2011 Honorable Mentions: Spencer's List

Spencer's up next with his other favorites from last year.

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Iron Brigade (formerly Trenched)

The first of two developers returning from my 2010 Honorable Mentions, Double Fine’s latest, Iron Brigade (prior to a legal dispute, it was Trenched), may have been made specifically to hit all the pleasure centers in my brain. Giant robot shooter? Check. Tower defense? Check. Alternate-history/sci-fi Great War setting? Check and check. Layer on heaps of Double Fine’s comedy writing and art style, and you have an amazing, entertaining diversion that defies easy classification. Exclusive to Xbox 360, this was perhaps the only reason I was miffed when my Live account ended up hacked.

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Orcs Must Die

Mechanically, Orcs Must Die is something like Tecmo’s Deception mixed with God of War: a trap-setting almost-tower defense game where you can wade into the fray with your sword if things get hairy. In addition to this, it adds hilarious dialog and general silliness - the orcs would be almost sympathetic if they weren’t mentioning their desire to kill humans, and they’re downright funny even as you mow them down. Top it off with a protagonist who may as well be an ancestor of Bruce Campbell, and you have a guaranteed winner. Frequently hits Steam sales, plays great with a gamepad.

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The Stanley Parable

To be honest with you the reader, The Stanley Parable is not, strictly speaking, a game. It’s more of a game about a game, or perhaps a game about games. However, curious little experiment though it might be, it’s a compelling narrative, one that will hopefully make you wonder about games as a medium for storytelling. A remake is on the way, implementing more of the designer’s original vision - in the interim the mod remains free for your enjoyment, and quite fascinating in its current state.

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Atom Zombie Smasher

Blendo Games returns with what might be called “Hipsters in the Zombie Apocalypse.” Atom Zombie Smasher is a curious, clever take on the real time strategy and tower defense formats (little bit of a theme in my selections this year). Like its predecessors, AZS is quirky, off-beat and loads of fun, all the way down to its 60s surf-rock soundtrack. Pack up your helicopter, lock and load with the 56th Badger Infantry and enjoy.