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Games Entertainment

The Best Games of 2008 109

Posted by Soulskill
from the obligatory-year-end-top-lists dept.
As the year comes to an end, most game sites are putting up lists highlighting their favorite games of 2008. Gamasutra is no exception, but they've nicely consolidated a variety of lists, and included some of their reasons and commentary to go with them. The topics range from the best overlooked games (Soul Bubbles and Pure) to the best new gameplay mechanics (first-person parkour in Mirror's Edge and Spore's procedural content generation) to the best overall games of the year (Fallout 3, World of Goo, and LittleBigPlanet). What were your top games of 2008?
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The Best Games of 2008

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  • Fallout 3 (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Middle - Adopter (906754) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @02:06AM (#26277327)
    I'm an avid gamer, and Fallout 3 was the best game hands down this year. Bionic Commando: Rearmed was pretty great too, for a Xbox Live title. But beyond those two, this was actually a great year for games: GTA IV, Mirror's Edge, Far Cry 2, Gears of War 2...man, I wish I didn't have to go to bed now! :/
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Fallingcow (213461)

      Dissenting opinion:

      Fallout 3 had potential, but IMO it was definitely worse than the first two. I even though I was going to love it for the first 5 hours or so, but that turned out to be a premature judgement.

      Nonsense story, terrible and surprisingly limited ending, very few side-quest arcs (and even fewer that had a satisfying payoff), and only 3 cities, only one of those had anywhere near as much depth as even Klamath did in F2.

      IMO, STALKER:Shadow of Chernobyl is a better Fallout game than Fallout 3 is,

      • Re:Fallout 3 (Score:5, Interesting)

        by VinylRecords (1292374) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @03:00AM (#26277569)

        Nonsense story, terrible and surprisingly limited ending, very few side-quest arcs (and even fewer that had a satisfying payoff), and only 3 cities, only one of those had anywhere near as much depth as even Klamath did in F2.

        - Nonsense story, completely true, you are thrust into a world where you can live a life of any range of karma (angel, good, neutral, bad, evil) but no matter how to choose to live your life the main story is always the same. The Water of Life. Not open ended and extremely boring. Forcing the player into a boring and linear story ruins almost the entire single-player experience once you get to the worst and most disappointing ending I've ever experience. Remember, Bethesda specifically promised over 200 unique endings, saying that the character could end the game in almost 200 different ways. Later on their own forums for Fallout 3 they admitted it was an error and that there are only four endings, not 200, quite a large discrepancy between 200 endings and four.

        Bethesda needs to spend more money on writers and less on their managers that keep shipping obviously-unfinished games out the door.

        Rumor has it that Bethesda spent significant amounts of budget on hiring the voice actors for the game, specifically two or three more famous ones, and that it broke the bank on the project. They invested so much money into voice acting that other aspects of the game had no extra budget.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Fallingcow (213461)

          - Nonsense story, completely true, you are thrust into a world where you can live a life of any range of karma (angel, good, neutral, bad, evil) but no matter how to choose to live your life the main story is always the same. The Water of Life. Not open ended and extremely boring. Forcing the player into a boring and linear story ruins almost the entire single-player experience once you get to the worst and most disappointing ending I've ever experience. Remember, Bethesda specifically promised over 200 uni

        • by Kneo24 (688412)

          Rumor has it that Bethesda spent significant amounts of budget on hiring the voice actors for the game, specifically two or three more famous ones, and that it broke the bank on the project. They invested so much money into voice acting that other aspects of the game had no extra budget.

          That seems ridiculous. The engine was already built. All they needed to do was to modify it so it could use VAT's. Some minor graphical things were reused from Oblivion as well. Where the fuck is all of their money going? Did they even have a decent budget for this game? With the game engine being built, that takes out a significant portion of a budget and leaves extra money to do more... Just... wow....

        • ...Bethesda spent significant amounts of budget on hiring the voice actors for the game, specifically two or three more famous ones...

          Dear Old Dad is voiced by Liam Neeson. I didn't recognize any of the other voices though.

          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward

            Malcolm McDowell was President Eden, they got Ron Perlman to do the narration as he has on the last games also.

      • Re:Fallout 3 (Score:5, Interesting)

        by AstrumPreliator (708436) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @05:39AM (#26278239)
        Now see I hated VATS. I thought it was a horrible system which took the worst parts from both real time FPS combat and turn based combat. On one hand you have a finite amount of action points which have to be recharged over time, on the other the enemy doesn't have AP, it just attacks until one of you dies. A lot of the time I would just end up running up to the guy point blank, going into VATS, use all of my AP on his head (which had a 90% probability of hitting) and then watch the slow motion carnage. After it was over I'd run the hell away and let my AP recharge. I know other people didn't mind VATS, but for me it was rather annoying.

        Beyond that I thought Fallout 3 was an okay game. It definitely had the atmosphere of the previous two Fallout games, and I loved the graphics. I didn't even care that it was in the first person perspective. They even had some of the same kind of humor that the originals had. There were plenty of little gripes though, for instance the pipboy interface was clearly designed with consoles in mind. It had nested menus within nested menus. Granted the original Fallouts didn't have amazing interfaces, but I was expecting an improvement, not an interface designed solely with the console in mind (I bought the PC version). I also agree that the story was a bit shallow.

