2008 was just an okay year in comparison to what 2007 had to offer. One of the most annoying thing about 2008 is the fact that nobody wants to shut the fuck up about The Dark Knight movie and at the same time, the triple a title games weren’t as strong as last year’s. This was like a “so-what” year for me personally. We’ve reached the peak of what we can do in video games and we’re just left wondering what else is there? It became apparent that this was the dawn of ‘sequelitis” that over-saturate the video game market and flood of DLCs that makes us pay even more than the $60 we’ve already purchased. However this year did make a difference by having more titles/exclusives released for the consoles. The PS3 needed their exclusives to get more people to buy the Playstation 3 from forever damaging the gaming market for Sony by releasing a new Metal Gear game, the return to the platforming craze, and so many more. This was a meh year for video games as it didn’t do any particularly special for gaming.
Number 10. – Soul Calibur IV
This installment of the series did nothing spectacularly new except for the giant elephant in the room which is including Star Wars characters (Dearth Vader, Apprentice, and Yoda) and it has online play. But after making the perfect 3D fighting game in the Dreamcast, why change what isn’t broken? The only thing left to improve is the presentation and minor issues and that’s what this game did. It was a breath of fresh air to see that this title isn’t an exclusive like the previous game of the series and was multiplat… except it’s only for the 360 and PS3. Soul Calibur IV is accessible for newcomers and beginners but still has plenty of depth and technicality for veterans and experienced players, including an abundance of single player challenges in Tower of Lost Souls mode. Other than that, you’re basically playing the same game but will shinier graphics and Star Wars included.
Number 9. – LittleBigPlanet
Sony tried once again to gain the plaformer audience into their console by releasing LittleBigPlanet. It’s been a while since we’ve had a true Platformer exclusive on a Sony Console because they focused more on action and violent/mature games and yet out of all the one that Sony had released, this is the most ambitious platformer releases. It’s a sidescrolling platformer that blends extremely well with simulation, meaning that it’s that type of game where you’re able to create your character and your own level that you can save to your console and post on the internet for the whole world to play. Collecting objects and customizing your Sackboy expands the player’s creativity and imagination into an virtual sensation. There’s so much likeness into the game that even made playing with your friends locally and online feel like a dream come true. However it doesn’t really make it a selling point for the console because the issue of placing stickers to unlock doors, jumping mechanics isn’t very good, and there are a lot of bad and unoriginal levels (like those damn Super Mario Bros. levels) flooding that’s posted online. But because the game give the player such privilege earns itself to be in the list.
Number 8. – Bionic Commando: Rearmed
Now you have two choices, get the rebooted one that had a claustrophobic gameplay & design and horrible storytelling or the re-imagining of the original NES classic that’s still fun to play. If you picked the second choice, you should pat yourself on the head for being a true gamer. It’s easy to forget how much you take for granted. The first half hour or so of playing Bionic Commando Rearmed is very frustrating – but it’s through no fault of the game. After playing so many Hop-n-bop platformers like Mario, it’s a different experience when you don’t have the jump button. It takes a little while to get used to: but once you do, that first half hour is forgotten in some of the most graceful movement you’ll ever find in a platformer. Nathan Spencer’s arm can shoot out diagonally, straight ahead or directly up: from these basics the game teaches you, slowly at first, how to scale structures, cross gaps and negotiate tight spaces. Taking your first steps is daunting, but once realisation hits that you shouldn’t really be walking anywhere the game transforms into a quickfire pattern of glorious arcs, momentum-fueled attacks and gravity-scorning last-minute saves. Other than replaying the original NES game, there are a number of other modes and challenges that are significant additions rather than filler. Prime among these is the challenge mode, but the multiplayer options come a close second. Co-operative multiplayer works extremely well, with lives shared between the players and no umbilical cord keeping both on the one screen, and the AI of certain enemies altered to suit the challenge. Four player deathmatch is well implemented, although perhaps not suiting the core abilities as well as co-operative play.The core of the game might be a remake, but the features and polish applied move it beyond the realm of simple cash-ins to one of the finest games to grace PSN or XBLA.
