The Top 12 Video Games I Played In 2011

By all accounts, 2011 has been lauded as a great year for gaming. I am still playing catch-up myself, as I missed out on several of the big holiday season titles (Skyrim, Uncharted 3, Batman, etc.). Since I am not really in a position to provide a proper top 10 list of my favorite 2011 titles, I have opted to select the best games I played for the first time last year. There are a lot of 2011 titles, but there are a handful of older releases that really impressed me one way or another. I plan on doing a proper list in the future, but here are my top 12 video games that I played in 2011:

12) The Saboteur [Xbox 360, 2009]

Criminally overlooked sandbox adventure title that expertly uses a mixture of color and black & white environments.

Singularity [Xbox 360, 2010]
11) Singularity [Xbox 360, 2010]

Another underrated game, this one takes the best elements from Bioshock, F.E.A.R. and Half-Life to make a memorable FPS experience.

Crysis [Xbox 360, 2011]
10) Crysis [Xbox 360, 2011]

Yes, it can run on consoles, and yes, it is still a pretty damn good shooter today.

L.A. Noire
9) L.A. Noire [PS3, 2011]

A handful of flaws do not ruin one of this year’s more unique adventure titles; a must play for fans of Film Noir and detective stories.

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves [Playstation 3, 2009]
8) Uncharted 2: Among Thieves [PS3, 2009]

A sequel that ups the ante with even more insane action sequences; about as close to a movie as a video game can get.

Fallout: New Vegas [Xbox 360]
7) Fallout: New Vegas [Xbox 360, 2010]

Bugs and glitches be damned; this is another great entry into the Fallout series.

Wipeout HD [Playstation 3, 2008]
6) Wipeout HD [PS3, 2008]

White-knuckled racer with a pulsing techno soundtrack and one of the most fun racing modes I have played (Zone).

Deus Ex: Human Revolution [Playstation 3, 2011]
5) Deus Ex: Human Revolution [PS3, 2011]

Cerebral adventure with breathtaking Blade Runner-esque environments.

Gears of War 3 [Xbox 360, 2011]
4) Gears of War 3 [Xbox 360, 2011]

The most refined Gears experience yet; an amalgamation of the best features from the first two games.

Bastion [Xbox 360, 2011]
3) Bastion [Xbox 360, 2011]

Undeniably stylish and full of charm, this indie gem holds its own against the AAA heavyweights.

Dead Space 2 [Xbox 360, 2011]
2) Dead Space 2 [Xbox 360, 2011]

More action-oriented than its predecessor, yet it delivers an even more tense and creepy atmosphere.

Heavy Rain
1) Heavy Rain [PS3, 2010]

This “interactive drama” remains one of the most unforgettable gaming experiences I have ever had, and it is a must play for any serious gamer.

That’s my list. What’s yours? What were the best games you played in 2011?

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Video Game Review: Wipeout HD [Playstation 3, 2008]

Wipeout HD [Playstation 3, 2008]

Wipeout HD
System: Playstation 3
Publisher: SCEE
Developer: SCE Studio Liverpool
Release Date: September 25, 2008

Slick visuals, a pounding techno soundtrack, fast-paced racing gameplay. Wipeout HD has everything I love in a racing title, and I am shocked that it took me this long to check it out. Kudos to Sony for making this a part of their Welcome Back package a couple months ago.

I have never played a Wipeout title before, so this is all new to me. Those who have played the PSP titles, Wipeout Pure and Wipeout Pulse, will feel right at home here, however, since eight of their combined tracks have been remade for HD. The lack of original content may irk series veterans, but it’s pure bliss for a newbie like me.

