Gears of War (Xbox 360)
What the hell just happened? Did we honestly pick Gears of War as the best game of 2006? No, that can't be. The plan was to throw juvenile tantrums and to violently thrash against the machine! To blind the world with an elitist badge and proclaim an innate resistance against games that are both popular and heavily marketed! It's a shooter, for Allard's sake. You shoot things. With guns.
The senseless violence is but one reason to look away from the screen in disgust. The other, as you may have concluded already, is the appalling state of the game's graphics. They make Pong look like an M.C. Escher painting being displayed in a room pumped full of hallucinogenic gas. If you can even discern your pixelated soldier from the flat environment, you'll note how you get repeatedly punished for running blindly into a hail of bullets and neglecting to take "cover." Not only is this completely unrealistic and contrary to modern warfare, it's a needless refinement to a bizarre, self-preservation concept in the genre. See, it's not even a very good shooter.
The complete lack of immersion and excitement carries over into the game's terrible online cooperative mode. Some idiot on your friends list can rudely jump into your game at any point and then proceed to get in your way at every available turn. Multiplayer deathmatch isn't any better, forcing you to work with 3 other buffoons (who can't even circle-strafe or jump) if you hope to succeed.
Add a forgettable MIDI soundtrack, poor pacing and a complete failure to emulate an action film to your considerations, and you become perfectly equipped to answer the pertinent question. Game of the year? Obviously not.
The runners-up are presented (in order) after the break.