2008 Year in Review Staff Commentaries

Hey everyone! We here at Diehard GameFAN are hoping your 2009 is off to a great start! On this, the first day of the new year, members of our staff have decided to take a look back at their favorite games from 2008. Scroll down and see what a wide rang of tastes and games are given their due props as the best of 2008.

Aaron Sirois’ Top 10
Staff Writer

1. Kirby Superstar Ultra (NDS)
2. God of War: Chains of Olympus (PSP)
3. Hot Shots Golf Open Tee 2 (PSP)
4. Lock’s Quest (NDS)
5. Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney (NDS)
6. Left 4 Dead (360)
7. Pursuit Force: Extreme Justice (PSP)
8. WWE Smackdown Vs Raw 2009 (PSP)
9. Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law (PSP)
10. Naruto Ulimate Ninja Heroes 2 (PSP)

While this year was less spectacular for my trusty old PSP than 2007, it still had what I can easily call the best game on the system in God of War: Chains of Olympus. It also delivered what I consider to be the best of all the Hot Shots Golf games I’ve ever played thanks to its robust online mode that featured players from around the world. I also received a few surprises like Naruto Ultimate Ninja Heroes 2 and Harvey Birdman. Pursuit Force and SvR 2k9 were fantastic sequels that really improved on their predecessors.

Left 4 Dead made my list despite my not owning a 360. That should tell you something.

This was my first full year with the DS. I only have a few games from 2008 on here because I played mostly games from 2007 and 2006. If this was just my favorite games I played this year, it would be dominated by Phoenix Wright, Elite Beat Agents, and Hotel Dusk. As it is, I still get to add Apollo Justice to the list. Lock’s Quest was a spectacular find that I encourage everyone to play.

My top game of the year has to be Kirby Superstar Ultra though. Even though it didn’t receive the highest rating I gave out in 2008, I absolutely loved the game and it has earned a permanent spot in my DS carrying case. Sure it is “just” a remake, but I absolutely adored the original and the remake adds so much more that I’ll be playing this game over and over for years to come.

Christopher Bowen’s Top 10
Staff Writer

1. NHL ’09 (360)
2. NBA 2K9 (360)
3. Mega Man 9 (Wii Ware)
4. Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon (NDS)
5. Space Invaders: Extreme (NDS)
6. Bionic Commando: Rearmed (XBLA)
7. Chrono Trigger (NDS)
8: FIFA ’09 (360)
9. MLB ’08: The Show (PS2)
10. Football Manager ’09 (PC)

There is nothing more enjoyable, and more painful, for someone’s wallet than to be in the middle of a console generation’s peak, and that’s exactly where we’re at. Developers have started to figure out the kinks in consoles, and the games that are came out in 2008 show the maturity of the hardware. We’ve gotten some true gems, both big name releases and smaller-stature releases. Hell, even the Playstation 3 looks like a good purchase at this point.

To me, my top game – NHL ’09 – revolutionized sports games further, and finally got us all over the NHL ’94 hump. How do you improve the best controlling sports game in history? You simply add in the best way to play as a single player in history. NHL ’09‘s Be A Pro mode is worlds ahead of even other games that have the mode. I don’t know what’s so different between the NHL team and every other team EA has, but whatever they’re doing, it’s working. Madden team, pay attention.

NBA 2K9, as I mentioned in my review, took last year’s great ideas and made them work. I played the game this morning before going to work. I will play the game tonight when I get home from work. NHL is the best, but NBA 2K9 is my current baby.

I remember our own Mark B. telling us that we were idiots for actually buying Mega Man 9, because once developers see that they can make easy money resurrecting 20 year old technology at 2008 prices, that’s all we’ll get. Though I can see his point, when it comes to things being done on occasion, it doesn’t get better than what Capcom gave us this year. So long as it doesn’t get back to NES-era levels of ridiculous, I’m happy. Besides, would we all rather have a game as awesome as Mega Man 9, or Mega Man Advent: ZX? I’ll have more of the former, thank you.

I’m diving into the EU version of Shadow Dragon, and though I’m very, very angry at Nintendo for their insistence on horribly screwing up the English names for their characters for no other reason than to show the fans who’s boss, the game itself is as great as it’s always been. Though I have to admit that I’m losing patience with Nintendo.

Space Invaders: Extreme and Bionic Commando: Rearmed showed that there’s no right way to do a remake: Space Invaders reinvented the wheel, while Bionic Commando just refined it. The only similarity between the two games is that they are both eleven shades of awesome.

Chrono Trigger served for me a wonderful blast from the past. I cannot believe how addicted I ended up being to that game, which is sad because the last RPG I was that addicted to was Final Fantasy IV on the DS… and before that, it was 2006’s Suikoden V. That’s damning of the JRPG industry.

It wasn’t all positive, as 2008 also showed some troubling trends. Despite evidence that it does not work for its intended purpose, more and more companies are using the intrusive and damaging SecuROM DRM scheme in their PC games, which is threatening to drive a large number of PC gamers out of the market altogether. Furthermore, as the economy goes farther and farther south and we enter into a worldwide recession, we’re seeing more mergers and acquisitions as either two companies of equal size merge together for survival, or a larger company buys a smaller one and absorbs it. Finally, the last part of the year showed that a war is brewing between game developers and retailers as developers try to curtail the used games industry which they do not profit from. Either way, the consumers are sure to be the forgotten collateral damage.

2008 was a great year for games in general, but not such a great one for trends. Hopefully, 2009 sees a resolution to these brewing problems that is pro-consumer.

Shawn P.C.’s Top 10
Staff Writer

1. Fallout 3 (360)
2. Gears of War 2 (360)
3. Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning (PC)
4. Saints Row 2 (360)
5. Rock Band 2 (360)
6. Dead Space (360)
7. GTA IV (360)
8. Patapon (PSP)
9. Condemned 2: Bloodshot (360)
10. Tom Clancy Rainbow Six: Vegas 2 (360)

First off, I’d like to thank Bethesda for reviving my favorite series ever with Fallout 3. Now that that’s out of the way, I’m sure some of you feel the ending felt more like a slideshow of what you experienced while playing it than an “ending”, but it was just like old school Fallout and I loved it. I think they really stayed true to the original feel of the series with its serious side and somewhat juvenile poke at modern gaming and movie franchises at the same time. It’s all in good fun, so have a Nuka Cola Quantum on me, Todd! I just want to know one thing… “Who is this Gary character?” Nobody is going to get that… God, I’m old.

I’m just not satisfied unless the entrails of my enemies explode like a fat kid hitting a piñata with a Louisville Slugger, so of course, I loved Gears of War 2. I liked the new characters and locations (with the exception of the driving sections). Horde mode was my favorite part by far. There’s nothing better than killing wave after wave of Locusts with a few friends. They really came up with some cool multiplayer maps this time around, along with some interesting environmental hazards. The graphics are top notch as we expected and weapon choices do not disappoint.

Worlds of Warcraft certainly has its work cut out for itself this year. Warhammer came out with its fists flailing and teeth gnashing, ready for MMO battle. Its Public Quest System is by far the most innovative thing I’ve seen in gaming this year, and I love how you can party up or solo at any level and join PVP Scenarios on the fly while doing ten other things. The music and art style are a little more serious than Worlds of Warcraft, which I prefer. I don’t know how the Worlds of Warcraft expansion is at this point, but it better bring new stuff to the table, because I think this game may take a chunk out of their market soon.

What up playa, get your pimp hand ready for some serious action! Saints Row 2 had a great story this time around, and it was nice that it continued from the first game. They thought you was dead? Nuh-uh, son! Paybacks a mofo! Saints Row 2 looks, sounds, and plays better than its competition GTA IV this time around, and has more fun things to do across the board. I can’t wait to see how Saints 3 and GTA V battle it out.

Are you ready to rock? Damn straight! Rock Band 2 has a great set list, even before the DLC or the Rock Band 1 preinstall. With all that they have a song list that’s approaching five hundred tunes already! They fine-tuned their peripherals and even came out with new versions that were less problematic. The new practice mode allows you to hone your plastic guitar skills to perfection, and online play was streamlined, allowing you to join others bands no problem and become a real social butterfly or stay offline and be a hermit. Guitar Hero tried and failed to win the audience over this year… Better luck next year, huh? I just wish a company would grow a pair, though, and release songs with explicit lyrics. All this censorship is hurting my memories of good songs.

Hands down the best action/horror game in a long time, Dead Space is a third-person shooter that uses space mining equipment as weapons against all sorts or alien mutant things that spook you out and make you flinch at their eerie sounds (So it’s a better Quake). It’s about a repair team that is going to investigate a mining ship designed to essentially eat planets by cutting out huge cores and refining them for use on habitable planets, but something is amiss, and it’s your job to figure out a solution to a very gruesome mess. This could easily be made into an A list Hollywood movie (or a B list Cinemax one, anyway). The prequel is currently out on DVD and Blu-Ray and the game’s so good I beat it twice!

Welcome to Liberty City, cousin! Grand Theft Auto 4 features a great cast of characters, but to me, the story was only so-so. I loved the look of the game, and the vehicles and combat were pretty good as well. We all knew this game was going to be a hit the instant we first heard about it, so the sales and popularity aren’t a surprise, of course. That’s Rockstar for you. They know what we want: story driven violence in a sandbox setting. Another thing GTA IV has going for it is its DLC expansion coming up soon, which should keep the game worth playing for a while to come.

