Top Ten Video Games of 2008
It's been another spectacular year for video games, with more than enough compelling adventures to satisfy even the most demanding player. It's been a particularly gratifying year for Xbox 360 owners, who have benefited from a consistent flow of first-rate software from Microsoft and other publishers.
Nintendo, on the other hand, has been a huge disappointment. While the low-priced Wii continues to outsell the competition, new releases for the console have been, for the most part, uninspired.
And while Sony's pricey PlayStation 3 has been a tough sell in this economy, its library is improving, almost, but not quite, keeping pace with the Xbox. Here are my favorite games of 2008:
1. "Fallout 3" (Bethesda Softworks, for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3): Set in Washington 200 years after a nuclear holocaust, this epic brings an eerie beauty to a bleak scenario. With its powerful story, memorable characters and morbid comedy, it's a compelling journey that leaves you wanting more even after 100 hours of play.
2. "LittleBigPlanet" (Sony, for the PlayStation 3): As delightful as "Fallout 3" is grim, "LBP" freshened up the 2D action game and unleashed an army of amateur designers with its innovative level-building kit.
3. "Rock Band 2" (Electronic Arts/MTV Games, for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, PlayStation 2): By releasing new songs every week of 2008, "Rock Band" developer Harmonix refused to let its rhythm-game franchise get stale.
4. "Grand Theft Auto IV" (Rockstar, for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3): The violence and profanity are still over the top, but protagonist Niko Bellic is a little more grounded than your typical "GTA" lead. He's a thug you can care about.
5. "Braid" (Microsoft, for the Xbox 360): Independent developer Jonathan Blow's time-warping, mind-bending puzzler turned a hackneyed plot, little guy rescues a princess — into a melancholy meditation on love and loss.
6. "Lost Odyssey" (Microsoft, for the Xbox 360): I love an old-fashioned role-playing game, and "Final Fantasy" veteran Hironobu Sakaguchi delivered a rich tale with real emotional impact.
7. "Fable II" (Microsoft, for the Xbox 360): I like newfangled RPGs too, and Peter Molyneux's ambitious open-world epic is a satisfying blend of action, character building and laugh-out-loud humor.
8. "Dead Space" (Electronic Arts, for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3): Sure, it cribs a lot from movies like "Aliens" and "Pitch Black," but this exploration of a monster-infested spaceship was the year's most nerve-racking game.
9. "Grid" (Codemasters, for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3): This unusually challenging sleeper delivered white-knuckle auto racing with sublime controls and an superb variety of courses.
10. "Mirror's Edge" (Electronic Arts, for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3): Boy, it's tough, but EA's parkour-inspired thriller looks unlike any game we've seen before.
Honorable mentions: "Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots," ''Gears of War 2," ''Resistance 2," ''Prince of Persia," ''The World Ends With You," ''No More Heroes," ''Patapon," ''Ticket to Ride."
Written by Lou Kesten
Photos: Getty Images
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