Saturday, 20 December 2008

Fun iPhone Games For the Holidays (CGUK)

I've posted a small article on the Cranky Gamers UK blog ( about some great iPhone games to try out this Christmas.

The most addictive of these games was Monopoly - Here and Now. The game is so quick and easy to play on the touch screen. It looks great too and you can listen to your own music or podcast while playing.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

The best games of 2008 that most people played

The following list contains my favorite games of 2008 for each of the usual gaming categories.

Best Vehicle Game = Burnout Paradise put the fun back into driving games. We may have lost the crash mode, but the open world and numerous challenges more than made up for it. Worthy of a mention is GRID, which turned out to be a very enjoyable track racer with amazing presentation.

Best Shooter = Gears of War 2 is the "Burnout" of shooters: it perfectly balances action, fun and difficulty. Bold and brash, and this time with a decent plot. Gears 2's fantastic set pieces make it is the closest thing to an action movie you can get. The Horde and Online modes complete the package.

Best Action Game = The Bourne Conspiracy was the surprise of 2008 for me. It brilliantly captured the spirit of the books and films. It looked great too and has superb destruct able environments and frantic melee combat. Runners-up include Viking: Battle of Asgard, which combined huge battles with action RPG; and Mirror's Edge with its blend of style, free-running and sense of danger.

Best Open World Game = GTA IV really raised the bar in what can be achieved in an open world game. Many may lament the more serious tone, but the story and characters are some of the deepest created in a video game. It was just a shame the final acts dropped into an excessively darker tone.

Best Strategy Game = Civilization Revolution. No one thought it could be done, but Sid said he knew how. Both the DS and 360 versions are perfect strategy games for the console player. Short, intelligent, well designed and action packed. Anno 1701 on the DS completed a great year for handheld strategy games.

Best Party Game = Guitar Hero World Tour narrowly pips Rockband 1 & 2. World Tour is more accessible to new players, has better instruments, and has a more eclectic mix of music to suite all tastes. Singstar should also had a successful next-gen launch with its user-content videos.

Best Role Play Game = Lost Odyssey. For me RPGs live a die by the story. If the story doesn't engage with you then the game can become a grindfest. Thankfully, Lost Odyssey had a beautiful story woven with tragedy and humour. The world, characters and plot we perfectly in harmony though to the climatic and satisfying conclusion. 

It has been a great year for RPGs: Fable II was a wonderful experience, particularly the quality of its presentation and gameplay; Final Fantasy IV was a fantastic DS update of a fine JRPG. Unfortunately Fallout 3 was less successful. It suffered from some questionable "dungeon" design, poor character animation, and recycled side quests.

Best Sports/Casual Game = FIFA Street 3 might be an unusual choice for some. But FIFA Street 3 put the fun back into football games that have become increasingly dull the more realistic they become. Exaggerated character models, tight controls and a funky soundtrack made this a whole lot of fun to play.

Best Multiplayer Game = Burnout Paradise. A Ninja Fat Pigeon gaming favourite. The online co-op challenges are the real highlight of a great game - played with 3-8 mates it is timeless fun. Some of the best gaming nights I have ever played were with Burnout Paradise.

Best Download Game (Xbox Live Arcade, PSN or Wiiware) = Geometry Wars 2 – bigger, better and with even more compulsion to beat your scores. Other notable downloadable games include A Kingdom for Keflings and Elefunk: both of which offer something different and constructive. I personally loved Ticket to Ride too. It was just a shame you have to buy it three times to get the full game.

Best Microsoft Platform Exclusive Game (Xbox 360 or PC) = Lost Odyssey. The year's best RPG and a 360 exclusive to boot. Runners-up include: Fable II, Gears of War 2, Viva Pinata Trouble in Paradise and Banjo Kazooie Nuts and Bolts.

Best Sony Platform Exclusive (PS3 or PSP) = Little Big Planet might have dodgy controls and an underwhelming single player experience, but the level creator and on-line co-op are genius. The YouTube of video games really is revolutionary. Runners-up include: Elefunk, Motorstorm 2 and Wipeout HD

Best Nintendo Platform Exclusive (Wii or DS) = Professor Layton and the Curious Village is one of the most original and fun game for years. Great art, story and puzzles. A must buy! Also worthy was Anno 1701 – Dawn of Discovery (DS). Based on the long running German PC game series (don't let that put you off) this is one of the most polished and rewarding god games, and best of all it fits in the palm of your hand. Graphics are good, sound and music are excellent, gameplay top notch, and stylus control is perfect.