Pata, Pata, Pata, Pon! You play Patapon one time, just ONE TIME, and that song infects your brain like a virus; you want more, more, MORE. And how could you reject such a game that has tiny eyeball men worshipping you as their god? The graphics are minimalistic, but they succeed in every way. Get those beats right, and soon your little eyes will be shooting flaming arrows and spears at your enemies from afar with the greatest of ease. I hear those tunes in my sleep now. Bom, Bom, PATA!!!

Whoa! Condemned 2: Bloodshot, now THAT was a fun game. Three of my favorite things in one game: Horror, Altered Psychosis, and smashing bums in the face with a brick! I loved how well they tied up all the loose ends of the first game. They fixed the combat system to a much more respectable level and added forensic events that MEANT something, and some chaotic multiplayer. Two thumbs up… um… just… um, don’t feed that bear!

Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Vegas 2 is the best Tom Clancy game out there. They came up with a believable storyline and the game played great. It has tons of levels on and offline for you to run through, and the Co-op Campaign mode and Multiplayer Mode were near perfect. I loved the character customization, too; there’s nothing like killing terrorists in Tutti Fruity colored camo Kevlar Armor.

Guy Desmarais’ Top 10
Staff Writer

1. Mario Kart Wii (Wii)
2. NHL 09 (360)
3. Super Smash Bros. Brawl (Wii)
4. No More Heroes (Wii)
5. Rock Band 2 (360)
6. Star Wars: The Force Unleashed (Wii)
7. Tetris Party (Wii Ware)
8. Guitar Hero: World Tour (Wii)
9. Left 4 Dead (360)
10. Pipemania (NDS)

I own two systems: A Wii and a DS Lite. While the Wii is more than aptly represented on my list, the fact that the DS only has one representative could be interpreted as a lack of good new games for the system. If you look through our archives, you will see that this is far from being the case, as our reviewers have played their fair share of good DS titles in 2008. The fact of the matter is simply that my DS is still seeing a lot of action, but it has two main functions right now: Pokémon and Mario Kart sessions at lunch with co-workers. This year, we broke the 1000 races mark, a feat that was accomplished over nearly two years. This explains the first position on my list.

Maybe Mario Kart Wii didn’t receive the critical acclaims that some of its predecessors did, but it cannot be denied that it is still very fun as a multiplayer game. In fact, I have never been a huge online gamer, but this game actually made me care about racing total strangers. All of a sudden, I felt like my score mattered and it completely breathed new life into the game since I don’t always have access to live competitors outside of work hours.

NHL 09 just might be the most perfect version of the sport to ever be released in video game form, and it gets an even higher spot in my heart for its inclusion of a 100th Season All-Star Habs team. Playing as Maurice Richard and Guy Lafleur is something I didn’t think would ever be possible.

Super Smash Bros. Brawl concentrated on perfecting a successful formula by adding even more fan service than what was already crammed into the previous version. What a coincidence that I happen to be such a big fan of Nintendo. This game is simply a succession of goofy grins and giggles whenever I turn it on. Two things made it stand-out in my opinion: the single-player platform mode was better than it had any right to be as I actually enjoyed the simple tale as it was told without words by Nintendo’s roster of characters. The second thing is the stage creator, which has become an obsession for me and some of my friends, as we created stages based on the Olympic Stadium, the Bell Center and other ridiculous places to fight in.

As for the rest of my list, you will notice that 2008 is the year where I truly became a rhythm games junkie, as I took playing plastic instruments way too seriously. There’s just something about it that is incredibly fun while making me wish I had learned to play the real things at the same time. I expected No More Heroes to be quirky and weird, but it completely exceeded my expectations while actually being fun. The Force Unleashed fulfilled my life-long fantasy of possessing Force powers. If The Force was real and being a Jedi actually felt like that, I would have signed up for the Academy right after completing the game. Left 4 Dead makes the list for the visceral thrill it brought me as I still remember the first time I accidently shot a car and started the alarm. This might have been the harshest lesson I ever learned. Finally, two puzzle games round out my list: Pipemania was a nice surprise that deserves the attention of any puzzle-addicts out there, while Tetris Party would get my vote as the best version of Tetris to ever be released. The basics are there and nicely done, but the rest of the package adds new modes that are enjoyable instead of simply being tacked-on. For 10$, it’s a steal.

Nathan Birch’s Top 10
Staff Writer

1. Dragon Quest IV (NDS)
2. Theresia… (NDS)
3. Super Smash Bros. Brawl (Wii)
4. LostWinds (Wii Ware)
5. Wario Land: Shake It! (Wii)
6. Spore (PC)
7. Sam & Max: Season 1 (Wii)
8. Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney (NDS)
9. The Lost Crown (PC)
10. Bomberman Blast (Wii Ware)

While 2008 wasn’t a bad year for me gaming-wise, it was one in which my gaming habits changed somewhat. This was partly due to Nintendo deciding actually releasing games for their wildly popular platform was an unnecessary nuisance they no longer had to be bothered with. As someone invested in Nintendo consoles, this meant the meatier games that had been staples of my gaming diet for years were largely replaced by bite-sized downloadable titles, and budget-priced adventure games. So with that in mind, here’s my hastily assembled, entirely unscientific top 10 list for 2008…

Bomberman is, in my humble opinion, the greatest buddies sitting around on the same couch multiplayer design ever, and if you disagree you’re wrong and stupid (Okay, so my opinion isn’t actually that humble). Bomberman Blast doesn’t do anything radically new with the formula, but the fact that you can play online and it only costs 10 bucks is enough for it to make it onto my top 10.

I picked up The Lost Crown based on Lucard’s raves and I was glad I did. I didn’t like it as much as he and many other adventure fans did, but it featured a well-written storyline and some nicely designed puzzles. I actually much preferred another low-profile creepy adventure that came out this year…

I’d been waiting intently for Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney. Unfortunately I ended up somewhat disappointed by the gameplay, which was basically the same old, same old. What propelled this into my top ten was the story. The game introduces a whole new cast of characters, but is still intricately tied to past games, with you slowly uncovering pieces of the overarching mystery of what led to the downfall of Phoenix Wright. Yes, after four games in four years the novelty has worn off, but the quality hasn’t slipped.

In my Sam & Max review I called out Telltale a bit for not really pushing the envelope with the game. After playing A Vampyre Story though, I have to give them more credit, as that’s a game well and truly stuck in the past. By comparison the folks at Telltale actually subtly played with their old formulas with Sam & Max, making things more accessible and varied. These episodes combine into what is perhaps the best comedic adventure games in a decade, but unfortunately the Wii version isn’t quite the ideal way to play the series (Otherwise I would have ranked this 2 or 3 spots higher).

Yeah that’s right, I liked Spore, go cry to someone else about the horrors of DRM, douchebag.

Wario Land: Shake It! actually grew on me more after I “beat” it, as it’s a rare game where going back to master levels after you’ve completed them feels fun and worthwhile. A great little piece of old-school eye candy (In its own way, it’s one of the best looking games on the Wii) of a kind that’s all-too-rare these days.

Minute for minute, dollar for dollar Lostwinds was the best game on the Wii in 2008. Somehow the guys at Frontier managed to take the basic concept behind Nintendo’s Wind Waker and do it better than Nintendo in nearly every way, and all in a tiny 40 MB downloadable game. The only reason I didn’t rank it higher was because, well, it’s a 2 ½ hour game that ends with an unsatisfying “To be Continued” message. Say Frontier, where’s that LostWinds 2 your promised? I’ll totally gush over it in an embarrassing manner on this site if you’d just make it.

You know, I was never much of a Smash fan in the past, but when it comes down to it I just can’t deny the facts; I simply played this game far more than any other this year. There is some dissent over this game amongst the hardcore Smash fans, and I can understand that, but for the 95% of Smash Bros. players who are merely in the casual to moderately fanatical range, this is the best Smash yet. It combines the light pick-up-and-play feel of the original, with the depth of options and impressively obsessive Nintendo worship of the Melee, resulting in a game that destroys more free time than Internet porn.

Theresia is, easily, DHGF’s obscure game find of the year, and really, a perfect illustration of why this site is valuable. Most mainstream outlets have either ignored, or absent-mindedly bashed the game. Yes, this is a niche title, but then that could be said of the entire adventure genre these days. If you are an adventure fan, you’ll find a title with a fantastic pull-no-punches story, a genuinely chilling atmosphere and some well-designed puzzles. In a lot of ways the game actually reminds me of the Resident Evil games before they were transformed into a series of big dumb shooters, and yes, in my opinion that’s a good thing. Buy it, play it, and never open a desk drawer without fear of being shot with poison needles again.

My number one game this year was Dragon Quest IV. Like most North Americans I was never particularly into the Dragon Quest series, but after playing through IV I have this to say to Japan…I totally get it. To those who say that the DQ series is stagnant or repetitive, I say look closer; each game in the series is in fact a refinement and twist on an art form. Yuji Horii and the DQ team aren’t flashy, they’re perhaps not even particularly innovative, but they’re masters of their craft and they use that mastery to tweak RPG conventions and defy expectations. Yes, DQIV’s story is standard stuff, but it’s the way in which it’s told that’s brilliant. Fighting is very basic, but instead of relying on a gimmicky battle system, the battles are brought to life through original characters and monster designs. Bottomline, before we get too wanky, the game’s an understated masterpiece and my favorite of 2008, so there.

