Select/Start Games Best of 2008 Awards

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Select/Start Best Games of 2008 Awards

By the Select/Start Staff.

Hey everybody! Welcome to the first ever “Select/Start Best Games of 2008 Awards!” 2008 has truly been a banner year for the gaming industry, and as such, it’s been rather a pain in the rear to decide which titles deserve to be included as the cream of the crop.

It truly was difficult to decide which titles would win the coveted awards, and many decisions were like choosing between your children. Well, without further ado, here are the winners and runner ups of the Select/Start Games Best of 2008!

Best Action Game:

Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots –
Metal Gear Solid 4
Hideo Kojima expertly wraps up 20 years of gaming history in this emotionally gripping, moving, and exciting title. The best graphics in the industry, engrossing sound, epic cutscenes, spectacular setpieces and innovative gameplay mechanics like the Solid Eye and Metal Gear Mk. 2 are only a few of the reasons why this is the best Action game of 2008. Very few games have come close to bringing me to tears, and Snake’s final journey was an emotional roller-coaster, and the deep narrative and commentary on warfare is thought-provoking, and more than just a simple backdrop for all the action.

Runner Ups:

Gears of War 2

Devil May Cry 4


Best Adventure Game:

Prince of Persia –

The Prince’s latest adventure is artistic, beautiful, and death-defying. Very few games truly make you feel like a part of their world, or at least make you wish that you were a part of their world than Prince of Persia. Excellent voice-acting and characterization, a compelling narrative, beautiful art design and music, new twists on the tried and true Prince of Persia gameplay, and the best support character in the history of gaming, Elika, is why this title stands above the rest of the Adventure titles released this year. Read the review.

Runner Ups:

Fable 2

Mirror’s Edge

Best First Person Shooter:

Resistance 2 –

The FPS genre is probably the most saturated genre in the industry at the moment, and as such, it takes a truly remarkable title to stand above the crowd. This years competition was surprisingly stiff, but Insomniac’s sophoromore entry in their Resistance franchise takes the gold. The game is, in a sense, 3 titles in one. The single player campaign takes protagonist Nathan Hale across the United States and other locales, as well as very dark places in his own psyche. Epic boss battles, a slew of genuinely terrifying moments, an aresenal of unique weapons each with a cool secondary fire, and an epic ending offer non-online gamers plenty to chew on, and builds more than just a little excitement for the third title.

The unique 8 player co-op campaign brings gamers class based action as they balance their party with Medics, Soldiers, and Spec-Op troops as they battle their way through a separate campaign that runs concurrently with the events of the single player campaign. Players gain Experience Points for just about everything from hitting enemies, to assisting teammates with their jobs (Medics gain more XP for healing, Soliders for protecting the party, and Spec Ops for throwing out ammo), which levels up the class, and unlocks more abilities.

The final piece to the Resistance 2 package is the 60 player online competitive mode, which is as frantic and chaotic as you’d expect, but the implementation of 8 man squads and objectives really helps to temper and funnel the players, until they converge upon a destination for an all out battle royale. XP is also earned, and new weapons and skills become available like in co-op.

Resistance 2 offers more gameplay than just about any FPS available today, and it deserves to be in every FPS loving Playstation 3 owner’s library, and our 2008 FPS of the year.

Runner Ups:

Far Cry 2

Battlefield Bad Comany

Best Third Person Shooter:

Gears of War 2 –

This was a rather tough one to decide, but in the end, we decided that Gears of War 2 offers the most visceral, intense, and hectic 3PS action this year. The story may be light on depth and emotional resonance (although it is a noticeable improvement from the first title), the action is where this game shines. Improved visuals, melee combat, weapons, and cover system are just the icing on the cake, as the online multiplayer features the addicting Horde mode, which many a Gears fan may admit is worth the price of admission alone. When you want a no frills, no holds barred 3rd person shoot em’ up, where you shoot first, then shoot again later, there really is no other franchise on the market like Gears of War, and Gears 2 takes it that one step further.

Runner Up:

Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots

Best Sandbox Game:

Fallout 3 –

This was another tough one, as there were quite a few notable sandbox titles released during 2008, but we feel only one really offers the breadth and depth of gameplay that the genre deserves, and that’s Fallout 3. While story is relatively sparse (you’re character escapes the Vault he/she was raised in to find their missing father), it is your own actions and decisions that carve out a tale that is uniquely your own. Each of us here at Select/Start Games had a different experience from one another, and it really doesn’t get any better than that. The ability to customize your characters looks, and play the game as a hero or villain really helps to ground you into the reality of this post-apocalyptic tale of survival. The visuals are bleak, the world immersive, and you truly never know what is waiting around the next bend, or what strange characters you will cross. In a genre of stand out titles, Fallout 3 is what other sandbox titles strive to be in terms of the control you have over your fate, and the fate of the world around you.

