Staff Favorites 2011: Garnett's picks

The Shacknews staff takes a moment to recognize some of the team's favorite titles that didn't quite crack our overall 'Best of 2011' awards. Finally, here are editorial director Garnett Lee's picks.

Shadows of the Damned Without question, Shadows of the Damned supplied me one of the most entertaining rides of the year. Garcia "F'n" Hotspur's sexual innuendo-filled demon slaying trek through hell to save his girlfriend is a love-it or hate-it affair. I loved it. Sure, it's not without its flaws--not the least of which are boss fights which serve as example to the challenge of pulling them off well in a first person shooter. But even they reflect the hell-on-a-hallucinogenic-trip atmosphere so well that it's hard to be too put off by them. There's more than just a façade here too. The game uses its light versus dangerous darkness mechanic well, mixing up more than just the basic dispel the shadows trick. Top it off with Yamaoka's soundtrack that fits things to a "T" whether it's a heavy metal jam or flamenco guitar, and I promise one thing, Shadows of the Damned will leave a strong impression.

Forza Motorsport 4 from developer Turn 10

Forza Motorsport 4 As an evolutionary step from its predecessor, Forza 4 never stood much chance of competing for Game of the Year. It wasn't for lack of effort, though. The game shines as a technical showpiece with a stunning level of detail up close, richer environments than ever before, well integrated car club and online community features, and still the best feel for tires gripping pavement in a console driving game. Now, maybe with the next one the developers can step up the AI to where I can run some great races with their toy. Until then I'm sure to be still playing it every time I get the itch blast around a few hot laps. And I'll be doing those every so often with the wireless wheel. It's no substitute for a proper cockpit and wheel but damned if it doesn't do a nice job at letting me feel like I'm carving a corner when I hit it right.

FIFA 12 from developer EA Canada

FIFA 12 It's basically accepted that sports games (and for that matter racing games as with Forza) don't get considered for Game of the Year. If ever one deserved a real shot at it, it's FIFA 12. Where other EA Sports games often leave me feeling that they were built around the idea of updating last year's model, everything about FIFA 12 tells me that a whole other level of effort went into its creation. While the new tactical defending system has met with some objection, it fundamentally brings with it a more authentic pace of play. It's precision dribbling, though, that really shines. With its ability to control the intricate footwork I see real players pull off, coupled with the impressive physics engine, FIFA 12 captures the sport of soccer better than any videogame has ever captured its respective sport (I'll accept NHL 12 as a rival but it's not my jam). I love my NFL, but when it comes to videogame football, there's no comparison. FIFA 12 is one for the ages.

Lord of the Rings: War in the North from developer Snowblind Studios

Lord of the Rings: War in the North To this day I cannot imagine how Lord of the Rings: War in the North released one week before Skyrim. It never stood a chance, and that's criminal. Developer Snowblind created two of my favorite console action RPGs of all time, Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance and Champions of Norrath. War in the North supplies the same satisfying loot collection and character development, brings it in much closer with a beautiful new game engine, and does it in the rich fantasy world of Tolkein's Lord of the Rings. Oh, and it gets all the better played co-op. Even accounting for skepticism about a Lord of the Rings game, War in the North deserved much better.
"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.
From The Chatty
  • reply
    January 13, 2012 1:00 PM

    Garnett Lee posted a new article, Staff Favorites 2011: Garnett's picks.

    The Shacknews staff takes a moment to recognize some of the team's favorite titles that didn't quite crack our overall 'Best of 2011' awards. Finally, here are editorial director Garnett Lee's picks.

    • reply
      January 13, 2012 1:15 PM

      What about mofo'in Bulletstorm, Garnett???

      • reply
        January 13, 2012 1:19 PM

        Since we'd hit that earlier in the week I wanted to give some love to a few other titles.

        • reply
          January 13, 2012 1:45 PM

          You can never mention Bulletstorm enough. :[

          • reply
            January 14, 2012 12:28 PM

            Oh gawd you just reminded me of DICK TITS!!!!

    • reply
      January 13, 2012 1:40 PM

      Right there with you on Shadows of the Damned Garnett! One of my favorites of the year. I wonder how Xav feels about you having FIFA 12 on your picks list though... Ask him how hard those 2 achievements were to get!

      • reply
        January 14, 2012 7:51 AM

        That was my favorite part of getting hacked!

    • reply
      January 13, 2012 1:43 PM

      Will have to take a look at War in the North next sale.

    • reply
      January 13, 2012 7:33 PM

      I really wanted to like War in the North. I tried, but it just wasn't happening for me.

      Shadows of the Damned? Love it! Really good year for original IPs. Just wish they sold better.

      Also really enjoyed:
      El Shaddai

    • reply
      January 14, 2012 4:15 AM

      Great choices, Garnett! I played Fifa 12 for over 50 hours already - the Online Divisions are so much fun, since it works like Matchmaking after you settled in the Division that fits your own skill. And I completed Shadows of the Damned during the past 3 days and loved every bit of it!

    • reply
      January 16, 2012 6:13 AM

      It's amazing how many genre's are left out of consideration for GotY. It seems to boil down to whatever RPG or console action adventure game made the most sales.

      Predominantly mp games like BF3 don't get considered, although IMO and based on time played it's certainly my pick if we're talking $ : fun. Sports games get left out regardless of their complexity and demanding gameplay, same for racing games. Strange to me, being it's the action that originally attracted us to this hobby.

      Skyrim, seems to be the obvious choice for most sites. The exploration and environment are off the charts good IMO. While I personally don't have the level of attachment to the story or the characters of mass effect, Skyrim's NPC's do the job pretty well. Having beaten the main quest and looking back, there really isn't any interesting gameplay in the sense that skill is required. It's entertaining enough to kill with magic, swing and block, or shoot someone with arrows.. but none of it takes much skill. I've was a fan of choose your own adventure books as a child so it was still a good purchase for me.

      It seems to me that what constitutes a great game in the eyes of the media has much less to do with gameplay than it should. I'm all for rewarding games like Skyrim for their achievements, they deserve it especially for the strides they made since the turd of Oblivion. It's a very cool experience to become immersed in.

      I'd just like to see equal representation for the games that have pushed us as gamers. Games like Dark Souls IMO are just as valid for GotY picks despite some annoyances. I'm not saying hard games are better or any elitist bullshit. I'm playing L.A. Noire now when i'm too tired to play anything that takes any sort of skill, it's great for that.

      Still, i'd like to see those pushing boundaries get recognition because let's face it, they derserve it.

    • reply
      January 17, 2012 5:13 PM

      brought shadows based on Garnett and the 84 play guys. Didnt regret it, no new game plus was a real shame but definitely enjoyed my time with it

    • reply
      January 17, 2012 7:18 PM

      finally someone picks Shadows..great game..and I will say Dead space 2 was excellent as well!

Hello, Meet Lola