        As for other games this year, here's what I think:

        FarCry 2: It had nothing to do with the original, kind of like C&C:Generals. It was basically GTA in Africa. I thought the graphics were superb, blowing things up and lighting vast fields aflame were fun, but it got kind of tedious. All you do is go to X to kill Y for Z diamons. I haven't completed it yet, I'm about 3/4 done, but so far the story is horrible. I don't even know why they bothered.

        Another gripe I had with FarCry 2 was the fact that they went for realism in some areas, but not others. You didn't have a reticule, you had to use iron sights. Vehicles broke down, weapons jammed (even bolt action rifles), etc... At the same time the vehicles are made from paper mache, guard posts would mysteriously resupply with troops when you get a hundred yards away (and not question the dead bodies apparently), and your character can get turned into swiss cheese by a volley of bullets and a syringe full of Cureital fixes everything.

        I also had a problem with locating enemies sometimes. They'd always know where I was if I walked within a kilometer of them, but sometimes it took me several minutes just to locate them. Overall I thought the game was pretty and kind of fun, but I was hoping for more.

        Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3: Yes, I actually bought this game. Or rather, I bought a license which allows me to install it on 5 different computers and that's it. Before we get started let me say I loved the new naval warfare. I honestly thought that was a good addition. I also enjoyed how units had two different "attacks". The music was also quite good. Beyond those few things, there wasn't anything else I liked about the game. A lot of the story was rehashed from the first two, the Empire of the Rising sun felt very awkward, a lot of the graphics were sort of cartoony (yet the water wasn't at all), and EA hired more breasts than writers*.

        One thing that really annoyed me was the forced co-op single player. When started to play the first mission it gave me a choice between solo and co-op. I thought at the time that co-op is a great idea and would be fun, but I didn't have anyone to play with at the time, so I went for solo. To my surprise I was forced to play the map with a computer ally (with campy dialogue). Now with C&C games I love capturing enemy bases to win, call it a quirk, but I always found that more satisfying than rolling them with a million units. However, now that I was forced to play with a computer ally with very limited control** either the computer would destroy the base before I could capture it, or the computer would be wiped out and I'd have to guard that flank. Overall I think the C&C franchise
        • by jandrese (485)
          The thing I hated about RA3 was that it was designed for co-op online play, which was fine (I had a friend I wanted to play through it with), but then they are still using the same networking code they used for the original C&C. If you don't have a direct connection to the internet or one of what seems like 3 piece of crap "home routers" that they support, good luck getting an online game set up. The tech support consists of "it should just automagically work, if it doesn't try running this Ultima Onl
        • Mirror's Edge: A lot of people had a lot of problems with Mirror's Edge. Personally I found the game fantastic. True you ended up dying a fair bit, but usually you didn't have to redo a ton of the level to get back to where you were. I also loved the art direction the dev team took, even if the bloom made it hard to see ;). I loved making quick decisions in the thick of things and I felt that the game just had a very nice flow to it. The only real gripe I have with it is I don't see much replay value and it was kind of short. So overall I thought it was good.

          I totally agree. I loved Mirror's Edge. Maybe it's because I read so many horror stories about the boring combat in reviews, and set the combat to easy as a result, but I thought everything about this game was just about perfect, except the lack of open exploration, which was a shame.

          Everyone was screaming about how the game was at its best when there was no enemies and you were free to approach obstacles as slowly as you liked, but I thought that running from the enemies really added quite a bit to the m

          • by Gulthek (12570)

            Oh thank you! I thought I was just a crazy person for loving the combat in Mirror's Edge.

            The controls feel intuitive and smooth, melee attacks are really fun to chain together and the disarms are sweet icing. I find it genuinely satisfying to play a character who is badass enough to take down a dozen SWAT officers and be on the edge of death the entire time.

            A couple shots and you're down, but a quick martial arts move and they're down. It becomes a game of strategy and planning: run here, turn there to peel

          • by WeeLad (588414)
            Agreed. I also thought the music was great. Normally, I turn the music in games off (if supported) and put on my own music. However, the soundtrack for Mirror's Edge actually set a pretty good mood.
        • by Rayonic (462789)

          Now see I hated VATS. I thought it was a horrible system which took the worst parts from both real time FPS combat and turn based combat. On one hand you have a finite amount of action points which have to be recharged over time, on the other the enemy doesn't have AP, it just attacks until one of you dies. A lot of the time I would just end up running up to the guy point blank, going into VATS, use all of my AP on his head (which had a 90% probability of hitting) and then watch the slow motion carnage. Aft

        • by SyscRAsH (127068)

          Your opinion of fallout, far cry 2 and left 4 dead is largely right along with how I felt about them. I haven't played RA3, and really don't plan to; dawn of war is still my rts of choice lately. I've been wondering about mirror's edge, but because of your review, I'm now greatly looking forward to it.
          So Thanks.

