As part of Gamasutra's end of year round-up, we asked our readers to submit their choices for top three games of 2005, which we published in Gamasutra's news section alongside picks from our staff. While we published a number of the responses over the winter holidays, we now present the responses in their entirety.
God of War
"In order of release date, my top three games of the year are WipeOut Pure, God of War, and Project Gotham Racing 3. I've played these games the most (excluding Metroid: Zero Mission, which wasn't released this year) in 2005, and each of them had the effect of bending time and obligations in very strange ways (meaning I had a lot of fun).
WipeOut Pure is pure magic, a beautiful and beautifully balanced game that reminded me of why I loved the franchise in the first place. The new skins and level downloads were a great touch for a very polished experience. The music, art, and sheer kinetic energy of the title validated the PSP launch, although I loved Lumines also.
God of War is sheer fun. The controls and scaling complexity of attacks makes this a great game to pick up and play for 10 minutes or 10 hours. I love the look of it, and the basis in Greek mythology, which remind me of Jason and the Argonauts and Clash of the Titans (in a good way). The first time that hydra charged through the ship was a humbling moment for me, which I get to enjoy again vicariously by handing the controller to NPGs (Non-Player Guests).
Project Gotham Racing 3 blew me away. I was already a fan of the franchise, but firing this up on a 50” HD plasma set is equal to taking a first step into a larger world. Putting the HD part aside, the game has to deliver the goods. Kind of like how, no matter how good it looks on Discovery HD, American Chopper is still just American Chopper. And PGR3 definitely satisfies. The cars control very well, and the courses are cleverly designed. The authenticity of the cars and the locations, combined with a more arcade style of play make for a perfect match for me. The HD element brings a high level of immersion, such that NPGs are completely thunderstruck by the illusion of reality."
-Jamil Moledina, Game Developers Conference director
"Wik & the Fable of Souls - A cleverly addictive game that has a truly unique look and feel. A great combination of gameplay and visuals help make this game work. Hopefully with it being on the Xbox 360 Live, it will reach a much wider audience.
Psychonauts - An excellent take on the "platformer" genre. A funny story and great gameplay made this one of the few games that made me want to finish the game to see what happens.
Guitar Hero - One of the few games that I can't put down. Taking the formula of what works from Frequency and Amplitude and making a great controller experience as well as a very good mainstream soundtrack makes this game accessible to more than just a niche audience. I've seen people who don't normally play games, play this one with enthusiasm."
-Liam Hislop, Full Sail Real World Education
"Shadow of the Colossus - If there's a better argument for games as art, I don't know what it is. This game is the most beautiful, haunting, and melancholy game I've ever played, and manages to do it largely with inference, rather than heavy-handed cutscenes or plot twists.
Psychonauts - Although it had some problems with frustrating level design in a few places, the overall quirkiness and sense of fun with this title made it one of my favorites for the year. The characters and world were very well done, and the gameplay was, for the most part, great.
Donkey Kong Jungle Beat - While I don't think most people would pick this, it really spoke to me. This game was a blast - a traditional platformer with the added excitement of physical control through the congas. It was very simple, but it was 100% fun. It was simultaneously new and different, and very nostalgic."
-Johnnemann Nordhagen, SCEA
"Well I have to give FIFA 06 Soccer a big “thumbs up.” It's the best of the FIFA Soccer games so far. Great gameplay, very realistic and intuitive. The soundtrack is great and the commentary is very good. Other than online play, it's a great all around sports game that's good for adults and the kids.
Then there is Civilization 4. What can you say? Really, it's good… you lose sleep sitting at the computer all night. Great gameplay, which is key. Plus it looks awesome, sounds great, and keeps you entertained.
Otherwise it's been the older games for me this year, lots of UT2K4 and good old Total Annihilation!"
-Mark Warner, Nexus Entertainment
"Three games I loved in 2005 were Shadow of the Colossus, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney and Psychonauts. I'm pretty sure they were my favorite games of the year, and if not, we'll just say they were the ones I remember liking most and leave it at that.
