The Best Videogames of 2011

  • Publish Date: December 23, 2011
  • Comments: ↓ 43 user comments

PC games

90+ Games by Year
(2007 - 2011)
2011 Avg. Metascore 70.0
PC Games
vs. 2010 Avg. 71.3

Of the scored PC games (i.e., those games with at least 4 reviews from critics) released in 2011, a total of 101—or nearly 42%—were positively reviewed, a percentage that nearly matches the year's top-performing console (the Xbox 360).

And PC gamers could choose from six "great" games (with Metascores of 90 or above) in 2011, compared to just 4 the year before. In fact, that's the highest total of great PC games in a single year since 2007. While four of those great games could also be found on consoles, Total War: Shogun 2—2011's top PC exclusive—could not. And while the hugely popular indie sandbox building game Minecraft—available in alpha and beta releases for years before finally getting its first official release this fall—could also be found in (inferior) mobile versions, the PC version received such stellar reviews from critics that it finished among the year's 10 highest-scoring games overall.

Note that our stats and rankings for PC games this year do not include one of the year's biggest releases: Star Wars: The Old Republic, a MMORPG released just a few days ago (an unusually late release for such a major game). While, at press time, the game has a handful of (very positive) reviews already posted, it will take several more weeks (if not longer) for the bulk of the reviews to trickle in—such is the nature of online multiplayer titles, which cannot be accurately graded prior to launch. So it's possible that there will be one more very good PC game for you to mentally insert in the lists below.

PCBest PC Exclusives, 2011
#1 #2 #3 #4 #5
Image bar Image bar Image bar Image bar Image bar
90 88 85 85 84
Total War:
Shogun 2

The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings
Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Frozen Synapse
Matrix Games
Trion Worlds
PCBest-Reviewed PC Games, 2011
  Game Publisher Metascore Users
1 Portal 2
PC Game of the Year
Valve Software958.4
2The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Bethesda Softworks948.3
3Minecraft Mojang AB/Mojang Specifications937.1
4Batman: Arkham City Warner Bros. Interactive Ent.917.5
5Deus Ex: Human Revolution Square Enix/Eidos Interactive908.2
6Total War: Shogun 2 Sega908.2
7Battlefield 3 Electronic Arts897.4
8FIFA Soccer 12 Electronic Arts897.5
10Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood Ubisoft888.1
11The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Atari888.4
12Dead Space 2 Electronic Arts878.1
13Bastion Warner Bros. Interactive Ent.878.6
14Crysis 2 EA Games866.5
15DiRT 3 Codemasters867.1
16Amnesia: The Dark Descent ValuSoft/Frictional Games858.8
17Saints Row: The Third THQ858.0
18Frozen Synapse Matrix Games857.9
19Trine 2 Atlus Co.859.0
20SpaceChem Zachtronics Industries848.4
21Football Manager 2012 Sega847.5
22Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition Capcom847.3
23L.A. Noire: The Complete Edition Rockstar Games847.8
24Rift Trion Worlds847.2
25Shift 2: Unleashed Electronic Arts845.6
26Orcs Must Die! Robot Entertainment848.4
27Anno 2070 Ubisoft838.1
28The Binding of Isaac Edmund McMillen837.7
29Terraria Re-Logic/Redigit837.9
30The Book of Unwritten Tales Lace Mamba Global/KING Art/Dreamcatcher838.3
... and the worst:
183Painkiller: Redemption JoWooD Entertainment/DreamCatcher 435.5
184Sword of the Stars II: Lords of Winter Paradox Interactive422.2
185Battle: Los Angeles Konami382.5
186Shadow Harvest: Phantom Ops Viva Media 343.2
187The Asskickers AGO Games26n/a

Note that games are ranked prior to rounding. Only games with 7 or more reviews are included in this and other rankings on this page.

PCPC Games with Highest User Scores*, 2011
  Game Users
1 To the Moon 9.5
2 Trine 2 9.0
3 Amnesia: The Dark Descent 8.8
4 Serious Sam 3: BFE 8.7
5 Alice: Madness Returns 8.6
  Bastion 8.6
  Gemini Rue 8.6
  Panzer Corps 8.6

* Minimum 25 user votes.