        • by Grithok (696050)
          The best thing about fall out 3? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pbyhpsv-6sM [youtube.com] And part two. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=atdrkROQMTo [youtube.com]
      • by MrHanky (141717)

        Agree 100%. Fallout is far too limited, story-wise. But until I was almost done, it gave some of the feeling of Deus Ex, but with almost total freedom of movement (which only makes it possible to solve the main quest quicker, but not change its outcome much). In the end, the freedom seems a bit pointless, though, as part of a game. Walking around and discovering new places becomes tedious as there's nothing to the places except monsters and some loot -- oh, and a point to fast-travel to later.

      • So... what's the name of the Oblivion mod you mentioned? It sounds interesting... and the out of the box game, as you mentioned, could use some more items if interest.
        • I looked through several comprehensive lists of mods to find all of the ones that sounded like things I wanted and which would play nice together, and dumped them all in at once, so I'm not entirely certain which one added the regional quests, but I think it was the super-famous and certainly must-have Oscuro's Oblivion Overhaul (OOO). It may have been an improved landscapes mod that I use, though.

          Oscuro's Oblivion Overhaul [googlepages.com]

          A meta-list of Oblivion mod lists [uesp.net]

          Unique Landscapes [bethsoft.com] -- Scroll down to Section 2 for d

      • by 7Prime (871679)

        I have to completely disagree that Megaton was the best town in the game. I found Megaton kinda boring, myself. Rivit City was far-and-away my home base. Other hot spots like the Citidel and the GNR building were nice too. I found myself avoiding Megaton like the pleague, except for a few quests.

        I haven't played the first two Fallout games (I do mean to, though), but I absolutely LOVED Fallout 3. Far-and-away my favorite game of the year, and currently my favorite wRPG (I'm more of a jRPG fan myself). I nev

        • The other Fallout games aren't goofy, exactly, unless you count a couple of the very rare and easter-egg-like random encounters.

          Fallout 3 was far goofier, IMO. The first two have a healthy dose of humor, but it's more often macabre than goofy.

  • My own picks of 2008 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by RogueyWon (735973) * on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @02:07AM (#26277333) Journal

    Well, it's been an interesting year - quite a few very good titles (with a particularly large cluster of these released in the September - November range) and also a few which turned out to be fairly huge disappointments.

    Anyway, my own top 10:

    10) Super Smash Bros Brawl (Wii) - a rare example of a first party Nintendo game which has decent production values and doesn't suffer from a severe lack of content. The single-player campaign is slightly let down by a few over-long platforming sections, but the brawling components are more than fun enough make up for it.

    9) Siren: Blood Curse (PS3) - the only game I've seen to date to really pull off the whole "episodic gaming" thing. Blood Curse is the best entry to date in what has always been a very solid survival horror series. It's an excellent refuge for those who have been put off by the action-oriented direction that the Resident Evil franchise has taken and the continued flogging of the dead horse that the once-epic Silent Hill franchise has become ever since its 4th installment.

    8) The World Ends With You (Nintendo DS) - quirky and original take on the Japanese RPG formula. The distinctive style isn't to everybody's taste (or even particularly to mine), but it did produce one of the most unique titles of the last 12 months. A huge range of customisation options (including heavily tweakable difficulty settings) further boost its appeal.

    7) Lost Odyssey (Xbox 360) - hugely traditional take on the Japanese RPG formula. Superb production values and a well thought out narrative pull it above the average. A big improvement on 2007's Blue Dragon and a real sign that Square-Enix should be taking the competition from Mistwalker very, very seriously. The game's also notable for its extensive use of narrative text storytelling to flesh out the back-story.

    6) Resistance 2 (PS3) - A few dubious design decisions mean that this isn't quite as good as its predecessor (the limitation on the number of weapons you can carry feels particularly restrictive in a game that's so heavily based around trying out funky weapons). However, it's still a slick and fun game, whose controls feel far more robust than those of pretty much any other console fps.

    5) Far Cry 2 (PC - also Xbox 360 and PS3) - Despite a "ripped from the headlines" story that really is the ultimate in bad taste, this is a deeply impressive shooter. It takes some of the good ideas we saw in last year's STALKER: Shadows of Chernobyl and marries them with the execution needed to really pull them off.

    4) Metal Gear Solid 4 (PS3) - Yeah, this is the controversial one. With the cutscenes being, at a rough estimate, roughly twice the length of the playable sections of the game, this was never going to be everybody's cup of tea. However, a complete overhaul of the combat system took the series from being one where combat was, as Penny Arcade put it, a punishment inflicted on the player for getting the stealth sections wrong to a being one of the most fun games to play as a shooter of the entire year. The fact that you can play it as a stealth-em-up just adds icing to the cake. The game's graphics and production values blow away anything else released during this year.

    3) Gears of War 2 (Xbox 360) - It doesn't do anything particularly original, but it improves on the original game in almost every respect. It presents a longer campaign with better balance than the original, more varied environments and some excellent tweaks to the weapons lineup. It also features some of the most fun multiplayer modes of any game I've seen this year, with a heavy emphasis on co-op and team-based gameplay.

