The Best Videogames of 2011

  • Publish Date: December 23, 2011
  • Comments: ↓ 44 user comments

It was a very good year

Batman: Arkham City
Super Mario Galaxy 2
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (PS3) 96
Grand Theft Auto IV
Super Mario Galaxy
Metacritic's Game of the Year
(Highest-Scoring Title, min. 7 rev.)

Sure, next year superhero fans—and entertainment fans in general—will be talking about Christopher Nolan's third and final Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises. But no matter how good it is, that movie will have a hard time matching the critical acclaimed earned by the latest incarnation of Batman in game form. A huge sequel to 2009's Batman: Arkham Asylum, Batman: Arkham City 96 (on the PS3) edged out the 360 version of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim 96 by a few decimal points to take top honors as Metacritic's 2011 Game of the Year.

Arkham City, though, was just one of many amazing games to be found during the past 12 months. All in all, there were 23 great console releases (with Metascores of 90 or higher) in 2011. That's the highest total in the last five years (and since the introduction of the current generation consoles). Throw in PC games and releases for handheld devices (iOS excluded), and there were a total of 32 great games released this year—also the highest mark in at least five years. In 2010, by comparison, there were just 22 releases to score at least 90.

In the following pages, we'll take a look at the best-reviewed games for each gaming platform. First, however, let's examine how each console fared during the past year. Once again, it was the PlayStation 3 that scored the best metrics in most categories.

Console Comparison - Games Released During 2011
Image Image Image
69.5 Avg. Metascore
253 games *
68.9 Avg. Metascore
261 games *
62.2 Avg. Metascore
69 games *
12 Great Games **
90 or higher
9 Great Games **
90 or higher
2 Great Games **
90 or higher
13 Good Exclusives **
75 or higher
12 Good Exclusives **
75 or higher
4 Good Exclusives **
75 or higher
Best Exclusive:
Uncharted 3:
Drake's Deception
Best Exclusive:
Gears of War 3 91
Best Exclusive:
Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword 93

* Games with 4 or more reviews in Metacritic's database released between January 1, 2011 and December 31, 2011.
** Excludes games with fewer than 7 reviews; downloadable map packs are also excluded.
All Metascore data is from December 21, 2011. The pie charts reflect the percentage of all releases for each console with Positive Reviews (receiving a Metascore of 75 or higher indicating), Mixed Reviews (receiving a Metascore of 50-74), and Negative Reviews (receiving a Metascore of 49 or below). Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding.

And here are the year's best-reviewed titles, regardless of platform (iOS games excluded; they're covered in a separate article):

Best-Reviewed Games (Any Platform), 2011
  Title / Platform Genre Metascore Users
1 Batman: Arkham City PS3 Action-Adventure 96 8.1
2 The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim 360 Action-RPG 96 8.5
3 Portal 2 PC Puzzle/Shooter 95 8.4
4 Portal 2 360 Puzzle/Shooter 95 8.1
5 Portal 2 PS3 Puzzle/Shooter 95 8.0
6 Batman: Arkham City 360 Action-Adventure 94 8.4
7 The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D 3DS Action-Adventure 94 8.5
8 The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim PC Action-RPG 94 8.3
9 Mass Effect 2 PS3 Action-RPG 94 8.2
10 Minecraft PC Sandbox/RPG 93 7.1

Releases by platform

On the next pages, we examine the best and worst 2011 games released for each platform, including the top titles exclusive to each platform.

Comments (44)

  • TheMudDoctor

  • ShuteTheRunner  

    As far as I know, there isn't a difference between the XBox 360 and PS3 version of Batman: Arkham City, so shouldn't the true score of the game depend upon which version has more reviews? The XBox version has almost twice as many reviews as the PS3 version, therefore the score of this game is 94, not 96. While this is still a brilliant score, it does mean that Batman: Arkham City is not the game of the year. Skyrim is slightly different across all platforms. the PS3 version has a major bug, which is why it has a lower score. The PC version plays differently due to it being on a PC, giving it a slightly lower score. The XBox version has a score of 96 based upon 88 reviews, whereas the PS3 version of Arkham City has the same score based upon 41 reviews, which is less than half of Skyrim's reviews. This makes The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (XBox 360 version) the most critically acclaimed game of the year. I will not offer my personal opinion, I am merely pointing out that, based upon Metacritic's scoring, the Metacritic GOTY is Skyrim, not Arkham City.

  • tonyb  

    the thing I find interesting is how much harsher users are as compared with critics
    only a handful of the scores either matched or exceeded what critics thought of the games
    I would be curious to hear why people think this is
    (contrast this with films where it seems to be the other way around)

    just an FYI, you forgot to include Mass Effect 2 in the PC best of

  • Unbelievable21  

    Since LoZ: Four Swords was released on the DSi - and, therefore, both on DS and 3DS - isn't it a bit unfair to only list it in the DS games?

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