Adam Powell’s Top 10
Staff Writer

1. Rock Band 2 (360)
2. Call of Duty: World At War (360)
3. Fallout 3 (360)
4. Mario Kart Wii (Wii)
5. Lego Batman (Wii)

I absolutely loved Rock Band 2. It has a slight improvement on the drums from the RB1 kit, but the addition of external triggers is quite welcome. One day soon I hope to have the thing outfitted with a cymbal pack. This is, by far, the most fun party game i have ever played. We play this at my house any time anyone is over for a few beers, which is often. i play an average of an hour a day on drums, and it has actually taught me how to play the drums . I can sit down at an actual kit and pound out a basic beat, and my skills are slowly improving. This is no small achievement, as drums were the one thing I could never play for YEARS of being in bands. The ability to download new tracks and customize a playlist is just plain awesome. I was never one for the guitar-wank tracks, so RB2’s more rounded song selection is right up my alley. It also doesn’t hurt that some of my favorite bands – The Dead Kennedys, Nine Inch Nails, David Bowie and Siouxsie and the Banshees – all have track packs online.

COD and Fallout 3 are very close in terms of excellent games. I think the only reason Fallout 3doesn’t rank higher on my list is due to the fact that I had to break from it in order to finish COD for my review. For me, COD5 is a large enough improvement over previous installments to keep it fresh – especially with the addition of a coop gameplay mode. Fallout 3 (Uh…at least until you get to the first city..I haven’t played much yet) is equally excellent. Gameplay and story are extremely well constructed and the openness of the game is excellent. I anticipate it being one of my all time favorites… once I have the time to get into the game.

Mario Kart is…well, its the Wii version of the other games in the series – stupid fun. The wiimote steering wheel combination was, I thought, easy enough to use and certainly a fun approach to game control. The new levels may not be the most imaginative things this year, but they’re a lot of fun.

I’ve long been a sucker for the Lego Star Wars games. The combination of cute remix of an old favorite storyline and fun but not-too-difficult gameplay was a fun, light distraction. Lego Indiana Jones didn’t quite live up to expectations, but Batman, I think, showed a huge improvement for the series. I loved the Wii version (Although wiimote interaction is minimal) and will be picking this up for the 360 now that I’ve sold my Wii.

Matt Yaeger’s Top 10
Staff Writer

1. Fallout 3 (360)
2. Saint’s Row 2 (360)
3. Yakuza 2 (PS2)
4. Gears of War 2 (360)
5. Fable 2 (360)
6. GTA IV (360)
7. Mortal Kombat vs DCU (360)
8. Rock Band 2 (360)
9. Geometry Wars 2 (Xbox Live Arcade)
10. Midnight Club: LA (360)

Did you hear that there was an economic crisis going on? That’s what happens when too many good games get released in one year. I end up staring at my wallet wishing there was more money in it, and then buying the games anyway. Oh yeah, there’s something about Wall Street and sub-prime mortgages. Whatever.

2008 was a hell of a year for video games. In fact it’s too good. Who the hell has the time to play all of these games? It’s like standing at a buffet where all of the food is delicious and trying to decide what to eat first. It’s too much. I don’t think there has ever been a year before where I felt overwhelmed by both the quantity and quality of the games available. I’ll probably just be catching up on all of the must play games from this year by the time next Fall rolls around.

My top ten list is in order of how much fun I had with a title, with less emphasis on the technical qualities of each game. That said, after writing up my list, I was disappointed by the fact that it is comprised of all sequels. Every single game. This year I just had more fun with the established franchises than with any new IP. That’s another problem with having so many great titles in one year. While I certainly enjoyed some of the newer IP’s like No More Heroes, the sheer level of polish that the franchise games have just sets them slightly apart. That and the fact that there weren’t really any lazy sequels for once. GoW2 was bigger and more badass. Mortal Kombat Vs. DCU was the best Mortal Kombat game in years. GTA went in a more serious direction and Saint’s Row 2 took the sanbox genre even more over the top than before.

All in all, it’s been a great year no matter what system you own. Here’s hoping 2009 can top it.

Mark B.’s Top 10
Staff Writer

1. The World Ends With You (NDS)
2. Persona 4 (PS2)
3. Yakuza 2 (PS2)
4. Condemned 2: Bloodshot (360)
5. Spider-Man: Web of Shadows (360)
6. Fallout 3 (360)
7. Operation Darkness (360)
8. Endless Ocean (Wii)
9. Gears of War 2 (360)
10. Baroque (PS2)

Here I thought LAST YEAR was a great year for gaming. Yeesh. There are so many games I played this year that I really wanted to cram in here in some form or fashion: Soul Calibur 4, The King of Fighters ’98 Ultimate Match, Armored Core: For Answer, Fable 2, Mario Kart Wii, Left 4 Dead, and the list goes on and on and on. In the end, these were the ten games, above and beyond all others, that I had the most fun playing or enjoyed the most. They might not be the ten BEST games that came out this year, and they might not be the games I’d have nominated for whatever categories they would have fit into, but hey, I liked these the best, and it’s my list, so I’ll write about whatever I want.

The World Ends With You was, honestly, the most surprising game to come out this year; not only because it was incredibly different from anything that came out this year, but also because it was absolutely fantastic. The combat system was unlike anything we’ve seen in any RPG before or since, the visuals and audio were outstanding, and the characters were surprisingly likable and interesting, especially since many of us here don’t have a terribly high opinion of Square-Enix as it relates to their ability to tell a compelling story, myself included. The game delivered on all possible levels: it was fun, enjoyable, well-written and presented, and offered plenty of replay value to boot. Unless you hate JRPG’s with an undying passion (Which is entirely possible), you’ll more than likely fall in love with the game just because it does everything that it does exceptionally well.

Persona 4 is the sort of game that, for whatever reason, resonates with me far more than its predecessor did, and I can’t adequately explain why in any other way than by saying “it’s a better game”. The story is more interesting, the ending is less depressing, the characters are generally as or more interesting than their counterparts, the “mystery solving” concept is neat, and the game feels like a throwback to Persona 2: Eternal Punishment in so many enjoyable ways while still managing to do its own thing that I can’t help but love it. The mechanics have been dramatically improved (you don’t get sick anymore, you can control your allies, advanced ally Personas are earned by maxing out their S. Link instead of at set points in the storyline, and so on), and the game is shorter but no less involving. This left me feeling like I didn’t WANT it to end as I progressed, instead of getting one hundred hours into the game and tiring of the experience, as was the case with the prior game. True, the game still has its faults, but that’s like saying that you’re not allowed to enjoy strawberry shortcake because it’ll make you fat. Just because something isn’t perfect doesn’t mean you can’t love it all the same, and if eating a second piece is worse, well, I’ll just loosen my belt for my second playthrough, thank you very much.

Yakuza was pretty much one of my favorite games the year it came out, and where goeth the father, so goeth the son, as Yakuza 2 was one of my favorite games this year, too. The crime drama elements are a big part of that, as the story is basically mob drama done by the Japanese, and I’m a sucker for a good mob drama. The music is incredibly infectious and entertaining, and is great to listen to while beating the mess out of punks (Or anytime, really). The game looks as great as ever, the characters are still well designed, and the fighting actions still looks painful as hell. Beat-em-ups have always amused me, frankly, so it’s not a surprise that I enjoy playing the game a whole lot as well. Pummeling the hell out of every one and thing I meet that looks at me funny never really gets old. It’s a shame the game didn’t receive the dub treatment of its predecessor, but then, no one BOUGHT the original game, so it’s hardly a surprise that the sequel was essentially released at a reduced price with no dub to appease those of us who liked the first game. I’m sure no one bought this one either, presumably because they were too busy buying Sonic Unleashed or whatever.

Speaking of poorly selling games Sega published, Condemned 2 is another sequel to a game that inspired me with much love which also inspired me with much love, though for entirely different reasons. The original Condemned was a game where you’d hit a bum in the face with a locker door and watch him spit teeth, which was about as awesome as an FPS about brick-and-bat bumfights could possibly be. However the game lacked a certain something that the sequel was more than capable of grabbing onto. The combat in the sequel was as violent and intense as ever, but Condemned 2 was really about giving the player more of everything else. From the psychological torment of the protagonist to the forensic analysis to the interesting set-piece battles (Including fighting a rabid bear, which was and will forever be a whole lot of awesome) and beyond, Condemned 2 was flat-out one of the most awesome experiences I’ve had all year. The plot was a little silly at times, and the entire Magicman stage felt tacked-on, but frankly, I didn’t have so much fun with an FPS all year, and I don’t think anything save for F.E.A.R. 2 and maybe a Condemned 3 will be as exciting an experience to the horror fan in me for a good long while.

Spider-Man: Web of Shadows is really only on the list, I openly admit, because I like Spider-Man. Not that it’s a bad game; it’s easily in my list of the five best games based around the character (With Spider-Man versus The Kingpin, Spider-Man 2, Spider-Man: Friend or Foe, and Sega’s arcade beat-em-up taking the other four spots), and it’s a fantastic game in most respects. Yes, there are visual glitches, and yes, the game hangs occasionally. The storyline is occasionally illogical and it’s impossible to have a happy ending with the Black Cat. I know, I know. It doesn’t matter. Spider-Man feels like Spider-Man, both because of the always-awesome web-swinging action and because the combat is, frankly, flat-out spectacular. Some people have complained about how the combat is about mashing a button forever, and I suppose I can’t argue about that. I mean, yeah, I can make Spider-Man whup up on an enemy like Kenshiro from Fist of the North Star and I can skateboard around on a symbiote’s face, but I can understand how pushing a button forever is boring. I mean, look at Bioshock! You call THAT fun? It’s just pressing the trigger for eight hours! There’s no fun in that! I, like, TOTALLY get it you guys! No More Heroes is OBVIOUSLY so much better, because I, like, wiggle my arm once in a while, am I right? Whatever.

