1. Mass Effect 2
When Bioware released the original Mass Effect back in 2007 I was instantly hooked by the fiction and the world they had created. Sure the gameplay was flawed, looking at you Mako... The combat was fun... at times, the gunplay was servisable but I wasn't drawn to the Mass Effect franchise for combat. I was drawn to it for the presentation, the story, the characters, the vast worlds, etc... I was encapsulated by it Mass Effect, immersed by it.
Come 2010 and Bioware released the long awaited sequeal, Mass Effect 2. A game that started off with a bang and sent players on a suicide mission to save the galaxy from, the mysterious, Collectors. And from the 'get-go' the story hooked you in. As you traveled around the Universe encountering new planets and worlds. Along the way we where introduced to new fleshed out and well developed characters and even encountered some old. The story took a few twists and turns as the ever present threat of the Reapers sits in the back of you mind.
Ultimately Mass Effect 2 did everything a squeal should ane more, it improve on the original without being afraid to change what was broken. The combat was tighter, there no more cluttered inventory screens and more importantly no more Mako. By no means is this game prefect, but it's close-enough to sit happly at the top of my 'Top 10 Games of the Past Generation.'
3. The Walking Dead
4. Fallout 3
5. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
6. Yakuza 4
I have never played a Yakuza game before playing four, I didn't really know what to expect, but what I found was a game with an interesting story, with fun and enjoyable combat mechanics, and an open world that has endless possibilities.
As I said before I have never played a Yakuza game before playing four and I was surprised to find an in-depth 'previously on Yakuza' feature, that was essentially every cut scene from all the other games, that got me up to speed on the story so far. That is not to say that you need to have play the other games, for the most part you switch between three new characters and the main protagonist for the series. All the characters are surprisingly fleshed out by the end of the twenty hour story, and you really start to care about them. While the situation they're in isn't believable it's still an interesting story that kept my on seat from start to finish.
Even the side-missions are worth searching for. Some of the missions open up story arcs that span entire portions of the game, and fill in some of information about the main characters. While the side-missions don't get the polish that the main story did. Side missions missed out on that fully voiced treatment, which is a shame but doesn't detract from the narrative. "Worth searching for", none of the side-missions are marked on any map and it's down you to explore the streets to find them.
Saying that this game gives you a lot to do is an understatement. The game is set in the busy and noisy streets of Kamurocho. In Kamurocho you can go and buy food, visit a host club, play poker, play roulette, play mah-jong, visit Club Sega, play pinball, go fishing, run a Dojo, enter tournaments, Karaoke, etc... The list goes on... and on. I never found a dull moment in this game, in-between mission I found myself at Club Sega playing on the arcade machines, or playing a game of Pachinko.
The combat is ridiculous, and satisfying; I can't begin to express how fun it is. The combat flows nicely between enemy to enemy, and is easy to master.
7. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
I can't tell you how much I disliked Oblivion, from its dull combat to its repetitive dungeon design. Don't get me wrong I still appreciated what Oblivion was trying to achieve but it never quite hit the nail on the head, so to speak. With that said I could sit here for hours talking about how the magic system was ineffective, and the archery being broken and how I wish that this game was the open world epic it wanted to be. Thankfully I don't have to because Skyrim is the game you wanted when you played Oblivion, when you played Fallout. It fixes everything that was wrong with those games and goes the extra mile to improve on the formula set out by Bethesda.
As I hinted at in a previous paragraph, I took issue with Oblivion's ineffective magic, and archery mechanics. While the combat in Skyrim is still dull if you stick to just the melee side of the tree, at least Bethesda has fixed that magic and archery so they are now reliable means of attack. Overall combat fells tighter and enjoyable, while yes it gets dull after awhile, encountering an enemy is no longer a pain and that a massive improvement over Oblivion and even Fallout.
Skyrim's world is so detailed. There is always something to do, and you can easily get lost exploring the world or just listening to the people that inhabit the many towns and cities. I found myself spending hours exploring the world finding new towns and cities', listening to the townsfolk as they argue about what faction is more loyal to the empire. Chopping wood, hunting deer, playing tag with some playful children, etc... Starting in a three hour long side quest that has me exploring a dig site to tracking down a powerful artefact. I could go on for hours about the detail that went into the world and the fiction but I'll start to spoil what's so amazing about this game.
While the main storyline was never my main focus while I was exploring Skyrim, I found the side mission, or quest lines whatever you want to call them, are just as fleshed out as the main story. As I mention the three hour quest that I randomly encounter travelling through one of the many cities, the whole game is full with these polished and refined quests lines that are worth digging for.
Overall Skyrim is the game I've wanted Bethesda to make since playing Oblivion back in 2006, and they have nailed it. Like I said the world, the combat, the quest lines are what make this game my game of the year for 2011.
9. Red Dead Redemption
For a game that was originally pitched to me as Grand Theft Auto on horses, a Grand Theft Horse if you will, I didn't really have any expectations going into Red Dead Redemption. At the time, and still to this day, I have never played the orignal Red Dead Revolver. And while the original statement wasn't entirely misleading, taking the statement a face vaule you would be belittling the one of unique games of this generation.
The writing is amazing, all the characters (that you have time to get to know) are fleshed out and like-able. The story follows John Marston as he's on a quest to get his family back from the government, by hunting down members of his old gang. The story hooked me right from the start and keep me through all the way to its brilliant ending.
While Red Dead plays like GTA and there aren't that many features that change up the combat in Redemption from GTA, other-than Dead Eye mode. Dead Eye is basically pick which enemy you don't like the look of and than John Marston will fill him full of lead, at first this mode was fun but by the end of the game I never touch it. The multiplayer is only worth mentioning, it's fun for about two weeks before you stop playing it. I wish Rockstar would just change one thing for there next game tho, NO more having to repeatably tap 'A' to run, there is never a situation in GTA or Red Dead where you can just walk into cover.
Surpisingly still to this day I still can't talk about the 'Undead Nightmares'DLC... I should really sit down and play it.
10. Grand Theft Auto V