This year has been one of innovations and even revolutions in the gaming industry, one that has paved the way for the future. Big-name titles came and went, and a select few have become immortals in their own right.
Check out some of the best games of 2011 -- and do remember that this is an awfully subjective subject.
No. 10: Battlefield 3 (PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, iOS)
Battlefield 3 is the latest war-based first-person shooter (FPS) from developers EA DICE. It was arguably one of the most anticipated releases of 2011, and was positioned as a direct response to Activision and Infinity Ward's Call of Duty franchise.
DICE's game boasts ground-breaking advancements in an epic that sees the player assume the identity of a U.S. Marine and fight the enemy in New York, Paris, and Tehran, Iran. The game also featured the debut of the Frostbite 2.0 game engine, one that made the environment and the magnitude of destruction far more lifelike than before. The ANT technology, previously used in EA's FIFA series, has also been put to good use. The player is given an awesome array of fighter jets, helicopters, tanks, armored patrol cars, and other transport options. An aggressive multiplayer mode is also featured that supports more than 60 combatants, making it a game for the ages.
No. 9: Total War -- Shogun 2 (PC)
One of the best real-time tactics-based strategy games of the year, Shogun 2 takes the player back to 16th-century Japan. Developer Creative Assembly has worked hard on this edition, making it a more manageable experience with focused gameplay and wonderful mechanics, which changes to suit the type of battlefield.
Players must choose from one of nine different clans that inhabit the provinces of Japan (these include one in the limited edition of the game and another as downloadable content). Of course, each clan has its own advantages, compared with the others. For example, the Chosokabe inhabit the Tosa province and can recruit superior archers, while the Date clan control Iwate and can recruit superior no-dachi samurai. The Hojo are greater builders and begin in their homeland of Izu, while the Mori have a long history of naval mastery with their home in the Aki province.
No. 8: Batman -- Arkham City (PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii U)
Batman returns to the consoles, after his exploits at Arkham Asylum, and this time the stakes are higher. Bruce Wayne will take on an absolute Who's Who list of bad guys, in a purpose-built high-security jail/mental asylum, right in the middle of Arkham City, courtesy of Mayor Quincy Sharp.
A serious game-of-the-year candidate, it is built on the solid foundations of its predecessor, with new and effective melee attacks, improvised bat-gadgets, impressive detective work, and an emphasis on stealth play, all making the game a hugely enjoyable experience. The villains include Joker, Two-Face, Catwoman, Dr. Hugo Strange, Calendar Man, and Solomon Grundy. In addition, Catwoman has been made a playable character, with her own heist-focused storyline that pops up at specific points in the game, with equally specific acrobatic-oriented combat moves.
No. 7: FIFA 12 (PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Mac OS X, PSP, iOS)
EA Sports' FIFA series is one of the developer's most popular titles. The 2012 edition features improved gameplay, competitive scenarios, updates to club and country lineups -- all of which makes it one of the most anticipated footballing games this year.
The developers have taken the game up a few levels: The career mode is now harder than ever, given the tweaks to the manager's relationships with his players and the media. Team selection, success, and salaries can all affect the individual player's attitude and morale. The press will also pick up on injuries and discontented players, massively impacting performance on the pitch.
Unhappy players can now talk to the press and generate interest from other clubs, which complements the revolutionary new transfer AI. Other improvements to the career mode include the calendar, news-story displays, and news feeds, which will make information such as upcoming events, transfers, and rumors more accessible.
No. 6: Rage (PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3)
ID Software's Rage, with its postapocalyptic setting, may feel like Fallout 3, but, in reality, the new game is anything but that. The world is somewhat similar to that of George Miller's cinematic classic Mad Max series starring Mel Gibson, and it is set in time following the impact of Asteroid 99942 Apophis. The game features the voice talent of well-known actors such as John Goodman and Tara Strong.
Players have the ability to enhance their cars with various items and upgrades gained from completing races. However, the game also features role-playing elements, which includes an inventory and looting system and a very well-refined FPS feel. The game has two multiplayer modes -- Road Rage and Legends of the Wastelands.
No. 5: Uncharted 3 -- Drake's Deception (PlayStation 3)
Rejoin Nathan Drake in one of the most epic modern-day adventures of the year. After the hugely successful Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, developer Naughty Dog takes Drake to the fabled Atlantis of the Sands. The protagonist's moves have been captured with an interactive cinematic experience, drawn from Hollywood, and they are sights to behold, as he makes his way through the Rub' al Khali Desert, in search of the legendary lost city -- the Iram of the Pillars. What's more, Chloe Frazer and Elena Fisher also return. Other improvements include online multiplayer support and stereoscopic 3-D visuals.
No. 4: Gears of War 3 (Xbox 360)
Gears of War (GOW) fans will know the stakes are as high as it can get now. GOW 3 is all about a human race on the verge of extinction at the hands of the Locust and the newly introduced Lambent (Locust mutated by exposure to a liquid known as Imulsion). In fact, so dire is the situation that women have also joined the fight for survival. The game picks up where it left off last time -- when Marcus Fenix and his COG forces were compelled to destroy the Jacinto plateau, which was the last major city on the planet Sera, since the appearance of the Locust on Emergence Day, 17 years earlier, to flood the locust tunnels and slow the spread of the Lambent.
No. 3: Deus Ex -- Human Revolution (PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Mac OS X)
The game is set in 2027, which is 25 years before the first title of the series, at a time when unscrupulous multinational corporations have developed their operations beyond the control of national governments.
The player will follow Adam Jensen, whose body has undergone painful augmentation following an attack on Sarif Industries where he was critically injured. Now Jensen is a deadly weapon and more than just an ordinary man. The game will take place in futuristic Montreal, Detroit, and Shanghai. The player will be able to upgrade and improve Jensen's abilities in four different groups: stealth, social, hacking, and combat. The game also uses a new regenerating health model. This change was made because the developer did not want players to get into a situation where they were unable to progress due to low health and would be forced to hunt for med packs and food.
No. 2: Call of Duty -- Modern Warfare 3 (PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii)
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 was also one of the most anticipated games of the year, and, like EA's FIFA series, a veritable cash cow for developers Activision and Infinity Ward. Although 2011 was special because the series, perhaps for the first time, was given some sort of competition by Battlefield 3, it still lived up to all expectations, with a gripping storyline that followed Capt. John Price, Soap MacTavish, and Vladimir Makarov.
Two weeks before the release of the game, it was reported that half the PC version had been uploaded online, after being stolen from a warehouse in Fresno, Calif. Investigators hired by Activision have been searching torrent Web sites for traces of the game, in addition to visiting people with illegal downloads and offering them a simple choice -- either remove it or pay a fine of $5,000.
No. 1: The Elder Scrolls V -- Skyrim (PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3)
Skyrim is the fifth installment in Bethesda Softworks' long-running fantasy action/role-playing game series. Skyrim is the name of the region just north of Cyrodiil, the location where The Elder Scrolls IV was based and is within the fictional world of Tamriel. Did you know that among the nine provinces in Tamriel, Skyrim was the first to boast a human settlement? Actually, the Nords settled in that area. Although it has been more than 15 years since The Elder Scrolls: Arena was released, the game still looks as fresh as ever. The main story, set 200 years after the events in Oblivion, revolves around the player's efforts to defeat Alduin, the firstborn of Tamriel's primary deity Akatosh. Alduin is prophesied to destroy the world. Skyrim was first announced at the Los Angeles Convention Center in Los Angeles last Dec. 11.