Jeff's Top 10 of 2008

I'm having a really hard time not making this a Top 11 list. But that's a slippery slope, because then you're suddenly spitting out a Top 20 list or something stupid like that. So let's keep it simple, keep it clean, and keep it pure with my top 10 games of 2008. But I actually screwed up and misnumbered it a bit, and accidentlaly posted a Top 9 list. So I get to add Audiosurf after all! It's a Christmas miracle!

10. Audiosurf - As a guy with a large music collection, I can very easily get a lot out of a game that generates levels based on music. But for me, the thrill moved beyond just playing Daft Punk or Justice levels. Instead, I started thinking about the music I was writing, and how to make it work better in the context of Audiosurf. That, my friends, is absolutely crazy.

9. Rock Band 2 - It's hard to argue with the quality of Rock Band 2. The game takes the core gameplay that made the previous one so successful, but the streamlined career progression makes everything much smoother whether you're playing alone or with a group. Stack on a regular dose of great downloadable updates and that cool Battle of the Bands online challenge system and you've got a game that probably (hopefully) won't need a direct sequel in 2009.

8. Bionic Commando Rearmed - I absolutely love the original Bionic Commando. So to hear that it was getting updated and remade as a digital download got me all kinds of hot in the pants. The amazing part is how well the final product came out. It manages to retain the feel of the old game without coming across as dated or useless.

7. Professor Layton and the Curious Village - Layton gets his, son. I used to spend hours staring blankly at books full of brain teasers and riddles, moving around mental matchsticks or figuring out the seating order at a table with very specific instructions. Layton captures all of that wonder and integrates a handy hint system and a mysterious adventure that ties all of the puzzles together with a charming, well-presented story.

6. Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts - The best part about Nuts & Bolts is that all of its vehicle creation tools actively service the game. Sure, you could just hang out and create weird vehicles, but having to construct or tweak your rides to accomplish very specific tasks gives the game an interesting puzzle side that complements the action quite well. On top of that, the writing is quite funny and it looks great.

Minus the early server issues and the troubles with moderation, this could have been a contender.
Minus the early server issues and the troubles with moderation, this could have been a contender.
5. Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe - Most fighting games stick you with the same basic combos and gameplay for, like, a decade. This is the third complete revision of the MK play style, and it skillfully invokes some of the gameplay and strategy of the arcade originals without ditching the things that have worked over the past generation of consoles. It might be divisive, but I found it to be extremely fun, and pretty inventive, too.

TrackMania became the gaming equivalent of comfort food for me in 2008.
TrackMania became the gaming equivalent of comfort food for me in 2008.

4. Gears of War 2 - Given the way this game seems to be selling, I probably don't need to tell you what makes Gears 2 so great. But I will, just in case. The action--the seemingly simple act of shooting--feels absolutely perfect. Tack on an interesting story to keep that action moving and you've got a great campaign. Throw in some of the smartest multiplayer design to come along in ages and you've got one of the year's greatest releases.

3. Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots - If you had told me that I'd be sitting here at the end of 2008, proclaiming a Metal Gear Solid game to be one of my favorites of the year, I'd say you were crazy. I've never really fallen for Kojima's cinematic trickery before, despite loving MGS2 for displaying the man's willingness to mess with his fanbase. But everything that hasn't worked out quite so well in the past lines up in MGS4 in ways that must be seen to believed. With plenty of closure, expert cinematography in its cutscenes, and a refined set of controls that let you approach the action in a decidedly modern way, Metal Gear Solid 4 is one of those rare games that both satisfies fans and manages to pull in new people along the way.

Braid's another game that I won't soon forget, but it didn't quite make the list.
Braid's another game that I won't soon forget, but it didn't quite make the list.
2. Burnout Paradise - I feel like this game would be in my #2 slot even if Criterion didn't spend the entire year releasing free downloadable updates that make the game even more robust. This game was all multiplayer for me. Specifically, the multiplayer challenges, which have you racing around to complete tasks as you both compete and cooperate with your partners, had me playing this game way more than any other game I played in 2008.

1. Grand Theft Auto IV - Rockstar's first GTA game for the current generation of hardware takes the open world freestyle crime genre in directions that wouldn't have seemed possible a few years ago. That's not to say that it's bigger and more insane than San Andreas... it's not. Instead, the developers threw the world a curveball and created a smaller, more personal story of a man trying to find some closure in his life, only to discover a lot of things along the way that might be worth a lot more than what he was originally searching for. Watching Niko Bellic and waiting to see if he figures that out on his own was a touching process that impacted me in ways I couldn't have possibly predicted. Watching these flawed personalities try to make their way through Liberty City as best they can was an experience that I won't soon forget.

