2011 is on it’s way out of the door and although we’ve had no official announcement, I’m betting the next year will be named 2012, let us just say it’s a hunch. 2011 was a fantastic year for RPG’s and MMO’s, one of the best in fact. So sit back and have a gander at Gamerillaz round up of the best titles from this year, in gaming’s most immersive genre.
10. The Lord of The Rings Online: Rise of Isengard
We’re starting with an MMO expansion and a quite marvellous one at that. Turbine’s biggest game went through a period of looking a little green around the gills. Falling subscriber numbers and the disappointing launch of Siege of Mirkwood had players seeking their online fun in other places. Yet this is a company who saw the benefits of switching to the Free-to-Play model. This fantastic update, which officially begins the story seen in Tolkien’s The Two Towers bolstered the attention of both new and older gamers alike. As well as the continuation of the Epic Storyline quest chains, all new areas of interested were introduced including: Dunland, The Gap of Rohan and the forbidding Orthanc (the domain of Saruman The White). Tolkien fans should be sure to check out LOTRO as this is a game which has never been in such rude health.
9. Dragon Age 2
Xbox 360, PS3, PC
Bioware are the masters of storytelling with many engrossing narratives under their belt. They can be found in a whole range of classics ranging from Baldur’s Gate to Mass Effect, or Knights of The Old Republic to Dragons Age. With the second release in their latest Sword and Shield RPG, many fans of the original felt slightly let down by the changes which had been introduced, but don’t let that put you off if you’re yet to get your thumbs around what is still all in all, a cracking little game. This is not a true sequel, yet thankfully is still set during the same time period that our hero has sensibly had it away on his toes from Ferelden as the Darkspawn turn the land into their personal demonic playground. Instead of drinking himself into an alcoholic stupor and waiting for the world to end, Hawke “man’s up” and becomes The Champion of Kirkwall, as we relive his story through the tales of his old companion Varric. Although flawed this is a title well worth experiencing.
8. Deus Ex: Human Revolution
Xbox 360, PS3, PC
Despite popular belief, not all roleplaying games are about wizards and elves, (though granted, if you were merely looking at this list you may think otherwise). For those old enough to be going bald and know what ‘statins’ are, Deus Ex is not just something to be remembered from Latin classes but was the name of one of the first and mostly highly respected RPG action crossovers. Thankfully, Eidos did not desecrate the holy name of this much loved franchise and instead produced a barnstormer of a cyberpunk tale. It’s set 25 years before the original title in a world which is controlled by companies more powerful than elected governments (ha, where does Science Fiction get it’s ideas eh?). Our protagonist works as a security guard protecting the assets of one of these all powerful multi- nationals, but after a terrifying attack on the companies HQ, he is left horrifically injured. Luckily enough his pay master can not only fix him, they can also make him better than before. So starts our journey into a world of conspiracies and intrigue, as shades of The Six Million Dollar Man are melded with a dash of Blade Runner and a pinch of the works of William Gibson. Human Revolution’s blend of action and character interaction makes for a thrilling Sci-Fi ride that should not be missed.
7. Xenoblade Chronicles
RPG fans in Japan had their chance to play this title last year. those of us who keep a beady eye on gaming in the Far East soon discovered that Xenoblade was a game to keep your fingers crossed for, hoping for a release in our territory. Luckily Europe saw Xenoblade’s release this summer and was well worth the wait. this is a game which has been compared to an MMO in scale, and justifiably so, as its open-ended style is one of the few examples of a console release delivering such epic scale. The narrative takes a familiar theme:, a magic blade, a group of friends and a world to save – yet there is more than enough that is new here to surprise even the most hardened Japanese RPG fan. A game which is strong on visuals and story, this isn’t just one of the best RPG’s of 2011, but also one of the best games to arrive on the Wii since it launch. The USA will have to wait until April 2012 for the title to arrive, but believe me the delay will be worth it.
6. Dark Souls
Xbox 360, PS3
When Namco Bandai told us that this was going to be one of the most difficult and unforgiving games ever to be released, you could have been forgiven for thinking that this was nothing more than a clever marketing ploy drummed up by some pea-hearted, dead-eyed, suit-wearing crumb. It turns out this was no falsehood. This may not be the most story- driven of games, but what this title provides in spades are truly grand battles. With features that appeared in this release’s spiritual predecessor, Demon’s Souls, making a return, this is a game which certainly takes the crown of most challenging RPG of 2011, if not the most challenging game of the year.