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A retrospective look at the year’s best video games

Courtesy of Nintendo
Courtesy of Nintendo

It seems like nearly every year, we look back and call “this year” one of the best in gaming history.

It makes sense, too; as time goes on, technology advances and better games are made. We may say it every year, but even before it started, 2011 felt different. It truly looked like it could be one of the best years ever for video games.

There have been very few years that have boasted the number of major releases that 2011 had, but also the incredible diversity of those titles. We saw everything from a brand new handheld console to the release of a few long-awaited masterpieces. With a few exceptions, 2011 met our expectations in almost every way imaginable, but what was the best release of the year? What game will we be talking about years from now?

The first major title of the year, “Dead Space 2,” released in January. The sci-fi horror game was a great way to pick up where the original game left off. The next release was “Dragon Age” in March. Both games got the year off to a great start, but looking back on the year, the pair wound up being two largely unremarkable releases. Fun at the time, but only a hint of what was to come.

April of this year saw the first truly great title of the year with “Portal 2.” The original “Portal” was a short game packaged in a bundle, but was such a success it got its own sequel. The crazy puzzle solving game took all the promise of the original and added a great story. On top of that, it also had one of the best endings of any game all year.

If sales numbers prove anything, it's that we all love military shooters. Two of the biggest franchises in gaming today released chart-topping games with “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3” and “Battlefield 3.” The two games sparked arguments between their rather heated fan bases, but “Modern Warfare 3” was the clear winner between the two.

2011 was the year of sequels. Almost every significant game release all year either had a two or a three at the end of its title. There was one exception to this rule, which was an underground hit for the gaming industry. The game “Catherine” came out of nowhere and turned out to be one of this year’s most intriguing and bizarre puzzle solvers. It wasn’t everyone's cup of tea, but its success did prove that there was an audience out there for something besides more of the same.

Looking back on the year, it is hard to see past the month of November, which saw

the biggest games released all year. “The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword,” “Assassin's Creed: Revelations,” “Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception,” and “Batman: Arkham City” were fantastic games, but all of these games pale in comparison to the best game released all year.

“The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim” is this year’s best game. It may not have the sales numbers of games like “Modern Warfare 3,” but it did something no game before it has been able to do. It gave players a world of their very own. Many games in the past have tried to this but ultimately failed. “Skyrim” doesn't hold your hand and force you to play the story. It allows you explore the incredibly intricate world the game has created. With a playtime well over the 100-hour mark, “Skyrim” is the kind of game players lose entire days of their life to. If you want to see everything the game has to offer, “Skyrim” has the potential to hold gamers’ attentions well into next year — and beyond.


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