Let's get this out of the way right up front: 2007 was an absolutely incredible year for games. I think 2008 may very well have topped it. Say whatever you want about 1998, I think these last two years have been the best two in gaming history.
The following list of games was taken from Giant Bomb's voting form for GOTY 2008. I've included everything I played, even if I only played a demo or played it for a few seconds. Here, in brief, is what I thought of these games:
I was a HUGE fan of the first game, playing it through completely 3 or 4 times at least. The second Condemned didn't immediately grab me like the original did. I've played the first level and most of the second and I just don't like it as much. I still fully intend to play through it and I may love it when I do, but the fact is that for most of the time the game is just a black screen, often literally. It's not a world I want to be in and while I realise that is exactly the point, I'm just not having fun.
Guitar Hero World Tour
I have been the single biggest advocate of the Guitar Hero series including having the rare, maybe unique opinion that Guitar Hero 3 is the best music game so far. I still LIKE Guitar Hero WT, just nowhere near as much. The new guitar is fantastic and the guitar gameplay is mostly improved, though the touch pad is worthless at best and intrusive at worst. The purple notes are okay but they are overused. I'd rather have seen them ONLY used for trills and actual slide parts, instead of just any random solo, since outside of stuff you need to tap they just get in the way and make it harder to hit easy stuff. The new hold note mechanic is great where it's used, making really easy bits that much more interesting to play. My drum kit doesn't work and Kmart wouldn't take it back, even though Activision said they would. I'm going to have to buy a Rock Band 360 kit just for this game and honestly, I'd rather just not play the drums. Too much hardware hassle. This initial hardware problem coloured my entire impression on GHWT as an overall really sloppy product. The bass is improved vastly by the addition of the open note. The singing is functional mostly but again it just seems really messy compared to Rock band (RB2, espcially). The cheering crowd and freeform singing parts are absolutely worthless and add less to the song than just leaving those sections blank would have. Instrument specifics aside, the overall package - The achievements are a disappointing list, with nothing for 5 starring expert. That's really weak. Maybe a blessing though, since Satch Boogie is the single dumbest thing I have ever seen, in a video game or otherwise. Congratulations on finally having difficulty achievements stack. I'd have 1000 in GH3 if that had been there in that game. The tracklist is fine, with a few real stand out tracks in Scream Aim fire and the two Ozzy Osbourne songs, but overall it lacks the personality I found in the GH2, 3 and Rock Band 1 setlists. This may just be because of the literally hundreds of songs available in music games now having kind of worn down anything that made a song being picked a special thing. I really wish GH had stayed as just a guitar game, because honestly I think the same game with only that one instrument may have been a better game. I still play a lot of it, don't get me wrong, but it seems that my interest in music games has peaked and is on the decline. That sentence shocks me more than anyone, because I put maybe 1000 hours into GH3.
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed
I already wrote about this - Played it through 3 times in a row. Liked it more than I expected. Not a brilliant game, but just kept me interested for some reason.
Absolutely loved it. Played it through a bunch of times and then went back and got my last 15 points for the 45 minute speedrun. The comparison has been made to Portal and I think it's very nearly up to that high standard. I may be alone in this but the "story stuff" between worlds was probably the best writing in any game and probably doubled the impact of the game for me. That's saying a lot, too, seeing how good the puzzles were. Anyone with a 360 and a Live connection who doesn't own Braid is doing themselves an enormous disservice. Complain about the 1200 point price all you want, the game is worth more than twice that and you're making yourself look like an idiot.
Rock Band 2
I just wrote an enormous paragraph about a music game and I'm not going to do it again. All of the instruments actually work in this game, apart from gallops on the guitar for whatever reason. Also, one bad addition, the hammer on chords DO NOT WORK. EVER. Guitar is worse than GH, Drums and Vocals are infinitely better. Again, only a few songs on the disc setlist I really love, but there are over 500 songs in the game now, including some of my all time favourites (Sorrow, Toxicity) since I buy ALL DLC. You heard me, every single song. Which reminds me, the DLC in GHWT is pretty much all garbage apart from the free ones (Anything and Electro Rock) which are actually two of the game's best songs. Rock Band 2 is a very good game with a great if flawed set of modes. What happened to the single player setlist? There is no excuse for removing it. The single player World Tour and the challenges are very impressive, though.
