Aside from a couple of the big guys in the gaming industry, I don’t indulge in year end top XX lists. In fact, I’ve hit “mark all as read” in my feed reader more times over this past week than I likely did over the course of this year. But for some reason, I felt like doing a year end list of my own. Feel free to mark as read and move on, I won’t be offended. But if you do stick around, let me know how my list shapes up compared to your own. I was actually surprised myself when I sat down to hash this out.

My Favourite Games in 2008

Rock Band 2

For many, many reasons, Rock Band 2 is at the top of my list this year. Ironically, it’s the only game in my favourites list that I haven’t yet reviewed. I do have a draft in the works, but due to the fact that you never really complete a game like Rock Band 2, I’ve had a hard time finishing my review.

While some might consider it a premature sequel, I believe the timing couldn’t have been better. With Guitar Hero World Tour set for a late October release, Rock Band 2 swoops in a month early with an update on all fronts that brought the game from a great standing, to damn near perfect.

The steady flow of weekly DLC has kept me actively playing and genuinely excited about the game. While I tend to hang onto games that I thoroughly enjoy, Rock Band 2 isn’t just another game for the collection. But one that I can jump back into at any time and know full well that a good time will be had.

Rounding out my top 6, are Dead Space, Gears of War 2, Left 4 Dead, LittleBigPlanet, and Mass Effect – which I know was released in November of 2007, but I didn’t end up playing it until May of ’08.

Dead Space Gears of War 2 Left 4 Dead LittleBigPlanet Mass Effect

Best Games I Didn’t Play (enough of) in 2008

Fallout 3

Fallout 3

RPG is not my favourite genre, but I have enjoyed the odd role playing game. In most cases, they’ve been games that branch genres and bend or break some of the traditional rules of RPGs. As much as I can appreciate the sheer quantity and level of quality that Bathesda delivers time and time again, I have a hard time sticking with their games. It mostly comes down to commitment. I’m simply not capable of investing the time that’s required to make it through one of their role playing games without feeling horribly guilty. As much as I was intrigued by the story in Fallout 3, I had to put it down after only 7 hours.


Far Cry 2

Far Cry 2

The last time my Xbox 360 RRoD’d on me, I picked up Far Cry 2 to fill the gap. It was just released and getting great reviews – and rightly so. It’s a fantastic game! From the visuals (which you would expect) to the expansive environment, to the incredible AI. Far Cry 2 is not your typical Far Cry, and a welcome change to the franchise. Sadly, once my Xbox 360 was repaired and Gears of War 2 was released, I had little time for Far Cry 2 and decided to trade it in. I’ll definitely pick it up again when things slow down, or if I see it on sale.


GRID

GRID

When I hear that Codemasters are working on a new racing game, I get excited! With DiRT, followed by GRID, and now FUEL on the horizon, there’s good reason to do so. GRID, like Far Cry 2, is another top notch game that got pushed aside by bigger releases and ended up being traded in. I was hanging onto it for the longest time, as it was the only racing/driving game in my collection, but I had to let it go while it’s still worth something. I’m hoping to get back to it at some point, but I may end up holding out for FUEL.


Biggest Disappointments in 2008

Mercenaries 2

Mercenaries 2

Believe it or not, I am still fucking bitter about this game! It wasn’t that it was a bad game or anything. The bugs, oh the bugs! So many blatantly obvious bugs and mistakes that were clearly overlooked due to time or budget restraints. Regardless, playing an unfinished product is not fun. Paying for an unfinished product is even worse.


Mirror’s Edge

Mirror's Edge

When I look back at Mirror’s Edge, I’m saddened. For a game that had so much promise, it truly fell flat. It you weren’t phased by the clunky controls or horrible combat, you were likely let down by the terrible story. I still have my fingers crossed that a drastically improved sequel is in the works, and knowing EA, that’s likely the case. Let’s just hope that it doesn’t contain any of the same characters or have anything to do with the initial story.


Star Wars: The Force Unleashed

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed

Going into 2008, The Force Unleashed was probably my most anticipated game. I love me some Star Wars, and the tech demos the Lucas Arts folks had been showing off were nothing short of fucking incredible. I was a little let down by the demo, which was fun, but not as mind blowingly awesome as I had expected. But I still had high hopes and remained positive.

