Top 20 games of 2011: 10-6

And we’re into the top 10 of our favourite games of the year. Have we got it right, or horribly wrong? Have a look and let us know in the comment section

Tuesday’s countdown from 15-11 prompted an interesting debate on the relative merits of Battlefield 3 and Modern Warfare 3, as well as lots of other juicy issues. What will today’s five titles inspire?

One thing you won’t find is smartphone titles – we’ll be running a separate list for those. But what of your favourite console titles – will they be adequately represented? Judging by some of the excellent games talked about in the comments section for the previous instalment, the answer is a resounding … maybe. Some of them.

Well, what are you waiting for? Let’s continue with our arbitary and highly subjective Top 20!

10. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (Activision, PC, PS3, Xbox 360)

Oh lord, here we go. Modern Warfare 3 – a glorified map pack, a sullen, cynical insult to gamers, a shameless exercise in pro-imperialist messaging. Or wait, maybe it’s more of what Infinity Ward has been doing really quite brilliantly for the past decade. Super smooth, turbo-charged military mayhem, wrapped around a loopy plot that stretches the game’s naturalistic framework to breaking point. And the multiplayer, with a group of friends and a few hours to kill, is still some of the best fun you can have with virtual firearms and close-proximity combat. Modern Warfare 3 is meaningless, it’s silly, and it has certainly been the most divisive game of the year – we all understand what some people hate about it. But crafted with great care to do exactly what the series always has done and always will, MW3 isn’t part of the problem or the solution, and it certainly isn’t going to destroy the industry – or, indeed, humanity. It’s a game where you shoot baddies, and shoot ‘em good. Frankly, we’ve giving up feeling guilty about enjoying it.

9. Minecraft (PC)

Minecraft isn’t so much a game as an unstoppable indie phenomenon, a sort of reality TV documentary about design, a meta-game, a way of life. There was a time when its creator Notch wasn’t an internet celebrity – how weird is that? But now, with this creative, procedural role-playing build-‘em-up, he and is team have not only invented a new sub-genre, they have instigated a movement in which games aren’t simply released, they’re sort of evolved and mutated over months of beta-testing and semi-availability. If Minecraft were an X Factor contestant we’d all be marveling over its “journey” as emotionally manipulative music played in the background and chunkily pixelated figures congratulated each other in slow motion on the screen. Minecraft is quite probably the greatest story indie gaming has ever told.

8. Super Mario 3D Land (Nintendo, 3DS)

Could it be that the world was ready to love 3DS all along – we just, you know, needed the right games? Well, Super Mario 3D Land is the right game. Taking elements of the original Super Mario Land and combining them with a twist of Super Mario Galaxy, this is a platformer in the traditional Nintendo mould – and by that I don’t mean unchanging and stifled, I mean traditional in the sense that it’s filled with magic, innovation and joy. Whereas in other 3DS titles, the stereoscopic effect has been little more than an annoying parlour trick, here it enforces the beautiful level designs, the sense of space and of Mario’s place in the world. Not the most far-reaching or ambitious Mario title, but as a standard-bearer for this maligned platform, it could turn out to be one of the more important.

7. Uncharted 3 (Sony, PS3)

Oh Nathan, there really is something about that boy. Whether he’s leaping across rooftops as a teenage rapscallion, floundering in the desert or navigating through a seemingly endless boat graveyard, he has so much charm he virtually seduces us through the game. Other titles aspire to be cinematic and think it means epic set-pieces and orchestral music; Naughty Dog knows that cinema is as much about relationships. The surrogate father/son interplay with Sully, the touching rapport with Elena – these are human interactions we can really invest in, so much so that they become genuine rewards for our perseverance. But, yeah, the epic set-pieces are astonishing too.

6. Dark Souls (Namco Bandai, PS3, Xbox 360)

The concept of “player skill” has been largely abandoned by mainstream developers keen to just nudge us gently through their narrative adventures, like kindly care home workers on a seaside day out. Not Dark Souls. Namco Bandai’s dungeon romp is a twisted, pitiless exercise in providing a system and then bashing the gamer over the skull with it until they can do it properly. So many disturbing enemies, so many customisation and progression decisions – all housed within a towering gothic world that combines the nightmarish vision of a Piranesi prison etching, with the intricate workings of a Swiss-made watch. We should all get down on our pathetic knees right now and thank the black empty universe that games like this still exist.


Game culture






Call of Duty

Modern Warfare

Super Mario




Keith Stuart © 2011 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds is updated frequently per day with all very latest Free Slim PS3 news, reviews and features.

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