We’ve been doing a lot of debate around Blast tower lately regarding exactly what should be game of the year, which has led me to going back and playing through some of my favorite games of this year over again. Game of the Year will be out within the next week, but these are some of my favorite moments from games in the last year. Fair warning though, there are major spoilers in this article, and if you haven’t played through some of this year’s biggest games, you may want to close your eyes and put your fingers in your ears right about now.
5. The hunt for the killer: L.A. Noire
I strongly believe that L.A. Noire is one of this year’s most under appreciated games. It dripped with charm, tried new things and dared to be different in a year of sequels, and the Quarter Moon Murders, the last case on the homicide desk has you going through a series of L.A. landmarks tracking clues left by a murderer who has been taking out victims for the entire game. You’re close to finding out just who the killer is, and it all results in a tense showdown in a church.
The most interesting part of the entire scene is that when you finally take him down, the Police Chief forces you to keep silent thanks to the killer’s political connections, and for the first time in the entire game, you doubt the motives of the people around you and kicking off one hell of a second act.
4. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword: Levias boss fight
Everyone knows the Wii isn’t as technically powerful as the Xbox 360 or PS3, but this boss battle is well above much of anything we’ve seen on the Wii before.
Starting off with the game’s signature air mechanics, you swoop down and do damage to a gigantic beast of a boss. The whole thing is very dramatic and for a gamer like myself who loves extremely large enemies, it seemed pitch perfect — until it got better.
There battle then takes a sudden turn as you’re landing on the boss and having to take out a parasite in his back with the most impressive demonstration of the Wii motion pus to date, and perhaps the most impressive we’ll ever have.
3. Uncharted 3: Alone in the desert
The Uncharted series thrives on spectacle, it’s the gaming equivalent of an over the top, in your face action movie. Up until about the mid point in the game, you’ve already been blown out ancient buildings, throw out of a plane, and evens escaped a sinking cruise ship, but it’s hat comes next hat really sets the game’s tone.
After accidentally sending a cargo plane down in the middle of the desert, Nathan Drake is stranded. He’s lost, hot and for the first time in our adventures with him, has no idea what to do. What follows is an artistic and even touching series of moments that see’s a character who often seems super human suddenly becoming anything but. For the first time in the series, Drake seems scared, he’s searching for water, for guidance.
What really sets the scene apart though is the phenomenal production values. Uncharted 3 is built on dynamic framing mixed with camera angles and lightning that make you feel like you’re in the moment with these characters, and this scene is where it shines like no other. When Drake starts walking through the dessert, the camera pans out and you suddenly get a sense of not just how large the desert is, but how desperate the situation truly is.
2. Portal 2: The return of Glados
From start to finish, Portal 2 is filled with amazing technical achievements, performances and mechanics, but everything gets kicked into full gear with the return of one gaming’s most infamous villains.
Early on in Portal 2, you’re just getting the hang of a few new mechanics the game introduces. The tone is light and you’re meeting new characters like the wonderfully voiced Wheatley. Suddenly, without warning there tone shifts, and Wheatley begins to get nervous about going through “her” chamber.
As you exit an elevator, the power begins to turn back on, and all hell starts to break loose. That’s when she starts to reassemble herself, and Glados notices you — and Portal 2 begins proper.
It’s hard to imagine how a Portal sequel would work without Glados, as she’s so Voiced so pitch perfect, and gives so much life to a game built on mechanical characters.There are so many one liners that it would be hard to pinpoint one, but just remember that you’re a horrible person and Glados will be sure to remind you of that.
1. Gears of War 3: Brothers ’till the End
This one may see a bit biased, but no moment in 2011 made me feel or made me care more than Gears of War 3’s pivotal and emotional goodbye to one of its most established characters.
Towards the end of Gears of War 2, Dom finally finds his missing wife Maria, but she’s already been killed, which sets up one of the most important dynamics of Gears of War 3. Dom is a wreck and a loner, haunted by the memories of his wife and the life he used to have. When Delta Squad goes on to their biggest mission yet, they have no idea that they’ll be returning without one of their own.
One of the game’s biggest moments in when they find out that the imulsion has also turned humans into crazed monsters, and outside of a church, they’re face to face with lambent infected humans, and locust. Their backs are to the wall, and there’s more than they can handle.
Then it happens. Dom jumps into a vehicle near the battle and just stares out to the window, yells out to Maria and plows the vehicle into a gas supply, causing a major explosion and that ends up killing the enemies and himself.
It’s a gutsy move, and also an incredibly moving one. Over the chaos, Gary Jules’ Cover of Mad World, the same song from the trailer from the first game plays, and you’re suddenly thinking about all of the time you’ve played as Delta Squad and you instantly care. What makes the moment though is seeing Marcus Fenix, knows for being a badass try desperately to save him, but realize he can’t. It makes the rest of Gears 3 a personal and very emotional quest for vengeance.