Below, we look at the coming year's most-anticipated platform exclusive titles. For a preview of games available on multiple platforms, be sure to check Part 1 of our 2011 Games Preview.
On January 18, LittleBigPlanet 2 -- which is already looking like it will be one of the highest-scoring releases of the year -- kicks off what could be a huge year for PlayStation 3 fans. Sony's console has an unusually large lineup of exclusives scheduled for 2011, highlighted by one of the year's biggest titles, Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception.
But Sony fans won't be the only happy gamers this year (even if they might be the busiest). Wii owners can look forward to the next chapter in the Legend of Zelda saga, while PC gamers are eagerly anticipating a truly massive new MMO set in the Star Wars universe. Handheld gamers have high hopes for what could be a groundbreaking new device, Nintendo's 3DS. And for the 360, there's a little title called Gears of War 3.
On the following pages, we take a platform-by-platform look at 2011's most-anticipated games.
Xbox 360 exclusives
Forza Motorsport 4
When the latest installment in Turn 10 Studio's racing simulation series -- which also features plenty of in-game Top Gear branding -- arrives this fall, it will truly offer something that no other driving game can match: the ability, thanks to the Kinect, to race controller-free. Sounds like you'll need a helmet.
Gears of War 3
The Gears crew is back, but this time they’ve finally introduced fighting ladies (including Bernadette Mataki, who features in the Gears novels) into the narrative. In addition to breaking up the sausage party, Gears of War 3 has some other changes in store. New weapons include the Digger Launcher, Incendiary Grenade, double-barreled shotgun, and even the use of a full mech suit. Subtle tweaks to the already awesome multiplayer modes are in store, as is a four-player co-op mode. Hip-hop superstars Ice-T and Drake will be voicing a couple of characters and adding to the most feature-packed Gears of War ever.
PlayStation 3 exclusives
A recast as-initially-redesigned Cole MacGrath (fans demanded that he look like he did in the original) heads to the city of New Marais to learn the ways of the Force -- er, his electrical powers. There, along with his buddy Zeke, he confronts the evil Militia, learns more about his backstory, and kicks ass with new abilities. Developers Sucker Punch have worked to improve the open-world gameplay and the way the environment and population react to your actions. Another (much needed) change is the improvement of the loose melée combat. Don’t delete your save data from the original, as it’s been rumored that your actions from inFamous can affect the events in inFamous 2.
Another truly unique, gorgeous-looking release from the creators of Flower, Journey promises to bring a similar style of minimalist, unconventional gaming to the world of online co-op multiplayer. You'll have a chance to meet up with fellow players in the game's desert environment while investigating an ancient, mysterious civilization, solving puzzles along the way. Just don't expect to talk to the online community: voice chat has been disabled to preserve the game's sense of calm and wonder.
It will take you over an hour just to watch the cutscenes (which include the voices of Malcolm McDowell and Ray Winstone) from the third major chapter in the Killzone series of first-person shooters set during an interstellar war. Killzone 3, which will support both the PlayStation Move controller and 3D televisions (making the three of you who own both very happy), aims to be known for more than just multiplayer by offering a more complex storyline and deeper character development in single-player mode than in the previous chapter.
The Last Guardian
Although we would have preferred a literal translation of the Japanese title -- Trico, the Man-Eating Eagle -- we're just happy to have any successor to the hugely acclaimed PS2 games Ico and Shadow of the Colossus. Five years in the making, Team Ico's The Last Guardian, like those releases, is a puzzle-solving action-adventure game, but if early screenshots are any indication, its graphic design will blow away its two predecessors.
Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One
The Ratchet & Clank series has always delivered solid single-player action platformers filled with amazing gameplay and quirky humor. Now, they’ve decided to go four-player co-op with their latest entry. Ratchet, Clank, Quark, and Doctor Nefarious are among the four playable characters that can be controlled during drop-in and drop-out multiplayer or offline multiplayer. The game has the characters working together to battle the Creature Collector machine. Here’s hoping that the series’ cheeky charm isn’t diluted and dumbed down for what looks like a game that’s geared towards younger players. Even if that’s so, All 4 One isn’t a part of the excellent Ratchet & Clank Future trilogy canon. Phew.
Not a Killzone fan? Another PS3 sci-fi FPS series will release its third installment in 2011. Gameplay sounds like it will be a blend of that found in Resistance: Fall of Man and Resistance 2 (to help avoid some of the same negative fan reaction that plagued the latter title) in the new Resistance 3, which is set in an alternate-history version of America in 1957 after much of the population has been wiped out by the invading Chimera. Can you survive long enough to save the world?
Lead a small squad of NATO security forces on a crucial six-day mission in China in the latest tactical shooter from Zipper Interactive in the SOCOM series. Though the game has been delayed from its original 2010 launch, it could be worth the wait for PlayStation Move owners, who will finally have a solid third-person shooter available to showcase the controller's capabilities (and that PlayStation Move Sharp Shooter you received for Christmas).
The first release in the vehicular combat series in six years (and the franchise's debut on the PS3), Twisted Metal gives you a choice of over a dozen vehicles, including returnees like Sweet Tooth and, for those players who prefer to stay off the ground, a helicopter. Multiplayer options will include both split-screen online multiplayer and two-player online co-op.
Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception
November should see the release of the third Uncharted game, and could also see the filming of a movie based on the franchise directed by David O. Russell (The Fighter, Three Kings) starring Mark Wahlberg as Drake himself. The latest chapter (loosely based on the events of Lawrence of Arabia) in the game series has Drake and Victor Sullivan looking for the lost city Iram of the Pillars, a quest that finds the characters traversing through the sandy desert while wielding AK-47s. Enhanced gameplay and enemy AI are on board, as are additional multiplayer and increased co-op abilities. Developers Naughty Dog are currently working at the peak of their powers and surely won’t let down fans of this amazing franchise.