No More Heroes (Wii)
Grasshopper Manufacture
It's a fairly flawed game, mainly due to the poorly-done open world, both in design and interaction, but the core of the game is really about three things:

1) Killing a bunch of dudes: Your reward is cutting them in half and a spray of blood and also coins. Also sometimes you get a super power for no reason, but usually only when there are no dudes left to kill. They probably should have not let that get past QA.

2) Doing a menial task that is still somehow fun: Seriously, do you know how many times I did that fucking litter pick up game? Why the hell is it so fun to pick up abandoned soda cans and candy wrappers? Filling up gas tanks and collecting coconuts is also oddly fulfilling.

3) Fighting a boss: By far the most fun and well-done thing about the game is its boss battles. While the basic mechanics of fighting a boss is the same from boss to boss, each boss is creative and genuinely fun to fight. I'm glad the dev team resisted the urge to use some kind of Twilight Princess-esque remote-swinging controls for swordfighting, because it would have dislocated my shoulder.

No More Heroes is awesome and I can't wait for the sequel. If they can capture the fun, humor, and downright video gameness of the first one, it will be pretty awesome.
Mike "Michael O'Cyberdemon" Watson
This game was fantastic because it never stopped being surprising. It managed to top itself at every turn with a new wacky minigame, over-the-top boss battle or ridiculous Wiimote implementation.

No More Heroes is to brawlers as Earthbound was to early JRPGs: a spoof of genre conventions and an inside joke for longtime gamers.
Matthew "Gangles" Gallant
Goichi Suda poking fun at the games industry with a gritty, fun, and stylized adult brawler for the Wii.
Nick "grayscale" Selpa

Rez HD (Xbox 360)
Q Entertainment
It's Rez, in HD.
James Small

Sid Meier's Civilization Revolution (NDS)
Firaxis Games
It has a lot of flaws and a lot of nitpicky annoyances, and it's even a port of a more complete game, but for all its problems Civilization Revolution on the DS managed to do what I thought impossible: deliver a portable version of Civilization that is very true to its roots. It sucked me in just as badly as any PC version before it.

Best of all, while I spent months in a foreign country where I barely knew anyone and where I had no internet access, it managed to keep me sane during boring, boring evenings. To have a version of Civ that can be with me no matter where I go is quite an achievement, and if it's not GOTY material then it is surely portable GOTY.
Mike "n0wak" Nowak

Silent Hill: Homecoming (PC, Xbox 360, PS3)
Konami / Double Helix
It's certainly not the most ground-breaking game of the year, but while playing through Homecoming I found myself filled with a legitimate sense of dread in a way that I rarely feel when experiencing any media. It was so bad at one point that I actually had to stop playing and pour myself a stiff drink to calm my nerves. Damned if that's not the kind of experience I hope for when playing a game!
Derek "One of the Benchguys" Springer

Sins of a Solar Empire (PC)
Ironclad Games
This game managed to almost flawlessly merge two of my favourite genres--Sins has the pacing of a 4X strategy game with the engagement of real time gameplay. Its scale is also incredible: You manage ships and colonies across several systems, but can zoom way in to watch a single ship fighting.

As a strategy nerd, Sins had me staying up 'til the wee hours of the morning unintentionally more often than any other game this year.
Matthew "Gangles" Gallant

Space Giraffe (PC)
Now that Space Giraffe has made it to PC, Llamasoft has conveniently enabled me to cheat and put my last years number one game in my top 10 this year too. But it's not really cheating -- it's an honest opinion. I'd been playing this throughout the year on 360 and it is quite easily the second best game I've played in 2008. Having now played quite a bit of the PC version--essentially the same game with some added bits--my conscience is clear.

What makes this game special is unfortunately the very thing that turns away just about everyone who tries it. The gameplay is only used as a front end to access the real content, and if you can't rewire your brain to stop expecting something normal and solvable by typical means, you will never tap into what experience is waiting to be discovered.

Space Giraffe does not ask you to watch and react but rather to turn off your eyes and turn on your other senses, then turn on your eyes again. It's as much about using your ears and memory as it is perceiving its visuals. When you are able to "see" the game, it is nothing short of a revelation. The feeling of navigating a field where everything becomes so clear and obvious to you even as spectators see nothing but a coloured mess is one of the most rewarding experiences I've enjoyed throughout my time playing games.
Marc "Mar" BellM