Ballots: Tom Armitage


1. Battlefield 3 (10)
2. Batman: Arkham City (10)
3. Bastion (10)
4. The Binding of Isaac (10)
5. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (10)
6. From Dust (10)
7. Frozen Synapse (10)
8. Jamestown: Legend of the Lost Colony (10)
9. Outland (10)
10. Portal 2 (10)


(These are not really ranked 1-10; they’re ordered alphabetically. They are all great for completely different reasons, and it seemed unfair to choose between them.)

Here’s my secret: I’m shamelessly mainstream. When I get home from a day at a desk, designing or programming, I like to play games on my sofa. And so: lots of major console releases there, from the advanced hiking simulator that is Skyrim to the elaborate team sport (disguised as a military shooter) that is Battlefield 3. It’s not all AAA-ware, though. The fact that games like Bastion and From Dust saw release on major platforms makes me enormously happy, and they deserve their place. What binds all these titles together? Perhaps it’s just about wonderful worlds to escape to. Wonderful for their aesthetics: the cold mountains of Tamriel; the endless greyboxes of decades of Aperture Science; the silhouetted landscapes of Outland; the spectacular 17th century Mars of Jamestown; the steely glowing cyberpunk of Frozen Synapse; the rich, detailed decay of Arkham City. Flip that around, though, because they’re also wonderful systems to get lost in: Skyrim’s bottomless, endlessly free systems; the careful addition of gels to the Portal formula; the binary-coloured bullet-hell of Outland; the marvellous Vaunt mechanic in Jamestown; the perfection of turn-based (and play-by-mail) strategy in Frozen Synapse; the bottomless gadget-belt and inventive environment of Arkham City. At heart, I’m an escapist, and I escape into beautiful worlds and deep mechanics equally.

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