Time Capsule: A Blog Entry Written Exactly 9 Years Ago

MY PICKS for TOP 10 GAMES OF 2016

So finally, I completed the three most hyped games of the year (Zelda: Twilight Princess, Gears and Resistance: Fall of Man), and I feel ready to list out my top picks for the year.

  1. Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion: I spent more than 100 hours on this game, a feat I have never accomplished on any other game. I couldn’t even keep interested in World of Warcraft for that long. Oblivion’s world was completely immersive, the multiple story structure was brilliant, and the continued support for the game online has been impressive. This is better than any Final Fantasy game ever produced.

2. Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess: This almost made the top spot, and it would have, if I’d been able to play it in 720p. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my Wii, and I’ve been playing it more than any other system recently. But when it comes to traditional adventure games, graphics do matter, and this game looks decidedly last-gen. Good thing it’s amazing on every other level.

3. Gears of War: The gameplay in ‘Gears’ is great, and the atmosphere is even better. Long term, I think we’re going to see more games with a critical play path of less than 10 hours, and I’m all for it. I don’t have time to play through 50 hour epics anymore, and I’d imagine most guys in their 30’s with a wife and a baby would say the same thing. GORGEOUS, EXCITING, FUN. I’m going to start re-playing it tonight.

4. GRAW: This game came just as the 360 drought was starting to drive Xbox fans insane. It’s easier to dig into a game when there aren’t a half dozen other AAA new releases and two new consoles vying for your undivided attention. Online was where this was at, and I had more fun playing this on LIVE in ’06 than any other game.

5. Elite Beat Agents: I played through this for the first time while I was waiting outside in the cold for a PS3, and what do you know? It was better than Resistance! Apples and oranges, of course, but this game reminded me why DS is king of the handhelds.

6. New Super Mario Bros: I know that my love of NSMB is due in great part to nostalgia, but I really do think that 2D gameplay makes for better action-platforming. The long wait since Super Mario World made this treat all the tastier. Oh, and the wireless gameplay turned out to be great to pass the time on long trips and in movie lines.

7. Dead Rising: I’ve LOVED ‘Dawn of the Dead’ since I was a teenager, and this is the perfect interactive take on the idea. The most important and least discussed component of the game is the familiarity of the environment; EVERYONE goes to shopping malls. Now, when I go shopping, it’s hard not to think about chainsaws and zombies.

8. Virtua Fighter 5: I’m talking about the arcade game here. Working at SEGA, this is a unique situation, but we had the dual arcade cabinet sitting in our office for a few months, and it became an obsession for several guys on the production staff, myself included. I’ll take anybody on with Pai. We were sad to see the machine get shipped back to Japan, but now that we have arcade perfect PS3 code in hand, we’re happy again. Too bad the arcade scene in the US is dead.

9. Street Fighter II Turbo XBLA: Yeah, I know that it’s laggy. I don’t care. I’ve dreamt of online SF2 since it appeared on Dreamcast in Japan, and now I can challenge oppenents for a few minutes after finishing a session of ‘Gears’ or ‘Rainbow 6’, all without having to pop in a new disc.

10. Bully: This is the type of game that leaves you surprised nobody had created anything like it before. It’s well written, perfectly balanced, and expertly paced. This is better than GTA in my opinion, and I really hope we see a sequel.

Biggest disappointment:
Okami: Yeah, I know, everyone else loves it. But I HATE being forced to watch a boring 20 minute video before I start playing a game, and Okami did nothing to pull me in during the four hours I played after that introductory stumble. It’s very, very pretty, but that’s not enough of a hook for me to keep going, especially when all of the characters are talking like they’re ‘Banjo-Kazooie’ rejects.

Biggest surprise:
Red Steel: The reviews on this one are lower than they should be. I can understand the disappointment of seeing graphics that don’t compare to the ‘target screenshots’ that wowed us when the game was announced, and I agree that the game introduces a new control problem for every mechanic it fixes. But I ended up playing straight through this game when I had only intended to get an hour long taste, and I had a lot of fun doing it. The game has solid production values, a decent balance of shooting and stabbing, and one of the most inventive stages of the year in any game (the ‘Saw’ inspired funhouse, which offers up a weird mix of bunny rabbits and Power Rangers). As the controls started to become second nature, my impression of the game rose, and in the end, I’d say it’s a 7.5… Not fantastic, but in a different league than it’s been placed on Gamerankings.com.

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