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The 10 best games of 2011 so far

The must have titles from the first half of the year...

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When it comes to combat, it's the hardcore audience that's been favoured again, with incredibly deep gameplay begging to be mastered. Casuals have been thrown some simplified options but, really, this is one for the veteran.

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THE WITCHER 2

Upon release, The Witcher 2 quickly started to hoover up a mass of review scores firmly in the top 90 - 100 bracket and with good reason.

CD Projekt's shining sequel soon established itself as one of the best RPG experiences around - for a fairly young franchise without what you could call a household name that's no mean feat.

It had everything the modern RPG community demands a beautiful, detailed expanse of a world, dizzying character customisation, tough decisions that actually have impact and a suitably mature tone.

It might be overshadowed by Skyrim in a few months time, but the fact that we think that's a massive shame speaks volumes.

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SHOGUN 2: TOTAL WAR

Bringing one of hardcore gaming's favourite RTS franchises back to its roots was Creative Assembly's first good idea. Going all out and making a direct sequel to the title that kicked off the series in the first place was probably what sealed the deal for most Total War fans.

16th century Japan has been the time and place Total War players have yearned to return to since the year 2000, with Shogun: Total War holding a special place in the hearts of most mock-military tacticians.

Not only did Shogun 2: Total War manage the not so enviable challenge of matching expectations but it also planted itself firmly as the best Total War in the series so far.

With Shogun 2, Creative Assembly recreated the original Total War formula, pulling off immensely satisfying strategic gameplay and tactical fights with frankly stunning visuals.

A Massive multiplayer suite with incredibly customisable characters and deep clan gameplay simply added to the experience to make this an RTS must have.

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DEAD SPACE 2

Dead Space 2 saw the sales figures that its predecessor deserved but never really achieved. The hugely successful sequel probably owes a lot to word of mouth and the slow burn of Dead Space, which had developed into a fairly sizable flame of anticipation by the time number 2 was set for release.

But we shouldn't discount the quality that Dead Space 2 brought to all by itself. It upped the spectacle, the cinematics and the scares to an awe-inspiring level, with scenes that are sure to go down in The Big Book of Classic Gaming Moments (we're still waiting for a publisher).

Whether scrambling through the subway or boot-blasting your way through space, Dead Space 2 is one of the most epic action games ever. Getting a glimpse at a more human Isaac Clarke doesn't go amiss either.

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ZELDA OCARINA OF TIME 3D

Since Zelda Ocarina of Time is considered one of the best games in history, nevermind the best in one of Nintendo's most treasured franchises, it would have taken something pretty special to mess up a modern day recreation on the 3DS.

Thankfully Ocrania of Time 3D didn't disappoint bringing all the magic of the N64's greatest gift up to date on Nintendo's new handheld with all the mesmerising beauty of crisp 3D graphics.

While Nintendo also took the opportunity to iron out any blemishes on the 12-year-old classic it had the foresight to include nostalgic bugs that would force a smile on the face of any ageing fanboy.

All this made it "the best version of the best Zelda."

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LA NOIRE

Trust a Rockstar branded game to dominate the hearts and minds of gamers yet again. While LA Noire may not have been as big a scorer as Red Dead Redemption or GTA IV but the Team Bondi game certainly dragged millions in and held them there.

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