I played Wii Fit at a friend's house for about an hour. Like I assumed, this is not a game and I want no further part in it. I hate Nintendo so much for the Wii. You have no idea.
Geometry Wars 2
The original was brilliant and this is too. It's changed enough to not make the original obsolete, unlike at least two games on this list (Rock Band 2, Viva Pinata TIP). The new modes didn't all click with me, but the ones that did made the game more than worth the asking price. Pacifism. So good. I hadn't had a friend's list highscore battle since... ever, so it was great to have it there. I never finished Sequence.
Soul Calibur 4
I loved SC2 back on the Xbox, barely touched 3, barely touched 4. There's just no substance to them at all. I did love DOA4, but I am about ready to completely give up on fighting games. I was really excited before this game's release but now that I have it I just don't care at all. I can't see myself going back to it.
COD World at War
I'm playing on Normal and the game is slaughtering me. I keep getting angry enough and turning it off. Keifer Sutherland helps, but I just don't like the game much. That may change once I get further in.
I don't get it. Next.
Viva Pinata 2
I wrote about this at length. Loved it. It didn't quite strike me in the way the original did, but there's no disputing it's a much better game. EXACTLY the sequel I was waiting for.
I liked it. A lot. A huge lot. The main complaint I see people make is that the shooting sucks. Don't shoot, then. There's an achievement for getting through it without shooting, so obviously you can. I got that achievement on my first run through the game and LOVED it. For the most part the jumping worked fine, too. Bonus points for having a credits song called "Still Alive".
Saints Row 2
When the first Saints Row came out, I didn't even intend to buy it. I played the demo and realised it wasn't just some GTA knock off, went to EB the next day and bought it. I think the original game was better than GTA 3, VC or SA. You heard me. Saints Row 2 improves on some of the first game's annoyances, doing away with the extremely hard last two levels of each activity and adding more different ones. Granted, most of the new ones are awful, but you don't have to do them for too long so they never get game destroying. GTA caught up this year, though, and that cover mechanic was sorely missed in SR2. I'm not going to say which of the two games (SR2, GTA4) I think is better, I think they're different enough that you should play both. Had a lot of fun with the story in this one, too. SR2 was an unfortunate victim of this year's amazing release schedule. Criminally overlooked.
I just... don't like it. Sorry, I don't. I got about 3 hours in and just gave up. Scrolling beat-em-ups work because they take like half an hour to beat. Too long, too repetitive, too much level grinding. No fun. I appreciate the art and character design, I just think the gameplay is awful.
Devil May Cry 4
Barely touched this one so far. I've watched the intro 20 minute-odd cutscene and the game appears to still be over the top and ridiculous. That's all well and good. I hope to enjoy this after I beat DMC3 (Should I buy 1 and 2? Yes I know everyone hates 2. Why?)
One of the best game concepts out there. Gameplay? I'm afraid it doesn't quite live up to it. A lot of things that should work flat out don't. No consistency at all. This destroys the whole idea of the game and left me pretty disappointed. Worth a play with and probably worth the $10 but not the game I was hoping for.
Left 4 Dead
I love zombies. The concept of a zombie apocalypse may very well be my single favourite thing. Left 4 Dead takes this amazing concept and makes it into an absolutely astounding game. I can not imagine a better zombie game (except maybe one ten times as long as this...) Left 4 dead is a very serious contender for my game of the year and if it had twice as many campaigns it wouldn't even be a contest.
I've played the demo through a few times and I sort of like it. Sort of. I'm torn over whether to buy the full game or not. Those werehog levels are the real worry for me. That and the downright abysmal reviews.
