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The 8 must-rent games of 2011

With the end of the year fast approaching, it’s time to go back and start catching up on all the gaming gems you may have overlooked. The titles on this list may not be GOTY contenders, but they’re all interesting enough to merit at least one look – and came and went quickly enough that you might not have given them that look when they debuted. If you want to be part of the water-cooler conversations they’ll surely inspire, though, dust off that rental account, take a (momentary) leave of Skyrim and give Nathan Drake a breather, and get ready to catch up on some of the most inspired (but missable) games of 2011.

8. Jurassic Park: The Game

GR's Review

Aficionados of adventure games like Dragon’s Lair and Monkey Island aren’t often catered to, and neither are fans of Jurassic Park. Telltale Games, the guys behind the episodic Sam and Max adventures, have them both covered with Jurassic Park: The Game. With a focus on quick time events and story, it gives fans a chance to revisit Isla Nublar with a narrative surrounding the events of Spielberg’s classic blockbuster.

Why it shouldn’t be missed: The kills. Besides being a decent example of an underserved genre, there just aren’t enough games where people are eaten by dinosaurs. JP has more than enough to go around, with dino-carnage ranging from hilarious to surprisingly brutal. If you’re the type of player who’ll get killed just for the death animation, this is your chance to indulge a cruel streak.

Reason it’s a rental: No matter how well executed, an on-rails adventure like JP doesn’t lend itself to repetition. (And JP, to be fair, is not particularly well executed.) One time through will likely be enough for even the most ardent Jurassic Park III apologists.

7. Spider-Man: Edge of Time

GR's Review

Developer Beenox’s Spider-Man: Edge of Time wasn’t a revelation so much as a rehash, borrowing the control scheme and sci-fi plotting of Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions, also from Beenox. While the latter is lengthier, Edge of Time has an amusing flair for the dramatic and the ridiculous. Val Kilmer voices an industrialist villain who pulls a Biff from Back to the Future, traveling back in time to give his company Alchemax a leg up on ruling the world. The result is a humorously convoluted web of time-traveling Spider-Men that plays more like a “what if” story than a true piece of Marvel canon.

Why it shouldn’t be missed:  Most webheads will tell you that the high point of Spider-games was Spider-Man 2. Edge of Time is far from the open-world freedom of that title, but it’s still just plain fun to be Spider-Man. Playing as the wall-crawler is fast and splashy, if a tad generic, and the banter between Spider-Men is surprisingly witty. If you haven’t played a Spider-Man game in a while, there’s plenty of fun to be had here.

Reason it’s a rental: If you played Beenox’s Shattered Dimensions, you’ve seen most of what Edge of Time has to offer. There are some dramatic visuals, such as a dystopian NYC and a free-floating 3D credit sequence a la Panic Room, but they lose their punch after a while. Some players will enjoy the far-flung time-travel story, in which Peter Parker teams up with Miguel O’Hara, the Spider-Man of 2099, but it may annoy hardcore Spider-fans. Think of it as an appetizer for Beenox’s upcoming The Amazing Spider-Man, which will tie in with the upcoming movie and return Spidey to an open-world NYC, where he does his best work.

6. De Blob 2

GR's Review

The first De Blob was a Wii exclusive, but now Xbox 360 and PS3 gamers can enjoy the charm and inventiveness that is De Blob 2. You play as Blob, a bastion of colorful creativity in a world controlled by INKT, an evil color-draining force bent on making the world boring and drab. Your job as a Blob is to soak up colors and spread them across the land, like a wicked combination of decorator and graffiti artist.

Why it shouldn’t be missed: Despite its cutesy exterior, De Blob 2 is really a dystopian story – and Restoring color to the world around you is delightful. Few games let you have such a large and satisfying impact on your environment.

Reason it’s a rental: In the review above, Matthew Keast put it best: “Like an artistic mind, it's creative but structurally vague.” The color-coded gameplay is a concept worth exploring, but there’s not much urgency to the proceedings. The amount of time you spend with De Blob 2 directly relates to how OCD you are. Obsessive gamers could spend hours creating colorful worlds, while more goal-oriented players may become bored with De Blob 2’s lack of challenge. Also, if you played the original De Blob, the sequel will be little more than a fresh page in your coloring book.

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21 comments

  • Baron164 - December 20, 2011 3:45 p.m.

    I loved Red Faction Guerrilla and was upset about the return to a linear structure but I did finally pick up Armageddon and even though I had really low expectations I really enjoyed it.
  • playswithsquirrels - December 20, 2011 3:57 p.m.

    Before I rent these, I'll rent Ace Combat, but these are on my rent list...
  • Moondoggie1157 - December 20, 2011 4:04 p.m.

    Still looking for copy of Ace Combat, the demo made me hard. Hard like rock.
  • playswithsquirrels - December 20, 2011 5:57 p.m.

