Not that anyone cares any more, particularly since I left 1UP Yours, but here are my picks for the best games of this year, with no consideration for review scores or popularity or perceptions...this is just me, and what I played a lot of. There probably aren't going to be any surprises here, except perhaps for three games that aren't on the list (and that's not because I didn't like them)...
I'm so sad that a sequel to Crackdown looks so unlikely, as Real Time Worlds' game was absolutely one of my favorite of the year. I played it all the way through twice, and then downloaded everything they offered up too. One of the best sandbox games yet.
It was fashionable to like this, and then it was apparently fashionable to be openly derisive of it. I thoroughly enjoyed it though, and hope that there's either a sequel, or a follow-up that uses the same user interface. I loved the writing, the art style, and I'm a sucker for DS games you hold like a book. That's not exactly the most logical justification ever, but hey...I just liked it.
Yes, I like Rock Band better than Guitar Hero 3. Why? Because I like playing it with other people, I like the songs more, and I like that it doesn't try too hard to 'be a videogame' by dropping unnecessary "gameplay" into the music experience. I liked GH3, but I hated the duels. I've no idea if that's reflective or contrary to popular opinion, and I don't care. That first one with Tom Morello sucked all the fun out of it for me.
Planet Puzzle League
Shane Bettenhausen told me that this was one of the best puzzle games ever made. He was right. A wonderful game played solo that blossoms further in multiplayer.
Pac-Man Championship Edition
Proof that the oldies are the goodies. The best update of a classic anyone's produced yet. Wonderful.
Ratchet & Clank Future
My favorite game on PS3, by a hair. I know it's not exactly anything new - but it's such a perfect distillation of a whole lot of classic gameplay elements. Plus, it looks gorgeous, it's not too hard, and you can play it in bite-sized chunks. That's very important for me these days.
My second favorite game on PS3. From the moment I first saw this, I really wasn't too sure about it - but swooping around in a 'Hawk is great fun, and it's a multiplayer game where it's OK to suck a little bit because you can still scrape by.
I played it through once, and I'll happily play through it again. I loved the story, and I loved all the talking. Yep, I went there. I loved it. A lot of people criticized it for being too chatty, but my favorite parts were the long conversations that really felt like they were going somewhere. Even though I knew that hooking up with Ashley was inevitable, the process of getting there was believable and engaging. I'm a sucker for sci-fi, and I loved the classic 70s and 80s vibe. Y'know...when the future was presented like the bright, shiny future, and not some dystopian shit hole.
Madden NFL 08 on Wii
Not because I'm in any way qualified to judge the quality of a football game. It may be the worst NFL game ever made for all I know. What I do know though is that in "Family Mode," my son and I play this religiously every weekend. We play, we talk about football, we laugh, we have a good time. We look forward to it every week...and for me, nothing could be better than that.
I was going to say "Orange Box" because it deserves praise just for being such unbelievably good value, but then I thought about it, and stuck to my original intention of this list reflecting my taste, and my taste only. Like many, my favorite part of the 'Box was Portal, and honestly I could never beat Half-Life 2, or Episodes One and Two, and I think I'd be OK with that. Intellectually I know they're classics, and that they're really good...but they just didn't quite do it for me. Portal, on the other hand, was glorious. Imaginative, brilliantly executed, witty, cerebral, and nice and short. Right up my alley.
Yes, Peggle was released this year. It is surely the finest casual game ever made...and it's become quite a scary habit. Fingers-crossed for an iPhone version in February.