In addition to everything that's obviously great about Shadow of the Colossus, such as the intense mixture of feelings you get when you bring home the final sword-blow on a colossi's vital spot, it also makes heavy use of one of my favorite storytelling tricks that's only possible in games. In linear media, you have the “Chekhov effect” of knowing that the explicitly-referenced gun on the mantelpiece must go off later. But games can introduce plot elements without bringing your attention to them at all, leading to exquisitely eerie moments. The sinking feeling you get when you realize what those points of light in the distance represent, or when you count just how many doves are clustered around the altar, is all the more powerful due to the quiet, unobtrusive way those elements of the mystery are worked into the game.
I started the year thinking the DS would be a ridiculous paperweight representing Nintendo's fatal misstep, and ended it with the plucky little thing becoming one of my favorite platforms. To pick just one of the system's sterling games: I love Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney for its humor and great script, but I love it more for its bringing back the beloved point-and-click adventure game to a new format.
Double Fine's debut project Psychonauts, that most excellent game, had such a hold on me that I played it start to finish twice in the same month, and then spent two more months thinking about little else as I embarked on a harebrained scheme to produce glorified fanfiction. Luckily for us all, I failed, and super double lucky for us all, the game exists and is still available on store shelves for prices way, way less than it ought to be commanding."
-Nich Maragos, Gamasutra
"Serious Sam 2 - fun in every possible way
Call of Duty 2 - excellent multiplayer!
Fahrenheit (Indigo Prophecy in the U.S.) - a breath of fresh air among adventures!"
"Forza Motorsport (Xbox) - In a genre that is very stale, the features breathed new life into the genre. The racing line innovation was able to level the playing field between the experienced racing game players and the novices. This was also the first time that a damage factor came into play in a high-end racing game, a feature that has been notably absent from the Gran Turismo series. It quite possibly made for the best racing package to date.
Dance Dance Revolution Extreme 2 (PS2) and Ultramix 3 (Xbox) - While in essence the same game that has been around for closing in on a decade, credit needs to go to the music licensing department for the track lists that were added to these games. Songs that have been staples of the series appearing from the Asian versions are finally making their first appearances in North America .
Serious Sam II (Xbox and PC)- Kudos must go to Croteam for bringing a true sequel to the Serious Sam series. While the game solely rests on the all-out action in gameplay, the comedic value of the cut scenes and in-game dialog seems to get overlooked. This sets the new benchmark for action-comedy games, it does both, and does them well."
-Mike Sweeney, Slingo Inc
Project Gotham Racing 3
"First would be God of War, because of its original idea, the intense gratification from the combat system, and the pleasure from the puzzle solving that was involved. It's a great game with many facets to challenge you.
Number two would be DarkWatch. It was a very novel idea for a FPS. It was fun to take on the role of a vampire gunslinger, and the cutscenes were very well done. Each of the levels was extremely fun and interesting as well as more and more exciting.
And finally, Knights of the Old Republic II: Sith Lords. I loved the first one and I loved the second one even more. Having the choice between light and dark side was a great angle, and the combat system was perfect for an RPG style game."
-Chuck Tay, Kaloke
"Darwinia combines the best of Molyneux (Populous) with the best of Bostic and Powell (Dune II, the first major RTS). It does this in a new kind of world and art style that gives it a feeling of uniqueness unrivaled in games today.
God of War introduced, or at least revolutionized button mini-games within an action adventure experience that is unparalleled cinematically. It also is the ultimate realization of the age old cult hit Rygar, which is a triumph of uber-geeky proportions.
Blitz: The League brought back what made Midway great in the '90s: take a genre and turn it on it's frickin' ear. NBA Jam, Mortal Kombat - even Pigskin 621 AD all are family to Blitz in this way... games provide a way of taking the user out of reality, or even creating a "super" reality, and Blitz took full advantage of this."
-Alexander Brandon, Midway
[Please note that the opinions of individual employees responding to the Question Of The Week may not represent those of their company.]
"2005 has been a treat for gamers on multiple platforms. Plenty of enticing games were released that not many people played; like Psychonauts, Fire Emblem: Sacred Stone, Riviera , Castlevania Dawn of Sorrow, Trauma Center, Mario Kart DS, Growlanser Generations, Dragon Quest VIII, Battalion Wars, and a whole list of other titles. However, I think my top prize this year has to go out to a game that very few people heard about, even less cared about, and even less yet managed to play.
