Overall Game of the Year 2011
Come see PixlBit's pick for the top game of the year, as well as the runner up.
This past year has brought about a tremendous amount of growth for all of us here at PixlBit, and with it has come a diverse staff with game preferences all over the board. When you have a large group of individuals with such expansive and varied tastes in gaming, choosing the best games of the year can often be an intense occasion. Many of our selections won by a mere point, and others missed the Runner Up position to that same lonely digit. But of all the standout titles this year across every platform, there was always one that received a nomination in every applicable category: Portal 2.
When it came time to vote for overall game of the year, it was no surprise that Portal 2 shot to the top of the list. It may not have been every staff member’s top choice, but it was on nearly everyone’s ballot. Looking back on the game, it’s nearly impossible to take issue with any aspect of it.
It’s bigger, badder, and much more ambitious than its predecessor. Brand new puzzle elements poured complexity on to the already intricate puzzle formula, challenging veterans and any of their previously established strategies. A gripping storyline carries the fantastic gameplay with its masterfully composed balance of diverse personalities, the perfect amount of mystery, and just enough answers to Portal fans’ burning questions.
GLaDOS is as witty as ever and her foil, Wheatley, leaves a lasting impression as well. JK Simmons’ voice work as Cave Johnson (founder of Aperture) is equally enthralling, giving players yet another character to latch on to in the barren depths of the facility. A combination of puzzles that occur both in test chambers and in more organic environments helps the pacing of the experience and keeps the tedium to a minimum. It also invites the brand new mechanics of the hard light bridges, gels, redirection cubes, and excursion funnels which are enjoyable spins on the pure portal-based gameplay established in the first title.
But it wasn’t good enough for Valve to merely immerse players into its twisted mind-bending universe one player at a time. They pulled out all of the stops and created a completely unique co-op experience that parallels the single player in terms of quality and ingenuity. Every puzzle demands the active involvement of each player and will often require the collective brain power of both as well. GLaDOS orchestrates this adventure, which tells the story of Atlas and P-Body and the events shortly after the conclusion of the single player quest.
Free DLC and further updates to the game have extended playability, making Portal 2 a complete package that will satisfy the gaming urges of all players. It’s not just one thing individually that makes Portal 2 so great but the combination of all its parts.
Maybe it was the return of GLaDOS, the ability to explore the innards of Aperture, the intense puzzles and intriguing story, or the co-operative quest, but it’s clear that whatever it was, Portal 2 both consumed and thrilled players across the globe. It’s an experience that drew in gamers everywhere, breaking down the boundaries of fanboyism, console loyalty, and the very perception of what it means to be a puzzle game.