While it would be easy to just claim that this game is on the list because a sports game needed to be represented, NBA2K11 earned its place. Featuring Michael Jordan and his career as a game mode adds something to the title, but even his Airness would have become just a gimmick if the gameplay weren’t up to the task. Thankfully it is, and NBA2K11 is one of the most intuitive and well-rounded sports games ever made.
When you add in the seriously deep features and options, NBA2K11 is not just a good game for sports fans, it has that rare ability to win over people who are not fans of the genre. You don’t need to know the names Kobe Bryant or Lebron James to pick a team and learn enough to have fun. It’s worth a look for all gamers, and a guaranteed hit for sporting fans.
Red Dead RedemptionAmazon (PS3, Xbox 360; Rated M; $59.99)
When the majority of the game-of-the-year awards begin to drop, expect this title to proudly sit on top of the majority of those lists. It already cleaned up at the SpikeTV Video Game Awards last week, and nobody was surprised to see the developers walk away with an armful of statues. Red Dead Redemption just clicks. From the stories, to the several expansion packs that continue to keep the title relevant, RDR is one of, if not the very best, game of the year.
Putting players in the role of John Marston, a former outlaw who is forced to hunt down his murderous ex-partner, RDR defies expectations at every turn. Marston may appear to be the typical spaghetti western hero, but he soon shows a depth of character that few video game characters can match. He is a fighter, a hero, sometimes a villain, and a family man, and the world he occupies is just as deep and well developed. When you add the online play, and expansions like the exceptional “Undead Nightmare,” as well as multiplayer, RDR is a game that belongs in every collection, and will be played for a long time to come.
Sid Meier’s Civilization VAmazon (PC; Rated E; $49.99)
If you have ever dreamed of taking a long dead-civilization like the Aztecs or the ancient Egyptians, then rewriting history and watching them spread out across the globe, Civilization V is the game for you. Civ V is one of those games that even casual gamers can suddenly find themselves lost for hours in. Even though this title is the fifth in the franchise, it is easy to pick the game up and enjoy, but it can take a long, long time to master. That is what makes this game a must have for most people, as it is something that will appeal to everyone.
Unlike real-time strategy games like StarCraft II, Civ V is a turn-based strategy game, which might make it a little more forgiving for players looking to jump online and try their hands against other players. The learning curve will still be steep, but unlike other games, at least you won’t jump online and be swarmed and killed within five minutes (looking at you StarCraft II, looking right at you). This game is deep enough that it might take months to see everything it has to offer.
StarCraft II: Wings of LibertyAmazon (PC; Rated T; $59.99)
People tend to either love StarCraft games, or hate them, there is very little middle ground. People who hate them tend to do so passionately, as do the people that love the games – just look at the South Koreans, who have built an industry around the game that includes nationally recognized leagues, televised tournaments, and even their own match fixing scandals. It is a big deal.
The newest entry in the series was over 10 years in the making, and while some fans initially criticized aspects that they did not like, most of those same fans are still playing online, and will continue to do so for years, literally. If you are new to the series, the cut scenes and storyline are enough to keep you interested, through the lengthy single-player campaign, and if you have the patience to survive the learning curve online, you can find something new with StarCraft II for years to come, making it one of the top PC games for the year.
Super Mario Galaxy 2Amazon (Wii; Rated E; $49.99)
If you own a Wii, buy this game. It really is that simple. Super Mario Galaxy 2 is not only one of the best Wii games made (and might be the best Wii game made), but it is arguably one of the best Nintendo games ever made, which is saying an awful lot about a company that has dominated the gaming market for 25 years.
You might think that Mario has hit his peak, and the best years of the plumber are behind him. Sure, the graphics are not as strong as some of those on the Wii’s competitors, but the game is simply fun, and wildly imaginative. Suitable for gamers of all ages, Super Mario Galaxy 2 game might be the only Wii title on the list, but it might also be the best game of the year.
Assassin’s Creed: BrotherhoodAmazon (PC, PS3, Xbox 360; Rated M; $59.99)
Fallout: New VegasAmazon (PC, PS3, Xbox 360; Rated M; $59.99)
Gran Turismo 5Amazon (PS3; Rated E; $59.99)