My Best / Favorite of 2011

29 Jan
2012

Best Video Game:

Portal 2 (Developed by Valve)

Portal 2 is a video game masterpiece.  From the beginning to end it delivers on everything that it’s going for.  This game has challenging mind bending puzzles, clean sharp visuals, great dialogue, humor, and great sound that fits the game perfectly.  I had a great time playing the single player and co-op.  It’s everything a sequel should be, building upon the strengths of its predecessor while adding great, but completely different content that helps it develop into its own entity.

The story of the game was very interesting and the turns and twists were done very well.  I won’t spoil anything but I must say the ending was also great.  My wife and I also had a great time with the co-op.  After completing it I must say it was the best implementation of co-op that I’ve ever experienced.  You really have to work together to get through the puzzles and teamwork is key to completing them.  It was fun bouncing ideas back and forth and experimenting with those ideas in the game and seeing the outcome turn successful or unsuccessful.  The story is separate from the single player but it was also neat.

Like Portal 1, Portal 2 made me feel like a genius.  Now I’m not saying the game was completely easy to me, but I felt a real sense accomplishment when I completed several of the puzzles and after I beat the game.  Some puzzles can take a relatively long time to figure it out, but once you figure it out and complete it the feeling is euphoric.  Sometimes I could walk into a test chamber and almost instantly figure out a puzzle and then there were other times were it would take longer or I would have to use trail and error to come to the conclusion.  If you like the idea of using your brain to solve creative puzzles in a video game I highly recommend playing this game.

The graphics and art style are both impressive and they help create a great immersive atmosphere that fits the story and gameplay well. This was also one of the most polished games I’ve ever played.  I never ran into any glitches or bugs.  In a land were some developers ship games with numerous bugs, Portal 2 set itself above and beyond by shipping a very clean game.  The main protagonist doesn’t speak, but the dialogue throughout the game is great.  I know that sounds a bit odd, but it’s completely true.  Glados, Cave Johnson and Wheatley deliver the goods when it comes to dialogue and I found myself laughing and smirking several times while playing.  The voice acting is awesome, and the music and sound effects were great and definitely add the icing to this delicious cake….

In my opinion 2011 was the best year for video games so far.  I’ve been gaming since the Atari, and the original Nintendo is the system that thrust me into becoming a gamer, but 2011 was a golden year.  There were several great titles released for several different genres and there was something special for every gamer.  I’m a fan of several genres so I was swamped with great release after great release this year.  

I still have a backlog of some 2011 titles that I actually own but haven’t had the time to play yet like; Bastion, Rayman Origins, and Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet.  I’m also no were near completion of Skyrim or Saints Row The Third but I played enough to know that they are both awesome games but not my personal GOTY.  I was very impressed with several games this year and my decision for GOTY was hard mainly due to my runner-ups.  However, I could go on and on about how great Portal 2 is, and scrolling up I can see that I have kind of already done that so I’m going to stop now.  Portal 2 is my 2011 game of the year!

Runner-ups: Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim & Batman: Arkham City

Honorable mentions: Mortal Kombat 9, Saints Row The Third, LittleBigPlanet 2

Up next after the click–Movie, album, and mobile game best of the year picks, runner-ups and honorable mentions………

Best Album:

TV on the Radio – Nine Types of Light

TV on the Radio have been known for their experimentation in music and the outcome of it which is always moving and majestic in its own way.  Although their album Nine Types of Light sounds different from their previous album, I could still describe it as experimental, moving, and majestic.  I’ve been a fan of TV On The Radio since “Return to Cookie Mountain”, but I was introduced to their newest album through their online film on YouTube.  The movie that they posted online has every song from the album in it and all of them have their own visual representation.  All of the videos were unique and creative in their own way just like the songs themselves.  The last scene of the film was also very entertaining and funny.

The album is mostly slower paced, elegant, serious, and melodic, but there are some up tempo jittery songs.  Everybody in this band has pure talent and all of the instruments flow so well together.  Even some of the slower songs have a very nice groove to them.  I rarely automatically learn words to a song unless I listen to it over and over again.  After only a few listens of the album, the words from most of the songs sank into me.  The album is complex but also very soothing, it’s like the instruments and words just melt together.  Needless to say, these aren’t some simple pop songs were the lyrics plague you and get stuck in your head after like 10 seconds.

Even though this album has love songs with sad lyrics, the only sad thing about this album is the fact that the bassist, Gerard Smith, died from lung cancer nine days after the album was released.  A very sad and tragic occurrence for such a young person.  I didn’t know much about him personally but I knew he was a great musician and a member of an awesome band whom created beautiful music and my 2011 album of the year.  It was a kind of hard decision due to Metronomy’s “English Riviera” being such an ace album, but Nine Types takes me on a musical journey.  TV on The Radio’s “Nine Types of Light” is my 2011 album of the year!

Runner-ups: Metronomy “The English Riviera” & The Strokes “Angles”

Honorable mentions: Portugal. The Man “In the Mountain in the Cloud”, Radiohead “King of Limbs”

Best Movie:

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

Some movie sequels have the tendency to be lackluster compared to their predecessor.  However, lackluster is definitely not be a word I would use to describe Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.  I enjoyed the 2009 Sherlock Holmes movie a lot and I’m not sure if I liked the sequel better since its been a while since I seen the first, but I enjoyed it thoroughly.  I remember when A Game of Shadows ended I said “wow now that was A MOVIE” or something like that.  I didn’t even fell like I was in a theater watching something, I felt like I just had experienced something awesome, and I did.

A Game of Shadows took me on a ride filled with thrills, action, suspense, mystery and playful banter.  The creators of this movie did a great job once again with the atmosphere and costumes which made me feel like I was in the area and time period displayed in the movie. It captured and immersed me in what was going on during every scene.  The writing was smart and well delivered. The acting was on point and all of the main characters played their roles very well.  The audio was executed well and very engaging without getting in the way.  The last scene was awesome and the ending itself was marvelous. Thor was my favorite movie of the year until I saw this one.  It’s elementary internets.  Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is my 2011 movie of the year!

Runner-ups: Thor & Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol

Honorable mentions: X-Men: First Class, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, 50/50

Best Mobile Game:

Jetpack Joyride (Developed by Halfbrick)

 

Sometimes you don’t need to incorporate a deep story or a huge atmosphere to create an excellent game.  Jetpack Joyride is a prime example of that.  The game has a simple one touch control that is suits it perfectly.  The overall design of the game is great and the interface helps it even more to become a quick game to pick up and play.  This is quite possibly the best endless runner game I’ve played on the iPhone.

The power-ups, coins, and obstacles are all done very well.  The cartoon styled graphics look good and there are tons of achievements and goals that add an extra layer to this game especially for gamers that like to rank up and achievement hunt.  This game is a great example of how to make a fun game with simple controls that anybody can pick up and play.  This was my most played iOS game of 2011.  I’m a console gamer, so that’s my platform of choice for gaming when I have the time to sit down and play something.  However, I’m a big fan of bite size gaming on the iPhone and Jetpack Joyride delivers great bite size fun, but I usually take several bites when I turn this game on. Jetpack Joyride is my 2011 iOS mobile game of the year!

Runner-ups: Contre Jour & Infinity Blade 2

Honorable mentions: Mr. Ninja, Tiny Wings, Scribblenauts Remix, Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery

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