1. Persona 4 Golden
This year will forever be remembered by me as the year I jumped down the persona rabbit hole. It all started with an innocent viewing of the beginning of the endurance run, but little did I know this would lead me to playing both Persona 3 and Persona 4 within the last half of the year. Likewise these experiences lead to me watching the anime, buying some cool persona merchandise, and picking up Persona 4 Arena. To be 100% honest I've only had a short amount of time within the last week to play the vita version, but since the ps2 version didn't release this year I feel I absolutely need to put Golden at the top of my list. It's the only way I can properly showcase my best gaming experiences of this year, because leaving Persona 4 out would mean ignoring a good 200+ hours of time I put into one game this year.
2. Mass Effect 3
I like the Mass Effect franchise. No less than satisfying ending or odd humanization of Shepard can truly ruin that for me. Mass Effect 3 is a great experience through and through, and the dlc has done a lot of good for it. While this certainly isn't the peak of the trilogy, there are quite a few amazing moments in the game that I'll always remember. It also helps that I found the multiplayer to be surprisingly fun. As a person who generally doesn't like playing any random online multiplayer that doesn't have the title of Starcraft, it is worth noting that I put a lot of time into surviving waves of enemies with whatever random group I happened to be paired with.
3. Sleeping Dogs
I'm not usually a huge fan of these sandbox style games unless there is some kind of odd hook to draw me in. Infamous with its superhero style or Saints Row the Third with its off the wall insanity are a couple good examples of this. While I can't exactly say that Sleeping Dogs has a twist like this, it definitely feels like it just does things very well. A lot of what goes on feels like its taken from other games, but it just feels like it comes together in an amazing way. There are quite a few very interesting characters in here and this is one of the first times I've actually really liked the typical cop main character. Wei is easily one of my favorite new characters this year. Oh and the game is absolutely beautiful to look at on pc.
4. Persona 4 Arena
One of the best experiences I've had with a fighting game in a long time. I'm not exactly the kind of fighting game enthusiast that runs out and gets a fight stick, but I do enjoy being able to duke it out with my friends to pass time. While I had been trying to fill my need for a fighting game with Blazblue, it didn't quite click with me or anyone who I usually played with locally. Luckily Persona 4 Arena was a hit the second the first match took place. The combat is quick and flashy, but also easy to understand and get into. The story mode is surprisingly interesting for a fighting game. I found the character interactions to be well done in that Persona kind of way, and the new addition, Labrys, might just be one of my favorite Persona characters yet. All in all, I think I'll be playing this game with my local fighting game buddies for quite some time.
5. Borderlands 2
I loved the first Borderlands, so it's hard to complain about a game that takes Borderlands and makes it even better. My only complaint is a lack of a playable Mordecai, but the gunzerker gets me by just fine for the moment. Okay, I lied, I do have more complaints, but I just want to emphasize how much I miss playing Mordecai. This was definitely the game I laughed the most at in the past few years. If that means I somehow have a lower class sense of humor then all the people who complain about Handsome Jack, Tiny Tina, etc. then I'll accept that happily.
6. Sid Meier's Civilization V: Gods & Kings
I've been playing Civilization games since my brother first introduced my little kid self to the hotseat mode in Civ II many many years ago. Because of this I have a natural bias towards Civ games, so naturally this game must be on my list somewhere. I really like what they added with Gods & Kings. Despite the still existent AI oddities, the new religion and espionage systems feel like they help to fill a hole in the vanilla release. The new leaders and balance changes are likewise a nice addition in helping the game feel fresh. Even for those of us who have put a couple hundred hours into the vanilla release.
7. Diablo III
I never really experienced the Diablo 1 and 2 that people played years ago. I have a good friend who grew up playing them, and I joined him in playing the second game last year, but I'd hardly say that kind of experience is comparable to the years people dedicated to those earlier releases. However, I did find Diablo 3 to be a really fun game. For the first month and a half after release almost every other night I found myself sitting in the same room with 3 other friends and their computers. To say we lost days to the sound of rapid mouse clicking would be an understatement. As bright as Diablo 3 burned, it unfortunately burned out faster than expected. Diablo 3 would be higher on my list if I still had any interest in playing it regularly, but unfortunately it feels like more of a been there done that game.
8. XCOM: Enemy Unknown
Being a fan of strategy and difficult games, I thought XCOM might be something that I could have a good amount of fun with. I can't exactly say that its going to be my go-to turn based strategy game, but it is a very fun and punishing game to play. The amount of gut wrenching moments when I knew my squad was going to bite it was almost unbearable, but in a good way. With a bit of polish to smooth out some of its rough edges, I can see XCOM becoming a game that I'll be playing off and on for awhile.
9. Mark of the Ninja
I like stealth and stabbing dudes. I also like really cool visual styles. Mark of the Ninja does a lot with both, and it presents it all in a very clean manner that just feels right. Even though I found myself getting somewhat bored of playing, I eventually came back and went right back to my ninja antics.
10. The Walking Dead
I'm probably going to be in the minority when I say that I like the first two episodes the most, but then kind of fell off with the last three. The third episode in particular was where I had my turning point. I can't really go into detail explaining why because of fear of spoiling the fun. I'll just say that the third episode is where I lost the ability to get engrossed in the world and forget it was a video game, and that's what really drew me into the first two episodes. After that I found myself getting bored and annoyed with the gameplay because I just wanted to see where everything was going story wise. I got tired of slowly walking Lee around looking for the right thing to click on in the right order. Even though I wanted to see it through, the story never really hit a point where it drew me back in sadly. Despite these negative thoughts that I have for the game, I simply can't discredit the fun I had with the first two episodes, and that is mainly why this game still rests on my list in the bottom position. It is my way of saying, I thought we had a good thing going Walking Dead, but at some point we just didn't click anymore.