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GamesRadar editors’ (personal) Games of the Year 2011

Cheryll Del Rosario, design & content producer

Personal GOTY: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

There aren’t many games where I can proudly tell people I’m a female warrior-werewolf-cannibal-mage-assassin who, on more than several occasions, has stopped to chase butterflies and munch on giant’s toes. For those uninitiated to the world of The Elder Scrolls, that sentence comes off as completely nonsensical, but for the rest of us who have entered Skyrim’s warm embrace and have yet to emerge, we greet each other with a nod and a shout.

Sweeping views, dragons to slay, seemingly endless possibilities for gameplay and a truly open world experience with an attention to detail that still surprises me, 40-plus hours in. It’s no wonder that it has my vote for Game of the Year.

Justin Towell, UK content editor

Personal GOTY: Super Mario 3D Land

Wow. Just wow. I mean, Mario Kart 7 got my first ever GamesRadar 10, but this… it's an 11. Probably the best Mario game I've ever played, only really challenged by Super Mario Galaxy 2. I love the control, the graphics, the hidden challenges, the Tanooki Suit, the rock-hard Special Worlds, the music... This time last month, Nintendo was struggling. Now? They're about to have a phenomenal Christmas, and it's all thanks to the fat Italian guy.

And that's the other thing that strikes me when I play 3D World. Sonic Generations came out this year, and it was great. But Mario instantly highlights the gulf in control between the two characters when applied to a 3D space. Where Sonic stumbles and stutters around even the most basic platforms, Mario gracefully hops and vaults. The old problem of judging depth in 3D space is almost completely cured by the 3DS' 3D screen. And the box levels where you have to use the 3D to reveal the perspective trick are brilliant. Game of the year, above Skyrim, above Deus Ex… above everything. No question.

Sophia Tong, managing editor

Personal GOTY: To The Moon

The game that took me by surprise this year was To the Moon, a point-and-click adventure that took only four hours to complete (in one sitting), but it was one of the most memorable experiences I’ve ever had with a videogame. I’m a sucker for sappy stories in videogames (and old-school point-and-click adventure games), but To the Moon was more of an interactive experience that had a healthy balance of humor and touching moments that made me laugh one moment and then get all teary-eyed the next.

It’s great to see developers (or in this case, developer) challenge the way stories are told in his evolving medium, but what’s interesting is that the game’s director/composer/designer Kan Gao took a step back and went with a charming 16-bit art style and soundtrack. To the Moon proves that HD graphics, live orchestra recordings are not needed to tell a poignant and lasting story because plenty of emotion was conveyed via character sprites and repetitive piano melodies. The topics that the game delves into are also subjects that are not often found in videogames, so it was refreshing to play through a story that makes you question the content and ask yourself, “What would your life be like now if you had taken a different path?”

Henry Gilbert, news editor

Personal GOTY: Shadows of the Damned

I may have played a few games this year that were "better" technically, but no game was as maniacally fun as Shadows of the Damned. The action-packed trip through the oddest hell ever conceived is at once a tribute to classic game design, Sid & Nancy, and the awesome power of dick jokes. If anyone tells you Japanese development is dead, they haven't played SotD.

Above: Look at that gun. LOOK AT IT

I loved that Suda51's brilliant ideas were tempered by the quality designs of Shinji Mikami and backed up by the eccentric music of Akira Yamaoka. I loved that the well-realized third-person shooter core (with some of the year's best boss fights) could at a moment's notice be replaced with perfectly random minigames. But most of all I loved the humor, which turned lowbrow dick jokes into an art form (the outstanding English localization deserves some of the credit there). It might not be all that replayable, but I won't forget the name Garcia F***ing Hotspur any time soon.

Nathan Irvine, UK associate editor

Personal GOTY: Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception

All eyes were on Naughty Dog to see what they could do to improve the superb Uncharted: Among Thieves, and the way that they went about it was to simply go big. With everything.

The jaw-drop moments in Uncharted 3 are around every corner, and I found myself being hurtled through the game as my eyes were treated to one glorious set-piece after another. Every part of the boat level – from walking along the wonky deck to escaping the sinking ship – is delivered impeccably and looks spectacular. Even seeing the mass of stricken ships in a sort of boat graveyard provided a serious ‘wow’ moment.

 

Getting deeper into what makes Nathan Drake tick lays the foundations for an intriguing story and an adventure that I genuinely rate as one of the best I’ve had on PS3. Sure, the shooting is slightly hit and miss (HONK!) but even this fails to dim my love of the fun here.

There’s an argument amongst certain folk that suggests Uncharted 3 is light on gameplay, and feels more like an interactive movie instead. Well, that’s just great for me. From start to finish, the plot, dialogue between characters and the occasional puzzle bit provided more than enough entertainment along the way.

Add to this some surprising, ace new things like a Batman-style fighting system, that plane bit and the lonely trek across the desert, and you’ve got a stellar effort from Naughty Dog that sets another ludicrously high benchmark for all action games that follow. Uncharted 3 is an absolute no-brainer for my game of 2011.

And that's our personal favorite games of the year. Can't believe no one picked Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3? Or Deus Ex: Human Revolution? Neither can we! Feel free to weigh in on our choices and detail your own in the comments below.

The best downloadable games of 2011
Just because it’s not on a disc doesn’t mean it’s not great

The Top 7... Best games of 2011 (so far)
How the field of competitors looked at the halfway mark

The 100 most anticipated games of 2011
Were they worth the excitement?

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126 comments

  • 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.

Showing 1-20 of 126 comments

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