The Best Videogames of 2011

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

It was a very good year

Image
2011
Batman: Arkham City
(PS3)
96
2010
Super Mario Galaxy 2
(Wii)
97
2009
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (PS3) 96
2008
Grand Theft Auto IV
(PS3)
98
2007
Super Mario Galaxy
(Wii)
97
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
92
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)

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • TheHorrorAnthem  

    IAimToMisbehave, I hope you enjoy Skyrim very much but since your new to it you are probably new to Elder Scrolls as a whole, so with that in mind just let me say dont go in expecting to be wowed like you may in many other high budget games. Skyrim is amazing and deserves game of the year, but it is within its depth and open world that the amaziness can be found. Dont expect some kind of God of War or Uncharted epicness to pop out at you right away. The reason so many people get addicted is because of the never ending play time and never ending amount of discovering that can be done. You should have no problem enjoying it but I wanted you in the right state of mind. Devote probably a good minimum 15 hours of playtime before gaining a full opinion and play how you want to play not how you think you should play. Make Skyrim your new home and your character the creation you want to see and enjoy.

  • Happymonk  

    Hang on a second, they forgot Xenoblade Chronicles on the Wii. I know it never came out in the USA this year, but it did come out in the UK and has a very high score of 92 based on 42 reviews. Surely it should be put up and included in the Wii's category. I think it's stupid not to even mention the second highest rated Wii game of the year. I'm sure Kirby's Epic Yarn was in last year's list for the Wii, even though it didn't come out until this year in the UK, gaining more reviews than it would've had before.

  • MarcDoyle  

    @Happymonk - You raise a very legitimate point - Xenoblade Chronicles does have a very high Metascore [92], and it was listed under its UK release date for much of the year on Metacritic, but when a game gets its US release date (which, in this case, is April 2, 2012), that's the date which controls for end-of-year awards. Metacritic will list regional release dates (UK/EU/AU, etc.) along with the US release dates in the future, but until then, we're sticking with our current rules.

  • BIGCHRIS2112  

    I don't think it's fair to say Arkham City is the highest scoring game of the year when Skyrim has more than double the reviews.

  • Lickcheez  

    I keep seeing "Look how many review Skyrim has, it's better than Batman just because of the amount!" We'll, go READ the reviews! The game was and will be broken on PS3, as same issue that was wrong with Fallout 3 and never fixed is STILL wrong with Skyrim's "Creation" engine (which is really just a tweaked Gamebryo, NOT a new one Hines promised!) Plus 360 users are starting to have the save bloat happen to them, now reducing their copies to unplayable , lagfests! Yay for Bethesda for making another bugridden, crippled game with really no TRUE rpg choices in the game. Just the same crap over and over. Most hyped game of the year perhaps, but NOT best!

  • Mudpooch  

    Skyrim should be number 1... Luckily most game of the year awards has gotten that one right

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