The rumors of PC gaming's death have been greatly exaggerated as it enjoys one of its best years in recent memory.
5. World of Warcraft: Cataclysm
You already know how I feel about WoW in general; however, there's no denying this latest expansion is the most ambitious one yet. It completely guts the original game and quite literally changes everything. Well, almost everything. It's still WoW, but it's the best version of WoW so far.
Dawn of War II: Chaos Rising feels like someone took the original Dawn of War, made a liberal slicing all of its fatty uselessness, and created a tighter, much more focused experience. Each unit functions so specifically to its purpose, that playing may be a little daunting at first. Once you've given it some time and have learned the ins and outs, Chaos Rising becomes less an RTS and more a great RPG, with smaller groups sizes and much more specific roles for each unit unit type than in other RTS games.
I'm going to be honest; a few weeks ago I hadn't even heard of Amnesia: The Dark Descent. Now, I can't even imagine this list without it. Not the most graphically impressive game on any rig, but what Amnesia does is create genuinely frightening gameplay with an awesome physics-based interface, and a tangible feeling of impending doom. Not since the first 'D' for Saturn, way back in 1996 have I been as disturbed by a game. My advice: play with with headphones and the lights out to get the full effect.
While RTS games can sometimes have a frantic pace, Civilization V is an old-school-tradition turn-based strategy game, with a much more methodical, slower pace.
This was my first Civ game and it seems the timing couldn't have been better. Civ V's level of depth is staggering, but thanks to the manner in which each each aspect of its gameplay is introduced, I never felt overwhelmed. After a couple hours I was fairly well-versed in its systems.
While I'm not sure if some of my diplomatic or militaristic techniques from the game would translate into the real world (and I don't intend to find out; well, the diplomacy could come in handy here at CNET), Civ V, at the very least, makes me feel like it could.
When it comes to gameplay, presentation, and polish, I'm not sure there's a better game on any platform, than Starcraft II. From constantly moving your units away from rising lava during one campaign mission, to defending your workers from an early rush in multiplayer, Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty does so much right in terms of balance, graphics, attention to detail, and just plain fun, it's easy to forget this is technically only the first third of a complete game. Blizzard has its work cut out trying to top this with its forthcoming expansions, but I wouldn't trust any other developer to even try.