We meant to publish this before the New Year came around, but the Holidays got a bit busy. We’re finally able to talk about our fun games of the year. As we’ve done in the past, we’re not giving out “Game of the Year” awards, because we didn’t play everything released in 2008 and quite frankly, it’s presumptuous to declare something the “BEST” of anything. We’ll stick to what we know best. These are the games we had the most fun with this year:
Tony: [GTA IV] This seems to be the “controversial” pick on a lot of year-end lists of the best games of the year. A lot of people feel GTA IV isn’t worthy of being called a great (or the best) game of 2008. I heartily disagree with these people. GTA IV was the best game of 2008.
But, this is the “Fun Games” of 2008. So why am I picking Grand Theft Auto IV as the game I had the most fun with? I could list hundreds of moments I had in GTA that made me smile from ear to ear. Fun, laugh-out-loud moments. There was the time I picked up my date driving a city bus. A CITY BUS. Or the time I picked her up with a dead guy in the backseat of a stolen SUV. Or how said dead guy flopped out of the backseat after my hot date, with me driving stone drunk, driving up over a curb and the body go flying out the back. I could go on, but if you played the game, you had dozens of your own “moments” like these. Throw out the story, through out the violence and just see what transpires in the open world. Things can be hilarious. Flipping a scooter, flying through the air.
I spent dozens of hours in Liberty City, often just messing around the city, causing chaos and mayhem. Surviving a six-star wanted rating for five minutes was a highlight moment of the year. It is a FUN game.
But back to people disagreeing with this being the best game of the year (and it is the best game of the year): I wonder if those people finished the game. I loved the story, but the last mission and the way they wrapped up the story was the best moments I have ever experienced in a game. Niko is one of my favorite characters. A tragic, and ultimately hollow man. For all his flaws, I couldn’t help but want to see him succeed. That, too me, is the definition of a great story.
I promise I won’t get so wordy with the rest of my picks.
Runner-up: [Geometry Wars 2] I loved the first Geometry Wars but stunk at it. I love Geometry Wars 2, I just stink a little less. Pacifism, a game were you can’t shoot (in a shooter!), is the greatest mode of them all.
Nat: [Burnout Paradise] This was the one game I consistently came back to throughout the year. It’s the only game I played online via the 360. The excellent support, accessibility, intense speed, open word, and FREE add-ons (with more DLC to come) made this title a sure-win. Although not a system exclusive it was the one 360 game I had fun playing more than any other.
Brock: [Geometry Wars 2] As much as I think that there were better games on the system this year, GeoWars2 was hands down the one I had the most fun with and continue to come back to whenever I’m bored and need a quick fix. It changed enough to warrant the upgrade and the plethora of new modes means you’ll never get tired of the same grind. Plus you can always see the next person on the leaderboard, which gives you an incentive to try ONE MORE TIME!
Ehergeiz: [Dark Sector] This was definitely the dark horse in my list of fun games. The single player was great and the multiplayer is fun but, the lack of players online brings it down a little on the fun meter. The graphics are great with nothing to complain about. And the shining glory of the game is the glaive, it’s one baaaad weapon. You can charge it to be more powerful or you can temporarily charge it with either fire, ice, or electricity. All in all this was the most fun, with Mortal Kombat VS DC Universe being a very close second thanks to the comic fanboy in me. (I would have put Fable II here but I haven’t had enough playtime with it yet for it to be the most fun.)
Nat: [Pain] I’m going to go against my first two picks in this category and also against our rules for the 2008 picks. This game came out in Nov of 2007–so it’s close, but I didn’t get it until July 2008. We had more fun as a family playing this over LittleBigPlanet and Prince of Persia (which is not console exclusive). This game was a non-stop barrage of laughs and full of popularity at parties. It fits my criteria for a perfect “fun” game: it’s not too serious, it’s quick, it’s accessible and it’s (wait for it) fun. Surprisingly, the PS3 was the console that was on the most in our household this year. We got it either late June or July. However, we’ve used it more as a media center (PlayOn) and movie watcher than a gaming console.
Brock: [LBP] I just can’t stop smiling whenever I play this. That said, I’ve found that my PS3 has been used more as a PS2 upscaler than anything else this year, which means that I’d have to also include the inestimable Persona 3: FES and Persona 4 which are just dominating my playtime since September.
Tony: [Boom Blox] Funny story: I’ve only played about 30 minutes of this game. It’s was a fantastic 30 minutes, but I can’t get any more screen time with it. My son, on the other hand, has racked up countless hours playing this game. The daughter likes it, too, but my almost four year-old son would play this all day if we let him. He’s played a huge chunk of the single player game and he keeps going back. He even has made his own levels!
Runner-up: [Mario Kart] Again, another one that’s a big hit with the kids. I wish I had more time for this one, because the online races with friends is actually a lot of fun.
Nat: [Boom Blox] I have a feeling that this game is going to dominate among all the writers here that own a Wii. Sadly, nothing else proved to be fun in 2008. Shovelware will be the life…and death of the Wii. (Joe-WalMart will buy a plethora of crap and Harry-Hardcore will let it collect dust.) The crazy thing is that this game meets the criteria of all that crap that people are buying up. It’s quick, easy, an excellent party game, and it’s fun to play. Every gathering we were at that had a Wii would go well into the night with craziness. I think we sold more copies for EA based upon recommendation alone than EA did.
