GamesRadar editors’ (personal) Games of the Year 2011

Sterling McGarvey, multimedia editor

Personal GOTY: FIFA 12

Aside from the creepy melding of fantasy and real life as I reviewed a print build of FIFA 12 during the August transfer window, my transcendent moment with FIFA 12 happened as I played against a Manchester-based gamer for charity in October. As we jostled back and forth for a good cause, I found that EA's usual buzzwords and taglines became weapons, not unlike new features you discover playing a fighting game sequel.

Past FIFAs felt good as I managed my runs, but the tools to contain and intimidate my opponent out of ball possession on defense proved effective to thwart the usual crutches that I encountered in my online opponents. I found that my tactics against both human and AI opponents transformed, as I felt a confident mastery in attack that had been shakier in the past.

Some gamers don't understand the thrill of sports games and their subtleties. But if the Arkham games succeed in making you feel like Batman as you hang from a gargoyle and string up a goon, shouldn't there be something said for the thrill of taking your forward past three lumbering defenders, flicking the ball around himself, and slamming it in past the keeper? It's never felt as good as it does in FIFA 12.

Carolyn Gudmundson, previews editor

Personal GOTY: Portal 2

More than any other game I've played in my entire life, Portal 2 proved that gameplay and story don't have to merely co-exist in a game – they can blend together so seamlessly as to be one and the same. It's not just that Portal 2 tells a compelling story, but that it does so entirely through the gameplay. For me, it really felt like a true "first-person" experience beyond the technical definition of the genre, like I was really seeing and experiencing everything exactly as Chell experienced it.

Nearly everything about Portal 2 was perfect for me. The pacing felt particularly strong throughout, with a steady flow of new puzzle elements that kept me challenged yet made me feel clever at the same time. Seeing behind the curtain into the inner workings and origins of Aperture Science over the course of the game felt like a satisfying reveal, yet at the same time it wasn't laid so bare as to ruin its mystique, either.

David Houghton, UK content editor

Personal GOTY: Bulletstorm

As a man who grew up on Quake 3 and Half-Life 2 I’ve long classed FPS as one of my favourite genres. But for the longest time before Bulletstorm, I couldn’t really qualify the statement. You see, for year upon year, the big FPS releases had become increasingly akin to gun-laden mammoths. Visually impressive, yes, but little more than huge, simple, lumbering beasts, so weighed down under mainstream convention as to be able to do little more than lumpenly crawl along in a straight line, thoughtlessly destroying whatever may be in their path. There was no openness anymore. No room for player creativity. No thought for how inventive I could be in playing with the games’ environments. No imaginative use of space, or AI cat-and-mouse. In short, there was nothing of what made FPS worthwhile in the first place. Instead there were guided corridors, scripted pacing, and set-pieces that played themselves.

And that’s why Bulletstorm’s unapologetic battlecry for real, player-driven, improvisational FPS mechanics got me so fired up this year. Not only did Bulletstorm give me a crazily inventive arsenal and tell me that what I did mattered again, it rewarded me for being as stupendously, ostentatiously creative as I could be throughout. Also, it was funny as hell, and didn’t care how many po-faced bores it pissed off.

Lorenzo Veloria, cheats editor

Personal GOTY: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

It may have been nostalgia getting the best of me, but even with all awesome games the out this year, the one I was most excited to play was Skyward Sword.  Hell, I even got the limited edition with the packed-in Wii remote that I didn’t need. Since I was a kid, I enjoyed every little bit of getting a Zelda game – opening the golden packaging, the slow burn at the beginning, the rise of the hero, and the destruction of evil at the end.  I love it all, and Skyward Sword is no exception.

I caught myself with my mouth open and a smile on my face on more than one occasion, just from how imaginative the dungeons and puzzles were. The combat is the best in the series, being much more complex and precise and upping the difficulty, something that the lack of game over screens in other 3D Zeldas left me craving. From a long-time Zelda fan expecting more or less the same, Skyward Sword exceeds every expectation in terms of story, gameplay, and overall quality. For me, there really is no comparison for my favorite game this year.

