E3 One Year Later: Best Games of E3 2011

Welcome to E3 One Year Later, my look at the biggest E3 announcements of last year’s show. I’ll talk about what was announced and whether or not it came to fruition.

THREE WEEKS AGO: Microsoft Media Briefing

TWO WEEKS AGO: Sony Media Briefing

LAST WEEK: Nintendo E3 2011 Presentation

THIS WEEK: Best Games of E3 2011

This week I’m tackling the Game Critics Awards’ Best of E3 2011 winners and nominees. This is a hefty list of what was considered the best of the best at E3 2011. Now that most of them have seen release, was the recognition bestowed on them by the Game Critics Awards judges deserved? You be the…well, you be the judge.

NOTE: Unlike the Big Three’s conferences where I gave scores for each item, here I’m just going to give the game in question one of three distinctions: THUMBS UP for the games that turned out well, THUMBS DOWN for the games that didn’t, and JURY’S STILL OUT for the items that haven’t released yet.


BioShock Infinite

(WINNER OF: Best of Show, Best Original Game, Best PC Game, Best Action/Adventure Game)

While Irrational Games’ next big title is certainly shaping up to be fantastic, we still don’t get to play it for ourselves until February 2013. Nothing more about BioShock Infinite has really come out since E3 2011, now that I think about it…I wonder when we’ll see Booker Dewitt and Elizabeth again. It won’t be at E3 2012 or Gamescom 2012, Ken Levine already said so. For now, all we can do is watch the E3 2011 demo above and pout until it comes out. JURY’S STILL OUT.


The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

(WINNER OF: Best Console Game, Best Role-Playing Game; NOMINATED FOR: Best of Show)

FUS RO DAH! The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim launched November 11th, 2011, to critical and commercial acclaim. Multiple Game of the Year awards, even more Internet jokes overused to this day…it’s safe to say that Skyrim absolutely made the impace that Bethesda had set out for. THUMBS UP.


Sound Shapes

(WINNER OF: Best Handheld Game, Best Social/Casual Game; NOMINATED FOR: Best Original Game)

The unique rhythm game for Sony’s newest handheld has yet to see the light of day, and MAN does that make me angry. I’m a huge fan of rhythm-style games, and when I got my hands on this at last year’s show I didn’t want to leave. Journey was not five feet away from me, but I wasn’t having any of that. Sound Shapes all day! Unfortunately, we still don’t know when this is coming out, which makes me sad. JURY’S STILL OUT.


PlayStation Vita

(WINNER OF: Best Hardware)

The Vita is a hard one to properly gauge. The system’s sales have not met expectations and the library of games is mighty slim, there’s no question, but the system itself is so damn impressive. The Vita delivers on every single promise Sony had made at last E3; the physical tech is there, the graphical power is there, the games that are available are enjoyable, and more. Based on the promises Sony kept, I have to give the Vita the nod. THUMBS UP.


Battlefield 3

(WINNER OF: Best Action Game, Best Online Multiplayer)

Battlefield 3 easily won the battle of military shooters at E3 last year, topping Modern Warfare 3 in every way possible. That success carried over into the commercial and critical areas, as the game sold well and accrued a handful of Best Shooter and Best Multiplayer awards at the end of the year. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that Battlefield delivered as advertised, do you? THUMBS UP.


Street Fighter X Tekken

(WINNER OF: Best Fighting Game)

So much promise, so much hype. I was over the moon thinking about Street Fighter X Tekken and its possibilities. Two of my favorite fighting franchises coming together…the anticipation was immeasurable. However, upon release I felt let down. The fighting was great, sure, but a myriad of problems stood in the way. Glitches and infinite combos quickly made playing online too frustrating to bear. The gem system, while a good idea in theory, just did not turn out the way Capcom had intended. SFxT is also home to some of the worst game-breaking bugs I’ve ever seen. A projectile hitting another projectile crashing the entire game? Really? I’m really sad to type this, but it’s the truth: THUMBS DOWN.


