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Shogun Gamer's Best of 2011 Awards - Finale

We’re back! I assume that you are all as excited to hear Shogun Gamer’s Day Two of Awards as much as we are to provide them. Thank you to everyone who provided feedback on Day One, we’ve received warm reception so far on the new approach to award-supply that our team opted for this year, and we’re glad to hear that our little gamble paid off!

Below we have the remainder of our unique little ‘one-off’ categories for you, compiled, once again, by the best and worst games that made up 2011. It is our chance to reflect on the previous year in gaming and give a respectful nod to those experiences that helped to define our past year. And so, let’s get to it: The Shogun Gamer “Best of 2011” Day Two Awards (and Game of the Year!).

 

Best Egg Antiques/Document Collecting Game
Captain America: Super Soldier

Captain America is a man that is many things. He’s a natural leader, a figure that stands for all that is right and just in the world, and lastly he’s a big fan of collecting antique eggs, WWI war hats, and secret documents. The antique collector nature of Captain America may come as a surprise to many of you, but it was heavily featured in the Cap’s first major video game outing, Captain America: Super Soldier. 

When he wasn’t beating up Hydra soldiers and exploring a massive castle, Captain America was getting his Antiques Roadshow on by collecting various antique eggs that just so happened to be scattered around the environment.  While the nature of these eggs may be a big question for some, I simply want to know where the hell Captain America would put all the antiques he collected. Does he have enough room in his utility belt to fit an egg or does he have a new piece of Anthony Stark technology that allows him to carry dozens of eggs, hats, and ultra-secret Hydra documents? Such a question may never be answered but it was nice to see another side of the Cap while playing Super Soldier last Summer.

It Seemed Like Such A Good Idea
Jurassic Park: The Game

We love Jurassic Park. We love Video Games. No idea has sounded better since the chocolate joined peanut butter. It seemed like a no-brainer, it’s been forever since those Jurassic Park games for the Genesis and why has no one else talked about the Barbasol Can that was buried under mud in that first movie? They focused in on it after all… Add to that the sweet, sweet cherry on top of Telltale being the ones to pick up the torch and we were looking at nerdgasms of epic proportions!

Then the game released.

Unfortunately, it was nothing like we were expecting. It was a bitter disappoint, which for a movie franchise is typical, but not when it’s Jurassic Park and Telltale! How did it all go wrong!?

 

I Actually Feel Like A Super-Powered Badass
Infamous 2

Infamous 2 is a game that may not have the immediate might and history of an established franchise behind it, but the game is still kick-ass. Without directly copying what others had done, developer Sucker Punch created an array of powers and effects in Infamous 2 that made Cole MacGrath feel like an ultra-powerful superhero or super villain depending on which path gamers took.  From the high voltage electrical blasts Cole could dish out to the extremely effective ionic vortex, Infamous 2 perfectly captured the feeling of being someone with unique abilities that have an impact on both the world and the people who exist in it.

 

Biggest Don't Call It A Comeback
Sonic Generations

Sonic 4 Episode 1 started a trend on the road back to Sonic’s recovery. It was a great idea that just lacked the proper execution, and so when Sonic Generation launched this year, celebrating the blue-blurs big anniversary, we were happy to see the Sonic game we’ve all be waiting on finally realized.

Sonic Generations did the, seemingly, impossible in helping to restore the house of Sega and Team Sonic. There were friends, to be sure, but they weren’t a feature of the game. Sonic was the focal point, and his friends were just there to checkpoint his run down memory lane. Remixed music from classic Sonic titles, traditional 2D play AND proper inclusion of 3D gameplay helped make this a game that Sega, and its fans, could be truly proud of.

 

Remember, This Came Out In 2011 And Was Awesome

Dead Space 2

Sometimes it’s hard to remember everything we did and played in 2011 and I feel like many of us tend to forget a few key games.  Sure, titles like Skyrim, Uncharted 3, and Gears of War 3 deserve our full attention, but we can’t forget about the Necromorph killing action of Dead Space 2. I honestly couldn’t think of a better way for 2011 to have kicked off as Dead Space 2 not only expanded upon an already solid foundation but provided some extremely memorable moments like the infamous face split scene or Isaac doing battle while blowing things up in space.  Dead Space 2 may not be one of the best action-adventure games released in 2011, but it is a title that we ought to recognize for its excellence instead of completely forgetting it existed.

 

Biggest Guilty Pleasure and Mindless Fun
Saints Row: The Third

While the GTA series has swung ‘round to becoming more ‘gritty’ and ‘realistic’ the Saints Row franchise went proportionally inverted and upped the crazy WAY past 11. While we assume its games like Saints Row that people like Robert Ebert will continue to point at to discredit our beloved medium away from being heralded as “true art” it does what games were originally created for: FUN.