Hollander Cooper, news editor

Personal GOTY: Dead Space 2

Let me guess, everyone else is going to choose games like Portal 2 and Skyrim, right? Screw that. Sure, those games are amazing, but how quickly everyone seems to have forgotten the masterpiece that was Dead Space 2, a game that married the horror of Resident Evil with the cinematic action of Uncharted, all the while turning the series into the blockbuster franchise it was born to be. Visceral really hit its stride with this sequel, polishing up some of the problem areas of the first while really honing the action and fleshing out the universe.

From the conflicted, mentally damaged protagonist to the massive, insane boss battles (which were some of the best in recent memory), Dead Space 2’s journey was an absolute treat, and one that I’ll remember for years to come. And it even helped prove that slapped-together, needless multiplayer can actually be a blast without getting in the way of the core game – it can be done!

B. Buttercup, senior wildlife editor

Personal GOTY: The Sims 3: Pets

It’s not easy being a horse, especially a horse at GamesRadar. But I digress. Putting all other phony pony pet-care sims to shame, the Pets expansion pack for The Sims 3 offers fat humans lots of new ways to enjoy their more productive and attractive Sims with new lifetime wishes, skills, career opportunities, buildings, and items. But more importantly, human players will be able to strap on their saddles and experience The Sims from the horse’s perspective for the first time in the series. That’s me, galloping through the sleepy streets of Appaloosa Plains, flirting with hot mares at the park, and coming home to a dinner of fresh oats and hay prepared by my human Sim servant. This is living.

Above: The Pets expansion also features dogs and cats. But this is not as important as the introduction of playable and customizable equines

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  • Berretxz4t4 - December 30, 2011 9:04 a.m.

    exactly HOW bored was mikel, or whoever made that elder scrolls vid?
  • chrisbarker1980 - December 15, 2011 5:53 a.m.

    Dark Souls all the way, game of this generation. Portal and Deus Ex take second and third respectively
  • poptarts214 - December 14, 2011 7:29 p.m.

    Skyward Sword.
  • Elementium - December 14, 2011 12:26 p.m.

    To me Portal 2 is the champ this year. It's the perfect game.. It's challenging without making you throw your controller, it's funny without resorting to cheap laughs, the acting is THE BEST I've ever seen in a game and that includes Arkham City.. I love Mark Hamill and I have a man crush on Kevin Conroy BUT you just can't top J.K. Simmons. The best part is, it deserved every bit of hype it had. Great graphics, style, story, puzzles, characters, ALL AROUND FUN! plus free DLC. :D The same really can't be said for Skyrim.. Now I love open world games.. I love RPG's.. I LOOOVE character customization to a point where I will spend hours making characters in Oblivion ,Skyrim,WoW,APB, Saints Row just to start the game and never play them.. But Skyrim is way overhyped.. it lacks personality.. it lacks it's own unique style.. Sure you can be a werewolf but that werewolf looks like it was designed by a first year 3d modelling student with no interest in werewolves. And really this is how the whole game looks.. You know why? because modders made these games popular and bethesda is making them do the work for them.. You want characters that aren't fugly? make your own! you want more interesting looking armor? Download it! it's in a chest by the bridge! oh we have bugs? could you fix them for us?! One final note on Bethesdas level design.. these "hand drawn" dungeons.. may have different layout but all look the same with their random wood planks and stone walls. And seriously.. Skyrim is boring.. When you're appealing to a crowd that is used to worlds like Azeroth you better try and put more than 2 settings in your game.. Frigid Grasslands? Check. Snowy mountains? Check. Anything else? HAHAHAHAHAHA, no.
  • Hig1134 - December 14, 2011 6:53 a.m.

    Uncharted 3 is my GOTY. Lots of good stuff this year, but nothing as fun and impressive as that. Gorgeous graphics! Honourable mentions: Killzone 3, Resistance 3, NHL 12 Surprisingly good game of 2011: Sonic Generations
  • Hig1134 - December 14, 2011 7:10 a.m.

    Crap!! I forgot one honourable mention: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword.
  • jedisamurai - December 13, 2011 7:26 p.m.

