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Joey’s Top 7 Holiday Games for 2011

The holiday season of 2011 is officially upon us. The last few months have been scary slow as far as gaming releases have been concerned. But now? Publishers are gearing up to vanquish our savings accounts as they deliver a storm of outstanding content.

We at TechnoBuffalo decided to assemble two separate lists for this season’s games: Joey’s Top 7 and The Most Exciting of…why? Because we wanted to present you with my personal selection first and then follow that up with a mega-list. We will be rolling the full, massive article next weekend.

Look, before we even get to the anger, here it is… “B-b-b-but where are Modern Warfare 3 and Battlefield 3!?!?” This is my list, fools! I do have a preference between the two, but I’d rather not dominate 2/7ths of my choices with military shooters that everyone is probably excited for enough.

Also worth noting: I elected not to include remakes or remasters. I am extremely jazzed for ICO & Shadow of the ColossusHalo: CEMetal Gear HD and The God of War Collection; however, I’ve played them before. And, as awesome as they will probably be, they aren’t games for 2011. Well, they are, but you get the point.

Alright, here we go, these are the seven games I’m most looking forward to for the remainder of 2011.

Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One
PlayStation 3
October 18th, 2011

Out of all the titles making my list, Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One marks the entry I’m most nervous about. I am a huge fan of the Ratchet & Clank franchise and universe. I dig the stories, enjoy the gameplay and adore the characters. This is a game that lets players play as Ratchet, Clank, Captain Qwark or (this bit’s outstanding) Doctor Nefarious.

What has me nervous is that this is a four player, cooperative adventure. You will be able to go at it solo, but you’ll have to battle with the computer versions of your friends. First, will the game even work well as a cooperative outing? Second, what happens if the AI of your cohorts is garbage?

I believe in Insomniac Games, so this one’s sticking on the list, but I wait for it with cautious excitement.

Mario Kart 7
Nintendo 3DS
December 2011

Again, it’s with cautious optimism that I look for the next installment in the Mario Kart franchise. Mario Kart Wii was a disappointment for this long-time fan. The gameplay was mared with, essentially, computer cheating in order to build a “more fair” racing experience. It wound up being downright terrible.

Moreover, the tracks, bikes and characters felt a bit too uninspired to be a great addition to the Mario Kart catalogue.

But, I’m hopeful for Mario Kart 7. I had an extremely limited preview of the game at E3 last June, but I did like what I saw within those 30 minutes. It feels a little like Mario Kart DS so far, and most fans (myself included) note that game as the best to ever be released.

If that’s the case, I’m sold.

Assassin’s Creed: Revelations
Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC
November 15th, 2011

I’ve been a fan of Assassin’s Creed since the original, repetitive affair. After that first game released, Ubisoft has taken each entry and markedly approved upon the mechanics, story and gameplay.

The result is a franchise worthy of top consideration every year, and a host of in-game moments that are unforgettable. I love that Assassin’s Creed: Revelations will close Ezio’s storyline. Why? Because I want the franchise to leave the Mediterranean area. I’ve enjoyed the setting so far, but I’d like to see Desmond use the Animus to head somewhere like feudal Japan.

That would be nuts.

Gears of War 3
Xbox 360
September 20th, 2011

Epic Games are bringing this trilogy to a close. The trailers, the gameplay footage, the multiplayer beta and the pre-release hype have all added up to make Gears of War 3 a big blip on my radar for the holiday.

Sure, it’s a pretty typical genre shooter with big, hulking men and slimey alien monsters, but Gears 3 also represents a well-built universe with tight gameplay. This shooter’s always had spirit, I’m just hoping it lives on to draw these COGs and their story to a close.

On a personal note, and probably the main reason for this title ranking so high in my list, the Gears games are ones I always played through on the hardest difficulty with my once-college roommate. The first game we played in our apartment across the street from the best bar in the city, and the second game we played in our apartment close to our first jobs out of college…

Gears of War 3? My old roommate lives in Japan now. Hopefully this will be a chance for us to get together like we did before.

Super Mario 3D Land
Nintendo 3DS
November 2011

As soon as Nintendo unveiled to Raccoon Tail-sporting logo for Super Mario 3D Land, I knew they were announcing something special. This title will be a blend of Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario 64 with references to classic titles, like the Raccoon Tail from Super Mario Bros. 3, peppered in throughout.

The game is being developed by Nintendo EAD Tokyo, the same studio responsible for the most recent proper Mario title, Super Mario Galaxy 2. If they can bring that type of creativity and gameplay to the Nintendo 3DS, this game could be a system mover.

And, for Nintendo’s sake, let’s hope it is.

Batman: Arkham City
Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC
October 18th, 2011

Rocksteady Studios have already demonstrated that they’re capable of delivering a great game built around and with the Caped Crusader himself. Batman: Akrham Asylum is arguably one of the best licensed video games ever developed, and a lot of that acclaim should be heaped upon the studio, the voice acting and the writing.

Arkham City looks bigger, tougher, more varied and packed with Batman’s villains. This sequel is set to break all of the standards Arkham Asylum put in place, thus raising the bar again for the licensed video game genre.

Rocksteady can keep working with the Dark Knight from now until forever, as far as I’m concerned.

Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception
PlayStation 3
November 1st, 2011

If you’re a frequenter of the articles on TechnoBuffalo, particularly my work, then you’ve probably read me gush over Uncharted 2 and Naughty Dog before. This is one of my favorite gaming franchises of all time.

When non-gamers ask me about Uncharted, I tell them to consider it as if one studio took all of the best parts of Indiana Jones and crammed them into a game-length experience. There are great characters here, gorgeous environments, well told stories and nice gameplay.

Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception could clean up this year when it comes to the Game of the Year Awards.

Obviously, I didn’t even touch on a ton of incredible looking games due out between now and the expiration of 2011. This was my most anticipated list, so these are the games I’m extremely pumped for. But, hey, I know there are others.

What are some of the games you’re looking forward to most over the next several months?