2008 – Best year of gaming so far?

To say that 2008 has been a phenomenal year for gaming would be an understatement. We’ve seen more top games this year than any year past. I won’t drone on, here is a small selection of what made this year great, and what more we have to look forward to.

What’s still to come (in no particular order)

A selection of the games that are still to come this year.

Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 – November 2008

Many that love real time strategies have fond memories of playing Red Alert and Red Alert 2. These games were fast paced, well balanced and full of variety. One can only assume that RA3 will continue that tradition with better graphics and even more unique units.

What’s hot:

  • More Red Alert!
  • A Japanese faction!

Let’s hope it doesn’t suffer from the ‘EA’ effect.

Fable 2 – November 2008

The brain child of Peter Molyneux, the fable series are an example of ‘accessible’ RPG games that you can’t help but love. The original introduced some new concepts such as ‘Good vs Evil’ choices and helped redefine the common RPG. Fable 2 continues that trend and takes it a step further.

What’s hot:

  • Co-op mode
  • Families
  • A dog as a companion
  • Even more immersion
  • And that’s just the stuff we know about…

Guitar Hero World Tour – November 2008

The success of the Guitar Hero franchise is quite frankly astonishing. But we can’t help but feel that GH3 was just a stop gap measure while they worked on something much bigger.

What’s hot:

  • Graphics take another leap forward
  • Guitar, Drums (with Cymbols) and Mic
  • Music Studio – Make your own tracks!
  • Even more immersion
  • Hopefully another awesome set list

Fallout 3 – November 2008

Bethesda have somewhat of a cult following – probably because their games have been universally awesome. Fallout 3 will almost definitely follow that trend. It’s been described as Oblivion in an apocalyptic world (basically a simulator for if McCain is elected).

What’s hot:

  • Most detailed world created so far
  • Another Bethesda game
  • Will probably give more value for money than any other game this year

Spore – September 2008

Will Wright couldn’t decide what game to make when he designed Spore, so he’s rolled every game genre he can think of into one! We’ve got a Sim game an RTS and an RPG all in one package.

What’s hot:

  • Evolution simulator
  • Mini sim city
  • A mini RPG
  • A mini RTS
  • Spore Creature Creator
  • Different game every time you play
  • Design your own creatures, vehicles etc
  • The ultimate sandbox game

Far Cry 2 – Q4 2008

The original Far Cry set the standard for computer graphics when it was released in 2004. Far Cry 2 will do that again.

What’s hot:

  • Simply stunning graphics
  • An open world shooter
  • Practically nothing pre scripted – game won’t play the same twice

LittleBigPlanet – October 2008

Another ‘create your own’ type game, LittleBigPlanet will mainly get its content from the community.

What’s hot:

  • Good graphics
  • Create your own levels
  • Family friendly fun
  • It’s just so cute!

Starcraft 2 – TBA 2008

The original Starcraft has long considered to be the best RTS ever made. Perfectly balanced, it is still used in tournaments worldwide (but particularly in Korea). The game may be showing its age, but people are still playing it. I will be very surprised if Starcraft 2 does not repeat this success.

What’s hot:

  • It’s Starcraft remade with better graphics
  • Some more awesome looking units

What we’ve had so far

Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots

One of the very few games to ever get a perfect 10 from top reviewers such as GameSpot and IGN, Metal Gear Solid seamlessly integrates an amazing storyline with amazing gameplay.

What’s hot:

  • Story line is amazing (although the cut scenes are a little too long…)
  • Shoot or sneak your way through
  • Graphics are awesome
  • A just as awesome multiplayer

Grand Theft Auto IV

Another perfect 10, GTA4 follows the GTA series’ success with an epic storyline that you never want to end.

What’s hot:

  • Brilliant storyline
  • Characters you actually love and hate
  • Amazing graphics and animation
  • Fantastic multiplayer
  • Nice control system

Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures

Finally an MMO to rival WoW! Age of Conan is a much more mature type of MMO. It has an interesting quest line and the graphics are fantastic.

What’s hot:

  • A more mature alternative to WoW
  • Lots of varied quests
  • Good graphics

Lets hope they can iron the remaining bugs and issues out soon!

