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Press Start’s Top 20 Games Of The Year (part two) December 26, 2007

Posted by Chris in Articles, Games, Miscellaneous.
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Seven more categories, seven more winners. Well, sort of – you’ll see. This marks the rest of the fifteen (again, sort of) that didn’t quite make our Top Five Of 2007 list. Soon, you’ll see which titles we loved the mostest over the last twelve months, and then you’ll finally get to express disgust at the lack of Uncharted, or The Darkness, or Link’s Crossbow Training. Maybe.

Game We All Wish We’d Played More Award – Crackdown

That demo? Brilliant. Bounding across buildings like Mario with superpowers was always going to be a more enjoyable way to traverse a city than Assassin’s Creed’s parsnore approach. And yet, the full game of Crackdown remains tantalisingly unplayed by your correspondent at least, while another Press Starter admits he’s not given it as much time as he’d have liked. The price of such a wealth of top releases means that sometimes even the best games can get overlooked. Rest assured we’ll be paying closer attention to Crackdown in the near future, particularly with a couple of duff Christmas presents to return and trade in…

Crackdown. We played it a little, but liked it a lot

Slightly-Overrated-But-Still-Great Award – Bioshock

Bioshock’s a great game. And it’s fantastic that we have something the gaming world can unanimously champion as a piece of art, relighting that slightly moribund fire which had almost burned out since Shadow of the Colossus. But, like all art, it’s a divisive bugger, disappointing plenty with its relatively under-tuned mechanics just as it enRaptured – ha! – as many with its incredible atmosphere and gripping story. Imperfect, then – but well worth some recognition at this time of celebration. And Big Daddies = Fab Baddies.

Cheap Knock-Off Port Of The Year Award – Ghost Squad

It’s Resi 4: Wii Edition really, but that’s far too obvious, and feels a bit cheaty – after all, one of the best videogames ever made was always going to be a shoo-in for such a gong. So we’re giving the nod to Sega’s fast, furious, criminally brief shooter, which was easily the Wii’s best showcase for Nintendo’s daft Zapper peripheral, with a mode that stripped away the cursor, and recalibrated your pointer into a ‘true’ lightgun. In other words, just like the pound-eating arcade experience. With amazing replay value, its brevity is only a problem for repeto-phobes, and the Ninja and Paradise skins added humour and charm. Ace.

Dumb but fun - Ghost Squad is a real blast.

Best Peripheral Dependent Rhythm-Actioner Award – Rock Band

It’s not quite as good as its unqualified forum raves would suggest, and some might sneer at its readjusted difficulty level (think original Guitar Hero Medium, rather than Guitar Hero III Medium). But Rock Band in multiplayer takes you places Guitar Hero can only dream of, not least because playing the drums is utterly revelatory and fresh. With the sort of atmosphere that’ll have you sweating under the pressure and equally elated as the crowd chants along to your biggest riffs, fills and choruses, Harmonix have taken the rhythm-action game to the next level. Corking soundtrack, too.

Best Non-Peripheral Dependent Rhythm-Actioner Award – Ouendan 2

There are people who will have you believe that Ouendan 2’s soundtrack isn’t fit to lick the original’s boots. These people are fools. Sure, there might be the odd duff track amongst its more contemporary-tinged approach, but then Ouendan had that rubbish horse level, and Elite Beat Agents had Cher and Destiny’s Child, ferchrissakes. And, as always with Ouendan, often the levels more than make up for songs you may be less fond of, from bedwetting schoolkids being rescued by familiar-looking plumbers to an intergalactic shoe salesman suffering alien foot-measuring woes. Admittedly, the sad song is no Over The Distance, but Hitomi Yaida’s Go My Way is the most swooningly brilliant pop song on the planet, so there.

Curiously Overlooked Sequel Award – Project Gotham Racing 4

On another day, this would have snuck into our Top Five, but a bit of editorial desk-thumpage from yours truly plus the promise of a heartfelt feature in the near future from Mike meant that this just missed out. Weirdly, despite the success of its immediate predecessor, PGR4 seemed to die a death at retail after an impressive first week. Perhaps it was a slight case of racing fatigue for 360 owners (particularly as Forza 2 had set the charts alight not too many months previously), but either way, PGR4’s improvements shouldn’t be ignored. A vastly improved front end, some memorable tracks (Quebec’s winding roads made for some terrifically exciting online races) and the all-new weather helped make it the best in the series yet. And bonus points for the quite brilliant Back To The Future Achievement.

Holy kudos, Batman! Gotham's cities make for some gobstoppingly beautiful racing

Control Freak Award – Metroid Prime 3: Corruption/Skate

Two very different games, with one thing in common: near-perfection in controls. EA’s board sim managed to oust the Birdman from his throne, making Hawk’s Project 8 look incredibly outdated with its wondrous right-stick flicks and curls allowing for beautifully tactile manipulation of your board. Corruption was just as big a success, proving that Wii could do FPS controls better than twin sticks, enabling clever aiming puzzles, some blistering boss scraps, and a bit involving welding. Yes, welding. Never has fixing a borked circuit board felt so good.

Okay, so we cheated a bit. But Top 21 didn’t quite have the same ring to it. Anyway, join us very soon for the hyper-exciting Top Five. We can’t wait, and we know what’s in there. We can only imagine that you’ll be needing a lie down right about now. Happy Boxing Day!

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