The year began with the intense thrills of "Dead Space 2" and rolled through the intrigue and adventures of "Assassin's Creed: Revelations." With great shooters, platformers and adventures, 2011 has been a great year for gamers. While that makes it tough to choose the best of the best, we gave it a shot. Here are our five favorite games of the past year.
"Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim" - Bethesda Softworks edges out BioWare for the role-playing crown with this incredibly immersive medieval fantasy. You play as a hero mystically imbued with the ability to speak the power-filled language of dragons. You can fight your way across the Scandinavian-inspired countryside as a warrior, thief, magic user or you can create your own breed of hero with the powers of all three. The main quest is exciting, and the side missions are so enthralling that you're likely to sink dozens of hours into the adventure before you realize that the trash hasn't been taken out in a month.
Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC
"Gears of War 3" - The year?s big event was the shooter showdown between "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3" and "Battlefield 3." However, the best shooter of the year is Microsoft's "Gears of War 3." This sci-fi shooter does an exceptional job of wrapping up the story of Marcus Fenix and the COG soldiers' war against the vicious Locust hordes. Developers also took some hints from other shooters to streamline some of the controls, honing them to perfection. The Horde survival mode was improved and online matches were well-balanced and entertaining. To top it off, "Gears" offers four-player co-op in the campaign mode. While "Bf3" and "MW3" deliver some exceptionally good game modes and solid combat based on more or less realistic scenarios, neither comes close to doing everything a shooter fan wants. "Gears" does, and does it well.
¿Platforms: Xbox 360
"The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword" - The brave elf Link returns to the magical land of Hyrule to save the day in "The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword." Gamers will find plenty that's familiar but also experience a few new treats. They'll smash pottery, whack baddies and solve interesting puzzles as usual, but they'll also get to fly on the backs of enormous birds and use interesting new control gestures. The game play, story and presentation have been refined to bring all the best Wii ideas together for a game that many consider the swan song of Nintendo's fading Wii console.
"Portal 2" - Who knew punching holes in walls would be so fun? Valve's "Portal 2" plops you down in a puzzle palace with an ornery computerized nemesis. The key to your survival is a portal gun that creates holes that allow you to teleport instantly from one sport to another. The puzzles are incredibly fun to solve, the dialogue is delightful and the story is intriguing. "Portal 2" proves that you don't need dragons or assault rifles to have fun.
¿Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC
"Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception" - With "Uncharted 3," the folks at Naughty Dog created an awesome sequel for an awesome series. Treasure hunter Nathan Drake heads to the Mideast to search for the Atlantis of the Sands. The game is part platformer, part shooter and all adventure. Some of Drake's thrills and spills had my wife gasping and hiding her eyes. The storyline is among the very best of the year, delivering a treasure trove of wit and excitement. The story unfolds in a practically seamless blend of action and cut scenes. You almost feel like you're directing a movie rather than playing a video game.
¿Platforms: PlayStation 3
"Assassin's Creed: Revelations": The battle between the assassins and the Templars moves to Istanbul.
"Batman: Arkham City": Batman tackles Gotham City's biggest baddies in a terrific blend of fighting and platforming.
"Battlefield 3": The shooter for those who enjoy team-based combat as well as fighting in vehicles and aircraft.
"Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3": The shooter for lone wolves.
"Dead Space 2": A horror classic that boasts incredibly intense action.
"Dragon Age II": Medieval fantasy in which you control a team of adventurers in a fascinating world filled with intrigue and betrayal.
"inFamous 2": Cole MacGrath takes his superpowers to a city reminiscent of New Orleans.
"L.A. Noire": Use your investigative powers to track down criminals in 1940s Los Angeles.