Nerd Reactor’s Best of 2011 Video Game Awards

2012 is almost here, and it’s time to announce the winners of our first annual Nerd Reactor’s Best of 2011 Video Game Awards. Categories include “Game of the Year”, “Best Trailer”, “Best Single Player Campaign”, “Best Fighting Game”, and more. To decide on which game gets the best of, we put our writers into a dark room and had them compete in a fistfight for their favorite games. Okay, so it’s not entirely like that, but the room is dark though. Some games we wished we could include were left out in the cold, while other games came in the spotlight.

You can scroll down to see the full list or click on the categories to jump.


Best Puzzle Game – Portal 2

“While many games have interesting puzzles or different challenges that don’t involve pressing X repeatedly, few have the complexity or depth that this sequel from the cult classic game, Portal, has. Portal 2 wins in this category not only for some serious nostalgia, but for many of its new features as well. Co-op is what really sealed the deal for us on this choice. Although many other puzzle games exist, few make players have to work so closely together, where the smallest mistake can lead to disaster…and many keyboard related injuries.” – Adam Kharakov


Best New IP – Catherine

“At first glance, Catherine comes off as a sleazy, sex-riddled game. However, a closer look reveals one of the most creative concepts to have come out this year. The combination of deep puzzle mechanics, dating sim aspects, and a compelling horror story that changes based on your decisions, makes Atlus’ creation a standout hit. Who knew pushing blocks around could be such an engaging endeavor?” – Michael Revis


Best Trailer – Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Honorable Mention – Dead Island

“There were many great trailers for the games of 2011, but Deus Ex: Human Revolution‘s E3 2010 trailer wowed us and swept us away. To create the impressive pre-rendered cinematic trailer, Square Enix used its own CGI developers out in Tokyo, resulting in a gloomy cyberpunk future filled with advanced augmented technology and cinematic action. Michael McCann’s emotional score really adds to the overall epic feel of the trailer” – John “Spartan” Nguyen


Best Platformer – Rayman Origins

“In a time where first-person shooters rule the market, it makes me happy to see that platformers are still around. Rayman Origins is easily one of the best platformers around with its tight controls, lush backgrounds, wonderful 2D animation, silly tunes, and four-player co-op.” – John “Spartan Nguyen


Best Racing Game: Forza Motorsports 4

“Boasting improved visuals and the new AutoVista feature, Forza 4 adds even more cars, old and new to the garage. The revamped career now known as World Tour is a timesink that I wasn’t able to pull from for almost a month. If this were an RPG, Forza 4 would have me grinding all day. The updated Livery mode has produced some of the sickest paint jobs I’ve seen around the internet as well. Staring at car porn has never been better.” – Hokan Lo


Best Sports Game – NBA 2K12

“Last year, NBA 2K11 was the top sports game, so it was a no-brainer that they were able to take the top spot yet again. A huge part of what makes this game great is the presentation. The menu system is very easy to navigate and everything has an “ease of access” feel to it. Visually, the graphics are some of the best seen in a sports game. While in game, it feels as if you were watching it on TV as opposed to controlling the players yourself. The shooting mechanism using the thumbstick is great, and even NBA Elite (formerly NBA Live) has adopted that method. Last year, players had the option of playing through “Jordan Moments,” which allows you to relive some of the best moments from Jordan’s career. This year, they’ve upped the ante by introducing “NBA’s Greatest Moments,” which puts you in the shoes of some of the most prolific players to ever play the game. I’m talking Magic, Birdman, Mailman, etc. all available. In my opinion, it’s the best sports game released to date.” – Narvin Seegoolam


Best 3DS Game – Super Mario 3D Land

Honorable Mention: Mario Kart 7

“The Super Mario series has never failed to entertain, and this one is no different. It might be best described as a mash-up of Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Bros. 3. The first time you see a goomba swing its raccoon tail at you, you’ll be so shocked that you’ll feel like you just found out that the matrix is real. This being a 3DS release, it would be a shame for it to not take advantage of the new 3-D screen, but rest assured, there are plenty of levels in this release that wouldn’t be possible on a normal 2-D screen. Super Mario 3D Land is a game that focuses solely on the platforming aspect, and that’s what makes it such a joy to play.” – Ryan Southard


Best Action/Adventure – Batman: Arkham City

“2011 had plenty of great action/adventure games that included a detective investigating crime scenes in Old Hollywood, an augmented security guard in search of conspiracies, a quick-witted explorer who always gets into trouble, and a street gang trying to be ‘gangsta’ again. In the end, it was the dark knight that pounced on top. Batman: Arkham City gave me the complete package of being Batman with his cool gadgets, city exploration via gliding, stalking/predator abilities and taking down multiple enemies like a boss with the intuitive and tight controls.” – John “Spartan” Nguyen


