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EGM’s Best of 2011
Brandon Justice’s Picks

By
Posted on December 22, 2011 AT 12:07pm

Following my journey through the sea of software that was 2011, I’m quite convinced of two truths I find interestingly at odds with one another. One, the industry’s definitely hit its stride in this current generation of hardware, offering up so many games that I often struggle to make time for the titles that demand my attention. Two, publishers are as obsessed as ever with chasing each other’s tails, resulting in a regrettable lack of genuine innovation in favor of tons of titles I’ll lose little sleep skipping past in favor of more original offerings. That said, more than a few caught my eye, and while I’m undoubtedly offending someone by omitting some random sequel or shooter, below is my list of games that brought the pain in 2011.

Brandon’s Top 5 of 2011:

#1: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Formats: Xbox 360, PS3, PC Publisher: Bethesda Softworks Developer: Bethesda Game Studios Most games are about brining a story to life, but for me, Skyrim’s more focused on bringing a world to life, allowing you to do the rest as you see fit, and despite some memorably hilarious glitches, I can’t get enough of grinding my way to the top of this mountainous, malleable RPG. Now, if only I could get my Housecarl to stop complaining about her role as my mobile treasure chest…

#2: Dark Souls

Formats: Xbox 360, PS3 Publisher: Namco Bandai Developer: From Software Ominous, methodical, and downright difficult, From Software’s Dark Souls is more than just a simple sequel, demanding as much from the team that built it as the gamers who attempt to tackle it. It’s definitely not for the weak of sauce, but if you’ve got a fire in your belly for a ball-busting tale of magic and mayhem, you’ll thank your luck claymore that this one exists.

#3: Dead Island

Formats: Xbox 360, PS3 Publisher: Deep Silver Developer: Techland I’m a sucker for open-world games that aren’t Grand Theft Auto as a rule, and while you’ll get no arguments from me that game publishers are slowly but surely turning zombie-bashing into the next (un)dead horse, Dead Island does way more than hop on the bandwagon, as this inspired newcomer’s successfully trampled all previous attempts at homage mightily underfoot with all the style and substance you’d expect from a seasoned sequel…and it’s got 4-player co-op. You can’t beat that with a detached limb, folks.

#4: Bastion

Formats: Xbox 360, PS3 Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Developer: Supergiant Games 2011 offered up some amazing titles in the downloadable space, and few titles floored me quite like Supergiant’s Bastion. This eye-poppin’, well-written, surprisingly polished first outing from designer Amir Rao and former game journalist Greg Kasavin was an incredible showpiece for the space, and I can’t help but hope it inspires more publishers to take a chance on start-up developers with a similar passion for pushing the medium forward.

#5: Payday: The Heist

Formats: Xbox 360, PS3 Publisher: Sony Online Entertainment Developer: Overkill Software Overkill’s Payday was a game that intrigued me from the word “go,” as its villainous spin and co-op gameplay were the sort of things PSN was born to enable. But it was the game’s combination of solid gameplay and gritty storytelling that took it from a “maybe” to a “f*** yes!” in my annual list of must-play titles.

Brandon’s Off-Topic Awards:

Most Unnecessary Call of Duty Homage: SOCOM 4 It’s no secret around the EGM offices that I’m a huge SOCOM nut, so when the chance came to review S4 for the mighty mighty Monthly, I jumped at the chance. Unfortunately, what I got was a watered-down, tragically “modernized” rip-off of games I tend to avoid in favor of Zipper’s classic team-based shooter. What a waste.

Best Game No One Cared About: Two Worlds II While Skyrim clocked in as my game of the year, Reality Pump delivered a compelling adventure in their own right, correcting a host of mistakes made in the original while packing the disc with countless hours of RPG excellence. If you find this one in a bargain bin near you, be sure to pick it up.

Best Misuse of an NFL Legend: Jerry Rice & Nitus’ Dog Football When it first arrived in the EGM offices, we took bets on which PR rep was openly messing with us, but unfortunately, we came to discover this was an actual game. The former 49ers wide receiver is still the GOAT in my book, but I’m still scratching my head as to why he’d hitch himself to this particular wagon.

What do you guys think of Brandon’s picks? Let him know on Twitter (@jokeontheworld) 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 (Friday, December 23rd) 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 (Friday, December 23rd) Part 6: Andrew Fitch (Saturday, December 24th) Part 7: Brady Fiechter (Sunday, December 25th)

Brandon Justice, Executive Editor
Brandon Justice spent the last 17 years in the game industry wearing hats as an annoying retail weasel, an overly opinionated journalist, and game-development ninja—until he got tired of the all the caviar and groupies, returning to the ring as a rowdy, rambling writer in 2010 for EGM Media. Follow him on Twitter @jokeontheworldMeet the rest of the crew.

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