Runner Ups:

Grand Theft Auto 4

Saint Row 2

Best Role Playing Game:

Fallout 3 –

What an excellent year it’s been for RPGs. From the PS2 to the Xbox 360, to the PS3, there hasn’t been a shortage of quality RPGs on the market. This was a brutal category to decide, and we’re still torn over the results, but once again Fallout 3 takes the cake with it’s scope and atmosphere, and open gameplay. A role playing game is just that; you are playing a role, and no game embodies this more than Fallout 3. From your character’s literal birth, to crafting their features, down to the way you interact with the NPCs in the world, Fallout 3 is the epitome of Role Playing. We highly recommend all of the titles nominated in this category, but if there is just one you pick up this year, it should be Fallout 3.

Runner Ups:

Valkyria Chronicles, Tales of Vesperia, Fable 2, Disgaea 3, Persona 3, Persona 4

Best Puzzle Game:

Echochrome –

Another well-represented genre this year, Echochrome takes the cake for being wholly unique, challenging, and addicting. Manipulating camera perspective to get your continually pacing character from point A to point B safely is one of the most ingenious game mechanics to come along in a long time. M.C Escher would be amused we’re sure by the clear inspiration many of the game’s puzzles have taken from his work. Best of all, the PSP and PSN versions of this title include an editor, so you can take a crack at designing your own mind-benders. In a genre that faced some amazing competition, Echochrome’s “simple to learn, difficult to master” gameplay, and sparse design aesthetic makes it the most compelling, and best Puzzle Game of 2008.

Runner Ups:

Puzzle Quest

RooGoo

Braid

Best Sports Game:

NBA 2K9


This is by far the prettiest of any sports game to come out ever. The move to 1080p added that tiny bit of extra realism along with the excellent cloth physics and player animations that is a big step up from last year. Large players can’t keep up with smaller players anymore and players like Lebron James and Dwayne Wade drive to the lane hard and fall after contact. Any time a roster update happens in the NBA it soon followed by one in 2K and the Association is incredible with tons of useless stats, a great interface, and intelligent AI transactions. MLB 09 and NHL 09 don’t have as much graphical polish but fill out a great year in sport video games.

Runner Ups:

MLB 08: The Show, NHL 09

Best Racing Game:

Burnout Paradise –

Another Genre with incredibly stiff competition, Burnout Paradise streaks ahead of the pack to claim the Best Racing Game of 2008 with it’s silky smooth and responsive controls, crystal clear graphics, and incredible crashes. The continued support from Criterion in the form of downloadble content and free patches that added everything from a day and night cycle to motorcycles and more, unique challenges, jumps, and races are ample reason enough for Burnout Paradise to take home the Gold, but the fact that it’s also available for download exclusively on the Playstation Network means you don’t even have to leave the comfort of your own home to take home this phenomenal racer.

Runner Ups:

Midnight Club L.A., Gran Turismo Prologue, Motorstorm: Pacific Rift

Best: Downloadable Game:

Wipeout HD –


The downloadable games market absolutely exploded in 2008 with a slew of unique, different, and most importantly fun titles, but out of them all, Wipeout HD is quite possibly the standard by which all downloadable games should be judged. The visuals support full 1080p resolution, and scream past the screen at a smooth 60fps, and are truly breathtaking to behold. The tracks are comprised of some of the best tracks from Wipeout: Pulse, and Wipeout: Pure on the PSP, as well as some original ones, 16 player multi-player, Zones, Trophy support, time trials, and a Photo Mode round out what is arguably one of the biggest downloadble values out there right now at $20. If you own a Playstation 3, and have any interest in futuristic racers along the lines of F-Zero, then you must download Wipeout HD. It is a showpiece for your HDTV, and your Playstation 3 as well.