    2) Dead Space (Xbox 360, also PC and PS3) - Half way between Gears of War and a traditional survival-horror game, this was very close to being my favorite title of the entire year. As others have noted, it's anything but original, drawing heavy inspiration from three movies in particular: Aliens, Event Horizon and the Thing. However, it still establishes its own distinctive identity and mana

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by cbeley (1071560)

      Mario Kart Wii - the Mario Kart formula is looking very tired now and every small way in which this game tries to depart from it actually makes things worse. The simple problem is that this game sticks too many racers on the track at once. Driving skill goes out the window as everything descends into a miasma of weapon-spam. The "balancing" system which gives those at the back of the field a constant supply of super-weapons only makes things worse.

      You know, I'm currently on the search for a copy of Mario Kart Wii... However, I find your comment a little irritating. If that's how you feel then you shouldn't have liked ANY of the mario kart games. Quite frankly, the randomness of it is one of the things that makes it a lot of fun. It's not meant to be a serious racing game. Also, considering the good reviews (including reader reviews by thousands of people), I'm probably not too alone. Of course, an opinion is an opinion, but, I love mario kart (

      • by RogueyWon (735973) *

        I liked the original Mario Kart, in its day, and I quite liked Double Dash (Mario Kart 64 did very little for me). For me, there were always two main assets for the Mario Kart series; first, that the cart physics and controls were among the best around and second that the tracks were good fun.

        Now, the first of these advantages has been eroded hugely as the competition has caught up with (and in many cases overtaken) Nintendo's efforts. Mario Kart Wii makes the situation worse by actively penalising good dri

        • by j33pn (1049772)

          I think what always bothered me most in Double Dash was that you couldn't hold an item behind yourself for protection.

    • - Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 - still have high hopes for this, even though I do think it's time the PS2 was allowed to die gracefully.

      It's great. I watched my wife play some of Persona 3 and didn't care for it, but we're playing 4 together and it's really good so far (~70% of the way through now). It does suffer occasionally from Guide Dang It [tvtropes.org], but that's just something you've gotta put up with in most JRPGs. That's my only complaint, and it really could be much, much worse.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      - Mario Kart Wii - the Mario Kart formula is looking very tired now

      Funny, I thought the same thing when Super Mario 64 and the original Super Smash Brothers came out. But people keep buying (and enjoying) the games, and the younger generations are apparently still enjoying it so Mario's legend still continues to live on (although Donkey Kong strangely disappeared).

      I can't knock it if the majority of people enjoy it, but come on - at least enhance his graphics a little bit, you know? Add some textures to Mario for once, even though the idea of a half-life 2 looking Itali

      • by RogueyWon (735973) *

        Well, I think there's a difference in how Nintendo has handled those two franchises this time around.

        With Super Smash Bros Brawl, they've made a genuine effort to bring the game up to modern standards. They've even put in a proper story mode, with cutscenes and everything. Ok, Nintendo are still living in the 80s in some respects - the near total absence of voice acting being the most glaring example - but they've made an effort and it shows.

        Mario Kart Wii, on the other hands, was a lazy update even by Nint

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by bigstrat2003 (1058574) *
          I have to disagree with your opinion that MK Wii was less of an update than Brawl (not to mention your opinion of the game in general). To me, they both added the same amount of functionality to their respective parent games: new areas, new characters, new items, online play. Yes, Brawl has Subspace Emissary and stage builder, but those are some serious fluff features which don't really mean anything to the game itself.
          • by RogueyWon (735973) *

            Sorry, but I can't consider a substantial single-player campaign, with a huge number of expensively rendered cutscenes and an actual plot (a rarity in a Nintendo game) to be "serious fluff". Moreover, while I will acknowledge that the core brawling gameplay in SSB wasn't hugely changed, they had at least avoiding making it actively worse, unlike in MK.

            • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

              by bigstrat2003 (1058574) *

              I guess we have to differ on what constitutes a "substantial single-player campaign" and "an actual plot", then, because I felt SSE had neither. The cutscenes could be pretty glorious, though, I have to agree there.

              Moreover, I have to disagree again that MK Wii made the core gameplay worse. At worst, I think it's the same as it's ever been, and a lot of times, it's even better (no snaking, doing tricks off the jumps really adds a lot). I think some of your complaints are seriously invalid (come on dude, Mar

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ozphx (1061292)

      I have a massive dissenting opinion on FarCry 2.

      It was pretty. It had some cool bits (the fire propogation was very nice). The AI had 'reasonable' alertness (none of this Op Flashpoint style 'seeing you and shooting you through 200m of forest').

      That said, the AI was incredibly dumbed down. You had a couple of 'cease fire zones' where the AI was in passive mode, and everywhere else they were aggressive. There was meant to be a handful of factions - not evident in gameplay - everybody shot at you.

      The mission

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Lord Byron II (671689)

      I'm going to have to disagree with you on Mario Kart Wii. I found the steering wheel control to be about the best idea ever. For the first time, it actually felt like I was really racing. A large selection of tracks, characters, and karts, as well as a ton of unlockable content made this a real winner for me.