A little gem of a budget title called Phantom Dust. It brought a very refreshing online experience that got lost in an abundance of FPSes on Xbox, which really is too bad because it really is an amazing game. I spent countless hours into the early morning even on work days playing with my friends, something no game has ever gotten me to do online.
Next up would be Shadow of the Colossus on PS2. A brilliant game, which was lost in our market. Colossus reminded me why I started playing games in the first place. I plowed through the game in one sitting with a friend from work - a day that we should have been at work, but couldn't resist the charm of Colossus.
Resident Evil 4 for the GameCube rounds out my top picks this year. It wasn't merely another entry in the RE series, it was a game that could have stood on its own without being branded with the RE name. It also proved that the GameCube really can push beautiful graphics in the hands of the right people. Capcom's Production Studio 4 really proved that they have what it takes to deliver a great experience and not just a game."
-Randolph Stayer, EA Canada
"The Movies - Thank you Peter Molyneux. In a day and age when most other developers are abandoning PC-based games, you go ahead and bring us one of the most original pieces of software I have ever seen. So much more than just a game, The Movies taps into the primal urge to create our own stories, and is a godsend to the novice machinima creator. I was a bit worried how it would develop after seeing it at GDC, but it really does deliver. Definitely a sleeper hit.
World of Warcraft - Even though it officially debuted last year, there have been plenty of content updates this year, and it is arguably the best MMO ever made - certainly the first American born one to enjoy widespread success in Asia. The attention to detail that Blizzard gives to its games is an inspiration to us all. I am just happy I weaned myself off of it early on, otherwise I'd probably be living back home with the folks.
Lego Star Wars - Yes, I am man enough to say it - this game just rocked. Maybe I had an insatiable urge to relive my childhood Saturday mornings (playing with my Legos while watching the 'holy trilogy'), but I found this game to be everything I could hope for. The use of so many different playable characters, each with their own abilities, along with different types of levels really made me feel this captured the full gamut of the Star Wars universe. The use of Lego really adds a humorous overtone that just added to my enjoyment, and the cut scenes just go on to emphasize this. I was definitely left wishing for more, and hopefully Eidos and Travellers Tales will be making episodes 4-6 soon enough."
-Nick Smolney, Sonic Branding Solutions
"Guitar Hero is important for a multitude of reasons, firstly because it shows you can make an awesome video game without spending $15 million - a big deal if game innovation is going to survive. Secondly, Harmonix and RedOctane have created a title that's getting genuine mainstream buzz, even from those not necessarily interested in conventional gaming. And thirdly - 'I don't share your greed, the only card I need is... the Ace of Spades.'
We Love Katamari is, it's true, a straightforward, barely iterative sequel to an existing title. But when Namco's original Katamari was one of the best new video game ideas of the past decade, and Keita Takahashi's sequel piles on cuteness like underwater levels (cats wearing snorkels!), snowball-rolling and flower-collecting levels, and an adorably unhinged plot. It works for me, and, I fear, for the obsessive collector in all of us. But where's the Katamari novelty record, like Pac-Man Fever?
Psychonauts made me happy this year, because it showed me that you can create an original-IP living, breathing world in a console game that I (and a lot of other people) cared about. Sure, I could take or leave the persnickety platforming parts, but Double Fine's trials and tribulations ended up birthing a title which made me feel like video games were a vibrant art form all over again. In the words of Tom Cruise - 'Much love.'"
-Simon Carless, Gamasutra
"My 3 favorite games of 2005...a tough task since I really didn't get to play too many games in 2005 (thanks to World of Warcraft), but of the games I did play there are definite stand outs.
When the Nintendo DS first came out, I wasn't too impressed with it...to the point where I wasn't even planning on getting one. I blame a friend of mine for showing me a video of the game Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan! as I thought in my head "Sold!" Originally, I had bought my DS for another game, Nintendogs, but Ouendan has stayed in my DS almost 90% of the time. What can I say, it's fun, the music is cool, the stories are funny, and it's addictive. Everything you want in a game...without the fancy graphics or ultra violence.
