It seems that everyone and their mom are doing sort of lists this week. I was initially planning not to do one, but holidays tend to sneak up on you sometimes, and eat up your precious blogging time. I figured that this would be better than no blog post at all. Not to mention that I already set the precedent by doing a post just like this last year. So let’s get on with it, shall we?
Best Video Game of 2011
This is a bit of a tough call – I don’t think I can name just one game that was the absolute best. There were at least three games that I feel earned this distinction:
Portal 2 was more or less a perfect game. It had excellent writing, awesome game play, memes and a barrel load of fun. Personally I didn’t really care much for the multiplayer segments, and would have preferred if that work went into the single player campaign instead, but I was still very impressed with it. While short, it delivered a concentrated does of solid entertainment that was worth every penny.
Deux Ex: Human Revolution was a very solid, linear RPG. I have never played the original game so the fact that it did not live up to the original did not mar my enjoyment. The things that did mar it were the stupid outsourced boss fights (I wish that all “boss encounters” in Deus Ex HR were like the Hugh Darrow conversation in Panchea) and the contrived push-button ending. Was it flawed?
Yes, of course. But this is definitely the kind of game I want to see more off on the market. Not an endless parade of Modern Warfare clones, but thoughtful, interesting, decently written PPG’s. Bonus points for it not being a fantasy RPG which we have plenty of.
You have probably surmised that Skyrim will be on this list, by the sheer amount of posts I devoted to it in the last month or so. I have a soft spot for Elder Scrolls games, and while Bethesda writing has always been a bit week, their expansive worlds, and the degree of freedom they give you to create your own stories more than makes up for that. It is not as large or as complex as it’s predecessors, but I loved it nonetheless.
If I had to summarize 2011 in one sentence, I would say it was a year of good, but flawed games. Portal 2 was a bit short, and had a lot of content that did not interest me (hats, multi-player, etc..). Deus Ex had outsourced boss fights and cop out ending. Skyrim was small, limited and dumbed down compared to Oblivion or Morrowind. I think that the “consolization” of the gaming industry is progressing almost exponentially now, and the fact that PC is no longer even remotely relevant as a release platform for the big hitters in the industry has been especially relevant this year. I no longer dare to hope this trend can be reversed. Now I simply hope that in the next decade or so, the erudite PC gaming connoisseurs who will be forced to migrate to consoles, will create a critical mass of demanding consumers who are not easily pleased by shitty shovelware like Modern Warfare. That console market will no longer be a domain of bros, and that publishers will make more games like the ones I mentioned above. In the meantime I will keep clinging to my gaming PC for as long as I can.
Best Book of 2011
Choosing the best book is much easier, because majority of the things I have read in 2011 was older than a year. In fact, I think that Embassytown by China Miéville was the only new book I have purchased this year. And you know what? I think it deserves the nomination. It is easily one of the best books I have read this year and I highly recommend picking it up.
Perhaps I should make it a point to read a few more “current” releases this coming year. But then again, there are so many older books I need to catch up on.
Best TV Show of 2011
In the TV land, the year was essentially 0wned by Game of Thrones. This show came completely out of the left field, and blinded me with it’s awesomeness. A solid medieval fantasy with excellent character driven plot, great acting and hell of a cliffhanger. I am impatiently anticipating second season in the summer.
I ought to also mention the second season of The Walking Dead which kept the form, and the spirit of the first one. I enjoyed it toughly – much more for example than the latest season of Dexter which I found a bit lacking.
Best Movie of 2011
I had a long list of good movies I wanted to put here, but I realized none of them was made in 2011. Inception would without a doubt be on this list, if it wasn’t for the small detail that it was made in 2010. Same goes for the excellent Social Network, dark and amusing Super, charmingly awesome Scott Pilgrim or the ass kicking Kick-Ass. All of these were 2010 movies.
In comparison, 2011 absolutely sucked. While I enjoyed Captain America or X-Men First Class they are not even close to being in the same class as the 2010 films listed above. To be honest I can’t think of a single good 2011 movie right now. I’m sure there had to be something worth while released in the last 12 months but clearly I must have missed it.
What was the best movie of 2011 for you? How about books and video games or TV shows? Do you agree with my picks? If not, let me know what would you pick instead.