Facebook gaming fever mellowed in 2011, and as the dust started to settle, we've found that games on this new platform are both fewer in number and maturing at a rapid rate. Instead of endless click-farming, social games started to feature richer, more engaging experiences, borrowing everything from friend-vs-friend battles to role-playing game-style crafting from more traditional video games. We've also seen popular video games get the Facebook treatment, a risky maneuver which worked well for some (not so much for others). Here are the best of 2011.
11. Zombie Lane
For those of us who were sick to death of growing virtual crops, smashing/shooting/otherwise maiming zombies in this slightly subversive game was a refreshing change of pace.
Play Zombie Lane on Facebook >
Just in case you didn't have enough 'Ville' games in your life, Zynga brings you another one -- this one in the form of CastleVille, where you build your kingdom and take up arms against 'the gloom' and its creatures as you explore uncharted territory. Aside from the general theme, this game expands on the whole simulation genre by tossing in a more mature crafting system and a large area to explore. Think of this as Ville 2.0.
Play CastleVille on Facebook >
9. Empires & Allies
Finally, a Zynga game where you can both help and hurt friends. OK, not really hurt them, but pit your troops against their troops and see who has the bigger guns. This player-vs-player action is one of the more compelling parts of this game, which is, essentially, an homage to the classic game Risk mixed with Zynga's special 'Ville' game formula.
Play Empires & Allies on Facebook >
8. Deep Realms
Deep Realms doesn't have as loyal a following as, say, CityVille -- but it was one of the first games in 2011 to deliver a deeper game experience custom-created for the Facebook audience. So instead of mindlessly clicking to harvest crops in FarmVille, this role-playing adventure includes a well thought-out storyline, enemies, weapons, magic, potions and other things that you'd expect to see, well, pretty much anywhere other than a social game.
Play Deep Realms on Facebook >
7. Fruit Ninja Frenzy
The popular iOS game makes the jump to Facebook, and while it doesn't exactly capture the magic of the original (you use a mouse rather than your finger to chop flying fruit), it's still a great way to kill (slice?) time while appearing to look busy on your work/school/home computer.
Fruit Ninja Frenzy on Facebook >
6. Draw My Thing
Draw My Thing might be an unapologetic Pictionary clone, but it's also one of the more social, social games on Facebook. Just like the classic board game, you're tasked with alternately drawing pictures and guessing what other people's drawings represent, but instead of gathering in someone's living room to play, you're paired with other people (friends or otherwise) in a virtual room. Sure, the resulting scribbles often look like the work of a precocious toddler, but that -- plus the chance to bond with complete strangers -- makes this game that much more likely to draw you in.
Play Draw My Thing on Facebook >
5. MapleStory Adventures
Much like EA did with The Sims, Nexon took its popular PC game, MapleStory, and made a custom version for the Facebook gaming set. The results? A point and click affair that's much more complex than your average social game. This role-playing lite game includes character classes, roll-of-the-dice battles, crafting, weapon enchanting and a cutesy charm with a quirky, lost-in-translation vibe.
Play MapleStory on Facebook >
If Tim Burton made a Facebook game, it'd probably be something like Dreamland, which is equal parts board game, role-playing game and fantastical adventure. This imaginative little gem immerses you (the dreamer) into a dream world and it's your mission to eradicate invading nightmares with the roll of a die.
> Play Dreamland on Facebook
3. Gardens of Time
Hidden object games are the shooters (read: Call of Duty) of the casual gaming world. So it only makes sense to bring this I-Spy style game to the Facebook gaming masses. Gardens of Time wasn't the first game of this type on the social network, but it's certainly the most successful (so far), with a regularly updated roster of puzzles and a customizable garden that keep dedicated HOGers coming back for more.
Play Gardens of Time on Facebook >
2. Tetris Battle
Tetris Online Inc
Think you're a Tetris master? Put your shape stacking to the test in this Facebook rendition of the classic game, which pits you against other players in real-time matches. Each line you delete will be added to your opponent's board, bringing them that much closer to a KO (and you that much closer to victory). Coins -- or Tetris Cash, which costs real $$ -- can be used to buy both cosmetic and game-changing upgrades. Play once, and you'll soon discover you have a new mantra: "Just one more game."
Play Tetris Battle on Facebook >
1. The Sims Social
The hit PC game that's been letting us live virtual fantasy lives since 2000 finally made its way to Facebook this year. It's the perfect blend of The Sims we all know and love -- right down to the regular bladder relief and making WooHoo -- mixed with social game elements, such as gifting, visiting neighbors, and buying in-game items with virtual (and real) dollars. If there was one reason to start playing games on Facebook in 2011 -- this was it.
Play The Sims Social on Facebook >
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