large-goty-logo 04 Jan


We at are different. We know the value of the dollar of working adults. We are veterans of seven console wars. And we realize that video game award shows shouldn’t involve tea-bagging and cupcakes. But we’re also a small site and our award show this year isn’t broken down by genre or platform. To make it a more personal experience, we’ve distilled our awards down to two per staff member. A golden award is given to each staff member’s favorite game of the year, and a rotten award is given to each staff member’s most disappointing game of 2011. We realize this isn’t the normal way to do an award show, but we’re not a normal site.

2012 has some big shoes to fill now that 2011 has gone by. Without a doubt, 2011 surpassed most people’s expectations. Games that should have been great, were not, and games that we all thought would suck, didn’t.

But if you were in our shoes and had to pick one Golden Game and one Rotten Game, which games would you choose?


35 thoughts on “The 2011 Golden and Rotten Game of the Year Awards”

  1. 2011’s been pretty great indeed. A whole lot of RPGs and a new Batman game. There’s a lot of stuff i loved this year, like The Witcher 2, Deus Ex, Bastion, Portal 2, Bulletstorm, Gemini Rue, and a bunch of others i can’t remember.

    For Golden Game it’s, no doubt in my mind, the Fallout: New Vegas’ Ulysses DLC arc. Probably the only case i felt the DLC tremendously elevated the main game and the franchise. The DLC hits a lot of emotional highs and lows and takes the themes of the Fallout franchise in directions that even the originals haven’t explored. It’s probably the best case since Bioshock that a game seriously pondered on the question of player agency and motivations. The fact that it does this and next scene talk about toe-penises is a proof to Obsidian’s writers’ talent. It breaks my heart that we’ll likely never get another Obsidian made Fallout game.

    The Rotten Award is a little more difficult. There are two 2011 games that bored me to death. One’s Alice: Madness Returns, which dragged on and on and on and on and was basically a hipster’s game: all show, no meaning. The best thing it has going for it are the visuals, but even those get tiresome after a while.

    Then, there’s Dragon Age II. Man, where to begin. Let’s say that gameplay got borked, visual design lacked identity and was all around ugly, choice and consequence was MIA, the writing was uninteresting at best and often nonsensical. It was a trainwreck. But it did a few things right. Character development got a lot more interesting with their new skill system (even if they cut all non-combat skills). Also, this is the first time in a long time Bioware tries something new: timeskips, a single town, unreliable narrator and non-save the universe stories are pretty much all firsts for Bioware. So it was them taking a chance, then not backing it up with a solid budget, and then clouding their own vision by having to do stuff like “PRESS A TO AWESOME!!!1”. Not good. Another thing i liked is that DAII took Bioware down a peg, which makes me feel really good, but i don’t think that really counts as a marit.

    So yeah, after a full 5 minutes of deliberation, my Rotten game goes to Alice over DAII. Mainly because DAII at least was a game, a broken record of a game, but a game at least.

    But yeah, they’re both sh1t.

  2. “Borked.” I love it!

    Batman was high on my list as well, but there were so many little things that irked me just enough to not have it rank in my top 3.

    Like: Why can’t I play as Robin or Nightwing through the entire campaign?


    Seriously, why can’t I play as Robin or Nightwing through the entire campaign?

    1. Like: Why can’t I play as Robin or Nightwing through the entire campaign?


      Seriously, why can’t I play as Robin or Nightwing through the entire campaign?

      THIS. All four characters are so distinct in the way they fight and move, and experiencing more of the game as each would’ve been fantastic.

    2. Oh, i didn’t really mind that since i thought switching between Batman and Catwoman gave me pretty much all the variety i wanted. The game was pretty good and i enjoyed it a lot but, like Portal 2, it didn’t have the effect on me that the first one had.

      I’d still wouldn’t put it on the top 3. The Witcher 2 and Deus Ex: Human Revolution easily take the two remaining posts.

      I kinda have a spot saved for Dark Souls since i haven’t played it yet (imported goods got a lot more expensive in recent months in Argieland, so i’m limited to Steam for games), but i know i’ll love it and it could easily steal TW2 or DX positions, since neither of them managed to live up to my expectations, even if they were pretty great on their own merits.

      Really, 2011 was a great year for RPGs. I’m feeling very tempted to get a Wii just to play Xenoblade.

        1. I did. I felt it didn’t belong in neither my best nor worst list, though, since it didn’t have a lasting impression in either way, and i ended up dropping it half way through. A big step down from Crysis in all aspects, though, since that game was certainly memorable.

