gamrReview 2011 Game of the Year Awards - Overall - Article

By Karl Koebke, January 31, 2012
146,445 Views

Game of the Year 

Best First-Person Shooter: Bulletstorm

Game of the Year Halo Reach
Bulletstorm stands out amidst the fatigue-inducing mass of holiday shooter sequels, with, amongst other things, a unique art style, vibrant colour pallette, and over-the-top kill system. Heck, even its release date made it stand out from the crowd. It didn't hit all the right notes, but it hit enough of them, and offered something a little bit different along the way. 

Runner-Up - Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3

Reader's Choice - Killzone 3


Best Third-Person Shooter: Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception

Game of the Year Uncharted 3
While it may not have lived up to the lofty heights of its predecessor, it's still hard to find a better third person shooter than Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception. Keeping things fresh with a superb blend of platforming, puzzle solving, and set piece moments, Uncharted 3 offers a blockbuster experience unrivalled by any other franchise.

Runner-Up - Gears of War 3

Reader's Choice - Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception


Best Platformer: Rayman Origins

Game of the Year Rayman Origins
One of the most beautiful, unique and under-appreciated games of the year, Rayman Origins is platforming heaven. Modest, yet surprisingly brilliant, as all the best 2D platformers should be, Rayman Origins is our platformer of the year. It's good to have you back, Rayman!

Runner-Up - Super Mario 3D Land

Reader's Choice - LittleBigPlanet 2


Best Action/Adventure Game: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

Game of the Year The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
The Dark Knight put up a valiant fight, but in the end we had to give this award to a green elf... thing.  Link has returned to the Wii for one last hurrah, and not a moment too soon. Finally, a Zelda specifically designed for the Wii; a fitting finale for this generation's leading console.

Runner-Up - Batman: Arkham City

Reader's Choice - The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

Best Adventure Game: To the Moon

Game of the Year To the Moon
It was hard to place To the Moon in a genre. While it most closely resembles an adventure title, the only real gameplay challenge comes in the form of simple puzzles. What makes this game stand head and shoulders above the competition is the story, a reminder that simplistic presentation can still be used to evoke emotional scenes if done correctly. To the Moon is an experience many of us will never forget. 

Runner-Up - Stacking

Reader's Choice - Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective


Best Puzzle Game: Portal 2

Game of the Year Portal 2
When Valve first created Portal as a small addition to their Orange Box collection they probably had no idea how popular and critically loved it would be. Now, with Portal 2, we finally get to go back to the world of GLaDOS to learn about the origins and current fate of Aperture Science. A plethora of new gaming mechanics keep things fresh on the puzzle front, whilst hilarious comments from GLaDOS and additional cast members keeps you always wanting more.

Runner-Up - Catherine

Reader's Choice - Portal 2


Best Fighting Game: Mortal Kombat

Game of the Year Mortal Kombat
One of the most talked about fighting games in years, Mortal Kombat came back with a bang, offering the perfect balance of accessibility and depth that makes it the ideal fighter for newcomers and long-time fans alike. Unlike many fighting games this generation, Mortal Kombat is burtsting with both multiplayer and single player content - just one of many reasons it's our pick for fighter of the year.

Runner-Up - Marvel vs. Capcom 3

Reader's Choice - Mortal Kombat


Best Racing Game: Forza Motorsport 4

Game of the Year Forza Motorsport 4
Forza Motorsport is one of the most critically and financially successful racing franchises of the generation. Forza 4 cements the series' position at the front of the pack, and not without good reason either, because this is now the premier simulation racing franchise in industry. Forza 4 is our pick for best racing game of the year.

Runner-Up - DiRT 3

Reader's Choice - Forza Motorsport 4


Best Western RPG: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Game of the Year Skyrim
When a Western RPG is at its best you have so much to do that you can barely remember what the main story was.  In Oblivion many did this because they'd grown tired of the main story, in Skyrim it's because everything is so important, so interesting that it's all too easy to forget which quests form part of the main storyline and which are side stories. It's the impressive level of detail and effort put into every facet of the game that makes The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim our Western RPG of 2011.

