10) LittleBigPlanet 2 (PS3)
With 2009’s LittleBigPlanet Sony found themselves a new poster child for their latest console, and scored another exclusive IP appealing to critics and players alike. 2 years on, a sequel to the first ‘Play, Create, Share’ from developers Media Molecule arrived. Complaints over whether a sequel was necessary were soon proven wrong when players realised how essential the upgrade was. You can create any kind of game you can think of in LBP2, and while I didn’t get too involved in the creation side of the game, I had a blast playing other people’s content. (Full Review Here)
9) DiRT 3 (PS3, 360, PC)
I didn’t expect that a racing game would make it onto my end of year list, but if a developer were to make an appearance it would certainly be Codemasters. Their 2008 racer Race Driver: GRID was an unexpected favourite of mine, and DiRT 3 does everything that game did and so much more. Handling is top notch, getting the balance of simulation and arcade racer just right. A slick presentation and excellent graphics go a long way to making DiRT 3 worthy for my end of year list. (Full Review Here)
8) inFamous 2 (PS3)
The first inFamous was a good game, this sequel is a great one. Raising the bar in every way, this is one of the games I had the most ‘fun’ with this year. An open city full of content means that clambering up buildings and using Cole’s new lightning powers isn’t all that has been improved here. inFamous 2 was a blast to play, and feels solid and sturdy throughout. It’s an essential PS3 exclusive. (Full Review Here)
7) Resistance 3 (PS3)
By far the most surprising entry for me on this list. When I was asked to review Resistance 3 earlier this year, I had my reservations after not enjoying either of the previous games. The campaign of R3 proved me wrong though, providing a journey across America to New York that harks back to classic games like Half Life 2. Superb weaponry and characters I grew to care about are part of the reason I enjoyed Resistance 3 far more than anticipated. (Full Review Here)
6) Batman: Arkham City (PS3, 360, PC)
Missing out on the top 5, which may be surprising to readers, I have to admit Batman: Arkham City didn’t live up to my expectations. I feel like the developers tried to cram too much into what could have been a really tight experience, including too many characters from the comics without giving enough a genuine shot at the spotlight. That said, Arkham City is still home to the best combat mechanics ever, and you feel like Batman from start to finish. Fully deserving of its place in my list. (Full Review Here)
5) Dead Space 2 (PS3, 360, PC)
Picking between the top half of my end of year list has been extremely tough, and the first great game of 2011 (way back in January) makes it into my top 5. Dead Space 2 is every bit as tense and thrilling as the original was, just this time the ride is that bit grander in scale. There are some amazing moments in Dead Space 2, the eye poking sequence is one that I will never forget, but it’s the lingering dread you feel throughout the game that showcases the true brilliance of developers Visceral Games. (Full Review Here)
4) The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Wii)
I have to be honest, Zelda is the only game on this list I haven’t completed yet. It’s the latest entry on the list, but this is Zelda we are talking about, it’s fully deserving of it’s spot on my list. Nintendo have really tried to take the franchise to some unexplored territory, the fact that this is the first Wii Motion Plus game to truly care about helps a great deal as well. I may not have enjoyed the game so far as much as I did Twilight Princess, but Skyward Sword is one of the very few games it’s worth owning a Wii for.
3) L.A. Noire (PS3, 360, PC)
Were into the final stretch now, all three of these games are phenomenal experiences. Taking the elements I love from games like Grand Theft Auto and Heavy Rain, stripping away the unessential side quests and hiring a cast worthy of a HBO mini series, L.A. Noire is an experience like no other. Not an action game, which shows in the more combat heavy action set pieces, the innovative motion capture technology is integral to the gameplay, where deciding whether someone is lying or not is more thrilling and intense than any other game. L.A. Noire is definitely not a perfect game, but in 2011 it’s an experience I couldn’t have imagined being without.
2) Portal 2 (PS3, 360, PC)
Back in 2007 a small unknown indie game was thrown in as a free extra in Half Life’s The Orange Box. 4 years on Portal is arguably as important to Valve’s software lineup as Half Life is. Portal 2 takes everything that made the original so entrancing, and makes it into a full experience. I remember getting about 5/6 hours in to the game and I kept thinking I was reaching the end, and time after time I was duped, the campaign taking me to places I never imagined it could. Co-op was a fantastic addition to the game too, the confusion of dealing with 4 portals at once making for a few long nights in with my flatmates and the game. It’s the narrative that made Portal 2 for me though, GLaDOS yet again providing some of the best one-liners of the year all while developing as a character through some plot twists as clever as the testing rooms themselves. I adore Portal 2, but it’s my runner up for 2011.
1) Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception (PS3)
I knew that Uncharted 3 would be my game of 2011, or at least I had hoped it would be. There is no other campaign on PS3 that is as well paced, thrilling or as enjoyable as the one in Drake’s Deception. While the game hasn’t so much ‘improved’ from the last, there is a refinement seen across the game, from the now useful hand to hand combat to set pieces that are even more explosive than last time. Each and every location Drake visits provides spectacular vistas and moments that push the PS3 to its limit. The desert sections are the best example of what Uncharted does so well. You feel like Nathan Drake, you feel like an adventurer, you feel that connection to the history and wonder of the world you are exploring. Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception was most definitely my favourite game of 2011, and by surpassing its predecessor has become my essential PS3 game. In a year full of amazing games, Naughty Dog proved yet again why they will always belong at the top. (Full Review Here)