Why 14? There were just so many games that I enjoyed in 2011 that the standard 10-item list couldn’t contain them all.
14. Gears of War 3
I like the Gears series in a way that surprises even me sometimes. This installment brings some of the best new elements to Delta Squad’s seemingly never-ending war against the Locust, including refined shooting and cover systems, smarter enemies and a longer, more complex story line. It’s easy to dismiss Gears of War for simply providing more meat for the meatheads (which it definitely does), but I’ve always felt that there’s way more going on here: Gears 3 has a sense of finality and depth that’s hard to find in most games, let alone one about hulking soldiers mowing down hordes of alien foes.
13. L.A. Noire
We certainly did our fair share of complaining about L.A. Noire here at Video Game Hangover but it still stands out as one of my favorite gaming experiences of the year. The investigations and characters at the heart of the game are utterly unique, as is its 1940s Hollywood setting. Try to overlook the frustrating interrogations, strangely empty game world, or oddly-anticlimactic pacing and you’ll find something truly uncommon being attempted here. I can only hope that the inevitable L.A. Noire 2 addresses these foibles and delivers the game that this aspired to be.