HEY HEY HEY. It's
mid- late February again, so that means it's time to take a fond look back at some of the best games I played last year.
#5: Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition
So here's a port of a two-year-old game that in fact already placed at #2 in my top games of 2005. And yet I have no issues giving it another award because it's just that good. The wiimote controls are pretty much perfect, so much that I'm actually looking forward to Resident Evil 5 less because it'll be hard going back to a normal controller.
#4: Picross DS
You may know I am a hopeless picross addict, to the point that I very nearly didn't turn in a final because I had to keep filling in all those little boxes. So of course this was a day-one import for me. I'll probably even pick up the US version so I can understand the create-a-puzzle and online modes. At budget price, you should, too.
Also worth noting: Besides hundreds of puzzles and the ability to download more over wi-fi, when you play a downloaded puzzle, it uses the songs from Mario's Super Picross. I couldn't have asked for more.
#3: DJMAX Portable 2
Early last year I got a PSP with Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops and the Final Fantasy Tactics port in mind. Well, MPO was borderline unplayable because of the camera and I haven't even touched FFT, but the purchase was completely worth it because of DJMAX Portable 1 and 2. The game is basically Beatmania with a control pad, and there are so many songs in so many styles, it's hard to ever get bored. And that's a serious problem when there's work in the morning. Or in half an hour.
With the incredible number of big-name FPS games in 2007, it's funny that the best is the one that's three hours long and doesn't even have you shooting bullets. It's got what feels like the first totally fresh gameplay idea in ages, and the writing is a nice reminder that it never hurts to be funny. I just wish the Internet would stop quoting it.
#1: Mass Effect
One of the reasons I do this list in February is it seems like there's always one game I don't get around to playing until January but I'd hate to miss including in the list. Previously, that strange honor has gone to Metal Gear Solid 3 and Shadow of the Colossus. This year, it's Bioware's Mass Effect.
The idea of a new Knights of the Old Republic game with a real combat system already sounded pretty good to me. And, as cool as it is to throw a lightsaber at someone, escaping from the Star Wars universe has let Bioware invent a compelling, original universe that puts any game setting in recent memory to shame. There's a staggering amount of history and explanation behind each alien race and piece of incidental technology.
And then there are the conversations. They can often run pretty long, but they're so well-written and acted that I didn't mind at all. I'm on my second playthrough and I'm discovering stuff that I completely missed the first time through. It's kind of scary to think I might find even more the third time through. And yes, there will definitely be a third time.
Honorable Mention and Wrap-Up
A few more that didn't make the list, or were leftover from previous years:
Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War - Picked this up because it has a great soundtrack and was actually very surprised by how good the game is. It's one of the few games where I actually felt I was in the story, which was pretty gratifying because by the end of the game, enemies start freaking out when they hear Razgriz Squadron is in the air.
Battlefield 2142 - I was ready to abandon this game after the mostly featureless demo, but fortunately R.J. picked this up on impulse and it's probably one of the best decisions he's made. The versatile classes and evolved squad gameplay make this unlike pretty much any other game out there. I'm sad that the upcoming Battlefield Heroes sounds like more like UT or Team Fortress (plus it'll probably lose all of the futuristic weapons and toys), but I have hope that DICE will deliver a proper 2142 sequel eventually.
Beyond Good & Evil - Fun but so overrated.
BioShock - Also overrated, but still pretty fun despite being almost a complete rehash of System Shock 2 gameplay-wise. The story was cool, the characters were well-acted, and the art style and period music really made Rapture feel authentic, but next time, write an ending that's worthy of the rest of the game, would you kindly?
Every Extend Extra - My next favorite PSP game after DJMAX 1 and 2. It's like Chaos Theory, but they made a full game out of it.
Hotel Dusk: Room 215 - Good dialogue and story, but loses points for it being possible to get a game over. I don't play games like this and Phoenix Wright for the riveting gameplay.
The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap - Probably my second favorite Zelda game.
Ouendan 2 - Not as good as the original, but I also had a better idea of the level of insanity to expect. Still extremely fun, with a much better soundtrack than Elite Beat Agents.
Monster Hunter Freedom 2 - Would be pretty fun if it didn't suffer from the same awful camera as MPO. I guess Japanese people all have three thumbs.
Super Mario Galaxy - Fun, and deserves recognition for exceptional use of color and some great orchestrated tracks. The extremely linear levels disappointed, though.
Super Stardust HD - It's hard to play other dual-stick shooters after playing this. I just wish games didn't take so long.
System Shock 2 - See BioShock.
Wow this got really long. Hopefully I'll be able to cut it down next year just by listing Metal Gear Solid 4.