Global economic strife, natural disasters, media scandals, the end of Harry Potter… in many ways, 2011 has been a bit rubbish.

Thankfully though, videogames have never been better, and this year has thrown up some masterpieces. So let’s put aside our real-world worries and bask in the warming glow of pixelated perfection with the first-ever Power Up! Gaming Awards…

The Michael Bay* Award For Best Action Game (Not Actually Affiliated With Michael Bay)
If you’ve found your local multiplex wanting in the blockbuster stakes this year, put Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception into the nearest available PS3 and prepare to have your mind blown.
Quite simply the greatest action movie never made, Naughty Dog’s excellent threequel finds the roguish Nathan Drake on the trail of a mythical city long thought lost to the desert sands. As with the previous games in the series, Uncharted 3 is resolutely cinematic in terms of scope, imagination and gameplay, with some set pieces better than anything you’ll have seen on the big screen this year. Apparently, a movie version is in the works, if it’s even a shadow of Drake’s Deception it’ll be bloody brilliant.
Check out our full review here

The Award For Best History Lesson Disguised As A Third-Person Action Adventure
The Assassin's Creed series has always been pretty handy at instilling historical nuggets in amongst all that rooftop running and enemy stabbing and AC: Revelations has really upped the learning curve ante this time.
The final adventures of Ezio Auditore da Firenze take place in a beautifully realised Constantinople circa 1511 AD. Painstakingly researched and stunningly realised, it’s impossible to not pick up some hitherto unknown knowledge about the fall of the Byzantine Empire and the rise of the Ottoman. If anyone tries to tell you that games rot your brain, point them towards AC:R.
Check out our full review here

The Blimey! That’s A Bit Much Award
The Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare series has never been known for shying away from a bit of the old ultra-violence – hell, episode 2 saw players attacking a civilian airport – but even by their bloodlusty standards the cut scene in COD: MW3 where a young child and her family are blown up by a dirty bomb is probably a step too far. Watch it below if you dare – seriously, it’s quite nasty so don’t say we didn’t warn you.
Check out our full review here

Best Use Of A Purple Dildo As An Offensive Weapon / Best Cameo By Burt Reynolds
If beating people to death with an oversized sex toy and watching a special appearance from the Bandit himself, Burt Reynolds, is what your gaming dreams are made of, then Saints Row The Third is tailor made for you. Mad, bad and very naughty (take heed kids), the third part of this insane saga makes GTA look like a quiet walk in the park – you have been warned.
Check out our full review here

The Side-Scrolling Platformer Is Dead, Long Live The Side-Scrolling Platformer Award
When even Nintendo makes the move more from 2D platform to 3D, you’ve got to ask if there will ever be a title that will make you want to old-school side-scroll again. Little Big Planet 2 made a good fist of keeping the tradition alive, but it wasn’t until last month’s Rayman Origins that we fell back in love with the format.
Colourful, charming and very funny, this is great as a single-player game but even better as a four-person multiplayer. It’s so full of invention and Gallic wit that you’ll be begging for more if you do eventually traverse the challenging levels.
Check out our full review here

The Movie Tie-In That’s Actually Really Good Award
Yes, we know, movie tie-in games are utter dirge. Actually, as it turns out, not all of them - Cars 2: The Videogame turned out to be a bit of a gem. Wisely nicking elements from Mario Kart and mixing in the anthropomorphic automobiles from the Pixar film, Disney Interactive Studios came up with a fun title that everyone in the family could enjoy.
Check out our full review here

The Sneak/Don’t Sneak Award For Most Freedom Of Choice
No matter how big the sandbox or how open the world, most games have a way of leading you down a pre-determined linear path. Not so Deus Ex: Human Revolution.
This prequel to the Deus Ex series is primarily a first-person shooter but it also comes with some clever RPG elements which give you the freedom to ask (or not ask) questions, establish your own mission parameters and discover the answers to your mysterious past. The result is a compelling game that makes you think about the results of your actions – which makes for a refreshing change from the usual balls-out bombast.
Check out our full review here

The Four-Wheel Good Award For Best Racer
In a genre awash with fair-to-middling efforts, two quite excellent racing titles stand bonnet and bumper above the competition. F1 2011 and Forza Motorsport 4 are exhaustively researched, beautifully presented and brilliantly fun games that show how far next-gen consoles can be pushed in terms of sheer graphical loveliness. As for which one is better, well Forza does have some very cool Kinect capabilities but F1 has a better career mode, so let’s just call this a dead heat and be done with it.
Check out our full review for F1 2011 here and Forza Motorsport 4 here

The Award For Best Online Freebie
Accuse us of self-backslapping if you will but, having trawled the interweb in search of really good online games, we discovered a triumvirate of crackers on our very own virtual doorstep. Flight Lab 2, Red Bull Formula Face and The Art Of FLIGHT are three award-winning games that provide plain-and-simple free-to-play fun. A Flugtag-inspired flight sim, fizzog-controlled racer and downhill trick track respectively, they’re perfect timewasting titles.

The Power Up! Gaming Awards Best Game Award For Best Game Of The Year
A close run thing this accolade - Uncharted 3 came damn close - but when it comes to gameplay, storyline, graphics, value for money and all-round immersive experience, Batman: Arkham City is unsurpassed in 2011.
The best game of the year is also the best superhero game ever, thanks to a host of geek-pleasing features and the very real feeling that this is as close to stepping into Batman’s Kevlar-coated boots as it’s possible to get.
Rocksteady Studios have surpassed themselves with a game that challenges and enthrals right up to the very last Riddler trophy. On the strength of this superlative effort, we can’t wait for the Dark Knight to rise again.
Check out our full review here

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