10. The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky (PSP)
The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky is the first of a trilogy, and it makes a strong case to bring the rest of the story arc to North America. Though some of the core design feels left behind compared to modern standards, the story line is very impressive and the title manages to be quite fun even as it sticks closely to traditional JRPG mechanics. If you're looking for a lengthy, meaty RPG you can take with you wherever you go, this title will make a fine option.
9. Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together (PSP)
Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together may be a remake, but it's one of the best remakes out there. Every element of the game has been reexamined, polished and revitalized. Since the original game was a masterpiece in its own right, the new version goes above and beyond. Almost every change is for the best, and the result is one of the best strategy-RPGs on the market. It's not perfect, but most of the complaints are minor. The visuals could have used more updating, and the refined level mechanics are a step up from those in the original but could've used some further polishing. None of the problems detract from the fact that Tactics Ogre is a true classic and a must-have for any PSP owner with a fondness for strategy RPGs.
8. Deus Ex: Human Revolution (PS3/X360/PC)
Deus Ex: Human Revolution took a little over four years to create, and waiting for a follow-up is the worst thing about the game. It's a brilliantly realized chapter to the world of Deus Ex. With the various avenues you can take and endings you can receive depending on your actions, you have a game with tons of replay value. Eidos Montreal's rookie effort is a definite candidate for Game of the Year.
7. Portal 2 (PS3/X360/PC)
Valve didn't mess with a winning formula, and the end result is that Portal 2 is a better game than its excellent predecessor. It keeps the same witty humor and high-quality level design but adds a few new tricks to turn the interesting puzzles into exceptional ones. The co-op campaign is a boatload of fun and adds extra value to the package — especially if you're a PS3 owner, who gets the PC/Mac version along with the console copy.
6. Dark Souls (PS3/X360)
With Dark Souls, From Software has written another unflinching homage to the kind of hardcore hazing that market-minded publishers find risky with its defiant gameplay. It's tough, it's brutal, and when I was killed by one smashing blast with a weapon larger than my own character, it's seemingly unfair. It's "seemingly" because as with every struggle in the game, there is always a way to seize the advantage with death as your tutor. It doesn't roll out the welcome mat for anyone who simply rushes in. In taking the time to wheedle through its hidden nuances and navigate each fight to seize the advantage, successfully surviving a journey such as this has never been as sweet.
5. Bastion (XBLA/PC)
Bastion is a solid action-RPG that is put over the edge by its unique and entrancing concept. It's a fun game, but it would've had trouble standing apart from the crowd, even with its unique features. When you add in the awesome use of narration, the game becomes much more than the sum of its parts. Bastion manages to be engrossing from beginning to end. It's well paced, well executed and fun to play, and it's hard not to get more curious about what comes next. The lack of replay value, even with a NewGame+ and multiple endings, may hurt it a little, but if you're a fan of atmospheric and unique action-RPGs, then Bastion is well worth the 1,200 Microsoft points ($15).
4. Kirby's Return to Dream Land (Wii)
Kirby's Return to Dream Land remains a solid but simple game in the series. Though the real challenge lies in collecting everything to see the true ending, the game remains easy to finish, especially with the new abilities. Multiplayer is a blast, and the different character choices give it some replayability for those who want to experience the game from multiple angles. The sound is excellent, and while the graphics could be a tad better, the amount of post-campaign content available after collecting the required amount of orbs gives the game some legs. Platforming fans will have lots of fun with this title.
3. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Wii)
Ultimately, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is an excellent entry into the series. It's a fantastic choice for any Wii gamer, and it deserves to be in your library.
2. Batman: Arkham City (PS3/X360/PC)
Batman: Arkham City isn't perfect, but the gameplay is amazing, the city is a delight to explore, and the sheer amount of game content is somewhat staggering. It is one of the most fun, clever and enjoyable games I've ever played, and it far surpasses its excellent predecessor.
1. In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (PS3/X360/PC)
In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the snow-capped peaks of the Nords relentlessly beckon me back to pry loose one more artifact, dungeon or secret. Skyrim's lavish world is tailor-made for adventurers who are eager to satisfy their curiosity of what is beyond the next bend in the road, not those who want to know which attribute scores play into which skill. There's little question that this is a gorgeous epic.