The 5 Most Important Games of 2011

The 5 Most Important Games of 2011

Maybe it’s just the over-optimism speaking, but 2011 promises to be a year full of fun, wonder, and really cool games. Sure, this current generation of consoles is starting to feel like a pack of house guests that have hung around too long and subsequently become too familiar and tiresome… but with age comes experience. Developers know that they have to hang out with the Wii, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 for a little bit longer, and they’re set to push the hardware as far as it will go.

2011 will have lots of good games, but here are five that will remind us what our old plastic friends are still capable of (the consoles, not the developers).

Project Draco (Xbox 360/Kinect)

Release Date: TBA 2011

Why It Matters: Microsoft intends for its Kinect device to extend the life of the Xbox 360. Dancing and swinging are fun family activities, but it might be Project Draco (working title) that sells the hardcore crowd on this hands-free gaming thing. Though Project Draco is directed by Yukio Futatsugi, one of the minds behind the acclaimed Panzer Dragoon series, Aaron Greenberg, Director of Product Management for Xbox 360 and Xbox Live, says that Project Draco will be more of a dragon-riding experience than a rail-shooter. This might be the game that achieves Microsoft’s original dream for the Kinect: Breaking down barriers between the player and their games.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Wii)

Release Date: TBA 2011

Why It Matters: Link ushered in the birth of the Wii, and it looks as if he’ll be the one to prop up Nintendo’s system and help it shuffle towards a dignified place of rest. Out of the three major developers, Nintendo is having the most trouble stretching out the life of the older, slower Wii. A new Zelda game always makes a strong argument for purchasing a Nintendo console, though. Ask the N64.

Pokemon Black/White (Nintendo DS)

Release Date: March 2011

Why It Matters: With March comes the dawn of spring, and the dawn of the Nintendo 3DS in North America and Europe. Can’t afford it? The Pokemon understand your pain. It’s almost as if the release of Pokemon Black/White is timed to lift the spirits of anyone who won’t be able to grab the 3DS, but don’t label it as a second-class gaming experience. Pokemon Black/White is a departure from the familiar Pokemon formula, which makes for a deep journey even when the landscape looks a little trodden. Buckle in for a long, long trip.

Batman: Arkham City (Playstation 3, Xbox 360, Windows)

Release Date: Q3 2011

Why It Matters: Batman: Arkham Asylum was a lovely surprise when it released in 2009. It was a combination of action and stealth that fit Batman as snugly as his black tights–a nice change from the countless games that have tried to shoehorn in a “stealth sequence,” and failed miserably. Arkham City will be more of the same–but so much more. Now the streets of Gotham will be open to the Bat instead of a single lunatic asylum. And with Paul Dini at the fore, we can expect top-notch writing that pays tribute to “The Animated Series” and all the best bits of Batman’s legend. With the glut of superhero movies continuing into 2011, we’re going to need more solid reminders that not every superhero adventure needs to be a quick cash-in (popular MMO DC Universe Online notwithstanding).

Portal 2 (Xbox 360, Playstation 3, Windows, Mac OSX)

Release Date: April 2011

Why It Matters: Speaking of pleasant surprises, Valve probably wasn’t expecting Chell’s original physics-based puzzle adventure to burrow into the hearts of gamers and critics alike. Regardless, that’s what happened, and 2007’s Portal became one of the most celebrated games of all time–not only for its unique concept, but also its extremely witty writing and the digital monotone of its insane antagonist, the computer GlaDOS. Like the original Portal, Portal 2 stands to remind us that quality writing can add so much to a gaming experience. Maybe too much, if the endless giggling over Companion Cubes and lies and cake is any indication. That’s probably why writer Erik Wolpaw has warned the Internet ahead of time to behave itself.

“If you thought you were sick of the memes, I was sick of it way ahead of you,” he said. “For instance, cake. I’ve had enough cake jokes…I absolutely do not want to try and resurrect a three-year-old meme.”

(Special Thanks: 1UP)

About Nadia Oxford
Nadia is a freelance writer living in Toronto. She played her first game at four, decided games were awesome, and has maintained her position since. She writes for 1UP.com, Slide to Play, GamePro and other publications, and is About.com’s Guide to the Nintendo DS.

7 Comments

  1. I’d add to that list any 3DS game that makes genuine use of the 3D in a novel way that inspires developers to try new things and not just rehash their old tat with an extra D.

    And the first PSP2 game where one player can play on the PS3 and a second joins in the same game on the PSP2 – THAT will be awesome!

  2. I think it’s still too early to even guess at what will be the most ground-breaking, since the ones that are tend to be the least expected.

  3. I agree with Mike here, but in response to Geoff:

    I remember Nintendo’s idea of the Zelda game, Zelda: The 4 Swords for the Gamecube with the idea of integrating the use of the GBA with the connection cables. Its unfortunate that it was so limited for it’s time, but it was a fantasic game mechanic when you had friends together. It would be amazing if that same idea could be implemented between the PS3 & NGP. Could you imagine your friend playing a game you also have on your “PSP2” and then while he’s at home and get’s stuck, he notifies you and some other friends over the network to join him in co-op for a while on your portable or console at home. That would definitely be amazing! The possibilities are pretty out there this year. I still think Nintendo needs to let go of all their restrictions for their consumers if they want to be able to achieve something like that again.

  4. LA Noir?

  5. LoL

    What about crysis 2 and Rage ????

  6. Battlefield 3! This list can shampoo my crotch ! Have a nice day.

  7. Minecraft..? Skyrim..? how are these not on your list?

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