The manufactured Battlefield 3 vs. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 rivalry may have dominated headlines, but gamers had plenty of opportunities to get behind the ironsights in 2011. From the creative, under-appreciated entries like Bulletstorm and Crysis 2 to the big guns like Gears of War 3, we had no shortage of quality options for shooting virtual enemies in the head. But which games stood out the most? Read on to find out. 

Best Story Campaign: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3

The Call of Duty campaigns typically have incomprehensive, continent jumping plots that prioritize jaw dropping set pieces moments over character development, and Modern Warfare 3 is no different. Though the campaign still leans heavily on the Call of Duty 4 mission template (like nearly every other modern shooter), the Russian plane crash, sandstorm mission, and Juggernaut suit powered finale were each quality water cooler moments that stood above the moment to moment action of typical shooter missions.

Best Cooperative Mode: Horde Mode – Gears of War 3

In Gears of War 3, Epic Games makes its influential Horde mode even better by taking a page out of the tower defense game playbook. With barriers, turrets, sentries, and decoys at their disposal, teams can fortify their position like never before in the quest to survive the increasingly menacing enemy waves. This is cooperative gameplay at its finest.

Best Multiplayer: Battlefield 3

How do you retake the multiplayer crown? By re-introducing 64-player battles on wide-open maps filled with jets, tanks, and squads of teammates coordinating to capture control points. The web-based interface remains a point of contention for many PC players, but you can't beat the thrill of Battlefield 3's large-scale warfare. Console players are stuck with smaller, 24-player versions of these maps, but the drastically improved progression system and team-based gameplay still offer plenty of reasons to re-enlist for one more match.