This holiday season belongs to The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. I can't turn around in this office without bumping into a group of people talking about dragon combat or the secret masks in Skyrim. While Modern Warfare 3 may not be the topic of many discussions around here, my Xbox Live friends list, which is composed of many Game Informer readers, is filled with people competing in the game's multiplayer.

Saints Row: The Third is deserving of the same "holiday hit" respect. I couldn't put this game down, and in the span of just three short days, have completed over 90 percent of the game, and won't play anything else until I see everything it has to offer. I'm a big fan of silly humor and over-the-top action. Saints Row: The Third makes great use of both of these elements, almost coming across as a Naked Gun sequel directed by Michael Bay. By no means am I saying that you should stop questing in Skyrim or shooting teenagers in Modern Warfare 3 to play it. Just make sure you get around to it eventually. This is one of the year's must-play releases for all gamers. Here are a few reasons why I love this sandbox experience.

HUGE Set Piece Moments

If a Hollywood studio adapted this game into a movie it would probably cost a billion dollars to make. Everything in this game blows up, and the action sequences often defy logic, such as skydiving in a tank or entering a virtual reality world to battle a gang leader. Volition does a tremendous job of framing the insanity and heightening the excitement tied to them through beautifully crafted gameplay.

The Awesome Button
It lives up to its name. The Awesome Button can perform tornado DDTs, dropkicks, and flying clotheslines to any character in the game. For car jacking, it dramatically speeds up the process by launching your character through the windshield into the driver's seat.

Experience Earned for Everything

You probably wouldn't peg Saints Row as a game that would offer a satisfying RPG-like experience for character development, but it has a surprisingly deep system that allows players to gain experience for almost every "extreme" action in the game. Driving into oncoming traffic, swerving near cars, and chaining together headshots rewards the player with percentage bumps. Once enough experience is earned, the character ranks up, and given the level, might unlock new a new useful perk. These include smaller things like quicker revive times, increased follower health, and improved vehicle durability. There are also perks so useful they seem like cheat codes. At the higher levels you'll be able to buy immunity from bullets and fire, as well as the ability to call a homie who will deliver a VTOL to your location.

Most Activities are Fun

In Saints Row 2, many of the side activities ended up feeling like chores. This isn't the case in Saints Row: The Third. Almost every activity ends up being a blast. I couldn't get enough of Tank Mayhem and Professor Genki's Ethical Reality Climax.

An Amazing Assortment of Weapons

While most people seem to talk about the *** bat and the fart in the jar weapons, Saints Row: The Third actually packs an impressive arsenal that offers more firepower than any Modern Warfare game. I'll just say this, helicopters don't stand a chance against my pistols. That's right, pistols.

The Best Co-Op in the Biz

Seriously, folks. If you play this game, make sure you are connected with a friend online. The side activities are more entertaining when played two-player, and the story and dialogue often lend themselves to conversation.

It's Really Funny

I've said this before: We need more comedies in our gaming diets. Saints Row: The Third shows us just how a comedy can be handled in the video game space.

Playing as a Zombie
The entire game can be played through the eyes of a zombie (whom you create from the outset). The zombie's actions are no different than a humans, but Volition went out of its way to record unique zombie dialogue for every cutscene in the game. The zombie doesn't speak English, yet tries its best. You'll even hear this adorable guy sing along to a popular song during a scripted car ride. I wouldn't recommend playing as a zombie until the second playthrough, as you'll miss story content.

If you've followed my blog for the last few months, you know this is the third entry in my "Game of the Year" list. As I mentioned before, I'm only doing these blogs for games I haven't reviewed and believe will be on my Top 10 list come year end. Be sure to read my Why Dark Souls is One of My Games of the Year, and Why Dead Island is One of My Game of the Year posts. As for games I've reviewed that are in contention for this list, check out my Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Batman: Arkham City, and Dead Space 2 reviews. My love of Portal 2 can be found in My Top 25 Games of this Generation list.