Sorry about the lack of updates, I've been crazy busy with the end of the semester and work, as well as preparing for the lengthy vacation I'm about to embark upon. I'm saving all of my music lists for after Christmas, so I thought I'd make one last post before I leave regarding my favorite games of the year. I decided to limit it to my top five and have only five runners-up because I just wanted to highlight the games that really dominated my time and that I could recommend to anyone. The fact that these games are for several different platforms demonstrates that I do not play favorites when it comes to gaming. A quality game is still quality regardless of the platform. I'm an equal-opportunity gamer. Enjoy.
1. Resident Evil 4 (GameCube)
One of the most amazing gaming experiences I've ever had, Resident Evil 4 completely revolutionized the survival horror genre it created nearly a decade ago. I had never been a fan of the previous games, due in large part to the horrible control scheme that had been used in each. Luckily, this game has very little in common with its predecessors. It uses a third-person, behind-the-back viewpoint, and then goes into a nearly-first-person perspective when you're aiming at an enemy. Graphically stunning, the game's atmosphere draws you to it and refuses to let go. I've never been much of a marathon gamer, but I beat this 22 hour adventure in the span of about 50 total hours. It was a rediculous weekend, but one well-spent. Now available on PlayStation 2 as well, Resident Evil 4 deserves to be played by anyone with even a remote interest in games.
2. MVP Baseball 2005 (Xbox)
I probably don't need to say much about this. I used to criticize fans of the Madden NFL series for "buying the same game every year." However, I played a zillion hours of MVP 2004 and I played even more of 2005. I hadn't been that excited about a game being released in years, and it was essentially the same game as last year... just refined. I've fallen into the trap, and I'm not ashamed to admit it. Next year's version will only feature NCAA teams, but I'll still buy it and probably still play a ton of it. I'm not complaining.
3. Lumines (PSP)
The most powerful handheld system ever released, and the best game is... a two-dimensional block-switching puzzle game? You'd better believe it. Using the wide screen of the system to its advantage, Lumines is my pick for my favorite puzzle game of all time (yes, higher than Tetris Attack and Bust-a-Move). It's a simple concept derivative of other puzzle games: switch around blocks, drop 'em, and make 'em disappear. The execution is where this game excels. Plus, the power of the PSP allows for some creative enhancements: animated backgrounds, "skins" that change every couple of minutes, and a different music track to accompany each one. The absolute must-have title for the PSP.
4. Call of Duty 2 (Xbox 360)
Following Lumines is perhaps the most visually stunning console game released to date. I hate to repeat what has been said in nearly every review of this game, but it's undeniable: this game is intense. No other game I've played has had me in hysterics like this. With a 5.1 surround sound system attached, you've got gunshots flying all around, enemy AI that is the best seen in a modern shooter, and the most realistic gameplay yet seen in a World War II shooter. Intense just happens to be the perfect word for it. If you're one of the lucky few to have gotten an Xbox 360, you must own this game.
5. Guitar Hero (PlayStation 2)
I agonized a bit over my fifth spot... Burnout Revenge nearly had it, but the innovation inherent in Guitar Hero pushed it over the edge. This is the best music game to date, allowing you to use the guitar controller to "play" the songs. You'll never feel as cool playing a music game as you do when you're shredding in Guitar Hero. And unlike Dance Dance Revolution, which in no way simulates real dancing, Guitar Hero makes you feel like you're geniunely playing a guitar. At $70 for the bundle, it's an expensive proposition, but it's certainly worth the cash. Everyone I've exposed it to has fallen in love with the game. Check it out, and you may too (if you haven't already).
Burnout Revenge (Xbox)
Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow (Nintendo DS)
Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories (PSP)
Metal Gear Acid (PSP)
Need for Speed: Most Wanted (Xbox 360)