What’s up gamers, it’s that time of the year again, Game of the Year time. We’ve had each of our editors send in their personal picks for GOTY. Our GOTY picks had two rules; It had to come out this year and we had to of had the chance to play our chosen games. If you don’t see a specific game on here, that doesn’t mean we don’t like it. It’s much more likely to mean we didn’t play it. For instance, you won’t see any Skyrims here! Why? Because no one on staff has had the chance to play it yet. With that being said, enjoy the Level Save staff’s Game of the Year picks.
Chris Lock picks:
Game of the Year: Little Big Planet 2
No other game has left me so inspired or forced my to use my brain as much as this game did. It is bursting with happiness and charm right from the get go. I woos you into itself with the cuteness of a laughing child. Then just when you feel safe enough to try building your own level it kicks your brain in the teeth. The creation aspect can be as simple or as complex as you want and the only real limits are your imagination. I know that I spent 80 hours or more working on my one level. My ONE level, and there are over 5,000,000 levels to play with the number just getting higher. Little Big Planet 2 is one of my favorite games of all time, much less the year, because it is whatever game you want it to be.
Second Place: Uncharted 3
Let us put aside for a moment the amazing thrill ride that is the campaign and focus purely on the multiplayer. Uncharted 3 has some of the most varied multiplayer gameplay that has ever been in a game. The ability to climb around nearly anything in the environment in a third person shooter creates so many variables that every match can and will be different. Plus there are about ten very different modes with some that blur the line between co-op and competitive. Uncharted 3 would be one of my nominations even if you took out the single player story. But the story,co-op, competitive all mixed together makes this game a complete experience and something on the “Must have” list. Read the review here.
Third place: Pokemon Black and White
It is no secret that I am a diehard Pokemon fan. Still there was a time when I felt a lull in my Pokemon enthusiasm. All of that changed the very second I saw some gameplay of Pokemon Black. While to the untrained eye it may just look like another Pokemon game there are several small changes that make this the best Pokemon game ever released. First off the graphics took a huge boost, everything from moving Pokemon sprites, to battle effects, to a polygonal world. Secondly the speed of the game has been greatly increased making normal gameplay fun instead of a chore. And third, a internet service that is worth a damn. Trading with random people for whatever Pokemon you want without any restrictions and battling in the same way turned this game from “great” to “amazing.” Add on top of all that the RPG elements of this game that, to the layman may seem simple, are actually super intense in their complexity requiring you to bust out a pen and paper at times just to keep up. If Pokemon Black is not the final game of the year it is definitely a contender for RPG of the year. Even against Skyrim.
Game of the Year: Bloodrayne: Betrayal
BloodRayne is not for the feint of heart and not because of the blood. This game starts out as kinda of a simple brawler and then ranked up the difficulty to ten. Some complained about the “slippery” controls but I always felt that they were spot on. You are given precise controls and are brutally punished for not doing things exactly the way the need to be done. It is an old school mentality the really resonated with me and instead of making me frustrated made me feel rewarded when I did it correctly. Not to mention all of the absolutely beautiful art and music in this game that really bring the game to life. Puzzles as well serve a useful break from the blood rain and most if not all of them feel inspired and fun. The only suggestion I could make is to play this on a PS3 because you need that d-pad to play this game properly. Read the review here.
Second Place: Rochard
This game was unique in so many ways. It was a sort of side scrolling puzzle game but it added in smart combat and unique gravity gameplay. You are just a space miner, in space, doing space stuff when space pirates come to take your space stuff. What follows is a strange story about aliens, Native Americans, Bambi, and space. At first the campy humor may seem a little terrible but it grows on you and eventually makes you like the characters. I enjoyed it very much as it was not only a very well made game but a breath of fresh air in the games market. Read the review here.
Third Place: Infamous: Festival of Blood
Infamous FoB took all the fun that could be had in Infamous 2, added a few things, gave it a halloween flair, and crammed it into a two hour experience. Infamous 2 was a truly amazing game to begin with and so this stand alone content already had great gameplay to stand on. Running all over town in a desperate attempt to kill the vampire queen before sunrise all the while collecting stuff and killing stuff was a perfect fit for the Infamous formula. It definitely could have used a bit more content but the fun I had playing this game makes it deserve a nomination for Downloadable game of the year. Read the review here.
