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My games of 2008, 20-11

January 6, 2009

This game was bigger, better and more badass than the first… Tired of hearing that yet? Presented by gaming self proclaimed king of cool Cliffy B, oh wait he doesn’t like that title anymore, oops, Gears 2 developed on the foundations of 2006’s stop and pop flash in the pan and this second outing entertains greatly, a silly over the top storyline accompanies manly grunts and deep breathing while unspeakable amounts of claret is splashed around the now brighter world. Add in a superior multiplayer and it’s a great package! When the matchmaking doesn’t take ten minutes that is…

Still one of gaming’s most dividing titles, Brawl is a slower and more technical game than Melee with loads of new modes of varying quality and impressive content sharing facilities. But under all the technical mumbo jumbo it is still the fan boyish jewel in Nintendo’s crown and as much a museum of Nintendo history with all its statues, stickers, and music tracks  as it is a solid fighting game. Brawl is glorious fun and infinitely playable with friends, just a shame you’ve probably been playing it for several years already.

‘Two games in one slot? Blasphemous!’ you cry in outrage, but it’s not my fault that the west caught up with Phoenix and got the first title in Apollo’s saga in one year is it? And while Trials & Tribulations had the far superior storyline, the fact it had two games of build up helped, Justice proved the DS had some nice gameplay tweaks up its sleeve as well as fancy CSI style visual effects put them at level pegging. Well done Wright and good show Herr Forehead.

Soviets went back in time and killed Einstein? Oh no! Now the Japanese have rallied a force calling themselves the empire of the rising sun? Is that a mech with several samurai’s in tow!? Red ‘Officially better than its parent series’ Alert returned after a hiatus of eight years and proved it was as good as ever sporting colourful visuals, a heavy dollop of silliness, and deep engaging gameplay that meant that it was as fun as ever to build a line of electricity pylons to shock dolphins, and the addition of a third race didn’t break the balance either. The single player felt unfortunately gimped due to a co-op focus but in Skirmish and multiplayer, RA 3 is something special.

Making sure you get more time out of any music that you buy, Audio Surf’s musical rollercoaster’s provided as much game as you wanted, either an exquisite visualiser or complex match three puzzle game it was rounded off by including scoreboards for every and any piece of music you play on it. A game you have to play rather than talk about, but when you do play it… Genius.

The Behemoth delivers a second taste of retro throwback with Golden Axe for the modern audience. Gone are the blando visuals and charmless locations and in are beautiful hand drawn locations and animations, out are repetitive butt faced enemies and in are creative, comical, and down right bizarre creations that punctuate this multiplayer focused labour of love. Add in several loot bags full of hidden junk, RPG lite features, and a harder quest and you’ve got a download game as robust as and ten times more creative than most full priced creations.

You don’t expect a company like EA to come out of no where with a survival horror game that not only plays well, but manages to brown your underwear slightly and keep the surprises coming right up to the conclusion. Borrowing heavily from sci-fi horror movies such as Event Horizon and Alien, the Ishimura is not only an unsettling place to wonder around, thanks to fantastic audio and visual work, it’s a believable creation of decks, ventilation shafts, mechanisms, and toilets. Curiously the enemies of Dead Space never attack you in the toilets…

Peter Molyneux promised the world with Fable 2 and delivered us Albion, a fantastic place to spend an afternoon. The game may have been full of glitches, occasionally of the game ruining variety but when it works, Fable 2 works. A storyline that gives the player genuine dilemmas rather than small inconsequential choices, lush visuals, and a rousing score create a game that will leave a lasting effect even if you only take one trip into Albion, and that’s all it needs really. To play Fable 2 more than once may break down its choices and world too much because to play it once, and live with your choices it is a heart-warming and telling piece of entertainment that is only let down by the, as mentioned before, game ruining glitches… Here’s to DLC and the next trip to Albion!

Hadouken! Shuryuken! Spinning bird kick! Everyone knows Street Fighter and for those like me who have had it in their lives since way back when, this remake was another fantastic love letter from Capcom. Beautiful graphics were added but never compromised the tournament standard combat, new music was created for the game by genuine fans of video game music, the online was tested to the limit before launch meaning it’s the smoothest fighter online ever and while it lacked some nice modes such as survival, HD Remix stands as the definitive version of Street Fighter 2, and that’s all you need to know.

Geometry Wars was fun but extremely hardcore, after several months of blasting squares and circles I tired of the looooooong build up at the start of a game and it became un-played, gathering digital dust on my digital XBLA digital shelf. Enter Retro Evolved 2, a sleeker and better version of the classic title. Gone is the punishing combo per kill counter and in are the genomes, tantalising small dots that drop from enemies, on top of the main mode are five variations to match your mood and keep you with something to play if you tire of another, and the cherry on top of this glorious wireframe fireworks display is the way friends leaderboards take the fore front, displayed on mode selection with your next highest buddy’s score taunting you in the top right as you play. Addictive, simple, and value for money, but most of all it’s fun.

And tomorrow? I might try and reel off my top ten.

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