Staying on the theme of fun and quirky games, We Love Katamari! is another game I love. After playing the first one, you'd think...what more could they do. Well, they did enough to make the game as fun as the first one. Who would have thought rolling a sticky ball around could be this much fun. Ball of fire, ball of snow, ball underwater, ball racing... really... who would have thought...?
My third game, something that finds its way back into my PSP, is Lumines. This is pretty much the reason I bought my PSP. I was never much of a Tetris fan but Lumines keeps me coming back. The vs. CPU mode is really frustrating (but at least you can't beat up the CPU like you can your friend that you're playing against). The puzzle mode is kind of cool. The Challenge mode is very addicting. I have barely touched my PSP this holiday season because everyone in the family wants to play Lumines... not just my favorite, but a family favorite."
-Bert Gatchalian, Electronic Arts
Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan!
"Halo 2 Expansion Pack - With the ridiculous amount of production time going into top-tier games like Halo 2 , I say its about time publishers and developers started cashing in on the hard work and resources that go into these titles. As a huge Halo 2 fan, I was thrilled to see more content for my favorite game, and the documentary that game with the levels was also great to watch. Gotta love the guy wearing the IGDA shirt!
'Hot Coffee' Minigame - Let's face it. While Grand Theft Auto 's Hot Coffee has created a political firestorm and given the Take-Two folks a few headaches, this could be the best thing to happen to the games industry since Pong . When was the last time everyone you knew had such a strong opinion about games? Soon the politicians using the issue as an election-year headline grabber will find a new hot-button issue, and the games industry will be left stronger than it was before.
NCAA Football 2005 - The best part about it? It wasn't that it looked particularly amazing, or had flashy graphics; it was all done through creative implementation of existing features. Evolving the Impact Player system, redressing the create-a-player mode as the "Race for the Heisman" game mode, and a slew of other minor improvements easily made this my favorite football game of the past 15 years."
-Coray Seifert, Large Animal Games
"Battlefield 2 (PC), I feel, is one of the best military games ever made and it's the most addictive game I've played in years. The map design is very balanced and with a variety of weapons, equipment, and vehicles - the number of possible tactics are endless. Players can choose to command the team, lead a squad, join a squad, or function as a lone soldier. Regardless of the choice, there are always opportunities to help out teammates whether it's healing/reviving them, providing ammunition, or offering cover fire and support in dangerous situations. Also, you really feel that you're in the "battlefield," especially with the lights off and the surround sound cranked up!
My next game is Resident Evil 4 (GameCube). I actually bought a GameCube (and the game) the day this was released and it was one of the best $150 purchases I ever made.. The game features an array of weapons and possible upgrades and leads players through a tense and action-packed story. While the story is quite linear, there are plenty of areas to explore, puzzles to solve, and secrets to uncover. The new over the shoulder camera view and aiming system give players precision control of their weapons and accessing the map and inventory is easier than ever. I was completely blown away by the boss battles and feel that they alone are worth the purchase price. In addition, there are a few new game modes and weapon unlocks that are available after completing the game so players will have enough content to keep them around for awhile.
Last, but certainly not least, is God of War (PS2). The initial cutscene swept me right into the mythical Greek universe that the developers worked so hard to create and I knew that a memorable adventure was on the horizon. The action began right from the start and the first boss battle set the tone for just how great the game was going to be. The main character is easy to identify with, especially after viewing vivid cutscenes that are extremely well-written and tell a deep, compelling story. The boss battles are absolutely incredible, and I often found myself marveling at power and speed of the enemies. Also, the puzzle design is very well thought out and involves more logical thinking than brute force, which is a nice balance with fierce and fast-paced action that takes place for most of the game!"
-Brian DeLay, University of Advancing Technology
"Capcom's Resident Evil 4 was certainly the best console game of the year, in my mind. It takes the survival horror formula and improves upon it with giant steps, rather than the usual iterative process we generally see in games, without alienating the fanbase. This game is universally lauded for its excellence, and for once, I actually think the hype is deserved. RE4 is forward-thinking in its design, with automatically scaled difficulty, measured introduction of new play elements. While the story is linear, the player feels a great degree of freedom in terms of how to approach any given situation. The several month GameCube exclusivity was also a bold move, showing that Capcom cares deeply about hardware manufacturers that put games to the fore.
