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Slashdot's Games of the Year 364

Posted by Zonk
from the what-we-played dept.
Not everyone who works on Slashdot plays games. Enough of us do, though, that I thought it would be interesting to tap my co-workers to see what folks would call their 'game of the year'. Below are comments on the best gaming of 2006 from Chris Nandor, CmdrTaco, Chris Brown, Scuttlemonkey, and myself. Then, once you've read that, we need your help in the comments. What was the game you couldn't put down? Perhaps it was over quickly, but you know you'll be thinking about it in the future? Was it a next-gen title, or something for the good old PlayStation 2? In your opinion, what was the best game of the year?
I've been a fan of the Tomb Raider franchise since the PlayStation days, but sitting down to Legend was like taking a step in a fresh and new direction. I found every aspect of this game wonderful. The graphics and sound engines are stunning, the the plot is well-written and executed, and the controls have been completely redesigned, eliminating the clunkiness found in past installments. My experience was sheer, unadulterated fun. My only gripe is the game's length. I blew through it in a weekend, and the ending cliffhanger left me hungry for more.

- Chris "Entweichen" Brown

Full Tilt Poker is my best game of the year. Basically, all online poker programs are kinda lame in one way or another, but Full Tilt has done a good job of fixing problems, adding features, and generally keeping the site and program running smoothly. And they have a wide variety of games to play, and usually plenty of people to play against. The biggest problem, other than being Java and eating up most of my CPU, is that it pretends to need a password to install, and doesn't even tell you why. That's very lame. And no, I don't play in the "real money" games. Because that is a felony according to both state and federal law, and I would never do such a thing, even though it's perfectly legal for me to go a few miles down the street, never leave my own residential neighborhood, and play poker for real money in an Indian casino.

- Chris "Pudge" Nandor

This year there were quite a few games to snag my interest, however, the one that was the most surprising to me was the MMOG, Eve Online. The game has been around since 2003, but I had always resisted since it looked like another time sink a la World of Warcraft, but a friend finally talked me into playing. While at first the game seemed like nothing more than a passing novelty I promised to give it 6 months, even if all I did was skill train and log out (unlike most MMOs skills can be trained while offline). However, once I had a better handle on all the nuances of the interface and a few skills under my belt the game started to unfold into this vast universe of possibilities unlike any game I had ever played before. The game starts off slow, very slow in fact, but if you have the patience to make it through the tutorials (dear god do NOT skip the tutorials unless you have your own personal guide) then there is plenty to keep you busy for months at a time. Of all the things that make Eve great, the skill system is certainly the most unique. Only being able to train one skill at a time and having a fixed time until it is done, you know exactly when it will finish (whether you are online or not). This allows people with real lives to at least keep up with the power curve in terms of skills, but ensures that the "veterans" will always have the edge. Many people complain about this fact, but I think it adds to the realism that pilots who have been doing it for years get to be the ace while you, the new pilot, get to play the rookie for a while. It doesn't take long (in terms of most MMOs) to at least be a contributing member of a large corporation (Eve's guild equivalent) and really get in on the fun. With all of the different possibilities in Eve it is no wonder that it is the only MMO still growing (and has been steadily since 2003 from what I hear). Whether you are a fan of casual solo play and just want to be the captain of a mining ship or are a meticulous power gamer who craves vast space battles and PvP, Eve has something for everyone, just give it a few months to grow on you.

- Patrick "Scuttlemonkey" McGarry

What can I say? I'm a Final Fantasy junkie- I even liked X-2, so take me with a grain of salt. Final Fantasy XII's new gambit system takes the tedium out of the game but still lets me control what I want. The ability to see mobs and avoid random encounters is fantastic. The graphics, the story, the gameplay. You don't often see a game worth of any sort of perfect rating but this one is it. My only complaint is that the traditional FF victory theme music plays only over the larger fights... but the other occupant of my living room would tell you that this fact makes this game an upgrade (as she humms the tune over and over again, each time with more fury). I'm not the sort of person who needs to go collect every last esper, so I guess my only complaint is that it's over, and it'll be awhile before I get to see a Final Fantasy on the PS3, which is probably what it will take for me to buy the damn thing.

- Rob "CmdrTaco" Malda

From the moment the soaring orchestral theme to Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion began playing, I was hooked. Bethesda landed me like a gaffed fish, and while I've played a lot of games this year, Oblivion is always going to be my 2006 game of the year. As I said lo these many months ago in March, the story is great, the graphics are amazing ... but what made Oblivion special then and has kept it special all the way through to December is the trust the developers have put into the player. They don't put you in a little car, lower the safety bar, and make you ride through their experience the way they intended. You're at the controls, and they've made the effort to make every nook and cranny worthwhile to explore. Part of what has made Oblivion so compelling is that my preferred character from Morrowind has finally gotten his full due. Playing a stealthy character in Elder Scrolls III was fun, but in battle it was often quite a challenge. Oblivion's critical system has allowed my Khajit Assassin the punch he needed to make battles turn his way. A character now an embarrassing 75 hours old, I've run him through the main quest, the Thieves guild, the Dark Brotherhood, the Arena, 'The Collector' chain, and dozens of smaller quests. I've been across the length and breadth of Cyrodil, and in all of those 75 hours I have never, not once, found myself bored. It's hard to find the words to give a game higher praise than that.

