The Top 7... Overlooked games of 2011

5. Ace Combat: Assault Horizon

Why would anyone overlook the latest Ace Combat? Oh, right, it’s a flying game, and who plays those anymore? If you missed Assault Horizon, however, you missed the most balls-out, boredom-searing firestorm of fun that came out this year. You don’t need a fetish for planes that go neeeeorrrrrewww to love this game – the sheer audacity of the dogfight mode, the ridiculously pumping soundtrack, and the wonderful variety of missions mean that if you ever enjoyed Top Gun (for reasons other than the volleyball scene), Assault Horizon will grab you by the gonads and never let go.

Screaming narrowly past skyscrapers, unloading a roar of bullets into the tailpipe of an ace nemesis merely one plane-length ahead, as fiery construction work rains down all around you. Skimming the snowy skyline of Moscow in an Apache and doing freaking barrel rolls to avoid anti-air fire while saturating the streets below with rockets. For heaven’s sake, this game has a quick-time event for a fist pump. Assault Horizon flies in the face of “serious” games, transforming moments of seeming action absurdity into transcendent bliss.

GamesRadar’s review of Ace Combat: Assault Horizon

4. El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron

Was this game created with the intention of being overlooked? Its pedigree: developed by a team headed by someone that worked on Okami; a hard to pronounce name; very, very Japanese. So we could understand why the world might ignore El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron, and after it garnered lackluster sales even in Japan, it was only a matter of time before our fears for the US and European launches were validated.

Shame, because El Shaddai really is one of the year’s most memorable games, if not technically “the best.” Judged solely on gameplay, there are valid complaints. The combat is fun but basic, while the platforming is manageable but sometimes painfully annoying. Those concerns really don’t matter, though, because El Shaddai is a rare case in which gameplay is an inconsequential method for getting from one gorgeous stage to the next.

You’ve never played a game that looks like El Shaddai. Each stage is a wonder of colors, sound, concept and technique. Each level is distinct from the last, whether it’s an aquatic wonderland or a futuristic cityscape. The beauty of the game is singular, and thanks to its sales failure, will never be repeated.

GamesRadar’s review of El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron

3. Shadows of the Damned

Take Suda51, the mind behind No More Heroes and Killer7, as well as one of gaming’s undeniable (and undeniably crazy) auteurs. Pair him with Shinji Mikami, the man who reinvented both horror and shooter games with his Resident Evil franchise. Then, just for good measure, throw in the famed composer of Silent Hill’s hauntingly beautiful soundtracks, Akira Yamaoka. What does this development dream team get you?

Somehow, a commercial flop. Perhaps the ridiculously named demon hunter hero, Garcia Hotspur, didn’t appeal to gamers… which is unfortunate, because he’s also ridiculously badass and, as a Mexican protagonist, ridiculously one-of-a-kind. Perhaps gamers assumed the undead-massacring combat was something they’d seen before… which is a mistake, made instantly clear the first time you kick a zombie in the crotch or battle a 900-foot horse-eating, darkness-pissing goat man. Perhaps the juvenile humor, with guns named Boner and a setting composed entirely of naked women’s bodies, was too much for some gamers… those gamers should learn to recognize the difference between cynical sexual pandering and gleefully unabashed, unmalicious raunch.

Or maybe, thanks to a lack of marketing or a poorly chosen release date, you just forgot this game even existed. Consider this a reminder, then, and a strong (hard, throbbing) recommendation.

GamesRadar’s review of Shadows of the Damned


Top 7


  • ChaseByKO - February 7, 2012 1:02 a.m.

    Playing Ghost Trick on my iPhone. WHAT A DELIGHTFUL AND FUN SURPRISE. High-five to the recommendation.
  • AuthorityFigure - January 2, 2012 2:40 a.m.

    The conclusion seems to me to be that naming your game too eccentrically harms its sales. I thought these guys would consider that pre-release though.
  • Darkhawk - December 15, 2011 11:27 a.m.

