games / Columns

The 8 Ball: Top 8 Games of 2011 – Batman: Arkham City, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, More

February 13, 2018 | Posted by Marc Morrison
Batman: Arkham City

Welcome all to another edition of The 8 Ball! This week, I’m here to talk about the year 2011 and some of the best games of that year. There were some heavy-hitters, particularly my favorite game, but 2011 seemed to be a bit of a down year, just because it was almost all full of sequels. Most of the sequels were good, but there aren’t a lot of original games on this list, save for one. Still, let’s begin:

#8: Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3

Both Marvel vs. Capcom 3 and Mortal Kombat 9 came out in 2011, but I oddly preferred MvC3, even though Mortal Kombat had a drastically better story mode, by even having any type of story mode. It wasn’t until Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 came out though that the Versus game really came into its own. While there were some obvious missing characters, the roster for MvC3 was pretty great, and had some fun additions like Zero, Thor, Doctor Strange, and especially Deadpool. Plus, Ultimate had a mode where you could play as Galactus, and a weird mode where you could control different areas of a map and collect cards from defeated foes. Considering the car crash known as Infinite, this looks to be the last of the real Versus games, for the foreseeable future.

#7: Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes

I completely missed Clash of Heroes when it came out on the DS in 2009, and I suspect a lot of other people did as well. However, once it came to home consoles in 2011 I dived into it and came away fairly impressed. Clash of Heroes is a match-3 game with some serious strategy elements involved. You have to arrange units in columns of three, for basic units anyway) to activate them for attack. If you stack units together in a row, it will form a defensive wall to guard against attack. There are five playable characters in the story, each with different strengths and weaknesses that made for one challenging game. I really wish there had been a Clash of Heroes 2, but Might & Magic seems to be pretty dormant as a franchise.

#6: Batman: Arkham City

Arkham City is not as good as Arkham Asylum, but few games aspire to that level of quality. If you can ignore this immutable fact, City is a decent game by itself. The biggest problem for me was that the city was designed in a stupid “U” shape that made getting around a complete hassle. Still, the gameplay remained fun and there was more nods to the comics in this game than in Asylum, at least because of the sheer size of it. I also think the ending was pretty good, and would have served as a nice coda to the franchise, had not two other games came out. The Catwoman stuff was also kind of weird, it was nice to mess with Selina, but it felt kind of half-baked. Although, considering where this game, and Arkham Knight went DLC-wise, it was more fully-featured than any of that stuff.

#5: Driver: San Francisco

Driver: San Francisco has been the only good game in the Driver franchise. The first two games, on the PS1, were looked at kind of fondly for the scale they had, but both controlled horribly, and were barely video games. The less said about “Driv3r” and Parallel Lines, the better. So, Driver: SF had a starting point of “GOD THIS IS TERRIBLE” and managed to actually bring it around. You’re still in control of Tanner, only now he is in a coma and the entire game is in his dream world. Aside from being Tanner though, you take control of other mental projections of people in Tanner’s mind, and fulfill various side-quests with them. You also, later on, get crazy mental powers, like causing cars to fly around and such. It’s a bonkers game, and where the Driver franchise needed to go to actually get good.

#4: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

I know people get obsessed with this game, but I just couldn’t get into it. For me, it was because Morrowind was/still is a much more interesting world to explore and the clockwork gameplay systems were much more creative. You could literally kill the main god in Morrowind, and the game would just let you keep on trucking. Skyrim doesn’t have that kind of imagination, but on the whole, is a much better playing game. Combat is varied and impactful, where you can have access to a lot of different attacks, given your chosen class. I may not dig a lot of the actual aesthetic of Skyrim, but the game does look good, even 7 years later. Also, the mod community, notwithstanding the dumb paid mod stuff from last year, has kept the game alive, because of the Steam workshop support.

#3: Bastion

I don’t think anyone really knew what Sueprgiant was making when they announced Bastion. The team was made up of ex-EALA developers. So, imagine the surprise when they released a great, isometric action-adventure game with a superb story. The nuts and bolts gameplay of Bastion is relatively simple, use your hammer and various other weaponry to explore the fractured landscape to get chunks of crystal to restore the broken world. Alongside this though, is some of the best narration in a game, with Rucks constantly telling the player what is going on.

#2: The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings

The original Witcher was an extremely clunky RPG, based on an engine that could barely support what it was trying to accomplish. Witcher 2 did away with this by way of CD Projekt Red using their own, and it was great. The game looked fantastic and played better. It wasn’t a huge open-world like Skyrim was, but the world itself felt more distinctive and lived in. Also, the combat was generally better, and quests/storylines were more distinctive and original. Of the three Witcher games, I’d probably say Witcher 2 is my favorite, just because it was a good playing game that was pretty focused on telling its story, which is something Witcher 3 kind of lacked, and became bloated for.

#1: Saints Row The Third

God, Saints Row 3 is so good! I’d argue it’s the best open-world crime game ever made, beating out every GTA game, including GTA 5. Why have a simple animation of you opening up a car door to steal a car, when you can just jump through the windshield and kick the other person out? Saints Row The Third places you back as “The Boss” again, only now the Saints are an international business organization/gang, that is, until, another gang, the Syndicate, muscles you out. It’s then up to you, and your loyal members to retake the city and eliminate not only the Syndicate, but the other gangs supporting them. All this aside though, Saints Row 3 has some of the best characters in 2011 with Oleg, Matt Miller, Mayor Burt Reynolds, and of course, Kinzie Kensington. Saints Row The Third was the best game of 2011, hands down.

For comments, list your favorite games of 2011 and why.

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Top 8 Games of 2012

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The 8 Ball (Games), Marc Morrison