    My favorite game of the year was Child of Eden. Portal 2 started out insanely great and then went downhill in the second act (still haven't gotten around to beating it yet). I'll play Arkham City someday but I'm in no hurry. The same with Bastion, insanely twisted shadow planet, Rayman Origins and Outland (which I own but can never seem to get around to playing). I couldn't care less about a new FPS or open-world M-rated adventure thingy. I played the first Uncharted and absolutely hated it (oh how Naughty Dog has fallen since the genius of the Jak series). Honestly, the last game I played that I absolutely had to beat...was Child of Eden. And I'd been waiting to play that game since I was a teenager and dreamed of a sequel to REZ. So yeah... Child of Eden is my Game of the Year.
  • Hig1134 - December 14, 2011 6:47 a.m.

    It seems you're on your own with you opinions of the Uncharted series.
  • lemur - December 13, 2011 2:43 p.m.

    I'm so happy ot see that someone else thinks that dead space 2 is the game of the year. From sound to plot the game is flat out awesome.
  • xarab4lyfex - December 12, 2011 9:53 p.m.

    Top 5 for me 1.Skyward Sword 2.Catherine 3.Uncharted 3 4.Skyrim 5.Mario 3D Land Biggest Dissapointment - Batman:Arkham City. Not a bad game, but certainly didn't live up to the expectations. Arkham Asylum and its creepy environment > Arkham City and it's boring winterland. Heres hoping Arkham World isn't a shorter campaign than Shadows of the Damned like Arkham City was. Oh and no more Catwoman. I don't need a large revealing pair of titties beating up my favorite villains when Batman should be. .....And no more boring side missions, I couldn't give a damn about Freeze's wife when I could of been kicking Two-Faces ass (who only got 10 minutes of airtime)
  • Cloud1Fair3 - December 12, 2011 9:18 p.m.

    I'm going with Uncharted 3. Yeah, a little lacking in story, but it's a game. Gameplay as always was top notch and exciting, all the best moments of the series other than fighting a helicopter on a train, nothing tops that moment in gaming. Also, has anyone else even played Resistance 3? I'm currently addicted. Good stuff, I'll need to buy my online pass sooner or later.
  • Hig1134 - December 14, 2011 6:49 a.m.

    I have Resistance 3 and absolutely loved it! Best shooter campaign in a while, even better than Killzone 3. Loved that one too though.
  • gilgamesh310 - December 12, 2011 1:33 p.m.

    I really fail to see what David Houghton sees in Bulletstorm. The stuff he described about modern FPS's being too linear, scripted pacing and scenes that play themselves all pertain to Bulletstorm as well! Just because it has the skillsht system, doesn't mean it's a revolution of a game. Most of the moves go redundant anyway. I don't think it adds much to the game at all.
  • n00b - December 12, 2011 7:39 a.m.

    King of Fighters 13 GOTY for me i just started playing it but damn its so good. its a shame that this game probably wont be too well recognized in the upcoming goty awards
  • minimaxi - December 12, 2011 8:54 a.m.

    how's the online compared to SSF4 and UMvC3?
  • OhUltra - December 12, 2011 8:31 p.m.

    It's god awful. The only times it's been good for me were when a friend and I were about 4 hours away from each other in a private lobby. I still love this game, though. Even if it won't let me use my stick and I have to use a shitty pad. I can deal for now.
  • minimaxi - December 12, 2011 1:30 a.m.

    my goty is Witcher 2 :) followed by Gears of War 3. the only game I haven't played that could change my decision is Deus Ex (I don't click with elder scrolls series, so far!)
  • TheSatur9 - December 12, 2011 12:13 a.m.

    Mr. Houghton please do not compare video games to mammoths in a derogatory form, for I am sure it undermines their self-esteem to some extent. Best Regards. The Satur9
  • BaraChat - December 11, 2011 11:25 p.m.

    Not finished : Skyward Sword, which is on its way to the top of the class. Not started yet : Skyrim, who am I kidding, it'll definitely be top 5! That being said, my current top 5 of 2011 would be : 1. Batman : Arkham City 2a. Portal 2 2b. Uncharted 3 (Can't decide between the two of them) 3. Deus Ex : Human Revolution 4. Forza 4 5. Battlefield 3 (let's just forget the campaign...)
  • D0CCON - December 11, 2011 8:38 p.m.

    I'm going to go out on a limb and say Grimm would have picked Deus Ex, but that was too mainstream and to seem more like a hipster, it would be better to make fun of Halo.

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