    I'll tell you why these were overlooked: 1) Yakuza - 4th in an ultra-Japanese non-GTA GTA-like game 2) Outland - I LOVE THIS GAME. Shame on everyone 3) Ace Combat - As we've learned from previous entries, these are all one-trick-ponies. Even at $40, the price is too steep to essentially play a bunch of variations on the demo I already beat. 4) El Shaddai - Demo kinda sucked, and based on other reviews... 5) SotD - Suda's biggest disappointment. Though there are hints of Suda madness in here, it's essentially just a derivation of his own (far better) work, with far too much silliness. 6) Ghost Trick - Obscure, but I LOVE this one too. 7) Rayman - "Soul-crushingly" difficult, with kid-friendly exterior. I'm surprised there aren't more returns
  • AuthorityFigure - January 2, 2012 2:38 a.m.

    So 2) and 6) were overlooked because you loved them?
  • ChaseByKO - December 14, 2011 10:24 p.m.

    I haven't even heard of Ghost Trick—and I follow games pretty well. I'll have to see if I can find it. Outland is fun and a nice twist on the Shmup genre. And it's not overly-difficult like Ikaruga.
  • adamhowes - December 14, 2011 4:04 p.m.

    Meh list only 2 of them games even look good Shadows of the damn is great fun and Rayman Origins love the demo.
  • symphonicdeathpop - December 14, 2011 2:56 p.m.

    Great list. Yakuza 4, El Shaddai and Outland are all really great games. And El Shaddai in particlar was criminally overlooked :(
  • egregious - December 14, 2011 10:40 a.m.

    Never heard of Outland to be honest. Will definitely give it go, so thank you, GR!
  • Hobogonigal - December 14, 2011 4:15 a.m.

    GamesRadar don't judge me!!! I was going to get a few of these but kind of forgot. Will you let me off if I promise to buy Yakuza 4 and Ghost Trick? Please....
  • pin316 - December 13, 2011 10:10 p.m.

    I'm in the middle of a dry spell regarding new games atm, due to a backlog that needs clearing combined with budgetary management requirements. However, two of these (Shadows of the Damned, and Assault Horizon) have been on my "purchase when it's viable" list since they were released. Awesome to have confirmation that I have some stellar gaming to look forwards to :D
  • AshLynx - December 13, 2011 9:23 p.m.

    Well, just picked up Ghost Trick! It was on my "to do" list...better late than never, and it was a new copy so it does support them directly. I loved Phoenix Wright and I like puzzle games, so why the heck not get it? Or get it for Xmas, close enough.
  • quincytheodore - December 13, 2011 9:21 p.m.

    El Shaddai and Yakuza 4 weren't exactly aimed outside Japan. So it's a bit predicted they wouldn't get much exposure. But SotD was different, it's a real shame. It's entertaining, nice OST, cool gameplay. Slightly overused dick jokes though. It deserves more...
  • TheFabricOfTime - December 13, 2011 2:27 p.m.

    LittleBigPlanet 2. A lot of people overlook it for its cartoony style. Forget you haters, we're still creating some awesome levels and finding new ways to do it.
  • RedHarlow - December 13, 2011 4:17 p.m.

    People still churning out trophy levels and heart for heart levels, eh?
  • laurenhiya21 - December 13, 2011 1:27 p.m.

    Ghost Trick was awesome, but I had so much trouble playing it without a guide >,<
  • ShowMeYourKitties - December 13, 2011 12:56 p.m.

    This article could probably also be called "GamesRadar's Okami of 2012" Also, I really want to get my hands on Ghost Trick
  • PleasantPig - December 13, 2011 10:29 a.m.

    I actually bought both Rayman Origins and Outland. I love Outland, and Rayman Origins is definitely my game of the year. No question.
  • Turboash - December 13, 2011 10:18 a.m.

    Street Cleaning Simulator!!!
  • losthero15 - December 13, 2011 10:17 a.m.

    I absolutely loved Ghost Trick Where is my Missile focused spin-off Capcom?
  • jackthemenace - December 13, 2011 9:53 a.m.

    Well, I played Shadows of the Damned, and that was awesome, but nothing else here really interests me :/ Although, I suppose that's the POINT, that I SHOULD play them DESPITE that... ANYWAY, i hate to say it, but Ascension of the Metatron, visually, looks crap. At least, i think so. Other's might think it looks, I don't know, Avant Garde, but I think it looks like a cluttered mess of colours. So, If the GAMEPLAY'S wank, and the VISUALS are wank, I don't see much point sitting through it for the story :/

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