Game of the Year 2011: Who Is In The Lead?

Game of the Year 2011: Who Is In The Lead?


Mark Barley unleashes his thoughts and musings on who the contenders are in this year's Game of the Year awards, and tries to figure out who has the best chance.

Update: Our Game of the Year 2011 awards are live!

As if it wouldn't become very obvious by just reading this article, all of these assessments are completely based on Mark's opinion. We couldn't contain his hip-thrusting excitement any longer, so we allowed him this space to make his thoughts clear. Our official Game of the Year awards will be discussed by all staff and released sometime nearer to the festive season.

It’s never too early to start talking Game of the Year, after all it’s not every year we have so many legitimate contenders as we do here in 2011.

In year’s past there are usually only a handful of titles that are truly worth labelling as “Game of the Year”, 2011 may hold as many as 10 titles jumping for the chance to be crowned. If you look at the Game of the Year winners in the past five years you can clearly see a dominant game worthy of the description amidst a list of pretenders.

Let’s do a quick recap: in 2010 Red Dead Redemption was the consensus pick for the award; in 2009 a vast majority of video game critics gave the award to Uncharted 2: Among Thieves; in 2008 the award got a little bit muddy with Fallout 3, LittleBigPlanet, and Grand Theft Auto IV all getting nominations; 2007 BioShock pretty much ran away with the label of best game that year; 2006 may have been one of the weakest “Game of the Year” races in recent memory with The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess getting a majority of votes but you know it’s a weak year for games when Wii Sports garners serious consideration.

As you can see, just about every year there’s just one title that can boast that it stands heads and shoulders above the rest. Can we really say that about this year’s crop? I don’t think so and I’ll tell you why.

LittleBigPlanet 2

Game of the Year 2011: Who Is In The Lead?

Yes, yes, I realize that LittleBigPlanet 2 is just the first LBP with some redesign but did that stop you from tossing the first title out the window and picking up the sequel? I didn’t think so. Sackboy is just so damned cute, how could you resist seeing him on some GotY ballots? Seriously though, LBP2 takes the original game’s concept and improves on it so much it’s pretty much become synonymous with owning a PlayStation 3. The editor tools throughout the game are some of the best level editing tools you’ll find on any platform on any game. Don’t lie, you’ve created a level based off of a Justin Bieber song, haven’t you Wait, was that just me? Dammit.

While the LittleBigPlanet franchise has an average Metacritic rating of a 92, given this year’s crop of games I don’t think Media Molecule’s drastically-cute sequel has enough steam.

Chances: 10%

Dead Space 2

Game of the Year 2011: Who Is In The Lead?

EA has taken the Dead Space premise and resurrected the survival horror genre single handedly. With the Resident Evil franchise reeling currently Dead Space has been tasked with picking up the pieces and putting the puzzle together has been a breeze. Dead Space caught everyone so off guard it was too late to realistically give it any chance of winning Game of the Year from anyone worth a damn, that’s not the case with Dead Space 2. EA took everything they did right in the first title and added more thrills, more horror situations, more dead bodies (both human and non-human alike), and it added multiplayer! What more could you ask for? Will it win the label that EA so craves? Probably not, but I guarantee you that if they got their heads out of their asses and released Dead Space 3 during the holiday season they’d have a snowflake’s chance in hell.

Dead Space 2 has a 90 average review score on Metacritic and saw sales pass the $2 million mark, but like LBP2 an early 2011 release date as well as the current crop of games just points to EA’s great survival horror title being overlooked.

Chances: 30%

Portal 2

Game of the Year 2011: Who Is In The Lead?

Have you forgotten about this game yet? Nope? Good, me neither. Valve carefully crafted this game with intelligence, wit, and smooth gameplay. Did I mention it also allows Playstation 3 players to join their PC brethren in the game's co-op mode? Yep, it’s the game that awards are made to be given to. Too bad that by the time GotY titles are handed out, Portal 2 will be buried by games that don’t deserve to be on the same list with it. It’s inevitable but it’s something that’s going to happen. Sometimes the gaming gods are cruel. I know one of you didn’t make your obligatory gaming sacrifice this year. It’s YOUR fault Portal 2 won’t get any mention. You could have sacrificed The Sims 3 for crying out loud! Sims 3 is the gaming devil! Back to reality, yep, this great game doesn’t have a chance.

While Portal 2 was a highly anticipated title and pushed out over three million copies, not every loves the puzzle titles. A middle of the year release date coupled with a “what have you done for me lately” mentality, I don’t think Portal 2, while being a great game, really holds up.

Chances: 30%