While it might not the deepest story, biggest world, most graphically impressive, or culturally significant title of 2011 it did provide some of the most fun to be had this year. It also gets some big bonus points for being the subject of some of our most interesting water-cooler-talk this year. Nothing like reminiscing with your friends about the crazy sh*t you got up to the night before with access to unlimited explosives, jets, hoverbikes, and mind-controling-squid.

 

Shogun Gamer "Buttery Beats" Award

Shadows of the Damned

Most of the time when we play a game we may be busy paying attention to the stuff that’s immediately happening on screen whether it involves battling a fire breathing dragon or doing battle on the back of a cargo plane. But amidst whatever jaw dropping action we’re privy to experiencing there’s always something in the background to set-up or establish the mood which in some cases elevates the scene to another level.  We here at Shogun Gamer love some good buttery beats and in 2011 none was more soothing and pulse rising than that of Shadows of the Damned.

It shouldn’t be that much of a surprise that Shadows of the Damned receives the Buttery Beats honor as composer Akira Yamaoka once again out did himself.  A somewhat underrated game, Shadows of the Damned may not have been filled with heart thumping buttery beats that left foots tapping for hours on end, but it did provide some extremely memorable tunes that further fleshed out the demonic underworld the game is set in. With memorable dramatic tracks highlighting the quest protagonist Garcia Hotspur is on to reclaim his one true love Paula, Shadows of the Damned managed to stick out as simply wasn’t another video game soundtrack that played things safe.

 

Maybe This Motion Control Thing Can Work Out
Rise of Nightmares

Rise of Nightmares was one of those titles that seemed to slip silently under the radar of most other gaming sites, and their fans. It was more than likely to do with the fact that it released exclusively for the Microsoft Kinect. There’s been an unfortunate link between the Kinect’s motion-controlled experience and an inability to create “hardcore games.”

Rise of Nightmare’s story may have been simple, and the graphical design and concept might have borrowed heavily from previous titles like House of the Dead and Condemned, but when it all came together on the Kinect it provided, at minimum, proof of concept for a working 3D/FPS one-to-one Kinect action title. It has become THE game to show to your friends to prove that the Kinect is more than just swatting red rubber balls.

 

Maybe This 3D Thing Can Work Out
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

Let’s be clear here, we are in no way saying that The Ocarina of Time is the best game for the console. A remake of a Nintendo 64 shouldn’t class as the best example of a modern platform. It’s not the best game to represent the 3D… It’s just the best example of using 3D properly on the 3DS for 2011.

There have been many great titles for the 3DS this year, some that are even on this list, but the fact of the matter is that none of them provided the grandeur and 3D spectacle of Zelda. It was the prime example of why 3D can be a true benefit to gaming, and is probably what you showed to all of your friends this year to show off how awesome the 3DS is… if you bought one.

 

Best Shooter of 2011
Battlefield 3

The shooter category has always been, and will continue to be, one of grand contention. The fans in this category are rabid beyond anything else and cling to their loyalties as though lives depended on it. So at the end of the day, we just have to rely on what experience we enjoyed the most. You might not agree, but this is what we were playing this year for a couple of key reasons:

We like vehicles. We like team-play, and we like scale. Battlefield 3 had some goofiness, like the aforementioned flashlight, but at the end of the day nothing was quite as impressive this year as walking out into the middle of a 64-player warzone and seeing the fight take place simultaneous in the air, sea and on land.

Runner-up:
Modern Warfare 3

Best Fighting Game of 2011
Mortal Kombat

Mortal Kombat was in consideration for the “Don’t Call It A Come Back” award as well, considering they brought this franchise right back to its roots while simultaneously modernizing it for the current gen consoles. Not an easy feat to master. They did it with style, and brutality, threw in a whole bunch of awesome secondary features (like the graveyard and challenge towers) while setting a new bar for fighting game story modes.

Our hope is that this is the rebirth of the franchise and the trend continues with WB Game’s next iteration of the series… especially with that cliffhanger of an ending.

Runner-up:
Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3

 

Best Action/Adventure of 2011
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

A strong contender for the Game of the Year title this year, Skyward Sword managed to magically sew together the nostalgia that gamers have for franchise highlight Ocarina of Time while bringing the series, finally, to the Wii with proper motion controls. Finally we had the opportunity to truly swing the Master Sword via the sorcery of the Wii Motion Plus. While providing some of the best new tools to the franchise sinc… well ever, really, they managed to tie in a bunch of classic and iconic Zelda items and tools, challenges, locals, and mythology. It was easily one of the best experiences over-all of 2011, and probably the single best reason to own a Wii.

