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The Top 7... Overlooked games of 2011

We forgive you. 2011 was a stupidly crazy busy year for videogames, and unless you neglected sleeping, eating and breathing, there was literally no way you could play every great release.

But! Whether you get to them now that the holidays are here, get to them in the emptier early months of next year, or simply get to them at some point in your life, you need to experience the following seven titles. While they may not have sold as well as the likes of Skyrim, Modern Warfare and Batman, or received as much attention as the likes of Portal, Mario and Uncharted, they’re often just as amazing. Sometimes better.


7. Yakuza 4

A few reasons you forgot to play Yakuza 4: it's the fourth entry in a decidedly Eastern-leaning series that makes no apologies for potential cultural barriers, it's about Japanese gangsters, and there are more characters in it than even the most accessible Russian novel.

If you can still find the game on shelves, however, here are a few reasons it’s totally worth checking out: you can pick up motorcycles and slam them against yakuza-wannabe's jaws, try your hand at running a hostess bar, become part of the foodie elite by seeking out every secret restaurant, or receive a sensual massage (really). That’s in addition to the main story, which examines why four people from wildly different backgrounds chose a life of crime, but doesn’t take itself too seriously. You’ll spend dozens of hours exhausting everything each character can possibly do in this massive city.

Grand Theft Auto might be our closest approximation to Yakuza 4 in America, but that's really an unfair comparison, as Yakuza is more focused on keeping the action varied, interesting, and, well, warranted. From daring rooftop chases with perverts in diapers to subdued prison breaks, Yakuza 4 offers some of this year's most memorable moments – for those who played it, anyway.

GamesRadar’s review of Yakuza 4

 


6. Outland

Was it the glut of XBLA games that washed through your dashboard's ad space, or was it the fact that by the time it dropped on PSN, you were already knee deep in free Welcome Back games? Either way, Outland is a game that undoubtedly deserved to be on your playlist.

It's a game that combines several proven gameplay mechanics to concoct a surprisingly stout platformer. Imagine the best elements of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and Metroid, then add a twist of Ikaruga's on-the-fly switching between color coding to battle different shades of enemy, and you've got a pretty good idea of how it plays.

Outland is also a sleek-looking game with fluid animation and a unique art style. Its shadow-puppet-themed presentation is a real standout, and it does a great job of highlighting how important your palette switching is to surviving its challenging environments. So, yeah, you should really feel terrible that you've deprived yourself of such a fascinating action platformer for as long as you have. Maybe you could remedy that?

GamesRadar’s review of Outland

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88 comments

  • Y2Ken - December 12, 2011 2:59 p.m.

    Currently I've only played two of these, I'm still working my way through Outland and it's good fun, a beautiful game and quite challenging at times. Shadows of the Damned will be in my overall top 10, I was a big fan of that game. I think listening to you guys talk about in on TalkRadar settled it, I was already interested thanks to the guys behind it but you sealed the deal.
  • Errrrbo - December 12, 2011 2:59 p.m.

    Decent list. Shadows of the Damned deserved far more sales than it got.
  • V22Dreamcast - December 12, 2011 3 p.m.

    Well...I'm one of the few who has Shadows of the Damned and Rayman Origins, and they are both awesome. I will probably get Outland soon, I don't know why I don't own it yet. Plus, don't forget about Child of Eden, another great, overlooked game.
  • kor2disturbed - December 12, 2011 3:05 p.m.

    Maybe...but I'd have to buy PS Move or the awful Kinect just to play some "probably good" on rails shooter, it's not worth it.
  • LEGOMatrix - December 12, 2011 3:35 p.m.

    Why wouldn't you use a control pad? It controls like Rez.
  • kor2disturbed - December 12, 2011 6:15 p.m.

    Isn't it Kinect only?
  • V22Dreamcast - December 12, 2011 11:44 p.m.

    Nope, that why I bought it. Kinect is just another way to play Child of Eden.
  • CoD4Kamikazi - December 12, 2011 3:01 p.m.

    When I first saw Shadows of the Damned, I simply scoffed and passed it off as an immature game about stupid boner jokes and cheesy one-liners. Once I actually gave it a try, I realized that the boner jokes and crazy environments are what make Shadows so damn amazing. I didn't want that game to end. It's a shame that it'll never see a sequel.
  • oneshotfinch - December 12, 2011 3:01 p.m.

    Huh, this reminds me that you guys did a video Top 7 on the same subject last year. Did that format get too much negative feedback or was it just too time consuming?
  • kor2disturbed - December 12, 2011 3:02 p.m.

    I own both Shadows of the Damned and Rayman Origins! I'm a good person! Never played any of the others though.
  • Sjoeki - December 12, 2011 3:03 p.m.

    I thought Child of Eden would make the list.
  • EnigmaSpirit - December 12, 2011 3:05 p.m.

    I could have sworn that Ghost Trick was released last year. Huh...
  • rags18 - December 12, 2011 3:15 p.m.

    I thought the same thing but it was released in early january, the 11th i belive.
  • shawksta - December 12, 2011 4:49 p.m.

    June 2010 in Japan, January 2011 in US.
  • fatdog12300 - December 12, 2011 3:08 p.m.

    Ghost Trick was spectaculacular. Stoopid people not buying it.
  • StrayGator - December 12, 2011 3:09 p.m.

    What about To The Moon? (too soon?)
  • CaptCOMMANDO - December 12, 2011 3:10 p.m.

    I played Shadows of the Damned, loved it. I'm gonna pick up Rayman and possibly download Outland. They loot super fun.
  • shawksta - December 12, 2011 3:11 p.m.

    Awesome list, all these underknown games were awesome especially Shadows of the damned, Ghost Trick and Rayman Origins. Its great to see Ubisoft give us back Rayman after all those damn rabbits, in original form too. Ghost trick's story was %100 awesome, and it may not have sold like the big names but atleast it wont hide in the shadows, being made by Ace attorney creator shu takumi has it popular, heck Phoenix Wright got a color scheme for Sissle and Lyne in UMVC3 and Sissle got nice artwork on heroes and Heralds. A sequel would be awesome but its hard to decide if Sissle should be bothered again or to give us a new protagonist.
  • StoneDreadnaught - December 12, 2011 3:18 p.m.

    Nothing got by me, by the looks of this list. I bought every single title in this Top 7 ^^;
  • Tymiegie - December 12, 2011 3:19 p.m.

    I love El Shaddai and I'm about to finish it as soon as I'm done typing this comment. I also picked up Outland; it's pretty great. I would like a good reason to use my DS again, so I guess I need to figure out if I buy Ghost Trick or Rayman: Origins next. Think I will end up going with the story-intensive one first. Loved the list.

Showing 1-20 of 88 comments

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