1. Solatorobo: Red the Hunter
Remember how it was when you were but a little kid and playing a great, fancy JRPG? How you'd get swept up in the grand adventure and feel like you were getting to know the characters like friends? Then, do you remember how you got older and more jaded? The magic of those games seemed to wear off. All you could see were the tired old mechanics and overused clichés. For me, Solatorobo effortlessly re-kindled my love of the JRPG with it's fun characters, snappy script, arcade-style combat and a surprisingly well realised setting. This wasn't simply a game that I was playing. I felt like a kid again. Any complaints that could be held against it are rendered moot by the sheer joy I felt playing the game. Going back to "serious" titles afterwards, I couldn't help but think they'd work better with cartoon dogs & cats playing the roles. Yeah, I'm pretty sure this game made me a furry. :(
2. Saints Row: The Third
There is little I can say about this that has not already been brought up. Please, just go to Eurogamer and read Kieron Gillen's write up of the game. He pretty much hits it on the head. Also, You're the best! Around! Nothin's ever gonna keep you down!
3. Portal 2
If I was to rate games based on writing alone, Portal 2 would be in the top spot. The puzzles were super fun and inventive, but outside of them, the game felt little more than just walking silently through a theme park as excellent actors tell you a wonderful story. Strangely, I came away feeling like I'd experienced two awesome things that didn't really gel into a perfect whole.
4. From Dust
Such a wonderfully tactile game that takes the word sandbox to a whole new meaning. The huge battles against nature left me breathless at times.
5. Deus Ex: Human Revolution
This is the kind of game we need more of. In this age of running down a tight, scripted path, casually shooting guys who pop-op like targets on a shooting range, it's all the more important to savour something like Deus Ex. Massive, well realised Cyberpunk world and plenty of options in how you approach it. Had it been just a little more opened ended and with a few less wonky boss fights, it'd have been much higher on the list.
What's not to like about space pirates whoopin'n'hollerin' across a desolate resort planet, blasting raiders and mutants alike? The punchy, creatively sweary script had some gold moments and the action itself is loads of fun.
7. El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron
It's strange that a game based on two things I'm not overly keen on (Christian mythology and dainty Japanese character action games) could come together so well. Doesn't hurt that it looks So! Good! The setting ended up being fascinating and the combat simple, yet robust.
8. Dead Space 2
Some times, I like my games dark and oh so very nasty. This was one long, claustrophobic, soul sucking nightmare. And that's awesome!
9. Operation Flashpoint: Red River
Sunk so many damn hours into this game. More than any other this year, actually. I enjoy it mainly for the reasons everyone else hates it. It's not a hardcore Mil-Sim, nor it is a CoD roller coaster. It inhabits that tiny space in between where the original Ghost Recon games lived. Small scale squad tactics with brutal difficulty. :) Would be higher on the list if the single player had a bit more freedom and a bit less sitting in the back of Hummers, shooting the shit. A free-roam and map editor would have been so good, but there is no chance of that now.
10. Dead Island
The story was a bit pants, the acting kind of terrible, co-op killed any sort of atmosphere and the game was padded with lame fetch quests. Still, the sensation of swinging a bat into a hoard of zombies and hearing that wet snap of bones breaking is a thing of beauty. Far better than the sum of it's parts.