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Press Start’s Top 20 Games Of The Year (part one) December 25, 2007

Posted by Chris in Articles, Games, Miscellaneous.

Game Of The Year lists. Let’s be honest, despite our carping about the impossibility or unfairness inherent in ranking games in a given order, we can’t get enough of them. Rather than just present a basic Top 20, we’ve decided to do things a little differently. Only a little, mind you. After an argument or three, one threat of fisticuffs, and a ludicrously lengthy discussion of whether we should include God Hand, given that the two of us who love it played it last year (answer: no, but we’ll be running a retrospective piece sometime soon) we came up with twenty games which we feel are worthy of recognition in some way. We’ve finally decided upon a top five which, in our eyes, represent the creme de la creme of this quite amazing year of videogaming – that will be announced at some point between now and the end of the year. And we’ve picked out fifteen awards for the rest, some of which will be revealed tonight, and some tomorrow. For now, read on for our thoughts on eight of the year’s very best – and please let us know in the comments section what you think of our choices.

Short, Sharp Shock Award – Call of Duty 4

At around six hours, COD4’s campaign isn’t the lengthiest single-player game of the year, but by crikey is it one of the most intense. This knocked on the door of our Top Five party, demanding to be let in, but its relatively noob-unfriendly multiplayer lost out to a more accessible online shooter. Still amazing, though.

It-Really-Is-Better-Than-Pro-Evo-This-Time Award – FIFA 08

Panto time, folks – “oh yes it is”. FIFA is more realistic, more measured, more polished, more fully-featured, more multiplayer-friendly and just more interesting than Pro Evo 2008. Seabass and co. effectively said “will this do?” this year, and we said “actually, no it won’t this time”. We took our ball and played somewhere else – and loved it.

FIFA 08 - better than most people would have you believe

Fred Astaire Award – Hotel Dusk: Room 215

Tappity-tappity-tap-tap-tap. CING’s old-fashioned adventure was more interactive storybook than game, requiring you to almost constantly jab the touchscreen with your stylus to scroll through reams of dialogue. Thankfully, its noir-flavoured script was laced with a dark wit and its mysterious, twisting plot compelled you to read on, even as your wrist was in danger of falling off. A great game for those cold Christmas evenings, too.

Blue Skies Award – Sega Rally

So many modern racers lack one vital ingredient – charisma. Sega Rally had that in spades, and much of its appeal was down to its phwoar-worthy visuals. The (Augustus) gloopy mud looked like it had been piped from Willy Wonka’s factory, its jungle backdrops were lusciously verdant, and its cerulean blue skies brought colour back to gaming amid a sea of murky greys and browns. Played just as well as the original, too.

In rainbows - Sega Rally is easily the most colourful racer of the year

Cor-tography Award – Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass

Map-making has never felt so utterly magical. Aside from the most perfect use of a console’s hardware since Super Mario 64, Nintendo’s masterful handheld adventure somehow made note-taking an invaluable and enjoyable gameplay mechanic. The sense of discovery from finding the X that marks the spot, especially when you’ve actually drawn it yourself, is quite astoundingly satisfying.

Head-Scratcher Award – Zack and Wiki: Quest For Barbaros’ Treasure

Ah, of course – you have to ring the monkey to turn the snake into a grabber to pinch the key to unlock the chest! Why didn’t I think of that before? Zack and Wiki’s logic might have been odd, but it was incredibly consistent, and its self-contained puzzles were often so ingenious you felt like applauding when you’d finally figured out the convoluted solutions. Its rubbish name has already harmed its chances of retail success – it bombed in Japan and the US – but us Brits still have time to rectify the situation. So, when it finally hits shelves over here, just bloody buy it okay?

Zack and Wiki - could also have won the Best Use Of Wii Remote award

Sadly Missed Award – Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney: Trials and Tribulations

It’s not quite the best-scripted game of the year, and Hotel Dusk pips it for stylus tappiness, but we feel duty bound to celebrate the insane genius of Phoenix Wright – and this third game in the franchise was the best yet. Marking the end of Wright’s career as an Ace Attorney (with Apollo Justice set to take over next year), Capcom pulled out all the stops, with one of the best characters in gaming this year in java-swigging new prosecutor Godot, and what is easily one of the most spine-tinglingly awesome moments in videogaming this year…expect a bit more about this before the year’s out.

Life-Destroyer Award – Slither Link

Picross DS came close, but in the end Slither Link nabbed the team vote for the puzzle game which stole most hours of our lives this year. Despite finding favour among several critics (Eurogamer memorably giving it 10/10), Slither Link remains a Japan-only release, so it’s still very much a cult hit. Yet its simplistic genius, as you struggle to figure how to string a continuous line around a series of numbers, could surely result in a Brain Training-esque DS craze – if someone just took the risk to publish it in the West. The best Touch Generations game never made, basically.

Coming tomorrow – find out which Game We All Wish We’d Played More, and which title qualifies for our Curiously Overlooked Sequel award. See you then – oh, and Merry Christmas!



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