Runner-Up - Bastion

Reader's Choice - The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim


Best Japanese RPG: Xenoblade Chronicles


A fast-paced MMO-inspired combat system, beautiful scenery, and a massive amount of content makes Xenoblade Chronicles the best JRPG of 2011. Thankfully, Nintendo of America has finally decided to bring this game over to North America, so those who haven't already imported this title will finally get a chance to play what is undoubtedly the finest JRPG on the system.

Runner-Up - Pokemon Black and White
Reader's Choice - Dark Souls
 

Best Strategy Game: Shogun 2: Total War

Game of the Year Shogun 2
It was a long time coming, but finally we're able to get our hands on a sequel to one of the most memorable Total War games - Shogun: Total War - and it doesn't disappoint. This is the franchise at its best.

Runner-up: Disgaea 4
Reader's Choice: Shogun 2: Total War 

Best Music Game: Dance Central 2

Game of the Year Dance Central 2
Kinect's killer app is back and just as good the second time around, raising the bar and once again setting a new standard for the dancing genre. The music genre may be in crisis at the moment, but this is one music franchise that's currently going from strength to strength.

Runner-Up - Rocksmith
Reader's Choice - Dance Central 2

Best Sports Game: FIFA Soccer 12

FIFA 11 Game of the Year
Annual sports titles have a bed reputation in the gaming community, and not without some justification. But there's no real doubting that FIFA is the premier soccer franchise. With a fundamental overhaul of many of the series' staple gameplay mechanics, FIFA 12 proves it isn't just a lazy cash-in.

Runner-Up - MLB 11: The Show
Reader's Choice - FIFA Soccer 12

Best Remake or HD Collection: The ICO and Shadow of the Colossus Collection

Game of the Year ICO and Shadow of the Colossus Collection
We can't think of a set of games more deserving of a second chance at success, or more deserving of a HD upgrade. Beautiful, magical, brilliant - Ico and Shadow of the Colossus are refreshingly unique even after all this time, and if you haven't already bought them then you finally have the opportunity to redeem yourself. Go find out for yourself what makes this the best HD Collection of 2011.

Runner-Up - The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
Reader's Choice - The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

 Best Downloadable Game: Bastion

Game of the Year Bastion

The gem of this year's Summer of Arcade, Bastion was always the clear front runner for best downloadable game of 2011. With its unique take on fog of war, beautiful presentation, solid gameplay, and one of the most memorable narrators in gaming history, Bastion clinched the title with ease.

Runner-up: Outland
Reader’s Choice: Minecraft


Best Graphics Technology: Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception

Game of the Year Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception

The award may be for graphics technology, but it's not just about how many polygons you have behind your engine, it's what you do with them that matters. Uncharted 3's set-piece moments are a timely reminder of how graphics can make something as chaotic and unpredictable as a ship on rough seas look exactly as you'd imagine it. Making moments like those utterly immersive and spell-binding is why Uncharted 3 wins our award for best graphics technology.  

Runner-up: Battlefield 3
Reader’s Choice: Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception


Best Art Direction: Rayman Origins

Game of the Year Rayman Origins

Rayman Origins is arguably the most beautiful game of the year - it is the very definition of a game with a stunning art style. Lush graphics, vibrant colours, levels full of unique personality; Rayman Origins is a work of creative and artistic genius.

Runner-up: Outland
Reader’s Choice: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

Best Original Music Score: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

Game of the Year Zelda

Who can forget the first time they heard that classic Zelda theme song. It seems like the Zelda series in general has a propensity for fantastic music and Skyward Sword is no different. Even if you haven't had a chance to play the game for yourself just google Ballad of the Goddess and you'll understand why Skyward Sword won our award for best original music this year.

