1. Dead Space 2
You can make a pretty apt comparison between the Dead Space Games and the Alien series of films. The first installments relied mainly on horror with a feeling of claustrophobia coupled with the fear of being hunted by all the strange creatures inhabiting the ship. The second outings relied more on an action angle to keep their respective series' fresh. Dead Space 2 does this transition perfectly. The game controls like a dream, the game is paced perfectly to never leave you un-entertained, and the tonal shift does enough to keep the story and gameplay fresh.
2. Saints Row: The Third
I've never really liked to do much in the GTA games aside from doing stupid things in cars, and that only lasts for an hour. The original Saints Row seemed like a failed GTA clone, it's hard to imagine it became what it did. Saints Row: The Third was a surprise. This game was able to take all the things I liked in that one hour of GTA and expand on it until it was pure insanity perfected. From jumping through the windshield to the cockpit of a plane to falling from the sky in a tank, this game has no shortage of awesome and unique moments that you'd be hard pressed to find in any other game. Also this game is fucking funny.
3. Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective
Ghost Trick is one of those puzzle games with such a unique game mechanic and visual style that you can't help but to be drawn to it. The way in which you manipulate objects to solve the overarching mystery of your death is quit engaging as well as satisfying. The story is also something that deserves praise. Unexpected plot twists, heart wrenching character moments, and a very interesting mystery help give the gameplay of Ghost Trick an excellent wrapping. Ghost Trick's ending may also be one of the greatest video game ending of this year, possibly this century so far.
4. Batman: Arkham City
Batman: Arkham City expands on almost everything that made Arkham Asylum so great. Arkham City takes the almost perfect combat from it's predecessor and perfects it even though no one knew it was broken in the first place. Many of the mechanics introduced in this game aren't essential to complete the game but are necessary to master. The voice acting is top notch as well as the story, though it falters in places. You can't ever do wrong with more Batman.
5. Deus Ex: Human Revolution
I've never played a Deus Ex game until this year and playing this made me regret not playing the previous games. Human Revolution has an amazing aesthetic and mythos with a timeline that split in the late 90's. Many of the atmospheric elements are done clever enough to engulf you in it's strange world that you can't help but feel the depth of Eidos' creations. It's open ended mission structure made me wish that more games offered the freedom that Deus Ex offers. No other game in 2011 can give you the experience that Human Revolution offers as well as Deus Ex.
6. Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception
It would be untrue if I said that Uncharted 3 isn't more Uncharted. But why does that have to be a bad thing when the only other games like it is it's predecessors? Uncharted 3 continues to be as good as the Uncharted series has always been. The story of Uncharted 3 definitely meets expectations by bringing the story full circle to make a perfect gaming trilogy that everyone should play.
7. L.A. Noire
L.A. Noire is an experiment in technology. For the most part L.A. Noire pulls it off and delivers a Noire experience unlike most other games out there. Team Bondi's 1950's L.A. feels alive as you drive through it's streets and see familiar venues in a state that might not be familiar to the current generation. The vignettes that make up the story structure for L.A. Noire are fantastic and even though the overall story may falter at the end the mini stories will still hold enough of your attention to keep you satiated.
8. Shadows of the Damned
Shadows of the Damned brings in a combination of 3 incredible giants in the japanese gaming industry that hasn't been seen since Crono Trigger. Suda 51's insanity melds well with Shinji Mikami's gameplay with Akira Yamaoka's musical talents that serves as the icing on the cake. If there is any other game besides Saints Row: The Third that does stupidity with such genius it's Shadows of the Damned.
9. Mortal Kombat
Mortal Kombat had a lot to prove with this game. Although MKvsDC was fun many people didn't give it a chance because of the dumb concept and T rating. The PS2 era of MK didn't fair well either so this new installment was looked at with suspicion. MK9 is able to throw out your fears and offer one of the best and unique fighting game experiences all year. MK9 gives you so much content that will actually make it fun to play by yourself, an interesting story mode that grabs your attention, an easy to get into fighting system that makes it easier for new players to get into. These are the advantages that MK9 has over other fighting games. Mortal Kombat may get unfair hate from with people calling the players who enjoy MK9 children or nostalgia fueled idiots but they are largely unfounded accusations that proves that they are the more immature ones. MK9 is my favourite fighting game experience I've had all year and I played most of them.
10. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
I've never been into any of Bethesda's past ventures into the open world market. The only thing I did in Oblivion was the Brotherhood and then it lost my interest. I played even less of Fallout 3. Skyrim however has got me hooked. I feel compelled to complete all of the missions I pick up by walking because they are all so well written. The combat improved, especially for magic users, dramatically. The game is beautiful even though one would suspect that because it's a huge world it should be hard to keep visually consistent and thats not true. Even some of the inevitable bugs has been entertaining. Skyrim is a game that can surely kill one's personal life.