I had no idea it was open world before I bought it. I was kind of disappointed. There's something to be said for a great looking linear FPS I can play through once and never look at again. Certainly not BAD, just not the game I wanted. Might not finish this one for ages.
This is the Dreamcast game I loved but with achievements. Sure, most of them are near impossible, but I did get the A (S?) rank one for the first level. An excellent addition to the XBLA. Being able to watch leaderboard videos is a brilliant addition.
I played the first Motorstorm for about 6 hours before deciding I absolutely hated it. Great premise, driving and crashing, not so good. I downloaded the demo for Motorstorm 2, fully ready to buy the game if a few small changes had been made. They had not. I did not. I don't like it at all.
Giant Bomb's GOTY 2008. I liked it a lot. Probably not my game of the year, but very very good. The best GTA by an absolute landslide. Some minor annoyances (phone calls, driving to the 3 leaf clover mission 20 times or more) made up for by a very well written VERY well acted story which genuinely kept my interest for the full 30 hours it took to beat. While I didn't have the same emotional reaction Jeff and the restof the GB crew did to the game, that's a very personal thing. I don't really have to say any more than that - you all played it. You know why it's as good as it is.
Bought mostly on the hype from right here at Giant Bomb. I never played Mercs 1. I enjoyed Mercs 2, which I did finish, but only after I turned off the sound. The game is not as funny as it thinks it is and I just don't care about the story. A complete mess of a game, but I ended up liking it more than the GB guys did, which seems a bit ironic.
I played a Silent Hill inspired level the other night which was one of the best things I have ever seen anyone do with anything. I've spent a long time with a friend on a blank creation screen making rockets and windmills and golf ball machineguns and... The creation aspects of this game are excellent. The character design on Sackboy and his available costumes are great, too. The music is good and very fitting. I am not liking the single player missions much at all. It's a fantastic toolset and every now and then something brilliant will be made from it. I don't want to talk mess about it but it's not even close to game of the year material.
Mega Man 9
A weird one. I love the concept of the game and I think they executed it flawlessly. I love the sense of satisfaction I got from finally beating those first 8 bosses after hoooours of thinking I'd never beat a second one. I can't beat the wily castle levels and I don't think I ever will. I wish I was one of the crazy people who could beat this game in an hour etc for the ridiculous achievements, but I will never be at that level - I didn't play the old megaman games at all - this is the first one I've ever played for more than about 5 minutes. I love that it exists.
Fantastic atmosphere. With a set of headphones and the lights off, intensely scary. I loved the first level, died in a room with about 8 creatures all at once near the start of level 2 and turned it off in disgust. I am likely to enjoy it a whole lot.
Prince of Persia
A great looking game. The dialog is idiotic for the most part but I enjoyed the platforming enough to let it slide. The game flat out refuses to kill you - to the point that it feels like it's apologising any time you do something wrong. It's also very forgiving with timing and aiming of jumps. Basically if the game has any idea at all what you were trying to do, it will give it to you. I loved the Sands of Time trilogy - all three games - and I thought they improved each time. Prince of Persia (which could have benifited greatly for a subtitle of any sort) is not as good as those games, but I still liked it very very much. They changed enough to make it feel completely different and, outside of a few steps backwards from Two Thrones (fighting is trash, but mostly avoidable, pole jumping had a feature removed, but had one added also) is a fantastic game all around and is a very promising start to a new series. I don't want to spoil anything about the end, so I won't say what I want to about that. Feel free to PM me if you want to discuss it. I certainly do.
Untouched. I'm working through the original first, a pretty okay shooter which is way WAY too long.
Gears of War 2
I can confirm that this is the second Gears of War game. Plays very similarly but without a completely worthless driving part to spoil the overall quality of the game (the tank part included is preeeeetty good). The story has a lot more impact this time around, with some things going very poorly for characters we've grown to like. Without wanting to spoil it, I think they took a weak route with one part and they should have switched Tai with Baird. Excellent game but for some reason I feel less compelled to replay it than I was with Gears 1, which I finished at least 4 times. Also I find myself, having done the 50 waves of the excellent Horde, completely uninterested in the multiplayer.