Fallout 3 was pretty obviously not going to pay off its own expectations and hype, simply because everyone was expecting it to resurrect Jesus and cure cancer, so I’m fairly confident in saying that it was by no means what I was HOPING for, but it was absolutely everything I expected it to be. Obviously, what I was hoping for was, well, Fallout: a game that would entirely uphold the original memories I had of that game, so many years ago, only better. This, obviously, did not happen, but I wasn’t really expecting it to. Instead, I’m happy with what I got: a game that’s incredibly long, incredibly in-depth, quite violent, and at least pays a significant amount of respect to the memory of its predecessors. There’s really no possible way to recapture the magic of the first two games, and to pretend such a thing IS possible is kind of silly at this point, and while Fallout 3 has its fair share of technical flaws (Getting stuck in the environment, for instance) and boneheaded ideas (Why, exactly, can’t I find a working vehicle when I could in Fallout 2?), it’s really not a bad game at all. If this is the closest we’ll ever get to the old Fallout we love, well, I think I can live with that.

Operation Darkness is most likely a game I’m alone in loving (Well, J. Rose loves it too, but that’s still not much), but I don’t suppose I’m terribly surprised about that. The game looks poor, has some awkward play mechanics, and is unapologetically rough in the later stages of the game. I completely understand that other people wouldn’t love the game, and hey, whatever works for you. Me? I love the concept like it was one of my own children, because the whole thing screams “grindhouse flick.” I find the gameplay mechanics to be fairly easy to learn and understand, and I really don’t care about the camera problems because, seeing as how this is a turn-based game, it’s not like time is of the essence or anything. To me, fighting skeletal soldiers, giant dragons, Dracula, and a magic-using Adolph Hitler is really interesting enough to make a mechanically bad game enjoyable, and frankly, Operation Darkness is, at worst, a mechanically mediocre game, so I’m more than comfortable saying I enjoyed it more than a whole lot of other games this year.

Endless Ocean, aside from being incredibly enjoyable, is also incredibly hard to explain in a positive way to people who aren’t at all interested in it, though it’s fairly easy to sell to people if they’re willing to give it a shot. I could, at this point, bring up an anecdote about my burly bouncer friend loving the game because he can play it with his son, but I think instead I’ll talk about my Christmas spent with the family. My fifteen year-old cousin had, apparently, heard about the game from someone or another, and upon finding out I had brought it to the family get-together, asked me the question everyone inevitably asks about the game, “What do you do?” I replied that you swim and pet fish, because, well, that’s most of the game. He was less than thrilled with this concept, but wanted to see the game in action. So I booted it up and began fooling around, petting fish and such, as one would expect. The game somehow attracted the attention of every member of the family, presumably because of the song, “Prayer”, if the initial discussion about whether the song was Celtic in origin is any indication. They then proceeded to admire the visuals of the undersea locales and the genuinely relaxing nature of the whole experience. In the end, that’s really what Endless Ocean is: relaxing. You don’t fight any monsters, kill any enemies, hunt for items and weapons, or figure out involved puzzles. Rather, most of your experience is spent just swimming around petting fish. Sometimes, after a long day of doing whatever stressful thing it is that you do at work, petting a fish while listing to pretty music is exactly what the doctor ordered.

Gears of War 2 is on this list pretty much because Horde mode is absolutely awesome, if my adventures with J. Rose, Shawn PC, and Matt Yaeger were any indication. I’m more than willing to note that Horde mode by itself is pretty much reason enough to own the game if you like playing games online and have friends who do as well. The story is fine, the visuals are pretty, the game plays fine, and yeah, all of these are good reasons to own the game. Honestly though, the major selling point for me is and will most likely always be the fact that I can play it with my friends and it’s fun. Since Kingdom Under Fire: Circle of Doom has since been broken by patches, Left 4 Dead loses its luster when you realize multiplayer is about all you can do with it, and Too Human was pretty terrible, Gears 2 pretty much wins my “awesome multiplayer” award, especially since I don’t have to compete with Rainbow Road to deal with it.

The tenth spot was a tough spot for me to fill, but in the end, I really felt I had to go with Baroque. It wasn’t a great game, so to say, and it did a few things that kind of annoyed me to be certain, but I certainly did enjoy what time I spent playing it, and I was considering going back and playing it again to unlock a few things I missed the first time around. Rather, Baroque makes the list because of the atmosphere and ambience of the product. In other words, it’s here because of its “artistic merit”, meaning I essentially nominated a game because it is “games as art” material. I feel kind of dirty about that, but in fairness, it DOES contain one of my five favorite soundtracks, and since the other four games were already in the list, I felt bad about splitting them up, so there you go.

A.J. Hess’ Top 5
Staff Writer

1. Fallout 3 (360)
2. Wrath of the Lich King (PC)
3. Gears of War 2 (360)
4. Ninja Gaiden 2 (360)
5. Boom Blox (Wii)
6. Devil May Cry 4 (360)
7. Star Wars: The Force Unleashed (360)
8. Lost Odyssey (360)
9. Culdcept Saga (360)
10. Wii Fit (Wii)

I’m so happy that war never changes, because 2008 could have been a year of almost-was and nearly there games. I couldn’t stand how obtuse Operation Darkness was, especially when it could have been Fire Emblem + Nazis + Occult=FTW. We had a pair of games exploring Viking and Norse mythology. One of them was a fast paced, bloody, toothless and story free bloodbath. The other was so laden down with story and lore that it was hard to run, and then went and broke the camera over its knees. Yes, I’m talking about Viking: Battle for Asgard and Too Human. Star Wars: TFU is up there only because of my love for the setting, concept, and technology. The Wii continued its sad onslaught of shovelware, but Boom Blox hit me like a ton of bricks, pun very much intended. When I was a kid, I had these cardboard blocks. I used to stack them up in all kinds of shapes and configurations, from skyscrapers to AT-ATs. Then I would put all of my action figures inside them and either throw stuff at them or, later, fire Nerf weaponry at them until they fell over. Then I’d build them back up and start over. So yeah, I was waiting for that game. GoW2 was an improvement on the original in almost every way. Horde Mode has captured me and my friends nightly. Wii Fit may not count as a game in the traditional sense, but it is another one of those insane Nintendo things that keeps raking in the cash. Oh yeah, the balance board is fun. Culdcept Saga can pretty much be explained as Magic: The Gathering meets Monopoly, and I can’t fault either of those things. Lost Odyssey proved that a JRPG could be beautiful and moving while still having solid play, even if it was utterly formulaic. Ninja Gaiden 2 and Devil May Cry 4 were both so amazingly fun to play, in part because they were such a challenge. Both were good, bloody hack and slash games that knew they were coming out for Mature audiences and embraced it. Lich King I will say nothing about, other than thank you for my crack.

And then there was Fallout. The sundering of Interplay devastated me. Fallout, Fallout 2, and Tactics are games that I still play to this day. Sure, it has been called “Oblivion with Guns”, but that isn’t a fault. The Fallout series had to do something to come into the modern age of gaming, and though I find myself critical of a few things they did, I find fault with nothing. The interface has changed, the combat has changed, and the controls have changed, but out here in the Wastelands? War never changes.

Charlie Marsh’s Top 10
Staff Writer

1. Mega Man 9 (Wii Ware)
2. Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core (PSP)
3. Super Smash Bros. Brawl (Wii)
4. Mario Kart Wii (Wii)
5. Star Wars: The Force Unleashed (PSP)
6. Chrono Trigger DS (NDS)
7. Rock Band (Wii)
8. Secret of Mana (Virtual Console)
9. No More Heroes (Wii)
10. Super Mario RPG (Virtual Console)

It’s been kind of an off year for gaming for me, both in the sense that not too many games caught my eye and I didn’t really have that much time to play them. Who knew senior year in college would be so stressful?

Starting from the bottom, Super Mario RPG is a classic from way back when. It could get a little boring with the turn-based gameplay (My other arch nemesis, besides the DS mic) but it was still pretty fun, with a great story and an amazing soundtrack. I can still never get past the Axem Rangers though. Damn it.

No More Heroes came highly recommended to me by pretty much everyone, and though I found it a little underwhelming, it still made the top 10. It was innovative and fun. I particularly liked the level in the baseball stadium where you hit the flaming balls back at the guys throwing them. The fighting never really got much more complicated than randomly mashing buttons, but at least you had a lightsaber. That was cool.

Secret of Mana was a game I always rented when I was a kid, but never purchased. Particularly because I could never get much farther than the second boss. That had a little to do with the fact that I could only have the game for 3 days at a time, but also because it was pretty tough for a kid. These days…it’s still pretty tough, but at least I’ve gotten relatively far. I bet it’s easier with more than one player though.

What can you say about Rock Band? They may be stupid, fake, plastic instruments and it may be the easiest way to embarrass yourself while drunk, but it’s still a great way to have fun at a party. The Wii version kind of sucks, but it’s still good.

Chrono Trigger DS. Well, I hate, hate, HATE when they re-release old games and change things around like dialogue (Fiends? FIENDS?? They’re Mystics damn it!), but it’s still one of the best games ever, one of the only games in which I can look past the turn-based fighting, and yes, better than most games out there.

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. I have it for the PSP and DS, and like the PSP version way, WAY better. Why? Because they kept things simple. One button does this, another button does that. None of this shifting your eyes between screens to find the right touch commands nonsense. It had a great storyline, great gameplay and was just plain fun. Plus shooting lightning out of your fingers is something I think every Star Wars fan has always dreamed of, and it was everything I thought it would be in this game.

I tried so very, very hard to hate the Wii Wheel when I got Mario Kart Wii. It’s so extraneous and stupid, but yet so much fun to use. Using a controller is more accurate, but the Wii Wheel made the game a lot of fun to play, more fun than I thought it would be. The single player campaign kind of gets old after a while, but I can’t count how many nights my friends and I have spent playing round after round after round of Mario Kart. Nights that would have been better spent doing work, but whatever.

Super Smash Bros. Brawl is in the same boat as Mario Kart: the single player mode gets old pretty quick, but hours and hours have gone into playing that game with buddies. I liked the single player mode better in this game, which is why it’s higher on the list, but both were great games

Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core did the impossible and got me to truly enjoy playing a Final Fantasy game to the point where I couldn’t put it down. Why? Because they took turn-based fighting out. Kudos, Squeenix! It had a great story, great cutscenes (However unskippable they may have been) and, best of all, great gameplay. Now, if they make more games like this I may start to consider myself a Final Fantasy fan.

And finally, a game I’ve been anticipating for years and only began wanting more and more once it was announced that it would be done in the classic 8-bit style: Mega Man Freakin’ 9. There was nothing, NOTHING about this game that was bad. It was simply amazing classic run and gun fun all the way through. Sure it was tough, but that’s the point. Thank God it was tough. Thank God it was classic. Thank God they got rid of the silly anime cut scenes. Thank God for Mega Man 9.

Now then, what do I expect for next year? Well, I hear that Santa has a 360 with my name on it, so I may actually take off my Nintendo fanboy hat for once. I also hope that no matter what comes out next year, the top spot on my list will read “1. Earthbound (VC)”. Yea, it’s fun to dream.

Michael O’Reilly’s Top 10
Staff Writer

1. Grand Theft Auto IV (360)
2. Resistance 2 (PS3)
3. Gears of War 2 (360)
4. Hot Shots Golf Open Tee 2 (PSP)
5. Saint’s Row 2 (PS3)
6, Left 4 Dead (360)
7. Mirror’s Edge(PS3)
8. Sins of a Solar Empire (PC)
9. The Incredible Hulk (360)
10. Star Wars: The Force Unleashed (360)

2008 was for me something of a bitter sweet year gaming wise. I suffered a tragic loss when I realized my PC was no longer capable of running games at all. Soon after this, my Xbox 360 developed a disturbing appetite for game discs. Despite all that, 2008 was a fantastic year for gaming. The PS3 came into its own and gave us two more fantastic exclusives with Metal Gear Solid 4 and Resistance 2. Little Big Planet was nothing to sneeze at either. The Xbox 360 continued to benefit from Xbox Live and third party support. Even the Wii managed to catch my attention for a short while with Boom Blox. If 2009 is anything like 2008 then we will all feel very blessed.

You’ll notice a distinct lack of Gears of War 2 and Mercenaries 2. For Gears it’s simple. A game based so heavily on multiplayer should have working multiplayer, it’s as simple as that. For Mercenaries 2, it’s the bugs. The game has been patched twice since I posted my “review” and still nothing has been done about the bugs. It’s too bad too. Had Epic and Pandemic not been so lazy they would have a real game of the year contenders on their hands.

While there may have been better games released this year, not many can match the story told in The Force Unleashed. Somehow, someway, the writers managed to actually make Darth Vader interesting again. True the graphics were less than stellar, and some of the levels were downright broken (I’m looking at you, Star Destroyer). Somehow the story allows you to over come all of that and make you press on towards the end.
The Incredible Hulk is that rare game that is a “spiritual successor” to one of the greatest games of all time without screwing up the formula. After having played and fallen in love with Hulk: Ultimate Destruction and hearing the new one would not be made by the same developers, I was fearful of what would result. After all, games like Twisted Metal 3 and Ultimate Spider-Man have taken proven games and ruined them. So when I finally was able to sit down with The Incredible Hulk I was massively relieved to see they had not screwed the pooch. True the game wasn’t as good as its predecessor, but it was close, and how can a game that is close to one of my best ever not make it onto my list for games of the year?

I remember reading about Sins of a Solar Empire in PC Gamer when it was first previewed. Being a huge fan of Sci-Fi and RTS games I was instantly in love with the concept. Build an empire by conquering planets one after another. Take over entire solar systems. Make effective use of Space Pirates to weaken your opponents while you build up your fleet. Play against real people for months at a time possibly. Yes the game can be slow, but patience is rewarded. Have a Ritalin you ADD bastards.

Mirror’s Edge is a flawed game, no doubt. But it also managed to create an entirely new genre all by itself. Before I played the game I had no idea it was even possible to use the first person perspective in a game where you had to use your hands and feet for more than just holding a gun and running around. So yes the combat is wonky and frustrating. It really didn’t matter; the rest of the game is outstanding. If maybe a bit over exposed graphically.

I haven’t been a huge fan of the Valve games, I’ll be honest. Half Life and HL2 did nothing for me. Team Fortress and TF2 also did nothing for me. I got into Counter Strike until it became clear it was a game for gamer jocks (BOOM HEADSHOT!!). Portal had my attention but couldn’t keep it. So it’s a shock to me that I absolutely LOVE Left 4 Dead. It’s four people, in the midst of a Zombie outbreak trying to survive and escape to safety. Instantly I like the concept. Add to that the joy of four player co-op over Xbox Live with your friends and it’s time to rock. Did I forget anything? Oh yeah, the four on four multiplayer infected vs. survivor mode. Sweet game but , it’s probably better with mouse and keyboard support.

Ah,Saint’s Row 2. I couldn’t play the first one, it looked horrible on my TV at the time, and I had already had my fill of hip hop gangstas in GTA San Andreas. So when I heard that SR2 actually deserved my attention I knew something had to be wrong. Turns out I was correct; the thing that was wrong was me. SR2 took the sandbox concept and ran with it, making a game which conceivably stretches the GTA clone concept as far as possible. Is it perfect? No. There are better looking games and the driving is too arcade-like. That doesn’t mean the game isn’t something to be praised.

Hot Shots Golf Open Tee 2 is the game that I was looking for on my PSP. Something I can pick up and be addicted to for an hour or so and then put away. The game is easy to pick up but hard to master. I just wish the computer opponents didn’t look so weird; it can earn me strange looks while on the train.

And so the saga of Solid Snake ends, not with a bang but with a whimper . Actually, the game is excellent. The story manages to make some kind of sense. They even succeeded in making Raiden into something he never was in part two: a badass. Who knew one could wield a katana with your teeth? There were some tedious moments in the game, like crawling through that microwave, but over all I loved almost every minute of it. Just avoid the online portion.

I said in my review of Resistance 2 that this was Game of the Year material, and I meant it. If it weren’t for the game ahead of it, I would be quite comfortable giving this game my GOTY award for 2008. The single player campaign, the 32 player deathmatch mode, and the eight player co-op mode all combine to form the videogame equivalent of Voltron. I can’t wait to see what Resistance 3 is like.

I know many people feel that Saints Row 2 is a better game. I know many felt let down by GTA4 after San Andreas and the first Saints Row. I respectfully disagree. GTA4 took the franchise in a new, more realistic direction. Gone are the whacky missions like flying RC airplanes all over San Fiero. Gone too are the eating and working out requirements which were foolishly added to San Andreas. In their place you have a version of Liberty City which looks astoundingly real at times. You have a driving engine that approaches Gran Turismo levels of realism. The story is not a happy one. You have to make choices which show that there are consequences in life. I understand why people liked SR2, and were disappointed by GTA4. They enjoyed everything there was to do in previous GTAs. Saint’s Row 2 gave that to them in spades. GTA however, had to evolve. While there wasn’t as much to do in GTA4 as there was in Saints Row 2, not everything in SR2 was enjoyable. There are only so many times I can drive a sewage truck around spraying houses and people. All of the missions in IV were enjoyable (with the exception of maybe Snowstorm). Throw in the multiplayer mode which allowed you and your pals to finally run wild in Liberty City together and you have my Game of the Year for 2008.

There you have it, the best games of 2008.

Mohamed Al-Saadoon’s Top 10
Staff Writer

1.Football Manager 2009 (PC)
2.The World Ends With You (DS)
3.World of Goo (Wii Ware)
4.Left 4 Dead (PC)
5.MLB Power Pros 2008 (Wii)
6.No More Heroes (Wii)
7.Fallout 3 (PC)
8.Warioland Shake It! (Wii)
9.De Blob (Wii)
10.Brothers in Arms: Hell’s Highway (PC)

2007 was going to be a difficult year to follow up for the game industry and while 2008 wasn’t as good as last year, it still managed to be another great year to be a gamer.

The PS3 finally delivered some of it’s early promises with great exclusives such as Resistance 2, Valkyria Chronicles, Metal Gear Solid IV and Little Big Planet. The average PS3 owner should be quite happy this holiday season.

The 360 gamer is going to be even happier with arguably the best line up of any console this holiday season thanks to titles like Gears of War 2, Fable II, Banjo Kazooie as well as having the most multiplatform titles of any system. Throw in the Xbox Live service and you get to see why Mixcrosoft’s console won our console of the year award.

Oh, the Wii? Well, let’s talk about the Wii for a minute. Nintendo has been criticized for ignoring the hardcore fanbase and catering to the casual crowd. This is fundamentally true. The Wii has less, “big budget AAA” titles then either the PS3 or the Xbox 360 this holiday season, but let’s review some of the first party titles that Nintendo has released this year for the Wii:

Super Smash Brothers Brawl
Mario Kart Wii
Warioland Shake It!
Animal Crossing: City Folk
Endless Ocean
Disaster:Day of Crisis

Back in the days of the N64 and Gamecube, when we had to be drip fed Nintendo releases, this would be considered a very good year for Nintendo. Now that Nintendo is on top of this console generation people, expect more from Nintendo than ever before.