Runner-up:
Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception

 

Best RPG of 2011
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Chances are you’ve already been playing the absolute crap out of this game. If you haven’t you’re at least aware that the internet has been aflame since it dropped in Novmember. It has become much less of ‘just a game’ and much more of a cultural phenomenon. From memes, to comics, to songs and epic online challenges Skyrim has become more than just a game. It engulfs you, it keeps you, and it owns you. Five minutes into the world of Elder Scrolls V and you will believe that you truly are the dragonborn… and that’s exactly what a good RPG should do for you.

The game is vast and detailed. Bethesda spared no expense making sure that every model in the game is completely unique, the attention to detail borders on the obsessive, and their fans have pushed every square inch of the province of Skyrim to it’s very edges without finding (too much) fray. The fact of the matter is that Skyrim’s ability to engross pushes the limits of the term “RPG” and has it edge towards a simulation of a world that (most) gamers have long fantasized over being a part of.

Runner-up:
Deus Ex: Human Revolution

 

Best Multiplayer Game of 2011
Portal 2

Multiplayer is a finicky category. Some will argue the points of a fine competitive multiplayer, while others prefer to work together with their common man. In previous years we’ve primarily named competitive multiplayer games to the pillar of “Best of,” but this year it was a cooperative experience that reigned supreme.

Nothing was quite as impactful this year, to our crew, as the quirky and endearing relationship between the two Aperture test-bots, ATLAS and P-Body. The game’s co-op managed to provide a unique little side-story that lent to the main campaign while providing a completely unique experience. It was fun, interesting, funny and just the right length. Like Portal 1 before it, it seemed to capture all the sweet spots for a video game add-on piece but now with the added benefit of being able to bring you friend a long for the ride (and throw them a high-five on occasion).

Runner-up:
Battlefield 3

 

Best Racing Game of 2011
Forza 4

We’ve already talked about how this year Forza 4 warped our sense of reality, taking sexy sports cars away from the unobtainable pedestal on which they once sat, and throwing them into our hands before pointing at some of the globe’s most iconic tracks. For fans of cars, motorsports, and Top Gear this was a good year for Forza.

It is a game that is still brought out in the Shogun offices with regularity to settle disputes, initiate challenges, or just fulfill any automotive fantasies that our writers might have. And with the constant stream of downloadable content that’s been supplied from Microsoft it’s likely that if the game doesn’t yet have you dream car, it will soon enough.

Runner-up:
DiRT 3

 

Best Platforming Game of 2011
Super Mario 3D Land

Look, we thought it was silly to slap a Tanooki tail on every character in the Mushroom Kingdom too. The game went above and beyond a “cute overload” straight to a near fatal dose of adorable. But the fact remains that it is one of the best platforming titles to be released by Nintendo, or indeed anyone, since Mario made his debut on the Nintendo 64.

The game evokes nostalgia in various forms with call-backs to the franchise’s career highlights, while providing something entirely new. Though Mario might not have needed it, it provided a lovely little walk down memory lane in the vein of our “comeback king” Sonic Generations, and probably could have gotten away with some kind of anniversary tie-in as well. Love him or hate him, Mario continues to reign supreme in the world of the 3D platform, and his leap to the 3DS impressed us enough to give the man the award once again.

Runner-up:
Rayman Origins

 

Game of the Year 2011
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

And finally we get down to it. The single greatest game of 2011. While the answer may seem obvious to the thousands and thousands of foaming-at-the mouth rabid fan boys (and gals) it was not a decision that was made lightly. This was a fantastic year for gaming, one of the very best of our recollection. We saw several star franchises make come backs, provide some of their best titles of all time, and there were a few new comers that blew us out of the water as well.

When it comes down to it though, “Game of the Year” is a title that has to be singular… And while there may be several titles we hold in our hearts to be our personal favorites it generally comes down to one question that we ask ourselves: “If you were going to recommend that someone play JUST ONE title from the previous year, what would it be?”

And if you think about that, seriously, you know in your heart as well as we did that the correct answer is, and always will have to be: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.

Our congratulations go out to the fine folks at Bethesda Softworks for holding their ground against the teeming masses as they were bombarded over and over again the last few years for information  (and suggestions) by the passionate fan base. You have indeed stepped up to their call and provided what we all knew you could: A game to surpass all others; 2011’s Game of the Year.

Runner-up:
Everyone else.

 

Seriously folks this has a stellar year in gaming and we hope that you enjoyed it as much as we did! We hope that you enjoyed our take on the 2011 year in gaming. Perhaps you agreed, perhaps you disagreed, but the hope is that, at minimum, it gave you a moment to reflect on the year past and the games that it brought us.