GAME OF THE YEAR 2011 (FOR REAL): Portal 2
hard. In the six years we’ve been handing out Platinum Chalices, no choice has
divided and tested the GamesRadar team more. Usually, we have two obvious
contenders and must simply decide between them – 2011, however, presented us
with so many objectively outstanding games that even finalizing the list of
five nominees was an emotionally charged challenge.
Then again, this wasn’t as hard as you'd think.
focused on what the winner of this award should represent – the absolute best,
no caveats, Game of the Year – Portal 2 was and is the clear winner. The Legend
of Zelda: Skyward Sword is amazing, but only if you still love that familiar
formula. The Witcher 2 is phenomenal, but requires an understanding of
traditional PC RPG design to fully appreciate. Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is
life-consuming, but with the unfortunate multitude of bugs that plague it to
this day, it’s also potentially soul-crushing. Batman: Arkham City is (cliché
alert!) the greatest superhero game ever made, and came closest to taking the
top spot, but would we recommend it to those who don’t like Batman or don’t
like the styles of play it so impressively blends? Honestly, no.
though, is an experience we feel could and should be enjoyed by everyone –
literally everyone. Portal 2 defies
genre. To label it as a “puzzler” diminishes the genius with which those
puzzles have been blended into the fabric of the world, so seamlessly that you
don’t even realize you’re solving them, or how genius you’re becoming yourself
through doing so. Portal 2 transcends the tropes, conventions and limitations
of what we’ve come to expect and accept from interactive storytelling. You meet
hugely memorable characters voiced by hugely talented celebrities, you uncover
a deeply developed mythology, and you learn mind-shattering secrets about your
own protagonist, yet all of this is accomplished without cutscenes, without
excessive menus or prompts, and often without dialogue – the immersion is
whole, complete, never broken. Portal 2 is exactly the right length.
Every moment serves a purpose and no part is unnecessary padding, yet if you
feel it’s too short, you can always lose hours finding the meticulously
conceived Easter eggs or joining a friend for the equally one-of-a-kind
Portal 2, in other words, is as close to perfect and pure as a game can
possibly get. At least this year.
Your move, 2012.
READER’S CHOICE AWARD: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
While we’re confident and implacable in our Game of the Year decision, we
also wanted to get YOUR opinion on the matter. To accomplish this, we started a
and asked you, our highly intelligent and opinionated readers, to tell us what
At first, Skyrim seemed like an obvious choice to us, too – but as much
as we love it, we can’t in good conscience award Game of the Year to a title
plagued by so many bugs. Our readers don’t appear to be nearly as bothered by
them, though, and Skyrim quickly emerged as the clear favorite.
called Skyrim “one of the most complete games I’ve played in 5 years,” and many
who responded echoed similar sentiments. Clearly, the Dovahkiin’s gargantuan quest to save
the Nords is resonating with a lot of you right now – and likely will for some
Runner-up: Batman: Arkham City
actually declare a runner-up this year, instead opting for the field of five
nominees you saw on the first page, but that doesn’t mean our readers can’t get one. In this case,
Batman: Arkham City emerged as the second favorite. @PBC13 said it “achieved
pretty much everything I ever wanted in a Batman game… or any game really,” and clearly a lot of you agreed.
Interestingly, Arkham City only narrowly beat out stiff competition from
Dark Souls and Gears of War 3, the latter of which – in spite of being a great
entry in the franchise – didn’t take home any awards from us this year. Portal
2 also made a significant showing in the votes, so at least some of you won’t be enraged by our winner.
end of our Platinum Chalice Awards for 2011. Be sure to check out Part 1 and
Part 2 if you haven’t already, and let us know what your winners are in the