December, we close out our year of coverage with our officially annual Platinum
Chalice awards, choosing our Game of the Year and doling out accolades to the
best games of the past 12 months. We won’t actually hand those out until next Friday, though; in the meantime, we’ve
decided to unplug from the collective GamesRadar hive mind and take this opportunity
to honor the games that really deserve it – which is to say, our personal
favorites of 2011.
Gary Steinman, editor in chief
GOTY: Killzone 3
A great game? Yes. A great shooter? Absolutely. Best game of 2011?
For most of you, probably not. But for this long-time gamer, Killzone 3 was
easily my most thrilling, pulse-pounding, and memorable experience this year.
Now, keep in mind, I’m not the most hardcore shooter fan, nor am I a huge
multiplayer aficionado. Killzone 3 stands out to me thanks to its
extraordinary single-player campaign.
Like all the best Sony first-party exclusives, Killzone 3 delivers
a character-driven experience that’s both highly polished and incredibly
gorgeous. From the snowy mountains of Helghan to the planet’s lush Kaznan
jungle, Killzone took me on a journey of immense beauty, which I then tore
apart while piloting jetpacks, carving up the snow in the Ice Saw, and
rocketing around in the Hammer, liberating buckets of blood from the Helghast
using a variety of awesome weapons that all vary (and I mean, really vary) in everything from their
heft to the damage dealt. Everything – from the gory eye-gouging melee attacks
to the massive set-pieces – felt right in Killzone 3. Even the character
interactions were among the most believable I've encountered, especially for a
sci-fi shooter. It all comes together to deliver a fantastically fun game – my
personal pick for favorite game of 2011.
Charlie Barratt, senior reviews/previews editor
GOTY: Portal 2
As an unapologetic Batman fanboy, it pains me not to choose Arkham City here,
as that game means more to me than I could ever have conveyed in a mere 2,000 word
review. But Portal… is Portal. I
would passionately recommend Batman to fans of the character and to fans of
several genres, but I think literally everyone
should play Portal 2. The experience transcends the usual videogame rules,
tropes, and categories, to the point that I feel strange even comparing it with
other competitors. It doesn’t seem fair.
might come across as vague hyperbole, so I’ll be more specific. Portal 2 has
the best storytelling, the best characters, the best writing, the best pacing,
the best puzzles, the best level design, the best multiplayer, the best music,
the best voice acting (including the best Nolan North voice acting!) and even
Easter eggs of any game this year. Arkham City made me cheer, but Portal 2
gave me chills.
Above: This sealed the deal (also,
Matt Cundy, UK editor
Super Mario 3D Land
much as I've been completely blown away by this year's deluge of mega-games and
all their countless shit-the-bed-set-pieces of awesome this year, it's the pure
old-school brilliance of Super Mario 3D Land that gets my special GOTY winner's
handshake. It's everything I used to love about video games... IN A VIDEO GAME.
Now. Today. In modern times. Not only that, it actually works straight out the
box. There's no day one patch required to make the jumping work properly or
anything stupid like that. Amazing but true.
really impressive is how my kids love it just as much as me. Not that such a
thing should be a surprise, given that Mario turned a whole generation of
younglings onto gaming over two decades ago. But I'm 30 years older than they
are. Normally there isn't a whole lot of crossover in the games that we want to
play. But Super Mario 3D Land is Nintendo at the absolute top of its game. It's
for kids. It's for adults. It's as close to gaming perfection as I've played in
a long time.
Matt Keast, reviews editor
GOTY: Batman: Arkham City
City’s first great moment happens a minute into the beginning: after awesomely
beating the crap out of thugs without any of his Batman gadgets, Bruce Wayne
casually dusts himself off. Immediately, the player understands the smooth,
relaxed confidence with which developer Rocksteady has approached the sequel to its knockout
first entry, Arkham Asylum. Rarely do you get such a strong feeling that you’re
playing a game where the designers just absolutely know what they’re doing –
they know what they want to give you, and they know how to deliver it.
City is huge. It’s stunning. It teases the brain and gets the blood pumping. No
other game this year made it so easy for me to decide what to play: I had
multiple games I hadn’t finished, but Arkham City just slid so easily into the
disc slot. When I wasn’t playing it, I wanted to play it. Hell, simply the
mechanics of traversing Gotham were enough to make the game fun – I’ve never
experienced such smooth freedom as using turbo-charged grappling hook shots to
launch over buildings and then glide/dive/glide in a rhythmic waving motion
like the most Batman-y Batman gaming has ever seen.
Mikel Reparaz, senior features editor
Personal GOTY: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Longtime readers will know that, for
me, open-world games are pretty much the apex of what games can offer – not just
focused, linear fantasies, but coherent, convincing worlds to explore, prod at and generally do whatever springs to
mind without fear of consequences. Interestingly, Skyrim offers both of those things, and that caught me
Having been a huge, obsessive fan of
Oblivion and Morrowind (but a Mac user when Arena and Daggerfall hit, sadly), I
thought I had a good idea of what to expect from Skyrim: A big, breathtakingly
pretty fantasy landscape filled with random fun things and quests in which I could lose myself for
months at a time. I certainly got that, but I wasn’t expecting every
dungeon I visited to be driven by its own story, or for the characters I
met to be good for much more than cheap laughs at the expense of their dopey-looking
faces. Or for the dragons to be such a thrill to find, fight and
skeletonize, their forfeited souls pushing me to explore deeper and darker
dungeons in pursuit of more words of power.
(I also didn’t expect that every silly
history book I picked up, started to read and then “saved for later” could be
automatically organized on shelves, thereby letting me inflict my real-life hoarding and OCD on the game world. That little innovation deserves more credit
than it gets.)
Above: Also it is one of the finest examples of Asshole Physics I have ever seen
Assassin’s Creed Revelations? Saints Row: The Third? Fantastic
experiences, to be sure, but I probably won’t be discovering new things in them
a year from now. If my experience with Oblivion is any indication, though,
Skyrim should keep me busy for about the next five.
Michael Grimm, cheats & guides editor
GOTY: Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary
I like Halo because Master Chief is cool. He has cool
armor and is very strong, he could probably beat up anyone, even Superman. He
fights the Covenant and the Flood and beats them because of his guns. Sometimes
Master Chief uses a plasma sword though. The story is really deep too because
Master Chief has to fight aliens like The Covenant and The Flood that want to
I really like that they made Halo for 360 because my
sister spilled my Mountain Dew Game Fuel on my old Xbox and I can’t play it any
more. Thanks a lot Sarah! Halo is really fun to play online too, but I can’t
right now because Mom says I use too many swears when my headset is on. I don’t
think that’s fair because everyone else’s mom lets them swear all the time on
XBL. I like when Master Chief finally destroys the Halo and saves the earth. In
conclusion you should play Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary.