I've been meaning to type this up for a while, but just finally got the urge after seeing after seeing a friend's personal 2008 list.
The following is my personal list of games that I enjoyed in 2008, so you're not going to find Gears 2, Fallout 3 or any other games that I haven't played yet in this list, even though I'm sure that they should receive just as much attention as the following. For the most part, I stick with multiplatform games because they seem to be available in genres that interest me the most.
These are really not listed in any particular order, but my personal game of the year is stressed greatly. Read on. You might be surprised at my pic for best game of this year.
Games of the year:
Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots
I have a few complaints here and there with this game, but overall it was extremely satisfying to the Metal Gear fan inside of me and it did indeed bring a great close to the Metal Gear story if it actually does decide to end here - probably won't but, you never know. To me, the lengthy cutscenes were never felt near as much in other games as they were in this installment, mainly because the gameplay was so much better here. I wanted to play more of the actual game and watch less cutscenes, but as the acts of the game progress, the story becomes even more greatly emphasized and the cutscenes take priority over just about any move that Snake makes.
The first day I got this, I played the living hell out of it. I think I actually beat it in two days. Everything that I could think of that I wanted answers for was resolved in this installment and it sure did make me drop my jaw at some points. If you haven't already spoiled this game for yourself and still have the urge to play it then just stay off of the message boards. One main kicker can be spoiled so very easily.
Soul Calibur IV
Oooo, I had a feeling that this game would be absolutely excellent in terms of fighting and it most certainly was. The graphics were incredible and the overall fighting engine was easy to learn but very difficult to master just like all the other SCs. Though a bit laggy on both consoles, the online experience was very satisfying whenever I found an opponent equal to me skill level online.
It was very hard to choose between fighters, but I think I found my main three characters to play. Out of the three that I used to play all the time, I had to drop Seong Mi-na since I didn't really like her newfound flashiness, but I kept Yun-Seong and Rock then added a secret apprentice to them as well. I've also made up plenty of custom characters as well, which surprises me, considering how much I've been against the addition of edit character ever since SC3. The novelty got to me this time I suppose. But anyway, which of you out there wants to challenge my Frank West, Agrippa, Claudia, Chris Redfield, or Galford?
Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix
Oh, what a wait we had here. It was worth it though. Back before I had broadband, this game was the main reason why I wanted to get it. The characters are all redrawn with a more updated look but they all retain just about the same exact frames of animation from the old Street Fighter II with a few little changes thrown here and there to spice up the battles a bit. It plays old-school but has an entirely new look to it. The game looks absolutely beautiful in high definition.
The online play is nearly flawless from what I have seen. I have run across some sound glitches associated with online play, but the lag isn't that bad at all on either version of the game. Also, another thing that pleases me greatly: Guile has his old voice back, which is a gift in itself when I look back at SSFIIT!
This game takes the RE4-style gameplay and completely runs with it. Dead Space has some of the most convenient and easy to use overall controls and gameplay of any horror/sci-fi game that I have played. The cutscenes and overall story is mainly presented in real time and the action hardly ever lets up since there is hardly ever a reason to put the controller down.
Most of the story is told through logs - text, video, and audio - and isn't really all that deep, but by the end of the game, it kept me wondering about many things associated with the overall plot. I wanted to go off and read the comics and watch the DVD movie and try to delve deeper into the overall information surrounding the Marker. Both forms of story extension are quite good, by the way, make sure you view both if you want the full Dead Space experience.
The Dead Space universe is full of such potential and I hope EA realizes and gives more thought to this fantastic horror/sci-fi experience that they have created. The whole situation is just a like a Raccoon City that could be explored here and there with so much more depth if one was willing to try.
Prince of Persia
The overall look of this game alone in absolutely breathtaking and had me stopping to admire its beauty quite often. Maybe it's because PoP was my first full game to play in high definition. I don't know.
The overall platforming was usually pretty laid out for the most part but it all had such a smooth and easy flow to it that felt satisfying. The battles were really the only downfall to me. They relied way too much on button prompts for my taste giving me less of a feeling that I was actually fighting my opponent. All too often, battles felt more like a big QTE.
Elika and the Prince kept me entertained greatly throughout their journey. Their voice actors did some really good jobs in helping to bring out the overall feel of the two throughout the entire story. I listened to just about every talking prompt that I could throughout the entire game thanks to their interesting personalities.
Devil May Cry 4
Really I considers DMC4 as my second best game of the year. It wasn't perfect but dear god, I explored so very much of this game and enjoyed it so greatly while doing so.
