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