Doukutsu Monogatari, or Cave Story, was a breath of fresh air, with its simple sprite-based graphics, oldschool play aesthetic, and charming, involving story. It was released only for the PC, an independent (doujin) game from a Japanese designer who calls himself Pixel. The game was the darling of the indie gaming community for some time, and received an English language patch just a few months after its release – an uncommon feat for any Japanese-originating amateur game. The attention Doukutsu Monogatari garnered was large enough to generate new interest in doujin games from a wider audience, making the game's achievements twice as important.
The Rumblefish 2 is the Atomiswave-based arcade sequel to Dimps/Sega's 2004 original IP 2D fighting game effort. Like its predecessor, the game uses a unique flash-like graphical technique to give the characters extremely fluid animation, and the high resolution fighters look quite nice in motion. The system marries the best from other popular series such as Guilty Gear, King of Fighters, and Asuka 120% (with new twists, of course), making the game very intuitive to pick up and play for fans of the fighting genre. The main 'gimmick' in The Rumblefish series is that characters' clothing will tear as the player progresses, with the tears reflected in subsequent battles and character profiles. This, combined with the fast action and furious combos, makes for a very exciting series. The Rumblefish 2, while not totally suited for competition, is much more balanced than its predecessor, and shows that original 2D-fighting games can still be made in this day and age, and made well."
-Brandon Sheffield, Game Developer magazine
[Please note that the opinions of individual employees responding to the Question Of The Week may not represent those of their company.]
"Shadow of the Colossus - With most releases these days adhering to storied videogame conventions, it's always a relief to see a game that isn't afraid to try something new. The vast, lonely landscape, sparse yet meaningful story and magnificent enemy/boss encounters makes Colossus stand out from the crowd. And who said innovation in games was dead?
Indigo Prophecy - Sure, it was more of an interactive movie than a game, and yes the plot did disintegrate into gibberish near the end, but Indigo Prophecy also pushed the limits of narrative in gaming without sacrificing the player's enjoyment. Besides, who'd have thought "The Fugitive" meets " Shenmue" would actually make for a respectable game?
Guitar Hero - There's a reason Guitar Hero is tearing up the charts; it's just that good. How Harmonix managed to streamline the heart and soul behind Frequency and Amplitude into an accessible (or at least less niche) game is a triumph of design; and the possibility of add-on packs with more songs is music to my ears. Here's hoping Harmonix understands the hit they've got so they can round out the band with Bass, Drum and Keyboard Hero!"
-Ben Serviss, Creo Ludus
Shadow of the Colossus
"I don't know if it's necessarily the most innovative, or surprising, or even well-polished game of 2005, but Nintendo's Osu! Tatake! Ouendan is sitting in my DS right now. This is significant because I mastered the game on its highest difficult setting about three months ago, and yet, it's still there. Sure, I've played some other great DS games - Mario Kart DS, Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow, Animal Crossing: Wild World - but in the end, I always find myself coming back to a wacky rhythm game about imaginary cheerleading men inspiring kids to do their homework, secretaries to seduce their hunky bosses, and orchestral violinists to overcome constipation, all to the tune of sugary sweet Japanese pop. And that really says something. Specifically, it says that Ouendan is the best game of 2005.
When I first saw screenshots of Capcom's Killer 7, way back in early 2003, I knew I'd like it. I didn't know what the game was about, I didn't know how the game controlled or what the objective was or the name of one single person involved. None of that mattered though, because those shots oozed style. It was as if someone looked at an untextured, in-production game, with its simple placeholder tiles and barren landscapes, and said, "Hey, this looks kind of cool." And indeed, Killer 7, when it eventually came out, was cool. It was ice cold, bitter and frightening, like drinking cheap scotch over ice in a dimly-lit bar in the wrong part of town, knowing that there's a price on your head and hoping against all hope that this is all just a bad dream. And at the same time, hoping that it's not.
