There's no denying that the PlayStation 3 has enjoyed its share of ups and downs since its release in 2006, but the tides are changing and with each passing year the console gets stronger and stronger. 2011 is arguably its best year yet, in spite of an unpleasant slump in the middle when PSN got hacked. While many of the best games to come out were multiplatform, the PS3 also had its best line-up of exclusive content to date. The following is the best the console has to offer in 2011.
Best Sports Game: Fifa 12
2011 was a great year for sports titles on the PlayStation 3, and the competition was quite fierce. Fifa 12 came out on top thanks to its many improvements and refinements, making it the best in football (soccer, to those in the US and Canada) action once again.
Best Racing Game: DiRT 3
What sets DiRT 3 apart from the competition is its collection of quirky game modes and sheer fun factor, aided by some great driving mechanics and enjoyable multiplayer. DiRT 3 proved to be a fantastic example or the racing genre at its finest, and won the vote in a landslide.
Best RPG: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
The fifth iteration of the Elder Scrolls series was awarded the highest score gamrReview has ever given a game when it released in November - an astonishing 9.7. Skyrim takes everything great about the Elder Scrolls series and perfects it to a mirror shine, giving us a massive living, breathing world to explore, thousands of NPCs to interact with, and more variety and content than most games would ever dream of having. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim gives us all of this while also encouraging us to explore at our leisure; an all-encompassing escape that no other game series can hope to match. While it did have its share of glitches, the only real concern for gamers in Skyrim is taking arrows to the knee.
Best Platformer: Rayman Origins
One of the closest results of the year, Rayman: Origins eventually managed to clinch the prize thanks to its refined gameplay and accomplished single player mode. Rayman: Origins returns the series to its roots, ditching the Rabbids and giving us a lengthy, beautiful, and well-crafted side-scrolling platformer that proves Rayman was and forever will be better as a platformer than a collection of minigames.
Best First Person Shooter: Killzone 3
With the war going on between Battlefield 3 and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 in the final months of 2011, it was easy to forget that other FPS games came out all throughout 2011, including our PS3 first person Shooter of the year: Killzone 3; and its runner up: Bulletstorm, which came out in February and January, respectively. Killzone 3 proved itself to have some of the best graphics on any system, as well as some refined gameplay elements and set pieces. Also to its credit, Killzone 3 has a campaign that lasts longer than a couple of hours, making it something of a rarity in today's shooter market.
Best Third Person Shooter: Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception
It's always hard to place Uncharted in any one category because the series encompasses so many different gameplay styles. There may be a lot of puzzle solving and platforming, but in between each and every cliff you scale, and at the heart of every action sequence, you're going to be whipping it out and engaging in some of the most spectacular gunfights you'll see in any shooter. We still can't figure out why henchmen have no regard for their life - why shoot at Drake when they're with him in a burning building? Regardless, the game is as fun as can be and is a great contender for Game of the Year; a shining example of a game that's able to give us an engaging story and relatable characters without sacrificing great gameplay.
Best Action/Adventure: Batman: Arkham City
No game or character encompasses the combo of action and adventure better than Batman; he is one part ass-kicking crime fighter, one part brilliant detective, and one part awesome all rolled up into one, and Rocksteady have given us the ultimate Batman experience with Batman: Arkham City. Arkham City, like any good sequel, takes everything that made the original so engaging and blew it up into something grand. A clear winner for the Action-Adventure category and yet another strong contender for Game of the Year.
Best Puzzle Game: Portal 2
When most people think about puzzle games, they imagine falling bricks, moving gems, or the curved edges of a jigsaw puzzle. The Portal series is kind of like that, but the game pieces you're playing with in Portal are the very laws of physics that you bend to your whim! This time around, in addition to using portals and pressing buttons with the help of weighted cubes, you also toy with platforms made of hard light and various space-age gels, as well as tackle test chambers with a friend in specially designed co-op levels. Portal 2 is not only the best puzzle game of 2011, hands down, but another strong contender for Game of the Year.
Best Fighter: Mortal Kombat
Mortal Kombat made its mark back in the early 90s with its “M” Rating, thanks to its bloody animations and excruciatingly gory deaths. While the series has sometimes fallen into camp territory and suffered its fair share of lackluster titles, the 2011 reboot is a return to the series' roots, with the bonus of more content, unlockables, and characters than ever before! As an example of a reboot done right, Mortal Kombat hits all the right spots.
Best PSN Download: LIMBO
Last year, Swedish Developer Playdead arrived on XBLA with a little puzzle-platformer by the name of LIMBO. Now, both PS3 and PC users can enjoy the creepy atmosphere and puzzles that LIMBO has to offer. Granting the PS3 version of LIMBO our PSN Download of the Year award means it's won the same award two years running (once on each console), but there's no denying it's earned it. LIMBO narrowly managed to edge out a similarly atmospheric and beautiful platformer - Outland - for the top spot.
Best New IP: L.A. Noire
Team Bondi spent many years working on this title, promising a wholly new experience in the form of a crime drama set in the 1940s. All that hard work paid off, L.A. Noire gives gamers a whole new outlook on what it was like to be a detective after the second great war, with a great story, bolstered by relatable characters, and some of the most innovative motion capture advances we've seen in years. That's why it wins our Best New IP of 2011 on the PS3, and our readers agree.
Best Graphics: Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception
The PS3 has always been a graphical powerhouse, and the Uncharted series has been the shining example of that ever since Drake's Fortune released back in 2007. Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception took the already impressive visuals of its predecessor and ramped it up a notch, giving us even better facial animations and the best looking sand dunes a videogame has ever seen. Naughty Dog continue to reign supreme on the PS3.
Best Original Score: Rayman Origins
Many games this year had fantastic scores, from Uncharted 3 to Assassin's Creed: Revelations, but nothing came close to our winner and runner-up. Rayman: Origins' diverse, campy, quirky tunes stick in the head (in a good way!), and for that reason, Rayman: Origins takes the win for best original score on the PS3.
Biggest Disappointment: Dragon Age II
A Sequel is supposed to take the things that worked in the previous game and expand upon them, dropping what didn't work and refining everything else. Dragon Age II did the opposite of that in nearly every way. Where the first game had a lengthy and involving plot, its sequel was short and disappointing. While Origins had great character customization and RPG elements, the sequel did away with the substance and replaced it with style. As a sequel, it was a colossal failure in the eyes of many.
Best Game No One Played: Rayman Origins
While it's only been out a few weeks, Rayman: Origins has proven to be a favorite amongst the gamrReview team, even though it didn't catch on with the wider gaming audience. Do yourself a favor and go pick up Rayman: Origins, with luck, it'll become a hit down the line and more gamers will be able to delight in its simple but fun platforming nirvana.
Most Anticipated Game: BioShock Infinite
After three years of having The Last Guardian as our most anticipated game, two new games have burst through this year. Bioshock Infinite came out on top though; you'd have to be crazy to not be curious about what's going to happen next in the BioShock universe.
PS3 Game of the Year: Portal 2
Many games have come out on the PS3 this year that qualify as Game of the Year material, so choosing just one has proven to be a truly monumental task. Our winner and runner up were separated by a single vote, but in the end Portal 2 came out as the victor. From the beginning, Valve claimed that the PS3 version of Portal 2 would be the best, and it duly was. The fact that you got a free copy of Portal 2 on Steam with every new purchase of the game, paired with a rather significant addition of cross-system co-op play between PSN and Steam users meant that Portal 2 was elevated beyond just a simple game and has rightfully earned victory.