          I also left out Dead Space 2, another game i didn’t finish, probably because i overhyped myself about it. I loved the first Dead Space game, and i actually watched all the movies (Aftermath is terrible, Downfall’s ok) and watched Let’s Play’s of the Wii and DS games, so i was really excited about Dead Space 2. Then i played it, and the Sprawl design didn’t quite click with me and eventually other games took its place. I hear the game’s pretty good, but the Ishimura reminded me a lot of System Shock, and i think i might’ve been Dead Space burnout by then.

          I realize now i dropped a lot of games in 2011. Probably explains how i managed to beat New Vegas 4 (more) times.

          One title i forgot to add is Don’t Take It Personally Babe, It Just Ain’t Your Story. A shot indie interactive novel with hideously drawn anime art (i love anime, but this was just plain bad) and kind of awkard dialogue, but that still managed to be moving. It’s free and i recommend everyone with a few free hours (i know those don’t come often but i think it’s worth it) and a curious mind to try and beat it in one sitting.

          1. I still need to finish a bunch of games from last year that either didn’t grab me or someone else reviewed so I prioritized something else.

            Batman had awesome gameplay and everything, but the story was sub-par compared to the first game, that and I’m somewhat of a completionist, and for my kind that game is a nightmare.

            Dead Space 2 basically felt like a good game hampered by the greatness of the original. For some reason they decided to focus less on the limb cutting mechanic, and less on the unsettling atmosphere. Instead they made it more of an action game, with monster closets and a cheesy story.

            And I actually haven’t finished Skyrim yet either, though finished isn’t the right word. Let’s just say that the only quest line I finished was the Mages Guild one. I love the game, but after the marathon and my streaming time with Ermetrude Spinklespankle I just got burned out. I think I played way to much of the game in way to short a time. On the possitive side that means I have an awesome game that’s right up my ally just waiting to be played whenever I get sick of BF3 and LoL.

            Oh and I haven’t even played past the first level on The Witcher 2 yet, looks like a fantastic game that’d be right up my ally, but CD PROJECT RED has got to have the worst engineers in the history of a gaming, they can’t seem to make a game that runs smoothly, and I refuse to play a choppy game.

            AAAAAND i HAVE to play Trine 2.

          2. I think TW2’s more crazy demanding than poorly optimized. It was awful choppy in my mid-to-low-range PC but i was pushing the settings a bit more than i should. Now that i bought a larger screen and boosted my resolution from 1680×1050 to 1920×1200 (that’s a few new million pixels right there) i can barely run it at the lowest of settings.

            And TW1 was devved on the freaking AURORA Engine. So i can see how that could prove troublesome.

            No matter, the game’s great (i still liked TW1 better, tho), and you should do yourself the favour and spend whatever time’s necessary tweaking .ini files so you can run it at the smoothest possible performance.

  3. Very nice picks all around. My Golden game ended up being Ghost Trick. It hit all the right story marks, and kept my heart racing as I continued to try to guess the ending.

    My Rotten game… not sure. I didn’t play a lot of games I didn’t enjoy. I guess Battlefield 3, mainly because I didn’t give the multiplayer a good shot, and I was extremely underwhelmed by the single player. Maybe Rage fits better. yup, Rage is going to be my rotten game of the year.

    I made a list of my favorite games right here:

    1. I can always count on you Korne. Ghost Trick is terribly overlooked and by far one of the best games this year. Hell, I’d say it would easily win best story with no competition.

      Seriously people. Go play it.

  4. The format’s not my favourite since it really leaves a lot to be understood… but a best/worst would be Rayman: Origins for best and hm… I’d be torn between Shadow of the Damned and Lord of the Rings: War in the North I think… although its hard to say…

    my website has my ‘best of the year’ awards on it, in all their glory:

    I’m really glad that some of you found something other than Skyrim to talk about… since so many websites are just parroting ‘skyrim’s the best’ over and over again so it was really nice to some someone else talking about other games.

      1. well there is that… but nobody’s really parroting that outside of forums 😉

        I’m curious, I haven’t seen a rayman origins review yet from you guys, have any of you had time to get your hands on it? Because it is the single best platformer I’ve played in the past probably 15 years… at least 10. It makes me remember Super Mario 3 and Mario World and Mario 64 fondly… moreso than Mario 3D Land even.

      2. Did an actual site name MW3 as their GOTY? That’s an instant honorary position at the wall of shame right there.

        1. Nah I’m pretty sure that 99% of the major websites gave that to Skyrim and that other 1% gave it to… maybe Skyward Sword?

          1. Giantbomb really wanted to give GOTY to Saints Row The Third, but even though more of them had Saints Row as their personal GOTY, they went with Skyrim.

          2. Rayman Origins – best platformer I’ve played in probably 15 years… sooo much fun. I wish more people had taken time away from the other big games around that time to play it. It didn’t get nearly enough coverage.

