11 Games to Watch in 2011

Everybody has their favorites. Any good list of upcoming games ought to include triple-A titles like Diablo III or Call of Duty 37 (or whatever CoD is sure to be out by year’s end). But this ain’t that kind of list. These are the top eleven games I can’t wait to see in 2011 — the games that I expect to innovate and enhance the medium. Some are personal favorites; some just look flat-out astounding.

Here we go, in no particular order.

Batman: Arkham City

Batman: Arkham Asylum was not only the first superhero game to actually satisfy superhero fans, it also had the audacity to be one of the most gorgeous games ever made. The sequel already has fans like me salivating for more. With a much larger playing area and new twists like multiplayer added to the mix, Arkham City is a an absolute must-play.

Duke Nukem Forever

What more can be said about the game that almost never was that has suddenly become a reality? Those who’ve gotten their hands on it say that it more than lives up to expectations. Can’t wait to find out for myself.

Mass Effect 3

Just announced a few weeks ago, but not a surprise to anyone, Mass Effect 3 is set to answer the cliffhanger at the end of the last game and bring this epic science fiction series to an Earth-shattering conclusion. Literally. The technology BioWare uses in this franchise has always been impressive, but when it comes to Mass Effect, the play’s the thing, and I’m hoping for a killer crescendo.

LittleBigPlanet 2

Undoubtedly Media Molecule will deliver another unforgettable platforming experience, but the real excitement here comes from seeing what the LBP community will come up with, using LBP2‘s expansive set of creation tools. Especially since beta users have already created everything from Portal to Windows XP. The explosion of creativity that’s about to happen should be simply amazing.

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Deus Ex: Human Revolution

As a major fan of the original Deus Ex, I have high hopes that Eidos Montreal will revive the series with gusto and flair. The studio has strong pedigree but creator Warren Spector’s absence is worrisome. Oh please oh please… give us a great Deus Ex or no Deus Ex at all.

L.A. Noire

The buzz of late has been all about that advanced facial-tracking technology, which is allowing Team Bondi to create CGI characters that emote better than any ever seen in a video game. But the late 40s setting, the stylistic, gritty visuals, and the crime-noir story promise for some truly intriguing gameplay.

Portal 2

Whereas the first game was a cheaply-made mod of Half-Life 2, Valve is going all out for Portal 2, with its own art assets, a longer game, and far more fiendish puzzles. Seriously, how can you not be excited for this?

Child of Eden

Since its unforgettable debut at last year’s E3 (seen in the video above), Tetsuya Mizuguchi’s spiritual sequel to Rez combines touch, visuals, and sound in a breathtaking shooter experience that’s part science and part art. And with a design intentionally constructed with Kinect in mind, Child of Eden might just be the motion sensing device’s long-awaited killer app.

Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception

Naughty Dog carries video gaming boldly forward as a legitimate medium for storytelling with every new entry in the Uncharted series. Nathan Drake’s next big adventure plops him down in the desert, which in anyone else’s hands might be a snoozefest but with Naughty Dog at the helm, I can’t wait to see how they rise to the challenge and make this Drake’s most exciting and dangerous environment yet.

Kid Icarus: Uprising

As Nintendo’s flagship title for the new 3DS, Kid Icarus has a lot riding on his feathery shoulders. The future of the 3DS doesn’t hinge on this title’s success by any means, but it’s definitely going to be the first benchmark for what the platform can do. Is 3D gaming the future? How does it change the dynamic of a third-person game? We’re about to find out.

Assassin’s Creed III

Ubisoft has found its answer to Activision’s annual game franchise (Call of Duty) with a completely different and wildly original formula. All we know about 2011’s entry is that Ubisoft is planning a major AC game for release by Christmas, but I’m betting it’ll be the debut of a third historical hero for Desmond Miles to vicariously live through. Or might Desmond himself be the hero, climbing and assassinating his way through the concrete jungles of the 21st Century?

Homefront

THQ doesn’t have the best track record as an FPS developer (looking at you, Frontlines), but there seems to be a creative renaissance taking place behind THQ’s doors these days. And their “Call of Duty on occupied home soil” shooter Homefront — set in the near future in an America that’s been invaded and overtaken by North Korea — has some major talent onboard: John Milius, the screenwriter behind Apocalypse Now and Red Dawn. Throw in some real-life CIA consultants and you’ve got the promise of both a gripping story and super authenticity. Homefront promises to show us a possible future that’s frighteningly realistic, and I’m certain it’s going to generate some controversial headlines.

What’s on your 2011 must-play list? Dead Space 2, Bulletstorm, Rage, Elder Scrolls V, Gears 3, Twisted Metal, Zelda: Skyward Sword, or countless others? Care to speculate on sequels or games that haven’t yet been announced?

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Robin Parrish
@robinparrish

Unathletic, uncoordinated tall man with endless creativity stampeding through his overactive brain. Comes with beard, wife, and two miniature humans. Novelist. General blogger and main Gaming Geek for ForeverGeek. Lead Blogger, Apple Gazette.

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