Top 5 Strategy Guides of 2011

Everyone else is writing up about their top 5 or top 10 video games from 2011, and I want to do the same, but hey, this is a strategy guide site! I can come up with the top 5 strategy guides from 2011 easily!

And with that fantastic intro, here we go!

Deus Ex: Human Revolution Strategy Guide5. Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Deus Ex games have always prided themselves on providing multiple methods of how to get through the game, and DXHR is probably the first one that actually does just that. It really is possible to fight your way through every level and it’s possible to sneak through every level. It’s also possible to change it up every level. This guide walks you through three possible methods to take with near flawlessness. The only problem I had with the guide was its page layout:

The problem with this style of maps in a guide like Deus Ex: Human Revolution, though, is that since there are literally three different walkthroughs for every section, logistics doesn’t allow each map to stay with each entire walkthrough.

As a result, sometimes you have to flip back and forth to see the specific locales that the walkthrough references. It doesn’t take away from the accuracy of the walkthroughs or the maps at all, but it does remove efficiency in quickly finding what you need to get back to the game, adds a bit of annoyance, and hinders the effectiveness of the guide’s layout.

But you know, for a guide to get me through a stealth game when I hate stealth without throwing a controller once, you know it’s a fantastic guide.

Portal 2 Strategy Guide 4. Portal 2

Portal 2 was probably the most perfect game this year. I have zero complaints about any of it, and the same went with the strategy guide.

One thing I really appreciated were the warnings/suggestions at the beginning of the single-player and co-op chapters, where it strongly urged players to only use the guide when they were stuck. I can’t recall any guide saying that, not even the original Portal strategy guide. Granted, the reason why people buy a strategy guide is for assistance, but it’s nice that the writers asked users to try to work out the puzzles on your own, because really, you won’t get the beauty of the game without trying on your own.

Thankfully, the rest of the Portal 2 strategy guide is great and doesn’t hide behind this suggestion to mask any deficiencies. The guide is divided by campaign, chapter, and then chamber. The start of every chamber has a clear map–multiple maps if the level has multiple areas–with marked orange and blue portal placements. Each placement is numbered to correspond with the numbered paragraphs in the walkthrough. So if you just look at the guide whenever you have a quick question, it’s extremely easy to find what you need within seconds.

My favorite part of this guide still to this day is its blue and orange cloth bookmarks that were included with the Collector’s Edition.

3. Uncharted 3

I know I haven’t reviewed this guide yet, but I can say it’s the best damn guide I’ve ever seen Prima Games publish and Piggyback Interactive write. I know that Piggyback and I have had not the best relationship, but they completely won me over with their guide for Uncharted 3.

I’ll put it this way: I found all 101 treasures during my first playthrough with no problems.

2. Skyrim

This is another guide I haven’t reviewed yet, and I really haven’t gotten that far in the game. Why? Because I can’t take three steps without stumbling onto another side quest! I had to close the guide so that I wouldn’t discover any others.

I am amazed that a guide could take on something as massive as Skyrim and be so damn accurate with everything. It has over 600 pages to prove it.

The 3rd Birthday Strategy Guide1.  The 3rd Birthday

I wasn’t a fan of this game at all, but damn if it wasn’t the best strategy guide I have ever come across.

I honestly finished the game weeks ago, but I’ve had the hardest time sitting down to write a review for the guide because it was perfect. All I want to say is just that: it’s perfect. Perfect design, perfect advice, perfect organization. It’s really hard to elaborate on that, hence why it has taken me so long to write more than five words about it.

Every guide should follow The 3rd Birthday strategy guide’s structure. The first page of each mission has maps of the areas Aya will explore, all clearly marked with items, enemies, and exits. Each map is labeled as “Area #”, and then consequently in the walkthrough, each section marks which area Aya is in. It’s plainly easy to find exactly where you are at any given time. Also on this front page are a list of the mission’s Feats, which are sort of like the game’s Trophies–if the PSP had any Trophy support. The Feats are also mentioned again when the best time (or only time) Aya can accomplish them, and they are placed in clear, callout boxes so there is no risk of missing them.

This guide has become my personal bar that other guides measure against. It just goes to show you that you can make a stellar guide about any game, no matter how big, how hyped, or how mediocre.