Number 7. – No More Heroes
On reflection it’s hard to actually figure out whether No More Heroes is playing a very clever game or simply idiotic in its concept, but it is a recipe for a fun experience! It’s premise is a geek tragedy compromising everything that normally prompts groaning: the main protagonist is a massive Otaku, a wrestling fanatic of large proportions and full of one-liners that would be out of place pretty much anywhere. The action amounts to little more than a basic slasher where spamming the A button will get you through most of the basic fights without breaking much sweat while the action inbetween the main events lumbers between the insane and the grinding. I think the best things from this game come down to the fact that I’ve never experienced anything like it, with all the good and bad that entails. If you’re after a game to see your Wii get used one more time, I’m sure that you can find an enjoyable part of this game somewhere, regardless of the fact that it is flawed in many, many ways. And if you don’t have a Wii, you can also pick up No More Heroes: Heroes Paradise on the Playstation 3 in the west. I have yet to play on Heroes Paradise myself, but I’ve been told that the experience is quite similar to what I’d expect. Be under no illusion, it is a crazy game in many ways but one that usually manages to sustain a smile on the face of whoever is playing. The battles are satisfying, the jobs entertaining enough though thankfully short lived. The sequel (No More heroes 2: desperate Struggle) came along and tightened up various areas but that is for another article. For now Travis’ first adventure comes highly recommended, there are very few holiday destinations like Santa Destroy.
Number 6. – Dead Space
I stated that I’m not a fan of Resident Evil 4, and to know that there’s a game that’s ripping off the gameplay of RE4 and set it into space didn’t at all fascinate me. Thankfully, Dead Space is not a waste by any stretch of the imagination. The gameplay and physics is so interesting to watch that it beckons the player to shoot anything that moves. It’s really worth mentioned the beautifully crafted tension and atmosphere. The scariest bits of the game are when you’re alone – and that isn’t very often unless you are forced to backtrack. The vast majority of the weapons available to you in Dead Space are other mining tools you find lying around: buzzsaws, flame throwers, and even a telekinesis (TK) tool which allows you to move large objects – savvy players will conserve ammo by shooting off the Necromorph’s scythe-like arms, TK them towards you, and launch them back out at the oncoming enemy, harpoon style. It’s not until the last act of the game that you lay your hands on your first actual gun in the traditional sense of the word. Story-wise, it doesn’t’ offer anything new or well written as we’ve seen monsters invading your space fortress and you must fight your way to your lost wife. After finally seeing what happened to her, there really is no purpose of replaying the game.
Number 5. – Mirror’s Edge
Though this is possibly EA’s attempt to compete against Valve’s Portal, it’s still one of the most unique action game of all time. It’s also known as a 3D Platformer in first person and never has a game in their perspective ever so amazing to view. For the most part you’re weapon-less, with the first-person perspective giving you the perfect view of the city and the exhilarating moves you’re able to pull off. For a game that looks incredibly complicated to control, developer DICE should be commended for managing to map most of what matters onto the four shoulder buttons of the two next-gen console controllers. Of course, the PC game also supports a keyboard and mouse, although unless you’ve got incredibly dextrous fingers we’d always recommend a 360 controller over the more traditional PC controls – for the platforming gameplay a pad makes for a far better experience. We haven’t even touched on the more advanced techniques yet, like wall running (and jumping from a wall run), wall jumps by using the quick turn button and tucked jumps by holding the up button while in the air. The levels have been built in a way to make the most of Faith’s incredible agility, so the obvious route is rarely, if ever, the best option. It’s a testament to the gameplay that we even enjoyed opening doors, something that quite rightly barely gets a mention in the majority of games. The way Faith smashes through them never gets dull, and the transition from the sterile indoor environments to the stunning outdoors always impress. Doors are fun, but smashing through glass is even better. It feels strange talking about such mundane things, but when you’re Faith, seeing the world with her eyes, even the most simple actions feel good.
