Before the new year becomes old, and after you have tired of all the lists and roundups in the year, I bring you this post, warm toasty, and definitely smelly.
But first a little jolly good fellow about 2005. A lot of noteworthy things happened, but it will always be remembered as the year Sushubh bought me a PS2 slim, which, by the way is sexy as hell, and will kick the shit out of the flat bloated X-Box any day of the bloody year.
Sure, a lot of people talk about how it doesn’t make sense anymore, as it does not have Dolby, it doesn’t have the processing power of the Cube or the Box, it can’t do 720p. These are all valid points, blown away by one huge fact: it has the highest ownership, broadest appeal and recognition, and the biggest game library. So you know what? Fuck you.
Every time you want to write it off, developers deliver a game that makes your jaw drop, and more often then not it’s an exclusive. At five, the PS2 is old in console years, and yet it managed to have a year where it had one of the best games all across, bar none: Soul Calibur III, Gran Turismo 4, Shadow of the Colossus, God of War amongst others. There’s still a lot of life left in my slim, and that’s a fact. My PC, on the other hand, was woefully neglected by developers, only choosing to release a handful of good titles. Granted, most of them were excellent, but I still need more variety.
Being as I am on the other side, producing titles in a PC games development company, I profusely apologize, and demand the big ones do so too.
Apologies out of the way, I’d like to round off the discussion about the year of our lord two thousand and five with my ten favorite games:
10. Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves
Sly 3 is full of interludes that connect emotionally, a water-tight script that keeps you wanting to see what happens next in the adventure, and features some of the most love-able and in-depth characters to have been created in videogames. It looks great, sounds great, is well written, funny and witty, and has kick ass level design and pacing.
9. Freedom Force vs. The Third Reich
There are very few games, especially on the PC, that manage to take great gameplay and merge it with exuberance and over the top fun, making them unapologetically fun. This game brings a huge grin to my face every single time. A great story and a wonderful cast of characters married with solid gameplay. This game will make every comic book lover happy.
8. Trauma Center: Under the Knife
This was the best utilization of the DS’ touch screen I have seen all year, and a compelling point in the argument that games are not all violence and sex. I saved lives in this game, and the spiking difficulty levels actually provided a tense environment while doing so.
Single player FPS wise, I have a strong feeling of deja vu this year. When the first Half-Life came out, every other shooter that came after it for some time was sub par. Half-Life 2 rewrote less rules than the first, but still raised the bar high enough once again, and every other shooter is again appearing a few cards short. F.E.A.R., though, even with it’s ridiculous full name is something that will grab even the most jaded gamers. Genuine creepy moments with innovative action and really beautiful levels. Also, it’s the engine I have worked with, so it seems even more of an in joke to me than ever.
6. Oddworld Stranger’s Wrath
This is a funny, quirky western set in the Oddworld, and features a hard as nails bounty hunter and his gun that shoots live ammo. As in, ammo that is alive. It has Metroid Prime’s expansive environments with an organic feel that is it’s own. This is the most fun I’ve had with my X-Box all year.
5. Civilization IV
A game with this much depth, strategy, and replayability comes rarely. A sequel that improves on a highly successful franchise by removing the tedium and adding more depth and choices is rarer still. Civilization IV is something I’ve only had a taste of yet, and I am loving every single moment of it. I can’t wait for arunjeet to get the complete ver.
4. Resident Evil 4
Awesome. Capcom has outdone itself this time. The environments are creepy, the bosses are awe-inspiring and it looks like million bucks. The combat is improved with user-friendly over-the-shoulder viewpoint that makes the tense firefights more in-your-face than ever. 20 hours of living, breathing nightmares. Forget survival horror – this is pure, uncompromising action. As someone at GamesRadar put it, “This is why you play videogames.” If only all videogames were this brilliant.
3. Shadow of the Colossus
Shadow of the Colossus isn’t awesome because it’s damn good looking and does things that haven’t been seen before. It is is awesome because it join exceptional art design to a cunning focus on a “Boss” monster. Most games struggle to create innovative bosses as the climax of a game or level, but Colossus encourages awe struck exploration in silent, poignant moments, and makes the boss the puzzle, the level, and the climax. It does this 16 times while many can’t even do it once properly, and that is why Colossus is not just a game, it’s a serene experience.
2. God of War
Arrr! I am man! I make fire! This game applies gore to itself like no other, and the main character is as manly as it gets. Hell – the game is as manly as they get. This game is violent, beautiful, tortured, and epic. High octane machismo is fuels a testosterone induced ride that covers all action bases with so much style it makes my eyes bleed. This is terribly addictive, and I ride my chauvinistic gamer side with a roar.
Call me obscure, or call everyone else a moron, but the boring EA sports franchises sell a hojillion copies and the best games are the ones no one buys or plays. It is your DUTY to defy this amentia and buy a copy of this game. This isn’t just a funny platformer. This is a sophisticated work of pure wit and brilliance. It is full of character and depth. It is also a really really funny platformer. It is one of the best games of the year as it has such subtle nuances that make you talk about it long after you’ve played it. Knowing how things go, though, you will never get around to playing it. I hate you.
There it is, the games I played this year that really rocked my world. I would have loved to mention Burnout:Revenge, Guild Wars, Pro Evo Soccer 5, and Chaos Theory, and I guess I kind of just did, but these were great games that couldn’t just break into my personal favorites being as I loved these ten more than anything else. Have great year in gaming ahead.