Game of the Year 2011

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*looks thread over*

Ayep, every conceivable reaction has now been throughly represented. Everything from sunny approval right down to seething rage. The Game of the Year list has done its job once again. :)

Here's the thing, folks: critics are people, and people give out subjective opinions. Guess what; if you didn't agree with the list or some of the arguments made in it, good for you! Also, props to those who *did* find their five seconds of personal enjoyment out of finding their personal pick of the year nominated!

With that said, I'll try to avoid assumptions in voicing my little measly opinion. I'll repeat that, as it seems that people take things way too personally or have the attention span of gnats, but it still does bear repeating: You may not agree with me. We cool with that? Good.

1. Skyrim is awesome. Yes, it's bug-riddled and it's a damn shame that console users don't get to have the full breadth of the experience they paid for, but the successes of the game far outweigh its failures. The level of freedom, the scope of the world, the ability to truly sculpt the player character as you see fit - all of that's unmatched by any other RPG. Its nomination as the number one game of the year wasn't anything if not predictable, but it seems to me like it's well deserved. Just like Oblivion and Morrowind, Skyrim has an inordinately long shelf life awaiting it. This is one of those games, folks, that you'll crack open years from now, regardless of how far we'll have come in terms of graphics or storytelling.

2. DAII is... okay-ish. Origins pulled the rug from under my feet and delighted me with its return to a more retro form of role-playing, while its sequel feels designed from the ground up by a focus group that was concerned with somehow merging the original game's fanbase with Mass Effect's. Yes, it does awesome things as far as storytelling mechanics are concerned, but frankly, I never wanted or expected to find myself wandering the same city streets over and over. If they'd been done with the sort of attention of detail that Ubisoft displays with Assassin's Creed, then yeah, I would've appreciated it. As it is, though, Kirkwall is just... bland.

I think that's the word I'm looking for. I can feel the designers' passion right underneath the surface, and some of the characters are *almost* able to get a reaction out of me, but the game consistently plays it safe, instead. To me, it always felt like DAII came very, very close to being a worthy sequel to the original, only to fall back into tired genre conventions. As if being colorless and predictable would sell more.

3. Assassin's Creed Revelations wasn't nominated because of bad timing on Ubisoft's part and because it's starting to get comfortable. Like Ezio himself, the franchise has turned into a rather venerable and predictable series. These aren't bad things by any stretch of the imagination, but it's still starting to become clear that AC's formula is beginning to dry out. The only way they were able to renew it this time around was by adding the ability to reach higher ledges with the Hookblade (a rather small tweak) and by stapling a set of tower defense mechanics that feel more than a little alien to the core concept of the series.

As long as I didn't need to defend one of my Assassin Dens, the game was great. Whenever that popped up, however, I groaned and cried a little inside. I felt as though the game were asking me to bend over backwards to meet its requirements during these segments, instead of feeling empowered and free.

If AC keeps going like this, odds are Desmond's own entry into the series will be a little ho-hum. The charm will have worn off and the gameplay will have remained - but it'll feel like a reskinned Revelations at best. I can only hope for other fans of the series that they'll amp things up a little. How, exactly? I have no clue.

4. The same basic criticisms could be leveled at Uncharted 3. You're still one heck of a fun guy, Nate, but you're putting on weight. Slim up, find yourself new game design territories to, ahem, chart, and tighten up the whole experience. Two of the biggest set pieces in Uncharted 3 felt thoroughly disconnected and placed there if only to pad out the single-player experience, namely the shipyard and Rub al'Khali sequences.

Oh, and Nate? Pick more colorful enemies, please. No disrespect meant to Marlowe, but she wasn't as memorable as your gallery of rogues from the previous game.

I have to wonder why The Escapist even bothers putting a thread on the GotY article at all. Look what it's become.

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