You should have acted.  They’re already here.  The gaming world told of their return.  E3 was merely a delay…  ’til the time after PAX opened.  When the scribes of RipTen would spill their own thoughts.  Behold!!

Let’s get the fanboy nonsense out of the way first.
These are the best games of the year, by platform:

The Gears of War series is synonymous with the Xbox 360.  If Master Chief is the faceless hero of the Xbox fanbase, then Marcus Fenix and company are the gritty, brutal, excellently detailed faces of it.  We’ve given each iteration of the Gears series a perfect score because the quality of the games that Epic releases never cease to impress the hardened Xbox fanboys and newcomers alike.  The graphics, gameplay and over the top attitude of Gears of War 3 is what makes it the showpiece for Microsoft’s gaming console, and the best Xbox 360 exclusive.

Nathan Drake is a man on a mission.  A mission to prove that each chapter of the Uncharted series can push the PS3 to its limits and impress even the most jaded of console gamers.  Naughty Dog not only excels at creating the most jaw-dropping visuals for the Playstation platform, but also tells stories that make us fall in love with their characters each and every time.  They’ve once again succeeded at crafting an immersive world filled with action, adventure and intrigue that will keep us coming back to the wild world of Uncharted every single time.

Geralt of Rivia.  A man’s man.  A ladies’ man.  CDProjekt’s adaptation of  Andrzej Sapkowski’s tortured protagonist is something literary fans dream of.  A world torn from the pages of books beyond anything you could ever imagine.  So richly detailed and magnificent to behold in every way that it puts games produced by legendary publishers to shame on a budget infinitely inferior.  A game that improved upon its predecessor in every way.  The deep and branching quest narrative combined with fluid combat and breathtaking visuals not only made The Witcher 2 one of the best RPGs of the year, but its rig-breaking technical requirements rewarded only those most dedicated to PC gaming.  The world needs more developers like CDProjekt, and more games like The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings.

All we ever wanted since Nintendo revealed its motion controlled console was to swing our swords in the land of Hyrule.  Twilight Princess gave us a taste of true motion controlled swordplay, but we wanted something entirely new.  Luckily, the legendary Shigeru Miyamoto did not let us down.  When Skyward Sword finally arrived on the Wii, it came with rich visuals, picture perfect controls and a story that made us fall in love with The Legend of Zelda all over again.  A worthy successor to the Zelda franchise in every way, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword might be the best reason to own a Nintendo Wii yet.

Did somebody say Miyamoto?  You betcha.  We were all sad to learn that Super Mario 3D Land wouldn’t launch alongside the Nintendo 3DS, but when it finally arrived, we let them slide.  A near perfect combination of Super Mario Brothers 3 and Super Mario 64, 3D land had something for everyone.  Not only did it make great use of the 3D visuals and 3DS controls, but it has difficulty levels to challenge hardcore fans and please casual gamers alike.  Is Super Mario 3D Land the best reason to own a Nintendo 3DS?  It’s certainly one of them.

Nobody has pushed the envelope in mobile gaming quite like Chair Entertainment and Epic Games with Infinity Blade.  Unmatched visuals and addictive gameplay provide a true console-quality experience on a mobile platform.  With Infinity Blade II, everything was taken to the next level and we were once again floored by what these developers have made possible on a mobile platform and what the Unreal technology is capable of.

However, some of the best games of 2011 were download-only.
These are the year’s best downloadable games:

They changed the name to Iron Brigade, but that didn’t take away from one of the best downloadable titles of the year.  Trenched was the first game to truly blend elements of Tower Defense and Action successfully. Not only that, it had tons of loot drops to further enhance your mechs and the full game was able to be played cooperatively with up to three other players. Combine those features with Double Fine’s signature comedic writing and you have an XBLA title to remember.

More of the same?  Not exactly.  Q Games not only added plenty of new content to their microbial sized shooter, they also added competitive multiplayer which made the game even that much more addictive and challenging.  Rescuing survivors from puzzling alien innards has never been this much fun, and few PSN exclusives are this addicting.  This is a game every PSN user should own, as well as pretty much everything else Pixel Junk.

The kid probably wouldn’t care if he got this award.  Too busy rebuilding the bastion he’d be.  What makes Bastion the best downloadable game of the year?  Besides the fact that it was great on XBLA, PSN and PC, there was damn near nothing bad anyone could say about it.  A perfect blend of hack n’ slash RPG gameplay topped off with tight controls and a story told by the coolest narrator this side of the calamity, Bastion is game that’s impossible not to like.  Throw in a visually stunning world that comes together piece by piece and plenty of achievements for the hunter in all of us, and you’ve got the clear winner of downloadable game of the year.  The kid should be proud.

We’re just getting started.  Up next?  The best games of the year, by genre: