Roleplaying Game of the Year
Fallout: New Vegas
Fallout: New Vegas shows us how great things can be accomplished by standing on the shoulders of giants. It demonstrates that the defining characteristic of a great roleplaying game isn't flashy, state-of-the-art graphics; success as an immersive adventure depends much more on creating an irresistible, fantastical world, filling it with interesting characters— and then letting us mess with it.
Obsidian's writing sparkles with fascinating characters and quests that pay loving homage to the franchise's PC roots at every opportunity. Its main quest begins as a small-scale tale of personal revenge in the Mojave, but blossoms into an opportunity to decide the outcome of a wide-open conflict that will upset the balance of power of an entire region. Nothing empowers us as players more than seeing the effects of our choices play out, and Fallout: New Vegas' conflict can be resolved in so many ways that it gives us a feeling of freedom and control virtually unprecedented among modern games. Roleplaying games don't get a whole lot better than this.
And while it's a cross-platform game, Fallout: New Vegas reminds us why the PC is more often than not the best place to experience an openworld RPG like this one. It looks far better on the PC than any other platform, and mods step in afterward to unlock its full potential. Fallout: New Vegas is truly our adventure.
Sports Game of the Year
Sports games saw a resurgence on the PC this year, defying the perception that great sports games show up only on consoles. Leading the pack is NBA 2K11, a brilliant homage to basketball's greatest hero, Michael Jordan. Its sharp AI and crisp visuals are good enough to fool you—just for a moment—into thinking you're watching and somehow controlling a live game between the very best players in basketball history. NBA 2K11 proves the PC's strength as the most versatile of all gaming platforms—the perfect place to play any kind of game.
Adventure Game of the Year
Monkey Island 2 Special Edition: LeChuck's Revenge
A great joke never dies. LucasArts proved that again by bringing Guybrush's sophomore mix-up with LeChuck into the modern era gracefully with Monkey Island 2 Special Edition: LeChuck's Revenge. The artwork has been reinvigorated, new voiceovers give each character even more style, and the new interface is expertly tuned for adventuring. The most interesting new feature is the commentary by the original creators (Ron Gilbert, Tim Schafer and Dave Grossman) who chat casually with each other as you play. It's the sort of fun behind-the-scenes look usually reserved for film, and it injects an already great game with plenty of fresh hilarity and insight.