Best of 2011 Honorable Mention: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

The Legend of Zelda has always been one of my favorite game series. Having said that, I've always been a bit cool towards the idea of motion controls in Zelda games ever since Twilight Princess failed to resonate with me. So I approached The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword with caution.

What I walked away with was one of the best Zelda games in recent memory. First and foremost, it's one of the best motion control-based games I've experienced. Link's sword and shield were both incredibly responsive thanks to the Wii's MotionPlus attachment. The motion control required a different approach to tackling old foes, but instead of feeling like a forced feature, it felt like a seamless addition. I was suddenly challenged to tackle enemies in a new way, rather than simply hack and slash like in the old days. Link's inventory was also a lot of fun to use, whether it was the new flying Beetle, the Whip that first debuted in The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks, or any of Link's normal weaponry.

But the reason I truly love Skyward Sword is because it tells the story of a hero growing into that role before the player's eyes. To play Skyward Sword is to watch many of the key elements of the Legend of Zelda mythos unfold over the course of a 50-plus-hour story filled with larger-than-life dungeons and exciting boss battles, including a doozy at the end. It's easy to take for granted what an epic tale the Legend of Zelda is, but Skyward Sword more than exceeds the lofty standards set by its predecessors.

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The Shacknews 2011 Game of the Year awards are based on a weighted scoring system between all staff writers and editors. Throughout the week we'll be revealing our 'Honorable Mentions,' which include the titles that did not quite make our overall 'Top Five Games of the Year.' The Shacknews 'Game of the Year 2011 Award' will be revealed on January 20.