I know it’s a day late, but I present to you the buttonmashing.com “Best of 2005” Awards. This year I decided to go with a straightforward set of awards, nothing fancy or witty like others. Just the games I liked and played this year. On with the awards:
2005 PC Game of the Year
I didn’t play a lot of the big releases on the PC this year, but the one that sucked most of my time this year was, by far, Guild Wars. In a crowded MMORPG landscape, Guild Wars really rose above the rest with its accesible gameplay, deep PvE and PvP, and of course the absence of a monthly fee. I played the heck out Guild Wars this year and think it is most deserving of the PC Game of the Year. The Guild Wars team has done a great job adding free content (the holiday bits were wonderful) and of balancing the gameplay. There is a wonderful balance of skill and teamwork. Aside from it’s beauty and music, Guild Wars is simply a great game and I look forward to continuing my time in Ascalon.
PC Runner-up: Fate. This Diablo-esque hack and slash was refreshing and a blast to play. Unfortunately with gaming time at a premium, I didn’t get to play Fate as much as I would have liked.
2005 Xbox Game of the Year
My Xbox choice came down to the last minute. There were a handful of games released this year I really wanted to play but up until now I hadn’t. One of those was Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction. There are some games that are able to move the player emotionally or otherwise. There are others where it’s just fun to run around and mindlessly blow stuff up. Mercenaries is one of those kind of games. Mercenaries is a fun game, plan and simple. The open-ended gameplay is such a riot. Taking money from the Chinese to knock off some Russian mafia-types and then driving to the Russian Mafia HQ (while running over some North Korean soldiers) to “make-up” with a little cash is just classic. Mecenaries gets the nod over a handful of great Xbox games.
Xbox Runners-up: Farcry: Instincts and Forza Motorsports. Farcry was a breath of fresh air to the FPS scene. Setting traps and watch people fly around as they set them off is sublime. While I love my racing games fast and frenetic (Burnout-style), I was really taken by Forza. It took a while to get used to controlling a car with real-world physics but it ended up very satisfying.
Xbox Disappointment of the Year: Jade Empire. How IGN, in good faith, could give this game a 9.9 is beyond human logic. Jade Empire was hyped to the moon and back but it failed to even come close to living up to it. It was linear, the combat was a joke and it was way too easy. 9.9 my patootie.
2005 Nintendo DS Game of the Year
Man, another tough choice in a sea of great games. In the end, I had to pick Animal Crossing Wild World over the rest of the DS games this year. Animal Crossing Wild World takes the friendly and addictive Gamecube title and makes it better. There’s no drastic changes here, the original formula isn’t scrapped, it’s enhanced and improved in every way. The addition of the Nintendo WiFi connection makes it an excellent multiplayer game. I know a lot of people are put off by the initial clunkiness of the WiFi interface but being able to control who you game with is a huge deal to me. Keeping the riff-raff out of my town has made Animal Crossing online great. Nintendo has a real winner with Animal Crossing WW and I can see this one being played well into 2006.
Nintendo DS Runners-up: There were so many games released this year for the DS that it is really hard to single out any one game as a “runner up” to Animal Crossing. Mario Kart, Advance Wars DS, Metroid Prime Pinball, all of them were great. There were more I still haven’t played yet – Trauma Center, Phoenix Wright, Castelvania. The mind boggles.
2005 Gamecube Game of the Year
This one was, of course, a no-brainer. Released almost a year ago, Resident Evil 4 is my pick for Gamecube GotY. I was a casual fan of the Resident Evil series before this one but I feel compelled to play the others to understand the history of the game and see what I’ve missed. I played RE4 start-to-finish without stopping for other games. That doesn’t happen very often. From the beautifully haunting Spanish Pueblos to the dark, mysterious island, RE4 was visual perfection. The time and effort put into the production of RE4 was obvious. Little details like the weapon reload animations and the authentic Spanish phrases really sealed the deal for me. RE4 was a fantastic game, top to bottom.
Gamecube Runners-up: While this year wasn’t rife with great titles not called Resident Evil, there were still a few great games to be played this year on the little black Cube. Fire Emblem and Super Mario Strikers are two games that I am currently enjoying and deserve some attention. Fire Emblem was great on the Gameboy Advance and it’s made a great transition to the Cube and Super Mario Strikers is another great Mario Sports game.
2005 Game of the Year
Once again – this was easy. Resident Evil 4 took control of my gaming soul and never let go until I had conquered it. It was tense, engrossing, exciting, everything an video game should be. A masterpiece. I place it in the Top 5 titles of this generation, arguably the best game of this generation. RE4 is the buttonmashing.com 2005 Game of the Year.
2005 has been a solid year for Video Gaming. There have been some fantastic games this year, a new console release, controversy out the wazoo, and video game blogging coming into its own. It’s been fun sharing this year with you, my fellow readers. Thanks for taking a few minutes of your time and giving it to me. I hope it’s worth it.
2006 is also shaping up to be a great year. We finally get Zelda (which is more and more looking like a Revolution title), the Nintendo Revolution and the PS3 and all the gaming we can handle. I can’t wait.