’ve ever played in a sports game. Usually I’ll buy titles like FIFA or Fight Night purely as multiplayer games. Fight Night Champion provided me with a new angle I didn’t expect. It completely surprised me.
I really hope EA attempt to add this same kind of drama to the rest of their sports franchises.
Alright – so that’s my top three games of the year so far – how about you guys? Let us know in the comments below.