February 01, 2012

Best of 2011

Last year I bought and played a lot of new games, both on my PS3 and board games on the table. I've never bothered to do a best of type of article that I can recall, so I thought it might be fun to do this year. I've also been thinking a lot about games the past few days, since I haven't been able to PLAY any recently, so that might have something to do with it. This article is basically unplanned, unscripted and unnecessary. So strap in and follow along, or click the back button and take off!

Let me start out with the video game side of things. I bought my PS3 near the end of 2010, and it took a few months to find games that I wanted to play. I don't like online games, RPGs or any of the MMO stuff, so my list of likes is pretty narrow. It's also possible that some of these games weren't released in 2011, but that's when I played them...it's my list, so shut up and like it!

My Top Playstation 3 Games for 2011

5. Transformers: War For Cybertron

Great animation and a decent story. I honestly haven't spent as much time as I'd like with this game. I've been meaning to get back to it for the last little while. I do wish that the single-player story was a little deeper because, as I said, I don't care for online play.

4. Infamous

I still haven't finished this game, but it's on this list. Very cool story that makes good use of levelling up your powers. Tons of things to do and a big environment to play in.

3. Assassin's Creed 2

A huge improvement over the first game, which I did like quite a bit. The storyline is really ingenious and I liked having more things to do inside this game. Some of the circle puzzles are a little on the annoying side, but I can live with that if it's the biggest complaint I can come up with.

2. Batman: Arkham Asylum

Absolutely stellar Batman game. Hell, it's probably the best super-hero/comic book based game I've ever played. The storyline was top-notch, the controls were great, the graphics were awesome and it was quite simply an engrossing experience all-round. I think this is one of the first games that I've ever finished and actually WANTED to go back into to play again. There are still secrets to uncover dammit!

1. Rocksmith

Yes, a 'rhythm game'. If any of you read my initial thoughts article on Rocksmith, you'll know that I was impressed with it, despite my general loathing for Rockband and Guitar Hero. This game is fun, makes me enjoy practicing my guitar, and has enough depth that an intermediate player like me can still feel like he's learning something. And now that the online shop actually has some songs available, I can work on tunes I actually want to play (helloooo Megadeth!). I'm still waiting for the bass option, but I've got plenty to practice in guitar mode.

It was a tough call for me on Rocksmith or Arkham Asylum being tops, but in the end I had to go with the one that I've spent the most time with. I don't see my weekly hour investment with Rocksmith going down in the near future, so I had to give it top marks.

My Top Board Games of 2011

This list was a lot harder. Board games are difficult to get on the table more than once or twice over the course of the year, so really getting to know one well is difficult. I had to think quite hard trying to recall the games I'd played throughout the year but also taking into consideration whether or not I want to play them more, and what my gaming group thought of them as well. Games like Age of Conan, Scarab Lords and Call of Cthulhu are all in the 'like' list, but I had to pick 5. Actually it's my list, I could have had 55, but you'd have hated that 11 times more than a top-5, so here goes!

5. Game of Thrones LCG

I've played a lot of collectable and trading card games over the years. I think the living card game model is a vast improvement. This one I stayed away from for quite a long time, but after I finally played it...wow. It's a great game, but is even better if you know the books. It's really deep and can be hindered by aggressive deck builds (like any customizable game), but if all you buy is the base set, you can play a great game with 2 to 4 players.

4. Rush 'n Crush

A surprise entry on my list. I bought this in the fall and have only had a chance to play a few times, but man it's great fun. The racing by itself is excellent and feels good, but adding in the guns and weapons, that's even better. I'd love to try a multi-lap race with 4 or more players...I can smell the burnt rubber and charred metal already!

3. Betrayal at House on the Hill

This game wasn't even on my wishlist for 2011. I was actually planning to buy Mansions of Madness, but right before Halloween I changed my mind and went for this instead. BaHotH is the coolest, funnest B-Movie horror game I've ever played. For a game I've had less than a year to have been played 6 times is testament to how much I like it. It plays very quickly, it's easy to learn and it's a different game EVERY time.

2. The Resistance

I finally bought this little gem of a game after having looked it over at least four times during various trips to the game shops. Even after I bought it, it took another four months to get it on the table. Main complaint about the game is that it requires a minimum of 5 players. That can be a tough quota for some groups to hit. But wow, if you ever get this out on the table watch out! Accusations will be made, lies will be told, missions will be failed, and the spies might win. Social gaming fun at its finest for sure.

1. Sentinels of the Multiverse

Another surprise entry into my collection. I found out about this game online, after seeing rave review about it on Drakes Flames and BGG. The publisher is a start-up, and this is their only game...and it was new. So new that not a single game shop in Canada had heard of the publisher, let alone could get me a copy. So I ordered it directly from them, and paid a pretty penny to do it. That said, I don't regret a single cent I put out for this game. It hits a happy place in my heart: super-hero gaming. Not only that, but it's cooperative super-hero gaming...and it's done fabulously. While it's nigh-impossible to win with the standard rules for 2-players, it's still an excellent game, and I will love this one for a long time to come.

Well that's it for me. For now...

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