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Analysis: who will win Game of the Year for 2011?
by Chris Hawke

It's over. It's finished, man. It's done - that's it.

Skyrim and Assassin's Creed are out, and with them arrive the bitterly cold winds of change; we stand on the brink of 2012, a brand new year brimming with adventure and intrigue. And another Call of Duty. With Star Wars: The Old Republic and Rocksmith bringing up the rear and probably being too late to be included in most Game Of The Year lists, you can turn your mind back to a year that saw Libya Liberated, Osama Obama-nated, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 single-handedly ruin everything I hold dear.

Unless Postal III pulls a stunner (spoiler: it won't), that's pretty much it for 2011, so we're compiling the most notable games you've played over the past twelve months and shamelessly judging them based on our incredibly poor recollections. Portal 2 is the one about the Italian plumber, right? Good.

Note: if you can't tell by now, the following list isn't to be taken very seriously.

Dead Space 2

It was kind of like Dead Space, except...Nope. I've got nothing. Basically, you ran about and shot zombie-alien things and there was a lot of blood. While it's hardly original, Dead Space 2 was actually a resounding success; the dismemberment was a grotesquely gleeful as ever, the characters were believable and well-rounded, and the story had enough hooks and twists to keep you blasting on. It's going to take a lot longer than a year for us to forget that needle-to-eye scene.

Why it might win GOTY:

A more refined, polished Dead Space that still haunts our dreams, the buckets of atmosphere and flashy set-pieces (complete with severed baby faces) make it a heart-stopping thriller.

Why it might not win GOTY:

The multiplayer was a giant alien sack of balls, and it came out in January. January. I'm pretty sure the British Empire was still intact back then.

Dragon Age II

You were called Hawke. Now, call me biased, but that's basically the best name in the world. If I could come up with a fake name, it would be Hawke. Luckily, I don't have to. I'm one of the lucky ones. The chosen ones.

Oh, the game? I don't know. I think it had something about violence in it, I forget...

Why it might win GOTY:

Building on the success of the original, what could possibly go wrong?

Why it might not win GOTY:

Quite a lot. Fans were perturbed, to use on overly fancy word, at the shoddy control system, the confusing story and general lack of ingenuity or originality. Plus, we have Skyrim now. Dragon Age II can only look on in wonder.


Ha! Just kidding.

Crysis 2

Probably the most visually impressive game on this list - so long as you've got a high-end PC. As this PC poster boy shifted onto the consoles, many worried the Nanosuit would be dumbed down; and while the set-pieces were epic, the story exciting, and the graphics one-of-a-kind, the series had lost some of its charm; no longer were we allowed to wreak havoc in a sandbox paradise, but instead tied down in a tightly scripted, linear, shoot-em-up.

Why it might win GOTY:

It's got the looks. When you boil it down, Crysis 2 is basically an entire series based upon being pixel-perfect, and as shallow as that is; cor. Look at them explosions!

Why it might not win GOTY:

The stealth mechanics are to fiddly and slippery to be a long-term strategy, and the straight-up-shooting is just a bit bland. Crysis 2 might be a jack of all trades, but a master of none.

Portal 2

It was actually funny. Which surprised me - the original Portal was so fleeting, experimental and unexpected that it took everyone by surprise and was allowed to be itself. But when shoved on a standalone stage and told to perform for ten hours, there was a worry that GLADoS would lose her charm, the mechanics would become stale, and it would all be a little bit disappointing. But with the excellent Merchant at the helm, Portal 2 managed to be legitimately hilarious (with as little nerd-humour as possible) and keep a strong pace. Wait - did someone say pace?

Why it might win GOTY:

Cute, funny and thought-provoking, with a solid co-op mode and tonnes of little secrets. There's not another game as unique as Portal 2 out there.

Why it might not win GOTY:

If you pushed through the campaign in a matter of days, the endless portal-shooting and gel-jumping do start to wear thin. Also, it might not be the best critique of a game,'s just not Portal 1, is it?

L.A. Noire

Hang on - did I say there wasn't a unique game like Portal 2 out there? Excuse me - I must have forgotten about the game where you solve crimes around a perfectly-recreated 1940s Los Angeles. And accuse old ladies of being killers. L.A. Noire made up for what it lacked in freedom with a mature, developed plot, involving some superbly crafted characters, rich dialogue, and a whole lot of picking up cigarette packets. And drawing. And racism.

Why it might win GOTY:

It's a Rockstar game.

Why it might not win GOTY:

It's a Rockstar game shrouded in modern-day slavery court-cases. And did Cole Phelps put on a flamethrower at the end of the game? Like, for real?

Infamous 2

While a lot of games on this list are criticised for the fact they lose the charm of their predecessor, Infamous 2 is the exception. It's messy and repetitive and shoddy and slightly creepy (why the hell is this city so quiet?!), but it's such a beautiful game when it all comes together. The progression, the powers, the freedom of movement and the powerful-as-a-lighting-storm ending; it may not be perfect, but it sure as hell tries.

Why it might win GOTY:

It should win just for this scene only. (Big spoiler)

Why it might not win GOTY:

While they're easy to forgive, you can't quite overlook the plethora of AI issues, graphical slip-ups, and repetitive missions forever.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution

I never asked for this.

Forza Motorsport 4

Since Gran Turismo 6 won't come out until we all get hovercars and the game becomes outdated before its even released, Forza Motorsport 4 is left to hold high the torch of virtual racing. And fanboyism. It's beautiful, it's fast, and it's flashy.

Why it might win GOTY:

Enough simulation to be realistic, but enough arcade to be masses of fun.

Why it might not win GOTY:

Racing games never win Game Of The Year. Ever.

Battlefield 3

64 players tearing the French Metro to shreds, bombing it across the crisp blue skies of the Caspian Boarder and commanding tanks in the dusty plains of Iran? Forget the rubbish single-player; Battlefield 3 is all about the multiplayer, and with a slew of grand maps, an endless array of weaponry, and a multiplayer shooter that's NOT Call of Duty, Battlefield 3 has a real shout.

Why it might win GOTY:

It's big, loud and a visual stunner. EA's plugged everything they've got into making this a real winner, and they'll be livid if it doesn't come out on top.

Why it might not win GOTY:

The game is certainly not without its problems, with countless issues abound on forums everywhere. These things mount up, y'know.

Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception

Serious undertones of paedophilia. That's what I remember most about Uncharted 3; you're a ten-year-old orphan getting chased around by an old man with a moustache. I think there was a lot of other stuff about spiders and adventure and treasure, but I basically zoned out after that and expect Chris Hansen to turn up at my doorstep any minute.

Why it might win GOTY:

As someone who thinks Uncharted 2 was massively overrated, Drake's Deception pumped a lot of my faith back into the series - it's got swagger, ambition and oomph. And when you're reduced to using onomatopoeia to describe a video game, you know you've got something special.

Why it might not win GOTY:

While it's the strongest first two-thirds of any Uncharted yet, it pulls its punches at the end - there's no big revelation or seismic shift for the series, but just another 'sunset and banter' fade-out.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3

Why it might win GOTY:

It's a brand new Call of Duty!

Why it might not win GOTY:

It's exactly like Call Of Duty 4. Again.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

I'm not even going to talk about the game here. Instead, I'm going to ask you to look at Dead End Thrills. You'll see why.

Driver: San Francisco

Why it might win GOTY:

Best interracial back-and-forth of 2011.

There you have it folks. We'll know soon enough which of these games will come out on top, in the meantime, troll us below with your picks.

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- Chris Hawke

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