      The monthly online competitions are a ton of fun. And being able to race with up to three of my friends, plus 8 cpu characters makes for a real fun time. One of my friends isn't the best at racing games

      • by seebs (15766)

        I have always sucked at MK, but I do okay on the Wii. It's really amazing.

        It's almost as though I have fifteen or so years of training in the use of a vertical wheel to control a car, and much less experience using a tiny little thumbstick to control a car.

    • by Jupix (916634)

      Thought I'd post my $0.02:

      Red Alert 3 - disagree. I hate the direction the RA dev teams have taken the series since the first RA. Base building was hugely fun in RA, and in this installment they've placed so little emphasis on it they could've just removed it. I got rid of my RA3 installation really quickly but from what I've seen, you can't even harass other players economically any more, since the ore trucks only stay at the designated point (and I mean harass, not destroy). Graphics-wise this is basicall

      • by RogueyWon (735973) *

        Fair enough on most of the disagreements, it would be a boring world if everybody was in agreement. I honestly do see your point on Red Alert 3, although I think the good still outweighs the bad. Particularly compared to the atrocity that was Red Alert 2 (probably the worst game I've ever paid money for). However...

        If you want to play GTA IV on the PC, then you get what you deserve. Ever since GTA III hit, I don't think Rockstar have made it any secret that these are console games. The PC ports are aftertho

      • by kv9 (697238)

        which is famous for being about as immersive as EVE Online

        EVE is pretty immersive if you have your spreadsheet app handy.

    • Left 4 Dead FTW. Best co-op experience ever... best game of 2008.
    • by j33pn (1049772)

      I like Kart. The GC versions was pretty crappy. The Wii versions goes back to more of the great N64 version. Good new features are online play in Vs, battle, and time trials. Try downloading some of the world record holding ghosts in the time trials, it's impressive.

      I just wish they had brought back the short oval track from the GC.

    • by MaWeiTao (908546)

      The World Ends with You was a great game, especially the first section with Shiki. But ultimately it grows extremely tedious and the story turns into a bit of a letdown. It was still interesting and I continued to enjoy the game, but it didn't live up to the potential raised in that first section.

    • by Tailsfan (1200615)
      You got that right! I am going to smash them for not including brawl. pun intended
    • by WeeLad (588414)
      "Mount & Blade" [wikipedia.org] continues to keep me busy. Sometimes I just wanna ride around swinging a big axe at people.
  • DNF! (Score:2, Funny)

    by Garridan (597129)

    Duke Nukem Forever!

    Oh wait, wrong list. Sorry.

  • Excellent! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by AnonGCB (1398517) <7spams.gmail@com> on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @02:17AM (#26277389)
    I'm pretty excited to see World of Goo take #2, go indy developers! That said, I'm surprised Mount & Blade wasn't listed at all, and that Sins of a Solar Empire didn't score higher. Still, I'll agree with Fallout 3 ranking #1. While it was a disappointment to those who expected a full on RPG, the FPS element brought many more people in, and allowed for more people to get into the game, while VATS kept it closer to an RPG.
    • Problem with Fallout 3 in my opinion was that the Bethestha did not hire the original developers (Obsidian Entertainment nowadays) to do the writing job for the game. Bethestha always had good engines and lacked in the scripting and getting it part!
      Fallout 3 while better out of the box than their last games still lacks, and it is hard to fill the shoes of the original fallouts due to the clouds and curtains of time!

    • Sins definitely deserved more of a mention. Stardock is releasing some of the best games out there right now without any DRM. It's a moral company releasing a quality product. Why isn't this more newsworthy?
  • Fallout 3 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MaWeiTao (908546) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @02:29AM (#26277451)

    I'm probably being overly fixated on one of the many games featured on the list, but I must be one of the only people out there who thinks Fallout 3 was one of the most overrated games of the year, perhaps third only to GTA5 and Spore.

    When I first played the game I regretted my purchase and lamented the fact that I couldn't return the game, having gotten the PC version. But I decided to spend more time with the game and found that my impression hadn't changed.

    Getting past the excessively monotone color scheme, I will admit the game looks impressive. But otherwise I found it to be extremely tedious and the story a bit contrived. The characters followed the same uninspired templates I find in bad Sci-Fi channel movies.

    While I can accept the gritty theme of the game, I dislike overly realistic characters that end up looking ugly and more like actors than actual inhabitants of the world being depicted. Always lame is when children look like miniature adults, mainly because of overly mottled facial textures. Encountering old people in the game made me laugh a few times because of how insanely wrinkled they were, like they were made of cracked leather or clay.

    I don't care for having to repair my equipment, are constantly being encumbered by random crap I find, having to sit there and sort through inventory trying to determine what I need and don't need. The side quests are so disruptive to flow and feel so disconnected that I eventually lost track and forgot what the main quest was all about. Basically, it's reminiscent of Bethesda's other RPGs, Morrowind included. Although I think that, in terms of gameplay, was the superior game.

    One high point was combat which was somewhat entertaining. The targetting feature, while helpful, I found disruptive and felt like little more than an excuse to showcase the violence.

    Maybe the game gets better, but I don't have the patience to find out.