Echochrome

A puzzle game that really put things in perspective. A game where you have to guide a character through a world by using perspective to your advantage. This game takes the theory of “What you can’t see can’t hurt you” literally.

What’s hot:

  • A very unique puzzle experience
  • Lots of levels
  • Unique graphics style

TrackMania Nations Forever

A free racing game that has plenty of tracks and makes an excellent multiplayer game.

What’s hot:

  • Excellent multiplayer game
  • Lots of tracks
  • User created content
  • It’s free!

Gran Turismo 5 Prologue

A good example of what the PS3 can do, GT5 Prologue has some of the best graphics seen on a console to date. It’s also an awesome racing game!

What’s hot:

  • Lots of cars
  • Good graphics
  • More Gran Turismo!

Lost Odyssey

A turn based RPG for the 360 that has some pretty amazing graphics and an epic storyline.

What’s hot:

  • Will entertain for weeks
  • Very good storyline
  • Excellent graphics
  • Short text story flashbacks that are superbly written

Sins of a Solar Empire

An excellent RTS that made headlines for an unexpected reason – it had no copy protection.

What’s hot:

  • An addictive RTS
  • Good single and multiplayer
  • No copy protection! (and it sold very well)

Burnout Paradise

I can only describe this as the best racing game ever made. An open world racing game where you never stop driving.

What’s hot:

  • Non stop action
  • So many good game modes
  • It makes crashes fun (is this really a good thing?)
  • They keep adding more content for free!

Audiosurf

A new type of rhythm game where you choose the music. Play over your music with a spacecraft.

What’s hot:

  • Non stop action
  • Play along to your own music
  • Shows small, low budget games can make it big using the powers of digital distribution
  • Cheap

The end of 2007

The last 12 months have been awesome, and many games that were not published in the year 2008 but are within the last 12 months are also fantastic, so lets run down these as well!

The Orange Box

A bunch of really great games in a box, some new, some old. Episode 2 continues the fantastic HL2 story, Portal mixes it up with something totally unique and Team Fortress 2 spruces up an old classic and adds a fresh sense of humour.

What’s hot:

  • Portal – you’ll love every second of this puzzle masterpiece
  • Team Fortress 2 – Unique classes and graphical style. Hours and hours of multiplayer fun
  • The complete Half Life 2 so far in a box

Ratchet & Clank: Tools of Destruction

An awesome platformer which clearly takes inspiration from Pixar.

What’s hot:

  • Excellent graphics
  • Cut scenes are comic genius
  • Hours and hours of fun
  • Family friendly

Super Mario Galaxy

Another Mario classic to add to the collection.

What’s hot:

  • More Mario in 3D
  • Lots and lots of unique levels and puzzles
  • Sets the precedent for graphics on the Wii
  • Good use of the Wii’s unique controls

Halo 3

Love it or hate it, it’s a great shooter that has a fantastic single player campaign and multiplayer.

What’s hot:

  • Continues on from Halo and Halo 2’s success
  • Excellent multiplayer
  • Great story

Call of Duty 4

It looked to be yet another sequel, and then out of nowhere a classic was born.

What’s hot:

  • Terrific graphics and presentation
  • Fantastic multiplayer – people are still playing it!

Bioshock

Featuring a compelling storyline and unique characters, Bioshock could have been an average shooter, but it wasn’t.

What’s hot:

  • Interesting story
  • Very atmospheric
  • Lots of unique ‘weapons’ and character customization

Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass

A Zelda game for the DS, Phantom Hourglass makes good use of the DS’s unique hardware.

What’s hot:

  • It’s another Zelda game
  • Good use of the DS controls and abilities
  • Lots of interesting puzzles

The Witcher

The Witcher is an RPG which deserved a lot more attention than it actually got. Appealing more to hardcore RPG fans, The Witcher is a very gritty game that gives a fairly ‘realistic’ view of the middle ages with a well written story.

What’s hot:

  • Good story
  • ‘Realistic’ fantasy world
  • Lots of meat for RPG fans

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