I also want to give Half-Life 2: Episode One a quick nod of the head. For a little slip of a game that only lasted a few hours of my life, the time players spent with Alyx Vance this year will (I think) weigh heavily on gaming as a whole for the near future. Her wit, charm, and intensely personable nature are a high water mark that every other NPC now has to live up to. The promise of Episode Two has made PC gamers more than a bit cranky at Valve for the constant delays. It's not just the humor of Team Fortress 2 or the brain-bending of Portal that has us looking forward to Valve's next release; Half-Life players are very much looking forward to the next time we can have real backup in an FPS.

- Michael "Zonk" Zenke

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Slashdot's Games of the Year

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  • My picks (Score:5, Interesting)

    by RogueyWon (735973) * on Friday December 29, 2006 @03:28PM (#17401640) Journal
    Hmm... ok. My top 5 games of the year, followed by the 3 biggest disappointments (not necessarily the worst games, just the ones that didn't live up to my expectations).

    Best:

    5th) Gears of War (360): I don't think there's much else I can add to what's been said elsewhere about this. It doesn't do anything that hasn't been done before, but by god it does it well. The ultimate example of an old concept polished to perfection. Let down ever so slightly by its length, but the whole experience is just so visceral that I don't really care.

    4th) Company of Heroes (PC): The game that made me buy a new PC. It may be a system killer in terms of the specs it needs, but it's worth it. Incredible detail in the graphics and physics and, most importantly, they're actually used in a way that enhances the gameplay. I'll be hoping to see fully destructible landscapes in more games next year. The only downside? It rehashes those same old Normandy battles that we see in every other WW2 games. How about giving us some different battles in future, maybe even some from the first half of the war? So far, only the Blitzkrieg games have really had the balls to do that.

    3rd) Final Fantasy XII (PS2): I'd expected to hate this, given all the negative publicity about the gambit system before its release, but the game turned out just fine. A darker, more mature plot, graphics that put most next-gen titles to shame and one of the best combat systems yet. My only complaint was that the difficulty curve necessitated a lot of grinding for levels and gil.

    2nd) Neverwinter Nights 2 (PC): Only here on the basis of the 1.03 patch, without which the game is nigh-on unplayable. Finally, a decent successor to Baldur's Gate 2. Should get better over time, as more 3rd party modules start appearing. It'd be really nice if we could get an expansion with epic levels in 2007.

    1st) Kingdom Hearts 2 (PC): For some reason, the critics didn't go for this game, but I was blown away by it. I honestly can't find anything to fault this game on. The difficulty curve is much fairer than in the original game, the plot has some unexpectedly dark twists, the voice acting is much improved and the graphics are stunning.

    And now the most disappointing games:

    3rd) Wii Sports (Wii): Not, I feel, the best title to bundle with the Wii. Once the novelty of the controller wears off, you realise pretty quickly that these games are essentially just brute-force and timing (baseball, boxing and tennis) or an exercise in not letting your hand wobble (bowling and golf). I've not actually played a Wii game yet that's really convinced me of the controller's merits.

    2nd) Prey (PC): After all the hype and all the years of development, Prey turned out to be nothing more than a straightforward fps with lacklustre combat and a few gravity tricks. I'm still not quite sure how they managed to strain every single element of fun out of a tried and tested formula so effortlessly. Boring weapons, identikit enemies, endlessly repeated rooms and a plot that advanced at a glacial pace didn't help, though. If Gears of War is an illustration of how to reheat an old formula well, Prey is an example of what not to do.

    1st) Final Fantasy VII: Dirge of Cereberus (PS2): OH FOR FUCK'S SAKE SQUARE! What were you thinking? You can do better than this. I don't quite know what I expected from this foray into the action genre, but it wasn't a bland third person shooter with a ho hum plot, twitchy controls and graphics that expose every single limitation of the PS2. It's hard to believe that this came from the same developer as FF12 and KH2. Must do better.
    • Ooops (Score:3, Informative)

      by RogueyWon (735973) *
      Obviously, KH2 is for the PS2, not the PC. Damned typos.
    • by nuzak (959558)
      How is the acting in FFXII? It's a JRPG, so I'm not exactly expecting Tony awards, but is it any better than FFX?
      • by RogueyWon (735973) *
        Yes, it's better than in FFX. That said, it's still not perfect by any means. Vaan and Ashe's voices could be better, which, given they're the main characters, is a bit irritating. They're nothing like as bad as the Tidus or Wakka voices in FFX though. Balthier's voice is great and adds a lot to the character. I'd honestly take the English voice over the Japanese voice any day in that case.

        The other point to note is that the vast majority of the voices in FFXII are British. Some people seem to find that ann
      • The voice acting is pretty good, and you're completely on base to be leery of it when referring to jrpgs. I've had my fill of exaggerated emotions and pigeon holed character personalities. The "main" character Vaan is the most annoying of all the characters, but no where near unbearable.