Number 4. – Super Smash Bros. Brawl
We’ve all long awaited for another Smash Bros. game after all the hours we played against friends with Melee on the Gamecube. Brawl is both superior and inferior to Melee. It’s superior because the roster is different from one another, there are special moves for everyone, and it features a story mode which the series has never had. It’s also inferior because speed is slower, many of the stage selection is uninteresting, and many of the special moves are left to be desired. Either if you like Brawl or Melee better, there’s no excuse to put this in your Wii collection. In an innovative twist, Brawl features the ability to play with four different controllers: the GameCube controller, the classic controller, the remote or the remote and nunchuk. Also new to the series is the feature of playing online with either friend codes or random people online, even despite the fact the the Wii’s online gameplay is horrid in comparison to the PS3 & 360. The gameplay is as good as ever, and the changes to the system seem to be for the better. Final Smashes turn the already frantic Smash Bros. gameplay into something even more hilarious and fun, the new items are exciting and worthwhile, and the stages are some of the best to ever host the Smash Bros. franchise. The replay value is through the roof, not just because of the wonderful gameplay, but also due to the seemingly endless parade of items to collect. Between the trophies, stickers and unlockable challenges, you’ll probably still be unlocking things in Brawl when the next Smash Bros. title comes out. Super Smash Bros. Brawl may not be perfect, but it is definitely a game that everyone with a Wii should own.
Number 3. – Metal Gear Solid 4:
Guns of the Patriots
MGS4 was the best reason to get a PS3 when it was till striving in the market from lack of sales (due to the fact that it was too expensive compared to the Wii and 360). Of course if you were a hardcore Metal Gear fan, you’ve bought the PS3 just for this game alone. And I can’t stress enough that you have to play or be familiar with the previous games of the series otherwise you’ll be completely lost and start to hate this game. It’s exciting to play as Solid Snake in the 10th Anniversary since Solid was released because MGS3 was the prequel – the beginning of the franchise’s timeline playing as Naked Snake/Big Boss – and we only played Solid Snake in the first hour of MGS2. Though the controls and the gameplay is the best that the series has ever been in, it’s gigantic downfall is the fact that the cutscenes are awesome that it makes the gameplay suck in comparison. I never thought I would ever say that to a video game, but Hedio Kojima accomplish such compliment. When you’re watching stuff like Raiden doing all of these choreographic moves, you’ll be saying to yourself “That’s amazing, but why can’t I do that?” Funny that this is a game series that made this interactive media known as video games to have a focus on cinematic experience, seem to go full force with it in this installment of the series. Even right from the beginning you had unskippable live-action commercials just to show off the PS3’s hardware. It’s completely unnecessary, when trying to play the game, and it’s even worse when you complete a chapter you have to wait for the load times/download to complete. This makes replaying the game so frustrating even though many of us really wants to replay this game again and again. The stealth and controls are at the game’s peak. Never has there been a game of the series that felt so easy to play yet so satisfying that made Kojima either a mad genius or just mad. Many of our favorite characters of the series returns to this installment and it’s a nostalgic joy to see old faces that was never again seen since their debut. It really shows the game’s long history with it’s fans. Despite showcasing what the PS3 can possibly do, the whole purpose of this game was to give a climax to the series’ timeline and answer all unanswered questions from the series. That’s why it’s highly recommended to play the other games of the series in order to understand and enjoy this game. But after being a long time fan of the series, MGS4 delivers one of the best conclusions and final chapter of any fictional sagas that I’ve ever witnessed, if only the cutscenes didn’t take too long to conclude it.
