1. Red Dead Redemption
The gameplay mechanics are flawed, and the typical rockstar immaturity is present yet again, but damn if this game didn't capture my heart like no other this year.
2. Sid Meier's Civilization V
I think I still prefer Civ IV, but then again...
It's still Civ, and this iteration has some really cool improvements on the series. The way it handles strategic resources and tile based combat is perfect.
3. Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood
Funnily enough, the third AC game made me want to play a Desmond Miles-centric game next time. The same but different)beautifully realised world and musical score of the previous games are present, and this time I found myself caring about what happens outside the animus.
4. Rock Band 3
The music genre isn't dead, it just went to heaven. I can see myself playing this game for many years to come, or at least until a key piece of hardware dies.
5. Halo: Reach
The fun, varied and well told campaign aside, Halo Reach makes it to this list purely on its multiplayer. Nothing else I have played comes close to the competitive balance of Halo. Plus firefight, forge and theatre mode.
I played through this game in one sitting. It was just that compelling. The atmosphere was stunning, the controls tight, and the bare-bones storyline kept me thinking about what it all meant long after the credits (but in a good way). The puzzles were good, but ultimately not the strongest aspect of the experience.
7. Mass Effect 2
ME2 suffered badly from being played straight after multiple runs through Dragon Age Origins - the storyline is exactly the same. Sure it had good gameplay (apart from the mining), and the characters were compelling, but it didn't recapture the excitement of the first game. Because the storyline sucked. I expect better.
8. Just Cause 2
No other game offers an enormous playground in which you get to blow so much stuff up. The hokey storyline is almost inconsequential, as you don't even have to engage in it. I know I haven't.
9. Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light
For an xbla game, this is right up there with shadow complex. Beautiful art style, really fun gameplay and an addictive goal-based unlock system that had me coming back for multiple run-throughs of the same levels.
I've always liked the Zelda games, but the kiddy fantasy always put me off slightly. Along comes darksiders with its apocalyptic, comic book tone and we have an instant winner. Let down only by the shallow combat. Too few combos....