        An issue I have with the voice acting however is the noticeable quality drop when out of pivotal cutscenes. I'm sure this is just due to compression to fit on a single dvd, but when you go from a natural sounding conversatio
    • Re:My picks (Score:4, Insightful)

      by spyder913 (448266) on Friday December 29, 2006 @03:48PM (#17401894)

      I've not actually played a Wii game yet that's really convinced me of the controller's merits.
      There are two types of goodness that come from the new controller: the IR sensor for pointing is #1. To appreciate this, you should try one of the FPS games. Once you get used to the controls it is awesome (like Duck Hunt only better!). Other good ones are games like Trama Center.

      #2 is obviously the motion detection. This one is harder to know how good it is, but I know at least Monkey Ball seems to have plenty of responsiveness in the controls to know that the remote is capable of a lot. Wii Sports seems to be at best a tech demo that gets people (very) interested in the console. I am personally looking forward to a tennis game that actually cares how you hold the remote, since the technology is there.
      • Re:My picks (Score:5, Funny)

        by ad0gg (594412) on Friday December 29, 2006 @04:13PM (#17402180)
        I am personally looking forward to a tennis game that actually cares how you hold the remote, since the technology is there.

        I'm interested in a tennis game that when controller slips out of my hand, the player mimics a mcenroe type outburst by smashing his racket into the ground.

      • by LKM (227954) on Friday December 29, 2006 @05:23PM (#17402914) Homepage
        I am personally looking forward to a tennis game that actually cares how you hold the remote, since the technology is there.

        Interestingly, Wii Sports Tennis does care. In addition to forehand, backhand and how or high balls, it's possible to slice the ball. How to do it is not immediately obvious. I first saw this when the better computer players started doing it, and I've figured out how to do it: You turn the controller while hitting the ball as if you were to slice it in real tennis. Well... D'oh.

        It takes a bit of trying, but it works.

        It's pretty funny to shoot balls like that, because they curve, and when they hit the ground, they change their direction - sometimes dramatically, which makes it really hard to time returns.

        Similarly, when first playing Wii Sports Boxing, most people start flaying the controllers in every which direction. Sooner or later, one player goes down and doesn't come up again, and the other declares himself the winner. At first, I thought this game sucked, but after playing it for a bit, I figured out that there's a huge amount of tactics and precision involved. Covering and evading is a lot more important than hitting. Avoid the other person's hits and hit back when he lets his cover down. Hit with precision: If you move your body sideways and your hands up and down, it's possible to hit very specific parts of the other person's body, thus going through his or her cover. When I play the game with my brother, nobody ever goes down since if the other player knows how to avoid being hit, it's very hard to knock him out. It's a lot of fun to play the game like that, lots of tactics and precision involved.

        Oh, and by the way, Wii Sports is my personal Game of the Year. Yeah, Zelda is a much better game in every way, except... Playing Wii Sports against a few pals is the most fun I've ever had with a console. Nothing comes even close. No Dance Dance Revolution, no Guitar Hero, no Bomberman, no Mario Party, no Donkey Konga, no Super Monkey Ball. Nothing.

        • Oh, and by the way, Wii Sports is my personal Game of the Year. Yeah, Zelda is a much better game in every way, except...

          Personally I agree. To be clear I LOVE Zelda, but WiiSports got my retired parents (who are as non-gamer as you can get) interested in purchasing a Wii. That is unprecidented, and the sign of something special.

          I have figured out how to slice the ball, and pick my corner of the court I want to return the ball to, but for the life of me I can't figure out how to consistantly do the

    • Re:My picks (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 29, 2006 @04:02PM (#17402082)
      Wii Sports (Wii): Not, I feel, the best title to bundle with the Wii. Once the novelty of the controller wears off, you realise pretty quickly that these games are essentially just brute-force and timing (baseball, boxing and tennis) or an exercise in not letting your hand wobble (bowling and golf). I've not actually played a Wii game yet that's really convinced me of the controller's merits.

      Mario Bros. (NES): Not, I feel, the best title to bundle with the NES. Once the novelty of the side scrolling wears off, you realize pretty quickly that this game is essentially just an exercise in pressing buttons and timing. I've not played an electronic game yet that's really convinced me of this new form of entertainment's merits.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Mario Bros. (NES): Not, I feel, the best title to bundle with the NES. Once the novelty of the side scrolling wears off, you realize pretty quickly that this game is essentially just an exercise in pressing buttons and timing. I've not played an electronic game yet that's really convinced me of this new form of entertainment's merits.

        Talldega Nights: The Legend of Ricky Bobby (PS3): Not, I feel, the best title to bundle with the PS3. Once the novelty of Will Ferrell wears off, you realize pretty quickly tha
    • > Company of Heroes (PC):

      I enjoy it, but there are lots of annoyances. Too much micromanagement; that's how the AI wins. Conversely, the helper-AI needs lots of work - it's annoying as hell to send two tanks down the road and have them create a traffic jam for each other, or have one of them decide to drive backwards.

      Still, like I said, I enjoy it.
    • Re:My picks (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ReverendHoss (677044) on Friday December 29, 2006 @04:21PM (#17402248)

      I've not actually played a Wii game yet that's really convinced me of the controller's merits.

