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The Games of 2011

Batman: Arkham City

Publisher: Warner Bros.
Platforms: PC, Xbox 360, PS3
Release Date: Q3 2011

Batman: Arkham Asylum was a surprise hit when it was released back in 2009 because, while it always looked good, the fact that it was a licensed game caused many to approach it with caution. Regardless, it turned out to be one of the best games in an incredibly good year, so Arkham City has a lot to live up to!

Set one year after the close of the first game, Arkham City sees Batman cheated of glory by asylum warden Quincy Sharp, who claims all the credit for stopping the outbreak in the first game. Off the back of this, he is appointed Mayor of Gotham and creates a new inner-city prison in Gotham’s slums. In Arkham City the criminals are given free reign, so long as they don’t attempt to move beyond the walled and well-guarded perimeter.

*The Games of 2011 The Games of 2011
Batman: Arkham City

It shouldn’t be much of a surprise, of course, that things go wrong, especially when you consider that Warden Sharp was actually the mastermind behind the prison break in the first game. As supervillains such as Hugo Strange, the Joker, Two Face and Mr Freeze vie for power, Batman is forced to venture behind enemy lines in order to save his lost love, Catwoman.

The open nature of the prison means that players will have a lot more freedom than in Arkham Asylum, enabling Batman to explore huge areas of the city from the start. Naturally, riots and in-fighting will keep certain areas locked off, though, and Bats will have to rely on his expanded arsenal of gadgets and new combat moves in order to find alternate routes.

Portal 2

Publisher: Valve
Platforms: PC, Xbox 360, PS3
Release Date: April 18, 2011

There’s so much to be excited about when it comes to Portal 2 that, to be honest, it’s hard to know where to start. Not only is Valve’s sequel set to be longer and more complex than the original by far – hence the standalone release – but it will also feature a boatload of new modes.

The biggest and most interesting of these is undoubtedly the new co-operative mode, which allows two players to work through an entirely new set of levels together. Rather than being just a thoughtful extra, the co-op campaign will expand on the story of the singleplayer sequences too, and features two new characters; robotic drones named Atlas and P-body.

*The Games of 2011 The Games of 2011
Portal 2

The singleplayer portion, however, is all about the continuing story of Portal’s enigmatic protagonist, Chell. Somehow preserved or revived for hundreds of years, Chell awakens to find herself in an unfamiliar area of the Aperture Science labs, which is overrun with decay, but still under the control of GlaDOS.

Naturally angered at her near-murder eons ago, GlaDOS promptly starts to repair the facility and resume her ‘testing’ on Chell. It’s only with the aid of the morality cores, which Chell detached from GlaDOS in the original Portal’s final boss fight, that Chell is able to escape.

Of course, the ability to create and control inter-dimensional portals will again be the primary mechanic in Portal 2. However, this time players will have more to contend with than just stationary turrets and holes in the ground; lasers, hard light bridges and physics-altering fluids are just some of the new features built into Portal 2’s puzzles.