1. Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts
With its unique vehicular based game play and witty, self-aware writing, Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts reinvented a lovable N64 franchise, adding freshness to a genre that has remained relatively stagnant for many years. I personally applaud Rare for their innovative new take on Banjo, and I feel that BK:N&B's vehicle customization is easily one of the best examples of video game progress in 2008.
2. Fallout 3
Expanding on the formula they used to great affect in Oblivion, Bethesda Softworks has brought a dead wasteland to life, turning a devastated Washington D.C. into the the harshest, most brutal playground imaginable. Perfectly capturing the idyllic vibe of the 1950's consumer America, Fallout 3 creates one of the best atmospheres to ever appear in a game, and it does it over a huge area. This is Fallout 3's most stunning achievement, every inch of the world is jam-packed with interesting new things to find and experience, and while some of the geometry is repeated, the unique interactions between your character and the environment are not. In turning a barren world into one of the most interesting a varied game worlds ever, Fallout 3 showed just how well realized an open world could be, easily making it one of the best game experiences of 2008.
3. Burnout Paradise
Burnout Paradise's fusion of online and single player game play in a fully open world environment easily nabs my vote for the best game play integration of 2008. The ability to jump directly from single player to multi-player in a seamless transition works flawlessly. While the single player game is fun by itself, the ability to the explore Paradise City with up to seven friends is what makes Burnout Paradise on of the best games of 2008.
Not content to merely add innovations to online game play, Criterion saw fit to set the standard for releasing updated content on consoles. Taking a tactic used to great effect on the PC, Burnout has featured several free patches/updates that have added large amounts of extra content to the game. This progressive push to support console titles over longer periods of time is a promising step in the right direction, and I sincerely hope that other developers follow Criterion's lead in the future.
Great puzzles and the most interesting ending to a game ever, Braid managed to show that video games can leave puzzles that aren't confined to what occurs on the screen.
5. Dead Space
Dead Space succeeds on the tension of its atmosphere and the gruesomeness and brutality of its journey. While the story was a little wonky everything else in the game was executed the the nth degree in what is easily the greatest horror adventure on current gen consoles.
6. Star Wars: The Force Unleashed
Yes this game is brutally difficult. Yes it punishes the player and brings rage to even the most docile of human beings. But getting three stormtroopers to grab hold of each other as they zoom fearfully through the air is worth the price of admission. Plus this is one of the most interesting Star Wars stories to come along in a while (and I've read almost every damn expanded universe novel). Flawed? Certainly, but while the game has problems, I can't fault it for being fun.
7. Sid Meier's Civilization Revolution
Civilization for those of us who don't have dozens of hours to spend conquering the world. If I had to describe it in one word it would be "streamlined." Plus playing as an evil Gandhi is hilariously awesome, "An eye for an eye if you don't trade me your bronze working tech, bitch!"
8. Left 4 Dead
Zombies?! What the fuck, I love zombies. Zombie team, why yes of course, I keep a list of potential candidates. And pills? Why yes there are some pills here and I could certainly use them, but, oh shit, here comes the horde. Goddammit, I love this fucking game.
9. Mirror's Edge
First off, let me say the Mirror's Edge was not one of the ten most fun games I played this year. This game gets a special mention because even though the execution was spotty Mirror's Edge did things to push video games forward and for that I adore it. Sadly its flaws do add up and leave me feeling like there could have been so much more.
10. Far Cry 2