      I feel your pain.

      My first time through Wii Sports disappointed me as well, as I was expecting more than the controller could give. I had expected perfect tracking of the orientation of the Wiimote when it was not pointed at the screen (to make lightsaber games possible), faster response time to movement (a relatively low upper limit to how fast you can punch in Wii Boxing), as well as finer sensitivity to minute motions when it was required (short putts in Wii Golf show my frustration off perfectly). Rayman's Ravening Rabbids did a good job of using the controller in many ways, including a limited "on-rails" FPS that got me hooked. After I saw it's potential in RRR, I went back to Wii Sports and enjoyed the game a lot more.

      In short, don't give up just yet. I've already gotten my $250 out of it. Now I'm just waiting for improved online support.
    • 1. Dreamfall: The Longest Journey
      2. Company of Heroes

      That is all. I tried some of the others, but I could never really get into them.
    • Kingdom Hearts II was '06? Dang, thought it was '05. Should've put that on my list...yeah, it was a good game.
    • Wii Sports is best with friends. I had a blast playing golf and bowling with my cousins. Especially on that course with the little "island" of fairway in the OOB area where you had to hit it just right to get there... we had lots of fun with that and some of the other challenging courses.

      "Hey, Mike's taking a THIRD turn in a row! Boy, Mike must really like this game if he's playing it so much!" Priceless.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Das Modell (969371)
      2nd) Neverwinter Nights 2 (PC): Only here on the basis of the 1.03 patch, without which the game is nigh-on unplayable. Finally, a decent successor to Baldur's Gate 2. Should get better over time, as more 3rd party modules start appearing. It'd be really nice if we could get an expansion with epic levels in 2007.

      NWN2 is absolutely horrible compared to BG2. Even if they ironed out all the bugs, it would still be an uninspired, bland and mediocre game.
  • Ep 1 was great (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Dr. Eggman (932300) on Friday December 29, 2006 @03:29PM (#17401656)
    If a little too short. But I'd give a nod out to Garry's Mod 10 as Best Mod of the Year. Its very professional, updated as needed (so much smoother and quicker)and best of all, loads of fun. Garry definatly earned my $10.
  • by chromatic (9471) on Friday December 29, 2006 @03:32PM (#17401704) Homepage

    I received Elite Beat Agents as a gift, and it's surprisingly fun. I don't play many rhythm games, mostly because buying otherwise-superfluous accessories seems silly, but it really works on the DS. It's a little silly, a lot cheesy in places, but it's challenging and amusing enough to keep me involved.

  • TW (Score:2, Insightful)

    by wizzard2k (979669)
    My vote goes to Tiger Woods PGA Tour Golf for the 360. TW06 and TW07 both have their differences, both good and bad, but I couldnt put them down!
  • by meringuoid (568297) on Friday December 29, 2006 @03:35PM (#17401752)
    ... With you in a month or so.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by thinkninja (606538)
      Yeah, second vote for Zelda here. It is the best game I have played on any platform in a long time, no question. Unfortunately for me, I officially beat it today on my second completion (all Pieces of Heart, all bugs, all Poes, & the Cave of Ordeals).

      Now I'll have to wait a spell before going through it again...
    • by Destoo (530123)
      Best 80 hours of gaming in my life.
      I would still be fishing if I wasn't forced to give the Wii to my brother. I hope he's taking good care of it.
  • Free Software games (Score:5, Informative)

    by Salsaman (141471) on Friday December 29, 2006 @03:35PM (#17401754) Homepage
    Honourable mention should go to some Free Software games - whilst obviously not as good as those produced by professional games companies, they are still very playable, and improving all the time. Since I am into RPG's, my two favourites are:

    - Nazghul/Haxima : http://myweb.cableone.net/gmcnutt/nazghul.html [cableone.net]

    - Lost Labyrinth: http://www.lostlabyrinth.com/ [lostlabyrinth.com]

    Does anybody else have any recommendations for good FOSS games ?

  • This year I'd have a tough call between Final Fantasy XII and Children of Mana. But Taco pretty much got FFXII in a nutshell...

    As for Eve by another /. news sifter... Is it as unstable as the free-trial server on all servers? It kept crashing on the saturday I was playing. It was fine on off hours, but on peak hours it wouldn't stay up for more than an hour at a time, and I kept getting bad marks because the stupid thing was crashing, and mission timers kept timing out, even though I couldn't even get back
  • Frozen Bubble 2.0 (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Average_Joe_Sixpack (534373) on Friday December 29, 2006 @03:42PM (#17401836)
    Best time killer of '06 FB2.0 [wikipedia.org]
    • You just reminded me of a category I hadn't even thought of, that being simple time-waster 'minesweeper' type games. I have to have burned as much time on 'Jardinains!' / 'Jardinains! 2' this year as any other game...easily as much time.
  • Shooters (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Shky (703024) <shkyoleary@gmail ... m minus caffeine> on Friday December 29, 2006 @03:42PM (#17401838) Homepage Journal
    I couldn't put down Black on the PS2 [wikipedia.org], as it was incredibly fast-paced, had next-gen graphics, and was just so much fun. Now, if only they'd release it on the Wii, because...