    Interestingly enough, I played Knights of the Old Republic 2 for the first time less than a week after abandoning Fallout 3 and found that to be, far and a way, a much better game. It wasn't perfect and I'm not normally one for Star Wars games but it was very engaging the whole way through and a lot of fun to play. The customization was satisfying without being tedious. About the only thing that crossed my mind a few times was what KOTOR2 would look like with current generation graphics on the level of Fallout 3 but with more style.

    • Re:Fallout 3 (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Fallingcow (213461) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @02:57AM (#26277547) Homepage

      You're not alone--I posted a detailed description of my dislike of F3 a bit higher up.

      Long story short, I felt like it had about 1/10 the meaningful content that Fallout 2 had, and that the designers seemed to care almost not at all about telling an interesting story or making the player feel like they were making a difference in the world.

      With luck, the modders will fix it. They managed to turn the broken and (even looking past the brokenness) mediocre game Oblivion in to one of my favorite games ever, so there's hope yet.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by retyurecvb (1442035)

        They managed to turn the broken and (even looking past the brokenness) mediocre game Oblivion in to one of my favorite games ever, so there's hope yet.

        I really hope that by The Elder Scrolls 5 they are able to take the hint and get rid of the level scaling. If the world around you levels up with you, why even have leveling? Why not just drop the stats all-together and have a mediocre adventure game? At least that way, you won't have to worry about your character being useless by level 20.

    • by p0tat03 (985078)

      I enjoyed F3, but have to agree on most of your points. I do believe that Bethesda was the wrong choice of developer to hand the franchise to - they made only a few token gestures to their source material and then transformed the game into Oblivion-with-guns.

      Characters are still uninspired, animations still stiff (despite Bethesda's claims otherwise) and lifeless. The main quest (as usual Bethesda style) is far too short, and level design is almost non-existent indoors, where you spend most of your time spe

      • Since Fallout now is in the hands of Bethestha I rather doubt it! The biggest mistake was that Bethestha wanted a clean cut, new setting, none of the old developers were hired, although they applied when Bethestha set the job postings into the internet.
        In the end, it ended up as the usual Bethestha game, excellent engine, and mediocre story and execution which now is left again to the community to fix up.
        The biggest problem I had with the game, I did not even mind the story and liked the setting, is that Be

      • by steveo777 (183629)

        I may be able to pose a unique viewpoint. The reasons being that I detested the first two Fallouts (battle system, hated it, couldn't get past it). I also played Oblivion with a mild neglect (IE, I finally picked it up last winter and moved on to Culdcept Saga when it came out, also, Culdcept Saga is one of my fav's this year).

        F3 is, for all intents and purposes, Oblivion with guns. But it's a lot better. Oblivion was terrible. Six voices, and everyone with a steel rod for a spine. Thankfully there is

      • I was amazed at how awful the animation was, particually facial. You'd think after HL2 came out 4 years ago, most developers would be able to achieve similar results?
        • by p0tat03 (985078)

          I'm disappointed at both Bethesda and BioWare in particular for this. Look at LucasArts, with their procedural character animations, and Valve with their incredible facial animation tools... these guys are putting an incredible amount of story-telling technology into their twitch-shooter games (and then severely under-using it)... meanwhile RPG developers like BW and Bethesda completely ignore this technology in favor of more "oh hey our characters interact with the environment LOL" crap.

          And there's also th

          • by Jedi Alec (258881)

            Both Mass Effect and Fallout 3 are slow, load all too frequently, and crash-prone to boot.

            As much as I enjoy cursing Bioware/EA for not fixing the damn bugs in Mass Effect, I'd hardly call it slow. Initial load takes a few seconds(DRM doing its thing I suppose), but after that it's smooth sailing all the way for me.

            I agree ME could have done with a better interface though :/

    • bout the only thing that crossed my mind a few times was what KOTOR2 would look like with current generation graphics on the level of Fallout 3 but with more style.

      You're in luck - it's called Mass Effect. ;-)

      • by steveo777 (183629)

        Yeah, pretty much the same game. They even kept the choppy engine, sub-par graphics, and excruciatingly long load times!

    • Everything you said you disliked in Fallout 3 is what I liked about it. The fact that you have to repair your guns and worry about how much you were carrying added to the immersion. I loved that the only equipment you got was from dead bodies and most of it was in poor condition until you fixed it. That's how I would imagine living in a post apocalyptic world is. I liked that you couldn't hoard every weapon you found and had to make difficult choices on what to keep or throw away because it was too heavy. I

      • The fact that you have to repair your guns and worry about how much you were carrying added to the immersion.

        If you twice invest in the trade caravans at Canterbury Commons the caravans will have a repair skill of 70-75% which is higher than I've had my repair skill. Even then, there are enough skill books and bobble heads, that you can max out every skill at 100 well before you reach level 20. Repairing items wasn't immersive, it was tedious, and monotonous. It's not realistic that someone magically invests in a 'repair stat' and they can someone repair items ranging from Powered Armor Clothing and Plasma Rifles

    • Do yourself a favor and get Mass Effect, it basically is Kotor with modern technology and without that annoying star wars setting, I nowadays hate due to overusage by LucasArts!

