1. Battlefield 3
Yet another Battlefield to call my favorite of the year. While I haven't even bothered to finish the single player the multiplayer has its own brand of crazy action and on-the-fly tactical thinking. BF3 has been more punishing to me than BC2, I think it's a better game because it brings in the tiny but potent little details from games like ARMA 2 but puts it into a totally accessible game. The gameplay is like a simulation without all the buttons and gauges.
2. Total War: Shogun 2
I bought this game on a whim, telling myself at the same time that it would be a waste of money -- that I'd play it for a few hours and never touch it again. But luckily for me, this was the first Total War game I bought where I actually started a campaign. And dammit, would you know, that stuff is awesome. Amazing graphics, slick presentation, fantastic setting, and a 100% logical rock-paper-scissors unit mechanic that makes warfare make sense. The campaign map mode is like a whole other game as well, who needs Civilization V when you can play Shogun 2's campaign?
3. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
I went through a month of abstinence from Elder Scrolls so that this game wouldn't destroy my ability to do concentrate during the last four weeks of school. While I haven't dove totally deep into Skyrim, I think I may be relegating this game into a slow burn mode. I sort of missed out on the initial frenzy from 11/11/11 onward -- but I may have destroyed my future career chances if I hadn't waited.
4. Portal 2
When this game went on sale on Steam for $15 for the first time I said to my visiting brother, "Hey, dude, no thinking, just buy Portal 2. Just do it, take $15 and use it. You won't be sorry."Well, he ignored me... but jokes on my because he ended up getting it for $7.49 or so and marathons through it. The game is great, just great great great great. No matter who you are or what you play --- whether you're a pony tail wearing ****-head who plays nothing but imported Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest games; a racial or sexual epithet spewing CoD bro; a kid who can't stop playing that god damn Angry Birds game; or a person who starts flame wars on forums if any Mario/Kirby/Zelda game released isn't given a 10/10 - you'll like this game. Simple as that.
5. DiRT 3
DiRT 3 manages to tread the "bro-dude" route a little more well. It's better than DiRT 2's trailer menu aesthetic in terms of ENERGY DRINK EXTREEEEEME-ness as it takes a more professional approach to the whole thing. Watching Ken Block's Gymkhana films on Youtube was a great prep activity for all the stunt driving the game made available. Make no mistake -- straight up rally and trailblazer events are my bread and butter but dammit if I didn't spend an unhealthy amount of time blasting through empty shipping containers and around concrete barriers with a 600hp squealing gymkhana rally car having stupid f*cking fun the entire time.
6. Dark Souls
I've sorta been beaten down by the game, sadly. I put it down for a few weeks and lost all my finesse with the gameplay. And like hell this game is going to let me through the rest of Blight Town with a half-baked level of skill. It did scratch my strange Monster Hunter itch of weird, "you're ****ed or your good" fighting where safety is found in paper-thin margins and death comes swiftly. I may come back to it, maybe not. It was a lot of fun while it lasted, though.
7. Saints Row: The Third
I haven't gotten very far into the game yet but I can't wait to dive further into the chaos.
8. Crysis 2
I can't wait until developers start to getting back into the PC-first mentality for the next two years (until the next Xbox comes out). While Crysis 2 contained a lot of disappointments: It didn't feel like a sequel, it felt like it was written by different people, felt like it was MADE by different people, and while it is vastly more open ended than a game like Call of Duty or Battlefield, it felt constrained compared to the original Crysis. The game did end up shining through in the end, though
9. The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings
Pretty great game... maybe I should finish it some day.
10. Frozen Synapse
"Turn based Rainbow Six RTS" is what I'd call this game. Very interesting game about watching your corners and setting up killzones. Very entertaining.
I've played only a few more games that were even released in 2011 -- and own plenty more that I have but haven't touched at all: Dead Space 2, Assassin's Creed Revelations, LA Noir, Bulletstorm, Bastion. Games are just too good and I'm getting too old. I don't have the time like I used to.
I can't tell if I'll ever get to some of the best games of 2011. Uncharted 3, Gears of War 3, Batman Arkham City, Modern Warfare 3, LittleBigPlanet 2, Zelda Skyward Sword. I think this year was the beginning of the end for me.