Bad Company, another game I should give some kind of shout-out to!
Bad Company, another game I should give some kind of shout-out to!
Here's a couple of honorable mentions of games that technically don't qualify for this list of 2008 games, even if they were high on my list of things to do this year.

Trackmania United Forever - The Forever update was technically released in 2008, but this seems more like a patch than a whole new product. Trackmania is a really, really weird PC racing game that lets users build insane levels and easily share them up on online servers. Tons of players can connect to a server without any latency issues because most races are conducted as time attacks and you can't actually collide with the other vehicles. With loads of wild stunts and a great community that is constantly adding more tracks and vehicles, Trackmania United Forever is really something special.

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare - Obviously, this is 2007's biggest game. But I spent way more time with it in 2008 than I did back in '07. Infinity Ward showed the world how to keep first-person shooter multiplayer modes exciting and deep by adding persistent rewards and a strong collection of modes to choose from. 2008 saw the release of a nice, sharp map pack for the game that kept things moving. There's a reason why COD4 is still so widely enjoyed today--it's one of the greatest first-person shooters of all time.
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Jeff

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Edited By Jeff  Staff • 
I'm having a really hard time not making this a Top 11 list. But that's a slippery slope, because then you're suddenly spitting out a Top 20 list or something stupid like that. So let's keep it simple, keep it clean, and keep it pure with my top 10 games of 2008. But I actually screwed up and misnumbered it a bit, and accidentlaly posted a Top 9 list. So I get to add Audiosurf after all! It's a Christmas miracle!

10. Audiosurf - As a guy with a large music collection, I can very easily get a lot out of a game that generates levels based on music. But for me, the thrill moved beyond just playing Daft Punk or Justice levels. Instead, I started thinking about the music I was writing, and how to make it work better in the context of Audiosurf. That, my friends, is absolutely crazy.

9. Rock Band 2 - It's hard to argue with the quality of Rock Band 2. The game takes the core gameplay that made the previous one so successful, but the streamlined career progression makes everything much smoother whether you're playing alone or with a group. Stack on a regular dose of great downloadable updates and that cool Battle of the Bands online challenge system and you've got a game that probably (hopefully) won't need a direct sequel in 2009.

8. Bionic Commando Rearmed - I absolutely love the original Bionic Commando. So to hear that it was getting updated and remade as a digital download got me all kinds of hot in the pants. The amazing part is how well the final product came out. It manages to retain the feel of the old game without coming across as dated or useless.

7. Professor Layton and the Curious Village - Layton gets his, son. I used to spend hours staring blankly at books full of brain teasers and riddles, moving around mental matchsticks or figuring out the seating order at a table with very specific instructions. Layton captures all of that wonder and integrates a handy hint system and a mysterious adventure that ties all of the puzzles together with a charming, well-presented story.

6. Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts - The best part about Nuts & Bolts is that all of its vehicle creation tools actively service the game. Sure, you could just hang out and create weird vehicles, but having to construct or tweak your rides to accomplish very specific tasks gives the game an interesting puzzle side that complements the action quite well. On top of that, the writing is quite funny and it looks great.

Minus the early server issues and the troubles with moderation, this could have been a contender.
Minus the early server issues and the troubles with moderation, this could have been a contender.
5. Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe - Most fighting games stick you with the same basic combos and gameplay for, like, a decade. This is the third complete revision of the MK play style, and it skillfully invokes some of the gameplay and strategy of the arcade originals without ditching the things that have worked over the past generation of consoles. It might be divisive, but I found it to be extremely fun, and pretty inventive, too.

TrackMania became the gaming equivalent of comfort food for me in 2008.
TrackMania became the gaming equivalent of comfort food for me in 2008.

4. Gears of War 2 - Given the way this game seems to be selling, I probably don't need to tell you what makes Gears 2 so great. But I will, just in case. The action--the seemingly simple act of shooting--feels absolutely perfect. Tack on an interesting story to keep that action moving and you've got a great campaign. Throw in some of the smartest multiplayer design to come along in ages and you've got one of the year's greatest releases.

3. Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots - If you had told me that I'd be sitting here at the end of 2008, proclaiming a Metal Gear Solid game to be one of my favorites of the year, I'd say you were crazy. I've never really fallen for Kojima's cinematic trickery before, despite loving MGS2 for displaying the man's willingness to mess with his fanbase. But everything that hasn't worked out quite so well in the past lines up in MGS4 in ways that must be seen to believed. With plenty of closure, expert cinematography in its cutscenes, and a refined set of controls that let you approach the action in a decidedly modern way, Metal Gear Solid 4 is one of those rare games that both satisfies fans and manages to pull in new people along the way.

Braid's another game that I won't soon forget, but it didn't quite make the list.
Braid's another game that I won't soon forget, but it didn't quite make the list.
2. Burnout Paradise - I feel like this game would be in my #2 slot even if Criterion didn't spend the entire year releasing free downloadable updates that make the game even more robust. This game was all multiplayer for me. Specifically, the multiplayer challenges, which have you racing around to complete tasks as you both compete and cooperate with your partners, had me playing this game way more than any other game I played in 2008.

1. Grand Theft Auto IV - Rockstar's first GTA game for the current generation of hardware takes the open world freestyle crime genre in directions that wouldn't have seemed possible a few years ago. That's not to say that it's bigger and more insane than San Andreas... it's not. Instead, the developers threw the world a curveball and created a smaller, more personal story of a man trying to find some closure in his life, only to discover a lot of things along the way that might be worth a lot more than what he was originally searching for. Watching Niko Bellic and waiting to see if he figures that out on his own was a touching process that impacted me in ways I couldn't have possibly predicted. Watching these flawed personalities try to make their way through Liberty City as best they can was an experience that I won't soon forget.

Bad Company, another game I should give some kind of shout-out to!
Bad Company, another game I should give some kind of shout-out to!
Here's a couple of honorable mentions of games that technically don't qualify for this list of 2008 games, even if they were high on my list of things to do this year.

Trackmania United Forever - The Forever update was technically released in 2008, but this seems more like a patch than a whole new product. Trackmania is a really, really weird PC racing game that lets users build insane levels and easily share them up on online servers. Tons of players can connect to a server without any latency issues because most races are conducted as time attacks and you can't actually collide with the other vehicles. With loads of wild stunts and a great community that is constantly adding more tracks and vehicles, Trackmania United Forever is really something special.

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare - Obviously, this is 2007's biggest game. But I spent way more time with it in 2008 than I did back in '07. Infinity Ward showed the world how to keep first-person shooter multiplayer modes exciting and deep by adding persistent rewards and a strong collection of modes to choose from. 2008 saw the release of a nice, sharp map pack for the game that kept things moving. There's a reason why COD4 is still so widely enjoyed today--it's one of the greatest first-person shooters of all time.
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JamesF

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Edited By JamesF • 

You skipped #5, Jeff.

Otherwise, good list. I don't quite agree with all these GTAIV's as #1 mainly because it didn't have the same impact that it did with other people. Braid had an incredible impact for me, that's why it's probably my favorite game all year.

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HelixSnake

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Edited By HelixSnake • 

Quick, add Audiosurf as your #5 before I throw a ragestorm.

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OroJackson

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Edited By OroJackson • 

Lol, Top 11 list with no #5.....

Great list, GTA should definitly be number 1

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daniel_beck_90

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Edited By daniel_beck_90 • 

yeah!   Bad Company deserves to be named as a top one

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Death_Burnout

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Edited By Death_Burnout • 

yeah thats a pretty sound list. OK its more than that.

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Jeff

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Edited By Jeff  Staff • 

Hah. Awesome. I misnumbered it at one point and when fixing it, didn't add a new... well, yeah, so Audiosurf is now officially #10. I'll fix that. It's a Christmas miracle!

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Edited By Claude • 

I only played one game on your list (GTA IV) and that goes to show how many great titles came out this year, something for everyone. I'm still trying to catch up with the 08 releases. Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts will be in my Xbox 360 soon.

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Edited By sparky_buzzsaw • 

Good list!  I haven't played a few of these yet, so I can't really hold an opinion.  But personally, I thought Saint's Row 2 was way more fun than Grand Theft Auto IV, even if it wasn't as shiny or well-produced.  Very solid picks!

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Edited By DBoy • 

Good list there Jeff.  I can see your #1 reflects GB's GotY also.

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Edited By MattyFTM  Moderator • 

Pretty good list Jeff. I'm glad to see Trackmania getting an honourable mention. I just got it a few weeks ago (although I played a tonne of TM Nations back when it first came out) and I'm really enjoying it.

