The almighty Ouendan’s sequel/remake/bastardisation (take your pick) may not manage those heady heights, but it certainly deserves a place on here. What could easily have been a cynical rehash of a cult classic kept what made the original great and managed to forge a personality of its own.
I don’t like it as much as I did Ouendan, possibly because that game came out of nowhere without any expectations whatsoever, and to be fair I was probably predisposed to not liking this as much. Inis did a great job of keeping it faithful to the style of Ouendan but just having English text and Madonna and Avril Lavigne over impenetrable Japanese and bands you’ve never heard of takes something away from it. I maintain that all an English version needed was a menu translation, but that’s probably why they don’t let me make games for Nintendo.
Despite the shortcomings, EBA makes the list because it builds on an extremely solid base and still does a good job at something that – let’s be honest – was never going to please all of the fans who imported Ouendan. It’s still a hell of a lot of fun and well worth picking up, especially if the original was a bit too “out there” for you.
Ah, the token Tom Clancy appearance. You just can’t stop the guy.
Deserving credit both for turning me onto the Ghost Recon series (or sub-series?) and helping to end the terminal drought of software for the 360 earlier this year, it still stands out as one of the games that looks and plays like something really next-gen. Don’t agree? Just look at how dreadful the Xbox and PS2 versions turned out.
As well as looking stunning and delivering a believable near-future setting, GRAW also brought with it one of the better multiplayer suites of the year. As well as the basic deathmatches, this included the immensely satisfying co-op mode with support for up to 16 players: the mode singularly responsible for the odd number that is my gamerscore. Annoying, but still top fun.
Like Rainbow Six Vegas, GRAW did a superb job of making what had previously been somewhat esoteric games and making them accessible to us normal people. And once the campaign was out of the way it became one of the few games that could tempt us away from COD2 multiplayer. That takes some doing.
The debate over originality in games kind of becomes moot when we’re talking about a game like this, doesn’t it? It’s quite possibly one of the least innovative games of 2006…and that’s a good thing?
When it’s something as timeless as a 2D Mario game, yes. While this might have lacked the simple perfection of the NES games or the sense of wonder that came with turning on Super Mario World for the first time, it threw in a couple of new abilities to mix things up and then essentially let the gameplay do the talking. This is Mario; what does he have to prove?
The extra power of the DS was put to good use with assorted scaling tricks and almost subconscious use of the two screens (did you notice how subterranean sections are played out on the bottom screen?), and what it lacked in speed compared to its sprite-based progenitors it made up for in good clean fun and the novelty of a new 2D Mario. Did I mention it was one of those?
It’s that time again. There are only ten days of 2006 remaining and, as I did last year, I’ll be running through my top ten of 2006. These are my favourites of the year, with the rule being that they had to be released in one of the three major territories and played by me at some point between 1st January and 31st December 2006, Anno Domini.
This time last year I’d spoken about the unusually high number of hardware launches making it a particularly strong year, but now that 2006 has brought with it the DS Lite, PlayStation 3, and Wii – as well as the 360 really hitting its stride – last year looks almost anaemic by comparison.
There was quite a scuffle for top spot and some debate over whether Street Fighter Alpha Anthology should get a spot (it didn’t: as great as it was, excellent value for money doesn’t hide the fact that the newest of those games is pushing ten), but the best of this year almost picked itself for me, with some great next-gen titles and the old guard looking for a good send off as well. I welcome all feedback as it comes.
Many of the players may have started with this in 2004 but it didn’t come out here until February and I didn’t get it until October, so it definitely qualifies for my 2005 list.
Anyway, my experience with MMORPGs and online RPGs in general was limited before this year, with only a fair amount of Phantasy Star Online and a dabble in the betas of City of Heroes and Guild Wars under my belt, but when I got this for my birthday it really showed me how great this genre is. Trust Blizzard to do it so right first time.
As I type this I’ve suspended my account so that I can enjoy my 360, but after two months I’m pushing 100 hours of play, a number that only a small handful of games come close to with me, and once I jump back in it will show no signs of abating as I get more drawn into the more interesting quests and plethora of group activities (I’ve barely dabbled in instances with groups of other players), money making schemes, and general community aspects that the higher levels bring. It really says something about the immensity of this game that despite all the time that I’ve poured into it, I’ve only really played one race out of six (all with different paths and quests) and have set foot in maybe ten of the game’s fifty-odd zones as quests and the urge to explore begin to expand my horizons.
On paper this, like most MMOs, looks fairly monotonous, but somehow the great community and personality that Blizzard have imbued their world with (it might look like generic fantasy in screenshots but believe me, it’s not) combine to make a game that’s maddeningly addictive but never less than a wonderful place to be. I dread to think what the expansion will do for me but in the meantime this is my game of the year. Easily.
Speaking of sequels that don’t play it safe, here’s another one, although the Resident Evil name on the box obviously helps one to achieve financial success. Even so, the risk with making such big changes to such an established formula can’t be overestimated.
As revolutionary as Resident Evil was, the gameplay has dated fast in this world where action shooters and 3D environments rule. Some fundamental changes later – the new perspective, the death (again) of the trademark zombies, a whole new threat that isn’t Umbrella – and they have this, the latest RE game that makes a huge deviation from the established formula whilst still leaving some of the hallmarks that make this unmistakably Resident Evil and the best GameCube game in a long time.
The precision gunplay, creepy atmosphere (helped by some of the most impressive visuals of this generation), and excellent pacing make this an all-time classic and a clear choice for one of the best of the year. It was tough to relegate to second, believe me.