    Call of Duty 3 on the Wii is insane! It's the next best thing to using a mouse for shooters. Actually aiming on a console is such a welcome, and fun, addition. While CoD3 often uses the Remote to make you do silly and pointless things just for the sake of using the Remote, it makes up for it in its ingenious uses (like steering the jeep by holding the nun-chuck in one hand and the remote in the other, like you're holding a steering wheel).

    I can't wait to see what the Black team has in store for the new consoles, and I hope they make a shooter for the Wii. We could be in for a treat.
    • I just finished Black. Great game with one major flaw that I hope they fix in any sequels. Black is the perfect game for mindless target practice. I could spend 30 min or so and then walk away with no problem. EXCEPT that the levels were so very, very long and the game wont let you save unless you complete an entire level. I'd have to leave the machine on and paused to use it for short bursts of gaming. If they let you save anywhere, or at least at checkpoints, it would be great.
      • by Shky (703024)
        Very, very true. It wouldn't be so bad if the maps were a little less repetitive. I wouldn't have minded having to play so long if it didn't sometimes feel like you're walking through the same hallways and rooms over and over. Or, in the case of the Bridge level, the exact same roadway for so long. But, as you said, that's really the one major flaw. Still an awesome game.
  • by Weaselmancer (533834) on Friday December 29, 2006 @03:43PM (#17401846)

    Darn good game. I dig a good RPG and this one has been a lot of fun.

    • To me, Oblivion is role-playing game designed by people who never really played RPGs. I described it as "An RPG for thumb-bashers and FPS-addicts without that gay story and puzzle shit". The FPS style combat was tedious -- I derive no fun from fighting games. Although I do feel a little like Homer Simpson when I say "Doesn't everyone realise RPGs reached perfection with Diablo II?" :-)
  • by MikeFM (12491)
    I think PRey is probably the most interesting game of the year. The game itself was so-so but the capabilities of the engine are really cool. I love the gravity and portal effects. It seems like the perfect engine to build multiplayer games in.

    Of course I had to wait ten years to actually see this game so no matter what it turned out to be I was bound to be a little let down.
  • Oblivion? Really? Okay...

    My top 3 of the year (and by "year" I mean the part of the year I can remember clearly):
    (3) Warrock (PC). Chances are it didn't start in 2006, but it's when I found it. It's a nice mix between Counter-Strike-like and Battlefield-like games.
    (2) Rayman: Raving Rabbids (Wii). I put off buying this for a few of my many Best Buy trips following the Wii release beause I already had Wii Sports and Super Monkey Ball, and what more could another mini-game game bring me? A lot, it turns
  • by G3ckoG33k (647276) on Friday December 29, 2006 @03:47PM (#17401886)
    Missing option - SCO! No-one has mastered their circle strafing in the court dungeons of Utah. State-of-the-Art! Unfortunately they have never played their games on PunkBuster secured arenas.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by SnarfQuest (469614)
      By the time I pick up the controller, SCO has already shot itself in the foot, head, and assorted other body parts. It's not much fun blasting at something that has only one hit point left, and refuses to die.
  • Of the games I've actually played this year, Guitar Hero 2 and Wii Sports share the #1 spot. I can't put either one down, and they always turn out to be extremely fun when I have company over.

    A poster above said that the games are all about brute force and timing, but isn't that what most sports are? In Wii Boxing and real life boxing, I have to hit hard when the opponent is not blocking, and block and dodge when he tries to hit me. Baseball gives the most reward for a homerun, in both real life and the gam
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 29, 2006 @03:49PM (#17401912)
    Man, I completely misread this. I thought I missed a cool new strip poker game.
  • These two MMPORG titles, although not released this year have both received significant improvements and additions and continue to be the best of MMORPG designs and gameplay IHHO. Challenging missions, excellent tactical combat, good group dynamics, excellent NPC AI, and incredible character creation and costuming system. I am still enjoying these games immensely. Sure, they are not the beall and endall of gaming, but they are excellent titles and very entertaining if you want to relax and engage in some go
  • It's the first game to come out in at least a decade that has had this much replay value for me.
  • My selection (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bVork (772426) <[rpantella+slashdot] [at] [gmail.com]> on Friday December 29, 2006 @03:57PM (#17402018)
    My top 5 games this year:

    5. Dreamfall: The Longest Journey (Xbox/PC) - As soon as I heard that this was a sequel to The Longest Journey, I was sold. Besides, modern adventure games are getting increasingly rare. Yhe stealth and fighting sections are absolute garbage, but the actual adventure gaming works well. The plot, art design, and characters are all phenomenol. This is definitely a worthy sequel to one of the best adventure games of all time. It's rare that I say this, but Dreamfall's writing (and not gameplay) is what makes it stand out. If you can put up with a few gameplay issues (that can usually be avoided, thanks to the multiple solutions to most problems), then you'll be engrossed in one of the most enthralling stories ever written for a video game.

