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Controller Freak

Chad Sapieha leads you deep into the world of games, covering gaming trends

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The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, a vast fantasy role-playing game with one of the most immersive virtual worlds ever created. We think it's the best game of 2011 (Bethesda Softworks)
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, a vast fantasy role-playing game with one of the most immersive virtual worlds ever created. We think it's the best game of 2011 (Bethesda Softworks)

The top 25 video games of 2011 Add to ...

This Australian-made game about a cop investigating crimes in 1940s-era Los Angeles features facial animations so realistic that players rely on them to surmise whether suspects are lying during interrogation. This bar-raising performance capture technology combines with fast-paced action to create an interactive detective tale like no other. (Rockstar Games; PS3, X360, PC)

The Binding of Isaac

This indie hit about a boy attempting to escape the murderous hands of his cult-addled mom offers homage to classic Zelda and Robotron games while delivering wry commentary on the evils of religious zealotry. The game is designed to be finished in a single sitting – assuming you don’t die (it’s devilishly hard) – but randomly generated dungeons filled with endless secrets provide good reason to play over and over again. (Edmund McMillen; PC)

Super Mario 3D Land

Hands-down the most enjoyable game yet released for Nintendo 3DS, this excellent platformer combines the best of old-school Super Mario Bros. (intuitive play, short and sweet worlds) with Super Mario Galaxy’s ingenious three-dimensional level design. It’s pretty much a must-buy if you plan on picking up Nintendo’s stereoscopic handheld. (Nintendo; Nintendo 3DS)

Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Many were skeptical when they learned the legendary Warren Spector wouldn’t lead development of this prequel to his beloved sci-fi role-playing game. Those concerns are swept away in Human Revolution’s opening chapters, which clearly embrace the series’ philosophy of open and emergent play. A terrific story that intelligently tackles the thorny subject of transhumanism provides narrative depth to match. (Eidos Montreal; PS3, X360)

The Gunstringer

No one can accuse Twisted Pixel of playing it safe. This inspired bit of Kinect-enabled whimsy sees players using their hands to manipulate a cowboy’s skeleton in a western-themed puppet show that takes place on stage in front of a live-action audience. It’s funny to watch, a blast to play, and acts as elegant proof that motion controlled games can be more than sports compilations and dance simulations. (Twisted Pixel Games; X360)

Infinity Blade II

The original Infinity Blade, a sword-slashing fighter, showed serious gamers that touch-screen devices were capable of hosting serious games. This sequel makes the original seem like little more than a tech demo. It offers more environments to explore, delivers a richer story that provides some much-needed insight into the series’ protagonist, shows off prettier Unreal Engine 3-powered graphics, and deepens the finger swiping combat. From presentation to interface, it exploits Apple’s hardware like no other game. (Epic Games; iOS)

Dragon Age 2

Other RPGs focus on providing immense worlds and incredible action. This one is all about rich dialogue and sophisticated character development. A role-playing game in the truest sense, it provides players a malleable immigrant protagonist who can be molded into an altruistic protector, a conniving egoist, or some complex mixture of the two. Its characters, their plights, and their delights will stay with you long after the credits roll. (BioWare; PS3, X360, PC)

LittleBigPlanet 2

This sequel to Sony’s original game-making game was an outstanding play when it debuted in January, then became even better with the addition of PlayStation Move levels and functionality this fall. Whether you want to learn the rudiments of game design, partake in an enormous community that has created and shared millions of user-generated levels, or just enjoy a charming and witty story, it's an enviable treat for PlayStation 3 loyalists. (MediaMolecule; PS3)

Mario Kart 7

If you want to share a 3DS experience with your kids, this is the game to get. The seventh entry in Nintendo’s popular kart racer retains its all-ages appeal while adding a few new elements, such as propellers for underwater driving and wings to help you get a little more distance off higher jumps. Wonderfully imaginative tracks – we get to drive over musical keyboards and on undulating rainbows – are the sugar on top. (Nintendo; Nintendo 3DS)

Child of Eden

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