    1. True, Skyrim’s getting too much love from the press and that can only mean i’m not gonna like it. I really want to give Skyrim a chance, i really do, but with reports of the game being unplayable on consoles, the interface being the mess it is, and given Bethesda’s pedigree for writing characters and stories i hate, i can’t see this ending well.

      Please modders, port New Vegas to the Skyrim engine. It’s basically same ‘ol Gamebryo with backpedalling.

      1. I wrote a huge long ‘laundry list’ of good and bad aspects to Skyrim – if you wanna take a look at it you can head to my website – it’s probably only a few pages back now. It might help you get a better picture on what a lot of people AREN’T saying about it.

        But you’re write, the writing and the story are not all that great, but despite that I still recommend giving it a try. Stepping into the world is an experience unlike any other and is worth playing regardless just for that experience.

        1. Just read your writeup, which confirms plenty of what i read elsewhere, and suspected altogether.

          I never manage to understand why Bethesda games have such a broad appeal, since i find them to be clunky and simplistic, accompanied by lazy scripts and overall quantity over quality direction.

          I liked Morrowind for what it was, the exploration of a vast, unfamiliar world. When Oblivion removed the strangeness of the formula, i just didn’t understand why so many people went crazy about it. I still don’t. Sure, it’s approachable, but you’d think that after five years people would’ve gotten past it.

          Skyrim sounds like a return to the Morrowind times, with a few additions based on the lessons learned from Fallout 3 (which was, again, clunky, simplistic, an agony to read and full to the brim with dumb stuff, but based on a strong license with a great character development system).

          World building is for me one of a game’s most important aspects, but that alone isn’t enough. In an RPG, your character has to have a relationship with your game world, based on interesting character development systems, meaningful choice and consequence and a strong story and cast. Bethesda has a track record at failing at all of them, and, if reports are correct, Skyrim will probably abide by the rule, rather than be the exception. Aside from that, i hope modders will pick up where Bethesda left off and fix bugs, UI design, overall balance and RPG mechanics, and make the game overall more interesting. We’ll all benefit from that. Then, it’s just exploring the great work of Bethesda’s world building, something they’re, more often than not, very good at, but they just can’t seem to back it up with the interesting RPG mechanics that i love about the genre.

          A good Steam sale, and i’m game for Skyrim. I really hope Todd Howard finally proves to me he can do more than popcorn games.

          Oh boy i’ve written so many words today…

          1. I largely agree with you on that aspect… I don’t even really like to think of Skyrim as an RPG just because it feels like its really without most of the elements I attribute with an rpg. That’s why I gave my best rpg of the year to The Legend of Heroes. If I’d done a ‘best world’ category it might’ve gone to Skyrim, but so many of the things that make rpgs so fun for me were just not there… so while I absolutely laud them for the world they’ve made, I just can’t bring myself to call it a ‘good rpg’.

          2. I heard lots of great things about The Legend of Heroes. I wish my PSP wasn’t busted, but i read in wikipedia that there are PC versions. Know anything about that?

          3. I think the pc versions came first but I’m not 100% sure. I’ve found it really hard to find any information about TiTs(I love that it abbreviates to that – childish I know, but still hilarious)… I know it came out on pc initially in Japan, thne PSP in Japan… but I’m not sure if the PC versions ever came to English territories.

  5. I should have pointed out that I was a devoted SOCOM 1-3 player and one of the shining white knights of the Zipper defense force. That’s why SOCOM4 was such a let-down for me, I was hoping Zipper would get things back on track.

  6. I almost went with BF3 over Skyrim too. Was glad to see it get double the love. Would have made me a clone of Mats, haha. Great format for what we went for. Very unique given the generic categories it seems everyone else does.

    1. Yeah the Youtube audience seems to really like your picks, I have a feeling it was more about your rotten than your golden, as a bunch of staffers picked that one. And so many people hate BF3 that it disqualifies my picks ^^

      1. I don’t think people hate Battlefield 3, most the people I’ve talked to that play it on PC mainly say they love the game, but like me they despise the origin thing, what a stupid and annoying way of stopping piracy.

        What are developers gonna try next? put a tracking system in everyone’s games so that when that person is playing and connected to the internet the devs can check where your playing from with a IP address check or something, getting ridiculous =P

  7. Very cool video, do this every year, please =)

    Good opinions and reasons, does Gavin Greene always talk like that or is it ‘put on’?

    I’d give the golden award to either Trine 2 or Elder Scrolls V Skyrim.

