Top 5 Games of 2011: Freshfully Rad Style

Another fun year and another list of favorites. If you aren’t tired of seeing these lists by now, feel free to read on for my top 5 video games of 2011. Let me know what your favorites are in the comments or on whatever social media website you’re reading this from. I look forward to hearing your thoughts and favorites.

5. Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Screenshot from Deus Ex: Human Revolution

#5 - Deus Ex: Human Revolution

This stealth/action shooter hits the number five spot for numerous reasons. The hype was strong when it first came out and from what I had heard; I knew I’d like this game. You could choose whether you were going to go in guns blazing or whether you would creep like a panther, dispatching foes without bloodshed. The level of customization was fun as you started to excel in the modifications you activated in your body. However, the boss fights were extremely unfair and one-dimensional compared to the options of routes in the level design of the world.

Overall, the game had a great story and a good replay value added in how you’d complete the game, including four different endings. But, it was a rental for me and it hasn’t tempted me to go back to it yet.

4. L.A. Noire

Image for L.A. Noire

#4 - L.A. Noire

The life of a cop in the 50’s was a perfect time for this game. There was nothing like hitting a crime scene and manhandling the corpse of a dead and bloodied woman in order to obtain the clues you need to catch the perp. The facial imaging that was used was the first of its kind and it was always a great surprise to see celebrities in the video game. However, as the game progressed it got a little monotonous to turn over every piece of paper to ruthlessly find all of the clues to the crime. The driving was like a chore most of the time and the “gaminess” of balancing on a wooden plank or finding all of the cars and film reels weren’t worth my time.

L.A. Noire is a game I had never played before and I really enjoyed the overall story as well as each case. But, it’s one of those games better left in small chunks.

3. Portal 2

Image for Portal 2

#3 - Portal 2

Most gamers know this – Valve knows how to make good video games. This is another game that had some crazy hype behind it and for good reason. The first Portal was a nice hidden gem on The Orange Box and the expanded sequel promised more great puzzles and an interesting story behind it. And did it ever have those! The narrative didn’t treat you like you were stupid and the puzzles were challenging, though not impossible. It had a completely different game for co-op play and some of the achievements really test your skill.

Portal 2 is one of those games you should own just so you can take your time in each area and really experience everything that Valve hides within their worlds.

2. Dead Space 2

Image for Dead Space 2

#2 - Dead Space 2

Hold on tight. That’s what I tell every gamer that begins playing this game. This survival sci-fi horror game knows how to provide the jump scares as well as provide some grotesque imagery that any gorehound will love. The controls are much improved from Dead Space and the camera is pulled in to Isaac just a little tighter. The soundtrack is just as freaky as the environment and provides just the type of music that should be in horror.  The only complaint I have is that you can usually tell what monster was going to pop out and surprise you based on the level design. That complaint is minor though, because the monster design is splendid for the bevvy of weapon choices you get.

This game is a blast and one I had to keep. Turn this game up on your stereo or headphones and prepare for the terror to begin.

1. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Image for the Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

#1 - The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Anyone who knows me probably guessed this when I mentioned this list. I was at the store as soon as it opened to pick up Skyrim and have since played the game close to 130 hours. This RPG takes place in such an epic world; I’m guessing it could take at least 300 hours to complete almost everything. The customization of your character is precisely how you’d like to craft him or her. You can travel underwater to the top of giant mountains and do it freely without waiting on load times. You can progress in the story however you’d like, which makes a different game for each person who plays it and a different story that each person inevitably tells. I mean, I created a Tumblr blog about it!

This game has some faults like quests not finishing, though I had done what was required and some of the animal animation looks clunky. However, it’s to be expected with such a large game and forgivable for what the game provides in return. It even made the number three spot on Xbox LIVE behind Call of Duty: Black Ops & Modern Warfare 3 and Skyrim isn’t even a multiplayer game!

That’s how good this game is and why it’s my number one of 2011.

Honorable mentions go out to Bastion, Gears of War 3 and Shadows of the Damned. All of those games have provided me with some excellent experiences as well, but just lacked enough to make it into the top 5 of 2011.

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Helping Eve’s Daughters Live Better Lives

Logo for Eve's Daughters

We live in a harsh world. Almost every day that I walk to a market nearby my apartment, I see someone asking for change. For many years, I’ve lived paycheck to paycheck and it hasn’t been easy to get where I’m at today. As we roll into the thick of the holiday season, there’s no better time to help someone less fortunate than you.

My boss and mentor, Matt Singley, said that Singley + Mackie would be making a sizeable donation to Eve’s Daughters during our team meeting yesterday. Eve’s Daughters is a small organization that helps single mothers who are facing divorce, abandonment or widowhood. Though they’re located in Portland, Oregon, I’ve never heard of this organization and as an only child of a single mother, this hit home with me.

I was primarily raised by my mother throughout my whole life. We lived a hard life since she was pretty much addicted to drugs, both illegal and prescription. There was a lot of moving from house to apartment to extended family’s homes during my childhood because we’d never have enough money for rent. My mom even got caught in a fire in our house and suffered third-degree burns on her hands and legs. She had to stay in the burn unit of Portland Emanuel hospital for months while I stayed with my dad. To this day, I still don’t know how it happened, but I believe it was because they were cooking drugs in our house. I was entering the fifth grade. All of that took its toll on my mom and she ended up passing away during my first year in college.

So, to say that I feel a great sense of self-worth that the company I work for is helping this small organization is probably somewhat of an understatement. It has amazed my extended family that I’ve had the success in my life that I’ve achieved so far, but without the help from friends and family in my life, it wouldn’t have been possible. I encourage you to check out the website for Eve’s Daughters and like their Facebook page. If you have a little extra cash on hand, perhaps think about donating to them. I’m proud of the company I work for and the awesome things that my team does for others.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.