1. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
I am hovering around the 100 hour mark in this game and I still have no desire whatsoever to put it down. Not only that, but I still have like 3 or 4 secondary quest lines to complete (Mages Guild, Companions Guild, choosing sides in the war, etc), and about a billion tertiary tasks. If that isn't value for your money, I don't know what is.
From fighting dragons to stealing from shopkeepers and selling them back their own merchandise to discovering caves that accidentally end up side tracking you for a half hour while you're on your way to doing your actual quest, to turning into a damned werewolf, to smithing and leather making and cooking and crafting and potion making, this was EASILY my favourite game of this year.
2. Deus Ex: Human Revolution
...So I confess that I totally fell into all the anti-hype that this game had going for it going into its release. I loved the original Deus Ex, and believed that this game was not shaping up to be a sequel worthy to the name. I was really surprised and happy to hear that all the trepidation surrounding this game pre-launch was unfounded though, and bought it right away.
Boss fights aside, this game really blew me away, and made me feel all warm and fuzzy and nostalgic for all the great things this game did that... well... games just kinda don't do any more. From the multi-path level design to the 1-9 slots being for weapons and items, to the genuinely great story, I loved the holy hell out of Deus Ex: Human Revolution.
Side note: I can't wait for the future. I want biotic EVERYTHING.
3. Portal 2
Amazing puzzles, sharp, witty dialogue, great characters, and a whole slew of new mechanics that felt significant without feeling overwhelming. I didn't get to play co-op when it first came out and just started recently, and am having a total blast with it. Great, great game.
I really enjoyed Giant Bomb's "Building the Bastion" series, and really was hoping this game would be great.
Bastion isn't great.
Bastion is amazing.
That the game has all the production value and polish of a big name studio release, but was made by a handful of people at what I assume is a very modest budget is really amazing to me. Often times indie games come with a caveat of "it's a pretty good game... it has some issues, but you know, it's an indie game so what can you really expect?". Well friends, Bastion doesn't have any such shortcomings. It is polished to a mirror sheen.
The dynamic dialogue, the RPG elements, the combat, everything about this game is fine-tuned to perfection. The game is also rife with awesome little touches here and there, which really show how much love was put into this game.
If you don't already have this game, you really should get it. Like, for serious.
5. Saints Row: The Third
Dude speaks in auto-tune. The end.
6. Dead Space 2
Though nowhere near as scary as the original Dead Space (which... I mean that wasn't really that scary to begin with), Dead Space 2 was an amazing ride. I remember being in awe of how amazing everything looked. The 3D artist in me was beside myself at the transformation in real time of the crew member at the start of the game into a necromorph. That must have been a real technical NIGHTMARE for some poor dev at Visceral, but hot damn was it impressive.
The gunplay was really REALLY good, the atmosphere was amazing, the deliberate mocking of Scientology was appreciated, and the sound design was impeccable.
Also, you return to the Ishimura. That was a really great section
Also, stick a needle in your eye
7. Batman: Arkham City
I loved Arkmam Asylum.
I love Arkham City. Though I did have a few small issues with it:
I wish they didn't just LITTER the goddamned city with Riddler trophies and I didn't like that they all but got rid of the actual riddles.
The open world, in a way, felt kinda unnecessary to me. It really didn't add much to the gameplay, besides gliding around for an extra 5 minutes to get to the next building where the actual game took place, and it necessitated the really bizzare contrivance that was the crux of the entire story (the people of Gotham aren't safe while criminals are locked away at Arkham Island; lets get them all OFF that island, onto the mainland, like 5 minutes from where we live, and lets also forfeit a third of our city to accommodate all this.
I did, however, love getting to play more Batmans. I loved the brawler mechanics, the feeling of being a total badass, even though a few bullets are all it takes to take you down, and I loved how unafraid they were to go ALL THE WAY SIDEWAYS AT THE END OF THE GAME HOLY HELL.
I mean... JESUS.
8. Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception
Did you like Uncharted 2? Yes? Ok then, check it out:
You'll like Uncharted 3.
Kinda more of the same. Ya the aiming was... a bit weird to me (I didn't learn of the issues with it until after I finished the game, haven't gone back yet since they patched it), and ya it doesn't necessarily blow you away like Uncharted 2 did, and ya parts of the story kinda didn't make any sense (what was the deal with the wedding ring? They make it sound like Drake and Elena were married but no one sees fit to actually mention it in any way. Also, tacked on pirate level, which, while awesome at the end, added nothing to the plot at all)
Anyway, It's still an Uncharted game. Plot is sufficiently pulpy, character interactions are great, gameplay (weapons aside) is still great. Still a great game overall.
9. L.A. Noire
L.A. Noire was awesome. I loved that it was a Rockstar game with an open world and driving and shooting and all the trappings of... well, the kinds of games Rockstar makes, but it was totally not one of those games at all. I was blown away by the facial tech that was used, I think the setting and tone were great, and Captain Donnelly was awesome.
That said: gg Brendan Mcnamara on treating your employees like total garbage and pretty much destroying Australia's game development scene. You are a real scumbag.
10. You Don't Know Jack
When I was younger, me and my best friend used to play You Don't Know Jack: the Ride like, everyday. Because of that, I was really excited to play the newest incarnation, and I was very happy that I wasn't let down. The writing is still as sharp as ever, the questions are written really well and are genuinely funny, there is a question type called "Cookie's Fortune Cookie with Cookie "Fortune Cookie" Masterson". Ya, so much to love here. If you're a fan of trivia, you should really pick this up.