Let's be clear. we don't necessarily mean dedicated multiplayer games here, but rather the game that offered the best multiplayer experience this year. Unsurprisingly, a good number of nominees came from the FPS side of the room, though it should be noted that Red Dead Redemption and Kane and Lynch 2 came close to making the shortlist. Business as usual for Bungie and Activision, though Ubisoft threw us a curve ball by introducing multiplayer into Assassin's Creed....and making it awesome. Vote for your favourite below...
NB. Hit the thumbnail for price comps and the title for our full reviews where applicable.
I don't think anyone expected brotherhood to be anything more than filler material. But not only did it come with a singleplayer that managed to build upon that of the superlative AC2, but it came sporting a multiplayer mode that was unique, brilliantly inventive, and deliciously macabre. Eschewing boisterous deathmatches for something altogether more sinister, Brotherhood managed what Kane and Lynch 2 had only hoped for - an excellent multiplayer mode where you couldn't trust anything around you.
There's nothing quite like taking cover behind a seemingly sturdy wall only to find it blown to pieces by an enemy tank seconds later for serious pant-ruining action. But more attractive than the Frostbite 2.0 engine was the nature of 2010's Battlefield title - offering a far more team-oriented experience in terms of both gameplay and willing players than one might have found in other quarters. DICE excelled themselves yet again.
There was only one game this year were you could pit JFK and Castro against hordes of zombies, and that was Black Ops. We never really realised that was what we wanted until it was right there in front of us, but want it we did. Add some classic OTT Call of Duty multiplayer action in there as well, more customisation options than you could shake a stick at and the interesting Contracts system and the Call of Duty franchise made a strong claim for retaining (and perhaps even besting) the prize for their brilliant 2009 effort.
Halo: Reach stole a lot of time from several of our staff members this year. From the expanded Firefight modes to the enormous wealth of matchmaking options on offer, Bungie's swansong offered arguably the best Halo multiplayer experience to date. finally catching up with every other FPS and adding in custom loadouts, active camp, holograms and of course jetpacks transformed the battlefield and kept us delighted and giggling at some of the screenshots. Huige team battles? Check. Hardcore SWAT mode? Check. Insane rocket powered Warthog racing? Oh yes. Just a shame there wasn't an airborne dogfighting option really.
Lara returned in a non-canonical capacity this year...and still managed to kick some serious bottom. Built from the ground upwards to favour two people, the singleplayer was impressive, but Guardian of Light excelled when played in tandem with a mate. Inventive, slick and cracking fun it also allowed you to sneakily bump off your co-op buddy in some hilarious Machiavellian ways...which is always a bonus.
MAG: Massive Action Game
Much like Ronseal, MAG did exactly what it said on the tin, offering up a huge slice of multiplayer trigger-happy action that saw battlefields swarming with up to 256 players. The reality was less a bullet-ridden Helm's Deep style free-for-all and more about pockets of violence, teamwork and objective-based awesomeness. Sure there were the odd bugs here and there, but MAG provided something a little different this year for PS3 shooter fans and was all the better for it.
Winner: Call of Duty: Black Ops
Winning it's second award, it was hard to look beyond Black Ops for many. Though Halo put up a little resistance and Lady Croft made a strong showing, Black Ops pretty much swept the board here. If it wasn't a first choice for few, it was at least their second. Treyarch included something for everyone, from hardcore gun nuts to those of us who just wanted to giggle at Nixon taking on the undead. Plus online split-screen came back to the console versions, which was glorious.