Numerous organizations annually honor top video games. Spike TV will soon announce its “Game of the Year” prize during the network’s Video Game Awards show. Every gamer I’ve spoken to agrees that 2011 proved an amazing year for games, both in terms of increased graphical capabilities and storyline developments. The Spike TV VGA Advisory Council, made up of video game journalists from Game Informer Magazine, Kotaku, Joystiq, and Wired, among others, choose the top five contenders.
First on this council’s list is Batman: Arkham City, the highly anticipated sequel to Arkham Asylum, which I consider one of the best superhero video games of all time. This action-adventure title puts players back in the role of the Dark Knight and combines challenging detective puzzles with traditional beat ‘em up fight scenes. A star-studded cast of villains, including the Joker, Riddler, Penguin, Harley Quinn, and Two-Face, stand in Batman’s way. Arkham Asylum left huge boots to fill, but players almost universally acknowledge that Arkham City lived up to their expectations.
On Batman’s heels is Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception, another action-adventure game that incorporates the third-person shooter genre. Players often refer to Uncharted’s protagonist, treasure hunter Nathan Drake, as the unofficial mascot of the PlayStation 3. Players enjoy the character for his realism and believable personality, which often includes Nate commenting on the absurdity of his predicaments. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, won “Game of the Year” in 2009, and now Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception, with even better gameplay and a strong multiplayer element, has a good chance of taking home the same honor this year.
Portal 2, the sequel to the revolutionary 2007 first-person puzzle game Portal, is the most unique challenger for “Game of the Year.” The story begins when the player awakens from stasis as the silent protagonist Chell in the Aperture Science Enrichment Center. She proceeds to accidentally awaken GLaDOS, the dryly sarcastic computer from the first game, and chaos once again ensues. Players praise the game for its highly challenging puzzles through use of its famous Portal Gun, and for its addictive co-op mode.
Also among this council’s top five is The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, the 16th game in the historic Zelda series. One of Nintendo’s top franchises, Zelda games have sold more than 62 million copies since their inception in 1986. The original Legend of Zelda ranks as the fourth best selling NES game of all time. Skyward Sword tells the history of the iconic Link and Zelda’s earliest incarnations. The game also contains advanced sword fights that require players to use the WiiMotion Plus peripheral. The game’s unique challenges are bound to become legendary.
The fifth game nominated, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, is an action RPG with a massive world that promises more than 60 hours of continuous gameplay. Universally praised for its epic scope, highly realistic visuals, and extremely customizable character creation, Skyrim immerses gamers in a world of fantasy and adventure. While players might opt to follow the main quest, Skyrim’s greatest strength lies in its open world, which allows gamers to explore at will, obtain peripheral missions, and engage in extensive character development.
I’m excited about this year’s line-up, though a few titles I admire didn’t quite make the cut, including the innovative and unique puzzle game Catherine, the iconic Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, and the highly anticipated first-person shooter Gears of War 3. What are your predictions for the 2011 “Game of the Year?” Was your favorite nominated?