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L.A. Noire


 

For much of 2011, I felt like I was on the outside looking in as a gamer. So much of the year was spent in anticipation of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and Battlefield 3—two games in which I have absolutely no interest—and being constantly reminded about the decline of Japanese development that it was easy to get pessimistic that my favorite hobby had moved on from the reasons I fell in love with it in the first place.

But that’s looking at the glass half-empty. Zelda: Skyward Sword featured a return to form for the franchise when it came to design and narrative—and I haven’t felt as challenged by a Zelda game since I was 10 years old. Atlus’ Catherine proved that games can both feature a protagonist past 30 and feature mature, adult dialogue that doesn’t necessarily revolve around sex. And L.A. Noire immersed me in a hard-boiled 1940s setting that was strangely familiar yet fantastical. Yes, the military first-person shooter reigns supreme these days—but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing for the rest of us anymore. We just have to look harder for those experiences in a post–Modern Warfare world.

Andrew’s Top 5 of 2011:

#1: L.A. Noire

Formats: Xbox 360, PS3, PC
Publisher: Rockstar Games
Developer: Team Bondi
This year saw plenty of old favorites return: Zelda, Uncharted, and so on. But was it was L.A. Noire that truly resonated with me, and that’s because, in spite of its well-documented issues, it took me to a place I hadn’t been before—a 1940s Los Angeles my grandfather could’ve trudged through.

 

#2: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

Formats: Wii
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo
Every time I began to think this game cumbersome motion-controls weren’t that bad, I’d encounter a maddening sequence that frustrated me to no end. And yet, I still came ridiculously close to naming Skyward Sword my game of the year—its world design, dungeons, and narrative were the best Zelda’s seen in 13 years.

 

#3: Rayman Origins

Formats: Xbox 360, PS3, Wii
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft Montpellier
This origin story takes the bizarre limbless hero into a fantastical living, breathing cartoon world. But in Best Buy the other night, I saw stacks and stacks of them seemingly untouched by human hands since the game’s Nov. 15 release. If you see Origins being similarly neglected, please pick it up—I did!

 

#4: Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One

Formats: PS3
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Developer: Insomniac Games
This is a bit of an outlier pick, since a lot of people didn’t seem to enjoy it on the same level as me—but I think that’s because they judged it as a typical Ratchet game. Think of it as a modern-day Turtles in Time, and you’ve got what Insomniac was going for, I think.

 

#5: Shadows of the Damned

Formats: Xbox 360, PS3
Publisher: EA
Developer: Grasshopper Manufacture
No, its combat wasn’t on the level of God Hand’s sublime ass-kickery, but this collaboration between Japanese mad geniuses Suda51 and Shinji Mikami still brought plenty of entertainment—it made me laugh out loud about five times in its first 30 minutes. A tall order in any entertainment medium, let alone a videogame.

 

Andrew’s Off-Topic Awards:

Unnecessary Innovation Award: FIFA 12
FIFA 12’s struggled for years to get attacks on goal feeling organic—something perennial competitor Pro Evolution Soccer accomplished a decade ago. So, what did EA focus on fixing this year? The action in the middle of the field, of course. Considering how important goals are to soccer, it’s baffling they’ve let the most important part of the game fester for so long.

 

Motion Control’s Last Stand Award: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
In my mind, Zelda: Skyward Sword is the final proof that while motion controls may work when your kid’s waving their arms alongside Cookie Monster and Elmo, it’s not something players want to be doing in a 40-hour epic. At the very least, Nintendo, please give players the option of the Classic Controller in the future.

 

Blue Balls Award: Mega Man Legends 3
No, this game didn’t come out this year, but Mega Man Legends 3 still deserves a Razzie for the way Capcom handled production—or didn’t, in this case. The company essentially asked users to help create the game themselves, and then acted incredulous when we told them that we didn’t want to make MML3—we wanted to play it.

 

What do you guys think of Andrew’s picks? Let him know on Twitter (@twittch) or drop in a comment below!

EGM’s Best of 2011 Coverage

EGM’s Top 25 Games of 2011
Part 1: #25 – #21
Part 2: #20 – #16
Part 3: #15 – #11
Part 4: #10 – #6
Part 5: #5 – #1

EGM Editor’s Choice Awards
Part 1: Eric L. Patterson
Part 2: Ray Carsillo
Part 3: Marc Camron
Part 4: Brandon Justice
Part 5: Matthew Bennett
Part 6: Andrew Fitch
Part 7: Brady Fiechter (Sunday, December 25th)

EGM’s Best of 2011
Andrew Fitch’s Picks

The EGM staff gives their picks for the best games of 2011, as well as our personalized off-topic awards. For this installment, it's EGM Associate Editor Andrew Fitch.

