Overall Game of the Year
2011 was jam-packed full of amazing experiences. From shooters and sports games to puzzlers and platformers, the year offered something for everyone. With that said, here are my Top 10 games of 2011, starting with No. 10:
10. "Portal 2" (EA, Xbox 360 and PS3) -- While I have no reason to believe that solving the mind-bending puzzles that filled this stellar sequel actually made me smarter, it certainly made me feel like a genius at the time. And no game could match this one for sheer humor - Cave Johnson was the most entertaining character I encountered in any game all year.
9. "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3" (Activision, Xbox 360 and PS3) -- The year's best first-person shooter delivered a compelling campaign that tied up loose ends from the first two games, but it is the improved multiplayer that sets it apart from the competition.
8. "Deus Ex: Human Revolution" (Square, Xbox 360 and PS3) -- Sneaking into the list of 2011's top games is the return of one of gaming's most revered franchises. Equal parts stealth and action, the game let you craft your own experience and play however you wanted - except for those pesky boss battles, that is.
7. "Dead Space 2" (EA, Xbox 360 and PS3) -- Survival-horror fans were treated to this fright fest early in 2011, and no other game would come close to matching the thrills delivered by climbing back into the boots of engineer-turned-hero Isaac Clarke.
6. "Rayman Origins" (Ubisoft, Xbox 360 and PS3) -- Who said the 2D platformer was dead? Clearly they haven't played the stunningly gorgeous and wholly addictive "Rayman: Origins." A blast whether playing solo or with friends, this was one of the most pleasant surprises of 2011.
5. "Saints Row: The Third" (THQ, Xbox 360 and PS3) -- No game delivered the over-the-top antics and laugh-out-loud hijinks found in Volition's open-world crime caper. It is rude, crude and undeniably fun.
4. "Batman: Arkham City" (Warner Bros., Xbox 360 and PS3) -- The Dark Knight rose again in this sequel to the 2009 smash hit, "Arkham Asylum." Packing even more villains and twists than the original, "Arkham City" raised the bar for comic book games.
3. "Gears of War 3" (Microsoft, Xbox 360) -- The epic conclusion to Microsoft's genre-defining trilogy hit all the right notes as it delivered a satisfying end to the struggles of Marcus Fenix and Co. And the story mode was just the beginning -- the game's competitive multiplayer and addictive Horde mode is sure to have players revving-up their lancers well into the new year.
2. "Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception" (Sony, PlayStation 3) -- Nathan Drake's latest globe-trotting adventure was a bonafide thrill ride, showing off not only the power of the PS3, but the talents of developer Naughty Dog. I can't wait to see what they do with their next project, "The Last of Us."
And the winner is ...
1. "The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim" (Bethesda, Xbox 360 and PS3) -- I could go on and on about the sheer amount of content or the gorgeous fantasy world that Bethesda has crafted in painstaking detail, but I'll let the 142 hours I have invested in this amazing game speak for itself. It's not perfect - something PS3 owners know all to well - but it is the greatest role-playing game of this generation and the best game of 2011.