It's not until you throw them all together in one list that you realise what a stonking year 2011 is looking for games. We originally intended on this being a list of twenty, but couldn't bring ourselves to publish it with so many notable omissions. Even with thirty we're still guilty about a few absentees, but it's still a very good looking list indeed. Join us then, as we take a look at the games that will define 2011. Here's 10 through to 1.
10. Zelda: Skyward Sword - Nintendo Wii
It's a new Zelda game, so of course it's going to be one of our most anticipated games of 2011. Skyward Sword is, in fact, a prequel to Ocarina of Time, with Link belonging to the cloud-dwelling civilisation of Skyloft. After stumbling upon the Skyward Sword one day, our emerald-clad hero is thrown into an adventure taking place on the ground - a world ruled by unknown evil forces. Perhaps the biggest addition to the series is one-to-one swordplay courtesy of Wii MotionPlus, which changes combat quite significantly from previous games.
9. Batman: Arkham City - PS3, Xbox 360 and PC
Nobody expected Batman: Arkham Asylum to be quite that good, and subsequently everybody expects Arkham City to be nothing short of amazing. Late 2011 will see Batman return with all his gadgets from the previous game in tow. Two new gizmos have been revealed on top of this: smoke bombs and a broadcast tracer. Combine this with the Dark Knight's impressive range of combat techniques, a new criminal database and the same open world style of play that defined the first game and you've almost certainly got the best superhero game of the year on your hands.
8. LA Noire - PC, PS3 and Xbox 360
If you're not excited about LA Noire yet, watch this. Take a look at those characters - those faces. Technically speaking, the quality of the facial expressions is unparalleled, but it's far more than a graphical nicety. Reading the faces of characters in the game is core to the very experience. As detective Cole Phelps, it's your job to interview and interrogate suspects, analysing their facial expressions to work out if they're telling the truth or not. If Team Bondi can nail each of the other elements that make a good open world game, LA Noire could be very special indeed.
7. Diablo III - PC
Just as it did with Starcraft II last year, Blizzard is bringing back another beloved series after a painfully long wait. Fans of the dungeon crawling classic have been without a sequel for eleven years now, meaning fans have been left anticipating this game for absolutely ages. The third iteration of the series presents four new character classes: the Witch Doctor, the Wizard, the Monk, and the Demon Hunter - as well as the Barbarian returning from Diablo II. With other dungeon crawlers struggling to be known as anything other than a 'Diablo clone', it's exciting to have Blizzard bringing back the real McCoy.
6. Portal 2 - PC, PS3 and Xbox 360
Despite being blown to smithereens at the end of the first game, it seems GlaDOS is indeed still alive. Portal 2 finds Chell in the Aperture Science Enrichment Center, where she's put through further test chambers with her trusty portal gun. While the first Portal was over in four or five hours, the sequel looks likely to be a much more comprehensive experience. The addition of a co-operative campaign, where you play as hapless robots Atlas and P-body, allows a further few hours of co-operative play, and also means you can have up to four portals in any environment at one time. The potential for innovative puzzles is - even more so than its GOTY-nominated predecessor - vast.
5. Gears of War 3 - Xbox 360
While the excitement surrounding the Gears of War series has lessened somewhat in the last year, it'll only take a stunning gameplay video or Cliff Bleszinski writing something on Twitter for the internet to be set ablaze. What we've already seen looks amazing, and hopefully the third game in the series will ship with a fully functioning bug-free multiplayer mode. Unless Microsoft reveals something big for 2011, this will easily serve as the Xbox 360's biggest exclusive of the year.
4. Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - PS3, Xbox 360 and PC
Ok, so we don't know a whole lot about Bethesda's new role playing epic. We do know that it's going to use an all new game engine, rather than the buggy implementation of Gamebryo used for Oblivion, Fallout 3 and New Vegas. We also know the game is set after Oblivion, in a place known as the Old Kingdom or the Fatherland, or more appropriately, the titular Skyrim. We also know it's being released on the 11th November. Put it in your diary.
3. Last Guardian - PS3
Those who have played Ico and Shadow of the Colossus know exactly why this game is so high up the list. There isn't a developer out there who handles atmosphere, immersion and emotional attachment with such finesse as Team Ico. While Enslaved and Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom both did a great job of partnership gaming, Team Ico is the undisputed daddy of the genre. The Last Guardian follows a young boy as he tries to escape the ruins of an ancient castle. He's not on his own, of course, relying on a large feathered griffin (or a creature resembling a griffin) to solve puzzles and advance safely through the decaying environment. One of them will probably die at the end.
2. Uncharted 3 - PS3
Uncharted 2 set a new benchmark for cinematic storytelling in games. Performance capture, great voice acting and some of the best camera work in video games earned the game a spot at the top of many GOTY lists in 2009. The trouble is, after playing Uncharted 2, every other game seems to pale in comparison. That'll all change in November, however, when Nathan Drake makes his third outing on PS3. This time, he's gallivanting about the Rub'al Khali desert in the footsteps of T.E. Lawrence, in search of the legendary lost city, Iram of the Pillars.
1. Mass Effect 3 - Xbox 360, PS3, PC
"Earth is burning. Striking from beyond known space, a race of terrifying machines have begun their destruction of the human race." Indeed, Commander Shepherd is heading to our very own Earth, to save a war-torn London from alien invaders. Presumably this won't happen until the latter stages of the game, with Shepherd first having to assemble a rag tag team of aliens, mercenaries and potential bed partners in order to take on the mission. Not much has been revealed in terms of improvements or new features, but as this is the last game in what will be regarded as one of the most epic video game trilogies of all time, there's little to worry about. Let's just hope the holiday 2011 date sticks.