Wheatley’s humour is a big reason Portal 2 is our Game of the Year.
By Herija Green, Jess Castro, David Cooper, Mike Chen and Uma Smith
There’s no doubt that 2011 was a great year for gaming, which made sorting through all the exceptional titles to come up with the best of the best a daunting task. Last year, I tackled the process alone, but this year our five-person team all cast their votes — the results of which comprise the 2011 RotoRob Video Game Awards.
Game of the Year
Winner: Portal 2
Runner Up: Batman: Arkham City
Portal 2 comfortably outpointed Arkham City to nab top honours. Jess Castro wrote, “Were there any other characters this year that were loved and hated at the same time as much as GLaDOS and Wheatley? Unprecedented level and puzzle design and an engaging story backed up by a fantastic multiplayer campaign made this a sequel that not only lived up to its predecessor but exceeded it.”
David Cooper added, “Simultaneously ‘not as good as’ and ‘surpassing’ the original, Portal 2 is a near perfect example of how to pace a game — it may not be overly long, but never runs out of ideas. It was difficult to build a game as surprising as the first, but Portal 2 has new surprises around every corner, and will be held up as a near perfect game for years to come.”
Rounding out the top five were Naughty Dog’s Uncharted 3, Link’s new adventure Skyward Sword and a two-way tie between the massive Skyrim and Deus Ex: Human Revolution.
Xbox 360 Exclusive of the Year
Winner: Gears of War 3
Runner Up: Dance Central 2
It what cannot be considered anything but an indictment of Microsoft’s performance in 2011, Gears of War 3 swept the ballots as the 360’s Exclusive of the Year despite not earning a single Game of the Year vote. The end of Delta’s adventure was a hell of a ride; it’s just unfortunate it was among the few memorable ones offered solely to Xbox owners this year.
Close on Dance Central 2’s heels was the stellar racing title, Forza 4, and 343 Studios’ remake of Halo with Combat Evolved Anniversary.
Playstation 3 Exclusive of the Year
Winner: Uncharted 3
Runner Up: LittleBigPlanet 2
After finishing third in overall Game of the Year balloting, Uncharted 3 won in a landslide as the best PS3-only title — in fact, it was atop everyone’s list except for one. Mike Chen summed it nicely, “Whenever anyone asks me what they should get for their new PS3, my first response is the Uncharted series. After you play Uncharted 3, you’ll shake your head and wonder why more game developers can’t get the right mix of story/character with their mind-blowing set pieces.”
LittleBigPlanet 2 also got a lot of support, earning the lone dissenting first-place vote and finishing well ahead of Resistance 3 and inFAMOUS 2. Jess raved, “A game driven by the imagination of its user base, you’d be inhuman if the world of Sackboy didn’t put a smile on your face. Backwards compatible with the material from the original, the gameplay is never ending with millions of stages to explore.”
Downloadable Game of the Year
Runner Up: Outland
Nearly 20 titles were named in the voting for the best Xbox Live Arcade or PlayStation Network game in 2011, and only three (Bastion, Outland and Stacking) appeared more than once with Bastion getting the nod by a single point over Outland. Jess noted about Bastion, “Simple classic hack ‘n slash adventure with wonderful art design and a unique method of storytelling. Looks and feels like a classic!”
Meanwhile, Uma Smith wrote of Outland, “A definite work of art that glows with absolute beauty. Everything from presentation to gameplay will have you hooked until the very end.”
Other games that earned first- or second-place votes included: Stacking, Dungeon Defenders, SkyDrift, Beyond Good & Evil HD and Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet.
DLC of the Year
Winner: Peer Review (Portal 2)
Runner Up: The Missing Link (Deus Ex: Human Revolution)
Not only did Valve’s Portal 2 abscond with Game of the Year honours, but its free add-on, Peer Review, also nabbed top marks in the DLC category. Jess noted, “It’s free, damn it, free! New co-op levels and single-player challenges bring you back to a game you already spent way too much time on – for free!” Did he mention it was free?
The No. 2 spot was hotly contested with Eidos Montreal’s Deus Ex: Human Revolution edging out RAAM’s Shadow (Gears of War 3) and the combined case files from LA Noire. Of note, LittleBigPlanet 2 was the only title with multiple add-ons earning votes as Rise of the Cakeling and Toy Story both found their way onto ballots.