Wipeout HD [Playstation 3, 2008]

In Wipeout HD, you pilot an anti-gravity craft through a variety of different races. Some are simple — i.e. regular lap races and time trials — but others are unique, such as the trippy-as-fuck Zone mode. The Zone mode is unlike anything I have ever experienced in a racing game. In this, you are racing alone on a track that keeps pushing you forward faster and faster until you are at breakneck speeds. The kicker is that the environment’s colors frequently change into a vibrant array of neon imagery that make it feel as if you are racing through an out-of-control acid trip. Seriously, it’s insane.

The game’s campaign mode throws all of these different types of races at you via eight different “levels”. The races start off easy enough, but they get increasingly more difficult the deeper you go. Around the halfway mark, there is a noticeable raise in difficulty, and it can become a challenge to even earn a bronze model at that point. Still, the races are quick and very, very fun, so even those who are easily frustrated will keep pushing forward.

Not enough can be said about Wipeout HD’s presentation. The game’s 1080p and 60 frames-per-second visuals are absolutely stunning, and the in-game racing is as smooth as can be. Quite frankly, this is amazing for a downloadable title. The techno soundtrack fits the gameplay perfectly, complete with tracks from some of my personal favorites such as Booka Shade and Mason.

Wipeout HD [Playstation 3, 2008]

As if Wipeout HD wasn’t amazing enough in its own regard, Sony included the Fury add-on pack in the Welcome Back package. Fury adds eight new tracks, 13 new ship models and three new game modes, all of which essentially double the single player content. Incredible.

I am smitten with Wipeout HD. This is exactly the kind of arcade racer that I enjoy, and I haven’t played such a game that brings everything together the way this does. If you missed out on getting it for free, rest assured that the bundle is still a steal at its $24.99 price tag. Brace yourself for a wild ride.

9/10

Quick & Dirty #5: The A-Team, Yojimbo, Uncharted 2 (and more)

It has been a couple weeks since the last one, so it’s time for another Quick & Dirty post to get caught up on what I have overlooked lately. Today’s batch has three movies and three video games.

MOVIES
The A-Team [2010]
The A-Team [2010]
Harmless, mindless action movie. I have only seen one full episode of the TV show, so I can’t accurately compare the two. However, I thought the movie was solid enough. There were lots of big explosions and it had an amusing cast of characters. Pretty much everything you would expect in a summer blockbuster like this. 6/10

TRON: Legacy [2010]
TRON: Legacy [2010]
I didn’t care much for the first TRON, but I was somewhat interested in the sequel due to its high budget and Daft Punk’s soundtrack. It was pretty decent for the first 45 minutes or so and then it just started dragging along with nothing exciting happening. Throw in some terribly cheesy dialogue and you have a disappointing film. 5/10

Yojimbo [1961]
Yojimbo [1961]
No need to do a full review for this one since everyone knows this movie is badass. Not sure what took me so long to get around to it, honestly. This was a lot of fun; how can you not like Toshirô Mifune rising above two foolish factions and taking both of them out? 9/10

GAMES
Metal Slug Anthology [PSP, 2007]
Metal Slug Anthology [PSP, 2007]
Somehow I missed out on playing any of the Metal Slug games over the years. This anthology has a ton of the old games, everything from 1-6 (and Metal Slug X). I am gradually working my way through them, and having a blast so far. They remind me of a cartoon-ish Contra.

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves [PS3, 2009]
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves [PS3, 2009]
I am about 3/4 of the way through this, so hopefully I can complete it and provide a full review next week. I am enjoying it quite a bit, although I thought it started off a little slow. Still, it’s easy to get sucked into completing chapter after chapter even after I tell myself I am going to stop playing. The multiplayer seems competent enough as well, and I had fun messing around with the co-op missions. Good stuff so far, hopefully it has a satisfying ending.

Wipeout HD [PS3, 2008]
Wipeout HD [PS3, 2008]
I selected this as one of my free PS3 “Welcome Back” titles. I am shocked as to how awesome this game is. Fast-paced racing action with a kickass soundtrack and crazy visuals. Yeah, I’m sold. I am playing through the main game right now and then will tackle the Fury add-on.