Barry Villatoro picks:
Game of the Year: Gears of War 3
After liking the original GoW and hating GoW 2, GoW 3 did the unexpected, it made me a fan. GoW 3 helped me to actually like characters I had previously despised. I enjoyed a story, I had cared nothing for and I went from being annoyed by Cole Train, to hollering right alongside him. The carnage of GoW 3 takes place amongst some of the most beautiful set pieces. You’re slaughtering locusts against back drops of lusciuous forests and breathtaking sunsets. I found myself in awe of the visuals constantly. I loved every moment of the campaign, not too mention the hours of fun that multiplayer, beast mode, horde mode and co-op gave me. I would say, that even if you are not a fan of the Gears of War franchise, you still need to play this game.
Second Place: Catherine
Being confused as to what Catherine actually is, I think a lot of gamers over looked this game, unfortunately. In this season in which the consoles were in a deluge of third person action and first-person shooter games, Catherine dared to be something completely new and refreshing. Challenging gameplay, insane story, 8 different endings, co-op, challenge modes and a Catherine-style mini game Rapunzel. Catherine is just a unique experience that no other game can give you. Love is not over. Read the review here.
Third Place: Batman: Arkham City
Rocksteady delivered yet another amazing Batman game this year with even more polish then the previous game. Phenominal visuals coupled with an incredible soundtrack, an even more fluid combat system, great side quests, and with just all around engaging gameplay, Batman: Arkham City is a blast. If you enjoyed Arkham Asylum, you’ll love Arkham City.
Austin Griffith picks:
Game of the Year: Bastion:
This was the first thing that came to mind upon hearing Game of the Year. Bastion has an amazingly creative story. You play as a young boy who wakes up after an apocalypse known as the Calamity, although it’s never truly explained what it is. Bastion is absolutely the most creative game of the year, with a narrator describing everything that happens, a world that appears as you walk towards it, and an amazingly creative art style. I’ve played through Bastion fully three times already, and am going on a forth with the latest DLC they’ve released. If you’re looking for an interesting new downloadable title, be sure to check out Bastion on XBLA, PC, and the Chrome Web Store.
Second Place: Portal 2
GLaDoS, Chell, and the portal gun are back in what I’d say is my personal favorite Valve game. (yeah, sue me.) You see faces both new and old while still solving some of the best puzzles in gaming history. I’ve spent hours playing through both the single and co-op campaigns and they’re truly amazing. Playing through single player as Chell is a great story along with the classic Valve comedy you’ve come to know and love. Playing through co-op with your “partner in science,” is just as fun an experience, if not better. With a new co-op DLC recently released that I’ve yet to play, there’s always fun to be had on Portal 2.
Third Place: Gears of War 3
Did you expect anything else? Being the massive fanboy I am, I had to put Gears 3 on my list. You play the final game as Delta Squad through the final days of the Coalition of Ordered Government. Sera’s gone down the drain, the locust have a new enemy – the lambent – and the world’s gone to hell in a hand basket. The story carried true emotions and actually had tears (man tears, that is) forming in my eyes and left true emotions in the pit of my chest throughout it all. For me, picking up the Epic Edition, Console Edition, and Retro Lancer, the game stands out to me not only in a gaming sense, but in a holy-shit-this-looks-awesome-on-my-wall sense.
Raven Poplar picks:
Game of the Year: : Minecraft
Under development for two years, Minecraft has finally been given an offical release this year. Still an evolving game by anyone’s standards, nobody really knows exactly what Mojang will do next. Minecraft brings me back to the hours I spent on my floor as a child building with LEGO. I remember creating vast, complicated structures and locales with trap doors, secret paths, and motorized bits. These environments, or biomes in the contemporary vernacular, were used to tell stories of epic magnitude using my favourite late 80’s cartoon heroes as actors. Notch’s game requires that its users be co-operative, or at least productive, in order to get the full experience. There are so many possibilities within the game-world that I’m not sure how to encapsulate the game in a paragraph other than to proclaim it Game of the Year for 2011. Minecraft is the most original and divergent game released in 2011.
Second Place: Jamestown
A vertically scrolling, top down shoot ’em up, this game encapsulates what I love about this genre. With it’s beautiful steampunk style, optional mouse controls similar to Tyrian’s, the simple gameplay mechanic like all of Cave’s shooters, the sense of heart-pounding urgency required of any twitch action game, and bosses that are incredibly creative in design, Jamestown is the among my favourite games of all time. This one deserves to be game of the year for 2011.
Third Place: Sanctum
Tower Defence at its finest. This beautiful Unreal Engine-powered game pits you face to face with the monsters which will eventually destroy you. The team co-op first person shooter style of this game sets it apart from most other tower defence games released this year, and also makes this game so incredibly fun. Sanctum must be played to be believed, and is on my short-list for Game of the Year 2011.