1. Mark of the Ninja
I love stealth games, and the 2D side scrolling lends itself perfectly for that genre. Klei got all the cues right while providing an immersive world and a phenomenal ending. If you want to feel like a badass ninja, play this game.
2. Halo 4
Many (myself included) were worried that 343 would either mess up Halo, or just make a by-the-numbers sequel. They did neither and released a Halo that is bigger, faster, stronger. It felt great to be back in the Halo universe, and the multiplayer righted all of the wrong steps Bungie took with Reach. I miss firefight, but I've enjoyed the episodic story of Spartan Ops.
3. Forza Horizon
Pretty much, everything I've wanted in a racing game. Give me the tight handling of Forza, but don't limit my driving to a handful of tarmac tracks. Here is to hoping that the next game brings in some weather effects.
4. Street Fighter X Tekken
In the Fighting Game Community, SFxT has gotten a very bad rap at high level tournament play because of some of the missteps in development of the mechanics. The nickname "Street Jab X Timeout" is not undeserved...Capcom just tried to pack too damn much in this game (e.g., Pandora mode is useless). Still, at it's core, I absolutely love SFxT. This game combines the deep combo system of the Street Fighter 4 with the freedom for creativity and the relaxed inputs of Marvel vs. Capcom 3. I am looking forward to the version 2013 patch.
5. Assassin's Creed III
Maybe this game didn't live up to the hype: <BR> <BR>
-Connor is not as charismatic as Ezio? Fine. <BR>
-The colonial cities aren't as vibrant and fun to traverse as in renaissance era Italy? OK. But most seem to forget that with this franchise, a numbered sequel brings many changes, not just to locale.<BR>
-The game starts slowly? Go play AC2 again, let me know how long it takes until Ezio is a full-on badass. <BR>
-The frontier stuff is boring and not AC? What defines AC...so they got a little Red Dead in this game. Red Dead is fantastic, I'm fine with that!<BR>
-The Desmond story is the same as [insert game name here]. Who cares? Go be an assassin in the past! <BR>
-I miss more puzzle platforming, they didn't do enough of that! Did you play the naval missions? Those were fantastic. Ezio never got to do that! <BR>
If Brotherhood is any indication of how Ubisoft can refine the ideas started on the numbered iterations of this series, I can't wait for my next adventure in the late 1700's.
6. Mass Effect 3
I'll just repeat what most have said. let's see if there is a theme: <BR><BR>
"A great game, ruined by a terrible ending." <BR>
"Great, not quite as good as ME2. Has a terrible ending."<BR>
"Leviathan DLC was great. Main game has a terrible ending."<BR>
"Kept out of top 5 by terrible ending." <BR>
It's not news that the ending of this game was downright awful. Years of choices and character building boiled down to three colors. Bioware has tried to right the ship, but unfortunately did so by charging people for some of the DLC. However, these issues did provide a benefit: sparking a ton of conversation about the game, including the well put-together indoctrination theory. Overall, the game itself was great, though just missing some of the life that ME2 had. It just stands in a class with Halo 2 and Rage when it comes to most disappointing endings ever.
Speaking of endings! Seriously though, this game was a great mashup of genres resulting in highly addictive gameplay. I just could not stop until I got that next upgrade, until I went a little bit further. My wife doesn't play many games, and this one had her absolutely hooked. That's saying something in my book.
8. Soulcalibur V
When it comes to fighting games, I get serious with 2D fighters but play 3D fighters just for fun and to mash buttons. I can't think of a fighting game that catered to that more than the original Soul Calibur on the Dreamcast, and the fifth edition was no different. Gorgeous and fun, but still deep if you want to get into it. Plus...YOU CAN BE EZIO...he says REQUIESCAT IN PACE DURING HIS SUPER MOVE!!!EXCLAMATION POINT!!!111!!
9. Trials Evolution
Fun, challenging, outrageous...but now with multiplayer and shareable tracks, it has legs!
10. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
The king of competitive multiplayer shooters. The console version certainly was not the way to go, but I had fun with it nonetheless. To be honest, I'm just too much of a Valve fanboy.
HONORABLE MENTION - Another great mashup of genres/styles in this game. Extremely hectic and challenging, this puzzler had me hooked for months. A shame the app tended to crash between games.
12. XCOM: Enemy Unknown
PILE OF SHAME Game #1 - Got it during Black Friday - still sitting in the wrapper on my coffee table...
13. The Walking Dead
PILE OF SHAME Game #2 - Finally picked all the eps up during the big XBLA sale on December 28th. Doubt I'll make it through by the end of the year.
14. Far Cry 3
PILE OF SHAME Game #3 - This was not even on my radar until the post-release buzz. Will pick it up at some point in January.
15. Fix-it Felix Jr.
YOU SHOULD PLAY THIS FUN LITTLE FREE GAME OF THE YEAR AWARD - It's the movie tie-in game that the movie is based on!...did that make sense? Well either way this is a really fun retro game!