Ballots: Andrew Hayward


1. Child of Eden (15)
2. Super Mario 3D Land (14)
3. LittleBigPlanet 2 (12)
4. Portal 2 (12)
5. Tiny Wings (11)
6. Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception (10)
7. Resistance 3 (8)
8. Bastion (7)
9. The Gunstringer (6)
10. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (5)


Though 2011 seemed dominated by sequels and franchise extensions (much of this list bears that out), my top pick feels remarkably unlike anything else out there – even its spiritual predecessor, Rez. Child of Eden shot an emotional surge through me whether playing with a controller or Kinect, and its wondrous audio/visual concoction wrapped me up in a way nothing else could this year. Super Mario 3D Land came close, though, as its revival of classic series elements and iconography, paired with the 3D technology and playful perspectives it produces, absolutely enraptured me. And both picks put new and widely doubted devices (Kinect and the Nintendo 3DS) to fantastic use, albeit in very different ways.

LittleBigPlanet 2 and Portal 2 were both games that I started earlier in the year and then swooped back in to complete in December. The former charms throughout with a wildly creative campaign that had me tearing up at one point due to how perfectly composed it all seemed; the latter, on the other hand, more often made me feel like an idiot. But I couldn’t help but marvel at the brilliance of the design and absolutely perfect script. And at one point in the year, I thought Tiny Wings might top this list for me, as the quick-hit iPhone original had me diving in at every spare moment. The obsession subsided, but the appreciation lingers.

On the back end, Uncharted 3 delivers a more nuanced and fulfilling adventure than its arguably more-thrilling predecessor, and serves as an incredible demonstration of AAA craft. Resistance 3 also won me over with its tense campaign, which sadly cops out on an emotional payoff, but fills nearly every prior moment with combat bliss. Bastion is a charming little treat, filled with heart and fantastic writing, while The Gunstringer pulled me in with an infectious joyousness that made me want to be a part of Twisted Pixel’s band of merry developers. And though Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 barely deviates from its well-established aesthetic, it’s another remarkable show of skillful big-budget technique, and still a total blast among pals.

Back to High Scores 2011