Best RPG – Dark Souls

Honorable Mention: Skyrim

“Once you get past the fact that you’re going to die many times, and replay anywhere from 5-10 minutes of gameplay each time, Dark Souls could turn out to be one of your favorite games of all time. This game has an unparalleled sense of discovery. While you start off in a castle, you’ll end up in a crystal cavern, a horrifyingly pitch dark tomb, and so many other interesting areas that you’ll always remain curious as to what will be next. With a complex battle system that changes depending on which weapon is being used, and whether it’s with one hand or two, Dark Souls is a difficult but satisfying game about discovering the unknown and surviving in the face of a horde of odd creatures. It’s also my personal favorite game of the year.” – Ryan Southard


Best Story – Deus Ex: Human Revolution

“Nothing gets people more riled up than politics and religion, and Deus Ex: Human Revolution brings it with its Transhumanism storyline. The game takes you into many twists and turns as it makes you question whether technological advancements are a good thing. As you uncover the conspiracies, you’ll eventually have to choose where you stand on the subject matter.” – John “Spartan” Nguyen


Best Third-Person Shooter – Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception

Honorable Mention: Dead Space 2

“One can’t help but give Naughty Dog handfuls of awards for their work. The Uncharted series seems to have it all these days: great co-op, single-player, competitive online play, graphics, controls, and even some interesting characters and a story to keep you interested until the end. Going beyond just shooting, it is an absolute thrill to be able to drop down a ledge in order to throw someone above you to the depths below. There are also some great mechanics at work. You can jump over an object if you’re really close to it, or stare in amazement as your character jumps from the ground, lands one foot on a thin railing, and leaps off. The cover mechanics, though they have existed before, were probably taken from the Gears of War series, but they feel a lot more fluid in Uncharted 3. For all of these reasons and more, we chose Uncharted 3: Drakes Deception as our favorite Third-Person Shooter of the year.” – Ryan Southard


Best First-Person Shooter – Battlefield 3

“There was a lot of hype built up this year regarding which shooter would be better: the juggernaut that is Modern Warfare 3 or the underdog Battlefield 3. Needless to say, BF3 pulled the upset victory. Even though the beta was buggy, EA and DICE was still able to deliver a great product. In terms of story, it may not be as riveting and Michael Bay-esque as MW3, but it’s enough to keep you entertained til the end. Also, it was nice having a longer campaign (around 7hrs) as opposed to MW3’s 4-hour stint. Graphically, DICE’s new Frostbite 2 engine is gorgeous with its real-time shadowing and crisp detail. Multiplayer is unprecedented, as you have many options besides being a foot soldier. I’m talking tanks, jets, helicopters, boats and humvees, all driveable. Vehicles add an entire new aspect to the already crazy mix.” – Narvin Seegoolam


Best Fighting Game – King of Fighters XIII

Honorable Mention: Mortal Kombat (9)

“2011 was definitely a comeback for fighting games. This year alone we’ve had updates to old favorites (Mortal Kombat 9, Marvel Vs. Capcom 3) and then the EVO Championship Series listed its highest numbers for spectators ever. But the one game that has surprised me the most this year is SNK/ATLUS’ King of Fighters XIII. Even after being delayed, only to be released right after the massive ultimate update for Marvel vs. Capcom 3, King of FIghters XIII proved it can still stand with the top dogs at Capcom. After the disappointment that was XII, SNK has learned its lesson with XIII, bringing back fan favorites like Mai Shuranui & K’. Borrowing some features such as EX Moves, but also giving it its own flavor (via the Hyper Drive gauge), KoFXII is an extremely satisfying game to perform intricate combos. With its beautifully animated sprites and 3-on-3 action, King of Fighters XIII has the right amount of flash that’s combined with the fundamentals of a classic fighter.” – Hokan Lo


Best Graphics – Uncharted 3: Drakes Deception

Honorable Mention: Skyrim

“With all of the detail in any given scene in Uncharted 3, it was practically a shoe-in. In a decrepit mansion that falls apart as it’s explored, there is furniture, foliage that has grown inside and along the walls, and breaks in the ceiling from which pour streams of bright sunlight. It’s not just what is there either. It’s that everything is modeled and textured so well that nothing else compares these days. The mansion is set on fire, and once you see the fire go from creeping along walls and ceilings to roaring all around you, the mansion slowly falling to pieces, I think you’ll agree that Naughty Dog has some of the best level designers and artists in the industry.” – Ryan Southard