I played a lot of other great games this year. I can't choose a third favorite, so I'm going to cheat and start listing a few off. Double Fine's Psychonauts was incredible, up until my Xbox stopped reading the disc. Thankfully, I got to experience the pure brilliance of the Milk Man before that happened. Shadow of the Colossus was also good. Too good, in fact. I killed about five of the buggers before I realized that I wasn't doing the game justice by playing it at my leisure. The disc is sitting on my shelf until I can devote an entire night to it. Sonic Rush is the greatest 2D Sonic game of all time, and this is coming from someone who previously thought that the series died after the 16-bit era. Take out the lame story segments and make the bosses more interesting, and it might be perfect."
-Frank Cifaldi, Gamasutra
"World of Warcraft. Well, I don't know where you class it with the different launch dates for different continents and all. But at least it deserves an honourable mention, however old it is. In our house, where a great many games are played, it is simply known as "the game," that speaks volumes.
Age of Empires 3. About time we had a new installment there, and it is a typical Ensemble Studios job - polished, solid and very well playing. It has been taking a lot of flak for lack of innovation, but that is not why you buy an installment of a series; you love what you played before, and you want more of the same. Ensemble Studios delivered, of course...
Nintendogs on the DS. Big fat kudos to Nintendo for actually doing something to taking games into the mainstream. Such efforts makes you wonder if we even have any clue of all the things a game actually can be. And that is a nice heartwarming thought in this age of generic FPS titles and GTA rip offs."
-Marque Pierre Sondergaard, Heroes Team
"1) Activision's Gun (PC) - reminds me of Zelda: OOT (N64). It has just got a nice flow about it. I like Montana - never been there but still like it. The side missions are great and you can stop at any timeto return to the story. Also there are no loading screens and a large game world! I enjoy the way you can jump on and off your horse (it just animates nicely - and it's not like you stop to get on it and can't move - you can start sprinting on your horse the moment you press a button to get on it - that's one of the things that makes this game really flow.) And sure the graphics are good. I like the story and the cutscenes - that always ices the cake for me.
2) EA's NFS: Most Wanted (PS2) - the best Need for Speed I've played since NFS 3: Hot Pursuit . It is a must have game.
3) AOE III - Age of Empires in 3D - wow. It is just a good series. It has always been a top strategy game - and given the improvements it's worth three thumbs up."
"Narrowing a short-list of favorites to just three is tough in a year that's seen its share of blockbusters (God Of War and Resident Evil 4), a healthy crop of art-house hits (Psychonauts, Killer 7, and We <3 Katamari). In addition, there are a number of essential imports (many of which we're confirmed to see in 2006, like Chibi-Robo and Electroplankton, and others, like Ouendan, we may or may not), all of which are worthy competitors in their own right.
Too often overlooked in the usual yearly roundup lists, though, and maybe just by nature of its early arrival, was one of the year's first best games: Oddworld Stranger's Wrath. Aggressively gorgeous and every bit as socially progressive and anti-establishment as its predecessors, albeit less blatantly, it took the Oddworld universe into what should have been its most commercially accessible realm with its emphasis on smart first person combat (just don't call it an FPS). It also had what might be the year's finest plot twist -- after lulling you into complacency with a rigorously structured first act, it completely switched gears for its second, and with it brought a host of emotional and motivational quandaries for the player to work through.
Similarly underappreciated, at least on this side of the Atlantic divide was Introversion's Darwinia, which may now finally get the credit its due with its arrival via Steam and multiple top nominations in the Indie Games Fest. A perfect blend of retro-futurist gameplay and visual design, it pays homage to all the hits of yesteryear (Cannon Fodder, et al) while still managing to maintain its own unique identity and never devolving into cheap derivative. It's also probably the first game I can remember that's nearly as fun simply to quit and restart to see all of the team's throwbacks to 8-bit intros, cracktros, and the Game of Life (Conway's, not Hasbro's).
And mirroring the sentiments of several others, Harmonix's Guitar Hero has to be mentioned as perhaps the most invigorating thing to happen to music/rhythm gaming since Parappa first chop-kicked it all off. It's the most compulsively addictive game I've played all year, where hardly a day passes that I don't pause for a Spanish Castle Magic or Even Rats fix. I haven't met a person yet who's laid hands on it and not come away firmly under its spell.
