Top 5 Games of 2011

To celebrate the 5th episode of The VG Island Podcast, The VG Island will be listing ‘The Top 5 Games of 2011.’

The year 2011 saw the release of some of the most fantastic game releases of all time. It was a year that included new releases in a number of beloved video game franchises that not only raised the bar for future entries in each series but provided games that stood on the merits of them in itself. This list is the opinion of a single person and may or may not include your favourite games of 2011.

As I personally have not played every single game, it cannot be considered as a complete list, but more of a personal list, and the ‘current’ opinion of The VG Island, as eventually any other games that could be considered the greatest games of 2011 will be played at some point in time by me.

Let’s begin!

The Top 5 Games

of 2011


Rayman Origins


Rayman origins is downright beautiful. By simply looking at screenshots of the game, you can see the level of detail that went into each levels visuals and design. But its design is not the only reason this game deserves a spot on this list. It’s controls are tight and offer varied ways to play and it’s co-op multiplayer, which is available for unto 4 players, makes the game that much better (with the sweet spot at 2 players).

It's better than: New Super Mario Bros. Wii
It seemed, to me at least, that the king of platforming games missed a step with the release of New Super Mario Bros. Wii. It's not that the game was bad, I enjoyed playing through that game and completing every stage, it's just that Rayman Origins doesn't seem to get too cluttered when playing with multiple people, like New Super Mario Bros. Wii did, and it just looks so god damn more beautiful.

It's not better than: Donkey Kong Country Returns.
This one may be just a personal preference, and is probably influenced by my nostalgia, but I had more fun playing through Donkey Kong Country Returns. The controls are a little more tighter in Donkey Kong than in Rayman, and Donkey Kong works more perfectly with two players, although you can't play Donkey Kong with three or four players, unlike Rayman and Rayman has more charm and uniqueness to it.


Super Mario 3D Land


To put it simply, Super Mario 3D Land for the Nintendo 3DS is a perfect blend between Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario Galaxy. It's levels are more confined and shorter then Super Mario Galaxy, but this allows each level to be a perfect fit for a handheld console. It’s the definitive Mario 3DS game for the launch year of the Nintendo 3DS.

If you like Mario games, well lets be honest, you most likely have played it already, but if you haven’t yet, be sure to give the game a try. It’s one of the 3DS games that makes buying the system, if you don’t already own it, a worthy investment.

It's better than: Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure (3DS)
In more ways than one, Super Mario 3D Land is better than Skylanders. The level design is more varied, smarter and fun, and the overall gameplay is more fluid and enjoyable. Alas, the makers of the Super Mario Bros. series are king's of developing games such as this.

It's not better than: Super Mario Galaxy 2
Super Mario 3D Land is a more simplified game than Super Mario Galaxy 2, so it makes sense that Super Mario Galaxy 2 is simply better than Super Mario 3D Land but that doesn't mean Super Mario 3D Land isn't without it's merits. The levels are more confined in SM3DL, and that is one of the biggest reasons that I think SM3DL doesn't quite reach the level that SMG2 is. Oh, and there's no Yoshi in SM3DL...


Portal 2

Portal 2 not only offered a unique gameplay experience, which was built upon the elements in Portal 1, it offered a high production value product and a story that engaged the player within the first minute. Not only does Portal 2 deliver on gameplay and story, it also has it’s own sense of charm and more importantly, a brilliant sense of humour.

The characters in Portal 2 are all extremely likeable, from the antagonist GLaDoS, to the clumsy Wheatley, and to the ‘just-damn funny’ Cave Johnson (I don’t want your damn lemons!).

You don’t need to play through the first Portal to understand the story, it helps a little, but Portal 2 stands on its own as a great gaming achievement for the year 2011.

It's better than: Portal
This may seem like an obvious statement, but not all games surpass their prequels. Fortunately, Portal 2 does in every single way. The levels are more clever, the characters are more funny, the story is grander and the production value is way higher. Also, the game takes just about double the time to finish than the first Portal and every second of that time is enjoyable.

It's not better than: This is not a simple answer.
Portal 2 (as well as Portal) falls into this strange category where not many games are similar. Sure, there are many First-Person games out there, but the Portal series is not a shooter. There's no weapons of any kind, if you don't consider the Portal Gun a weapon, and you shouldn't. I find it difficult to choose a game that is better than Portal 2, when I compare it to games that are similar, because there are so few games like it, and this is where I believe the games industry should be heading, delivering gaming experiences that offer new and exciting ways to play and to tell a story. This is also why I consider Portal 2 to be one of the best games of 2011.


The Legend of Zelda:

Skyward Sword


The Legend of Zelda could easily be considered the greatest game of 2011, but just didn’t quite make it to that level.

Skyward Sword focuses its entire gameplay on Motion Controls, which could be considered a risky move, as the fan base spans a decade. But generally speaking, Skyward Sword’s motion controls deliver on its promise of being intuitive, clever and fun. There are times when playing through Skyward Sword that you can easily get frustrated at the controls, it happens, and will oct likely always be present in motion control gaming, but nonetheless, Skyward Sword does motion controls the best out of any game that has been released thus far. It proves that motion controls have a position within the hardcore gaming market.

It's better than: The Legend of Zelda - Twilight Princess
Only just. Skyward Swords controls are more varied and accurate this time around, thanks to the Wii Motion Plus, and it helps to deliver a more unique experience. But Twilight Princess had more dungeons and more items and was a throwback to Ocarina Of Time. It had an edge because it catered to those who had such a high level of praise and love for Ocarina Of Time, but because of this, the series didn't evolve as much with TP compared to the release of Skyward Sword.

It's not better than: The Legend of Zelda - Wind Waker
Wind Waker looks way more prettier in my opinion, it has a timeless look that will never age. Don't get me wrong though, Skyward Sword looks georgeous, but something about the direction Nintendo took with Wind Waker really appealed to my inner 'classic Disney film lover.'
This choice, like many on the list, is purely personal though.


The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim


What can I say about The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim? It was one of the most hotly anticipated games of 2011, it has a highly rated pedigree and it is constantly named when the question of ‘what is the best game of 2011?’ comes up. The epic game was released worldwide on the 11th of November 2011 (even having an epic-like release date, 11.11.11), for PC, Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. It garnered highly favourable reviews worldwide and was the first western game to score a perfect 40/40 in Famitsu Magazine in Japan.

The game improves on everything that the series has delivered up until this point in time and also proves that video games can provide players with an engaging story, and most importantly, a vibrate and realistic world, that feels like the inhabitants of Skyrim are still living their lives when the system is turned off. Check out The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim review

It's better than: Fallout 3
Again, only by a little. Sometimes it's easy to compare a game with another that was released by the same developer, especially when the two games share similarities. Fallout 3 was released roughly two years before Skyrim and because of this, Bethesda were able to improve the way they make games in that time. This automatically gives Skyrim an advantage, the same advantage that may be applicable with the 'unannounced, but surely will be' Fallout 4. The games are very different storyline-wise though, being set in completely different worlds with different themes. Personally I have a deep love for Fallout 3, I have poured over 100 hours of my life into that game and its one of my favorite games of all time... Period. Something inside me is trying to not let me say that Skyrim is better than Fallout 3, but in all honesty, there's something about Skyrim that is more epic, and just simply more polished than Fallout 3.

It's not better than: nothing in this genre
I honestly believe that Skyrim is the best open world RPG of all time, as of yet. It's the best Elder Scrolls game, and the Elder Scrolls series is one of the best Open World RPG series'. There's a reason why Skyrim is The VG Islands number one game of 2011.

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