Spike just held their Video Game Awards, and Skyrim walked away with Game of the Year for 2011. And it is no surprise, it was easily the most anticipated game in years, and it certainly lived up to the hype. But while Spike is nothing more than a simple blog (or so I’ve heard), we here at Mortar and Pistol realize that our Game of the Year award is far more prestigious and coveted, and comes with far less award money. In fact, rumor has it that Bethesda and the rest have never heard of us. Regardless, below I give you my game of the year, but first:
Honorable Mention – Mortal Kombat
With an incredible franchise history spanning nearly two decades, the Mortal Kombat series has developed a very dedicated fan base of all ages. It was the catalyst for the creation of the ESRB and the cause of countless parents realizing not all video games were OK for their precious snowflakes to be playing. Uppercuts continued to be great in all walks of life, but never as sweet without a “Toasty!” accompanying it. This year’s reboot and newest incarnation took us back to our MK roots and built on everything that made the series great, while leaving all the crappy innovations behind. Coupled with some great DLC, Mortal Kombat ’11 helped make 2011 one of the best years in gaming we’ve ever seen. Though it was released the day the Playstation Network went down, once it was back up and running the online fighting proved to be some of the most fun and addicting of any fighting game on the market. I still can’t hit a possum in the street without stopping, rolling down my windows, and shouting “Fatality” before screeching off into the sunset.
Third Place – Batman: Arkham City
Following up on what was already an incredible game, Batman: Arkham City showed us that not only could a Batman video game be good, but that they could be amazing. With elements from nearly all genres mixed together in perfect harmony, with a simply fantastic story, Batman: Arkham City was impossible to put down from beginning to end. Where Nolan reinvented the Batman films, Arkham City invents the Batman game. Detective work that puts L.A. Noire to shame, a fighting system that makes Kratos embarrassed, and a story that makes Dante Alighieri go back to his writing workshop at the community college, this game is a masterpiece. Even for people that don’t particularly like superheros, this game will have you pausing at every boss fight to search Wikipedia for their back stories. And when you hear Solomon Grundy recite his nursery rhyme, well, you’ll be growing worse by Friday yourself.
Second Place – The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Go ahead and start flaming me in the comments on how this didn’t get first. Don’t worry, I’m prepared for it. Regardless, Skyrim is purely an epic game. One I had been anticipating for years, it lives up to every second of the hype and then some. When I first saw the world before me, the mountains in the distance capped with fog, the Northern Lights twisting and painting an indescribable landscape, I was stunned. The game is a worthy addition to the already daunting Elder Scrolls series, and proves that this is a franchise that all others aspire to emulate. The first night I got it, I played until the sun came up and barely felt like I had done anything in the game. The first time I stumbled into the Dwemer ruins I was giddy with glee, the nostalgia from Morrowind overwhelming me. It will be a game I play for so many hours that it should come with a Surgeon General’s warning, and one I’m sure to write more articles about in the future. I’ve found myself more than once shivering from Mountain Dew excess at 4am, promising myself I’ll go to bed, just one more quest. It is as engrossing a game as I’ve ever played, and one that you think about playing when you’re not, and even when you’re already playing it. As far as money’s worth goes, you’ll feel like you owe Bethesda more because $60 wasn’t enough to cover what you’re getting. I eagerly anticipate upcoming DLC even though my quest menu is still as packed as a hungover prom date’s missed call list. Skyrim would have taken first easily if it wasn’t for another game this year, one I didn’t really even get excited for, and one I didn’t have too many expectations of. But once I played it, I realized I had found something special. And that’s why this year, first goes to:
First Place – Battlefield 3
I knew the big battle this year would be between Modern Warfare 3 and Battlefield 3, but I didn’t realize I’d later be debating between Battlefield 3 and Skyrim for Game of the Year. I even once posited that MW3 would win out and end up being the better shooter this year. But Battlefield 3 proved to be something more than just another shooter for the year. It proved to be more than a game. It is an experience like none other. It, in my opinion, is even more engrossing than Skyrim by being just so damn realistic. The physics of the new Frostbite 2 engine, the incredible sounds of the gunshots and explosions, and the innovations made to the FPS genre all work to make Battlefield 3 not only the best shooter ever made, in my humble opinion, but 2011’s best video game. Every match is so varied and different and the world is so open to possibilities that each game will leave you with incredible stories to tell. Need proof?
Play with friends and you will have some awesome experiences to share later on. DorisfromNoris and I still talk about some epic games we had over a month ago, and we continue to have epic matches today, ones that are so new and different, regardless of if they take place on the same map. Rush is the new breakout mode of gameplay and has risen to become my all time favorite, opening and expanding the maps to sizes I didn’t think I’d ever see in a shooter. Amazing vehicle physics allow for some incredible gunfights, and the challenging nature of the jets and helicopters make kills with those all the more rewarding. The fact that this game promotes teamwork so well, allowing one to get tons of points without even getting a kill, all work to make this game more than just a shooter, and create instead a realistic and adrenaline-fueled war experience. Add to that that DLC has already been released, giving us 4 more maps with tons of new guns and vehicles, this game proves that it isn’t just another installment, but instead a milestone and an achievement. The realism and detail of the guns makes for an incredibly realistic game that hasn’t even been approached by other games, and the player base of this incredible game only helps to make it such a wonderful experience. A free Battlelog on the internet that you can use to track stats helps to allow you to obsess about it even when you can’t play, and all this together adds up to what is the best game of this year. Though Skyrim is captivating and incredible in its own right, the fact that Battlefield can draw me in more than any other media out there makes this game the true champion of 2011. Grab some caffeine, pull your chair up close to the TV, turn it up louder than your neighbors would like, and jump into a war that will leave you so pumped up that you’ll be scolded by your optometrist for not blinking enough. ***And I just discovered that if you have BF3, DICE is giving away Battlefield 1943 for free!
Agree? Disagree? Leave your comments below and let me know what you think the Game of the Year for 2011 should have been!