Staff Favorites 2011: Jeff's picks

By Jeff Mattas, Jan 11, 2012 1:00pm PST

Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine

There was quite a crop of good third-person action games this year, but one that I enjoyed a bit more than the rest was Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine. The IP itself was ripe with opportunity to highlight its bone-sawing brand of action from a boot-level perspective, and developer Relic Entertainment did a great job capturing the essence of what it meant to be a seven-foot army of one. Rather than fall back on the cover-based proclivities of most third-person shooters, Space Marine's adrenaline-based mechanics include a brutal melee component that encourages players to throw themselves deeper into the fray to survive.

The game's multiplayer is also great fun, with fast-paced, bloody matches and a huge array of different weapons and abilities. Even if you managed to overlook this one amidst the hype surrounding the third chapters in the Gears of War or Uncharted series, just remember it's not too late to decimate the Orkish hordes; for the Emperor!

To the Moon

Indie studio Freebird Games' story-driven adventure game To the Moon is really an experience that uses the language of video games as a vehicle to deliver a resonating story, more so than it is a traditional video game. The game's story--about two scientists who traverse (and ultimately alter) a dying man's memories in order to fulfill his life's unrealized wish--is one of my favorite original tales of 2011. It's a bittersweet yarn, but one that still manages to be genuinely charming and funny, while tackling some surprisingly complex and mature themes.

Space Pirates and Zombies

Space Pirates and Zombies (or SPAZ, for short) was another one of my favorite surprises of 2011. SPAZ is played in a randomly generated, persistent galaxy of up to 300 solar systems, keeping players engaged with a fun, top-down, action-based combat system and RPG-scale lists of possible ships, upgrades, and configurations to explore. The introduction of zombies during the late-game changes the experience significantly, and it's overall Nuevo-retro approach to space combat is likely to appeal to fans of the often neglected genre.


"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.

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