Thankfully, if you dig deep you can unearth some hidden gems for the Wii that would have gone unnoticed if it wasn’t for the lack of big budget games.

The wonderfully imaginative De Blob (Strange that this coming from THQ ,as I consider them less creative then EA), The neo-old school return to form for Wario with his latest game, Suda 51’s eccentric No More Heroes and a game that can please both hardcore and casual baseball fans, MLB Power Pros 2008.

My list doesn’t even include some other hidden gems such as Steven Speilberg’s Boom Blox and the multiplayer party game Dokapon Kingdom.

So, even if the Wii didn’t deliver as well as it did in 2007 with games like Metroid Prime 3 and Super Mario Galaxy it still has the ability to entertain you this holiday season.

Though Nintendo? More games please in 2009.

Ashe Collins’ Top 5
Staff Writer

1. Mass Effect (PC)
2. Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII (PSP)
3. Fallout 3 (PC)
4. Lego Batman (PSP)
5. Age of Empires: Mythology (NDS)

2008 hasn’t been the best year of games for me. I didn’t pick up many new games and demoed even fewer than that. On top of that, pickings for the PS2 were slim and my PC at home just couldn’t handle anything new . This meant I was left to my PSP and older stuff. Then there was flooding and everything else, so it’s been a slightly off budget year for my household. Not saying I didn’t get any gaming in, I have, but let’s get on with it and start with the bottom of my list.

Age of Empires: Mythologies was one I was mildly interested in and one that I didn’t have my own system for, so I used my wife’s. Let’s just say that having started playing this, her DS hasn’t left my side of the bedroom or my computer desk. It’s addicting and fun in the ways that I loved from games like Warcraft and Advance Wars and had that bit of fantasy flair I like to see in my ancient combat fare. As I said in my review, if I didn’t have access to a DS, I’d buy one to play this game.

Lego Batman was one I was looking forward to and one I didn’t think I’d want to shell out the PS2 money for so I began hunting for a PSP port and, lo and behold, there was one. I downloaded the demo as soon as it was available and have been goofing off with Lego Batman on my PSP ever since. There are lots of neat little gags in it and it’s a fun time waster running around with good ole Bats. Definitely recommend this one to anyone.

Fallout 3 is a bit bittersweet for me. The console versions are a bit buggy and so is the PC version, but you can patch that. It’s an interesting new take on the series, and I like it a lot, even the ending. I am looking forward to new content next year, but for now I’m content to roam the wilderness doing what I do best.

Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII would be number one if not for the random and annoying limit break system. Whoever thought that was a good idea, on top of having monsters equipped with DEATH in a single player – single character RPG should be shot. Other than that, this would have to be one of my favorites of the year. While the plot is a bit contrived, the game runs smoothly and looks amazing, and in my opinion looks just as good as God of War: Chains of Olympus. Any Final Fantasy VII fan should have this game. From the ground up this was a fun game to play and play again. Did I mention I’m on my like third run through?

Mass Effect is the one game I would have bought an Xbox 360 for if it hadn’t come out on PC. Even with its glitches and stupid DRM (I’m looking at you EA for this one!), I have to say this is my pick of the year out of the games I’ve played. The fantastic character creation and team play as well as an in-depth story line and amazing look and feel. Bioware knows what it’s doing when it puts together a RPG, and I’m looking forward to more of them.

Robert Capra’s Top 10
Staff Writer

1. Saint’s Row 2 (PS3)
2. God of War: Chains of Olympus (PSP)
3. Rock Band 2 (PS3)
4. BioShock (PS3)
5. Overlord: Raising Hell (PS3)
6. Nikopol (PC)
7. Resistance 2 (PS3)
8. Ratchet & Clank: Quest for Booty (PS3)
9. Sid Meier’s Civilization IV: Colonization (PC)
10. Little Red Riding Hood’s Zombie BBQ (NDS)

2008 was my first year reviewing games for, well, anyone honestly. As such it’s really opened my eyes, in both good and bad ways. I’d always been a very picky eater when it came to games, shying away from adventure titles and first person shooters, trying to ferret out the last of the dying platformers and two-player co-op games. Working here has really opened my eyes and brought me new experiences I would have never thought possible. Looking at my Top 10 list, almost half are games I would’ve never given a second glance.

LRRHZBBQ would have never made it to my radar, let alone this list. Resistance 2 and BioShock I would have ignored (Especially BioShock after the practically obscene admirations of my Xbox friends), and I would have laughed right in your face if you’d asked me about Saint’s Row 2. Yet here it is, at my number 1 position. For some reason, I just can’t put the game down.

Looking back at 2008, I’ve learned a valuable lesson: as gamers, it’s important that we get outside our comfort zone. Sure, there’s a lot of crap out there (I think my Worst Of list would be longer than this one), but you don’t know if you don’t try. We’re living in an incredible age of gaming choices (I know, I’m old, shut up) and it’s sheer folly not to try something new. So for your New Year’s Resolutions, might I suggest dusting off the rental shop card, or getting a GameFly subscription or something, and just try new games. You never know what you might enjoy.

Aileen Coe’s Top 5
Staff Writer

1. The World Ends With You (NDS)
2. Fire Emblem Shadow Dragon (NDS)
3. Persona 4 (PS2)
4. Trauma Center: Under the Knife 2 (NDS)
5. Super Smash Bros. Brawl (Wii)

2008 was one big year for gaming. It was a tough narrowing down the list, as there were plenty of games that sunk their claws into me. Nonetheless, here’s the list, starting from the bottom.

Brawl was probably one of the most anticipated and hyped games to come out this year, with fervent fans watching the Smash Dojo like hawks and meticulously dissecting every update. Whether it lived up to the hype is a matter of opinion, but Hal did give us an enjoyable party game loaded with content.

Trauma Center: Under the Knife 2 replicated the feel of the Wii games well. The inclusion of adjustable difficulty levels helped mollify those who complained about the first TC for the DS being too hard. At the same time, those who enjoyed challenge found plenty of that in heaps in the game.

Persona 4 managed to balance keeping what worked in Persona 3 and introducing new elements so that it didn’t feel like more of the same. It probably would’ve at least made the award nominee list had it been released a bit earlier. Let’s just hope they don’t do what they did with Persona 3 and release another version with more content a year from now (although Persona FES was still a worthy buy even if you bought P3 at release).

Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon brought the advent of the series up to date and finally made it accessible to those outside of Japan. Many old-time fans twitched at the name translations (Myself included), but the game still retains its quality gameplay. It added some more strategic flexibility by allowing any character not named Marth to swap classes. It was also the first in the series to have online multiplayer, meaning you could now show off your RNG blessed units and wipe the floor with your opponent.

TWEWY came out with innovative usage of the touch screen and dual screens at a time when Square’s higher ups were calling for non-mainstream games. Its presentation was slick, and while some of its plot and character elements have been done before, it presented them in such a manner that they never felt cliched. See, Square-Enix? Sometimes stepping outside of the box works.

Ian Gorrie’s Top 10
Staff Writer

1. GTA4 (PS3)
2. Metal Gear Solid 4 (PS3)
3. Super Stardust HD (PS3)
4. Wipeout HD (PS3)
5. Left 4 Dead (PC)
6. Super Smash Bros Brawl (Wii)
7. Endless Ocean (Wii)
8. Wii Fit (Wii)
9. Burnout Paradise (PS3)
10. Little Big Planet (PS3)

I expected the world from GTA IV and they mostly delivered. Even though this is a shooter, auto aim and the Gears of War like cover system took the sting out of the lack-of-mouse disappointment that many shooters suffer with me as an old school quake player.

The multiple endings were all plausible, the characters interesting, and the humor twisted in just the way I like it. There was no end to the laughs even if you are lacking appreciation for black humor such that I have. It was funny right down to spam that you got in you in-game email account sending you to the websites for Mexican Viagra and buying babies online.

It also didn’t feel much like the previous games. All of the “joy in mayhem feeling” was gone and it gained a much grittier more realistic feeling. No neon colors. No picking up a bus full of people, taking them to the Russian hot dog factory, and then driving the hot dog truck around selling them. No Haitians with flame throwers. This is okay. It is a different game.

Multiplayer wasn’t a bit hit with me, but is varied and available and that is good.

That it stood up to the hype, provided a great soundtrack, characters, camera(!) behavior, driving controls, and was a worthy successor to the franchise made it my game of the year. Hopefully there is a sundown on the DLC exclusivity. How many zeros were in that Microsoft check anyway?

I made every attempt to play the previous three MGS games previous to cracking open the wrapper on MGS4. I very nearly failed. I played the first Metal Gear on NES about 500 years ago. Since then I was aware of these stealth action games and their wannabe spinoffs, but didn’t take it seriously until I saw Kojima’s demo presentation of what this game was capable of doing.

I personally never bothered playing Metal Gear Online, because I knew that I would be playing with extreme fanboys who have done nothing but be awesome at this game for the last several years.

Speaking of Metal Gear Awesome, I never get tired of it.

For someone who had been aware of Metal Gear, but not a huge fan of the series, the greatness of this game was not lost or unappreciated by me. In fact, this release was the perfect thing for me. I was able to enjoy all of the story and its conclusion at the same time. The downloadable Metal Gear Solid database application provided an encyclopedia of knowledge with spoilers locked until after areas had been cleared in the MGS4 story savegame. Another well done and detail oriented addition.

Super Stardust HD is very likely the game that has consumed the most of my time on my PS3 to date. When was the last time any of you played a shooter for hours and hours and wondered what day it was when you finished? Well, it had been a very long time for me.

