2011 Game of the Year (Editor’s Choice and People’s Choice): Infinity Blade 2

For the past two years, we’ve split our Game of the Year award into two categories: Editor’s Choice, chosen by the staff at Slide To Play, and People’s Choice, which is chosen by our readers and followers on Twitter and Facebook. This year, everyone’s in agreement: The 2011 iOS Game of the Year is Infinity Blade 2.

Chair Entertainment’s Infinity Blade 2 succeeds by expanding on the world of the first, groundbreaking Infinity Blade game. IB2 offers you more tactics, like the ability to choose between dual-wielding weapons, a sword and shield combination, or a heavy two-handed weapon. The storyline in the sequel is deeper and more satisfying than the original game’s premise, with characters that change in ways beyond leveling up with experience points.

And while graphics aren’t the only thing we look for in a great game, Infinity Blade 2 wins in the visuals department hands-down. If Slide To Play gave Academy Awards-style recognition for visual effects, Chair would have earned one this year. Some of the landscapes in Infinity Blade 2 seem like photographs, and the detailed armor and weapons are so real you can practically feel the cold steel.

Our runner-up for Game of the Year (again, both Editor’s Choice and People’s Choice) is Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto 3. In this open-world crime game, which originally launched on home consoles in 2001, you can go just about anywhere and take any car from the street. You’ll receive criminal tasks from celebrity-voiced mob bosses, and these lead to an incredible amount of gameplay variety.

GTA 3 is a vast game, with tons of hidden objectives and opportunities for mayhem. Like Infinity Blade 2, it requires relatively recent iOS hardware to run at full capacity, and it won’t run at all on some older devices. Another lesson from the iPhone game market in 2011: If you want to run the best games, you’d better get a current device.

Congratulations to Chair and Rockstar for succeeding so admirably in this intensely competitive App Store marketplace. Let’s hope next year there are even more great games to choose from– we welcome the challenge of picking just one Game of the Year out of so many top-quality iOS games.

Read our 2010 Editor’s Choice and People’s Choice for Game of the Year.

Read our 2009 Editor’s Choice and People’s Choice for Game of the Year.