And now for a list of games you've probably seen everywhere else on the internet this time of year!
Super Meat Boy
I think Screened.com's Alex Navarro said it best when he likened Super Meat Boy to an abusive relationship. I knew the moment I saw it that I'd love/hate Super Meat Boy, and I did. There's a ton of content in this game, though much of it will only be seen by the most committed and patient. I pushed through the main game and felt that was enough for me. I know there are literally hundreds of other levels available, and if for some reason I lose my mind, I'm sure I'll go back and try to beat them.
The best part: The tight controls that force you to play carefully. The awesome music. Loved all the retro game tributes too.
Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light
I've never cared for Lara Croft the character, but I've played all the Tomb Raider games made by Crystal Dynamics just because I'm a sucker for platforming and exploration. This game doesn't really have either of those things. It's a twin stick cooperative shooter with a focus on speed and high scores, and it's a ton of fun. Playing with a friend is the way to go here. The puzzles are clever enough to make you feel like you achieved something when you solved them, but they're never hard enough to completely halt the fast pace. I also like the way puzzles adjust depending on how many people you have playing.
The best part: The challenges sprinkled throughout each level that add replay value and power ups.
I love the way you just kind of fall in to Limbo. The striking visuals and sparse presentation pull you into its mystery with little to no exposition. You don't know where you are, where you're going, who those malevolent beings are, why you woke up in the woods, nothing. That really irked some, but I loved it. The somber tone and tricky puzzles made this a great game to play in the dark. Brooke and I both had a good time sitting on the couch and absorbing Limbo.
The best part: The atmosphere.
Rock Band 3
Rock Band 3 is music game perfection. If you've never bought a music game and you're interested in getting in on it (despite being super late to the party), this the game you want. The game is full of a ton of little improvements that make the experience so much more fun. Also, the keyboard is ridiculously fun! I haven't messed with pro mode much, but the fact that you can use this game to teach you how to play real instruments is very cool.
The best part: The road challenges are a fun alternative to the traditional career mode. Playing the keys on "Saturday Night's Alright (For Fighting)" by Elton John.
If you've heard of Darksiders then you've heard that it's like Zelda. As of this writing, I'm only about five hours into the game and I can confirm that it is a lot like Zelda. Normally I really don't like Zelda games, not because of the structure, but because of the lack of narrative motivation. You always play as mute elf-thing Link, and you always have to save the world. Link is normally some non-contributing peasant or a lost traveler, there's nothing compelling about him. Because of that, Zelda games always feel hollow to me--like a series of long fetch quests. I still play Zelda games from time to time, because despite lacking in the story department, they're solid games, but I have to be in a very specific mood for them. So why is Darksiders on my list? Because it's a Zelda game with a story, and it's an interesting one too. You play as War, one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse. Someone jumped the gun and triggered the end of days a bit early, and apparently it's War's fault. War, unlike Link, is an actual character with a voice and motivation. The exploration is great, the combat is a mixture of Fable and God of War, the controls are fluid and precise, and it's set in an intriguing world. It's like Zelda in gameplay, but like something more modern in story and design.
The best part: I'm enjoying the story's take on biblical mythology, despite the fact that some of the characters seem a bit over-designed (there are sharp edges and pieces of armor everywhere, it's like a 1996 Spawn comic!)
The other three games I've talked about in this blog, so I won't go over them again. They were great though and definitely highlights of gaming this year for me.
Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood
Red Dead Redemption
Mass Effect 2
Finally, here are the 2010 games that could have made the list, but I didn't get a chance to play them this year:
Halo Reach (actually three levels into this now, it's fun)
Call of Duty: Black Ops (the console version, I reviewed the DS version)
Heavy Rain (on the way from Gamefly)
Kirby's Epic Yarn
Just Cause 2
What are your favorite games that came out this year?