And, if I can cheat the rules just a bit, I've got to give one final shout-out to Earth Defense Force 2 for PlayStation 2, easily the finest of D3's Japanese budget Simple Series games, which, like Guitar Hero, has managed to charm everyone that's been exposed to it. Like its header would suggest, it's a Simple premise -- choose two weapons, choose your level, and lock and load against an unimaginable number of giant insect, UFO and monster B-movie hordes, but beyond the kitschiness is truly visceral impact that many of the year's big budget shooters failed to elicit. Its first volume saw limited release in Europe , but there's no word yet of localization of the second, so if you've got the means to import, take the $20 risk -- I guarantee you won't be disappointed."
-Brandon Boyer, GameSetWatch
"My top three in no particular order would have to be Shadow of the Colossus, Guitar Hero, and Lumines. These are games I consider to be a part of my permanent game library, Maybe i'll even take them to the grave with me.
What hasn't been already been said about Shadow of the Colossus? This game has an amazing sense of atmosphere, the art direction is the best i've ever seen in a video game, and it says so much with so little. I'm glad they didn't bother littering the areas between each colossus with petty battles, instead focusing the game only on the ones that matter. It just takes you from one memorable moment to the next.
Guitar Hero is the little game that could...and did! Very few publishers would be brave enough to take on the risk of a game that required a special peripheral (I thank Capcom every day for Steel Battalion). The game is worth more than its price tag, I embarrass myself on a regular basis in front of my wife while playing this game but I don't care, Guitar Hero lets me live out my rock n' roll dreams!
Hailed by some as the only reason to own a PSP, Lumines tops my pick for handheld game. Awesome music plus a deep puzzle mechanic makes for a very zen-like experience. I normally play handheld games in short bursts but once you get into Lumines it's hard to stop, I just wish the PSP battery could keep up."
-Carlo Delallana, Ubisoft
"Psychonauts - A return to witty, chuckle-inducing games of yesteryear. This game succeeds at being an addictive platformer for a wide audience while creating a zany, immersive world to bounce around in.
Civilization 4 - A pitch-perfect game that revamps the turn-based strategy PC game into something anyone, anytime can pick up and play.
F.E.A.R. - Most horror games quickly revert to "monster spawns, player yawns" clichés. F.E.A.R.'s AI is so good and the atmosphere is so chillingly stark that every battle is engrossing and every spooky twist is unnerving."
-Jason Diehl, The Art Intitute- Orange County
"My three favorite video games of 2005 are Project Gotham Racing 3, Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved, and Forza Motorsport. I think PGR3 is the best launch title for the Xbox 360, and it symbolizes everything I love about cars: the speed, the exotic machines, and the competition. Everything else - the interiors and the Live components- are just icing on the cake. Geometry Wars is easy to pick up and play, and is a pleasure to play - everything a video game should be. Finally, Forza is a great simulator, and is engrossing."
"God of War is easily one of the best-looking, best-sounding, and best-playing action games of the year and it defies the rules of what is possible on Playstation 2 hardware. It features fantastic cinematic production values and on top of that it supports 16:9 and 480p progressive scan which is something all current generation console games should do by default!
Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones - After the undeservedly disappointing press about Ubisoft's last Prince of Persia game (Warrior Within), Ubisoft went back to the roots of this generation's Prince of Persia series and the move was for the better. It features some fantastic platforming/puzzle sequences, a more refined, satisfying combat system, and excellent cinematic sequences and voice acting. Easily one of the best in the action/adventure genre this year. Thumbs up also go to Ubisoft for the widescreen support for the Xbox version.
Resident Evil 4 - Capcom took a dead genre and a dead series and re-injected new life into it. In fact they did such a good job that this game for me was easily the best action/survival horror game (in fact just the best game) of 2005. Fantastic art direction in conjunction with great audio and a well-balanced plot combine to produce an atmosphere that keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout the entire game. It was disappointing to see the (overall superior) GameCube version only receive the letter box treatment but at least Capcom somewhat redeemed themselves with full 480p and true anamorphic widescreen support in the PS2 version."
[Please note that the opinions of individual employees responding to the Question Of The Week may not represent those of their company.]