While it’s been a rather lucklaster year for new music, it’s been a great year for video gaming. Lots of new IP’s, blockbuster sequels, and next-gen must-plays. Here’s the list of my 10 favorite games that I’ve been playing this year…
#10 – While this might not be the ultimate Ghostbusters game, it comes pretty darn close. Involvement of the original actors, a script written by Harold Ramis and Dan Aykroyd, and a real feel of bustin’ ghosts made for a pretty great experience. The way they incorporated so many of the original locales and characters into the story in a way that works well saved the game from some problematic control issues dragging it down. Sound effects, dynamic music from the films, and some trademark Bill Murray quips kept things true to the source – and possibly got a new film’s production kickstarted in the process.
#9 – While the strange choice of 2D stylized cut-scenes left most players puzzled, the actual puzzles of running across rooftops at breakneck speeds while pulling off parkour moves relatively effortlessly made a for a really awesome experience. It’ll be very interesting to see where the sequels will advance both the mechanics and plot.
#8 – Even though there were a few expansions for the original game, none of them lived up to the epic of the original. This game came through as a great thrill-ride filled with amazing set pieces, a few genuinely great scares, and a good mix of action and dread throughout. Alma may be a ripoff of Samara from The Ring movies, but she holds her own in the F.E.A.R. universe and certainly freaks you out just as well.
#7 – This follow-up to the zombie multiplayer frag-fest improved upon the original in many ways – from the expanded locations, melee weapons, and an overall thematic tie between campaigns that made it feel even more cinematic. More variation in zombies, improved visuals, and a new cast all made for great reasons to subject yourself to new hordes of mayhem.
#6 – Fantasy games don’t usually hook me, and even Bioware’s previous sci-fi effort in Mass Effect didn’t keep my interest for long, but Dragon Age simply rocks. It doesn’t try to rock the boat and reinvent fantasy gaming. It takes what works and what we already know and makes a world that we can jump right into and start hacking, slashing, and interacting with immediately. An immense game with so many combinations and permutations of outcomes, there’s almost no end to the ways it can be played. Excellent voice acting, tons of humor peppered throughout the campaign, and some really extensive story lines make for plenty of value in a single game.
#5 – While Super Mario Galaxy might be cool, it’s just not the same as the traditional 8-bit NES original, SMB3, or the Super NES’s amazing Super Mario World. We’re all grown up now, and we play grown up games, but being able to be challenged and reminded of the nostalgic fun of our youth is what we want. This game is the best example of that Nintendo could possibly have come up with. Playing a side-scrolling Mario game is what we’ve all been clamoring for, and this one delivers with multiplayer, cool uses of the Wiimote, and plenty of great new gameplay with new suits to grab, secrets to find, and levels to conquer. It’s so much fun, and the best thing the Wii has had to offer all year.
#4 – No one imagined that this game could be anything but great. Epic missions, unrelentingly bad-ass moments from start to finish, and more of the multiplayer that made the original a runaway hit. If ever a game made you feel like you were playing a blockbuster action movie – this is the best example the industry has. It’s not too long, not too short. Performances, design, and virtual camera work all make for one of the best gaming experiences of the year.
#3 – Who thought that something like this could ever be made? How would they get the original tracks to pull apart and make into a game? Well this game stands as a testament to getting it done and making it happen. It’s truly remarkable how much attention to detail there is throughout, and if you’re even remotely interested in The Beatles, you should own this game. It’s fun, chock full of exclusive content, and offers some of the best trippy visualizations seen in video gaming since Geometry Wars. Kudos to everyone involved putting this together.
#2 – What’s this? A good Batman game? Yes! Finally, someone figured out that there’s a mix of play styles inherent to being the Dark Knight. We want to creep around and snatch bad guys from above. We want to dive into the shattered psyche that convinces a grown man to dress up as a bat. We want to be able to punch, kick, and zipline around effortlessly. This game brought all of that in spades, and brilliantly set it within a fan-favorite locale with Arkham which doubled as the perfect showcase of many of the comic’s greatest villains. Voice acting, exploration, the wonderful Max Payne-esque dream sequences – there’s never been a better rendition of Batman in a game. A must-play.
#1 – DJ Shadow. Daft Punk. DJ Jazzy Jeff. DJ Z-Trip. What else do you need to know? If you care about hip-hop, turntablism, mashups, and DJ culture even in the slightest bit, stop reading this and go pick this up now. The controller is great, the selection of tracks runs an extremely wide spectrum of music, and it makes you feel like you can scratch a record like nobody’s business. Make no mistake – this is not just a cheap Guitar Hero knock-off. This is something that everyone should play. Everyone.