    4. Yakuza (PS2) - Shenmue meets GTA is the best way to describe this game. Only with better voice acting than Shenmue, and more streamlined gameplay than GTA. It takes the huge living city present in both of its inspirations and pares it down to only the essentials, making for a very riveting game. In addition to the good main plot (augmented by some great voice acting) and fun beat-em-up fights, there are tons of minigames ranging from batting cages to romancing women. If you can put up with the overly frequent load times, this is definitely worth playing. It shows that Sega still has what it takes to make a good game. Too bad their other recent releases have been garbage.

    3. Bully (PS2) - GTA in a school. With a better plot than any GTA game. Similar to Yakuza, Bully streamlines the GTA-style gameplay and presents a smaller but much more detailed city to explore. There's a ton to do, ranging from classroom minigames that make you want to show up on time to bicycle races to fighting (based upon a simplified version of the combat system in The Warrios). The story is great and will definitely ring true to anyone who has suffered through school. Ignore the controversies and play one of the finest PS2 games yet. The only flaw is the poor graphics. It's based on the GTA engine, which isn't all that impressive to begin with, and is definitely showing its age in 2006.

    2. Gears of War (Xbox 360) - Believe the hype. Apart from only being about 10 hours long, this shooter is excellent. The graphics are some of the best ever, the gameplay is a very satisfying divergence from the typical run-and-gun shooter gameplay, the story is well-done (the characters are all grunts! They're SUPPOSED to sound like meatheads!), and it even includes full co-op for the entire game. Only the length and the rather limited multiplayer options keep this from getting the top spot. 1. The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (Xbox 360/PC) - The finest game I have played this year. The graphics are outstanding, the gameplay is a refined version of the system seen previously in Morrowind and Daggerfall, the story is well-done, the bajillion subquests all have interesting hooks to them, and the music is fantastic. It isn't without flaws, however. The entire world scales to your level, which means that you must be very careful how you level up, in order to get the best multipliers and prevent the world from scaling up beyond your ability. Also, this has one of the worst rip-offs in gaming history: the $2.50 horse armour. If you buy this, you're an idiot. Fortunately, later official downloads have much more reasonable prices. But they don't really add a whole lot to a game that will already take a few hundred hours to fully explore and experience. I don't think its quite as good as Morrowind, but it is still an amazing achiement and a must-play.

    Overrated games that didn't make the list (not to say that these are bad games, just have some significant flaws that prevent them from being GOTY material):

    3. Final Fantasy XII (PS2) - Finally, a fine Final Fantasy game that ditches the annoying ATB system. I think somebody at Square has been playing too much KOTOR, because this feels like a crappier (but still good) knock-off of one of the finest RPGs ever
    • Re:My selection (Score:5, Insightful)

      by LKM (227954) on Friday December 29, 2006 @05:40PM (#17403098) Homepage
      Overrated games (...) The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (...) The same gameplay as the previous ones

      So Zelda is overrated because it isn't as innovative as some other franchises - yet the games which are in your top five list are pretty much more of the same, too?

      Yes, Zelda isn't innovative. It's even a step back in innovation from The Wind Waker (apart from the really cool controls in the Wii version). But it's a damn good game. In fact, it's probably the best single-player game of the year. Frankly, I couldn't give a rat's ass about its innovation. It's an utterly awesome game, and I wouldn't want it any other way.

      If you've played Ocarina of Time or Wind Waker, there's nothing new for you to experience in Twilight Princess

      Yes, there is. There's an awesome new story to experience, great new art direction to enjoy, fantastic new music to listen to, complicated new dungeons to solve, and so on. It's 60 new hours of Zelda goodness. That's all I want out of a Zelda game, and Twilight Princess delivers in truckloads.

  • by Myria (562655) on Friday December 29, 2006 @03:57PM (#17402026)
    I like the 3D remake of Final Fantasy 3 for DS. (If you played Final Fantasy 3 for SNES, that's actually 6.)

    Melissa
    • FF3 best game of all time for the SNES (or Secret of Mana). Or at least best FF of all time.
    • I was so eager to get my hands on the official US release of FF3. The updated graphics by no means kill the old-school feel and the difficulty is still there! I've been playing FF3 more than Zelda and FF12 combined. so many games, so little time.

      i vote FF3 for my GotY

    • I picked up FF3 Thanksgiving weekend and have been plugging away at it in bits and pieces since then. I'm finally up to what I believe is the final boss (I won't look at any guides to check), and the game has been great so far. I don't play too many RPGs anymore, but this is what a game should be. I hope they redo FF7 or FF8 for the DS, too.
  • I don't play WoW, but I have to list it because it's taken MMORPGs mainstream this year - I mean... even southpark had an episode about it. Go to any water cooler at just about any workplace and you're likely to hear someone say something like "dude, I leveled up last night!". Hang out with any bunch of women and you're likely to hear them complain about their husband/boyfriend and "that stupid game!". So, like it or not, WoW and 2006 will go down in history.