It's fine, but it's not as good as everyone seems to think. Story opens very strongly but from there on in I think it's a mess. Nowhere near the impact of the first Fable's story for me. The jobs and pub games are worthless. The dog is a good addition. Molyneux lied about the fighting, surprise surprise. I don't have all that much to say. It's not BAD, but it's nowhere near the level of quality everyone thinks it is. It's a 7/10.
With no admiration for turn based RPGs and no real intention to play it I bought this obscenely priced game because I love Penny Arcade. I bought Episode 2 as well. The first 5 minutes of the first one got me laughing and that's really all that counts here.
Banjo Kazooie 3
Barely touched. I never played the originals but I'm kind of excited to get into this. Brad has sold me on it completely.
Bionic Commando Rearmed
I've played a level or two, I loved the first boss fight but I just can't get used the the swinging mechanic. The time trials are infuriating.
Oh boy. I spent a full 70 hours in Burnout Paradise, after loving 3 and hating Revenge. I 100%ed the game. All billboards, all jumps, all races and licenses, all fences, all roads ruled, 100%. Achievement Unlocked - Criterion Elite. If I could put up with convincing people to work together I'd have done all of the challenges as well. I love those things but I just got so sick of kicking worthless players out. Want to see some crazy talk? Here it is.
BURNOUT PARADISE - SHAUNAGE'S GAME OF THE YEAR 2008
Trash. I've talked about this at length. One of the worst games I have ever finished.
Playing this game with at least one controller acting as a trance vibrator, in this case strapped to my chest, is one of the weirdest gaming experiences of my life. I got stuck on about the third boss, which is a shame because I was really enjoying it.
Battlefield Bad Company
Another very serious candidate for GOTY. I believe I posted about this already.
It's not a good game. At all. You people are insane. I want my money back, I got really excited for this one.
I still don't like Street Fighter. The 360 controller doesn't help.
Rainbow Six Vegas 2
This was 2008? I think I wrote about it already, incase I didn't, I thought it was very good, significantly better than the original. Don't care about multiplayer.
God of War: Chains of Olympus
Played for about 10 seconds. I want a PSP now.
Ninja Gaiden 2
I think people were very unfair to this game. It's excellent. In all fairness I'm only 2 levels in. It's still harder than I'd like.
I don't play many JRPGs and I finish even less than that. I'm right at the start of the second disk and apart from one idiotic part near the start having to charm animal into unlocking a door for me, I've really been enjoying it. I will finish this one. I like it a lot more than most people but then I only seem to like bad RPGs.
I loved the intro, got out into what pretends to be a fully open world only to be routed through tunnels by very linear piles of garbage blocking paths in towns, pot really angry at how much of a hard time the fighting was giving me and gave up. I then played a bunch of side missions on a friend's near complete save file and absolutely loved it. I can't wait to start this properly. People have said this is Oblivion with guns as a negative. Those people are crazy because for one that's not a negative thing and for two that's not what the game is at all.
Tomb Raider Underworld
Here is how Tomb Raider has gone so far: 1 - excellent, near flawless, one of the best games of all time, 2-5 - huge disappointments, all completely missing the point of the first game, 6 - borderline unplayable, appalingly bad, 7-8 - an amazing return to form, some of my favourite 360 games. So here we come to Tomb Raider Underworld. Tomb Raider NINE. I'm over halfway through and I'm starting to form an opinion, which may change based on the story's end. The game isn't so much "get from A-B" as much as it is working with large area puzzles, which I suppose has always sort of been the case, but it's a lot more prominent this time around. The gameplay physics and controls have somehow gotten significantly worse that Legend and Anniversary, which is a real shame. I'm not enjoying it as much as those games, but it's a long way from being bad. Carrie 1000ed this. I probably won't, though I did the last two.
Metal Gear Solid 4
I played the first... maybe 30 minutes. I need desperately to finish 1, 2 and 3 to get into this.
Valkyria Chronicles Looks very very nice - not my sort of game at all.