      Btw. Kotor2 was done by the core Fallout guys who have formed Obsidian Entertainment, do have a serious watch on their games, they have 1-2 games in the line which look highly interesting!

    • by ADRA (37398)

      FYI: If you likes KOTOR 2, you may find part one very good. Bioware made KOTOR 1 and then farmed the second instalment out to Obsidion who IMHO ruined KOTOR 2 and Neverwinter Nights 2 from their amazing originals.

  • Valkyria Chronicles (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ShinSugoi (783392) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @02:36AM (#26277473)

    As a fan of strategy games and RPGs, I was sad that this title was overlooked by so many. Whatever the reason, it is always painful to see an innovative title do poorly -- especially when it is one as enjoyable as this.

    From the unique rendering style (which is not well conveyed in screenshots, sort of like okami) to the inventive gameplay which skillfully blends real time turn-based actions together, the soaring Sakimoto score, and unique storybook presentation, there's not much to dislike about Valkyria.

    If you have a PS3, I highly recommend you give it a look.

    • I've played VC for a couple of hours now and I've enjoyed it. Solid game? Yes. Game of the Year? No way.

      You can't think this game is superior all-around to MGS4 or Fallout 3?

      And yes the game looks terrible online, but the PSN has a nice demo of the game, so people can see what the game looks like in its HD glory.

      Once I played the demo I snagged a used copy from my local Gamestop. Good decision.

      • by ShinSugoi (783392)

        I should probably clarify that I wasn't saying it was "game of the year" or anything like that, but it was the most overlooked game this year that was worthy of people's time.

        As someone in the industry, it pains me greatly to see the hard work of many people fall by the wayside just because other titles released in the same season got more advertising. You can debate forever which game is "best", but it seems to me that it would be wiser to try and help the wheat rise out of the proverbial chaff.

        And for th

  • by VinylRecords (1292374) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @02:47AM (#26277513)

    When isolating the games that really separated themselves positively from the rest of the pack this year it boils down to three games for me.

    - Metal Gear Solid 4 (PS3 exclusive)
    - Fallout 3 (PC version only)
    - Dead Space (PS3,360,PC)

    Metal Gear Solid 4 is the most polarizing AAA series in the last decade in gaming. Some people hate the cut scenes and stealth focus while millions of others embrace it. But the production values of the series, specifically the 4th iteration, are truly phenomenal, and are the best in gaming that have ever been seen. The entire package is aesthetically flawless. But what most people forget is that Metal Gear Solid 4 shipped with the amazing Metal Gear Online 2.0 bundled into it. And MGO2 is truly a remarkable multi-player experience and a standout amongst the already crowded shooter genre. By itself the single or multi-player components could warrant Game-of-the-Year consideration, they are that outstanding. But combined together the latest MGS game is an all-time classic. A single-player experience that will never die. A refreshing, engaging, and rewarding online experience as well. While the fact that is one console exclusive might stop many Nintendo and Microsoft fanboys or diehards from giving it GotY consideration they aren't going stop the flood of awards this game is going to get. One of the best reasons to own a PS3, practically the only reason I own a PS3. SNAAAAAAKE!

    Fallout 3. First things first, the PS3 version is automatically disqualified from getting GotY praise as it has so many bugs, glitches, lacked trophy support at launch, and will not receive downloadable content, while the 360 and PC versions were less glitch prone (significantly) and will have DLC. But, the PC version, has the superior audio, visuals, and of course, the collective geniuses and minds of the ever-excellent MOD community (some of the MODs are brilliant already). So if any version of this post-apocalyptic science-fiction RPG-shooter hybrid it's the PC version. Fallout has excellent ambience and immersion, excellent environments and scale, remarkable side quests, and unique RPG elements. The flaws though are large, the main character story is cliche and terrible, compared to the epic and powerful story of Metal Gear Solid 4 it pales dramatically. The ending of the game was also weak, very weak, compared to the ending of MGS4 that some professional reviewers said left them in tears....there is no comparison to the MGS4 storyline. But Fallout 3's open ended quest structure was outstanding, every quest could be completed in any order, and each quest had several ways of successful completion. With the PC community the game is GotY, but as it shipped, with it's terrible story, HORRIBLE endings (Bethesda said the game had 200 possible endings, it has 4...only 196 off Bethesda), and glitches (especially on the PS3) on all platforms, the game shouldn't sweep the awards.

    Dead Space. Oh Dead Space...probably the most surprising game of this year for the casual and hardcore alike. It crept up on us slowly like a necromorph hiding in the vents...and JUMPED OUT to scream the community abuzz. Good story? Check. Brilliant use of sound? Check. Good graphics? Check. Shout-outs and homage to The Thing, Event Horizon, and Aliens? Big fucking giant Ishimura mining ship sized check. The sound and graphics were well above par for this generation of games. The story was quite good for a survival-horror game. Unitology, interesting, I liked the back story, can't wait for the sequel (or prequel if you believe some rumors). But the game is mostly run-and-gun with little emphasis on original or unique gaming. And the puzzles? My hamsters could probably solve them. While Dead Space 1 is only a GotY contender, if Dead Space 2 is any major improvement on the first game, expect it to be one the greatest gaming franchises of all time.

