So 2011 was no 1998 in terms of "great gaming years," but it was a very, very good year overall, with great titles from multiple genres across all platforms. Now, check out part two of our Best of 2011 feature, finishing up anime and manga and taking a look at the best games of 2011!
Humberto Saabedra's Best Anime of 2011
3. Freezing - Genetically enhanced high school girls that go to school to learn how to use their powers to defend the world from an alien menace, but not before eviscerating each other in a twisted school-sanctioned deathmatch style tournament to see who is the strongest. Violence, gore and skin galore!
2. Usagi Drop - A touching story that sent me scrambling to read the manga. The anime adaptation nailed the interplay between Daikichi and Rin during her childhood while realistically portraying the struggles of single parenthood. My only wish is that the rest of the story is picked up for another adaptation, if only for the sake of completion.
1. [C] Control: The Money and Soul of Possibility- This is the anime that should have gotten economists and pundits around the world to sit up and take notice. While it may have used elements from card games to frame the action sequences, the story surrounding [C] is an excellent metaphor for the current Financial Crisis and I feel it makes a great starting for a larger in-depth discussion on the subject.
Emily Balistrieri's Best Video Games of 2011
Dead Space 2 - Was so happy to finally get my hands on the sequel to 2008’s survival horror third-person shooter. Play it in the dark!
Super Mario 3D Land - Worth buying a 3DS for, if you like Mario—and honestly, just another Mario game is not enough to impress me, so SMB3 fans, take note!
Pokémon Scramble - Got pretty much embarrassingly hooked on this simplified action game take on the Pocket Monster theme. I’m not saying it’s GOTY or anything, but it’s not a bad way to button mash your way through a plane ride.
Bastion - The perfect length. An engaging narrative. Non-stop, gorgeous isometric action. There are plenty of ways to experience Bastion at this point; it's even playable in-browser on Chrome! Make sure you do so.
El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron - Of course this game undersold. Of course it did. It's a beautiful game that should remind everyone what makes Japanese action wildly different from that of the west. Don't let the demo trick you into thinking it's a shallow experience.
Super Mario 3D Land - I love Mario games. Super Mario 3D Land is a fantastic blend of old and new, with just the right amount of Mario Galaxy-style gameplay mixed with classic power-ups and a smoothly emerging challenge in the form of the post-game special stages. The 3D is ace, too.
3. Gears of War 3- Nothing this year made me stand up and spit out my Cocoa Puffs laughing like the Cole Train football sequence.
2. Bastion- The Narrator needs to invade everything: more games, my brain, North Korea.
1. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3- More of the same, but why ruin a good thing? Plus, the .50 caliber rifle has never handled better.
Bulletstorm- I always appreciate a game that tells me “you can do better.” Bulletstorm rewards creativity (and sadism, honestly) with an unorthodox arsenal and over-the-top combat. Besides, it’s currently only $20--give it a shot!
Portal 2- While certain jokes involving lemons and space are almost as overdone as jokes about cake and lies, the highly-anticipated return to Aperture Science gave us a bigger and better sequel with sharper writing, memorable puzzle setpieces, and what I consider a better ending song than the original.
Catherine- A brilliant combination of relationship-based RPG and fast-paced action-puzzler, Catherine treads the lethal minefield of infidelity for a rarity: an honestly mature game made for adults. Funny how a game about pushing blocks and texting girls can make you feel like such a badass, too--now’s not the time to be dead!
The King of Fighters XIII- It’s nice to have an honest, straightforward fighting game with no frills and no comeback mechanics--it just expects you to have practiced your combos and know your options. It also has unrivaled 2D sprite animation--this is the one to get this year.
Gears of War 3- Any game that has spent this much freaking time in my Xbox deserves some kind of mention. An unapologetically familiar third-person shooter, Gears 3 takes all the elements that worked, ditches what didn’t, and introduces the incredibly infuriating Sawed-Off Shotgun.
3. King of Fighters XIII - Easily the best fighting game of the year. The renewed focus on the mechanics that made the series great and the recovery from its misfire in XII made it more enjoyable than it normally would have been for such a storied franchise.
2. Catherine - A game where decisions regarding romantic relationships and the morality of infidelity wrapped around extremely hard puzzles was needed, if only to start the conversation between gamers that typically feel uncomfortable talking about such subjects.
1. DiRT 3 - I get the feeling that way too many people skipped this awesome game. Who doesn't like a game where you can score thousands of points for driving around like a maniac crashing through barriers and doing donuts?
What were your favorite games of 2011? Let us know!