Forza 4

(WINNER OF: Best Racing Game)

It was an excellent racing game. It did come out in the holiday season of 2011. Even though it didn’t improve a whole lot on Forza 3, it still sped past any other racer that debuted last year. How the hell is Mario Kart 7 supposed to be this, anyhow? THUMBS UP.


FIFA Soccer 2012

(WINNER OF: Best Sports Game)

FIFA 12 blew away every other sports game last year. Madden, NCAA Football, even NBA 2k12 couldn’t match the excellence that was EA’s annual soccer game. More teams than I could ever count, the most realistic player movement I’ve ever seen, the game had it all. I’m a fringe soccer fan at best and even I couldn’t put it down. FIFA 12 deserved every bit of the award last year, and it certainly came through when it finally launched too. THUMBS UP.


From Dust

(WINNER OF: Best Strategy Game; NOMINATED FOR: Best Original Game, Best Downloadable Game)

I’ve heard great things about From Dust since its release this summer. I’ve heard all about its addicting gameplayand fantastic environment. Unfortunately, from my personal standpoint the jury is still out on this one, because I’ve yet to experience From Dust for myself. I completely passed over it. The game has scored favorably throughout its reviews, but I couldn’t give a proper assessment until I play it for myself. JURY’S STILL OUT.


The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

(WINNER OF: Best Motion Simulation Game)

Skyward Sword flew its way to the top of the Wii library faster than any other game before it. Some argue that this is the best Zelda game to date (one of whom is me), which is a lofty claim. However, the motion controls are spot-on, the story is incredible, and the battles are everything we have grown to know and love about Link and his adventures. Skyward Sword did not disappoint. THUMBS UP.



(WINNER OF: Best Downloadable Game; NOMINATED FOR: Best Original Game)

Bastion showed so much promise when it rose from obscurity at E3 2011. This new reactive narration was a thing to behold, and the classic top-down gameplay struck a chord with many a gamer. Once Bastion finally launched in the summer, everyone quickly learned just what an epic game Supergiant Games had crafted. This game is a masterpiece, plain and simple. THUMBS UP.


Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception

(NOMINATED FOR: Best of Show, Best Console Game, Best Action/Adventure Game, Best Online Multiplayer Game)

FOUR nominations and not a single win? What did Naughty Dog do wrong? Nothing it turns out, as Uncharted 3 impressed gamers when it finally launched on November 1st. It was no Uncharted 2, that’s for sure, but Drake’s latest console adventure was definitely a great game. There’s no way that Drake’s Deception can be considered a disappointment. THUMBS UP.


Batman: Arkham City

(NOMINATED FOR: Best of Show, Best Console Game, Best Action/Adventure Game)

Another quality game that went winless in E3 awards, Batman: Arkham City eventually became a stellar follow-up to 2009’s Batman: Arkham Asylum. So much so, in fact, it’s getting a Game of the Year release…with the worst box art of all time. Bad box art aside, Arkham City was a brilliant game, one of the best of 2011, so its nominations were well-deserved. THUMBS UP.


Tomb Raider

(NOMINATED FOR: Best of Show, Best Console Game)

My personal favorite game of E3 2011 still hasn’t seen a full release, though it was originally due in the Fall of this year. Unfortunately, like BioShock Infinite earlier, Lara Croft won’t be setting off on her new adventure until the first months of 2013. Unlike BioShock, however, Tomb Raider will be present at E3 2012, so I can get my fix again in two weeks. JURY’S STILL OUT.


These are the fourteen games that impressed the E3 2011 crowds the most, winning the Game Critics Awards or receiving multiple nominations. Only one ended up be a disappointment, and even then that disappointment can slowly be fixed. Suffice to say that E3 2011 was a highly successful show, and  I can only hope that E3 2012 will be just as incredible. The madness begins in ten days.