While it was ROBBED of Giant Bomb's game of the year, Saints Row The Third knows its place in my heart. I started gaming in 1991 and Saints Row The Third might just be the most enjoyable game I've played in my entire life. The number of times I yelled "Fuck yeah!" or literally laughed out loud while playing through it is astounding. I can't recommend Saints Row The Third enough. You need to play Saints Row.
Skyrim, Skyrim, Skyrim. First off, I feel obliged to state that the PS3 version is totally fucked and Bethesda really needs to fix it. Secondly, I encountered multiple bugs even in my 360 version, which made me stop playing for weeks waiting for a patch, only to realize that there are still multiple bugs in the game. For those curious, those bugs include dragons that won't land, invisible NPCs, enemies that stay in place and quest subtasks that are optional and not critical to completing the quest.
That said, the way Skyrim transports me to another world is rivaled only by Red Dead Redemption. Skyrim encourages exploration like no other game and rewards me with bits and pieces of stories that make up a fiction so expansive, so dense and so interesting that I'll be genuinely surprised if I don't surpass my Oblivion play time of 165 hours. My one piece of advice? Don't fast travel anywhere, just explore.
There's a reason multiplayer is on disc one. Battlefield 3's multiplayer outclasses every other FPS on the console market and even its abysmal singleplayer and co-op can't keep it out of my top 3. I will be playing BF3 well into 2012.
Finally! A Metroid game that didn't Metroid me! Keeping the gadgets that you end Arkham Asylum with and adding more to the mix really added depth to a combat system that felt a bit weak in comparison to Assassin's Creed II. The overwhelming number of villians stuffed into Arkham City, as well as a much more interesting and complete story put me in the minority of enjoying it more than Arkham Asylum.
I played through Portal 2 in one sitting. I'm assuming that had an impact on thinking that the game was too long, but I believe that it's also a result of not enjoying the late-game gels, having already played Tag: The Power of Paint. Still, the quality of the writing, the character arcs of Wheatley, GLaDos and Cave Johnson, as well as an ending for the ages easily secures Portal 2 a spot in my top 5.
Easily the best XBLA game of the year, Bastion has wonderful storytelling, the best music, and it's the only game on this list I played through twice (disregarding MvC3's 12-minute arcade mode, which I played 35 times). I can't help but think I'm going to look back on Bastion and wished I had placed it higher on my list.
Dirt 3 is most fun racing game I've ever played. The sense of speed in cockpit mode is second only to the Wipeout series, and it perfectly balances the feeling of being in and out of control of the car. The variety of track locations, events and online modes is also impressive.
While Mortal Kombat's story and challenge tower really set the bar for what a fighting game can be, I had a blast playing MvC3 with my friends. Really digging into the combo system and figuring out which characters best suited my style of play always kept me coming back for more. Getting involved with the online fighting community also lead me to spend an entire weekend with two friends watching EVO 2011. While I own Ultimate MvC3, I haven't played enough of it to make the swap on this list.
The first six worlds of 3D Land are some of the easiest Mario levels I've ever played. However, the last two worlds and the eight special worlds are really where this games comes into it's own. If not for such a slow start, it may have found a higher spot on my list.
Although it's most likely the best racing game of all time, I had a hard time getting into it and an even harder time going back to it. I really enjoyed the time I spent with it, but after a few dozen hours, I couldn't help but feel that the whole sim-racing genre is getting old fast.
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