So, what's YOUR Top 10?

Since Tom’s top 10 thread this year seems to be more focused on discussing his list rather than posting our own, I figured a dedicated thread for dueling lists was in order. Here’s mine, with an explanation of why each one made it:

  1. Age of Empires: Age of Mythologies. This was a pretty rough year for the DS, in my opinion. The only other game I purchased for the system this year was Advance Wars: Days of Ruin. I never did get around to The World Ends With You, but I’m sure if I had it would bump this game off the list. Regardless, it’s a nifty little turn-based strategy game with what looks to be quite a bit of staying power. It has three campaigns, a variety of special scenarios, skirmish maps, achievements, and unlockables to extend its lifespan.

  2. Warhammer Online. While it wasn’t everything I hoped it would be, it brought some genuine innovations to the WoW-saturated MMO headspace. If the leveling is accelerated at some point, I may return, because it had some interestingly-differentiated class mechanics and real atmosphere for the various races.

  3. SoulCalibur IV. The first game in the series I’ve enjoyed since the original SoulCalibur. The decision to include Star Wars characters was not as disastrously retarded as I feared it would be.

  4. GTA IV. Ultimately not as mind-blowing as expected, but still pretty damn top-notch. Like its predecessors, it eventually eroded my enthusiasm through a combination of minor annoyances and pain-in-the-ass missions, but it still stands as a step forward for the sandbox genre.

  5. Audiosurf. Music games that will work from the user’s library of favorites, rather than a selection of licensed tracks designed to have broad appeal, are an important step forward for the genre. A $10 price tag didn’t hurt either.

  6. Sins of a Solar Empire. Personally, I was thrilled with the MoO2-lite gameplay on offer. This game also had the most fantastic-looking massive space battles of any game to date. Stardock’s phenomenal post-release support deserves kudos as well.

  7. Monsters’ Den: Book of Dread. Thanks to our friend garin, I lost a lot of productive hours to this little gem. It improved on the previous release in numerous ways, most importantly by adding new classes to improve replayability and adding an item shop, while refining the nifty dungeon-crawling and party-based tactical combat that lies at its core. If you haven’t played it yet, check it out for free on Kongregate.

  8. Rock Band 2. The game itself is an improvement on the original in every way (although I think the base tracklist isn’t quite as cool), but Harmonix’s year-round support of the franchise is the real star of the Rock Band series. With its full backward compatibility with existing DLC and the option to import RB1’s tracks, RB2 achieves Harmonix’s goal of being a true music platform effortlessly.

  9. Left 4 Dead. Not much to say here, other than “Valve has done it again.” I was a bit leery of its full-priced release, given the incredible value that the Orange Box led me to expect from them, but it turned out to be worth it. Whether you’re doing pickups on the Qt3 Steam group or hosting an 8-person LAN party for severe Vs. ownage, this is the best multiplayer game of the year.

  10. Fallout 3. Once again, what can I say? Bethesda did the impossible and crafted a worthy successor both to their own series of first-person sandbox RPGs and to one of the most revered series in gaming history. The entertainment value of watching NMA cry and moan about it made the whole thing even better.

In no particular order:

Valkyria Chronicles
Why aren’t more people talking about the best game from Sega since…uhh…Skies? You can even use Vyse and Aika in battle. While I wish they would make a new Skies game, I hope Valkyria sells enough to get me a sequel. Course everyone would rather talk about Uncharted so whatever.

Saints Row 2
GTA4 what? I played GTA before it went 3D, and the series was originally about having fun. Not babysitting your fat relative in a twisted inner-city version of Ico. Saints Row 2 improves on the original in so many ways, offers excellent online functionality, and keeps all of the absurd fun of the original, and in some ways improves upon the forumla. How many games can you fill a bright purple van with uzi toting ninjas? Seriously.

Fallout 3
If I were to pick a #1, this would probably be it. I liked it so much that upon hearing criticism about it I blather on about ‘the experience’. Pretty crazy!

Tales of Vesperia
Best RPG on the 360, and despite the wah wah N-fans protests, probably the best Tales game period.

Yggdra Union PSP
Originally on the GBA, fully realized on the PSP. I wish this game got more of a chance from reviewers, who seem to think that the on screen combat where you actually press buttons, is more repetative than the combat in Advance Wars games you have to watch, but cant interact with. That makes sense.

Disgaea 3
Best game of the series, but even I must admit that I think I am Disgaea’ed out. You can thank Disgaea PSP for that. Still, the story is superior to the one in Disgaea 2 and the new gameplay mechanics are clever and useful.