When the review scores surfaced and the big guys were giving it low 7s, I was crushed. I decided that I wasn’t even going to play the game since it was destined to be a huge disappointment. But when I found it on sale for 50% off, I snatched it up. The spark was reignited as I began my journey as The Apprentice, but my smile quickly turned to a snarl as I tried to refrain from throwing my controller at the TV in frustration.

Overall, I found the gameplay and use of force powers completely underwhelming. It got to the point where I was getting my ass handed to me by every local alien being with a stick and I found it easier to just run through to the next checkpoint – at which point I ejected the game for the last time and traded it in.


Comments

That is a great list. I’m playing Dead Space at the moment, and I don’t usually pick up horror games (probably cause I’m a big pussy), but something about this that keeps making me play it. I’m absolutely loving it; a rare style of gaming, and of course the graphics are insane!

Mass Effect something I’ve been meaning to pick up again but need more time to allocate for it.

Matt, I like this style of list. Especially not only talking about the highs, but also about the lows…

Mirror’s Edge: I kinda agree with your opinion about this game, for me it was also a little disappointing, even though I don’t sell my games so easily.

GRID: I also still own, but rarely play.

Far Cry 2: I’m still waiting for my copy and really looking forward to explore the huge world.

Fallout 3: Bought it a couple of days ago and already spend 14+ hours browsing throught the Wastelands… so I’m sorry you had to drop it after under 7 hours.

And I can’t imagine you liked GOW2 above other games. I did enjoy the game, but for me it was just another action-shooter. Maybe it was just me, but i found it rather been-there-done-that-ish.

And regarding Dead Space, just what Nathan… I AM a big pussy… so I wouldn’t dare picking it up 😉

I love me some Gears. I still have the original in my collection, despite having played through the campaign half a dozen times. Definitely my kind of game, and the sequel improved on every front.

Any chance you might put a bit more time into Fallout 3? 7 hours is a lot in any other genre, but it’s not much as far as RPG’s are concerned. Also, you don’t have to do the side quests as there’s always the option to say ‘not right now’ or ignore them entirely.

Anywho, Mass Effect is on ‘my list’. I should be going back to that for my third play-through soon. Lost Odyssey is also one of my favourite games of ’08 (and just in general!). I put 110 hours into it, which I can’t say I’ve ever done for any other game, and I loved every minute of it.

I’ll throw in Fable II as well, even though I wished it had been longer. But there’s always the upcoming downloadable content, eh?

Even though I thought ’07 was better for games, ’08’s been pretty good in retrospect. And there’s still so much for me to play spilling over into 2009 😀

The thing about Bathesda RPGs, is that the focus heavily on leveling your character. I found while playing Oblivion, that I if you didn’t level "properly" you got fucked. I had to back-track a few saves and do things different in Oblivion, since I didn’t have enough skill in a couple areas to carry on. I’m afraid the same will happen in Fallout, causing me to spend even more time with it. Side quests are similar – sure, they’re optional, but you would likely get to a point in the main quest where your character doesn’t have enough skill to keep pushing forward. So in turn, you have to take on some side quests. It’s just too much for me.

I thought about putting Fable 2 on my list, but I don’t think so. It was a great game and one that I really enjoyed, but there were definitely annoyances and areas that didn’t feel fully fleshed out. Where as, of the games I chose for my absolute favourites, I don’t have anything but good memories of them.

Im a little surprised that Mass Effect was on your top 6, but you admitted to only spending 7 hours on Fallout3. They both require a huge investment of time in order to see the full spectrum of the game. However, I do agree that Bethesda has its own style that varies much from Bioware.. both great developers IMO though.

I haven’t invested into Dead Planet yet, but i hope to do so soon. Its tough to play horror games with a 6 year old in the house!

Overall, great list and for the most part I agree.

Aside from the reasons I’ve already mentioned for dropping Fallout 3, I found it quite slow. Action sequences were few and far between, and I didn’t like the combat at all. There’s more walking and talking than anything else.

I managed to get through Mass Effect in about 14 hours on my first play through, and that was taking on a fair amount of side quests too. I ended up playing it through again immediately and enjoyed it even more. The 2 are definitely very different styles of RPG.

I haven’t invested into Dead Planet yet, but i hope to do so soon. Its tough to play horror games with a 6 year old in the house!

