This week, Zero Punctuation runs down the top 5 best and worst games of 2011.
So, another year has disappeared wailing into the yawning gullet of the Sarlacc of time and only the one issue remains: who the hell drank my last two Mercury ciders? I know I left them in your fridge - I was gonna drink them the next time I came around, you fuck! Oh yes, and also, like a long-sighted window dresser, I need to figure out my tops and my bottoms.
Just to clarify a couple of rules, my top five and my bottom five will be restricted to games I actually reviewed this year. It may be true that the Green Lantern tie-in game eats its own frozen turds for dinner or that Dark Souls gives free blowjobs to high school students, but I can't get passionate about anything that didn't waste a week of my life. Secondly, strange as this might sound, these rankings are based on the subjective amount of fun I personally had with each title and not by how many five-star ratings were showered on it by publisher-approved journalists who all secretly wish they were dead.
[Windows 3.1 startup sound at ever increasing pitch]
Fifth Best: A perfectly-assembled cheese sandwich on fresh-baked bread
At number five on my list of 2011 games that are good comes a title that has featured on quite a few others' "Best of 2011" lists, and so its presence here can largely be attributed to peer pressure: Skyrim: The Elder Scrolls Another One. An epic dragon genocide that is admittedly a bit glitchy and broken, but it's kind of endearing for it, like a puppy accidentally pissing in its own face. I place it here to communicate to the industry in general that organic, open-ended, face-pissing gameplay is still preferable to being passed from setpiece to setpiece like the prison bitch.
[Burp at ever decreasing pitch]
Fifth Worst: A piece of toast with what you believed to be Vegemite but which turns out to be a skidmark
Number five worst is a game from very early in the year that probably feels relaxed and secure in the knowledge that everyone immediately forgot about it, but I've never been above putting the boot in: MindJack. A succession of square rooms populated by characters who couldn't have reached any level of decent characterization if they had a rocket-powered stepladder. Its sole innovation was the ability to possess other people in the battlefield, a feature which only served to illustrate that absolutely no one was having fun.
Fourth Best: An attractive barista who remembers your name and preferred beverage
Now, moral choice systems are, as mechanics go, right up there with the button that makes your character stick his thumb up his arse, but InFamous 2 demonstrated the best way to handle a moral choice system that you're stuck with: pack that shit in! As well as being an engaging sandbox adventure, InFamous 2 actually provided an incredibly satisfying and appropriate ending. well, endings. And in today's "eyes on the long-term pay packet" industry, I respect that a lot. Of course, if they do go on to make an InFamous 3, I'm going to retroactively take this award away and give it to Minecraft or something.
Fourth Worst: Misjudging the distance between your thumb and the blade of a paper guillotine
Red Faction Guerrilla wasn't even the greatest game in the world, so when its sequel makes you go "what the fucking hell happened?", then you know new depths are being plumbed. With a plot that felt like it had dropped half its cue cards and peeled the other half off a homeless man's back scabs, and the trademark destructo-physics reduced to a carnival sideshow, Red Faction Armageddon slips comfortably into the heavily stained underpants of fourth place.
Third Best: Upending a bucket of kittens onto your delirious smiling face
Getting back to the non-underpants list, number three is the token independent entry that must be included to maintain my pretentious game journalist cred. Bastion, which I persistently referred to incorrectly as The Bastion in my review. Guess no one will be dancing with me at this year's pretentious game journalists' ball. But anyway, it's a superlative example of how to mix gameplay and storytelling, combining intense isometric combat with a voice narration that will send rivulets of something shameful running down your thighs.
Third Worst: Shitting the bed while your girlfriend's over
I don't get why video games have trailers. Films have trailers and games have demos! That's how it works. You need to be able to play a bit of it to get what it's about. Any game trailer, especially ones that don't show gameplay, are basically two minutes of a publisher soaping their ballsack under carefully arranged mood lighting. Thanks again to our number three worst game for reminding us of this. Dead Motherfucking Island. Great trailer, boring, glitchy, horribly designed game. And just because I like the smell of my own farts doesn't mean I want to spend three hours in a sewer level.
Second Best: Shitting the bed while your girlfriend's over and discovering she's into that
Well, I warned that this game was probably going to end up here, and it most certainly has. Driver: San Francisco. "Surprisingly good" doesn't do it justice. It would have been surprisingly good if I'd gotten through it without slumping forward and nodding off with the analog sticks jammed up me nostrils. But its innovative car-hopping mechanic ensured a constant gameplay flow as smooth as a syrup enema, and the good writing is the rectal cork that seals the deal. Some people who are into driving games say the physics are bit crap, but speaking for people who aren't into driving games, I had great fun with this driving game, so shut your face!
Second Worst: Failing at cunnilingus so badly that your tongue gets stuck in the ensuing frosty atmosphere
No retrospective of 2011's shittier moments would be complete without a mention of the legend-making disappointment that was Duke Nukem Forever. Thirteen years these guys were building an eighty-foot jizz cannon in their backyard, and they invited everyone around for its first discharge only for it to tip forward and dribble yellowy spunk over everyone's shoes. A symbol of '90s shooters reduced to two weapon slots and turret sections, more breathtakingly misogynistic than the Boston Strangler.
Best Game of 2011: A roller coaster that terminates at the end of a rainbow
So here comes the final, devastating spurt directly into the new year's open mouth, my game of 2011. Now, some might say my choice is a predictable one, but I failed to give its predecessor any kind of official game of the year award even though it badly deserved one, so consider this an act of penance on my part. That's right, it's Valve's second orifice penetration simulator, Portal 2. Despite the single-player being a bit flabby and directionless and lacking in really meaty puzzles, let's face it: even the dodgiest Portal game stands head and shoulders above most of the dross that comes out. Speaking of which!...
Worst Game of 2011: Being cockslapped by your own herniated bowel
Interestingly enough, the crown of greasy brambles and throne of compacted garbage to be awarded to the worst game of 2011 are in this case two crowns, and perhaps some kind of chaise longe affair, because I can't decide which creepy, masturbatory, lead you by the nose, flimsily justified violence upon vastly inferior enemies, open-quotes "realistic" shooter with a three on the end I despise the most, Battlefield 3 or Modern Warfare 3. I don't hate them because they're poorly made or fail in what they set out to do, I hate them for what they represent. Modern Borefare and Twattlefield not only show that people should stop making realistic shooters but also make a convincing case that people should stop existing generally. And perhaps we should save time, form a big circle, and on an agreed signal all cap the person to the right.
Oh, happy new year, by the way.
- Have a nice apocalypse: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw
- Maybe next I could released a Halloween themed video on Guy Fawkes Night
- And not one of you shitheads got me a present