Extra Punctuation

Extra Punctuation
The Not Quite Best Games of 2011

Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw | 17 Jan 2012 16:00
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I suppose I should also mention Batman: Arkham City at this point, which was another title that saw a lot of appearances in other people's 2011 top lists, and which was indeed fun to play, but there's no escaping from the fact that its predecessor, Arkham Asylum, was on the whole a better game (it was even my Game of the Year 2009 if you'll recall). And I'm just a little bit dubious about showering accolade on a game that's not as good as its daddy just for old time's sake. Because the moment you do that, you enable it. You send the message that whatever they did to differentiate game 1 from game 2 for the worse, it's what we want, so they'll do it some more. Arkham City may have been in itself still fun to play, but I've been at this game long enough to recognize a step in the wrong direction when I see it, and if the franchise isn't careful it may end up fading out with a whimper rather than a bat-bang.

Then there's L.A. Noire, which wouldn't have touched my top 5 with a ten-foot noir pole, but still deserves a mention as a representative of something encouraging in the mainstream industry today. The game itself has more than enough issues to go around but it's a sign of the mainstream game publishers indulging in something a bit different to the usual bland crap. Between it and the success of iOS and handheld games with a myriad of different genres, I'm seeing an industry slowly but surely ever-clawing its way out of the problem of not enough A, B or C, not enough X, Y or Z and too much M, N and O if you see what I mean. Basically I'd just like to see the spirit of L.A. Noire's emphasis on adventure game-style investigative puzzles done in a better game with better design and which doesn't just kinda lose faith in itself.

And finally, on the cold, dark, stinky end of the spectrum, a surprisingly large number of people asked why I didn't put Call of Juarez: The Cartel in my bottom list when, some argued, it was substantially worse then Duke Nukem Forever or Dead Island. And I can see their point. But the thing was, as I went over my list of reviews from 2011 and assembled my ten candidates, I remember considering The Cartel, and realizing I couldn't summon much energy about it. Bad enough for the bottom list is more than just bad, it has to spark some fiery passion in me, a real active hatred, the polar opposite of the passionate support I would give a game I really liked. But I just don't feel anything like that for Call of Juarez. It doesn't make me angry, it just makes me kinda depressed. Perhaps, in a way, that makes it the worst game of all.

Whatever the case, enough of the grim, watery grey past. Let's finally move on and look to the future. The sucking, black, quivering void of the future.

Yahtzee is a British-born, currently Australian-based writer and gamer with a sweet hat and a chip on his shoulder. When he isn't talking very fast into a headset mic he also designs freeware adventure games. His personal site is www.fullyramblomatic.com.

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