Feature: Canaries of the Year

2011 was a strong year in gaming, full of some excellent titles. Given it’s the last day of the year, I figured it would be a good time to give out some awards! I’ve split it up into three sets of awards: minor awards, genre awards, and overall game of the year. As a rule, I generally don’t like multi-page posts, but in this case I’ll make an exception as to not immediately spoil the winners. I’ll also note that there were some notable titles I didn’t play this year, including Battlefield 3 and Skyward Sword. Where applicable, I’ll be sure to mention games which may have competed for the award had I played them.

Minor Awards

Best Musical Score

Bastion – Darren Korb
Deus Ex: Human Revolution – Michael McCann
Shadows of the Damned – Akira Yamaoka

While music doesn’t carry a game on its own, it certainly can add a great deal to the ambiance of a game. Each of this year’s nominees definitely had scores which elevated their respective titles. Darren Korb composed a chilling and masterful soundtrack fused between guitars and synth beats. Michael McCann’s score really fit with the world of Deus Ex, and Akira Yamaoka’s score definitely was one of the strong points of Shadows.

Best Voice Acting

Bastion
Batman: Arkham City
Portal 2

Bastion really only had one voice actor in the mysterious Narrator, but it does an amazing job of proving a backbone to the entire game. Batman featured experienced voice actors including Mark Hamill’s Joker, and Portal 2 had a returning voice in GlaDOS, and a new one in Stephen Merchant’s Wheatley.

Best Technology

Gears of War 3
Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception
The Witcher 2 

Uncharted 3 had some amazing visuals, but the most impressive technology was the water simulation in the pirate/boat levels. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a game with such impressive water. Gears of War 3 may be seen as a high point in extracting performance out of the Xbox 360. Finally, The Witcher 2 had perhaps some of the best PC visuals seen this year, and it was one of few titles where you really needed to upgrade if you wanted to turn everything up. Battlefield 3 likely would’ve competed in this category, had I played it.

Best Art

Bastion
Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet
Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception

This category featured a lot of different aspects this year. You had the beautiful cell-shading of Bastion, the twisted but interesting vector-style graphics from ITSP, and finally the ultra-realistic environments of Uncharted.

Best Downloadable Title

Bastion
Dungeons of Dredmor
Ms. Splosion Man
Trenched 

Some of the best games of this year were downloadable ones, and in fact half of the Singing Canaries this year were of the downloadable variety. The top four was a bit tough to narrow down to, but ultimately these titles were deserving of mention, for various reasons.

See who won >>

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