Brock: [deBlob, Endless Ocean, Boom Blox] As much fun as I had playing Smash Bros. with my son, these 3 games are tied in my most enjoyable games for this past year. deBlob is essentially the Wii’s Katamari Damacy, with incredible music to top off the addictive and simple gameplay. Boom Blox, well, Nat covered most of that in his write-up but it’s another incredibly simple yet fun game. And Endless Ocean has consumed far to many wintery nights as I swim around, looking at fishies and searching for treasure. Oh, and an honourable mention goes to No More Heroes which had me giggling like a schoolgirl when I wasn’t cursing at the bosses.
Tony: [Disgaea DS] This is my first foray into the world of Disgaea and I am hooked. While I doubt I’ll ever sniff the maximum level, I’ll be giving it my best shot. Disgaea is a great little RPG/Strategy game with a decent little story was well. I imagine I’ll be playing it a lot longer than the 40 hours I’ve already poured into it.
Runner-up: [Space Invaders Extreme] Rhythmic Space Invaders with great music and power-ups, this game was the surprise of the year.
Nat: [N+] What more can be said about this little platformer that rapes your thumbs but brings you back for more. I had not played any version and went into this blind. I can see the craze it created. It’s all about thumb-fu. The DS had a strong showing early in 2008 but it petered out for me. Only the Holidays seemed to save it. However, I passed up one of my favorite games of all time. Chrono Trigger is still wrapped to play n+.
Brock: [Professor Layton & The Curious Village] This game consumed far too much of my time this year, but in a good way. It’s a game that makes you think and it’s wrapped in a gorgeous framework of stylized animation and a charming story. The weekly puzzle downloads also helped once I finished the core storyline. Chrono Trigger DS and FFT:A2 also were in contention, but Professor Layton owns the roost.
Ehergeiz: [Final Fantasy Tactics:A2] I like that they kept the same gameplay as the original with some added features. I think the job system is really great and the unique weapons/bazaar system keep me looking for new and interesting weapons. Disgaea DS was also fun to play, the shear amount of gameplay available is awe inducing yet awesome at the same time.
Nat: [Space Invaders Extreme] This was tough: do I go with my original pick (FFVII: Crisis Core) or my current one? When the rule of “fun” is applied, I have to go with Space Invaders. FFVII was fun but not eternally. What a refreshing twist on good, traditional core gameplay. Look at my PSP library and I no longer own FFVII. However, Space Invaders Extreme is resting inside the PSP. More early arcade hits should be updated this way.
Brock: [Space Invaders Extreme] Again, there were technically better games but nothing had me returning to it over, and over, and over again like Space Invaders Extreme did.
Nat: [Hinterland] This was a renaissance year of PC gaming for me (Titan Quest, World in Conflict, Rise of Legends, Command and Conquer 3, Sins of a Solar Empire, and Spore). However, two games brought the most joy. One doesn’t fit because it was released last year and that’s Fairway Solitaire. That title got me through three weeks of family sickness in January. If a game can bring joy when you are sick it has my vote. However, my 2008 game of choice is Hinterland. Many don’t think it’s a complete game. I don’t care. It’s a blast to play. There’s no plot and really no go other than clear the map of bad guys. Mix a little Diablo II, a little Dwarf Fortress, and a little Sim City and what do you get?
Brock: [Strong Bad Cool Games For Attractive People Season 1] I didn’t play nearly as many PC games this year as I used to, but when you want the one that left the biggest smile on my face, look no further than Free Country USA and the wacky antics of Strong Bad and his crew. These games captured the surreal and goofy humour of the Homestar Runner website to a T and for that I am extremely thankful. Oh, and Peggle Nights wasn’t half bad either…
Ehergeiz: [Left 4 Dead] Honestly, how could teaming up with some friends and taking on horde after horde of zombies not be fun. This game is really one of the best multiplayer games it makes you work together if you ever want to make it through a level. The versus mode is one of the best game modes I’ve played, it’s basically griefing other players as a part of the game. It’s fun to play as a super zombie trying any way you can to catch a survivor off their guard and take them out. Fun Fun Fun.
Tony: [GTA IV] I’ll still be playing this in 2009 and I can’t wait for the downloadable content to be released. I submit that hijacking a fire truck and driving around Times Square spraying people down with a house is as good as it gets. Oh, and running them over, too.
Nat: [Burnout Paradise] Only a game this good could cause me to buy it on two consoles. We knew we were playing too much when my son asked me to run a truck off the road late in the summer. The awesome thing is that this game is not done yet with more updates coming. Over 100 hours into the game and we (my son and I) still find new things and perform new stunts. I don’t know how Criterion can top this other than just keep adding to it. Sign me up. I just need to find 1.21 gigawatts of electricity.
Brock: Ah. I can’t choose. Burnout is a great pick but I’ll go with [Strong Bad Cool Games For Attractive People Season 1] just to be contrary with the [Persona 3:FES/Persona 4] tag team coming a close second.
Ehergeiz: [Dark Sector] It was the most fun out of all the games I played this year. The fact that the main character looks like guyver towards the end is without a doubt cool! The wicked special abilities puts this game over the top. Like Brock, it was hard for me to choose a single best with so many other good choices. Such as Fable II, Viking, Bangai-O Spirits, Soul Calibur IV, Unreal Tournament 3, etc. But Dark Sector gets my vote for 2008 (even though there were some 2007 games that stood out too, namely Conan on the 360).
Those were the games we had the most fun with. What were yours?