I hear you! I wouldn’t allow my 10 year-old daughter in the room or within ear-shot while I was playing Dead Space. But it’s best played at night with lights down low, anyway. 😉

Very true, I would relate Mass Effect more closely to Star Wars KOTR than any Bethesda Game.. I really shouldn’t speak anyways, I never finished either of them! I have a bad habit of never completing any RPG, but that might change will Fable 2 which I’m currently loving.

My top 5 list would probably go a little something like this. I’m a big multiplayer fan so my list might be a little biased towards games with a good online experience.

1) Gears of War 2

The campaign was brilliant and every now and again I even return to the nasty multiplayer.

2) Call of Duty 4+5

Keep coming back to these again and again. Multiplayer is close to the best online experience available on any console.

3) Left 4 Dead

Brilliant little online shooter

4) Geometry wars 2

I played this for hours and hours at 800 Microsoft Points can’t complain.

5) Guitar Hero 3

Would love to agree with you and say rock band but I have never played it ): Both Rock Band and Guitar Hero WT are so expensive it the UK it’s hard justify buying either. You could buy a Xbox 360 plus game for the £150 that rock band/ GHWT would set you back.

Let down of the year would probably be mostly Wii titles.

I finally got around to picking up Mirror’s Edge myself during the sales, and I truly can’t understand everyone’s disappointment.

In saying that, the story and cut scenes were both laughably bad, but the game itself was so unlike anything I’d ever played before that I didn’t care.

I enjoyed it enough to finish it twice in two days, on normal and hard 😛

oh and your list is spot on, all I would add is Okami for Wii. Then again most people would have played through it back in 2007 on PS2.

Good round up Matt! I really seem to fall in the same line as you with Fallout 3. I just can’t seem to get into the game. This exact thing happened with Oblivion… I played the beginning but just wasn’t that intrigued to continue.

The odd thing is that I do enjoy RPG’s… I guess I’m just not a Bethesda fan. I might give it a second chance but I don’t see it really grabbing my attention from my favorites like Gears, Halo and hell even Midnight Club.

Happy New Years!

I just played and finished Mass Effect in the week after Christmas and I loved every second of it; I don’t think I got that attached to game characters since the first Baldurs Gate on PC or Final Fantasy 7 on the PS. It’s actually the reason I got an XBOX (well. that and Gears 2 and because my aging PC couldnt hack tit anymore).

I’m already looking forward to ME2. I also treated myself to GTA4, Dead Space and Star Wars KOTOR so I’m set for at least 5-6 months 🙂

Great list you have here. I bourght a ps3 last week and got 5 games so far. I think dead space is amazing, but very scary.

I haven’t had much of a chance to play it, but Rock Band 2 is definitely a blast. I haven’t played any of those other games as I don’t have a next-gen console, and I spend most of my time reviewing old games lol.

Fallout 3 is officially the second best game I’ve ever played (behind GTA San Andreas and nudging the Wii version of Resident Evil 4 into third place).

I’ve just bought Oblivion but I just can’t get into it in the same way so my advice would be not to let Oblivion put you off Fallout.

I’ve fnished it twice, and I’m getting pulled back in again….

Hey Matt,

I live in Toronto too. Great site, I’ve been looking for something new to peruse while at work.

Anyhow, while I mostly agree with you, I can’t help but feel disappointed by your lack of giving Fallout 3 a try.

1) Nice choice on RB2! I barely consider it a video game, but it probably is one of the best games ever released.

2) I hated KOTOR. I hate most RPGs. I put 15 hours into KOTOR and was as bored as the second I picked it up. And I tried it out last summer

3) My top 3 games of all time are GTA: SA, Half Life 2, and Sands of Time (I read your review…… you honestly did not give it a fair chance). I’m also a huge fan of Psychonauts (you should give that one a try if you haven’t already). I also agree L4D is an incredible experience. If you respect my picks, you should give fallout 3 more of a try. Pick up the official guide as well…… the first chapter alone should help clear up some of the confusion as to which skills/stats/perks to choose.

Anyhow, keep up the good work!

Biggest dissappointment The Force Unleashed? I loved that game, the physics and story were fantastic. It did all end a bit quicky, and it’s not a game I go back and play, but I enjoyed it.

The Lightsabre, coolest weapon in the universe. Because the game was ‘U’ rated the Lightsabre is reduced to a baseball bat. The only thing you can cut in half are driods?

The biggest dissapointment of 2008 had to be Brothers In Arms – Hells Highway? Massive build-up to a game that is impossible to understand, and once you do understand it, you don’t see the point in playing it?