Runner-up: Rayman Origins 
Reader’s Choice: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

Best Use of Motion Controls: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

Game of the Year Zelda

No other game really stood a reasonable chance for this award. Nintendo finally made good on the motion control ideal of a sword fighting game that truly feels like sword fighting, and they did it with one of their most storied franchises. Skyward Sword shows everyone that motion controls can genuinely improve gameplay when it's the focus of a fantastic experience. Many who played this title will surely now never be able to go back to classic Zelda controls.  

Runner-up: Child of Eden
Reader’s Choice: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

Most Innovative: Minecraft

Game of the Year Minecraft

Minecraft has become nothing less than a gaming phenomenon, and in large part this is due to the innovative way that Mojang developed the title. Allowing people to play and purchase a game that was technically in beta, they gathered a huge following and cultivated a community before the game had even technically released. It's an idea that could have easily blown up in their faces, but the inherent quality and fun of Minecraft's sandbox world meant that few minded. Minecraft is truly a game like no other.

Runner-up: Super Mario 3D Land
Reader’s Choice: Minecraft


Biggest Disappointment: Assassin's Creed: Revelations

Game of the Year Assassin's Creed Revelations

Oh Assassin's Creed, you had such promise in the beginning, but we're tired of being jerked around. You can't drag this franchise on forever, with yearly spin-offs in between mainline releases, Ubisoft, without invoking a major backlash at some point. The Assassin's Creed franchise is fast approaching a tipping point.

Runner-up: Dragon Age 2
Reader’s Choice: Duke Nukem Forever


Best Game No One Played: Rayman Origins

Game of the Year Rayman Origins

Why didn't more of you buy this game? Rayman Origins isn't just the best platformer of the year. Nor is it merely the most beautiful game of the year. It's also, quite simply, one of the best games of the year period. Factor in the competition - Uncharted 3, Skyrim, Portal 2, Batman: Arkham City, Skyward Sword... the list is almost endless. And yet Rayman Origins, a deceptively simple 2D platformer, bursting with colour and personality, stands tall amongst them as an equal. We implore you to give this game a chance, because it deserves much stronger sales.

Runner-up: Xenoblade Chronicles
Reader’s Choice: Xenoblade Chronicles


Best New IP: Minecraft

Game of the Year Minecraft

It shouldn't come as too much of a surprise that the winner of our award for Most Innovative game of 2011 is also our pick for Best New IP of 2011. It's always exciting to play something new, and while we all enjoy knowing that there are sequels to our favourite games around the corner, like Uncharted 3, Skyrim, or Skyward Sword, it's always interesting to try out something totally different - something truly unique and innovative.

Runner-up: Catherine
Reader’s Choice: Xenoblade Chronicles


Most Anticipated Upcoming Game: Bioshock Infinite 

Game of the Year Bioshock Infinite

BioShock was one of the most engrossing, atmospheric games of the generation, marrying interesting game mechanics with superb storytelling. Many thought BioShock 2 wasn't able to live up to the standards set by the original, in no small part due to the reprisal of Rapture. Infinite's steampunk-inspired floating city promises to be a breath of fresh air in this respect. We can't wait to play what will surely be considered the true spiritual successor to BioShock.

Runner-up: Paper Mario 3DS
Reader’s Choice: Mass Effect 3


Game of the Year: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Game of the Year Skyrim

Improved battle mechanics, a gigantic world with more quests than you can shake a stick at, and impressive presentation makes Skyrim a game that's hard to beat. This was the tightest overall Game of the Year voting we've ever had - there was just one vote between Skyrim and Portal 2 at the end of the voting process, but killing dragons, assassinating high level officials, and robbing entire towns blind was just too fun to ignore. Skyrim certainly has its faults, but when it's working well there's nothing else like it, and that's what made it our Game of the Year for 2011.

Runner-up: Portal 2
Reader’s Choice: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword


Related Articles