Hot Shots Golf Open Tee 2
Why this game, but maybe a little prettier, wasn’t what was given to PS3 owners blows my mind. Washing the taste of HSG5 outta my mouth required many hours of Open Tee 2.

MLB 08 The Show
My favorite Baseball game ever- but since I am not a baseball buff, if 09 is just a roster update, then i’ll stick with 08 for a while.

Naruto The Broken Bond
Yes yes, it’s Naruto. I couldn’t pick DW Gundam 1, and 2 isnt out stateside till next year. Naruto is the very best Naruto game ever made, and possibly the best videogame based on an anime ever made. DW Gundam comes close. 100,000 kills baby wooooo!

Geometry Wars Retro Evolved 2
Adding modes to a sequel that allow me to get decent scores and look less shameful on XBL will get you a spot in my top 10.

  1. GTA 4
  2. Fallout 3

And those are the games of 2008 for me.

I haven’t played enough games to have a top 10 list. I will say that Braid is the game I most enjoyed watching other people play. The game I played the most myself would probably be WOTLK, but I’m not really enjoying it. The quality is there, but I’m not feeling the itch to play. Let us pray that it continues.

I expect Fallout 3 would be my GOTY, if I had time to play it…

I thought Burning Crusade was a better expansion, but I think WOTLK is more a case of a MMORPG at the end of its lifecycle. I mean Blizzard’s content updates between expansions are massive and I think the later expansions will always lose a lot of their punch because Blizzard brings us so much between them.

Here’s how I’d rank the ones I’ve played:

  1. Fallout 3
  2. Tales of Vesperia
  3. Fable II
  4. Gears of War 2
  5. Rock Band 2
  6. Viva Pinata: Trouble in Paradise
  7. Sins of a Solar Empire
  8. LittleBigPlanet
  9. Lost Odyssey
  10. Hinterland

A big caveat, though: I’ve only played 12-13 games that came out this year. There are still many games that were released this year that I haven’t gotten to yet. I won’t buy all of these but I will at least try demos - EndWar, Mirror’s Edge, Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts, The Last Remnant, Dead Space, and Left 4 Dead.

  1. Left 4 Dead
  2. Fallout 3
  3. King’s Bounty
  4. Warhammer: Age of Reckoning

There’s not much else. I stopped playing Warhammer once I got Left 4 Dead, though. Might return to it some day, but I doubt it. It was good while it lasted.

  1. LittleBigPlanet
  2. Fallout 3
  3. Left 4 Dead
  4. Fable 2
  5. Metal Gear Solid 4
  6. Braid
  7. Sins of a Solar Empire
  8. Smash Bros Brawl
  9. Gears of War 2
  10. Grand Theft Auto 4

Almost exactly my feelings about the two games. Some guild mates tried to get me back into warhammer, but I found it completely unsatisfying. A 3 hour play session of warhammer left me mostly bored, even frustrated – feeling that for all the dull parts, that I didn’t get anything accomplished, or even enjoy the better parts much… while 30 minutes of left 4 dead is stimulating throughout and generally leaves me with stories to tell or moments to reflect upon.

Other games from this year have been just transient flings.

Some highlights for me:

Left 4 Dead – What can I say? If you’ve played a nail-biting finale with a great team then you understand.

Far Cry 2 – A feather-light UI that does everything to immerse you in a gorgeous, free-form world. Wonderfully dynamic and solid fighting means I could play forever.

GRID – A perfect racing game for someone who isn’t particularly interested in racing games. Somehow hits the perfect balance between flamboyant and authentic. And – gasp – doesn’t make plowing into a wall at 200k/h a maddening experience.

Insurgency mod for HL2 (it got its Steam release this year) – This definitely isn’t for everyone. Brutally punishing teamplay (and you’d better hope to God there is teamwork), micro-second kills, and extremely high production values. There’s something about games like this which makes the experience that much more intense and visceral for me. I like Armed Assault for the same reason. Other people may find punching brick walls more enjoyable, and I’d understand.

Crysis Warhead – Aside from the aliens (though personally I don’t find them unbearable) Crytek showed they know what makes Crysis fun: gorgeous graphics, awesome set-pieces and locations, ridiculous fighting, and more explosions than are strictly necessary. The Crysis Wars multiplayer game is also surprisingly good.