Best Multiplayer Game – Battlefield 3

“When it came to online multiplayer, there were definitely some good candidates: Uncharted 3, Modern Warfare 3, Gears of War 3 and Battlefield 3 just to name a few. What made BF3 stand out compared to the rest was multitude it’s multitude of options. Like we stated prior regarding its Best FPS category win, vehicles were a huge plus, but that wasn’t just it. The class load outs were simple and the leveling system was paced well. Let’s not forget the destructible environments. Sniper camping in a building? Take out the building. Then there’s the “WTF” factor. It’s pretty much a moment that things are so insane, WTF is the only thing that comes to mind and BF3 has plenty of those. Imagine being in a building, shooting through the window outside. An enemy sneaks up on you and while in the process of them knifing you, a teammate’s rocket comes flying through the window past your head and takes out your assailant, thus saving your life. Nuff said.” – Narvin Seegoolam


Best Original Score – Deus Ex: Human Revolution

“Ever since I heard composer Michael McCann’s ‘Icarus’ track from the Deus Ex: Human Revolution E3 2010 trailer, I knew the soundtrack was going to be an aural feast. What we have is a glimpse of the haunting future. With faint singing voices and a mixture of acoustic and electronic sounds, the cyberpunk dystopia of Deus Ex: Human Revolution is brought to life.” – John “Spartan” Nguyen


Best Single-Player Campaign – Batman: Arkham City

Batman: Arkham City is at it again with another award. Like I said before, the game is solid and makes you believe you ARE the dark knight, and what better way to feel like him than in a detailed world filled with crime, murder, and mystery.” – John “Spartan” Nguyen


Best Platform Exclusive – The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

“With a fresh new Story, Nintendo took Link in a brand new direction by taking the series to the skies. Skyward Sword is one of the best Zelda games to date. With a nice mix of motion controls and incredible graphics pushing the Wii to its limits, Skyward Sword takes the series to new heights. Whether you have played previous Zelda titles or this is your first time, this game is worth your time.” – Chris del Castillo


Best PC Game – The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

“We nominated Skyrim for a few different awards but feel that this is really where it stands out the most as the dominant winner. With honorable mentions for Best RPG, Best Single-Player Campaign, and Best Graphics, Skyrim has enthralled us both visually and will stay in our hearts for years to come. With an amazing modding engine and some intense max settings that will make even some of the most top notch computers sweat, this masterpiece is the standard for open-world RPGs. And while many other RPGs have attempted to compete with Bethesda’s pride and joy, they usually end up taking an arrow to the knee.” – Adam Kharakov


Best Wii Game – The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

“Zelda has a long history of great games behind it, and this one finally fulfills the potential of the Wii system that we had wanted all along. Skyward Sword takes all of Nintendo’s experience from Wii Sports Resort and throws it into an epic 40-hour adventure. While many games solely focus on when one should attack, in this one, you better have the right sword strike ready too. The Wii remote, with its helpful motion plus adapter, allows you to strike in eight different directions and thrust as well. Skyward Sword’s motion controls are the bar, and prove that these kinds of controls can work for something else other than party games. With fantastically interesting gameplay in the bosses, dungeons, and enemy encounters, Skyward Sword is the perfect way for Nintendo to say goodbye to the Wii.” – Ryan Southard


Best PlayStation 3 Game – Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception

“There are a handful of other PlayStation 3 exclusives that we considered, such as Little Big Planet 2, Killzone 3, Infamous 2, Resistance 3, and Socom 4, but none of them are nearly as polished as Uncharted 3. When you buy Uncharted 3, not only are you buying one of the most polished games of the decade, but you’re buying one that has so much variety it’s like you’re ripping the developers off. There are a ton of modes for co-operative and competitive play. If you’re into shooters even a little bit, you owe it to yourself to give this one a try.” – Ryan Southard


Best Xbox 360 Game – Gears of War 3

“There has been a lot of great Xbox 360 exclusive games to come out this year, but Gears of War 3 takes the cake. Cliffy B and Epic were able to craft an amazing conclusion to an already great franchise. Non-stop action paces most of the game and the story itself runs deep. There’s even a part of the story that might choke you up (anyone who’s beaten the campaign will understand that part). The adrenaline infused game doesn’t stop there, as they’ve pulled out all the stops. Instead of the traditional 2 player co-op, they have included a 4 player co-op similar to how Halo 3 and Halo: Reach had. A robust multiplayer that includes a revised Horde mode and the new Beast mode, Gears of War 3 was the obvious choice.” – Narvin Seegoolam


Game of the Year – Batman: Arkham City

Honorable Mentions – The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

“It was a tough battle, but Batman: Arkham City won our Game of the Year award. The game has got it all; the most intuitive and fun combat system that truly makes you feel like the dark knight, cool gadgets that allow you to take down many foes, an open city to truly explore and survey, beautiful graphics, and voice acting by the best Batman and Joker voice actors ever, Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill respectively. Not only is it the best comic book game out there, it’s also one of the best video games period.” – John “Spartan” Nguyen

And there you have it, our winners for Nerd Reactor’s Best of 2011 Video Game Awards. Agree or disagree? Comment below!

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