If you asked what my favorite game of the 2011 was, I would tell you it was Dark Souls, which made the number eight slot in our prestigious top ten. If, however, you asked me which game instilled me with the most pure, unbridled joy, I would say it was Rayman Origins without a moment's hesitation.
Providing both a fresh experience and an invigorating jolt of nostalgia for the days when platformers were king, Rayman Origins is a must-play.
I enjoyed the original Dead Space. Though I rarely found it to be a truly frightening experience, it was hard to deny the loving attention paid to the game's environments and the gut-clenching fun of blasting off monster limbs. Dead Space 2 polished every facet of the original, delivering a more addictive upgrade system and – at least in the early portions of the campaign – scarier environments.
I loved exploring the Sprawl, a space station that felt like a real, "lived in" place. The narrative, while still not quite there, was improved as well, offering genuinely tense moments and some incredible set pieces. All the pieces are in place for a sequel, and I can only hope that EA follows through on one of this generation's unique survival horror offerings.
It's well-written, it has a tremendous art style, it's funny, it appeals to players of all stripes and it's a Kinect game. To accomplish so much is no small feat, and one that Twisted Pixel has pulled off with aplomb in The Gunstringer.
When it was first announced over a year ago, Dungeon Defenders' blend of tower defense and Diablo-esque loot mechanics had me intrigued. Even so, I was not prepared for the level of polish and care evident in the final product. With a friend or two in tow, Dungeon Defenders quickly becomes one of the best co-op experiences of 2011, if not the best. If you have some friends and $15 (or less if you pick it up during an all-too-frequent Steam sale), you are guaranteed to have a good time.
I won't go so far as to call Rise of Nightmares a good game, but it's easily the most ambitious product to be released for the Kinect so far. Offering players complete control over their movements and actions, it does something no other Kinect title has and, what's more, it's actually fun to play ... most of the time. There are some clunky bits, notably movement and a ridiculous story, but there's no denying the simple pleasures of lopping off zombie heads with pruning shears or blasting them with spheres of cleansing light.
I really hope developers and publishers take note of what Sega was able to accomplish with Kinect and build upon the foundations laid by Rise of Nightmares. Note to any such developers or publishers who might be reading this: Maybe start with a story that makes a lick of sense. Do, however, feel free to insert Kinect-controlled chainsaws at every possible juncture.
Joystiq has revealed its 10 favorite games of 2011! Stay tuned to see those games that didn't quite make the cut in Joystiq's Best of the Rest series.
Sony PlayStation 3 (late 2012)
Microsoft Xbox One