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Best of E3 2011

The show may be over, but E3 2011 left us with plenty to talk about. From the Wii U, to Battlefield 3, to the first glimpse at Modern Warfare 3, the show may have ended, but its legacy will continue for a long time to come. There were several massive, big budget sequels displayed, and more than a few surprises to be had. But who came out on top? Below is our list of the best of 2011.

Make sure to check out this years’ Best of E3 2012 Awards.

Best of Show

Winner: BioShock Infinite

Bioshock Infinite Best of E3Few games had people talking as much as BioShock Infinite, and none shocked us nearly as much (no pun intended). Beautiful, stunning, heartbreaking and amazing, BioShock Infinite was our consensus choice for best of 2011. After watching the depth of the gameplay, the characterization of Elizabeth, the multiple combat options and the menace of Songbird, BioShock Infinite had us wandering where they came up with some of the insane and incredible ideas that were displayed. You might wonder why BioShock Infinite won best of show but not best FPS. That’s because none of us thought of it as an FPS. It was just so much more.

Runners Up: Battlefield 3, Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Gears of War 3, Tomb Raider

Best Nintendo Exclusive

Winner: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

It was tempting to add the Wii U here, but we still don’t know much about it. After four years, we know a LOT about Skyward Sword, and it just continues to look better all the time. It also helps to remind us why the Wii is far and away the best-selling console of this generation by a wide margin.

Runners Up: Shinobi 3DS , Super Mario 3DS

Best Sony Exclusive

Winner: Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception

From what looks to be another amazing campaign, to a multiplayer that builds on what was already among the best online games for the PS3, Uncharted 3 alone is an excellent excuse to buy a PS3.

Runners Ups: Resistance 3, Twisted Metal

Best Xbox 360 Exclusive

Winner: Gears of War 3

There was never any real discussion here—not because of a lack of 360 exclusives, but because Gears 3 promises to be one of the best games of the year both on and offline.

Runners Up: Forza Motorsport 4, Star Wars Kinect

Best Action Game

Winner: Tomb Raider

The Tomb Raider franchise had grown stale and was on the verge of extinction just last year, but after seeing the reboot/prequel in action, Lara Croft once again has our attention. And not in a creepy pervy way, just in a good game way.

Runners Up: Batman: Arkham City, Ghost Recon Future Soldier, Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City, Gears of War 3

Best Buzz

Winner: Nintendo Wii U

A lot of games managed to generate significant heat this week at E3, but if you wanted to break into any conversation, all you had to do was ask people what they thought about the Wii U. Everyone had an opinion, and it was easily the most discussed item of the show. There are still some questions about the console that we’d like Nintendo to answer, but that will come in time. For now Nintendo definitely has our attention.

Runners Up: Battlefield 3, BioShock Infinite, Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Prey 2

Best Driving Game

Winner: Driver: San Francisco

While the racing simulators can be a blast, at this year’s E3 the emphasis for driving games veered more towards arcade action and fun physics than fine tuning the gearbox with custom parts. Driver: San Francisco introduces the “shift” mechanic, something that is kind of a technological marvel when you think about it. With the hit of a button you can switch mid-race/mission to another car with completely different handling. Its not realistic in the least, but it is a lot of fun.

Runners Up: Need for Speed: The Run, Ridge Racer: Unbounded, Mario Kart 3DS

Best of E3…again

Winner: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

Everybody loved Skyward Sword when they saw it last year at E3. And the year before. And the year before that. As much as we enjoy seeing it displayed, hopefully this will be the last time and the game will actually be released this year.

Runners Up: Ghost Recon Future Soldier, Duke Nukem Forever

Best FPS

Winner: Battlefield 3

While BioShock infinite may have caught our attention the most among these games, in terms of true FPS titles, Battlefield 3 had us at hello.

Runners Up: BioShock Infinite, Far Cry 3, Modern Warfare 3, Payday

Best Graphics

Winner: Battlefield 3

We seriously considered just awarding this to the Frostbite 2.0 engine in general. Need For Speed: The Run uses it too and looks insane, but the Battlefield 3 has more to see visually and makes more out of the engine. Rage was also a contender thanks to the new id Tech 5 engine, but Bethesda seemed to deliberately hold Rage back a bit in terms of exposure. Both engines are amazing, but Battlefield 3 looks stunning. The uncanny valley continues to shrink.

Runner Up: Modern Warfare 3, Need for Speed: The Run, Rage

Best Hardware

Winner: PlayStation Vita

The Wii U was the most interesting new hardware of E3 without question, but there are still so, so many questions that Nintendo isn’t prepared to answer. On the other hand, the PlayStation Vita is nearly ready to go and we can say without question that it is an amazing piece of hardware. It is basically a mini-PS3 with a OLED screen. And for just $249-$299, wow. Just…wow.

Runners Up: PlayStation TV, Wii U

Best Multiplayer

Winner: Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City

If you are wondering why online giants like Modern Warfare 3, Battlefield 3, and even Uncharted 3 didn’t make the list, there are two very good reasons: First, all three games showed off only a glimpse of their online games. Secondly, until we see more of the online side, we have to assume that they will be more of the same. That isn’t a bad thing at all, but it doesn’t really impress us either. On the other hand, Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City did.

Runners Up: Gears of War 3, Ghost Recon Future Soldier, Driver: San Francisco, Star Wars: The Old Republic

Best Position for 2012

Winner: Wii U

Several of the exhibits at this year’s E3 were for games and hardware that won’t be out until late next year, so we will be seeing them at E3 2012 as well. But of all the titles that we can expect for next year—and there are plenty—none come close to matching the Wii U’s momentum going into next year. The Nintendo’s newconsole has been announced, but we’ll have to wait for next year for it to truly arrive.

Runners Up: Halo 4, Metro Last Light, Hitman Absolution, Tomb Raider

Best RPG

Winner: Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Skyrim was not just the best RPG at E3, it was within a hair’s breathe of being the best game at E3 overall.

Runners Up: Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Final Fantasy XIII-2, Mass Effect 3, Star Wars: The Old Republic

Best Sleeper of E3

Winner: Metro Last Light

The sequel to Metro 2033–a game that many people never bothered to play due partly to the dark and bleak look of it and partly because it was never a widely hyped game to begin with–Metro Last Light went from virtual obscurity to several “most anticipated of 2012” lists. You’ll be hearing a lot more about this game over the next year.

Runners Up: Prey 2, Warhammer: Space Marines

Best Sports Game

Winner: SSX

The long dormant snowboarding series returns using NASA satellite photos to create courses on some of the most intense mountains on Earth. That’s just plain cool.

Runners Up: NBA2K12, NHL 12.

Best Trailer

Winner: Assassin’s Creed Revelations

Oddly, of all the categories for our best of awards, this was among the most debated. Video game trailers have taken a page from Hollywood, and may in some ways have even passed Hollywood when it comes to the medium. And of all the trailers released for E3, none stuck with us more than the ACR video. By the way, the song is Iron by Woodkid. You’ll thank us for that after it has been stuck in your head for a day or two.

Runners Up: Hitman Absolution, Metro Last Light, Prey 2, Star Wars: The Old Republic

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