    Amazon has had it for 25 bucks the last few days... I plan to rent to test if I want to buy. Demos are always so short...
  • Moondoggie1157 - December 20, 2011 4:03 p.m.

    I have to agree with all of these, as much as I loved Shadows of the Damned (and dont regret paying full price for it) I don't see much replay value. Word of advice, play it on hard, it makes the game much more fun (plus more trophies, word)
  • camilo-hache - December 20, 2011 4:24 p.m.

    Isn't Jurassic Park a download only game?
  • GamesRadarMatthewKeast - December 20, 2011 5:19 p.m.

    Nope, it's retail, and $40 brand-new.
  • RebornKusabi - December 20, 2011 5:33 p.m.

    No, it has physical copies which I've seen in stores.
  • The_Tingler - December 21, 2011 8:02 a.m.

    In the US it has a boxed version on PC/PS3/360, everywhere else it's PC and download only.
  • FrozenImplosion - December 20, 2011 4:56 p.m.

    Woah woah woah, I'm glad you guys are giving Rage and Shadows of the Damned the recognition they deserve, but I have to say that Rage is really NOT short, and neither is DMD. Rage can easily eat up 30 hrs if you actually take the time to explore and think of fun combat strategies (which is kind of the point of the game). And Shadows of the Damned has been called short by so many people but I don't understand it, the campaign takes a good 10-12 hours the first time through. And personally when it was over I went and played it again. Really, I don't understand the utter fixation these days with critical reception being proportional to game length -_- And I'm not talking about you guys in particular, especially since I've heard complaints about length on these two from nearly every site. It's just sad to see good games be written off sometimes just because of length. I mean for real, look at Portal 2. That game was PHENOMENAL, and superbly put together- BUT it was only about 15 hours. I think every reviewer mentioned the length at one time or another. I think we might all want to just try and understand that quality takes TIME to make, and therefore quality games may end up being shorter Just look at Skyrim, which is amazing. AMAZING. But it's littered with bugs because Bethesda was being so ambitious and trying to create, essentially, an entire world. tl;dr Length =/= quality, quality =/= length.
  • GamesRadarMatthewKeast - December 20, 2011 5 p.m.

    The main reason we mention length in this particular feature is that a short game means a manageable rental. The shorter a game is, the more tempting it is to do as a rental, even if the quality is high (like Rage). Rage felt a bit short to me, and I did most of the side missions. The feel of shortness wasn't due purely to the hours played, but how hyped the game was for being "huge" and "open-world" and then it wasn't nearly as much of those two things as I expected. Also, due to the game's story ending just as the larger quest seemed to be getting started, it felt unfinished, and therefore short.
  • codystovall - December 20, 2011 5:36 p.m.

    I rent games I would otherwise buy because im poor so I wont be renting any of these. Though I did already rent shadows of the damned and returned it out of boredom. Sorry Steve Blum.
  • shawksta - December 20, 2011 7:47 p.m.

    Great List! I feel ya man on Rage, we all expected more, and i enjoyed the game but come on, that ending was just "......whut........its over!?!?"
  • azureguy - December 21, 2011 3:16 a.m.

    Good list overall, especially Red Faction Armageddon. The game actually offers a decent amount of replayability with all the weapons and New Game +, but ultimately really is a bit short. Since it's not 60 bucks anymore, though, I would recommend to buy it. But if you're really low on budget, then yes, it can be finished in 2 to 3 days (I rented it myself on PS3 and bought it on PC afterwards).
  • bass88 - December 21, 2011 3:17 a.m.

    I think Alice: Madness Returns should be on this list. It's one of those games that you could become one of your favourites (it's my favourite game of the year, despite having issues with it). The combat is great but the platforming, while fun (think late 90s), is repetitive. But the writing is rich in subtext and themes and the excellent artwork and score lingers with you long after you finished it. I don't really care for this new trend of re-imagining children's stories. It's really just a case of desaturating the visual aesthetic (i.e. Tim Burton's Alice In Wonderland, Catherine Hardwicke's Red Riding Hood) and nothing else. But American McGee's take is far more intelligent and is a brilliant exploration of a traumatised mind. Fans of Silent Hill 2 will probably like it.
  • rob619 - December 21, 2011 6:50 a.m.

    Just ordered shadows of the damned for rent :) I would say that why doesn't everyone just rent games?! I have been purchasing games for years, then they just sit around after completion! Rent games, play them to your content, send back new game arrives
  • The_Tingler - December 21, 2011 8:04 a.m.

    I disagree with Dead Island being on this list, that's a huge game. It's more a "wait until it's patched even further" game. I'd rather go with LA Noire, just for the "try before you buy" point.
  • talleyXIV - December 21, 2011 12:23 p.m.

    Dead Island should be number one. Bought during the third week when all my friends were getting it. After seeing the ending, I will never forgive myself for buying it. You could put Portal 2 on the list, but that game is just too badass to only rent it.

Showing 1-20 of 21 comments

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