We’re roughly two weeks into the new year and we’ve all had some time to go through the masses of holiday releases, so it seems like an appropriate time to start talking about our favorite games of 2011. Rather than giving out a sole Game of the Year award, we thought we’d list our personal favorites.
Kyle S. — “It’s a close call between The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and Rayman Origins and, from an objective point of view I might have chosen Skyrim, but I’d have to say my personal favorite game of 2011 is Rayman Origins. I payed little attention to this reboot of Ubisoft’s classic franchise prior to its release, but due to mild curiosity and a love for 2D platformers, I decided it was worth a try. I downloaded the demo and was absolutely blown away. 
After purchasing the full game, my feelings have not changed a bit. Rayman Origins is pure, light-hearted fun, and the most I’ve had with a game in recent memory. As great as it is that games have become capable of creating realistic, immersive worlds and telling mature stories that tap into our emotions, there’s times when I just want to sit back and enjoy a good run from left to right. Rayman Origins gives me just that, and it’s every bit as good as as the genre-defining classics of the 8 and 16-bit eras.”
Karl D. — “It’s almost impossible for me to pick my favourite game of 2011, Little Big Planet 2, L.A. Noire, Killzone 3, Portal 2, Bastion, Dark Souls, Skyrim, they’re all fantastic games which pushed the boundaries in their fields. However there was one title which just scraped through to become my own personal Game of the Year.
Uncharted 3 is unlike any game I’ve ever played, one that keeps me entranced not only through story and narrative but through beautiful scenery, fluid gameplay and a brilliant soundtrack, it really had it all. From the pub-brawl to diving into the waters of a rusty ship graveyard to looking up at the stars in the desert at night time, it’s simply too hard to pick one highlight from this game, but then again that can only be a good thing, can’t it?
I’d like to give an honourable mention to Dead Space 2; it seems that many gaming websites seem to have forgotten about such a fantastic game due to its release at the start of the year, it’s as thrilling a white-knuckle game is ever going to get (it still shouldn’t be considered a survival horror game in my opinion, but that’s an argument for another time). As I type this, it’s on sale over at Steam for a ridiculously low price, pick it up if you haven’t yet.”
James E. — I’m going to say Deus Ex Human Revolution is my game for this year. While I really loved Skyrim, I just feel like Human Revolution struck a chord for me. It gives me some familiar feeling gameplay, structure without being too linear, and a really atmospheric setting. Eidos Montreal managed to design a believable near-future city with likable characters (in most cases), a tight narrative, and really engaging gameplay.
Jamal I. — Impossible to pick? No, don’t think so. The easiest choice for me this year by far: Dark Souls. I was absolutely enchanted by gameplay and mechanics of Demon’s Souls last year. Dark Souls delivered the magic of Demon’s, and then some; by blowing up the world into a large-scale explore-a-thon, Dark Souls gave players the room to experiment and grow as characters in their respective realms. Despite the butt-frustrating difficulty curve inherent with the now-series (or should it be BECAUSE of the butt-frustrating difficulty), Dark Souls ends up being one of the most rewarding experiences a player could have in 2011.
In terms of butt-frustrating difficulty, honorable mention goes to Recettear: An Item Shop’s Tale. Simply because of this…