Regardless your gaming platform of choice, it’s safe to say that 2008 was one hell of a year for video games. The quality and range of titles and genres represented was truly inspiring and there really was something for everyone. Whether you rocked out with any of the multiple Guitar Hero iterations, explored Fallout 3’s irradiated wasteland, or swayed in time with Wii Fit’s virtual hula hoop, finding a good game last year should have been pretty easy.
But you already know that. Odds are you played a few games last year. You want to know which games were the best and why. Well lucky for you, we have just such a list. Read on and discover 2008’s Game of the Year.
Number 5: The World Ends With You (Nintendo DS)
Proof that Square-Enix still knows how to provide innovative, new experiences, TWEWY was unconventional to say the least. Set in the Shibuya shopping district of modern day Tokyo, TWEWY featured fast and frantic touchscreen controls, smart writing, an off-the-wall story, and a cast of great characters. The dialogue was both funny and touching and the presentation was stylish and top-notch. TWEWY was easily the best DS game last year and a solid contender for GOTY.
Number 4: Fallout 3 (PS3, Xbox 360, PC)
Bethesda makes epic stories set in sprawling environments and Fallout 3’s post-apocalyptic narrative and irradiated wasteland are no exceptions. The level of customization is staggering and makes each play-through different from the last. Do you want to play as a dead-aim goodie-two-shoes with a penchant for hacking computers? Or do you want to go through the game as a bearded, kleptomaniac vampire with a large firearms obsession? The choice is yours. Throw in the amazing VATS targeting system and this unique hybrid of tried and true convention and stunning innovation is good company for last year’s top five.
Number 3: Braid (XBLA)
Indie favorite Braid took the gaming world by storm, and for good reason. Built as a deceptively simple 2D platformer, Braid turned out to be anything but. Complex, subtle, engrossing, heart-rending, out of all the games released last year, Braid makes the strongest case for being a piece of interactive art. Melancholy, existential escapism never felt so good. As number 3 on the list, this game is well worth the price of admission and the least expensive piece of art you’ll add to your collection all year.
Number 2: Gears of War 2 (Xbox 360)
“Bigger, better, more badass.” Those were the words used by the big wigs at Epic to describe their latest and greatest, Gears of War 2, and boy, did they deliver!
Jaw-droppingly gorgeous graphics, tight controls and incredible pacing came together to form a seamless and engrossing campaign experience. But the real show-stopper was and is Horde Mode. Up to 5 players can battle it out against wave after wave of increasingly larger and more diverse enemy troops. The catch? Unless you work as a team, prepare to be buried. Ammo gets scarcer and farther away and enemies become hardier and harder to kill. Normally, multiplayer is considered the icing on the cake, but Horde Mode is like a whole other cake on top of an already delicious pastry.
Number 1: Grand Theft Auto 4 (Xbox 360, PS3, PC)
Something of a departure from what the series had become, GTA 4 introduced a more serious tone, an amazingly accurate recreation of New York City and a truly outstanding narrative. Standouts include the game’s multiple endings, revamped controls that include a competent duck-and-cover mechanic and the revolutionary Euphoria physics engine. Even the city seemed truly alive as NPCs went about their daily lives generally unaware of your character and his (usually) nefarious activities. And although many of the missions follow the tried and true Grand Theft Auto formula of run-drive-shoot, the new shooting and driving mechanics combined with the aforementioned cover system make everything feel fun and fresh. Throw in a cast of lively supporting characters and you’ve got an experience that’s hard to live up to, let alone beat.
Also, like Gears of War 2, GTA 4 features an online component that’s well worth the price of admission all by itself. With almost a dozen different modes and ways to play, GTA 4 online features something that everyone can enjoy.
For providing an epic interactive adventure replete with over-the-top action, satirical humor, creative gameplay and an extremely high level of polish, GTA 4 steals the award for 2008’s GOTY.