1. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
If there was one game that shattered my already ridiculously high expectations for it, that game would be Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Skyrim is really what you make of it. There are so many adventures to be had if you're willing to look. Curiosity is your driving force, and creativity is your staying power. There are endless ways to play this game, and on the PC, the mods are stacking up by the minute. Whether I'm spawning warriors to battle one another, or I'm hunting animals with bow & arrow to craft that new armor I need. Skyrim had it all for me. A game that I could play at my own pace. With that said, at any pace, fast or slow, I'm likely to miss a few things along the way. And I'm fine with that, because in Skyrim, it's not the destination, but the journey.
2. Dark Souls
Dark Souls is a game that reminds us there are still hardcore gamers out there. Gamers that don't need their hand held throughout the entire game, or any of it for that matter. If there is one thing you can take away from Dark Souls, it's that patience is a virtue. The more you play of it, the wiser and stronger you become. That is until, you think you've become wiser and stronger and the game finds new ways to make you frustrated. Don't let that keep you from enjoying one of the most rewarding games to come out this year. What kills you, only makes you stronger.
3. Battlefield 3
Born to fight, trained to kill, the United States Marines. There isn't a fighting force quite like us. Portraying Marines in games isn't anything new. But Battlefield 3's attention to detail is scary close to the real thing. How this game sounds is a great place to start. Explosions, jets, tanks, guns, voices, they're all amazing. Add into that an unbelievably deep progression and competitive multiplayer scene that captures all of Battlefield 2's glory, and now we're talking. You can't go wrong with Battlefield 3, and it's sure to create, "Did you see that!?" moments long into 2012.
4. Star Wars: The Old Republic
Star Wars meets MMO once more. Having spent only a short amount of time in The Old Republic would be an understatement. But working your way through any MMO requires patience and determination. I can honestly say that I have no immediate desire to rush through content just to map out every nook and cranny of the galaxy. Yet. Story is key here, and a fantastic one at that. Here's me hoping that whatever charm I've seen thus far, will continue to propel me for a long, long time.
5. L.A. Noire
I'm a sucker for realism, and L.A. Noire is by far the most realistic crime/mystery solving game I have played. The game reminds me of Heavy Rain quite a bit, and like that game, this has very strict rules on how you should play. That may sound like it's removing some of the fun, but all it's asking you to do is approach it from a different perspective. Once you get into the mind of protagonist, Cole Phelps, you will be shocked at some of the things you learn throughout the story.
6. Dead Island
Dead Island shows you that there is much to improve upon for the Zombie Survival genre. Sure this game had numerous bugs and glitches, but it took chances. The end result is a refreshing and unique experience that won't soon be forgotten. Hacking zombie limbs off in Dead Island is hugely satisfying thanks to the body destruction physics. Apart from the end boss being a complete joke, given how powerful you become by the final chapter, the story actually unfolds quite well. I can't wait to take another stab at this new zombie franchise.
I was there at the start, and for an MMO, it had one of the smoothest launches I can think of. But even that by itself isn't enough to give you an edge in today's market. The biggest advantage Rift had going for it was its extreme level of polish. And while I didn't always care for what was going on in Rift's story, the developers put so much effort into the game that it was hard to look away. Like the spontaneous nature of the Rifts, the chaotic charm of this game only lasted so long. What a ride it was though, and I hope to see more MMOs follow suit.
8. Might & Magic Heroes Kingdom
One of my guilty pleasure games happens to be on the web-browser platform. If you want persistence, but don't have a lot of time to sacrifice, Might & Magic Heroes Kingdoms is a MMORTS that serves you quite well. These games don't do a terrific job presenting oneself, but what it lacks in flash, it more than makes up for it in substance. Having the Might & Magic lore scores some points for it too.
9. World Cruise Story
Mobile games have come a long way. Being away from my PC and consoles leaves me filling that gap with some fantastic time killers. World Cruise Story is every Tycoon's dream game. Simple, but plentiful options lets you build the biggest and most popular cruise ship ever. No time limits or pesky goals in this one, just pure mobile, sandbox fun. My battery begged me to stop, but that wasn't enough to keep me away.
Easily one of the most overwhelming games of 2011 for me was Minecraft. Backed by an amazing community, and the ability to invest into the game before its actual release made this a completely unique title. This is a true sandbox adventure game that always me to play more of it. Unfortunately, I couldn't dig up enough time to discover all of its secrets.