Runner Ups:

Braid,

Bionic Commando

Super Street Fighter HD

Pixel Junk Eden

Castle Crashers

Ratchet and Clank: Quest for Booty

Best Multi-Player Game:

Resistance 2 –


When it comes to multi-player gaming this year, no other game offers as much depth and variety as Resistance 2. The 8 player co-op mode features roughly 60 different scenarios, with a random selection of objectives that will keep you busy for literally hours upon hours at a time, and the 60 player matches are truly something that have to be experienced to be believed, as the “organized chaos” of the matches still lends itself breathing room for strategy and tactics. The ability to play smaller scale matches (2 vs 2), and larger scale (30 vs 30, or an every man for himself 60 man frag), as well as the usual game modes like Death Match and Team Deathmatch ensure that there is a little something for everybody in Resistance 2. And it’s all a good time. There were some incredible multi-player games coming out this year, but pound for pound value and fun goes to Resistance 2.

Runner Ups:

Left4Dead

Little Big Planet

Rock Band 2

Best Survival Horror Game:

Dead Space –

Left 4 Dead and Resistance are great games but they both have lots of fast paced action. Siren is good for a downloadable game but is slow and feels like most other Survival Horror titles of days gone by. Alone in the Dark is broken and Silent Hill is a shell of its former self. So that leads to Dead Space. Regardless of how weak the genre was this year, Dead Space was top notch. There is no scarier setting other than an abandoned star ship. The ship is creepy, and the monsters are frightening but the greatest thing about the game is the sound. The ambient sound of the hollow ship and the great timing of 7.1 sound as a monster jumps in to decapitate you is enough to crap your pants. Dead Space is what Survival Horror is all about, and stands proud next to titles like Resident Evil 4 and other classics in the genre

Runner Ups:

Left4Dead

Siren: Blood Curse

Resistance 2 (trust us, it’s damn scary on more than a few occasions)

Best Platform Game:

Little Big Planet –

LBP is that rare game that will appeal to just about everybody that lays their eyes upon Sackboy’s adorable mug. Don’t be fooled by his “aww, isn’t he cute,” looks, as underneath that innocent facade is a brutal platforming game that harkens back to the days of Super Mario Bros and Mega Man. The first few levels serve as a tutorial, but the remaining 12 will tax your platforming skills like no other title before it. There are also 15 additional mini-games that offer fun diversions and challenges that will keep you busy for weeks as you try to master them.

The ability to create and share your own unique levels and visions extends Little Big Planet’s enjoyment beyond the spectacular story mode as well. The visuals are stunning, the physics based gameplay both unique and challenging, and to put it simply, there is nothing like LBP on the market today. There are very few genuinely innovative titles released these days, but Little Big Planet stands as one of the most fun to play, and is a title the whole family, regardless of age and gender, can enjoy.

Runner Ups:

Braid

Pixel Junk Eden

Banjo Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts

Ratchet and Clank: Quest for Booty

Pixel Junk Eden

Best Playstation 3 Game:

Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots –

Boy was this one like choosing between which child you love the most. While Little Big Planet is arguably more appealing to a larger group of people, there is no other game on the Playstation 3, and arguably any console, that is as technically advanced, deep, and rewarding as Metal Gear Solid 4. As touched upon before, the story, gameplay mechanics, visuals, and sound gel to craft one of the best gaming experiences of all time.

The deconstruction of Solid Snake, and the Metal Gear universe itself is so expertly handled, with plot threads that have been around for 20 years wrapped up superbly and with a surprisingly small number of holes, that even gamers that have never touched a Metal Gear Solid game before can empathize and be swept up in Snake’s plight.

If there is one game that illustrates a compelling argument to the “games as art” debate, and truly makes strides to legitimize gaming as being a mature enough medium to handle mature themes and concepts, it is Metal Gear Solid 4. It is not only the best Playstation 3 title of 2008, but possibly one of the best games of all time. It is truly a masterpiece.

Runner Ups:

Little Big Planet

Motorstorm: Pacific Rift

Resistance 2

Valkyria Chronicles

Best Xbox 360 Game:

Gears of War 2 –

The Xbox 360’s 2008 lineup was a little light on the exclusives, but one title really stood above them all as the cream of the crop: Gears of War 2. Epic games delivers a game that truly surpasses it’s predecessor in every way. Amazing visuals, intense, gritty combat, and fun and hectic multi-player, Gears of War 2 once again stands as the showpiece for the Xbox 360 gamer. Not much can be said about this game other than stop reading this and go out and buy it. If you are any kind of fan of big guns, tough as nails protagonists, and killing lots and lots of alien scum, pick up this game. Oh yeah, and make sure you have a 360 to play it on also.