Number 2. – Shin Megami Tensei:
To even prove why the Playstation 2 is the best console of the 2000’s, it’s last best hit was Atlus’s best game and possibly the last good JRPG before the whole japanese genre started to become mediocre. It’s a high school simulator, a murder mystery, and a hardcore dungeon crawler. You, a high school student, might spend a morning taking a history exam, lunchtime eating ramen on the roof with the girl you want to date, and the afternoon fighting shadow monsters in the fantasy world you access by walking into your television. There are a lot of reasons to love Persona 4. For Americans, interacting with virtual characters in the sleepy city of Inaba, Japan is like peeking into the window of another world, a world where people sit on cushions to eat dinner, where they address each other with honorifics and go to school on Saturdays. It’s culture shock in a way that few other games have captured: Japan’s take on Japan is absolutely fascinating from an outsider’s perspective. The world of Persona 4 is surreal and unusual and fascinating and, in many ways, despite its hardships, it is also ideal. Intangible qualities are measured by statistics. Persona 4 is the pinnacle of PS2 RPGs. No title is going to be able to touch it. No Final Fantasy, no Tales of whatever, not even the much vaunted Shadow Hearts series. If you enjoy RPGs even in the slightest, you must own Persona 4.
Number 1. – Fallout 3
We haven’t had another Fallout game since 1999 (Fallout Tactics and Brotherhood of Steel does not count) and it’s incredible that the Fallout series finally has grown up into a fully 3D open world game. Sure anyone can call this game Oblivion with guns, but this is a whole new stratosphere we’re talking about here! Bethesda did justice to the series by giving this a first person persecutive, put everything in real time action but all still remaining continuity with what the series is most known for. Once you exit the vault and journey into the Wasteland, it’s all up to the player to decide what they want to do in these quests given to him. It’s a game filled with so many objects to find & collect, random situations that are varied in every location, and so many moral choices to make that either makes this world better for others or worse to satisfy your ego. For the most part, the spirit is intact – quests can be completed in any order, there are multiple endings for each, and your character is entirely customizable, both their appearance and their technique. A wide range of weapons are available – points can be assigned to skill in melee and various sorts of gunnery each time a character levels up, as well as skills like speech and intelligence, which open up options in quests and such. It’s a fairly deep leveling scheme, granting far more freedom than Oblivion did, because points can be assigned at will and are not based on what you fight with. For all Fallout cares, you can level up your Big Guns proficiency by beating on people with clubs. Perks have also returned, albeit in smaller numbers than previous Fallout games. These traits are chosen one at a time after each level, and range from the useful – plus 3 skill points each level? Sign me up! – to the humorous – Bloody Mess, for example, gives players a chance to make enemies explode into clouds of gore no matter what they killed them with. Combat is offered in two flavors. Fallout is played primarily from a first-person perspective, and fights play out much like they would in any other shooter. However, fighting in this mode still takes RPG mechanics into account – hit percentages will still count as they would in a turn based system. This actually makes playing in real-time more frustrating, because it’s entirely possible that your perfectly-aligned headshot will miss by a mile due to a 45% distance percentage handicap. Luckily, there’s the V.A.T.S. combat assistant, a bizarre mode that resembles the old Fallout battle screen – specific limbs can be targeted (and the hit percentages are shown, making near misses a little easier to swallow). The game pauses, you line up your shots, and then a slick cutscene plays, showing how the encounter goes down. It’s unique, and it looks great whenever you blast someone’s head into pieces in slow motion (it never gets old)! Fallout 3 is simply one of the greatest games that has ever came out from last gen! With such an amazing atmosphere that gives the player so many choices, an amazing adventure with so many directions, and an immense growth for your character that makes grinding rewarding, it’s no wonder why so many fans feel so emotionally invested with what the game has in stored. It’s a game that forces the player to take action and justify the decision you’ve made. Sure the bugs and crash is what really holds the game back from being the a contender of the best game of all time, but no other post-apocalyptic game even feels quite like Fallout 3 since and after. And if there’s ever a game that seems to dominate what Fallout 3 accomplished, the one thing it will never do is make us forget the memories and investment that we all put towards the many hours on this world.
- Top 10 Video Games of 2009
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