Mass Effect (PC) – Bioware have an uncanny ability to draw you into their worlds, and Mass Effect was no different for me. I absolutely love the locations they create, even if nothing is entirely convincing, and the immediacy of the role-playing makes it much more engaging than many other RPGs. I know what to expect from Bioware and I’m never disappointed.

I don’t know if I bought 10 games this year, but here goes:

Left 4 Dead (360)
Rock Band 2 (360)
Sins of a Solar Empire (PC)
Mega Man 9 (360)
Mario Kart (Wii)
GTA 4 (360)
Ninja Gaiden 2 (360)
Netflix (360) !!

I don’t think I got anything else that stands out. I liked Gears 2 a lot but Left 4 Dead kicked it to the shelf permanently I think.

Note: my PC is old so I don’t game on it (much).

Not going to do a whole list, nor am I going to list stuff I know will be on a lot of people’s lists. I’ll just list a couple that will be overlooked.

NHL09 - the Future of online Sports gaming is here. The Future. In addition to the innovative Team Play modes, and the fun Be a Pro single player modes, it features great gameplay (no sprint button, intuitive stick/puck handling) and great graphics. But most of all - THE FUTURE.

Dead Space - Dead Space is a very backward looking game. The setting and the situation are essentially the same as in Doom. But what elevates Dead Space is that it does survival horror/fps perfectly. It is the Lamborgini of horror survival. It manages to eliminate immersion breaking HUDs, menus, and maps by using, laser sights, indicator lights on the back of the character, and a beam showing where to go next. It uses lighting and sound (especially sound) to create tension. Its a tribute to the immersion and atmosphere that the monsters seem like a letdown. Not that the monsters are bad, its just the unknown is scarier. But, videogames are not Val Lewton movies and sooner or later you have to see the monster. As I’ve said before, Dead Space is the most cinematic experience in a video game I have ever had. Part of that is attributable to Dead Space’s familiar atmosphere. We’ve been here before, its just never looked so good, sounded so eerie or been able fill our pants with urine so effectively before.

Jeez, it’s a bit early for this. Prince of Persia just came out on Steam today!

But probably:

  1. Far Cry 2
  2. Saints Row 2
  3. Braid
  4. World of Goo
  5. Spore
  6. Pixeljunk Eden
  7. Burnout Paradise
  8. Audiosurf
  9. Boom Blox
  10. Bejeweled Twist

Runners-up: Dynasty Warriors 6, Mercenaries 2, Little Big Planet, Super Smash Brothers Brawl, Hinterland, Peggle Nights, Multiwinia, Left 4 Dead, Sacred 2, and X3: Terran Conflict.

Man it’s been a great year.

Since I’m saving Fallout 3 adn Far Cry 2 for christmas break, I can’t say for certain but at the moment i’d break it down like this.

  1. Saints Row 2 or Fable 2
  2. Dead Space
  3. GoW 2
  4. Viva Pinata 2
  5. Civ Revolutions

Probably something like this:

  1. Rock Band 2
  2. Far Cry 2
  3. The World Ends With You
  4. Sins of a Solar Empire
  5. Metal Gear Solid 4
  6. Braid
  7. Left 4 Dead
  8. No More Heroes
  9. Fable II
  10. Fallout 3

Wow, thank you. Suck it Rockstar, EA Mythic etc.

My thoughts are too jumbled to put together a full list, but I think my number one would (rather predictably) have to be Fallout 3. Yes, it’s Oblivion With Guns, but it’s also unmistakably Fallout. It may not be the game Black Isle would have made, but I think Bethesda’s love of the setting really shines through and the franchise is in safe hands.

  1. Fallout 3 I loved Oblivion, and I’m digging the hell out of Oblivion With Guns. Wonderful game, but the completely appropriate bleak environs take a slight toll on my enjoyment.

  2. World of Goo Came out of nowhere and it was an absolute joy. Beautiful music, charming character, and engaging gameplay.

  3. Left 4 Dead I probably got my $50 bucks worth with the demo alone. I can’t remember having such a fun co-op experience. If only this pesky newborn in the house stopped eating my brains, I’d be playing more L4D right now.

My list(s) will be coming in early January

  1. Saint’s Row 2
  2. Fallout 3
  3. Far Cry 2
  4. Mount & Blade
  5. Persona 3 FES

These are my personal top 10 favourites. Although these would all be acknowledged as great games, I know that some of them might not figure in an all-time public Top 10.

System Shock
City of Heroes
Terra Nova
Command & Conquer
Mass Effect
Baldur’s Gate
Fallout 3
Hidden & Dangerous
Freelancer
Duke Nukem 3D