4) The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (PS3/360/PC)
While I didn't enjoy Bethesda's latest title as much as Fallout 3, Skyrim represents the company's best technical effort to date. The northern lands of Tamriel burst with lush environments and tons of quests and dungeons to explore. Were it not for the copy and paste design and obnoxious level scaling, Skyrim would have been closer to the top of my list this year.
3) The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings (PC)
The Witcher 2 represents some of the best writing and art direction in gaming today. It's hard not to be completely immersed in Geralt's world of political intrigue and class warfare. The splitting narrative also helps to create a unique experience for the player and gives this title serious replay value. I'm trying my best to wait patiently for the next entry in the series.
2) Deus Ex: Human Revolution (PS3/360/PC)
Awful boss battles and a less than thrilling conclusion weren't enough to keep me from loving Eidos Montreal's take on the Deus Ex franchise. The gloomy Hub-worlds of Detroit and Hengsha held my attention more than any of the grand open world questing thrust into my face this year. I can only hope that Eidos hones their craft for the (eventual) sequel, because their starting blueprint provided a great deal of wonder and fun this past summer.
1) Dark Souls (PS3/Xbox 360/PC)
Ninety-three hours later and I'm still having fun in my personal purgatory of Lordran. Simply put, Dark Souls is currently my favorite game of this generation. No other title immersed me so much in a world and urged me to cut my own triumphant path to salvation. The amazing multiplayer interactions have since been patched, and some of the more glaring balance issues have been hammered out thanks to the dedicated work at From Software. Dark Souls may not be for everyone, but it certainly satiated my appetite for tight gameplay and advancement in the medium.
Dragon Age II (PS3/360/PC)
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While by no means a bad game, Dragon Age II simply didn't live up to the high standard set by Origins. The small world size, repeating dungeons, and narrowly focused narrative prevented me from feeling like I had any impact on the proceedings and didn't give me any incentive to play through again. Comparing the Landsmeet that concluded the first game to the awfully conceived final act pitting Hawke and company against templars and mages (regardless of choice) shows that Bioware clearly lost their way at some point during DAII's development. Let's hope Dragon Age III: The Apology washes out the bad taste left over from the sophomore slump.