Additional picks (no particular order):
Viva Piñata (Xbox 360)
Viva Piñata is a surprisingly addictive game that easily fills the "relaxing game" niche. Putting together gardens and attracting colorful piñata is serene. Plus, the game is absolutely beautiful to look at.
Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (PC)
The Elder Scrolls series has always been a personal favorite, and Oblivion does not fail to impress. Sporting a huge, open world and free-form gameplay that still manages to build a story kept this gamer hooked to the PC for over 200 hours. That level of replay makes Oblivion an excellent addition to any RPG fans library.
Medieval II: Total War (PC)
Medieval II: Total War brought the Total War franchise back to the European middle ages. Sporting an updated version of the excellent Rome: Total War engine, Medieval II brings the feel of mass-scale combat to the PC. The variety of nations and incredible battles featuring thousands of men on each side is an incredible sight to see.
Suikoden V (PS2)
Suikoden V brought the Suikoden series back to its roots built up by Suikoden and Suikoden 2. Featuring a traditional battle setup and mass army modes, Suikoden V is a classic RPG fan's dream. The story is well developed and there aren't any lengthy cut scenes or movies in sight. The ability to weave an excellent story without ripping the control from the gamer makes Suikoden V an instant classic.
Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner: Raidou Kuzunoha vs. the Soulless Army (PS2)
The newest addition to the SMT series brought us to the world of 1920's Japan, an age where the old ways and the modernizing Western ways are clashing and bringing up demons from another realm. SMT follows the exploits of Raidou Kuzunoha as he plays detective and combats demons. The game features an excellent real time combat system that includes summoning a demon sidekick. SMT also wins the "Longest Name of the Year" award.
See also: Joystiq's Game of the Year
- Okami (PS2) - I simply don't understand the attraction to this game. Sure, it is incredibly beautiful and has an excellent musical score, but the game is beyond easy to play. Furthermore, Clover managed to destroy the wonderfully developing storyline by (WARNING! SPOILER!) turning a classical Japanese legend into a B-grade SciFi movie.
- Final Fantasy XII (PS2) - The combat system idea was on the right track, but it simply didn't pan out. The idea of a self-running game simply isn't interesting and micromanaging every character is just as bad. There just didn't feel to be a good balance. Plus, too many movies.
- Gears of War (Xbox 360) - Yes, the game is gorgeous and a blast to play, but it is over way too quickly. Combine that with a personal aversion to the online gaming crowd (the word "gay" is used far too frequently) turned this game into a 3 hour title. Had the game been 7 times longer, there wouldn't be an issue.
- Elite Beat Agents (DS) - Color me crazy, but a single song CAN ruin a rhythm game, especially if you're required to play it multiple times. That song in the otherwise addictive Elite Beat Agents is ruined by La La (in all its rip-off glory) by Ashley Simpson. Anything by Ashley Simpson turns an otherwise fine music score into junk. Plus, the horrid rendition of Rock This Town didn't help much either.
- Phoenix Wright: Justice for All (DS) - Badly put together storylines, hackneyed evidence chains and the lack of a DS exclusive case featured in the original turned this sequel into something less than impressive. The first Phoenix Wright was an addictive and excellent title. The second ruined the momentum the first developed. Still, kudos for this being able to import this from Japan without having to understand Japanese, though the couple of months savings wasn't worth it.
- Prey (Xbox 360) - I wonder what the design team was thinking. "Hey, lets make a game that you can't lose!" That is what Prey is all about, you simply cannot lose. The cakewalk Prey wasn't worth the 10 year wait. The age absolutely shone through with the simplistic shooter gameplay and boring level design.