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10 Best Games of 2011

We choose our 10 favorite gaming experiences of 2011. Find out what made the cut inside…

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We come to it at last — it’s time for our end of the year best games awards. Last week we ran our 10 Best Downloadable Games of 2011 article, and now we’re back to choose the best of the best of the best. No matter what platform they released on, these 10 titles represent our favorite gaming experiences of 2011. So read on to find out what games from this year make us happy to be labeled gamers.

Note: This list was formed by a committee of multiple editors. Therefore, some games that might have earned high marks from our individual reviewers might not be our communal favorite games of 2011. It’s just something to keep in mind as you read.
 

10L.A. Noire

Systems: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC

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Rockstar took a big risk with L.A. Noire. They moved from the open world killing grounds of Red Dead Redemption and Grand Theft Auto into a much more focused and less violent narrative. L.A. Noire has hours full of gameplay within that don’t even involve guns or fisticuffs. Players embark on one detective’s journey through a weaving web of conspiracy and moral decay in 1948 Los Angeles, California. The result combination of inventive gameplay and great character acting make L.A. Noire a complete joy. It’s not for everyone, but those that like the game will be in heaven.
 

9Rayman Origins

Systems: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii

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Rayman Origins stands as the best 2D platformer to release during 2011. Ubisoft created a hand-drawn beauty of a game that places an emphasis on smooth play, silliness and old school difficulty. It’s a throwback to classic couch-based multiplayer that manages to call friends together for an entirely good time. The look, the sound, the play and the goofiness add up to a stellar experience that’s hard to beat this year.
 

8Mortal Kombat

Systems: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3

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Before NetherRealm’s 2011 Mortal Kombat revival, this franchise was essentially dead in the water. But Mortal Kombat changed everything, bringing this limping franchise back from the brink to make it once again fun to rip someone’s spine out or cut them in two with a ice sword. Mortal Kombat also introduced an incredible single-player campaign to the tried-and-true formula, tying together the mythologies of the first three classic Mortal Kombat titles with a time-traveling twist that deserves an award unto itself for making a fighting game fun when flying solo. Mortal Kombat might have been dead to us before 2011, but now it’s back in a big way thanks to this game.
 

7Bulletstorm

Systems: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC

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Bulletstorm is an unapologetic slop through the world of arcadey, pulpy, bro violence. Epic Games and People Can Fly got together to create a game that is nothing more than pure fun. Players are encouraged to approach the kill with skill world with an entirely open mind; murder and mayhem is rewarded with points based on creativity. Rather than moving from cover to cover aiming only for heads and hearts, Bulletstorm tells players to kill with the environment in mind. The result is a shooter that dynamically changes from start to finish. New weapons, upgrades and locals pile up to offer completely unique ways to kill at every turn.
 

6Uncharted 3

System: PlayStation 3

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Naughty Dog traded in the cold and snow for the sun and sand with Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception. While the third game in the Uncharted series doesn’t feature a technical leap as huge as the one we saw moving from Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune to Uncharted 2, Uncharted 3 is still an incredibly sound, high-octane adventure whose story masterfully builds upon its predecessors. If you need to experience an Indiana Jones-esque adventure in 2011, look no further.


5Bastion

Systems: XBLA, PC

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This darling indie gem took home our top honors in our 10 Best Downloadable Games of 2011 list. Bastion is an action-RPG from Supergiant Games with incredible style, music and voice acting. It’s an experience that deserves your attention because it pushes the boundaries of how stories can be told in video games. If that doesn’t sell you on why this game made this list, then we don’t know what will. We also suggest you seek out help.
 

4Super Mario 3D Land

System: Nintendo 3DS

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Super Mario 3D Land is the best game going on the Nintendo 3DS handheld. Nintendo took everything that makes the world of Mario unique and built an entire portable game around it. So far, it’s the best excuse for 3D that I’ve ever seen. The developers found a way to make gameplay rely on the system’s 3D display, and that works to make players examine the title in different ways constantly. The package is also rife with throwbacks that will make old Nintendo fans extremely happy.
 

3The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Systems: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC

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If you have the funds to buy only one game this year, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim would be a great choice. This game is massive. On top of that, Skyrim is a beautiful world to explore and lose yourself in for hours, days or… weeks. Skyrim might have its far share of glitches and bugs, but those technical mishaps are easily overlooked when you step back to marvel at how grand an experience Bethesda has crafted with this game. Skyrim is a masterful technical achievement that also happens to be a pretty damn fun game to boot. Plus: flippin’ dragons!
 

2Portal 2

Systems: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC

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Portal was a complete surprise. The first-person puzzler was a mind-bending ride through a world unlike any other gamers had ever experienced. It’s humor and design created an unrivaled level of charm in gaming, and it set itself up as a title tough to beat. Valve rolled up their sleeves and created Portal 2; a game that managed to be better than the original effort on all fronts. The writing, the pacing, the level design and the new mechanics took this experience to new heights. Adding cooperative multiplayer to the mix made this ambitious project one of the best games we’ve ever played.


1Batman: Arkham City

Systems: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC

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Rocksteady wowed us with their first Batman game, Batman: Arkham Asylum. But they blew the brains out the back of our skulls with their follow-up, Batman: Arkham City. Arkham City opens up the interactive Batman experience tenfold, introducing players to a completely open environment to explore and crack skulls in. In addition, the narrative of Arkham City ranks as one of our favorite Batman stories ever, whether it’s from the comics, films or games. We can’t find a single fault with Batman: Arkham City, and trust us, we tried (that’s our job). This year-end list required a lot of deliberation to pull together, but choosing Batman: Arkham City for our #1 game of 2011 took all of two seconds. That speaks volumes about what Rocksteady Games pulled off with Arkham City.