Runner Ups:

Fable 2

Left 4 Dead

Ninja Gaiden 2

Tales of Vesperia

Best PC Game:

Fallout 3 –

Fallout 3 is the game that just keeps on giving, and it is even more incredible on a PC. Better visuals than the console counterparts, mod tools so fans can craft their own adventures and more, and the benefit of mouse and keyboard support put Fallout 3 well ahead of every PC title released this year. PC gaming is far from dead, as this year saw plenty of excellent titles across all genres, but once again, Fallout 3 flexes it’s muscle, and takes home another gold.

Runner Ups:

World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Litch King

Left 4 Dead

Warhammer 40,000: Age of Reckoning

Best Wii Game:

Super Smash Bros. Brawl –

While our opinions of the Wii vary greatly here at Select/Start Games (some of us love it, others hate it), there’s no denying that when a Wii game does it right, it does it right. While Super Smash Bros. Brawl doesn’t do a whole lot much different from it’s predecessor, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, as why try to fix what isn’t broken? The expanded character roster including favorites Pit, Sonic the Hedgehog, Zero Suit Samus, and Mr. Solid Snake itself, Smash Bros Brawl is equal parts fun nostalgia, family friendly comedy, and a great game to whip out when you and some friends just want to have a great time beating the tar out of one another with your favorite Nintendo characters (and Sega and Konami characters too). There weren’t many Wii titles released in 2008 that appealed to the hardcore, but Smash Bros manages to walk that fine “hardcore/casual” line better than any game released on the console this year.

Runner Ups:

Animal Crossing

Boom Blox

Skate It

No More Heroes

Special Bonus Award for Innovation:

Little Big Planet –

What more can be said about Little Big Planet? Mixing beautiful 2.5D visuals with physics based objects is innovative enough, but then allowing gamers to create their own worlds and levels, and share them with other gamers with relative ease really puts the game above all others in the innovation factor. Developers Media Molecule not only managed to create an iconic character in Sackboy; one that appeals to gamers of all genders, ages, and gaming skill (hardcore and casual), but they’ve given birth to a means of creating and sharing user-generated content that is surprisingly simple and easy to use (especially in comparison to code-heavy editors like Unreal Tournament 3, Oblivion, and Fallout 3).

This marriage of physics based gameplay, user-generated content, and community sharing of that content is why Little Big Planet is the most innovative game of 2008. Updates to the game like the inclusion of a Paintball gun have also drastically altered the gameplay of the title, and opened up whole new avenues of creativity among it’s thriving community.

Runner Ups:

Braid

Mirror’s Edge

Echochrome

Best Music Game:

Rock Band 2 –

What can we say about Rock Band 2? It’s more of the same, but why is that a bad thing? The Rock Band franchises delivers superb soundtracks, updated weekly via the PSN and XBL Marketplace, perfect for parties 4 player gameplay, and is simply an all around joy to play. While the other music games released this year were certainly enjoyable affairs, Rock Band 2 wrapped it all up in a polished, unforgettable fashion.

Runner Ups:

Guitar Hero: World Tour

Patapon

Everyday Shooter

Shame of the Year:

Turning Point: Fall of Liberty –

A great concept executed so poorly that you would swear we lost WWII. The story is one to get excited about as you play as a construction worker fighting off Nazis as they attack the USA in an alternate version of WWII. Too bad you get stuck every which way you can. The graphics are awesomely terrible, you get stuck in the linear levels that give you no hints, and when you do get to where you’re supposed to go, pray you don’t get stuck between steel rods and asbestos filled debris. The only thing that is good about the game is the story but most people won’t make it far enough to get to anything interesting.

Runner Up:

Legendary

Big Let Downs:

Too Human –

The PS3 has Haze and the 360 has Too Human. Haze garnered some pretty big hype before its release and when it came out it was… hazy (no pun intended) with mediocre gameplay. Too Human, a grander project, had even more hype and when it came out it had more wrong with it. The shooting mechanic was awful, the right analog combat was even worse and even the highly anticipated story made even the most geeked sci-fi nerd fall out of his/her chair in boredom. Here’s hoping a sequel being twice as good, as this debut effort still has the potential in setting and tone to turn the franchise around for the better.

Runner Up:

Haze

So there you have it, the first annual Select/Start Games Best of Awards! We apologize for any games or genres we may have missed, so fill free to let us know in the comments section, and we’ll keep that in mind for the next Awards feature we do.  We’ll continue our best of coverage over the next few months, highlighting the best RPGs, Survival Horror, Sports, Racing, Action, Adventure titles of all time, so stay tuned!

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2 Responses to “Select/Start Games Best of 2008 Awards”

  1. Metal Gear Solid 4

    The Great Game
    *-*

    OverAllMarts.co.uk

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