On Wednesday we gave you games 10-8, yesterday we gave you games 7-4 and today we give you the final part in our top games of 2011 countdown, including our official 2011 Game of the Year. Read on to find out if your favourite made it...
3) Portal 2 (PS3, Xbox 360 & PC) – Valve
Ah Portal, how we love you. When the original was released back in 2007, it gave gamers a delightful taste of what was to come. Following its success, Valve began work on the sequel, only this time things would be turned up to eleven, and then some.
While the first game was somewhat limited in places, Portal 2 expands upon literally everything in the game universe. We get a few insights into the events that have led to Chell being stuck in the Aperture Science Enrichment Centre as the game begins, plus a whole host of intriguing new information about the history of Aperture itself.
With far more involving puzzles, a massively expanded game world, a genuinely interesting storyline and some serious belly laughs coming from GLaDOS and Wheatley (voiced by Stephen Merchant), Portal 2 blew us away from start to finish. And that’s before we even started on the multiplayer aspect of the game. Simply put it’s as every bit as good as we had dared to expect, and then some. Let’s just hope that we can say the same for Half Life 2: Episode 3... if Gabe and his boys ever get around to it!
2) The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim (PS3, Xbox 360 & PC) – Bethesda
There’s not really all that much to say about The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim that we haven’t already said over on our monster review starting on page 87, but just in case you needed us to reaffirm it in order to give you the final push needed to pick it up: it’s epic. Everything about it from start to finish oozes brilliance. With any project this ambitious there are always going to be a few niggly problems, especially when it comes to bugs, but that’s been sorted out for the most part at this stage thanks to Bethesda’s busy development team putting everything they have into making sure that the game was patched up and as good as it could possibly be.
There are still a few things that have slipped through the net, but they’re so minor in the overall scale of things that they’re irrelevant. The only real problem we can see with picking up Skyrim over the Christmas, or in the January sales if you don’t already have it is the fact that it’s an absolute black hole for time. No sooner will you sit down for a couple of quick missions than you’ll realise its four o’clock in the morning and your alarm will be going off in less than three hours. The worrying thing is that it won’t bother you in the slightest.
1) The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Wii) – Nintendo
We're always a little wary when making these lists, especially when the business end of them features recently released titles. It’s not that we’ve forgotten or passed over older titles due to their age, this year it’s more to do with the fact that the two best games of the year (by quite some distance) have been released in November. Excuses aside, from the moment we loaded up Skyward Sword we were in no doubt that it was going to finish top of the list.
It’s reviewed in full over on page 85, but we suppose we can fill you in on the basics here. As one of the longest running series’ in gaming, the Zelda franchise is now celebrating its 25th year and although some have complained that Skyward Sword doesn’t really bring all that much to the table, we feel quite different.
The traditional overworld/dungeon layout has been tweaked sufficiently to add plenty of new interest to the storyline, and the implementation of the Motion Plus’ (almost) 1:1 response has been second to none. Yes it’s missing the boomerang, and yes it’s still Link off chasing after Zelda, but the truth is that it feels every bit as fresh as it always has.
With the game budgets increasing all the time, and millions being spent on presentation, voice actors and swanky high resolution visuals, it’s always great to see Nintendo rolling up their sleeves and showing us, once again, what gaming is all about. With a great storyline, fantastic SD graphics (although it must be pointed out that it looks a bit better on the CRT technology it was built for as opposed to a high end flat panel technology TV) and gameplay to die for, we’re absolutely positive that Skyward Sword is going to be a fixture on countless “best ever” lists from this point onwards.
The List in Full
1) The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
2) The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
3) Portal 2
4) Saints Row: The Third
5) Mortal Kombat
6) Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception
7) Forza Motorsport 4
8) FIFA 12
9) Rayman Origins
10) Alice: Madness Returns
Batman: Arkham City (PS3, Xbox 360 & PC) –Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Batman is back in his latest adventure. Absolutely essential for Bat-fans everywhere, this builds a huge amount on what Rocksteady games started with Arkham Asylum. Everything about it is bigger, better and more polished from the environments to the storyline to the combat. Beautiful stuff all round.
Sonic Generations (PS3, Xbox 360, PC, 3DS) – Sega
The lack of top quality Sonic titles in the last decade or so has been hard for us to stomach, but Sonic Generations makes it all seem worthwhile. Sega’s Sonic Team has finally managed to find the right balance between breakneck speed and solid level design. Swapping between classic 2D based Sonic and modern 3D based Sonic is a real joy in this fantastic slice of platform magic. Please Sega, can we have some more?
Gears of War 3 (Xbox 360) – Microsoft Game Studios
Epic Games’ original Gears of War story arc is finally brought to a satisfying close. Given the moderate disappointment of the last game, we weren’t expecting things to be quite so good this time around, but thanks to some real touches of class, Epic has delivered on all fronts. The multiplayer is back to its best, while the story is well told and wraps everything up rather well. Yay for big ass explosions!
Deus Ex: Human Revolution (PS3, Xbox 360 & PC) – Square Enix
Quite what this Eidos Montreal title is currently doing hanging around bargain bins across the world is beyond us. It takes the established Deus Ex brand and drags it kicking and screaming into the current generation with a great storyline, fantastic visuals and some of the best level design we’ve seen for a long while. Whether you want to stealth it up or go in all guns blaring, the result is equally satisfying. If there’s ever been one to pick up on the cheap in the sales this is it!
Dark Souls (PS3 & Xbox 360) – Namco Bandai Games
Harder than a really, really bloody hard thing, Dark Souls is the follow up to the equally devilish Demon Souls, and rather than pulling back its aim of killing you as many times as possible, it cranks the difficulty up even further. A game with this many lost lives shouldn’t be enjoyable, but the sense of achievement gained for making progress is nothing short of gamer crack. Not for the faint hearted.