Nintendo 3DS/DS

3DS Avg. Metascore 63.4
DS Avg. Metascore 65.4
Nintendo 3DS / DS

Though the three highest-scoring handheld games (not including iOS) in 2011 could all be found on Nintendo's new 3DS platform, the 3DS actually finished the year with the lowest average Metascore for its games; both the standard DS and Sony's PSP had higher average scores. Only 14 of the 74 (just under 19%) scored 3DS releases this year received positive reviews. There were fewer releases for the older DS, but more of them received positive reviews: 20 of 61, or nearly 33%.

3DSBest 3DS Exclusives, 2011
#1 #2 #3 #4 #5
Image bar Image bar Image bar Image bar Image bar
94 90 90 85 85
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D
Super Mario 3D Land
Pushmo (aka Pullblox)
Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition
Mario Kart 7
3DSBest-Reviewed 3DS Games, 2011
  Game Publisher Metascore Users
1 The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D
3DS Game of the Year
2Super Mario 3D Land Nintendo907.7
3Pushmo Nintendo909.4
4Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition Capcom858.5
5Mario Kart 7 Nintendo857.7
6Cave Story 3D NIS America838.6
7Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure Activision824.8
8Star Fox 64 3D Nintendo818.0
9Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor Overclocked Atlus Co.807.6
10Dead or Alive: Dimensions Koei798.5
... and the worst:
60Driver: Renegade Ubisoft482.3
61Combat of Giants: Dinosaurs 3D Ubisoft443.3
62Asphalt 3D Ubisoft433.3
633D Classics: Urban Champion Nintendo375.0
64Transformers: Dark of the Moon - Stealth Force Edition Activision30n/a
DS Best-Reviewed DS Games, 2011
  Game Publisher Metascore Users
1 Pokemon White Version
DS Game of the Year
2Pokemon Black Version Nintendo878.0
3Radiant Historia Atlus U.S.A., Inc.858.8
4The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Anniversary Edition Nintendo856.5
5Professor Layton and the Last Specter Nintendo/Level 5849.3
6Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective Capcom838.6
7Kirby: Mass Attack Nintendo838.6
8Okamiden Capcom828.6
9Mighty Milky Way WayForward81n/a
10Plants vs. Zombies PopCap817.1
... and the worst:
27Cars 2: The Video Game Disney Interactive58n/a
28Captain America: Super Soldier Sega56n/a
29Sherlock Holmes and the Mystery of Osborne House THQ48n/a
301950s Lawn Mower Kids Zordix AB43n/a
31Duke Nukem: Critical Mass Deep Silver293.3
3DSDS3DS/DS Games with Highest User Scores*, 2011
  Game Users
1 Pushmo 3DS 9.4
2 Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective DS 8.6
3 Dead or Alive: Dimensions 3DS 8.5
  The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D 3DS 8.5
  Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition 3DS 8.5

* Minimum 25 user votes.

PlayStation Portable

2011 Avg. Metascore 69.9
PlayStation Portable
vs. 2010 Avg. 70.4

For perhaps one final time, the PlayStation Portable had a higher average Metascore for its games than either of Nintendo's two handhelds. But even by PSP standards—the platform typically has fewer releases than any other—2011 offered slim pickings; we calculated Metascores for just 40 releases for the device all year. Fortunately, 17 of those 40 (42.5%) were reviewed positively by critics, so PSP owners could find something decent to play this year (though many of those good releases were smaller downloadable games, including the year's highest-scoring PSP exclusive). Next year, of course, will bring the PSP's replacement in the form of the PS Vita.

