Staff Favorites 2011: Xav's picks

Crysis 2 Crysis 2 was, and remains, a phenomenal game. Though I had some problems with the game's narrative, it was a gorgeous experience that I enjoyed playing through. It's a shame that the title suffered greatly at the hands of pirates. Developer Crytek certainly deserves your money as a developer that continuously attempts to push the boundaries of any platform the company's titles land on. My preferred platform was PC (obviously, let's not kid ourselves) but the game was still impressive on console... and don't even get me started on how much fun the multiplayer can be. This is one you should buy if you missed it.

DC Universe Online from Sony Online Entertainment Austin

DC Universe Online I've never been one for MMO titles, but DC Universe Online captured my attention from day one. The combat was more third-person action in the vein of an Infamous than your standard point-and-click affair, and I sunk a ton of time into it on both PC and PS3. It also does an amazing job of leveraging the complete DC universe, featuring the popular and obscure. Since launching it has gone free-to-play, so make sure to give it a shot.

Dead Space 2 from Visceral Games

Dead Space 2 If you don't like the Dead Space series then you're not invited to anymore of my cookouts. Dead Space 2 sacrificed scares from the original for crazy action, but it's still one of the most impressive games I played in 2011. Multiplayer never caught fire with me, but the single-player's over-the-top Hollywood set pieces really made it a treat to play. (Side note: Dead Space 3, you need to bring back the insane bosses from the first.)

Mortal Kombat from NetherRealm Studios

Mortal Kombat The team at NetherRealm did something special this time. Sure, I actually liked MK vs. DC (haters, shut it!), but this is Mortal Kombat the way it was meant to be. Gruesome, hardcore, and a wealth of treasures to unlock. Buy it, play it, love it.

Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet from Michel Gagne and Fuelcell Games

Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet There were no shortage of "Metroidvania" style games this year, but Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet was probably my favorite. The game's art and music are sublime. It is a short adventure, but it's one I enjoyed every minute of.

Rayman Origins from Ubisoft Montpellier

Rayman Origins Play it for ten minutes. That warm, tingling sensation you feel? That's you smiling like a child. It's so stunning and such a treat that it could have easily made the official Shacknews list, but it seems that a lot of people are passing the game's release by. Do yourself a favor, buy it or rent it immediately. Like Beyond Good & Evil, I anticipate Rayman Origins will be the classic we all hope gets a new installment at Ubisoft in a matter of years.

Minecraft from Mojang Specifications

Minecraft If there's one disappointment I have it's not playing Minecraft sooner. The game is amazing in so many ways. It's the perfect example of indie ingenuity and community adoration. Forget what you think it is, because Minecraft will surprise you.

Infinity Blade from Chair Entertainment

Infinity Blade 2 "It's just Super Punch-Out" some people tell me when I bring up Infinity Blade. "Oh, it's just like that game you absolutely adore except mature and beautiful? How dare they!" It may not be the best mobile title of the year (Sup, Jetpack Joyride?), but it's one of the most impressive. A lot of new content, branching paths, and a new upgrade system to obsess over? I'll take it!

Dark Souls from From Software

Dark Souls It may disappoint hardcore fans of Dark Souls to learn the game did not make our overall list; however, it is a game I think the staff could come around on. Once you accept the game for what it is, flaws and all (namely my personal issues with its controls), you're introduced to a vicious world where preparation is akin to godliness. There is no holding your hand here. It's as brutal as you want it to be. Didn't think ahead? Well, that's your fault now isn't it? It's a difficult game for me to love but it's an easy game for me to respect, and for that I give it a nod of appreciation. Other favorites in 2011: Jetpack Joyride (see above), Uncharted 3 (my review explains all), Bulletstorm (my review explains all), Gears of War 3 (my review explains all)
"You forgot..." Let us stop you there! This week we're revealing the Shacknews 'Staff Favorites,' which are titles that didn't quite make our 'Best of 2011' list. This week we'll also be revealing our Honorable Mentions, games that almost made our 'Top Five of the Year' (those are coming next week). If you see a game on this list, it means no amount of arguing, hair-pulling, or crying was enough to get it to be featured on our overall 'Best of' list. Let's agree to disagree! Despite that, these were great games in another stellar year of gaming.