    Metal Gear Solid 4 for #1
    Fallout 3 for #2
    Dead Space for #3

  • Huh? It's probably debatable whether it should take the #1 spot but I think most people would agree it deserves a place in the top 10. I'm glad to see Valkyria Chronicles make the list though. Definitely the best PS3 game this year that nobody played.
  • I expect it will fill the gap between Hellgate:London and Diablo 3 since I'm ~60 hours in and I'm not even through the second level with my first charact (well I did complete about half of level 1 with a throwaway to learn the controls). If you're into hack'n'slash RPG's I don't think you're going to find on better than this until Diablo 3 is released.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    That yeah, game of the year again is Photoshop.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    EchoChrome is a PS3 game based on the worlds of M.C. Escher's drawings.

    Turn the world view until paths appear to line up, and they do!

    This has got to be the most innovative gameplay mechanism of the year, if not the decade!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Really, does anything beat rooting around in your own navel to discover what is in there? Depending on who you are, the game is beautifully rendered in 3D with such life-like tones as to be mind boggling. The game is at once simple to understand yet very difficult to master (since you can only dig so far without causing permanent injury, extreme blood loss, or untying the knot that holds in all the air that keeps you inflated). You also get a real prize: something with fuzz and hair on it and a slight o

  • by Hognoxious (631665) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @07:35AM (#26278823) Homepage Journal

    Sim Cardboard City.

    Jobsearch II.

    Hunt the CFO.

  • I just have to say thanks for mentioning 'parkour [wikipedia.org]'! I looked it up on Wikipedia and learned about it. I played Mirror's Edge and thought that the whole idea of the runners and their movement techniques was really cool, and now I learn there is an actual word for the movement techniques! That's great.

    Now I'm off to learn parkour IRL.

  • Sins of a Solar Empire (PC): excellent game design in this epic RTS with a great interface, beautiful scalable graphics engine, ongoing expansion-sized patch improvements and developer support, and smart hands-off units.

    Shiren the Wanderer (DS): the definitive Japanese roguelike, a tight and inventive game design, structured world with randomized levels and persistent-between-games item storage and quest progress, short but sweet and highly replayable.

    Baroque (Wii/PS2): a modern port of this obscure realtim

  • Anyone who's played through the whole series, start to finish, cannot deny that MGS4 deserves to be crowned this year's best game (I won't go in to why, as others have already done so in some detail). It won't win though, as most gamers will have never even played it because few even own a PS3, and that's tragic.
  • Stuck fairly early in Dead Space so *meh* for that one until I can figure it out.

    I like Fallout 3 so far. Much farther along that one. I really like the different radio stations though :)

    [John]

  • Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People.

    No More Heroes

  • My game of the year is Mother 3 for the GBA. The game was released in 2006 but an unofficial English translation was released in October of this year. I loved the game, great story and classic gameplay.

    For my complete list of game of the year winners, check out my site. I unfortunately didn't get to play a lot of games this year... having a baby and buying a house can really dig into your free time. Also having an old PC and no next gen systems doesn't help... Though I did finally get an Xbox 360 (and

  • Is there a reason for the DRM tag beyond "Spore" was one of the games listed? The list in no way was talking about DRM. Okay, several of the games listed had issues with DRM, that's true. They've been covered. Extensively. And complained about even more. Many times. We know it's important to you. We know you boycotted spore because it had DRM, good for you, I noted that in my log of things slashdotters effectively boycotted, right there on page 3271. But let's keep discussions of DRM to discussions

  • MGS4 was the epic story. It was also too self-referential.

    GTA4 was the grand sandbox. But it could've used a solid anchoring experience in the middle somewhere.

    Fable 2 was the accessible lovable. But it could've used a pinch more depth.

    Fallout 3 was the total mood and setting. But it wasn't quite as satisfying as its predecessors.

    World of Goo was the great cheap date. So was Braid. Braid was the cheap arthouse-and-museum date, Goo was the beer-and-pizza date.

    And if you were a hardcore Japanese RPG

    • by mojodamm (1021501)
      Rock Band 2 definitely gets my vote for best game of the year. Yes, it's technically just an 'add-on' for Rock Band 1, but ever since the Rock Band franchise started, I've played, maybe, 10 hours of anything other than 1 and 2 on my X-box. NOTHING can beat getting friends together and rocking out. The DLC is phenomenal; diverse and entertaining.
  • Though the game is still technically in alpha (version 0.40 or so), it's the game that held my interest the most over the past year. Dwarf Fortress has a learning curve like a freaking cliff, but it's a great deal of fun if you enjoy silly city-building sims.

    http://www.bay12games.com/dwarves/ [bay12games.com]

    Do read the wiki http://dwarf.lendemaindeveille.com/index.php/Main_Page [lendemaindeveille.com] before pestering the people in the forums there if you check it out.

    As far as commercial games go, my pick in 2008 was embarrassingly Fallou

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