    For me personally, it was We Love Katamari on the
  • DEFCON (Score:4, Informative)

    by MSTCrow5429 (642744) on Friday December 29, 2006 @03:58PM (#17402040)
    For my "Game of the Year," I choose DEFCON. It's the only game that I've found interesting enough to actually buy all year. Yes, it's a bit of a buggy mess, but also an addictive buggy mess. You can get a demo off of Steam or Introversion's website http://www.everybody-dies.com/ [everybody-dies.com]. I'd recommend purchasing it off of Steam, as it's cheaper. Don't bother posting in the Introversion DEFCON forums, though, it's run by a small clique of anti-social types.
  • Honestly, I've gone back to classic puzzle and/or side-scroll games, like Yoshi's Island. It's been long enough since I tried them that they're entertaining again, yet at the same time they're easy enough to pause and leave alone for a few days as my life has grown more complex. My Ubuntu box gets some credit here, too, as there's a rather nice collection of puzzle-type games available free (although nothing as fun as, say, Yoshi's Island).
  • Flatout 2 (Score:3, Informative)

    by Enry (630) <.ten.agyaw. .ta. .yrne.> on Friday December 29, 2006 @04:04PM (#17402100) Journal
    Hands down favorite for the year. Then again, I don't own a PS2/3 or Wii, and my DS Lite fell out of my car just before Thanksgiving (that being said, New Super Mario sucked, and Metroid Hunters was unplayable, but Big Brain Academy and Brain age were good).
  • What, do they all have to electronic?

    I picked up Shadowrun again and got together, face to face with a group of local gamers. Playing a bit of Warhammer RPG next weekend as well.

    I also played a couple of board games with a different local group.

    I did play some Doom3 back in the summer and got a bit farther along than I did last time before I got bored with it.

    [John]
  • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Friday December 29, 2006 @04:17PM (#17402214) Homepage Journal

    For me 2006 is the year of Oolite [aegidian.org]. I am ashamed to admit I just discovered it this year... I never got into elite despite my interest because of the steep learning curve and the fact that I somehow never had the game and a guide at the same time. Well, I got oolite and a guide at the same time, and it's kept me pretty well-riveted. It's funny because it's about the least graphically complex game I've played in years (besides solitaire and bejeweled) but it's really quite deep and more importantly, it's extensible. The game supports addons and you can do all kinds of things with them. But even better than that, it's cross-platform with XML savefiles that work on all platforms, so you can have it installed on Windows, OSX, and Linux, and take your savegame between all those platforms (handy if you want to play at work and at home - not that I have time to play at work. But I have in previous jobs.)

    If you liked tradewars, and you like live-action simulations, you'll love Oolite.

  • LEGO Starwars (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CODiNE (27417) on Friday December 29, 2006 @04:19PM (#17402224) Homepage
    I'm the guy that waits a year or so for the game I want to drop down to $20 or so, when I saw the first LEGO Star Wars installment become a Players Choice game I knew it had to be pretty good.

    Actually with my Zelda background I expected free camera movement and didn't really "get it" the first time I played, so it sat on the shelf for a week. Then... strangely my WIFE said she wanted to try it, she hasn't played a single video game EVER since we've been married. I'd never have expected it, but we found a game we can play together and work out way through. She'd actually come home and say "Okay after dinner lets play some LEGOS", it was a shock! Alright the one annoying thing is when teammates walk in opposite directions the screen pulls you back, so sometimes you can get yourself stuck in a repeat dying spot and have no escape since both characters can't move. Other than that, I've gotten quite used to it and have enjoyed it immensely. The Freeplay mode is a lot of fun and the ability to swap characters at any time let's you blow through old enemies that were at first challenging. Also the ability to "drop out" and then join back in comes in handy when the wife gets stuck on some jump or pod-racing section she can't beat. I'm also surprised how rarely she drops out as she's willing to try over and over until she figures something out. Normally she hates games she loses at, but with the infinite lives and not throwing us back to the start it doesn't bother her much.

    Nice bit of variety with the pod-racing and space battles, it's a great game for a gamer to introduce a non-gamer with. Being able to go two-player at any time is really nice.

    Any game that gets my wife interested is the game of the year to me. Now she can't wait til we get a Wii. :-)

    Only problem is... I have to watch Pride and Predjudice. ;-)
  • XBOX 360 Games (Score:2, Interesting)

    by polyex (736819)
    My top 5, they are all XBOX 360 games, because its the only thing I am playing games on: 5) Kameo - Stunning graphics. Simple story, but its stays fairly interesting. Not the most original thing in the world, but executed really well. 4) Test Drive Unlimited - A brilliant execution of online play where you are dropped into what amounts to almost a MMORPG Racing game. The graphics are wonderful, but the characters look like at you with those weird dead eyes. The entire game is a map of Oahu, I just found it
    • by pvera (250260)
      In Dead Rising, if you don't get into the warehouse until 7 PM you will completely skip all of the missions and you will be in 100% open ended mode. You can do whatever the hell you want, most of the bosses will still show up and you still get the "B" finish, so it counts.
    • by Kelbear (870538)
      Something to note: In Dead Rising, you're not supposed to win on your first try. You start weak and slow, with no idea where anything is in the mall.

