My overall "Game of the Year" is Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. The amount of time you put into a game can be an excellent judge of how much you enjoy it, and I think the 85 hours I've put into Skyrim thus far more than speak for themselves. It's an excellent game that just offers the player so many options that the game seems to be nearly endless. I'll bet that you put 100 hours into three different characters and still find a few new things your fourth time around. Sure there are glitches but they are worth it in the end. Plus what's a Bethesda game without complaining about the bugs that plague the game?
However, in the spirit of the site, I would like to discuss my second place Game of the Year, which just so happens to be a co-op title. Like Skyrim, this title was plagued with glitches, lag, and freezes but the overall gameplay experience proved to be worth the frustration (including the loss of trophy progress!) I'm talking about Dead Island, which ended up being not only a surprise, spur of the moment purchase for me but also one of the best I've made this year. At the time I had saved up the cash for Resistance 3, expecting a revamped co-op mode that would be an improvement on that of Resistance 2. I was crushed when it was announced that a separate co-op mini mode would not be present, and I began to question my desire to own the game. Then I started paying more attention to Dead Island. Yes, that first teaser video definitely had something to do with it, but the four-player drop in/ drop out campaign co-op had a lot more to do with it. It also helped that quite a few members on the site were also pre-ordering. In the end I felt that Dead Island would give me more replay value than Resistance 3, and I was dead right.
There's only one fact I need to give that will show you why Dead Island is my co-op Game of the Year. Every game I've played in co-op I've also played in single player. Whether it was because the game was so fun I wanted to go through on my own or if a partner wasn't available often enough for my taste, I almost always had several games going on. Some prime examples are Left 4 Dead, Sacred 2, War in the North, Borderlands, Dead Nation, and any beat 'em up. At times I just have no qualms about playing a game solo. However, the only time I played Dead Island solo was just to get through the prologue so that I could join a co-op game. After my character was able to jump into other games, I never played single player again.
Dead Island's drop in/ drop out co-op system is perfect. I can't put it any simpler than that. I've played with quite a few different members of the site, and either I'm jumping in their game (if I'm further along than them) or they jump in mine (if they have gotten further in the story.) It doesn't matter what the difference in story progress or character level is, it's a party that everyone and anyone is invited to. I prefer to play with members of the site, but if the occasional "evil poptart" stranger happens to jump aboard for a bit and tries to steal my weapons, as long as they are also killing zombies then they are ok in my book. Dead Island is not a lot of fun when playing by yourself, but when you have a friend or three join you the game just takes a really fun, addictive turn.
Skyrim is my personal Game of the Year, but it lacks co-op. Dead Island is my second favorite release of 2011 and it's a game that I will only play in co-op. The gameplay and co-op intergration are just done so well, and I haven't even checked out the survival mode DLC yet! Dead Island is by far my co-op Game of the Year, and it should be yours too.