Game of the Year 2008: 20-11
We continue our look back at 2008 with our second of three Game of the Year articles. Disagree with our rankings? Sound off in the comments.
20. PixelJunk Eden
There’s been a slew of excellent PSN titles this past year and PixelJunk Eden is one of the best. The gameplay is simple and easy to get into – a staple of PixelJunk titles – and the unique visuals and bouncing soundtrack make it exciting just to watch. The time limit is an unwanted burden, but it’s so addictive you’ll carry on playing for hours into the night. It has its flaws but the fun and quirky gameplay is too good to pass this one up.
Hell’s Highway is one of my favourite games of the year not because it’s the best first-person shooter I played, but because its narrative was such a large part of the experience. It takes inspiration from the likes of Band of Brothers, but is brave enough to carve out its own story rather than duplicating someone else’s. The gameplay is as engrossing as before, with just the right balance of tactical maneuvering and traditional shooting. Even after completing it, I’ve found myself replaying some missions many times, particularly the epic final level. While it lacks the graphical finesse and multiplayer modes of other shooters, Hell’s Highway outshines them with a brutally honest portrayal of war and one that I won’t forget.
18. WipeOut HD
Online marketplaces have been breeding grounds for re-hashes and re-imaginings of classic games, and while some may have hit the nail on the head none came close to the pizzaz that WipeOut HD delivered when it hit the PlayStation Store. Despite being a downloadable game, WipeOut HD was one of the most attractive and well rounded additions to the online world this year, featuring crisp, beautiful visuals and the style of racing that fans have held dear for years. A taste of things to come, but an amazing title on its own.
When a game is praised for such a ridiculously addictive and simple formula like Geometry Wars was when it lead the march of the Live Arcade on the Xbox 360’s release, it’s incredibly hard to follow it up with anything more than ‘more of the same’. Retro Evolved 2 grabbed the originals formula and made it look like a demo, by adding a huge amount of new gameplay modes, all of which being equally as addictive as the Geometry Wars we all love. Whilst many scorned the 800MS points charge (double the cost of the original), those who opened their wallets were rewarded with the complete Geometry Wars experience. Its release may not have set the gaming world alight, but this fire burns stronger than ever.
It seems finding a copy of Professor Layton anywhere in Britain is proving to be as much of a puzzle as the ones in the game at this moment in time. It’s a shame because Professor Layton is one of the most delightful experiences in a very, very strong year for videogames. Studio Ghibli-esque visuals and artwork, great characters (except for Luke), a fantastic collection of puzzles, and a story to rival that of anything in ’08. Not to mention a twist that could be the videogame equivalent to finding out Verbal is Keyser Söze. It’s a game that appeals to everyone; juggling the needs of both demographics effortlessly. Oh, and when you’re not busy swimming in your pile of money, Nintendo, could you perhaps see to getting us the two sequels soon? Thanks.
15. Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning
Just when I felt like I could never get back into another MMO, Mythic Entertainment has pulled me right back into the fray with Warhammer Online, featuring elements of its previous Dark Age of Camelot franchise as well as those found in most every MMO these days. However, while WAR may have some similarities to World of Warcraft and the like, it differs via its original content based in the Warhammer universe, and delivers a more streamlined and manageable experience to vets and newbies alike. If you’re sick of killing boars and delivering pies, hop onto Warhammer Online and fight some truly terrifying creatures the likes you have never seen from the franchise that started the modern fantasy craze.
14=. Burnout Paradise
2008 got of to a brilliant start with the release on the latest Burnout game. The major change this time with the inclusion of a free roaming city; a controversial point initially, with critics claiming it was too difficult to find their way around the new location. Apart from the new free roaming it’s business as usual with fast and furious action with piles of destruction. The best bit is the vast amount of free downloadable content which includes bikes, challenges and a day-night cycle. Paradise is a beautiful thing.
14=. Rock Band 2
Proving that perfect formulas don’t need to be messed with, Rock Band 2 was the sequel fans were hoping for. With a stellar soundtrack boasting over 100 tracks, a refined tour mode, challenges, further customisation, an intensive drum trainer (so fantastically authentic it actually turns your kit into a fully functioning electronic drum kit). The changes are slight, but all are for the better. Note charts are still flawless, and the various difficulties feel just right. Harmonix certainly are the kins of the music genre.
13. Dead Space
Dead Space flew under my radar for most of the year but when I finally got round to playing it I was blown away. It’s one of the best games of the year because it combines so many elements together to create an atmospheric horror game with production values out of this world. The strategic dismemberment adds a new layer of innovation to shooters – taking away the typical headshot style of play – and the sound and visuals are absolutely phenomenal. The story is engaging and will urge you on through around ten hours of excitement and frights. Dead Space definitely deserves a place in your collection this year.
12. Rez HD
Years after its original release and finally we get to play and witness Rez as it was always intended. A glorious fusion of on-rails shooting and techno music that’s utterly compelling, twisting and pulling the player through an explosion of colour, noise, and ridiculously elaborate boss battles – even if you’re never quite sure what’s happening. Not only is Rez HD hands down the best game on the Xbox Live Arcade, but it’s one of the finest games on the system, period. A timeless classic.
11. Resistance 2
The Chimera surely weren’t happy being ousted from Great Britain, so they’ve decided to make a go of it in the United States. Whether you’re planning to play Resistance 2 alone, with friends or against, it’s always a blast. The campaign will keep you on your toes with its varied locales, well balanced weapons and great pacing. While the co-op will reel you into its addictive class based leveling affair, and when you tire of helping your fellow man, the competitive mode is always waiting.