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New Year Weekender

As the clocks turn our calendars forward a year, we reflect on the best moments from the past twelve months, as well as our personal favourites from the gaming releases in 2011.

Favourite moment in the past twelve months?

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Bengt: From a business perspective it was probably the showdown between Battlefield 3 and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 as arguably the two heaviest hitters on the third party scene went toe-to-toe this fall for the first time. It's easy to forget just how much hype was built into that battle, and ultimately things played out as most predicted, with both titles setting new records and Modern Warfare continuing its reign.

Mike: Gunfight in Zero G - Modern Warfare 3. I'll never forget that moment on the level Turbulence when I got to do some Zero G gunfighting. Whilst fighting without the aid of gravity has been done before, most notably in the superlative Dead Space 2 earlier this year, Modern Warfare's was a beautifully timed and expertly executed set piece. One minute you were in the midst of a epic shootout on an airplane, the next you were floating in midair, trying to work out what was happening at the same time as dispatching the enemies floating in front of you. The fact that it only lasted a moment ensured that this set piece would remain in the mind for much, much longer.

Gillen: Gamescom's getting my vote. Despite over half a decade in the industry its the first time I've had to work one of the big game conventions. Pictures and videos can never capture the true scale and atmosphere of these things - and the latter kept me energised with a low-level buzz through my days haunting the halls for GRTV interviews and show floor video specials.

Personal favourite gaming release in 2011?

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Bengt: I'd hate to repeat myself, but it's Skyrim. That's my game of the year, and that's my best experience. Then again I've written so much about it that I'd like to give a bit of love to my second best experience of the year - Tiny Wings. For a while there early in the year I had a massive addiction to Andreas Illiger's title and any chance I had I would pop up my iPhone to have a go - it's been a while since I last played it (still got one annoying last achievement in order to fully nest up), but it certainly was my game of the first half of 2011. It's a simple game, yet it affords you several tactics and ways in which to master the slopes of those tiny colourful islands. My record stands at 264,231 - respectable, but not truly great (some of you reading this are sure to have a better high score), and it will probably remain there.

Mike: LA Noire. This was a tough one; a shortlist consisting of several names. More of a longlist really. Dead Space 2 scared the crap out of me. MW3 impressed the hell out of me. Skyrim was a late inclusion. It's also worth mentioning games like Deus Ex, Crysis 2, FIFA 12 and Battlefield 3, they all entered into my thoughts. However, my best game of 2011 was definitely L.A. Noire. It might not have been the best overall title of the year, but it fused together so many things that I appreciate that it was, for me, the only choice. The acting and scripting were superb and the gameplay was, on the whole, very well executed. Chuck into the mix an authentic 40's detective noir storyline and some exciting twists and turns along the way and you've got my favourite game of the year.

Gillen: Rage - which surprises me even writing this, given it didn't make the top three for any of our GOTY categories this year. But I distinctly remember going hands-on with it at a preview event earlier in the year, and was instantly swept up by the beautiful rendering of post-apocalyptic landscapes and no-nonsense gunplay with fun alternative ammo types.

Yes, in retrospect the story arc played too heavily to tradition, and for all the wide open wastelands the narrative was too linear. But I had a real fun time clearing out bandit camps, and bricked myself exploring mutant-filled ruins. In an year were games expanded past single genre specification, it was good to play something so straightforward.

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