A shooter set on a sphere is, I think, the most interesting part. The linear shooter, to me, was started by Defender and reached its apex with the R-Type series. HD explosions, giant enemy space-crabs that you shoot for massive damage, a learning curve for how to maximize scores, and one of the best expansions I’ve seen. If only it had internet multiplayer in some way, it would be the best (downloadable space shooter) game of the year for sure!

I bought my PSX to play Wipeout. About a month after I was playing my brains out of my head playing Wipeout, Wipeout XL came out completely unexpectedly to me. It was all the first Wipeout was and more. I was ecstatic. I still listen to the soundtrack and look in on the artist, Cold Storage, from time to time. You should all go and grab his free music on his website

The new rendition of Wipeout in HD is not as fun to me as the previous versions; it is less forgiving with narrow tracks making racing with fellow humans a little more precise. It is a more advanced and more refined game that will have reduced appeal. The appeal for those that have loved the franchise for a long time, like me, cannot be denied. An HD version at sixty frames per second cannot fail to disappoint people who like fast precision driving of future antigravity hovercrafts with a variety of armament.

Left 4 Dead features awesome co-op, great repeatability, interesting and fun cinematic feel. The degrees of difficulty are also very well placed. Versus games are excellent, as long as your team doesn’t let you down, and is a clear indication at the need for effective teamwork.

I liked the staff commentary feature as well. It was interesting to hear how it evolved to a bunch of counterstrike bots with knives to a fully realized game with special types of zombies, great cinematic strategy, and enough randomness to afford a healthy amount of enjoyable repeatability.

Purists complain about how this isn’t as good as previous releases in the series, how they nerfed Captain Falcon, or something. I don’t really care. I only played the first couple of Nintendo character beatdown games occasionally. I have no strong opinions about the One Divine Truth about Mario and pals fighting games. I have no 4:20 provoked dorm room glory days about the loser of a match going to buy munchies. I just have the game itself.

I liked the single player platforming stuff to unlock Sonic and Solid Snake. I not only didn’t mind it, as a newcomer to the game, it was pretty much required for me to have a clue how to fight with these characters. I can see how the old pros at this game would be annoyed by having to unlock specials, but I don’t care. I like the way they did this.

This is very much the nerd party game of the year.

I played Endless Ocean previous to learning to scuba dive. I am still taken aback by how much the feeling of this game is similar to actually being in the ocean. The thrill of discovery is here. The identification of fish and finding of secrets is captivating and better than life in being able to know what exactly that fish is instead of being left wondering.

Yoga studios all over the world are going to be taking a hit due to Wii Fit. Having a live-in personal trainer that tracks your progress in ways that are visually brilliant and intuitive is a triumph. Bringing the idea of exercise away from a bunch of weights and apparatus is also something that is good for chronically sedentary gamers to think about. Most of all, it makes it fun, competitive, and cumulative.

All this, and adding a sweet skate/snowboard peripheral for future games.

No list could be complete without a Burnout title. This, I think, will be the last Burnout I play. EA is getting completely out of hand. They release updates to this internet-capable game to update the in-game product placement.

EA is really an innovator in developing new annoying ways to monetize their games, I see. I really need fleets of Gillette Mach Eighty Thousand advertizing vans with hyper-dense mass so that I can’t ram them off the road and crash in slow motion getting the absolute max visibility of the BUY OUR STUFF slow motion effects. Thank you for your innovation, EA. You are my heroes.

Then again, this is a Burnout game. Since it says Burnout on the disk, people are going to play it and compare every other gaming release to it even if they’re nothing like Burnout. (Especially if they’re in a 1Up show podcast.) Since it is a Burnout game in a somewhat open world setting, it comes in as #9 on my list.

Finally we have Little Big Planet. The fan-content generation addition. It is a fun platformer, but due to whatever bad networking, to under expectations in specing out the game servers, or whatever else was going wrong, I was never able to have a satisfactory multiplayer experience. It was always lagged. I couldn’t connect to people, or something would always go wrong.

The concept is fun though, if not actually up to the hype. People can and do make levels for people to play. They are encouraged to do so by Playstation Network Trophy support. Make a good level or else you’ll never get your gold trophy! Oh oh oohhh!

Out of the few dozen user generated levels I played, only a couple of them were good. Most were specifically designed to get 5 achievements at once or the like. That’s cute and all, but falls a bit short of the promises made in the good solid year of marketing.

Bryan Berg’s Top 3
Senior Writer

1. NHL 09 (360)
2. Mega Man 9 (X-Box Live Arcade)
3. Mario Kart Wii (Wii)

I’m a gamer of simple tastes. I don’t clamor for the grandiose stories or the life-like graphics most gamers seek in their favorite games. Call me crazy, but it’s true. Sports games and old-school titles are the games that generally draw me in – and 2008 was no different.

Let’s start with the #3 game on my list – Mario Kart Wii. Not the most perfect title in the Mario Kart chronology, but it certainly fit the Wii. A wheel I can spin around to control my player? Sounds awesome to me! Even if the wheel was merely a gimmick to take away from the fact that the gameplay is largely what it has traditionally been, it worked. This game had me from Day One, playing with opponents and the computer with similar vigor. At least it used the Wii technology, unlike the equally-hyped Super Smash Bros. Brawl – that goes a long way with me.

Thankfully, Mario Kart Wii wasn’t the pinnacle of retrogaming in 2008 – that honor would go to Mega Man 9. Imagine Nintendo making a new Mario game, only deciding the franchise hit its peak on the NES and making this new game in the likeness of Super Mario Bros. 3. How far would that fly? Mega Man is one of the only franchises that could pull this off – a total trip down Memory Lane, only with a game that’s something more than pure nostalgia. It’s everything old-school MMega Man fans wanted, at a fraction of the cost the old-school Mega Man fan would have paid for such a game.

But none of these games compare to the new-school appeal of NHL 09. Here, you have a game that brings the NHL franchise to places we never dreamed possible when we first played these games on Sega Genesis a whole generation ago. You mean I can create a player, have him start in the minor leagues, and then watch his progress as he makes the NHL and becomes an impact player?

That’s just unfathomable, especially for those who were with this franchise from the very start. People are calling NHL 09 the best sports game of all-time; whether it is the best ever or not is up for debate, but it’s certainly worthy of being in the discussion. It’s simply impossible to get bored of this game. EA has its hands full creating a game better than this one.

J. Rose’s Top 10
Staff Artist

1. Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of The Patriots(PS3)
2. Fallout 3 (360)
3. Fable 2 (360)
4. Condemned 2: Bloodshot (360)
5. Super Mario Kart Wii (Wii)
6. Little Big Planet (PS3)
7. Valkyria Chronicles (PS3)
8. Kingdom Under Fire: Circle of Doom (360)
9. Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 (PS2)
10. Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia (NDS)

The tale of one of video gaming’s greatest heroes came to its assumed end this year in MGS4. The final MGS chapter was woven with expert execution and amazing gameplay. Peace out, Snake… I think.

The Post Apocalyptic RPG makes a spirited return in the obvious choice for best RPG of the year, Fallout 3. The Capital Wasteland is huge, the choices are almost infinite, and the radscorpions seem to have really gotten larger since the last time I saw them…

Take Peter Molyneaux’s original Fable, expand on it, fix a good amount of the things that irked about it, and infuse it with even more dry wit and personality, and you have Fable 2. If only the multiplayer was a bit more expansive, it would have been higher on the list.

On Condemned 2: Bloodshot: Brick and bat bumfights return this year in all their glory, and I outright loved every last minute of it. Also, the homeless man says “Ur ur urah ur ur ur urah uragh urah,” when I punched him in the face, and that’s awesome.

Sure, Mario Kart Wii is essentially the same game… but truth be told, it has yet to get old, and it’s still some of the most fun to be had with interactive media in my opinion. I’d rather run my friends off the track then “brawl” with them any day.

It’s hard to dislike animated sock puppets building things out of paper and cardboard. I can’t really help but love them for it, so it’s easy for me to love Little Big Planet. The incredibly innovative yet simplistic gameplay experience certainly helps as well.

After a not so stellar recent track record, Sega really surprised me with Valkyria Chronicles. The action based strategy gameplay is such a great idea, I’m amazed no other developer has thought of it before. A compelling story and attractive visual presentation really come together to prove Sega still has what it takes to make a great RPG.

The dungeon hack lover in me could not help but clock a pretty large amount of time in with Kingdom Under Fire: Circle of Doom. With astounding art design, multiple playable characters, hundreds of items, quality multiplayer, and a crafting system that literally allows you to make items the gods would fear, KUF:COD certainly scratched my dungeoning itch for the earlier portion of this year. Too bad about that “patch” though (Fans will know what I mean).

The end of the year goes out with a bang, and on old hardware to boot, with Persona 4. Though fairly similar to last year’s P3, P4 pulls out all the stops to make itself out to be a high quality alternative RPG experience that blends together quite a few trademarks of the collected series, to very satisfying results.

After the considerably disappointing Dawn of Sorrow and Portrait of Ruin, I was glad to see that Konami more or less left out whatever silly “gimmick” they most likely had originally planned for Order of Ecclesia, instead choosing to focus on making it a great game, to its benefit. This latest hand held battle against Mr. Dracula is chock full of the standard high quality aesthetics weCastlevania fans have come to expect from the series, and it also offers a nice balance between old and new school Castlevania games across several gameplay elements.