I had such built up anticipation for this game early last year and the game was really well worth the hype that I built up for it. It was one of my first games to go out of my way to get both versions for. Nero was a blast to play with and I absolutely love how easy he is to use. It doesn't take that much effort to be flashy with him but he still takes quite a bit of skill and timing to master.
Dante, on the other hand, is still harder to play and has been toned down a bit since DMC3. To me, the only real flaw in this game dealt with Dante - mainly his stages didn't always have the same quality feel that Nero's stages carried since quite a few of them were simple retreads through the same exact stage that Nero went through with a different enemy setup. Dante still got quite a few new weapons that kept him satisfying until the very end though - who could forget Pandora or wielding Vergil's sword, Yamato?
Like DMC3, I also enjoyed the overall soundtrack to the game. The theme song - We Shall Never Surrender - was so beautiful and played through my comp speakers as I prepared ASCII and overall guide format for a good two months prior to the game's release.
Bionic Commando: Rearmed
This is my pick for best game of the year. Seriously. Yeah, right here - a downloadable game. Bionic Commando: Rearmed is so very true in keeping the same feel of the original game and it's such a blast to play overall. I could pick this game up and play it at any time and not get the slightest bit bored with it. Here's some of the main reasons why I like it so much:
1) It's hard as hell but it keeps me playing no matter how many times I screw up because there is such a sense of accomplishment after you get through one its tough stages.
2) It has some overly stunning graphics for a downloadable title.
3) It has some rather impressive and catchy remixed music (I load up the game sometimes and allow the main menu music to play in the background while I do other things).
4) The bionic arm is even more fun to use than it was in the original (grab enemies!) and the game actually teaches you how to use it well this time through some well-explained tutorials. The original didn't have any real good explanations, but Rearmed actually taught me some techniques that made me want to return to the original game in order to play it better.
5) The game has tons of extras and so much replay value. There are many reasons to go through a stage again. Walkthrough beside you or not, it takes quite a bit of skill to unlock everything, especially if you're trying to get all of the achievements or medals (PS3 version).
The only bad things that I saw about the game is that the overhead levels could become repetitive after getting caught by convoys so much while trying to reach a destination and the game could have benefitted from online multiplayer but all the conmplaints are so very minor when everything else if flawless. Above all, this was my game of the year. It makes me happy and keeps me Grinning in anticipation for this year's Bionic Commando title (pun intended). I'm so glad it was pushed away from RE5's release date, so I can fully enjoy both games when the time comes.
A game that surprised me:
Silent Hill: Homecoming
I formed the idea that this game would be crap, because I deemed it as such judging from what I saw of it up until its release. It didn't ever seem to impress me no matter how much I saw of it.
It wasn't that bad of a Silent Hill at all though. Homecoming had some good scares and I actually liked the new action approach that this installment carried with it. It was a nice change of pace from the usual Silent Hill. The streets of Silent Hill looked very pleasing this time around and the real time Otherworld changes were a definite plus just like they were in the movie.
The overall story was kind of weak compared to the other Silent Hill games but it has its moments. I think Double Helix did an overall good job and deserve some praise for what they did here. I remember after playing it for a few minutes, I had to stop playing and open up MS Word then start the game over, because something told me that I had to write up something based on my first playthrough.
A game that probably would have been included but it's actually 2009 material for me:
Little Big Planet
Keep in mind that I just started this game a few days ago, but it is already one of the most memorable games that I have played in 2009.
This game makes me happy that I still play video games. It gives me faith that publishers will continue to innovate and find new ideas that will surprise me as the years continue. I hardly ever journey outside of my usual genres, which is kind of sad in a way, because I almost missed out on this little gem that I would have probably never had gotten around to.
Little Big Planet is interactive happiness. It allows you to customize to your heart's content then sit back and take your creation on a spin through a world full of simplicity, yet so very pleasing and comforting that you won't even mind the everyday platforming that you'll be engaging in.
One of the best parts about the game is the ability to go online and enjoy the creativity of others. I have run across quite a number of user-created levels that were outstanding, such as a level dedicated solely to Silent Hill, Dead Space, and even Star Fox. It's amazing the amount of creativity that can be displayed in this game from a gamers' perspective. And there is so very much to do and collect from where I stand right now.
And there you have my pics for 2008 with a dash of 2009. I have a feeling 2009 is going to be even better overall in terms of gaming. Well, it's more than a feeling actually... psychic powers tell me it will be for sure. :)