Game of the Year 2011 - Console Awards
Find out what games of 2011 best represented the current consoles on the market.
Batman: Arkham City - Winner
2009’s Batman: Arkham Asylum kind of came out of nowhere. It wasn’t tied in to a movie or TV version of the caped crusader, and it was already in a very polished state when it was first shown. When it came out, gamers were impressed, not just because this was finally an excellent Batman game, but because it was actually one of the best games of the year. Arkham Asylum’s darker take on the famous Batman Rogues Gallery, combined with an environment that recalled the hugely popular BioShock took players by storm. The game looked amazing, and the combat was considered to sit among the great action games this generation. This all begs the question: How the heck do you top that?
The answer, at least for developer Rocksteady, was to give you more. Not a little bit more. Not a decent amount more. No, Arkham City crams enough content and gameplay for two games, and that’s a conservative estimate. Leaving the confining area of Arkham Island and moving into a large, walled off part of Gotham City is simply staggering, and the freedom of movement available to Batman is a joy once you get used to the flight mechanics. In addition to the lengthy main quest, you can easily double that amount of time completing the multitude of side missions, Riddler puzzles, and challenge rooms. Combat is as elegant and zen-like as ever, and the addition of tons of new, “wonderful toys” gives you far more options than you had in Arkham Asylum.
The story of Arkham City is worthy of special mention. Once you get past the rather absurd (even by comic book standards) premise, this game starts off with a bang. I won’t spoil it, but the first few minutes of this game surpass even Arkham Asylum’s Half-Life inspired intro. Batman is once again forced to combat many of his mortal enemies, but the way in which he interacts with them is unlike anything we’ve seen before. In particular, this game deals with the bizarre relationship between Batman and The Joker better than almost any other Batman story. If you’re at all a fan of the Batman comics, this is a very important, very well-told story for the Dark Knight. It will be interesting to see where Rocksteady goes from here, but make no mistake—the World’s Greatest Detective will have his work cut out for him.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Runner Up
Skyrim handily ran away with our RPG of the year award, but why does it stand out among all the other games on the shooter-heavy 360? For one, it’s gorgeous. Maybe it doesn’t stack up to the PC version, but the realm of Skyrim still looks incredible on 360. Moving our character and navigating the UI with the twin-stick controller is smooth and intuitive. We are able to throw fireballs with the same skills and smooth controls we have been using for years in every FPS.
Tuning Skyrim to work so well on the console was a great feat by Bethesda, and didn’t make us feel like we were getting the “special” version of a PC game. One of the most compelling reasons Skyrim keeps calling us back to our 360s is that ever-present peer pressure. We see our friends list filled with Skyrim players. We see that one friend who is about to bust into level 60 and marvel at his tenacity… but only briefly until we plunge back in ourselves to try and catch up.