As a counter to the thread on biggest disappointments, I'd like to know what games surprised you with how good they were compared to your expectations?
Again, I'll start us off:
Saints Row: The Third
The first games in the series held no interest for me, just solid open world crime games in the GTA mold. Taking the series off the rails and just going with whatever ideas they had made their solid mechanics shine and one of the more memorable, zany gaming experiences I've ever had. Zombie section? You got it. Burt Reynolds playing himself? I'm in. Oh, and the voice actress for FemShep, Jennifer Hale, is an option for your character's voice if you play a female character, which provided for massive cognitive dissonance in a good way.
From the graphical style to the "back of the box" description, Minecraft sounded a little boring at first. But what it becomes when you play it goes so far beyond that. The creative abilities you have in this game go way past what Media Molecule was going for with LittleBigPlanet, the narratives you can generate for yourself are fantastic, and the ability to mod the game makes it one of the most extensible games ever created. It is way ahead of its time, and I look forward to seeing where it goes in the future.
Batman: Arkham Asylum
Given the series history, this game came out of left field for me. Set in a violent, darker toned Gotham, specifically the titular Arkham Asylum famous for holding some of the most notorious villains in comic book history, with fantastic production values, some of the best voice work in gaming, and tight, entertaining combat mechanics made this one of the highlights of this generation for me. The follow up was also quite good, and I excitedly await the next game in the series.
What other games surprised you with how great they were?