Quite Frank-ly the Best Games of ‘08
Reviewed by Frank L. Ocasio
So another year of gaming ends. Together, we look forward to more gaming excitement, adventure, and fun with friends in ’09. And also, some of us look forward to Wii games. Ha ha! Just kidding. We don’t look forward to Wii games.
But before we venture completely into the new year (roughly meaning “before we catch ourselves writing ’08 instead of ’09”), let’s take a look back at the games I think were the very best this year in categories that I really care about. Yes, friends, let’s look at what I call quite frank-ly the best games of ’08.
Bionic Commando: Rearmed - Videogame music hasn’t sounded this professional since the J-Pop days of Kingdom Hearts . The difference: You can and will download and listen to the soundtrack for Bionic Commando: Rearmed, without looking like a total idiot. Also, if someone catches you doing so, they won’t snicker. More likely, they’ll start bobbing their heads and/or dancing. Possibly, a music video will happen, a la Pringles commercials.
Best Art Style and Design
1st: Little Big Planet - This game is Art Style and Design! In fact, it achieves so much with Art Style and Design that you won’t be able to stop playing simply because it looks that amazing.
2nd: Dead Space - I didn’t dig Dead Space because I felt like I was playing an over-complicated, wannabe Resident Evil 4. However, I have to acknowledge that the artistry invested in the game is phenomenal. Not only are the Necromorphs well done, but Isaac’s character design and the general look of the USG Ishimura totally immerse you in EA’s 26th century space hell.
Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots - First thing’s first—I didn’t love Metal Gear Solid 4. Really. I didn’t. I thought the ending was terrible and a lot of the writing was stupid crap. Also, aside from the hour long cut scenes (which everyone should be expecting now, by the way), Guns of the Patriots took the usual, Metal Gear lack of realism to the next level (“So… Raiden break danced those Gekko into each other?... Sigh.”). However, I still totally beat the game. And do you know why? Because despite all of the painful crap I had to deal with (like Otacon crying his eyes out… again), I thought the gameplay for MGS4 was incredible. Combined stealth, firearm, and melee combat coupled with tons of gadgets (including a freaking iPod), makes for some of the loosest, malleable, and addicting gameplay we’ve had in some time. But on top of it, like all Metal Gear Solid games, this one has added touches to gameplay that reach a depth you’d never expect; I didn’t even know you could roll around until half way through the game, let alone shoot from the floor after being knocked down.
FPS (First Person Shooter) of the Year
Left 4 Dead - As a genre, I’ve always felt that FPS’s are better played with friends. I’ve also always felt that they carry stories pretty poorly, so the less story, the better the experience. To be frank about it, no other FPS has ever achieved this end as well as Left 4 Dead has. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll shoot some zombies. And you’ll do all of it with the very people you’d want to survive a zombie apocalypse with—your BFF’s.
Best Fighting Game
Super Smash Bros. Brawl - What even is there out there to combat this? Seriously? I know there are other fighting games that came out, but nothing made the reality bending impact that Brawl did. No one stood up all night on the very evening of release just to unlock more and more pointless costume elements in Soul Calibur IV before their friends did (particularly because that one dude who was that into Soul Calibur IV didn't have friends). And there were no arguments at home / in public / by the water cooler / during sex about why Jacky was better in Virtua Fighter 2 and that's why he can't beat the newer, more broken characters. However, all of this and more happened with Super Smash Bros. Brawl. So much sex was interrupted by heated "Marth is better than Ike" arguments that it's not even funny.
2D Platformer of the Year
1st Place: Little Big Planet - As I don't own or particularly care about the PS3, this really came out of left field... The problem is, when it did arise (last month for me), it was pretty impossible to ignore. Little Big Planet has so much style and charm infused into every last inch of it's graphically broken being that it will easily be one of the most incredible things you'll see and experience in this generation of gaming. Combine extremely realistic textures and physics with an incredibly playful art style and you have the exact recipe for feeling like a kid again; the game is simply wondrous.
2nd Place: Megaman 9 - The unbridled nostalgia packing power of this nearly unbeatable game was enough to put it at the top of my list until a month ago. Complete with achievements, Megaman 9 easily ate a good month or so of my life when it was released this year. And now, my only regret is that there's not more of it to continue eating my life. Who knew we'd all missed the original Megaman that badly (although, of course, we all knew we were sick of Battle Network)? And who knew Capcom would perfectly understand just how to execute this game (down to the terrible box art) after such a long Mega-hiatus?
3rd Place: Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia - Did I enjoy this year's Castlevania? Of course I did. I always enjoy Castlevania. On top of just being Castlevania though, Order of Ecclesia was totally innovative as far as whips-to-the-face go. Gameplay was pretty much completely revamped this time around and although there were some things I missed from previous forms, there was a bunch I really enjoyed.
4th Place: Bionic Commando: Rearmed - Once again, Capcom went old school. And once again, it was totally awesome. Not to be mistaken with the completely lame looking, 3D Bionic Commando sequel, Rearmed had all the gameplay you'd missed and all the style you could handle, not to mention the freshest beats this side of 2D Megaman.
Game of the Year
Fallout 3 - "Your Grandmother invites you to tea, but you're surprised when she gives you a pistol and orders you to kill another vault resident. What do you do?
1 Obey your elder and kill the vault resident with the pistol.
2 Offer your most prized possession in exchange for the vault resident's life.
3 Ask for a minigun instead. After all, you don't want to miss.
4 Throw your tea in granny's face."
Yes, yes. An actual quote from the game. Aaaand... point made.
One more thing before I quit: Don’t agree with something I said? Of course not. You wouldn’t. Let’s take this to the G-POP forums then. Or, also, if you’d like to hear any more ranting about any of the games listed here, feel free to ask any questions. That’d also be on the G-POP forums.
And just to answer this question now, yes, if not for Fallout 3, Brawl probably would’ve been my game of the year.
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