PSPBest PlayStation Portable Exclusives, 2011
#1 #2 #3 #4 #5
Image bar Image bar Image bar Image bar Image bar
80 78 77 76 75
Where Is My Heart?
Copenhagen Game Collective
Dissidia 012: Duodecim Final Fantasy
Square Enix
Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection
Square Enix
1000 Tiny Claws
Corpse Party
PSPBest-Reviewed PSP Games, 2011
  Game Publisher Metascore Users
1 Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together
PSP Game of the Year
Square Enix878.4
2The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky Xseed Games809.2
3Where is My Heart? Copenhagen Game Collective80n/a
4Legends of War: Patton's Campaign Enigma Software Productions798.8
5Dissidia 012: Duodecim Final Fantasy Square Enix787.5
6Angry Birds Chillingo Ltd775.7
7Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection Square Enix778.5
8MLB 11: The Show SCEA77n/a
9Shift Extended Zallag769.7
10Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 2 - Innocent Sin Atlus Co.768.2
... and the worst:
20Ys I & II Chronicles Xseed Games639.2
21Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Impact Namco Bandai 597.8
22Naruto Shippuden: Kizuna Drive Namco Bandai 57n/a
23Ninjamurai Open Emotion Studios55n/a
24Lord of Arcana Square Enix535.2
PSPPSP Games with Highest User Scores*, 2011
  Game Users
1 The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky 9.2
2 Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together 8.4
3 Dissidia 012: Duodecim Final Fantasy 7.5

* Minimum 25 user votes.

What do you think?

What are your favorite games of 2011? Let us know in the discussion section below, or cast your vote for your favorites in our Best of 2011 Users Poll.

Comments (43)

  • boy  

    I wonder if the number of reviews was taken into consideration for the overall rankings. Even if the ratings are different by a few decimal points, Skyrim clearly has twice as many reviews as Arkham City's.

  • IAimToMisbehave  

    @ShuteTheRunner I think you're absolutely right about the observation of PS3 Arkham City and 360 Skyrim. There has been such a ridiculous buzz about Smyrim all day at work from my co-workers, that I'm going to start playing Skyrim this weekend to see what the big deal is. Apparently people's lives, jobs, marriages, relationships and day-to-day activities are being ruined because they play Skyrim all freaking day. If that's the case, then it's gotta be the game of the yeat!

  • IAimToMisbehave  

    Got myself into way too much trouble this year buying video games. Working at GameStop, it's hard to just not buy everything up all the time, but the backlog for me is now staggering. Still, I was pretty lucky to be able to work for the company during this video game year, which, in my 23 years playing video games, was the biggest and the best, ever. Period.

    Play Battlefield 3 multi-player all the time. Finished Killzone 3 and played a lot of multi-player - very nice all-around exclusive for the PS3. Finished Uncharted 3 campaign - loved every second of it; got halfway through Gears 3 campaign before co-op partner moved on, but it was definitely a great game; playing Skyward Sword now - it's flat-out awesome; started AC: Revelations - it's good, more of the same; tried Deus Ex - controls suck, might play next year; briefly played Arkham City - it's definitely good, but I wish challenge maps were available from the start (like in Arkham Asylum) in order to practice combos, and the gliding and exploration can be a little tricky sometimes, probably will pick it up again once the calendar turns.

    This doesn't even include L.A. Noire, Skyrim, Resistance 3, Rayman Origins and lord knows how many others I bought, haven't played and can't now think of. Done buying games.

  • TheHorrorAnthem  

    Thank you very much ShuteTheRunner, that is very complimenting, and yes I agree that this forum thus far has been great. RainbowYoshi, I am someone who plays Skyrim constantly but is not a fanboy, and I personally would say that it is defiantly the best game of the year. Uncharted 3 like the first two is a great linear action experience, and while great, fun, and explosive, it will take less than 20 hours to complete, maybe less than 15 depending how you play. Skyrim however can run you beyond 150 hours with absolutely no problem. In fact you can play over 150 hours without even paying attention to its main plot line. I have not played Mario Kart 7 but I assume Skyrim has it beaten as well. Uncharted is great, but Skyrim is worth even more than 60 bucks. It may find its way into your console a few years from now. Its huge, its extremely fun, its addicting. If you like RPGs or open world it is a must.

  • spadenx  

    Little curious as to how AC is number one then it has far less reviews then Skyrim. Not a fanboy, I love the new Batman games but I am just curious.

  • RainbowYoshi  

    Oh well, my top 2 favourites will be Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception and Mario Kart 7. I'll be getting Skyrim soon (not from a fanboy's opinion) but is it league's above those games?

