Monday, December 29, 2008

Top Ten Games of 2008

Being realistic, I know that this list is more important to me than it is to you. With one or two exceptions, most of the people who read here really have no idea what all of this is about, but it is all good. Anyway, here are my picks for the top ten games I played this year.

10. Penny Arcade Adventures: On The Rainslicked Precipice of Darkness

If I have anything that can be considered a guilty pleasure, it is Penny Arcade. I tend to have a love/hate relationship with turn based RPGs, but if all of those games played like Penny Arcade Adventures, then it would be all love. The only downside is that both episodes released this year clock in at a total time of about 11 hours at the most. Despite the relative shortness these games were still fun and caused me to laugh.

9. Rock Band 2
Yeah, this is mostly the same game as last year's Rock Band, but it is still fun. The way that the Band World Tour was revamped is a big improvement, and I am a big fan at how they allow all of the Rock Band 1 tracks to be put on a hard drive. This combined with downloadable tracks gives Abigail and I well over 175 songs to rock out with.

8. Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway
I am a bit surprised that this made my list, but as I thought about it this was one my personal favorites from this year. Brothers in Arms adds a healthy dose or realism to WWII shooters. The previous BIA games claimed accuracy by modeling the environments meticulously after real world locations. This one forgoes that but delivers a much tighter narrative and much better gameplay. Every firefight is tense, and it is very satisfying to successfully flank an enemy and land a head shot. The game's story tries a little to hard to be Band of Brothers, but it is a much better story than 95% of shooters out there. The only thing that holds this game back is its subpar multiplayer, which is a shame because on the PS2 I really liked Brothers in Arms multiplayer.

DiRT was one my surprise game of 2007, so I was excited about the street racing game by the same people. The single player was a lot of fun. Like DiRT, the game felt realistic enough to not be arcadey but was forgiving enough not to be boring. It was unfortunate, that the majority of the players online were pretentious racing snobs. Despite that, this game still managed to take up a lot of time over the summer.

6. Soul Calibur IV
I have a soft spot for fighting games, as it was the genre that fueled my video game love to move beyond Mario. My favorite fighting game series is Soul Calibur, and Soul Calibur IV continued that. I was a little disappointed by the lack of depth to the single player experience, but the online play is nice, and I have still managed to sink about 50 hours into the game (and counting). Plus any game where this can be a screen shot is instant win:

5. Call of Duty World at War
COD: World at War has gotten a lot of criticism because it is a World War II game. I find that to be an odd reason to hate on a game, but I am personally happy that COD went back to the last great war. The single player missions lack any real cohesion, but they are well designed, even if some of the levels (like the Stalingrad sniper one) have been done a bit to many times. The multiplayer in this game is the best part though. The multiplayer maps are excellent (with only a couple of exceptions), and the ranking up system from last year is still fun and addictive. I will be coming back to this game for a good portion of 2009.

4. Fallout 3
I just started playing this game, and I am only three hours into it. However, I am fairly sure I barely blinked in those three hours, and I swore I had only been sitting there for an hour tops. Fallout 3 is Oblivion with guns and that is perfect for me. I have no doubt that had I started playing this game earlier it would be higher, but it needs to be on my list of top games for this year.

3. Fable 2
Fable 2 is an action RPG that is all about the experience of being the character in a grand story. The combat system is good, and the sims-esque interaction is unique. However, there is not a whole lot that truly stands out individually in Fable 2, but when the entire package is put together it makes for a most excellent game that needs to be experienced.

2. Civilization Revolution
Civilization is a long standing and highly complex strategy game. The game invokes a strong sense of "just one more turn". I have mentioned this before but once I played Civilization 3 for like eight hours without moving. This game takes the Civilization formula and simplifies it, removing a lot of the details oriented micromanagement. The biggest plus is that a single game of Civ Rev only takes a couple of hours. This is a game I can see myself coming back to time and time again.

1. Left 4 Dead
Left 4 Dead nails a very simple formula for success. The formula looks like this. Zombies+Shooting=Awesome. Left 4 Dead is a near perfect Zombie game. The game is a little short on content, but each time one of the four "movies" is played it is different than the time before. The game does not cease to be tense and fun. In addition to that, the versus multiplayer is probably the most fun I have ever had playing a video game ever. I play video games to have fun, so that is what makes Left 4 Dead my #1 game this year.

So those are my top ten games. If I were to do a couple of more than 10 games, here are my honorable mentions: Dead Space, Endwar, Rainbow Six Vegas 2, Gears of War 2, and Rocketmen: Axis of Evil.


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