The Wii U
Making its second appearance (and barely glimpsed since last year), Nintendo's new console will hopefully get a fuller vetting this year, in time for its expected late 2012 release.
Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet
One of a handful of Xbox Live Arcade games to really break through the clutter, ITSP (as fans call it) was released in August 2011 and was an immediate staple of Twitter and Facebook chatter among gamers.
Super Mario 3D Land
Easily the best argument for owning a 3DS console, Super Mario 3D Land was released in November 2011 to critical acclaim and has sold more than 5 million copies since.
Far Cry 3
Demoed last year, and now due in September 2012, this open-ended tropical shooter will be seen in more detail at this year's E3 show.
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
Released in November 2011, Skyward Sword may have been the last great Nintendo Wii game before everyone's attention shifted to the next generation of consoles.
This reboot of a classic action/strategy series is actually two games in one. XCOM: Enemy Unknown is a straight-ahead strategy game, and is due in October 2012. A strategy/shooter hybrid, simply called XCOM, is in the works for 2013 or 2014, but could just as easily slide into vaporware status.
Resident Evil Revelations
Released in January 2012, this survival horror game for the Nintendo 3DS made good use of the 3D visuals, but added little new to the genre. The controls were on the awkward side, as is the case for most handheld first- or third-person action games.
Bethesda and Id Software created a visually stunning shooter that looked nearly as good on consoles as the PC. It was released in October 2011, but the game's post-apocalyptic world was also on the thin side when it came to content, characters, and a compelling storyline.
Saints Row: The Third
A bit out of nowhere, this sequel wasn't at the top of anyone's must-play list, but it became an immediate cult hit, thanks to a fearless, over-the-top style. It was released in November 2011 and has sold an impressive 4 million copies.
Modern Warfare 3
A classic example of a game that's pretty much review-proof (not that the reviews were bad). MW3 was released in November 2011 and sold about 6.5 million copies in its first day, serving up the fast-paced action series fans have come to expect each year.
Released in October 2011 and selling more than 8 million copies, BF3 was favored by those who wanted a slower-paced, more serious war game, over Modern Warfare 3. The single-player game in Battlefield 3, however, was pretty half-baked.
Sony's new handheld console hit the U.S. in February 2012 (and late 2011 in Japan). The hardware was very impressive, and a handful of games really showed off the OLED screen, but since then, new games have slowed to a trickle.
Gears of War 3
The supposed final chapter in this hugely successful trilogy hit in September 2011. It didn't bring much new to the table, aside from new multiplayer modes, but it polished the now-common cover-based shooter mechanic to a high shine.
Mass Effect 3
We were universally sorry to see the saga of Commander Sheppard come to an end when Mass Effect 3 was released in March 2012. The game hit new storytelling heights, but without sacrificing its unique action/strategy gameplay.
Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception
A great example of cinematic gaming. This action-packed game shares its DNA with classic movie serials, and their more modern offshoots, such as the Indiana Jones films and Tomb Raider games. Great voice acting, elaborate set pieces, and just the right amount of humor made this an instant classic when it hit in November 2011.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
My favorite game of E3 2011, and a serious addiction since its November 2011 release. It would be hard to find game more packed with content, or different ways to play it, than this open-world fantasy RPG.
A reboot that resets the clock and follows the early adventures of a young Lara Croft, we've seen little of Tomb Raider since E3 2011. The game is now said to be on schedule for an early 2013 release.
Batman: Arkham City
An excellent expansion of the ideas from the original Arkham Asylum game, Batman: Arkham City was released in October 2011 to wide acclaim.
Easily the most buzz-heavy game of E3 2011, everyone has been anxiously awaiting a more in-depth look at this politically tinged retro adventure. Sadly, it's not to be. Just weeks before E3 2012, the game's developers announced that not only would BioShock Infinite slip from late 2012 to early 2013, but the game itself won't even be shown off at E3 this year.