Best Graphics in a Game = Gears of War 2. Step back an look at the incredible attention to detail lavished in the environments. From full rendered drip trails on the windows, to unbelievable underground worlds and huge vistas. It is breathtaking. Runners-up: Fable II, Dead Space, and Lost Odyssey.

Best Music/Sound in a Game = Dead Space brings all the audio tricks from Alien and the Thing to create one of the most atmospheric games of recent years. Play in the dark if you dare. Runners-up: Fable II, GTA IV, Professor Layton and the Curious Village, and The World Ends with You.

Best Story in a Game = Lost Odyssey had a beautiful story woven with tragedy and humour. GTA IV featured fully fleshed out characters, a very real and human story, and a real sense of time and place. So it is a shame that the last few acts tarnish it. Professor Layton and the Curious Village added a great story to the puzzles and comic book art.

Biggest Waste of Money = Rainbow Six Vegas 2 was an almighty let down. One of the best strategic shooters was reduced to a damp Call of Duty 4 wannabe. The best bits were taken out and all sense of drama was lost. Even the multiplayer mode had become tired. Mercenaries 2 (terrible voice acting and weak gameplay) and A-Train (impossible to win) came a very close second.

Game of the Year = Burnout Paradise is a landmark game in many ways. It's innovative co-op challenges and drop-in/out world set a new standard for online play. It was also tonnes of fun with friends and great value. The continuous stream of free DLC updates was the icing on the cake.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

The best games of 2008 I won't be playing

1. Left 4 Dead

I don't know what it is, but I have never enjoyed a Valve game. I don't include Portal in the mix, as it was developed by another team, just the Half Lifes and now Left 4 Dead. I find them to be rather sterile and unsatisfactory. Their games often feature design decisions that baffle me. Left 4 Dead is a case in point: It's loose controls and twitch mechanics feel like something from 10 years ago. If it wasn't for the Zombies - another overrated cliché - I really don't think it would get the critical acclaim is has.

2. Call of Duty - World at War

I'm so done with Call of Duty games. The series' obsession with war glamorisation, in all its gruesome violence, is bordering on outright vulgarity. The message in the original Call of Duty - and to a certain extent Modern Warfare - is completely lost on the masses of teenagers gleefully murdering each other in multiplayer areas.

3. Resistance 2

The first game was mediocre at best. The flagship shooter on the PS3 for many months, it was carried on the shoulders of fanboys to a height the sequel could never match. Essentially more of the same, it has been interesting to see how PS3 owners have been more critical and less forgiving second time around.

4. Animal Crossing - City Folk

Nintendo is establishing a reputation for releasing very flimsy sequels to much loved franchises. Mario Kart Wii and Super Smash Bros Brawl were sequels barely distinguishable from their predecessors. Animal Crossing - City Folk is its predecessor: a port of a DS game, ported from the Gamecube, ported from the N64. Any good will for Nintendo's Wii has all but vanished for the enthusiast gamer now.

5. Mercenaries 2 - World in Flames

I purchased Mercs 2 with good intensions. It looked like fun, people seemed to like it, and it would fill the void left post GTA IV completion. Unfortunately it was a good awful mess with clumsy controls, terrible dialog and a poor game structure. Two hours was enough to banish it to the back of the CD wallet for good.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

The best games of 2008 you didn't play.

The best games of 2008 you didn't play.

1. The Bourne Conspiracy. (PS/360)

The Bourne Conspiracy was one of the best movie tie-ins of recent years. It features cracking melée combat and great pacing. It also adds further back story to the movie/books.

2. Viking: Battle For Asgard (PS/360)

A proper game based on Norse mythology, and from the talents at Creative Assembly. Huge battles & satisfying combat blend with an interesting story and an enticing game world. One of the best action RPGs this year. Take note Denis Dyack.

3. FIFA Street 3. (PS/360)

Poo poo'd by the sports game snobs, but Street actually put the fun and enjoyment back into a footie game. Over the top action and a comic book aethetics make this a genuine video game rather than a dull virtual sport.

4. Anno 1701. (DS)

One of the best strategy games series makes its way onto the little DS. Plenty of depth and charm than make this the best "god" game this year. Fine music and graphics complete the package.

5. Elefunk. (PS3)

Get elephants across a ravine by building a bridge from wood, steel or rope. Sounds crazy but it is immense fun and challenging too. One of the best PSN titles.

Posted from my iPhone