I played a lot of games this year, including some real bottom of the barrel shit like Haze (beat it), Too Human (beat it twice) and Golden Axe: Beast Rider (man, fuck this game and SEGA while we’re at it). But I was also lucky enough to play some top shelf offerings. And even though some of the higher profile releases like Fable II, LittleBigPlanet and Gears of War 2 didn’t suck me in, there was more than enough top tenners to enjoy in 2008.
The top 5 of the top 10 videogames of 2008 are below. Flame on!
5) Street Fighter IV (Arcade)
Developer: Capcom – Dimps
Capcom did it. They finally fucking made it to Street Fighter IV after more than a decade on from getting Street Fighter III out the door and with a mountain of expectations so high that, to do anything beyond what they delivered with IV would be a failure on multiple fronts. And they did it with Dimps, one of the most unjustly reviled devs in the fighting scene.
In what is really a sequel to Street Fighter II, Capcom brings back every classic World Warrior, tossing in a few new contenders, including the French brawler Abel and the lightning quick Mexican Wrestler El Fuerte. The console versions promise to be even better, but the arcade iteration, admittedly bare-bones, is exactly what the series needed.
4) No More Heroes (Wii)
Developer: Grasshopper Manufacture
You are Travis Touchdown, an otaku with a beam katana (read: lightsaber). As Mr. Touchdown, you must kill, typically by gruesome, blood fountain-filled decapitation, the world’s top assassins in order to get more money for video games and professional wrestling videos. This is No More Heroes, another brilliantly bizarre game from Goichi Suda of Grasshopper Manufacture and one of the Wii’s best games of the year.
3) Fallout 3 (Xbox 360, PS3, PC)
Developer: Bethesda Softworks
If you’re gaming on a budget or working your way through a nasty break up, the kind that only long stretches of time will heal, there’s no better value (or coma-like fantasy bubble) than Fallout 3. Did you like The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion? Do you prefer to pick and choose which limbs or body parts you’d like to liquefy with gunfire, instead of relying on twitch reflexes? Would you like to spend dozens, if not hundreds of hours roaming a decimated, radioactive Washington DC? Fallout 3 is a sprawling, choose your own adventure romp and a very worthy successor to the decade old Fallout 2.
2) Braid (Xbox 360)
Developer: Number None Games
Perfect for your next EMOnday, Jonathan Blow’s Braid was one of the few titles (outside of the brilliant Cursor*10) to floor me with its gameplay mechanics, so much so that the Xbox Live Arcade game felt much shorter than it should have. It’s a painful but catchy ballad of a game, one with keen allusions to Donkey Kong and Super Mario Bros. What looks like a simple platformer in screen shots is one of the most deviously, ingeniously crafted puzzle games of the year. Surprisingly fun to peel away at with a group.
1) Left 4 Dead (PC, Xbox 360)
Developer: Valve – Turtle Rock
Like Counter-Strike of the Dead, Valve’s post zombie apocalyptic shooter Left 4 Dead is a game that lives and dies on its multiplayer alone, an almost infinitely replayable shooter that does fast zombies right. I’ve still yet to beat any campaign on “expert” but dashing through each co-op level is still a thrill, even if not as thrilling as pitting four survivors versus four infected in online multiplayer.
Packed with solid level design, brilliant dialogue and ambient storytelling, as well as some of the best dynamic sound of any horror game of the past decade, Left 4 Dead does so many small things right alongside its tight gameplay mechanics, that I can’t wait to see how the developer builds upon this foundation.- Ninja Magic