The reason I want to show off my favorite games of 2011 is that they are the kind you’ll never see in established websites, which are more or less always the same. I want those games to have some recognition, which will never happen with those opinion leaders who fail to (re)present this industry in its variety. I want to show this gaming year in a different way, the one that isn’t in the spotlight.
Note : those games are the one I played this year, but they didn’t necessarily release this year. Some did, some are from before… or for later.
Best fighting game
While it is true that Duodecim is more like a Dissidia 1.5, Final Fantasy fans certainly won’t hesitate to pick this game to play as Lightning, Yuna, Tifa, Kain or Laguna. Quite difficult, Duodecim is packed with more than 100 hours of challenge, enhanced by perfect gameplay and top-notch graphics.
Runner-up : BlazeBlue Calamity Trigger
In FPS history, Battlefield 3 has unprecendented graphics, unprecedented sound and music and the most addicting and realistic gameplay of any shooting game this year. All this makes you feel you’re in a real battlefield like never before. There’s an before and an after Battlefield 3, altough the press clearly didn’t notice…
Runner-up : Modern Warfare 3
Best TPS/Action game
The biggest surprise of this year! Almost unknown in the West, the Parasite Eve series makes a formidable entrance with this hardcore, breathtaking action-RPG. You play as Aya, a young special officer who has to fight against invading aliens. Like in good SF movies, the beast are near invincible unless you find their weak spot, making The 3rd Birthday the not only the best TPS, but also the ultimate survival game of this year.
Runner-up : Ace Combat – Assault Horizon
Best Strategy Game
After Valkyria Chronicles 2 which was excellent but coudln’t possibly rival the original Valkyria Chronicles, Sega gave everything to make Valkyria Chronicles 3 closest as possible to VC1, with admirable characthers, both new and old. And they did it : without reaching the supreme quality of the first episode, VC3 delivers a long, rich, difficult and emotional adventure that non-Japanese speakers will unfortunately never enjoy.
Runner-up : None
Quite a difficult year to pick from… We had a rich year, which the press sadly sums up only by Skyrim or Mass Effect, altough we could enjoy many JRPGs. But Atelier Totori had more than any other : uncredibly deep gameplay, massive challenge, beautiful music, a touching story combined with the best humor in a video game to date and of course lovely characters.
Runner-up : Final Fantasy XIII-2
Best Original Sound Track
A record year on the musical side. The pleasure of playing video games has never been so great for my ears. In this flurry of orchestral beauty, Final Fantasy Type-0 is the winner : many of its music tracks are unforgettable and fit perfectly to the situation in the game.
Runner-up : Atelier Totori
Best game no one played
The Hyperdimension series didn’t really sell lots in Europe or even in Japan (the US being more receptive). It is still THE new RPG of this year. However poor graphically speaking (probably because of limited budget), Hyperdimension Neptune features a character design like no other and an unprecedented battle system. Its sequel improves everything, but didn’t have much more success in Japan.
Runner-up : Hyperdimension Neptune
True, Battlefield 3 put a milesone here. No game was even remotely close this year in graphically speaking, that is… before Final Fantasy XIII-2 came from nowhere on 12/15! Unparalleled wheather and light effects, mind-blowing sceneries, impressive character modelling : FFXIII-2 is the closest thing there is from visuals like in Star Wars. That said and the PS3-centered debate left aside, Battlefield 3 on PC is the closest thing there is from reality…
Runner-up : Battlefield 3
Best game you might never play
Even though it achieved huge sales in Japan and despite its undeniable qualities, SquareEnix has been rather discreet on a Western release of Final Fantasy Type-0. Even though a translation is rumored being on the works, FF Type-0 might become the only Final Fantasy never coming to our shores. I, who came to know how fantastic it is, find it tragic more than any other.
Runner-up : Valkyria Chronicles 3
Best DLC policy
Back to Karkand features 4 new well-designed maps, new vehicles and 10 new weapons (and not random ones : L96A, FAMAS, etc.). On the top of that, Back to Karkand is FREE with the limited edition. High quality content for 0€ = an unlimited quality/price ratio.
Runner-up : Hyperdimension Neptune Mk2
Worst DLC policy
You belong to the 650’000 people that already own Final Fantasy XIII-2 on PS3? SquareEnix doesn’t care about you. They decided to give this new weapon for Serah exclusively to the few people who buy the X360 version. Worse, the DLC season only begins on January 10th and will spread over several months… M. SquareEnix, you’re not developping Modern Warfare 3, we’ll have cleared the game by then!
Runner-up : Modern Warfare 3
Best game I’m currently on
Difficult to judge Final Fantasy XIII-2 while still in the middle of it. I can’t say for sure that it is the masterpiece FF fans are waiting for, but it’s on good track! Complex scenario, great mini-games, record-breaking graphics, varied quests awesome new adds such as the live trigger definitely make it THE game to watch for in 2012!
Runner-up : Final Fantasy Type-0
Best game of 2010 I’m still playing
My fat PS3 overheated one day I was playing Black Ops. Never turned on again… I lost something like 30 hours of FFXIII but that was no big deal : I threw myself a second time in heated battles and rejoiced while taking on Vercingetorix and the Long Gui. FFXIII, for its battle system alone, is truly unforgettable.
Runner-up : Gran Turismo 5
I like trying new JRPG IPs. So when the AR Tonelico series arrived in Europe, I was curious to see how it would fare. But it was clearly a miss : it’s funny but ludicrously sex-oriented, graphics and animation are hopeless and the gameplay is as deep as my bathtube. The only good thing about it is its OST, really inspiring. Thankfully it was included in the game, so I didn’t waste those 50€.
Runner-up : Deus Ex Human Revolution
Game of the Year
However good Final Fantasy XIII-2 may seem, what I can say for sure is that the latest Atelier game has this little something you experience only once every few years. After completing the game in a last 10-hour session, something deep inside told me that Atelier Totori was a game like no other, enshrined in my memory for ever.
Runner-up : Final Fantasy XIII-2