The Best and Worst Video Games of 2011

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It's that time of year again. After drudging through the torrent of great and not-so-great video games that consumed just about every minute of my free time, I've narrowed down what I believe is considered to be the best and worst games of 2011. Which games are considered gems? Which aren't even worth your precious time? The following are the best (and worst) video games of 2011.

2011's Most Clever Way to Take Your Money
Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure
Figures like this plastic devil-chihuahua will cost you about $10-$20. Spyro, pictured here, comes with the game.

Charging you $10 for a new character as downloadable content? Highway Robbery! Charging you $10 to buy a toy that will unlock a new character? Genius. And absolutely addictive. Activision, the company that has found clever ways throughout the years to suck money right out of your wallet, has found a clever new way for players to get addicted and fork out more money.

This is how the addiction works: the game is basically an action/adventure game in which players are able to explore exotic locales, collect gold, and typical action/adventure stuff. You've been doing this kind of thing for years. The catch is that the game is bundles with what is called the "portal of power," which connects to your game console. By placing a Skylanders action figure on the portal, players can use that character and open up areas that only that specific character type can open. In addition, the player will be granted with new abilities and powers, and all gameplay information is tied to that specific figure. How many characters are there that can be unlocked using these figures? Thirty seven. The game comes with three, but if you want to access everything (and it's so tempting), you're going to have to buy up to 34 of these figures to access the entire game. And if you're cursed and happen to be a completionist or achievement whore, you might be suckered into spending hundreds of dollars for a simple game and a bunch of useless plastic. It's like Guitar Hero all over again!

2011's "R.I.P Award"
Episodic Gaming

Every year, I like to acknowledge the most notable gaming fad that dies with the "R.I.P." award. Last year, for example, this coveted award was given out to the death of the plastic instruments that accompanied the fall of Rock Band and Guitar Hero's popularity.

This year marks the end of the episodic gaming model. Episodic gaming was once thought of as a new, exciting way to sell games, in bite-sized episodes. Most of Telltale Games' content was released episodically. Telltale released Tales of Monkey Island, for example, one episode per month for five months. Players can buy each episode individually, or buy the whole season and save a bit of money.

However, buying bite-sized games for lower prices proved to be unpopular over time. Gamers would often lose interest in the series over time, and would stop buying future episodes. Even Telltale stopped adopting the monthly episodic gaming format- their most recent release, Jurassic Park: The Game, had all four episodes released at once, and received a single-disc retail release for the XBOX 360. In addition, episode II of Sonic the Hedgehog 4 has been rumored to be reached vaporware status. Retail games are even adopting a "season pass" model in which players pay for all future downloadable content at once to save some money, simply to avoid that drop-off.

The future doesn't look too bright for episodic gaming. In the meantime, be prepared to buy your games like you always have- all at once.

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