    I’d give the rotten award to either Duke Nukem Forever or modern warfare 3, Dane ‘Chux’ D and Mats Paasche’s opinions about Dragon Age 2 suits modern warfare 3 so well in my opinion, ‘re-hashed’ garbage that stinks of rotten cheese =P

    Battlefield 3 definitely needs a mention for that incredible Frostbite 2 engine, Uncharted 3 and Gears 3 were brilliant but cliche’d to hell, and I agree with Robin Meijer about the terrible ending to the Gears trilogy.

    Portal 2 had the best ending and overall story / gameplay where you didn’t even have to kill anyone… that was alive anyways.

    Trevor Faulkner was a bit… harsh on LA Noire – boiling hot lava on the genitals? Ooo hahaha, LA Noire was only special for the face animations to me, and that’s only in the cut-scenes, should use it in a better game like GTA or Red Dead.

    So many other games I haven’t even played from 2011 yet but I will soon, too many being honest, Infamous 2, Rage and Dirt 3 mostly, I’ve heard alot of good things about these and I love the first Infamous and Dirt 2, I’m probably leaving out a couple.

    1. Kinda funny, because I enjoyed LA Noire so much more than GTA4 and Red Dead Redemption. I’m not the biggest fan of open world games with open mission structure, and LA Noire has one of my favorite open worlds with a tight story. If they had just tweaked some small things (the chime telling you you got a question wrong, not being able to shoot to disarm, just let me play out the mission and then give me a score… Ill go back later to 100%), the game probably would have been my GOTY. And Cole is probably my favorite character of the year because of how much I hated him, and then very quickly felt sorry for him. He was the most well written character I have seen in a video game.

      1. Yeah, there’s only about 3 things I believe Team Bondi got right with LA Noire, one being the setting with all the time period stuff like the cheesy classic cars, weapons like the Thompson and BAR and the costumes, hair etc.

        The other two are the voice acting and face animations, these are brilliant but this is just a small part of the game, everything else especially gameplay like the driving physics are just complete crap, should have used the same driving physics as GTA IV uses, I love this.

        And who cares if Cole Phelps is a cop, some cops are dirty and go rogue, I’d love to have that option instead of being a linear ‘by the book’ cop all the way through.

        I would have loved it if you could actually shoot civilians and like you said shoot to disarm(or just slow the runner’s down) – so many times I was bored of chasing someone on foot – just give more freedom of choice, maybe de-mote your rank if you go rogue like with True Crime NYC did, if you don’t behave you get stripped down to beat patrol =P

        1. Cole Phelps was a by the books cop, but he had a huge agenda, and if you played through the whole game, you see how that kinda destroys him. And for a while, you play a mission as the “real good guy”, which is a stark reminder of how much of a dick Phelps is.

          I had people bring up the fact that you should be demoted, but that would ruin the wonderful story Team Bondi had set up. As for the shooting, felt the same as Red Dead. As for the driving, I actually enjoyed it. I liked driving a 50 MPH yet trying my hardest to avoid traffic. I enjoyed the controls (heavy but not unmanageable, a lot like what the cars were back in the day), and I enjoyed using your partner as a gps. It was a nice touch.

    2. LA Noire was an excellent face simulator with some interesting set pieces.

      The questioning system was a hazardous mess with no real definition between “Lie” and “Doubt” and sometimes seemed to throw logic to the wind. Additionally, a missed question could lead to gaping plot holes and confusion.

      I won’t even get into the horrible driving, tedious side missions, and random acts of violence Cole likes to dip into. The story is uninspired and illogical until the last minutes and has one of the most glaring deus ex machina in video games ever!

      See… lava.

      1. I totally get the “lie” and “doubt” thing… because they don’t actually mean lie and doubt. But there is a difference. More like “I can prove you are lying” and “I think you are lying”.

        The driving isn’t that bad… have you played Driver SF? And that was one of my favorite games of the year! And the overarching story is extremely compelling, lifted right out of a 40’s police detective story. Sure, the ending is strange, but it is suppose to be. In a way, it is perfect for the noire storyline.

  8. I think that the Witcher 2 is the Game of the Year. I never played the first game, but I think that this is the one game where your decisions are not clear-cut, and everything is in a shade of gray. The combat is satisfying and challenging at the same time. I think most people dont have this as their GOTY because it suffers from Crysis Syndrome. Everyone thinks that they need an uber rig to play the game and therefore not very many people have played the game.

    My rotten Game of the Year would have to be Modern Warfare 3. At this point, what has really changed in the series? It is the same game that was shoved into our faces last year and the year before that. The technology is the same as before and that was the biggest difference the BF3. The sound was lame, the graphics bland. What ever happened to color in video games. I really started to notice it when BF3 came out and I played Caspian Border, I saw bright vibrant colors that really enhanced my enjoyment of the game.

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