Chris Pankonin’s Top 10
Senior Editor

1. GTA IV (360)
2. Gears of War 2 (360)
3. NBA 2K9 (PS3)
4. Mario Kart Wii (Wii)
5. NCAA Football 09 (PS3)
6. Little Big Planet (PS3)
7. Rock Band 2 (360)
8. Super Smash Bros. Brawl (Wii)
9. Metal Gear Solid 4 (PS3)
10. WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2009 (PS3)

It’s been a staggered year as far as games that really grabbed me are concerned. I’m giving the nod to GTA IV as my GOY, but I actually had to stop and consider it long and hard because I haven’t so much as turned on the game since early summer. Gears of War 2, on the other hand, was a November release and fresh in my mind – but I don’t think I was AS blown away as I was when I first played GTA back in the Spring. Even though, they’re technically sequels and therefore can’t be considered entirely original games, these two stand out to me as far as being the biggest – and best, games of the year.

The rest of my list is a random assortment of personal favorites, that just flat out due to my personal gaming interests, I’m likely to buy and enjoy every year because they’re just solid! I’m a sports gamer and the NBA 2K series and NCAA Football are annual “must buy” games for me, they’ve earned my respect over the years that I know they’re going to be good and that I’m going to get my money’s worth playing them. Mario Kart Wii and Super Smash Bros. Brawl also qualify as games with a history that I knew I had to have as well, and they didn’t disappoint.

Rounding out my list, I finally purchased in to the Guitar Hero/Rock Band craze over the holidays and had a lot of fun rocking out with Rock Band 2. All of these games are pretty similar, whether its RB2 or any Guitar Hero game, but that doesn’t make them any less entertaining. I’m giving the nod to RB2 because I liked its playlist of songs slightly better than Guitar Hero: World Tour. Little Big Planet lands on the list because it was unlike anything I played all year – in a good way, and Smackdown vs. Raw 2009 was just solid enough to round out the top ten. Overall, it was a pretty good year – and I can’t wait for some titles coming out in early 2009, especially Resident Evil 5!

Alexander Lucard’s Top 10
Editor in Chief

1. Valkyria Chronicles (PS3)
2. The Lost Crown (PC)
3. Endless Ocean (Wii)
4. Sinking Island (PC)
5. Pokemon Ranger: Shadows of Almia (DS)
6. Mortal Kombat Vs. DC Universe (PS3)
7. Pokemon Platinum (DS)
8. Disgaea 3 (PS3)
9. X Edge (PS3)
10. Theresia… (DS)

Man was this hard. I could have easily done a top 15 or even a top 20 with games like Castlevania: Judgment, Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia, Blast Works, Samba De Amigo, Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Time and Nikopol. There were also some great educational software titles that came out like My Chinese Coach, My Japanese Coach, and Personal Trainer: Cooking. After 2007 being one of the worst years for gaming yet in terms of overall quality (Although there were some great games in the pack), 2008 surprised me as the best year we’ve had since 2005 when we were blessed with titles like Digital Devil Saga, Psychonauts and the first US release of KoF 2002 and 2003.

2008 is also notable for another two reasons, both in comparison to last year. In 2007 there was little to nothing for the PS3 or DS that I thought was quality. Here, the exact opposite is true, with both systems dominating my list. This is also the year where quality RPG’s and Adventure games came back in full force whereas last year my list was import shooters for the Sega Dreamcast and more eclectic titles. Alas, there was only one game for the last of the Sega systems released this year, and it was a mediocre puzzle game. Now, let’s get to my top ten.

Theresia is sadly one of those games that was off everyone’s radar this year except mine. Well mine and the people I raved about this to. Ask Nate. He drank the Kool-Aid (Quick aside, did you know the reference “drinking the Kool-Aid refers to the Jonestown Massacre, and that it wasn’t actually Kool-Aid but Flavor-Aid. Now you know! And knowing is half the battle). It’s a very creepy first person horror adventure that exhumes a sense of dread rather than cheap scares and gore. What you get past “Dearl Emile,” you’ve got a wonderful surprise is a second full length adventure game awaiting you that is just as eerie, if not more so.

As usual my list has at least one import game on it. What can I say, I might as well make use of my language skills. X Edge (Pronounced “Cross Edge”) was a wonderful bit of fan service allowing me to pit Morrigan from Darkstalkers against a Prinny from Disgaea with a really fun new RPG engine that combined the best of several different play styles. There’s just something that warms my heart when I can see Etna and Demetri beating up characters from the Mana Khemia and Ar Tonelico series. Best of all? The part of the manual you need to actually play the game is in English and the PS3 is region free so this is exceptionally import friendly. It is pretty text heavy though, so those of you who are interested in this mash-up may just want to wait for the US release coming in March. Yay Nippon Ichi!

Speaking of Disgaea, D3 was the best game Nippon Ichi has released since the very first Disgaea five years ago, when it won our 2003 Game of the Year award. Although Mao is a pretty crappy main character, the back up characters like Almaz, Sapphire and Champloo (A demon based on Emeril Legasse? BAM! KICK IT UP A NOTCH!) and the wonderful story more than made up for it. I loved this game so much I downloaded the extra content from the Japanese PS3 store so I could get the characters from Disgaea 2 and Makai Kingdom because NIS America took for-freaking-ever to bring the DLC stateside. If the downloadable content had come sooner, this would be a little bit higher up my list.

Pokemon Platinum is my second and last import on the top ten this year, which probably comes as a shock to absolutely no one. Platinum was a wonderful return to Sinnoh and I really enjoyed the new plot and locations like the Torn World. Platinum offers a lot more changes than Emerald did from R/S, and it’s only a hair below Pokemon Crystal as the best overall game in the franchise. With new characters, remixed locations, a vastly different store, and even some changes to the gym layouts, it’s almost like a brand new Pokemon adventure instead of a remix. It’s far less import friendly than X Edge but my friend’s children had no problem running through the cart like they read fluent Japanese. This is hitting US shores on March 22nd of 2009, so it may just show up on several of my staffer’s list this time next year. Pika pika!

Mortal Kombat Vs. DCU surprised me with how much I enjoyed it. Long time readers know I’m pretty fanatical about my King of Fighters and other 2-D franchises. Lo and behold though, this game sported tight controls, an amazingly good story for a fighter they kept in line with the continuity of both franchises and that just happened to be written by DC’s Jonah Hex Team. After swearing to the high hills with how awful the Dual Shock is for playing SSF2T HD Remix, I am still thrilled with the responsiveness and solid controls of this Midway fighter. As an SNK fan, I have to admit to feeling a little dirty about saying that though… Ah well, I’ll just go online and wail on someone with Barry Allen.

Now we’re in the top 5. Pokemon Ranger : Shadows of Almia was the most played game in my DS this year. Thanks to a ton of downloadable content, I’m STILL playing it. Soon I will be able to take on Regigigas and friends, SOON! PR2 also boasted an excellent story and some vastly improved gameplay from the first game. It was a great little action RPG that makes fine use of the DS touch screen and stylus. Plus it’s a wonderful change of based from the turn based Pokemon games. My only quibble (and the only reason this isn’t higher) was that the dungeons were way too long. Snore.

The Sinking Island was one of the most innovative Adventure games I have ever played. I love detective games like Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective or Still Life and this was no exception. There were two different play modes, a wonderful little clue puzzle map and the best detective story in the history of video gaming. Seriously. The BEST EVER. Even if you beat it in standard adventure style, try the timed mode. It’s bloody hard. God bless White Birds studios for this and Nikopol. They’ve quickly become my favorite adventure developers, and I’m tempted to import the DS version of this game for poor Aaron after he sat through the butchered remake of Syberia

Endless Ocean is one of those few games that came out in Jan and still managed to remain in my Top Ten by December. It is utterly soothing with an amazing soundtrack, and I still use it as a stress reliever or a way to unwind after an arduous day. If you can’t appreciate the soundtrack and the simply joys of looking as marine life in all their glory, than I pity you. This game is Zen personified. Endless Ocean lets you explore the wonders and beauty of the ocean and learn a great deal about the creatures that inhabit three quarters of the earth. Video games are rarely described as relaxing or cathartic, but that’s exactly what this was.

The Lost Crown is one of the few video games I can honestly call a work of art. There has never been a game to my knowledge that has used colour and lighting to such a sublime degree. The fact that most of the game save for rare bits are in black and white highlights just how ahead of the game Jon Boakes is compared to other Adventure game developers. He even threw in a fun first person shooter segement mixed in with all the VERY realistic parapsychology bits. Factor in that the game has the most realistic and creepy paranormal story out of any video game I’ve ever encountered, and you can see why TLC has been universally hailed as the best horror adventure game ever made. Now with Dark Fall 3 in production, I’m eagerly awaiting what Darkling Room productions brings me next.

Valkyria Chronicles restored my faith in Sega and RPG’s in general. Of course it’s by Overworks, now Sega WOW. This was the company that gave me the original Phantasy Star games and my beloved Sakura Taisen series. How could I ever have doubted that this game would combine the best of multiple genres and package it in a wonderful historical fiction story about WWII. Usually I’m not a fan of Real Time Strategies, war simulations, or game that involve killing people outside of fantasy type situations, but Valkyria Chronicles had that it factor that made all three come together into something I couldn’t put down. Shame on all of you who own a PS3 and yet didn’t pick this up. What is the matter with you. With a cameo by Vyse from Skies of Arcadia and a pretty intricate combat system, Valkyria Chronicles was that combination of innovation and storytelling I’ve been waiting for since the first Digital Devil Saga.

Hats off to you 2008!







2 responses to “2008 Year in Review Staff Commentaries”

  1. […] If you are interested in a specific staff member’s pick, you can always read our individual staff commentaries. With that in mind, we present to you what we at Diehard GameFAN feel are the best games of […]

  2. […] my staff commentaries that year, I had Mega Man 9 on my list of games at #3. I addressed this criticism […]

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