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Top 10 PC Games for 2011

Our list for last year could easily be summarized as: "real-time strategy games and massively multiplayer online games." While those still exist it's nice to see a bit more genre diversity in the PC this year. If anything, the PC for 2011 is more about the core experience: it will likely be the best way to play certain multiplatform games like Crysis 2 and Rage, it will boast both the best action-RPG (Diablo 3) and the best European-made RPG (The Witcher 2). Plus, even with the absence of a World of Warcraft expansion, the PC will host the (likely) next ultra-juggernaut MMO: Star Wars: The Old Republic.

Crysis 2
Players tend to remember Crysis' system-crippling visuals, but forget about how most of the game was a sandbox shooter with the player controlling a supersoldier. So the idea of taking that same visual fidelity -- combined with ability to punch/run/throw/sneak/shoot past pretty much any skirmish as a nanotechnology-enhanced badass -- and apply that to New York City, sounds pretty damn nice. On top of that, the multiplayer comes from the same fellows behind the eminently playable TimeSplitters 2. Let's hope that the game stays focused on the sandbox combat and has less linear corridor runs like the tail end of the previous game.

Deus Ex: Human Evolution
It's odd to think that a team composed mostly of members of the Rainbow Six Vegas development team will be making the next Deus Ex installment, but from what we've seen so far, they actually have a damn good handle on it. Wise decisions such as, "be inspired by the first game while largely ignoring the disappointing second game," and, "maintain the multiple play-style design approach," help a lot in that regard. Plus, it just plain looks great, and seeing every mission so far finished in a variety of ways gives us confidence. This is easily an action-RPG that we can't wait to sneak/shoot/talk through.

Diablo 3
While Blizzard didn't technically invent the genre (that goes to classics like Rogue and Nethack), the Diablo series simply perfected the loot-heavy action-RPG genre. It's hard to find a similar title that surpasses the ten-year-old Diablo 2 -- until Diablo 3 (which we're guessing is next year based on development time and how, hey, they got StarCraft 2 out last year). The revised visual palette, the new classes, and even the crafting system (where you still focus on being a badass hero, while other fools do the actual smithing and crafting of items for you) all contribute to us getting ready to click-click-click all over again next year.

Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
It's hard to get excited about a game when all we really have to go on is a title and a brief trailer that shows cavern wall. But when the game has Elder Scrolls in its title, goose bumps start to form. While it's not clear if Skyrim will be powered by a new graphics engine or not, this is still one of the best fantasy franchises of all time -- every entry has been remarkable dating all the way back to Arena. With so many lessons learned from Fallout 3, Bethesda has a lot to live up to and we expect Skyrim to be one of our game-of-the-year contenders this time next year.

Guild Wars 2
The Old Republic isn't the only MMO to look forward to next year. NCsoft's Guild Wars gained some attention when it was first released back in 2005, featuring a large fantasy world, solid PvE and PvP action, great support from developer ArenaNet, and most importantly, no monthly fees. Guild Wars 2 may be their biggest push yet to capture a bigger slice of the MMO pie, with updated graphics, a large persistent world, more fast-paced combat, an intriguing take on quest structure (essentially, every quest is treated as a epic public quest event), and, yes, no extra fees.

Mass Effect 3
If you've played Mass Effect 2, then there's probably no need to explain why we think Mass Effect 3 is one of our most sought-after games of 2011. The universe that BioWare has created is just as detailed as any established science fiction property, and it's amazing they've been able to craft a story as compelling as it already is. We're looking forward to more hybrid shooter/RPG action (hopefully, with a bit more RPG added back in now that the shooting is damn good), and more importantly, another jaunt through the galaxy (and Earth!) with Commander Shepard and crew as they fight to save pretty much everyone from the invading Reapers.

Portal 2
Valve's buddy cop platform puzzler, starring two speechless robo-protagonists, seems as though it could have come from the minds of Pixar -- masters of making lifeless things full of emotion. With Portal 2's new co-op dynamic, the challenging platforming puzzles you loved in the first game will now require two portal guns to solve. And while you may feel the urge to murder your partner from time to time, each level will need both participants to successfully complete. And all this is on top of a longer single-player puzzle campaign featuring more GLaDOS. Finally, of course, one can only imagine what next big Internet meme will explode out of Portal 2.

Think: when was the last time Id Software put out a game that you purchased? No, we're not talking about an iPhone version of an Id classic. And yeah, that game you probably recall was actually made by Raven Software. Well, do you remember? You don't! Want to know why? It's been a damn long time (since Doom 3) since we saw these guys come out with something grand and new -- and this original IP utilizing Id Tech 5 looks pretty damn good. It looks like a mix of the stuff you love from previous Id titles (Quake, Doom, etc), along with some Fallout 3 and Borderlands. Oh, and the fact that every gameplay demonstration looks fantastic, runs at 60 frames-per-second, and features characters with animation superior to just about any other game, helps amp our excitement as well.

Star Wars: The Old Republic
One of the most anticipate titles since it was announced over two years ago, BioWare's Star Wars: The Old Republic is essential Knights of the Old Republic III through VI. Maybe that's why this game is taking so damn long to create. Every couple of months, we get to cover a new feature (personal starships! PvP Warzones! Companion missions!), and become that much more excited each time we get our hands on it. Will it finally arrive in 2011? Our resident Star Wars fans sure hope so.

Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings
The Polish fellows behind The Witcher 2 mince no words when they claim that The Witcher 2 will be the best looking RPG of 2011. Then again, from our quick demos so far (such as a dream sequence where the hero, Geralt, combat a giant demon made up of fallen tower shields), they might be onto something. Featuring an all-new (and snazzy looking) engine, The Witcher 2 also features much more immediate (and less annoying) combat, more instances of dialogue choice leading to distinct story branches and consequences, and something along the lines of 16 different endings. Everyone has heard of Dragon Age 2 and the like, but maybe 2011 is when these sly Polish fellows will get their.


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