1. LA Noire
Set in a neo-noir 1947 Los Angeles, you play as Cole Phelps - an LAPD Police Office and Detective. As your career advances through various different detective desks (Arson, Homicide, Traffic etc) a fast-paced story evolves with you in the centre of it.
Ultimately, LA Noire's 8 years of development cost development group Team Bondi their jobs. But what we as gamers got on the shelves was a masterpiece of interactive cinema.
Link: LA Noire review
2. Gears of War 3
Gears of War 3
After the sinking of Jacinto - the last human stronghold - humanity's survivors have been forced to live in hulking great ships, scavenging for supplies. If you played the previous two games, you should know what to expect by now - chainsaws, gore and more chainsaws.
Good sequels are hard to come by, and trilogy-enders are often a bit of a disappointment. With Gears of War 3, Epic have delivered their best multiplayer experience yet, and a single player story which is engaging and emotive. This was absolutely one of the best games of the year.
Link: Gears of War 3 review
3. Batman: Arkham City
Batman: Arkham City
Following on from the huge success that was Batman: Arkham Asylum, Arkham City delivers everything that was so good about the original, but on a larger scale. Arkham City is a super-prison around 5 times the size of the original asylum, sprinkled with landmarks, characters and references to the Batman stories.
The story is straight out of a comic book - classic Batman. You quickly become embroiled in the struggle for power between old enemies such as The Joker, Two Face, Bane, Penguin and Mr Freeze. Much like Dead Island, the combat system alone will keep you coming back for more and the story only serves to drag you further into the dark, threatening game world.
Bastion is a level-based action-RPG. You take control of a silent protagonist simply called 'The Kid', in his journey to reunite the land of Caelondia, recently fragmented during a cataclysm referred to as 'The Calamity'. A slightly confusing story, but ultimately the premise is simple - just walk around shooting/bashing/slicing various bad guys.
The action is good fun, but it is the delivery that makes Bastion so special. Frequently as you play, you will feel as though this is the sort of game that belongs in an art gallery. The stunning visuals, context-sensitive dynamic narrative and attention to detail all help to immerse you totally in this fairytale. If 2008 had Braid, and 2010 had Limbo, 2011 is proud to have Bastion.
Link: Bastion review
Rage is probably the most underrated game of 2011. Unfortunately when you release a relatively under-hyped game just before the launch of Battlefield 3, Modern Warfare 3 and The Elder Scrolls V, you're bound to slip under the radar a little bit.
Rage is an exquisite game, with some gorgeous post-apocalyptic vistas and an extensive open world for you to ramble across. As one of the few survivors of an asteroid strike, you come out of stasis into this eerily beautiful wasteland. The driving and shooting mechanics are as equally well constructed as the environment and though it could be accused of being a little short, there is still a huge amount here to keep you entertained.
Link: Rage hands-on review
6. Deus Ex: Human Revolution
Deux Ex: Human Revolution
Deus Ex 3, as it was in initial development, has been a long time in the making and one of the most anticipated games of the last few years, such is the strength of it's cult fanbase. When Human Revolutions arrived, it broke a fairly stagnant period in the games market and delivered an experience that was worth the wait.
Private security specialist Adam Jensen is the main protagonist, and as you guide him through a long and deeply complex story, the true genius of Deus Ex shines through. By upgrading the four 'pillars of gameplay' (namely, stealth, combat, hacking and social), you are able to tackle the situations in the game in a multitude of different ways. In addition, the backstory is so intriguing that you are always on the lookout for more computer terminals to hack and emails to read just to learn more.
7. Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception
Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception
Uncharted 3 has received almost universal acclaim this year for delivering another cinematic, story-driven masterpiece. Adventurer and archaeologist Nathan 'Nate' Drake and his eternal companion Victor 'Sully' Sullivan embark on another adventure which is, for the second time in the history of the franchise, one of the best games made for the PS3.
It's impossible to sum this game up in a short paragraph. The visuals and narrative are engaging, the mechanics are robust and as a whole package is absolutely jaw-dropping. Uncharted 3 is not just a game that needs to be played, it's a life experience.
8. Battlefield 3
In the FPS war between Battlefield and Call of Duty, Battlefield 3 got to the front lines a week early. The game was everything that fans expected and whilst the single player was disappointing and far more linear than was expected, the multiplayer alone is worth buying the game for.
In comparison with the frantic, twitch gameplay of Modern Warfare 3, Battlefield 3 is much more tactical and team-based. You can get away with lone wolfing in Modern Warfare if you're very good. Even if you're an FPS veteran, you won't get away with the same strategy in Battlefield 3.
Link: Battlefield 3 review
9. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
The latest in the long running franchise landed near the end of the year, with all the pomp and circumstance of the royal wedding, combined with the midnight queues normally reserved for Amsterdam's red light district.
Modern Warfare 3 is fast. Very fast. The single player campaign is as frantic and highlight-driven as ever, and ultimately it underlines the increasing focus on online multiplayer as a main selling point for this game (and this genre as a whole). And the multiplayer itself? It's everything you would expect, adrenaline-fuelled, joyous and infuriating in equal measure. Modern Warfare 3 became the fastest selling game of all time in it's launch week, and the people don't lie - this is a great game.
10. Saint’s Row: The Third
Saint’s Row: The Third
If you’ve picked up on any of Saint's Row’s tongue-in-cheek marketing or trailers, you’ll know that it doesn’t take itself all that seriously. Imagine the sprawling open world-ness of GTA IV, but with less stoic, dull browns and more fun, blood splatters and over the top madness. And the colour purple. And shooting octopuses at people. In short: it’s a playground for the criminally insane.
11. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
The Game of the Year according to many a gaming critic Skyrim is certainly a superb game when it's working properly. After a short introduction where you escape the chopping block, you are dropped into an indescribably enormous world, free to do whatever you like.
What defines Skyrim is the combination of this free-roaming sandbox world, and the need to fight the dragons within it. Confrontations with dragons are landmark events in most games. In Skyrim, dragons can come out of nowhere, spraying you with fire as you desperately look for cover. PS3 frustrations aside, Bethesda came up trumps with this 2011 offering.
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