- 8. Shift 2 Unleashed
No arcade racer since Codemasters’ GRID has packed so many different racing disciplines into such a polished and well thought-out experience. Unleashed functioned like a tin-top fan’s wet dream, with over 100 different licensed cars and inspired track selections like Brands Hatch, Bathurst and Spa. What really blew us away though was the historic DLC which featured Monza’s 1958 layout, including the legendary banking (although you need to leave the track to find it), and our personal favourite Rouen-les-Essarts circa 1952. Slightly Mad Studio’s passion for historic motorsport, as well as more modern pursuits like drift and drag, shone through in the delightful package and it’s a real shame they won’t be working on the next inevitable sequel in this series. Fantastic work fellas!
- 7. Saints Row: The Third
This was one of the most confident releases of the year, both in terms of gameplay and story. Volition expanded on the craziness of Saints Row 2 from the very first mission, and from there it only got more insane with characters singing entire renditions of Nineties Ska Punk to offering players planes, airstrikes, hover bikes and other over-powered weaponry after only a few hours investment. Really though, what made The Third so enjoyable was the fact that Volition just chucked in everything they could to offer an enjoyable ‘pick up and play’ openworld experience. Less of a sandbox game and more of a gangster-fuelled fever dream of carnage, chaos and giant dildo bats. This is the kind of game that shouldn’t really exist any more but we’re extremely glad it does. Massive kudos to THQ for buying into Volition’s insane vision. The Third is inherently dumb but in a really endearing and fantastic way.
- 6. Total War: Shogun 2
To say this is the best Total War game to date would be enough for this endeavour to easily sail into the best games of 2011 category, but that label doesn’t encapsulate what Creative Assembly achieved with Shogun 2. This historically accurate military RTS not only emulated the politics of 16th century feudal Japan, but it also captured the atmosphere of the time with a mystical campaign map, the return of event cut-scenes and an aesthetic which transported the player to a time when war was much more noble. Old problems associated with AI and unit imbalances were rectified and multiplayer was finally given the attention it deserved with an elaborate league structure and skill-based unlocks to pimp out your general. For a series which has stagnated in recent times, this entry represented a fantastic return to form in 2011.
Tomorrow we get to the nitty gritty as we countdown to the final five entries.
Another month, another round of massive exclusives for our free-to-read magazine. In this issue we look at Landmark, Tropico 5, Carmageddon: Reincarnation, Trials Fusion and more!Download Now!