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Edited By RHCPfan24 • 

Yeah Jeff! GTA IV and Burnout Paradise are great, great games. As is pretty much everything else on that list, though the only I haven't played yet is MKvs.DC, and you obviously love that game.

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get2sammyb

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Edited By get2sammyb • 

Burnout Paradise's recognition all over the board is lovely!

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Edited By elbow • 
get2sammyb said:
"Burnout Paradise's recognition all over the board is lovely!"

Damn straight! I've just begun playing it right now and it's soo much fun. It makes playing Mirror's Edge like watching paint dry :|
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MasterOfPenguins_Zell

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Edited By MasterOfPenguins_Zell • 
Jeff said:
"Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare - Obviously, this is 2007's biggest game. But I spent way more time with it in 2008 than I did back in '07. Infinity Ward showed the world how to keep first-person shooter multiplayer modes exciting and deep by adding persistent rewards and a strong collection of modes to choose from. 2008 saw the release of a nice, sharp map pack for the game that kept things moving. There's a reason why COD4 is still so widely enjoyed today--it's one of the greatest first-person shooters of all time."
I agree, I play this game like crazy, and I'll probably play for a few hours today.
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Edited By TheJollyRajah • 

Jeff, your list is very well presented and I respect your choices. But, it's a bummer that you never really gave Resistance 2 a chance. The graphics and visuals aren't the greatest, but the sense of scale and the multiplayer make this game one of the top shooters of 2008. I'm even more puzzled that you didn't include Bad Company in your list, since you held it in such high regard. You're the reason I purchased that game, and man oh man, it truly is (imho) the best multiplayer shooter of the year. And I've never seen a game that uses destructible enviornments as well as Bad Company.

But these are opinions, not reviews (which are totally different) so there's no right or wrong here.
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Edited By Caddy • 

Grand Theft Auto 4 is also my GOTY. I don't care what people think about it now, it was an is an awesome game! :)

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Edited By godzilla_sushi • 

Rearmed was so awesome. That was one of the few games I enjoyed playing for achievements. Gave me incentive to go in and do everything the game had.

Capcom, wow. How about them!

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Edited By carolynp • 

But...but...Dead Space!

And I think LBP has largely recovered from the crazy moderation issues that really turned me off on the game after it was launched. For proof of this, just play the awesome user-created level based on....DEAD SPACE!

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Edited By Kush • 

I love seeing Professor Layton in your top 10...Definitely one kick ass game!

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Edited By ElectricHaggis • 

Nice list Jeff, I may end up making one myself after I've finished the games I got for Christmas.

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Edited By kylehyde • 

Nice selection Jeff, specially for Layton, I love this game
WTF is NOA waiting for publishing the sequel

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Edited By RHCPfan24 • 

And Jeff, Layton is awesome. Glad to see someone showing Mr. Layton the love. He gets his son!

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Edited By Rowr • 

NOBODY LIKES POP :'(

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Edited By TomA • 

"Obviously,this is 2007's biggest game" 
 
That's a matter of opinion right there sir!!!

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Edited By Xandurson • 

YAY! Another one that doesn't have MGS4 as their #1 game!

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Edited By Wrect • 

Fallout 3 appears to be the only GOTY nominee that didn't make ANY of the staff Top 10 lists!  Why?!?!  Explain yourselves!

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Because that drunken madman Snider has serious clout in this dirty GiantBomb business.

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Edited By Derios • 

I don't understand, how did fallout 3 end up as a contender as best game of the year when it wasn't on Jeff, Ryan, Vinny, or Brad's top 10 list...

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Edited By crunchUK • 

dude if i had to make a top 10 2008 list they'd ALL be from 2007

i

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Edited By Moon • 

Jeff I feel all dizzy any suggestions?

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Edited By MacGyver • 

i really like audiosurf

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Edited By TGB • 

Its nice to see Layton get some love, it was my favorite DS game as well. Well done Professor!

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Edited By snide • 
BiffMcBlumpkin said:
"Because that drunken madman Snider has serious clout in this dirty GiantBomb business."
Clout level low here at SniderCore Industries.
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Edited By SleazyP • 

Loved me that Bad Company

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BiffMcBlumpkin

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Edited By BiffMcBlumpkin • 
snide said:
"BiffMcBlumpkin said:
"Because that drunken madman Snider has serious clout in this dirty GiantBomb business."
Clout level low here at SniderCore Industries."
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