  • ShuteTheRunner  

    TheHorrorAnthem I think it may be because of the popularity of the Xbox 360 over the PS3. I think that, unless a critic specifies which version they are reviewing then the score should count for all currently available versions. By the way, it is excellent to see another open-minded, mature person on this site. Far too often do I see immature and childish comments regarding how awful or excellent something is without giving any real insight as to why their opinion is so. In fact, everyone who has commented on this article has written a well thought out and open-minded comment. It pleases me to see such maturity over the internet

  • evergreenOldboy  

    @tonyb The reasoning for this is that, if someone gives an unfavorable review of a movie they eloquently express their opinion to match the corresponding score they gave the the movie. As for video games, if someone gives an unfavorable review they usually just give it a 0 out of 10, this could be for many reasons some of which include glitches they have suffered that the critics have not, having to spend many hours in a game only to discover that you dont like it, and fanboyism (very broad reason).

  • TheHorrorAnthem  

    ShutetheRunner, Very true, everything you said is exactly right. The way the article is written is twisted a little bit almost like it is trying to sell it. Also, I notice most first look demos and critic videos are on Xbox which also almost always contains the most reviews written. I dont know if that is coincidence or if maybe Xbox just delivers first to game testers or what. Does anyone know the answer to that?

  • TheHorrorAnthem  

    Hey Tonyb, I consider myself a pretty hard critic and tend to agree with the metacritic and rotten tomato critics at least 85-95% of the time. I know exactly what you mean by how the audience reaction is reversed from games to film, and I honestly think it is just a mix of how each is delivered, maturity and fanboyism. In film the Transformer movies are a great example, fans love them because they are big, colorful, loud, explosive action films with pretty and popular faces and require no thinking whatsoever, but then that is the exact reason why critics dont like them. Besides something to munch popcorn to they provide nothing into the history of film aside from maybe box office records. Avatar for one was nominated for multiple Oscars in visuals only, not in writing, because honestly other than being pretty it was nothing special, great film making but not deep at all.

    In games though it comes off a little different, first of all as mentioned above, maturity, gamers who comment and review are probably mostly younger than the average movie viewers who comment and review outside of Youtube. Faboyism is a large part of it and that cannot be denied, they are the number one reason I dont follow user reviews closely. I see 10's in reviews that involve the words "its not perfect" or 2's because they suck at the game or didnt understand it, or worse of all, played ten minutes of it or a demo. Critics are at least finishing the games, aside from releases like Skyrim where you really cant finish everything by a due date. A good critic is not afraid to give a game he does not like a 10 if the game deserves it, or a 1 to a game that sucks yet he loves it, but knows its not a great game. Same in film, buddy comedies average a 2 star rating but that doesnt mean it wasnt hilarious with multiple viewings, just means by great film standards its not great. That is where average viewers and critic types really truly think separately. I personally dont watch many musicals yet I know The Sound of Music is a 4 star film, but I devout a lot of time to film and music and games. Making and critiquing such things is my entire life so I get really into prissiness. Bottom line, its all opinion of course, but some of it is overlooked fact. Rather a piece of entertainment is well made or not is fact, rather you like it or not is opinion, and that is something else a lot of people never consider. Another point I will add is users are also only playing games of their choice, while critics are playing everything. They strive to see something fresh and original, while many gamers want the same thing over and over. Call of Duty fans, just give them a FPS with great online and their year is set, others are waiting for the next epic in storytelling, some want both. To really focus on your question, in the game department a lot of due also to how games are treated. They are still after all these years looked down upon compared to other medias. Which is unfortunate because video games have become great ways to express and tell stories. I think 2011 had better games than movies by far, and even in this article The Dark Knight Rises was challenged by Arkham City. Which ultimately leads back to the maturity subject I mentioned earlier. Gamers do range from 10 all the way to 40 on average but so many of the great games are being marketed for early 20 year olds. I think someday it may balance, after more Mass Effects, Red Dead Redemptions, and Bioshocks it may level itself. I for one think video games can compete as art as well as any other media. Time will tell. If you actually read all of that I thank you, and I thank anyone else who read. Long comment but I actually enjoy talking about these things. - Matt M.

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