December 31st. Christmas is over and 2011 is quickly approaching. With the year coming to an end, how could I not post a best of list? C’mon, it’s tradition.
I’ve played a lot of games over the last 365, and while many have entertained me in some way or another, only a handful have been of the highest quality entertainment. Here’s my top three.
3. Red Dead Redemption – Rockstar has done it again. This game is a bit of mixed bag in my book — I did feel a bit worn out by the size of the world — but, regardless, I can’t ignore the craftsmanship. I still have yet to beat RDR, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t like it — I just got sidetracked. The fact that I’m still planning on going back and finishing John Marsten’s story says a lot about RDR. Again, the desert did start to take its toll, but the overall package — quality of story, character development, voice acting, visual aesthetic, etc., etc. — is not to be missed.
2. Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood – Remember Assassin’s Creed 2? This is like that, but better. Not immensely better — AC2 was already a pretty great game — but it is better. The combat has been refined, there’s less in-and-out of the Animus, there’s a new economy setup, the characters are still fascinating, the side quests are abundant but also relevant…the list goes on. Brotherhood feels kind of like AC2.5, but that’s not a bad thing; it’s completely deserving of its stand-alone nature and its $60 price tag. If you enjoyed Assassin’s Creed 2, there’s no way you can go wrong with AC: Brotherhood.
1. Mass Effect 2 – BioWare is coming swinging for the fence. Mass Effect, although a good game, was pretty janky. Mass Effect 2 took what the original ME did and improved it in every way. There are still a few problems — mining is monotonous (and yet I found myself doing it a lot) and there are bugs to be found — but the look, the story, the characters, the choices, everything makes Mass Effect 2 a completely immersive, impressively realized game. If you haven’t played it yet, what are you waiting for? At $20, you can’t go wrong.
Now there are plenty of other games that are well-worth your $60, but these are, in my opinion, the best bang for your buck. These three games — and probably even one or two others — have created the perfect storm between entertaining gameplay, outstanding visuals, immersive story, and, well, everything else it takes to make a great game. Are they without fault? Absolutely not, but the those faults are too minor (or perhaps the quality of everything is too great) to be of any major consequence.
So what are you waiting for? Get out, buy some games, and start the new year with a bang.