I love Battlefield 3. I love it almost as much as it seems to hate its players.
At least, that's the way it feels sometimes, trying to get into a game, trying to get correctly squaded up, trying to find a server with room, having to use a server browser on consoles in 2011, downloading 2 GIGABYTE patches ... y u no luv me, BF3?
But when it does love me, it loves me so well ... and there I go, into that cycle of abuse again.
I guess we're at the point where Modern Warfare is considered passe in the press. Not many people talk about MW3 publicly anymore, other than to comment on the Infinity Ward/Activision drama in 2010, or to joke about how it's a bro-shooter, and blah blah blah. But here's the thing: it's the multiplayer game of the fall where I can always instantly get into a game and just ... play. And there have been enough changes to Modern Warfare 3 to offset the constant war of escalation that previous games have been ... or at least, to let more players of different skill levels have more fun than the game has allowed since Call of Duty 4.
Bulletstorm hasn't got much in the way of multiplayer; it's short, even for a modern shooter; and the last fourth or so of the game runs off the rails into a repetitive mess (and don't get me started about that ending). But there's four to five hours of brilliant shooting and level design, and some really witty, funny, clever dialogue and writing to be had. It'll be a shame if People Can Fly don't have a chance to take another crack at this great proof of concept.
Forza 4 refines the overarching design choices Turn 10 has been working on since the original game. Sure, it can be the sim-y driving porn you want it to be, but it's also eminently tweakable for players of all skill levels. But all of this pales in comparison to Forza 4's greatest achievement – I couldn't stop playing it. It wouldn't let me. Every event flows seamlessly into the next, always keeping you progressing, always giving you a new car to drive and a new track to drive it on.
The best sequels take a fun proof of concept and hone the whole package to a razor's edge. Toy Soldiers: Cold War was just such a game. It took the neat tower defense-meets-third-person action formula from the original and largely addressed its trial-and-error failings, and it added a new hook in the 80s action cliches that served as a laser-guided nostalgia bomb for us kids who grew up with GI Joe.
Good licensed games use their licenses as a grounding for solid mechanics, and Space Marine pulls that off comfortably. While it was easy to write off ahead of time as just another third person shooter, the sheer brutality of its melee combat and the thud of its shooting made for something that managed to feel unique. Feeling like it was part of a fiction fleshed out over the better part of three decades was just a bonus.
Revelations is hanging by the end of the series annualized-sequel rope, but it's still indispensible for anyone fascinated by the fiction of the Assassin's Creed series. Protagonists Altair and Ezio are given the kind of closure we never see in games, and in that respect, the narrative is handled respectfully and well. Still, Ubisoft has used up the good will generated by the phenomenal Assassin's Creed II.
It's charming. It's fun. It's gorgeous. And it's going to be criminally underappreciated by the wider game-buying public. If you give Rayman Origins half a chance, it's going to steal your heart.
Joystiq is revealing its 10 favorite games of 2011 throughout the week. Keep reading for more top selections and every writer's personal, impassioned picks in Best of the Rest roundups.