2. Dragon Age 2 (PC, Xbox 360, PS3)
I know I'm going to get flak for this, but I really don't care at this point. Dragon Age 2 is a fantastic roleplaying game with the emphasis firmly on playing the role of the champion of Kirkwall. I felt so connected to Hawke and his friends like Anders, Varric or Isabella (hubba hubba), that by the dramatic climax I was making decisions not for any gamist goal of stats or quest completion but because I genuinely cared for the characters' well-being.
Dragon Age 2 did change a lot from its predecessor - and that really put people off I suppose - but the improvements added up to an experience that was more fun without any of the annoyances of UI or comabt that haunt most RPGs. The inventory management worked better, and it was fun pulling off the cross-class combos in the more action-oriented combat. People complained about going back to the same locations, but I personally enjoyed adventuring in a single city and getting to know its locales as well as I know the streets of Brooklyn. I lived in Kirkwall for the first half of 2011 and loved every minute of it. (And no, EA didn't pay me money to say that.)
1. Skyrim (PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3)
Skyrim has become an obsession for me and just about everyone with a nerd pulse. I'm playing Bethesda's RPG in its PC form, and I have almost enjoyed the metagame of researching and downloading mods more than the game itself. Ok that's an exaggeration, because once the inventory UI was fixed and the textures improved, I have spent hours and hours roaming the tundras and plains, in search of veins of gold and collecting wolf pelts. Oh, and fireballing large numbers of bandit leaders, becoming head of the Companions and picking more than a few locks. I've even done a couple of the main quests! In short, Skyrim is everything that I love about gaming in one title: a world full of adventure.
That's it folks, my five favorite games of 2011. I think it's a delicious mix of genre and platform, and I would be happy endlessly playing any one of them over the holidays. Or you know, just Skyrim for 4 days straight.