      You level up, fail, and restart with levels retained, and now you're cruising through stronger, faster, and armed with knowledge of how to make it through the mall (QuickStep and triple-extended small chainsaws). It's not just repeating everything, because since you're more capable, you have extra time to catch the concurrent scoops. This was why the time limit
  • Guitar Hero 2 (Score:2, Interesting)

    by eggsurplus (631231)
    I wouldn't have turned into a ROCK GOD!! if it wasn't for this game.
  • Flatout 2

    Using a wheel and pedal set doesn't make my wrist hurt and I cannot use console controllers.

    The game is a blast. It has great graphics and physics and an almost completely deformable environment. Except for the solid objects that stop you cold and launch your driver onto the pavement.

    Fun, fun, fun which is all I really want from a game.
  • Top 5 Picks (Score:2, Insightful)

    by unc0nn3ct3d (952682)
    Busy day at the office or I'd be replying and reading through all the comments, but alas I shall just randomly post my thoughts. #1 Games for enjoyment this year for me was FEAR I would say.. The sheer immersion factor of that game took the FPS genre to places I had only dreamt. The closest thing to playing a movie I have ever seen in a game #1.5 - Wii Sports tops my list for pure fun.. I love people saying it's all about timing and bla bla bla. Very curious as to how this differs from any other game on
  • You heard me. Yeah, it's full of bugs, but oh well. Still a pretty good game, best of 2006 for me personally.
  • by bryanbrunton (262081) on Friday December 29, 2006 @04:33PM (#17402396)
    Grand Strategy (www.denizengames.com), a web-based Risk clone is without a doubt the game of the year. Never before has playing Risk been so easy and so accessible.

    A brief list on why GS is so great:

    1. Gone are the hours devoted to setup and dice rolling.
    2. Your house mates and relatives will not have to collared and cajoled into sitting down with you, the "strategy game freak", for 5 to 6 hours.
    3. Grand Strategy uses Ajax and is fully Web 2.0. VCs love it and can't give stop giving me money.
    4. It is guaranteed that while playing Grand Strategy that crazed strangers will not take slight at your mentioning the weakness of the Ukraine and attack you on subway trains!

  • Geometry Wars: I was suprised to find that this ~5 dollar game gave me more play-time than many of my 60 dollar games this years. There's always this sense that you're riding the knife's edge over oblivion. Coupled with the opportunity to beat your last score keeps you playing this apparently simple game over and over through the continuous tension.

    Company of Heroes: I typically loathe RTS games and the frantic resource management+rush focus. But in this game, because of the tactical emphasis in conjuction
  • Games I burned the most time on / enjoyed the most this year: 1) Eve
    Loving the Kali expansion. Oh, and as to the complaint that older players are 'uncatchable': I don't mind, because it's not possible to be the end-all be-all of everything in Eve, unlike other MMO's where you can master all types of weapons, magic, armor, get the highest possible level, etc. And even if you could, you can only fly one ship at a time. All the Cruiser skills in the world don't mean jack when you're in a Battleship. No ma
  • Oftentimes the show of a game's greatness isn't by someone's top 10 list or whatever, but for how long people can accept it. The Ocarina of Time is a great example of this.
    The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess has found it way to #14 (though it was once #3) on game rankings: http://www.gamerankings.com/itemrankings/simplera t ings.asp [gamerankings.com]
    Indeed, it is the only 2006 game on the top 20.

    Anyone who has played those games knows they deserve to be on that list, but more often than not, they fail to be mentioned. Metr
  • Not sure where the hell you got THAT idea. It also shouldn't eat up your cpu either. I used to run it on a 233mhz pII laptop and it barely used any of THAT cpu.

  • rFactor by ISI games (Score:2, Interesting)

    by hoover (3292)
    While rfactor (a racing simulation) was released last year by ISI games, this year has seen some very good mods released for this simracing platform, like the ETCC03 mod (European touring cars) and lately the brilliant F1 1979 mod, bringing all cars of the F1 1979 season to rfactor at no additional cost. Also, a great "current" F1 season has been created by the community, so if you're into racing sims, this is the one title to check out.

    More about rfactor can be seen here: http://www.rfactor.net/ [rfactor.net]

    All the bes
  • by Dr Kool, PhD (173800) on Friday December 29, 2006 @05:16PM (#17402840) Homepage Journal
    1) Resistance: Fall of Man (PS3). Great shooter, great multiplayer.

    2) Motorstorm (Japanese version, PS3). American version isn't out yet but the Japanese version rocks. Best racer ever.

    3) NBA 2K7 (many systems, I have for PS3). Best graphics I've ever seen on a sports game and good gameplay.

    4) Marvel Ultimate Alliance (many systems, I have for PS3). Marvel characters in an action RPG. What more can you ask for?

    5) Ridge Racer 7 (PS3). A great driving sim.
  • TA:Spring (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nostriluu (138310) on Friday December 29, 2006 @10:53PM (#17405634) Homepage
    http://taspring.clan-sy.com/ [clan-sy.com]

    Based on Total Annihilation, but is way ahead of its originator in many ways (some say it has better features than the upcoming Supreme Commander, eg, deformable terrain).

    Open source. Cross platform (doesn't run on Mac yet, though).

    Amazing what happens when fanatical open source developers get on top of a cross platform 3d kit.

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