By | 12/24/2011 04:00 PM PT

Features

For much of 2011, I felt like I was on the outside looking in as a gamer. So much of the year was spent in anticipation of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and Battlefield 3—two games in which I have absolutely no interest—and being constantly reminded about the decline of Japanese development that it was easy to get pessimistic that my favorite hobby had moved on from the reasons I fell in love with it in the first place.

But that’s looking at the glass half-empty. Zelda: Skyward Sword featured a return to form for the franchise when it came to design and narrative—and I haven’t felt as challenged by a Zelda game since I was 10 years old. Atlus’ Catherine proved that games can both feature a protagonist past 30 and feature mature, adult dialogue that doesn’t necessarily revolve around sex. And L.A. Noire immersed me in a hard-boiled 1940s setting that was strangely familiar yet fantastical. Yes, the military first-person shooter reigns supreme these days—but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing for the rest of us anymore. We just have to look harder for those experiences in a post–Modern Warfare world.

Andrew’s Top 5 of 2011:

#1: L.A. Noire

Formats: Xbox 360, PS3, PC
Publisher: Rockstar Games
Developer: Team Bondi
This year saw plenty of old favorites return: Zelda, Uncharted, and so on. But was it was L.A. Noire that truly resonated with me, and that’s because, in spite of its well-documented issues, it took me to a place I hadn’t been before—a 1940s Los Angeles my grandfather could’ve trudged through.

 

#2: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

Formats: Wii
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo
Every time I began to think this game cumbersome motion-controls weren’t that bad, I’d encounter a maddening sequence that frustrated me to no end. And yet, I still came ridiculously close to naming Skyward Sword my game of the year—its world design, dungeons, and narrative were the best Zelda’s seen in 13 years.

 

#3: Rayman Origins

Formats: Xbox 360, PS3, Wii
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft Montpellier
This origin story takes the bizarre limbless hero into a fantastical living, breathing cartoon world. But in Best Buy the other night, I saw stacks and stacks of them seemingly untouched by human hands since the game’s Nov. 15 release. If you see Origins being similarly neglected, please pick it up—I did!

 

#4: Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One

Formats: PS3
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Developer: Insomniac Games
This is a bit of an outlier pick, since a lot of people didn’t seem to enjoy it on the same level as me—but I think that’s because they judged it as a typical Ratchet game. Think of it as a modern-day Turtles in Time, and you’ve got what Insomniac was going for, I think.

 

#5: Shadows of the Damned

Formats: Xbox 360, PS3
Publisher: EA
Developer: Grasshopper Manufacture
No, its combat wasn’t on the level of God Hand’s sublime ass-kickery, but this collaboration between Japanese mad geniuses Suda51 and Shinji Mikami still brought plenty of entertainment—it made me laugh out loud about five times in its first 30 minutes. A tall order in any entertainment medium, let alone a videogame.

 

Andrew’s Off-Topic Awards:

Unnecessary Innovation Award: FIFA 12
FIFA 12’s struggled for years to get attacks on goal feeling organic—something perennial competitor Pro Evolution Soccer accomplished a decade ago. So, what did EA focus on fixing this year? The action in the middle of the field, of course. Considering how important goals are to soccer, it’s baffling they’ve let the most important part of the game fester for so long.

 

Motion Control’s Last Stand Award: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
In my mind, Zelda: Skyward Sword is the final proof that while motion controls may work when your kid’s waving their arms alongside Cookie Monster and Elmo, it’s not something players want to be doing in a 40-hour epic. At the very least, Nintendo, please give players the option of the Classic Controller in the future.

 

Blue Balls Award: Mega Man Legends 3
No, this game didn’t come out this year, but Mega Man Legends 3 still deserves a Razzie for the way Capcom handled production—or didn’t, in this case. The company essentially asked users to help create the game themselves, and then acted incredulous when we told them that we didn’t want to make MML3—we wanted to play it.

 

What do you guys think of Andrew’s picks? Let him know on Twitter (@twittch) or drop in a comment below!

EGM’s Best of 2011 Coverage

EGM’s Top 25 Games of 2011
Part 1: #25 – #21
Part 2: #20 – #16
Part 3: #15 – #11
Part 4: #10 – #6
Part 5: #5 – #1

EGM Editor’s Choice Awards
Part 1: Eric L. Patterson
Part 2: Ray Carsillo
Part 3: Marc Camron
Part 4: Brandon Justice
Part 5: Matthew Bennett
Part 6: Andrew Fitch
Part 7: Brady Fiechter (Sunday, December 25th)

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