Snide's year in review

Before we begin this list I think it's fair to mention that I spent at least 50% of my time this year playing two games not released in 2008: Team Fortress 2 and World of Warcraft. I do not regret time spent in either even though there were a lot of great games released this year. I also will mention that as an engineer first and a game commentator second, I have the awesome ability of not having to worry about finishing every game I play. I also missed out on Dead Space, which everyone tells me I'd love. I also did not take part in any of the official game of the year picks so don't look for any insights here. Take my list with a grain of salt.

  1. I knew I bought a PS3 for something
    I knew I bought a PS3 for something
    Metal Gear Solid 4 was hands down the game that totally robbed a full week away from my life earlier this year. Although I have not picked it up since, and likely will not anytime soon, it left the biggest impression on me and like Call of Duty 4 last year stunned me with it's cinematic storytelling.  Playing through it was more like witnessing an event then playing a video game. 
  2. Left 4 Dead is my favorite multiplayer game this year. Slightly hampered by the silly match-matching the PC version has and my inability to ever find a good team, the is without a doubt the most original take on run and gun multiplayer that I have played in years. It is the only game on this list other then Warcraft that I know I will be sinking a large amount of time on a year from now.
  3. World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King is a substantial improvement to my favorite game of all time. Looking at my /played time in Warcraft always makes me rethink my game addictions, but then I remember that I do build a game site for a living, so at least it's not infringing on my job :)
  4. Saints Row 2 is my popcorn pick for  a year that tried to pull off too many super-serious stories. I'll admit to not being a huge fan of sandbox games in general as I think they trade quality  for quality in game play modes but the tight controls in this one took away my normal frustration with the genre.  I know this is crazy, but I think it was a better game then GTA4, which was good for other reasons.
  5. Fable 2 is the game that I'm guessing will be higher on this list once I get more time to play it. Let's be honest, RPGs have been getting toned down from their hardcore roots over the past 3 years. Anyone who knows me knows I'm not happy about it. However, if RPGs are gonna get dumbed down, let's hope they go the Fable route rather then the Mass Effect / KOTOR route. Fable 2 has a world that works, is hilarious and makes me want to poke around. At the heart of it, that's what I love about RPG games and it's what Fable 2 did better then any other game in the genre this year.
  6. Gears of War 2 is predictably awesome. It's as good as I expected it would be and a little more. However, where MGS4 was a Metal Gear game that blew my mind, Gears of War 2 was a Gears game that didn't do anything radically different. A slight dig on an obviously awesome game.
  7. The Witcher: Extended Edition is the one game I'm gonna cheat on for this list. Yes, the original was released in 2007, but I never really got around playing it till the updated version came out this year. With an epic story, fun but complicated combat and a huge cast of characters the game is everything that I love about PC RPGs . The sadness in my heart that I don't have a true RPG to point to this year other then expansions or re-releases makes me worrisome for my favorite genre of games in the years to come.
  8. Grand Theft Auto 4 was a great game that I've got a grudge against for some reason. I know this is gonna sound really lame, but the more accurate driving controls really bummed me out. It just felt tedious actually doing things in Liberty City.  I loved the story and overall think the game in general was a huge improvement and needed change for the series. Somehow though, either because of the driving or the more methodical gun battles I just didn't have much fun actually playing GTA4.
  9. Chrono Trigger DS is the game I will be playing the hell out of on my trip to Australia. I played through the SNES version years ago and have very fond memories. The UI improvement for the dual screen are great and I'm pretty excited to fall in that time warp again.
  10. Castle Crashers is the most colorful, witty and fun beat-um-up I played all year. I would have easily paid a full $60 bones to witness Dan Paladin's goofy visuals. It's the game I throw in whenever relatives or non-gamers are around.
Despite these great releases 2008 will stand out for me as the first time my list wasn't RPG heavy. That is not due to my tastes as a gamer changing, but due to a lack of solid games in the genre. Fallout 3 was without a doubt the most disappointing game experience I've had since Deus Ex 2. It's a beautiful game with an awesome world that I'll never experience because of my utter dislike and hate of the combat. Don't mistake me for an old-school, turn-based disciple (of which i am, just not in this case) who doesn't like change, it's just that I hate VATs. I think it's the worst game mechanic to come out of modern RPGs.

2008 for me is the year I started to get really worried about the future of deep, complicated RPGs. I hope BioWare, Blizzard or Obsidian swoops in to the save the day, because things are looking grim right now.