Sports Game of the Year
Winner: NHL ‘12
Runner Up: FIFA ‘12
RotoRob.com is a Canadian site so it shouldn’t be a surprise that EA Sports’ NHL ’12 skated away with the prize this year. Resident hockey buff Mike wrote, “By adding in dynamic goalies and a battle-in-the-slot system, the EA Sports folks have addressed one of the biggest problems in the entire NHL series. It’s certainly a relief to be able to skate into the slot area and not just bounce off the defender.”
Shooter of the Year
Winner: Modern Warfare 3
Runner Up: Dead Space 2
There were a lot of great shooters this year, but the juggernaut that is Activision’s Call of Duty franchise cannot be stopped as its latest installment, Modern Warfare 3, is the choice here. For some it’s become the series they love to hate, but MW3 has an intense campaign and a multiplayer that ropes you in and doesn’t let go.
Electronic Arts earned a second-place finish… it just wasn’t for Battlefield 3 (which did not garner a single vote). Instead, the creepy Dead Space 2 was the runner-up. Gears of War 3 and Resistance 3 received some support as well, but perhaps the most surprising vote was David’s selection of Epic’s other shooter, Bulletstorm, as his top choice for 2011.
David wrote, “Offering a shooter that doesn’t concern itself with being cinematic or realistic, Bulletstorm was one of the most purely fun games I played this year. It may not break much new ground, but the over the top violence, wide variety of killing methods and unique combo system was unlike anything else I played this year. I’ll take this over a brown military shooter any day.”
Xbox Live Indie Game of the Year
Winners: Cute Things Dying Violently, Redd: The Lost Temple, Battle High: San Bruno
Our three resident XBLIG experts each picked their favourites but no title appeared on more than one ballot, which makes each of their top choices a co-winner. Uma wrote about Cute Things, “Take a cute creature and have it in a bloody situation and you have an idea of what this game is about. It’s beautiful, adorable, and disgusting. You gotta love it!”
The other six titles that were named: IonBall, TriLinea ReAct, Niji, Aban Hawkins & The 1,000 Spikes, Decay and The Tempura of the Dead.
Surprise of the Year
Everyone was asked to contribute a title they felt surprised them in a positive way this year, and the selections were: Rayman Origins, Sonic Generations, Back to the Future, Outland and Catherine.
Disappointment of the Year
Everyone was asked to contribute a title they felt surprised them in a negative way this year, and the selections were: Duke Nukem Forever, From Dust, Zombie Apocalypse: Never Die Alone and… wait for it… just a bit longer… OK, Skyrim.
For DNF (the only game listed more than once), David wrote, “Hail to the King? Not quite. After literally a decade of development hell, Duke Nukem Forever was released to a lukewarm reception, reminding us all how the gaming industry has moved on from his outdated antics. Clumsy, boring and not worth the time it took.”
And for Skyrim, Mike opined, “Yes, it’s a great game, but Bethesda’s QA team is filled with problems. When your company gains a reputation for releasing bug-filled products year after year, shouldn’t you try a little harder?”
Most Anticipated Game of 2012
Winner: BioShock Infinite
Runner Up: Mass Effect 3
The next installment in 2k’s ambiance-rich shooter was the only game on everyone’s most anticipated list for this year. Moving the series away from Rapture is a bold, albeit necessary, step that has all of us dying to know what happens next. Mike salivated, “From its distinct art style to its unique setting, I’ve eaten up every possible second of the first two BioShock games. Infinite hasn’t disappointed me in any way. Plus, it’s got freakin’ ziplines.”
Bioware is set to conclude the Mass Effect trilogy in March, much to my own personal delight as I’ve played through the first two games twice a piece along with all the DLC. Metal Gear Solid Rising, Max Payne 3, Aliens: Colonial Marines, Halo 4, Final Fantasy Versus XIII and Transformers: Fall of Cybertron are all making for some anticipation-filled nights as well. The most unusual selection — Mike has his calendar circled for South Park: The Game.
And there you have it. The 2011 RotoRob Video Game Awards are in the books. We’ll see everyone in 2012, and hopefully the games will live up to what we experienced in 2011!
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